Autumn is well and truly upon us in the Lake District.
The shadows are creeping across Little Langdale ever earlier, the leaves are crisping and colouring, and the chilly air is nipping at our ears.
However, there is still plenty of wildlife to look out for during your visit to the Three Shires Inn. Last month we caught up with David Harpley from Cumbria Wildlife Trust to ask what we should be looking out for in late summer. This month David told us about some of the autumn highlights to spot as the year turns. Cumbria Wildlife Trust do great work to help preserve nature in the county, so why not head over to their website to make a donation?
So, over to David, what wildlife can we expect to see in the Lake District during the autumn?
Warning, this blog contains rutting!
“Normally, after about the time the first frosts have been, late in October, the deer start their rut. So, the stags have grown their antlers through the summer, they’ve wiped the velvet off their antlers, and they are all raging full of testosterone! Instead of walking around in companionable, manly groups they start bellowing. They walk around the fellside bellowing at one another and, basically, they are sorting out who is the biggest and strongest. They parade up and down next to each other looking butch and sometimes they fight (although it’s not as dramatic as it might seem in the wildlife documentaries most of the time).
“The hinds and the stags normally live separately. But when they’ve sorted out which stag is biggest and toughest then all the hinds come and stand near him and he has mating rights. He will try and mate with as many hinds as he can manage, and the other stags will come and try and persuade the hinds to come off with them. He will do that for weeks and at the end of it he is completely exhausted. This is why the stags live a much shorter life than the hinds.
“The population of red deer is going up all the time and there are more and more deer in the fells because people don’t shoot them very much and there aren’t any wolves. What happens in places with wolves is that they move them around and keep them away from the best grazing. Without wolves you tend to get very high populations of deer.
“One of the things people come to the Lake District for in autumn is the fantastic colours of the trees. If you get a good autumn where it isn’t too windy and doesn’t rain all the time, you do get fantastic displays of different trees showing different colours.
“Little Langdale has a massive juniper stand of really quite old junipers. The number of berries attracts lots of thrushes that turn up from north eastern Europe in the autumn. There is often a weekend, sometimes the last weekend of October, when they all arrive on masse and that can be quite spectacular.
“Down by the coast there will be vast numbers of ducks and waders arriving. These are birds avoiding the winter in eastern Europe and northern Europe. Some of them will move through but a lot will stay on the Cumbrian coast. There will be curlews that move from the uplands of Britain to the coast and you will get birds that will move across continents; swans that come from Iceland, geese from Russia, and some of the waders will come down from the Arctic.”
Stay with us
Book your stay with us to witness the Lake District’s wildlife first-hand.