10 top autumn activities

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52 wild things to do in autumn logo

1. Work out a hedgerow’s age

For a rough-and-ready guesstimate, count the number of woody species (trees and shrubs, but not climbers such as bramble or honeysuckle) in a 30m stretch of your chosen hedge. Add a century for each one – so if you find four species, it is about 400 years old. BH

2. Watch skeins of whiffling geese

Skeins of geese flying overhead never fail to warm the cockles. Three of the biggest gatherings are the pink-foots of North Norfolk and Lancashire, brents on the south coast and barnacles in Scotland. Whiffling? That’s when geese tumble out of the sky, tipping from side to side. BH

3. Learn to sketch a bird or mammal

Picking up pencil or paintbrush isn’t just an exercise in art. By drawing a species that you thought you knew well, you’ll have your eyes opened to new aspects of its anatomy and movement – its ‘jizz’. Whether doodle or daub, your sketch will help you to truly see that creature. PB

4. Grow saplings from tree seeds

Collect your seeds from under trees – acorns, hazelnuts, beech mast and wild cherry stones all work well. Sow them in yogurt pots filled with a mix of potting compost and sand, then store in a garage or shed until spring. BH

See more tips on tree growing.

5. Indulge in some fungi fun

Here are three surefire ways to enjoy autumnal fungi: join a foray; make a spore print on white paper; and inspect a toadstool with a hand lens. Wear gloves if you feel nervous. BH

6. Give the gift of birds

A birdfeeder is one of the easiest ways to enjoy our wildlife. Why not get someone else – an elderly friend or relative, perhaps – hooked as well, by installing a feeder for them? Make sure it is easily visible from a window. JF

7. Clean up a beach

The Beachwatch Big Weekend  should be a key date in every nature lover’s calendar. Plastic debris can harm many animals, from whales to langoustines to turtles, so is a serious issue. Join an established event, or ‘adopt’ a beach as an organiser. JF

8. Learn 10 new birdsongs

Birdsong can be so frustrating… was that a blackbird or a thrush, a collared dove or a woodpigeon? Perhaps you want the challenge of separating garden warblers from blackcaps? Set yourself the target of learning 10 new songs in 2012 – practice makes perfect. JF

9. Make a collage from natural finds

Next time you go for a ramble, collect natural objects to create a landscape when you get home. Bark makes a good stand-in for ploughed fields or the sky, leaves and twigs serve as trees, lichen is a perfect substitute for bushes, gravel looks like a scree slope, and so on. BH

10. Train to be a nature detective

Who’s been digging up your lawn? Whose footprints are those? Animals leave signs of their comings and goings just about everywhere and interpreting these clues is hugely satisfying. JF

Download scavenger hunts for kids

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