There’s definitely a chill in the air and the nights are blacker, but don’t be afraid to go outside this Halloween. There are all kinds of weird and wonderful things cropping up in the natural world that you won’t want to miss!
Fungi forays It’s a great time of year for finding mushrooms and toadstools and other fantastic fungi. They come in a huge variety of shapes and colours, and grow in all kinds of places – in the grass, among the leaf litter, on trees. They're excellent subjects for photography too so make sure you carry your camera when you're out and about. You should be able to find some in your garden too. Check your lawn for little toadstools that sometimes just crop up overnight as if by magic.
Fungi have no green parts and don’t covert sunlight into energy using photosynthesis like plants. They get their nutrients from whatever they’re growing on, like roots and tree trunks and branches.
There are thousands of different species in Britain and many have great names. King Arthur’s Cakes, purple jellydisk, yellow stagshorn, shaggy ink cap, slimy webcap, fairy ring champignon and plums and custard are some of my favourites. Beechwood sickener certainly sounds like one to steer clear of. If only all wildlife was as imaginatively named as fungi!
There are all kinds of ancient superstitions – especially around toadstools. People thought toads sat on them and that fairies used them for umbrellas and danced on them.
Many are poisonous (meaning you have to be very careful if you decide to pick your own mushrooms from the wild) and so were a natural draw for witches and their potion making.
The hooting of tawny owls is a classic spine-tingling sound from horror films - even those filmed in parts of the world where tawnies aren’t found! You should be able to hear tawny owls calling at this time of year. Females answer the hooting males with a sharp ‘ke-vick’ to make you jump if you're walking past in the dark with your senses heightened!
Barn owls make a blood-curdling screech that would be right at home in a horror movie and foxes and muntjac deer can also startle you with their harsh barking calls.
You might hear mysterious hisses coming from the night sky too, but don’t worry, it’s just the sound of flocks of redwings arriving from Scandinavia.
Halloween is often associated with orange and black so I’be been racking my brains to think or orange and black wildlife. Let me know if you think of any! There are certainly plenty of orange berries out there at the moment and these are the very things that bring all of our winter-visiting thrushes here: fieldfares and those redwings I’ve already mentioned.
And it wouldn’t be right to write a Halloween-themed blog without mentioning bats and spiders – those classic Halloween beasties.
Spider’s webs glistening with early morning dew and the dusk flights of bats are both worth wrapping up warm and getting outside to see at either end of the shortening days.
We've 17 species of bats in the UK and they'll be looking for places to hibernate in October and November because there isn't enough insect food for them in the cold weather. They need a cool place, like a tunnel, cave or building and actually slow down their breathing and heart rate. Their temperature drops when they are hibernating, so they use up very little energy. You can help bats by putting up a bat box or two in your garden.
And if you’d like to be shown great wildlife by experts, why not check out our events pages or visit a nature reserve near you?