Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Looks like we're in for a berry nice autumn

Get those buckets out – it's set to be a bumper year for blackberries.

According to the Woodland Trust, autumn is likely to come late this year but fruiting crops will flourish, meaning a feast for wild birds and mammals.

It comes after horrendous weather in spring and summer 2012 produced the worst berry crop in over a decade, according to public records. 2012's extremely wet conditions during the summer resulted in late leaf tints, late fruiting and exceptionally poor crops of wild fruit.

In fact, last year's Nature's Calendar records compiled by the trust displayed the lowest fruiting scores since it started collecting records 12 years ago for 14 of the 16 tree and shrubs species recorded by volunteers. The trust is now urging the public to record their sightings of this year's early autumn indicators on its Nature's Calendar website.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Nature's Calendar project manager, said: "Although our records suggest that autumn fruiting will be late this year due to the delayed onset of spring flowering, if the warm weather interspersed with occasional wet spells continues, this should mean the fruiting of shrubs like bramble, rowan and blackthorn is abundant.

"Wildlife species will no doubt benefit from a bumper crop, and fruit-eating birds and mammals will be able to enjoy an autumn feast. Last year, birds and mammals suffered some of the poorest fruiting crop in years and this, coupled with the prolonged cold snap in spring, meant that many species had to endure a long period without a decent food supply.

"In order to better understand the impacts of long-term climate change on some of the UK's most-loved native species, we need the public to record their autumn sightings on our Nature's Calendar website."

The charity's Nature's Calendar project allows people to record signs of spring and autumn by noting sightings such as fruit ripening, ivy flowering and leaf colouring.

The trust is urgently calling for more citizen science recorders. as records from Northern Ireland are scarce. Get involved by visiting www.naturescalendar.org.uk

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