Autumn (August-October)

AUTUMN (August-October)

Here is a season by season guide to spotting different nature & wildlife on your farm.

It is just a start, we need your help to build it up – please send in your ideas and help us create a rich calendar for what is on the farm and practical notes on how to enhance it: info@farmingfornature.ie

 

View and download the Autumn Guides August   September October

 

NOTICING NATURE – AND SOME WAYS TO HELP IT! ADDITIONAL PRACTICAL NOTES
  INTRO As the farming year unfolds, are you keeping your eye out for what wildlife appears on your farm?

What flower or bird brings you joy as the seasons change?

What can you look forward to appearing this month?

What wildlife might be on your land?

What more can you do to encourage it and enhance it?

Here is a month by month guide to help you farm for nature!

This is just a start – please help us create a rich calendar to celebrate and support farming for nature!

What have we forgotten?

Do you have any useful ‘nature hacks’ to share?
Let us know on info@farmingfornature.ie

If you have any queries why not put it in our Forum on the website and allow other farmers to answer.  See here.

AUGUST

Hedge

Berries in the hedges are ripening Brambles, blackthorn, crab apple, hawthorn and other shrubs will all soon be weighed down by their autumn load. These berries will be important food sources for birds such as thrushes, blackbirds, starlings and smaller birds going into winter. Delay cutting these hedges until much later in the year so that wildlife can benefit as much as possible.
Pasture Plant a herbal ley? A native grass-wild flower mix sown now increases the value of the area for wildlife, especially pollinators. The weather in August – warm spells and showers – may suit the establishment of these leys. Contact your seed merchant for info.
Tillage Create beetle banks.  Use a plough to create a ridge of earth about 40cm (16inches) high and 2m (about 6.5 feet) wide. Sow with tussock and mat-forming native grasses, timothy, cocksfoot, fescues. To allow wildlife to move to and from the bank, the distance between it and the field boundary should be less than 25m. These banks provide a habitat for many beneficial insects and nesting birds.
Pasture Can you find space to allow some tussocky grass and wildflower seed heads to remain uncut through winter? Allowing tussocky grass and wildflower seed heads to remain, in field margins, along tracks and roadside verges, and in gardens, will provide food and shelter for invertebrates and other wildlife.
Hedge

Woods

Let the Ivy grow in the hedgerow as a key source of nectar for the pollinators. Some people worry about ivy growth but, unless it’s causing real damage, the consensus seems to be that its better to leave it, maybe pruning it back. Its early season flowers are vital for bees and the fruits are important late-winter feed for birds.
Grasslands Look out for late-flowering orchids in your pastures and meadows While it’s getting late in the season for orchids, you can still see fragrant and pyramidal orchids in bloom, also some helleborines. But one of the rarest and most beautiful of Ireland’s orchids, the Autumn lady’s tresses, is best seen at this time of year. Try not to graze orchid-rich areas too heavily in August, light grazing now followed by heavier grazing into the Autumn, would be ideal.
Grasslands Late summer colours are still to be seen, with purples, blues and yellows to the fore. Knapweed and scabious flowers are common at this time of year, as well as harebells. Complementing the purples and blues are an array of yellows – including bedstraws, ragwort and goldenrod. The latter two flowers are deceptively similar, though one is far more benign than the other! Delaying the mowing of hay meadows into August will allow some of these taller herbs to spread their seed, as well as providing food for insects and birds.
Wet ground Lots of late blooming flowers appear on heavy, wettish ground around now. Purple loosestrife, willowherbs and meadowsweet (so called as it was once used to sweeten mead) are big, showy plants often found in profusion at this time in hedges and on wettish areas, but one of the most stunningly beautiful flowers in Ireland, the delicate ‘grass of parnassus’ is also found on damp ground at this time and is worth the search.
Hedgerows Late summer is when some of our ‘exotics’ are on show. The orange flowers of Montbretia and the bright red flowers of fuschia are exuberant in some parts of Ireland in August, but few people realize that these are native to south America and were originally introduced to Ireland as garden plants. Not as aggressively invasive as some of the Himalayan knotweeds and balsams, care should nonetheless be taken not to introduce these ‘honorary natives’ to new areas.

 

SEPT Hedgerows The concept of hedgerow as nature’s larder is never more apparent than at this time of year when a wide variety of fruit and nuts are available. A really nice idea for adults and kids alike is to take a stretch of hedgerow and collect a sample of each type of fruit or nut available. Blackberries, haws, rosehips, rowanberries, crab-apples, guelder rose and spindle fruits…so many types, colours and shapes. Lay these out on a white surface and take a photo of them to send on to us.
  Pastures Parting is such sweet sorrow … around this time is our last chance of the year to admire our Swallows and Swifts before they make their return trip to Africa. As we say goodbye to these wonderful summer migrants, we can say hello to many more. Lots of birds visit Ireland in the winter, with some geese trumpeting their return around this time.
  Ponds Early Autumn is the ideal time to construct, or do maintenance work on, a pond.

 

 

Before the ground gets too wet, think about building a pond, one of the very best actions for nature. Or take time to improve your existing pond- excess silt can be removed from ponds between September and November. This should be done in small sections over a 3-4-year rotation. If silt builds up eventually it chokes out the aquatic vegetation.
  Pastures

 

Areas of species rich grassland should be grazed, or the excess vegetation removed by hand tools/machinery, from now on, if it hasn’t been already. By removing excess vegetation, you are allowing more space and light for wildflowers to germinate next spring, as well as reducing the nutrient levels in the soil which also encourages greater biodiversity.
  Pastures On the heads of Thistle and Teasel you may spot the bright yellow and red of the goldfinch snacking on the seeds at this time. Leaving at least some seed-bearing plants to stand into the winter provides food and shelter for lots of birds as they try to build up energy for the winter ahead, or for long flights overseas.
  Ditches

Streams

Rivers

Winter is the best time to do any watercourse management. Some streams will be too small for fish like trout, but all will have a community of mini – beasts. Light and shade are very important for this community to thrive so now that bird-nesting season is over some carefully planned and targeted work can be done.
  Woodlands If you are interested in planting some native trees on your land this winter, it might be worthwhile pre-ordering some as soon as possible, as supplies are very limited at present. Always try to source plants grown in Ireland from native seed, ideally as local to you as possible. Or gather your own seed and grow your own – it’s really easy and lots of fun, there are plenty of on-line resources to help you!
  All habitats Wildflowers, bees, bats, birds and butterflies are still visible in September but usually in decreasing numbers. It can be a good time to identify them and begin your own farm nature audit. Among the more obvious flowering plants seen in grasslands in September are scabious, knapweed, ox-eye daisy, eyebrights and harebell.

 

OCT Pasture Whooper Swans arrive- listen out for their honking voice which can sound like an old-fashioned car horn! These swans arrive from their breeding grounds in Iceland to spend the winter in the mild and wet Irish climate in wetland areas.
  Pasture Geese arrive on our shores and wet grasslands. Do they come to you each winter? Ireland is a really important overwintering destination for some of these visitors like the Barnacle goose, the Light-bellied Brent goose and the Greenland white-fronted goose. Accidentally disturbing these birds, or moving them on while they are feeding or roosting, can really affect their body condition ahead of their breeding season in Northern climes.
  Pasture Allow some tussocky grass and wildflower seed heads to remain uncut through winter to provide food and shelter for wildlife. As the days continue to shorten, the value for wildlife of autumnal vegetation in field margins, along tracks and roadside verges, and in gardens, should not be underestimated.
  Pasture

Hedges

Fieldfares and Redwings are snacking on earthworms and berries. These thrush-like birds come to Ireland for the winter and have plenty of food to help restore their strength.
  Tillage Wild bird seed and other crops like fodder radish or weedy winter stubbles will be providing valuable food for birds and small mammals. These crops will feed small birds such as the yellowhammer, skylark and linnet and mammals that themselves will feed predators like Kestrel and Sparrowhawk and even the rare Hen Harrier.
  Hedges

Woods

Hedgehogs are beginning to hibernate. A Hedgehog entering hibernation builds a ragged, ball-shaped nest made from grass and autumn leaves. A well-built nest may be vital to survival as is choice of nest site. Ideally the nest site should be sheltered and safe. A site deep in a thick hedge (or under a shed) brings obvious benefits.
  Hedges Ivy is a vital source of food for pollinators ahead of the winter. If you can leave Ivy in place – trimming it back perhaps instead of getting rid of it altogether – it will be of great benefit to nature, particularly in Spring and Autumn.
  Woods Resist the temptation to ‘tidy up’ older trees or trees with broken limbs as these may be useful for wildlife. Bats and birds may roost and nest in your woodland, particularly in old or hollow trees. Rotting wood plays host to a whole variety of insect life.
  Garden Rake up leaf litter into piles and leave the over the winter months for moth and butterfly larvae. Earthworms will break down the leaves to enrich the soil over time. If leaves need to be moved, move them into an area where they can be left alone for wildlife such as Hedgehogs and foraging birds.

 

 

 

See more information here on Spring Summer  & Winter

Farming For Nature Offers Best Practice Guidelines and Actions to take on different land types here.


To investigate what native species you have or could encourage on your land
t
here are plenty of sources to help:

  • For native flowers – you can search by flowering month, colour or habitat go here
  • For native trees see here – it will give you advice on different trees go here
  • For native birds see here
  • For native butterflies see here
  • For a complete breakdown of all Irish species, the National Biodiversity Data Centre is the key source. See here.
  • Join the NBDC Farmers Wildlife Calendar Climate Tracker by recording and submitting your farmland species here.

This is body of work is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine, and National Parks & Wildlife Service.

See more information here on Spring Summer  & Winter

Farming For Nature Offers Best Practice Guidelines and Actions to take on different land types here.


To investigate what native species you have or could encourage on your land
t
here are plenty of sources to help:

  • For native flowers – you can search by flowering month, colour or habitat go here
  • For native trees see here – it will give you advice on different trees go here
  • For native birds see here
  • For native butterflies see here
  • For a complete breakdown of all Irish species, the National Biodiversity Data Centre is the key source. See here.
  • Join the NBDC Farmers Wildlife Calendar Climate Tracker by recording and submitting your farmland species here.

This is body of work is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine, and National Parks & Wildlife Service.

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