Mother Nature Makes Berry Lovers Wait For Autumn

The appearance of ripe blackberries along country lanes and hedgerows is one of the clearest ciphers that autumn is on the way. But this year, Mother Nature appears to be taking her time, and berry lovers may have to linger a little longer than usual for the fruit to ripen. Wildlife experts yesterday said autumn was probable to be up to two weeks late because of the long, hard winter and tardy arrival of spring.

The summer holidays may have only just begun in England and Wales, but the first cautious signs of autumn usually appear at the start of August. By the middle of the month the first blackberries and rowan berries are often ripening, while leaves on beech trees are starting to turn. But according to the Nature's Calendar review, by the Woodland Trust, signs of autumn are few and far between this year.

In 2009, the Trust had more than 1,000 records of edible blackberries across Britain by August 5. 'This year we've only had 81 records, all prejudiced towards the South, no further north than Leeds,' said Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Nature's Calendar's project manager. 'It is noticeable that autumn could be late this year; just how late we won't know until the end of the season,' she added.

The investigation also showed that rowan berries are behind schedule as well. The Trust has just 44 reports of red rowan berries – compared with 808 by the first week of August last year. The slow arrival of autumn is being blamed on the coldest winter for more than 30 years, which postponed the start of spring and the flowering of shrubs and trees.

There are also signs that the stunning colors of autumn could be shortly than usual. There have been just two records of beech leaves going brown – compared with 116 at the same time last year. Beeches are one of the first trees to change color each year, even though they do not fully turn until late September or early October.

Another sign of autumn is the exit of swifts. They typically leave around August 10. 'We want to hear from people who are still considering them well into the second half of the month,' said a spokesman for the Woodland Trust.

'This will help us gain further insights and see how wildlife is responding to the altering climate. 'The cold winter was followed by a warm, dry spring. But July saw the UK split in two, with the South and East enjoying habitually warm weather, while the North and West were deluged. Bookmark and Share