Winter comes howling in

Autumn is a truly beautiful season. The turning of the leaves creates a colourful landscape of green, yellow, orange, red and gold. Autumn brings about a lot of change, such as this transformation in the colour of leaves, the emergence of fungal fruiting bodies, the beginning of long migrations for several species, mass eating in preparation for hibernation in others, and a steady decrease in temperature to name a few. In terms of the nature reserve, the influx of wildfowl that descends upon Rutland Water for the winter months is particularly of note.

Autumn in the Pioneer Valley region of Massachusetts

Autumn view

 

As winter approaches, autumn will start to disappear, the beautiful coloured leaves will fall to the ground, and the bare branches they leave behind will get covered in frost more and more frequently, and maybe even snow! Due to global warming our winters are much milder than in previous years, but, despite the name, global warming isn’t just about increasing temperatures. The changing climate also brings about more severe weather events, extremes in temperature (both hot and cold) and disruption to the usual phenology of natural events. This means we could see more extreme snowfall or rain, a very cold snap, increased ferocity of storms, changes in the timing of flowering, breeding seasons etc. Anything is possible.

There is something to enjoy about every season, and to me, the word winter conjures a picture of white landscapes, trees poking their bare arms into grey skies, warm coats, hats, scarves, gloves, thick socks and boots, hot chocolate, crackling fires, and Christmas! There is something nice about wrapping up warm and going outside for walk, then coming in and snuggling up with a hot drink and a duvet on the sofa!

Sometimes winter’s cold clutches can drag on, some don’t like the cold and long for warmer weather. But eventually, and perhaps sooner than is normal, the gentle warmth of spring seeps through and the landscape becomes green once again.

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March 2013