The short warm snap forecast in Devon could be good news for wildlife as they stock up on food for hibernation - with balmy weather set to boost the berry season.
With temperatures set to peak at 25 degrees in southern England at the weekend which is way higher than the average for this time of year, the Woodland Trust's Nature's Calendar team said whilst “unusual”, the short warm spell at this time of the year may not be bad news for wildlife.
October is an important time for the likes of hedgehogs, whose populations are widely known to be dwindling, as they shuffle and snuffle about feasting on food ahead of hibernation.
Dr Kate Lewthwaite who heads up the Woodland Trust's Citizen’s Science Team said the warmth may boost the amount of food around for many creatures.
She said: 'Whilst it is clear that our seasons are changing due to climate change, with earlier springs and later autumns, the pretty damp conditions we have been getting, plus this unusual warm spell to come, may not be a bad thing.
'It looks like being a rather short span of warmth so not long enough to confuse plants and animals.
'Rather more positively, it may give a little bit more time for those animals that are set to hibernate like hedgehogs to find their prey. Hedgehogs feast on worms, beetles and other insects, all of which will remain active for longer in the milder weather. Dormice can stock up on a bigger abundance of berries and nuts. It may also extend the active butterfly season for species like red admiral.
'Of course, if this sort of weather pattern was hitting us in December it would be much worse news with animals coming back out of hibernation prematurely.'
Leaf tinting is usually seen as one of the first signs of autumn with records coming in for t first tint for silver birch, rowan, oak and beech etc. There are early signs of a good crop of conkers too, possibly linked to the early September warm spell.
Dr Lewthwaite added that it will take a little time to see a true reflection of early autumn since that needs more records to come in.
She added: 'We recommend people to make the most of this warmer weather and get out and about to enjoy the early autumn signs in our woods. If you’re have a particular eye for spotting signs of nature’s changing seasons, we are always on the lookout for more volunteers.'
The Woodland Trust’s Nature's Calendar project tracks the effects of weather and climate change on wildlife across the UK, with a dataset going back nearly 300 years. This allows us to get a better sense of how climate change and other patterns in the environment are impacting nature.