Autumn delayed by cold winter, Woodland Trust predicts

Image caption,
The trust said much of the fruit on bushes was unripe at present

Autumn in the UK could be delayed this year with berries ripening and leaves changing colour later than usual, wildlife experts are predicting.

Brambles and blackberries in the countryside appear to have been hit by the cold winter and are fruiting later, the Woodland Trust said.

The first ripe berries traditionally peak around 4 August, but few have been recorded this year.

And sightings of beech leaves turning are down from 116 in 2009 to just two.

The predictions are based on information gathered by volunteers for the Woodland Trust's Nature's Calendar, which studies the timings of common seasonal events alongside records dating back to the 1700s.

By this time last year, the trust had more than 1,000 records of the first ripe bramble fruits such as blackberries. But it has so far received just 81 sightings, with most in the south and none further north than Leeds.

Rowan berries are late fruiting this year, which also saw a late spring, with just 44 records of first fruit compared with 808 by this time in 2009.

"It is apparent that autumn could be late this year, just how late we won't know until the end of the season," said project manager Dr Kate Lewthwaite.

"Flowering was delayed in many species due to the coldest winter for 30 years and this has a knock-on effect on fruiting. We're some way behind with lots of unripe fruit still on the bushes."

Victorian meteorologists considered Autumn to begin on 1 September but the season's golden hues are now not developing until the end of the month, according to the trust.

"What we've found in the last 30 years with climate change, the growing season for lots of species has extended and - leaving this year aside - things are coming out earlier and leaves are hanging around on trees later," said Dr Lewthwaite.

"As long as it is still warm and there is plenty of water there is no reason for trees to start packing up for the winter."

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