AUTUMN begins September and ends in December (Winter solstice December 22). So what does this mean?

It’s the season when Mother Nature says it’s time to slow down, conserve energy and go to sleep. Trees drop their colourful leaves covering the woodland floor along with seeds and berries.

These in turn feed both our native residents and migrating species such as Redwings and Fieldfares arriving from Scandinavia to spend their time in Scotland.

Nature’s recyclers known as minibeasts are still active due to the warm temperatures which provide a food source to keep our local wildlife to fatten up. Most of our wildlife stay active during autumn and winter but some are nocturnal like hedgehogs and bats, so they need to go into hibernation as their food sources die off or go way underground till Springtime.

Hedgehog numbers are in sharp decline due to loss of habitat. Astonishingly, it was recently in the news that hedgehogs are now as endangered as tigers! This month, they will be feeding fast and furiously where ever they can as they start hibernating mid-November. Now is the time for you to do your bit.

Build or provide a hedgehog home in your garden somewhere dry and quiet. Consider cutting a 13cm hole at the bottom of your fence so they can move safely through a green corridor of gardens and ALWAYS check bonfires before you light them as these make fantastic nests for the prickly creature. Even if you think you don’t have them, remember they are nocturnal so you won’t always see them but signs like hedgehog poo in your garden will let you know

On the October 29 the clocks go back and of course nights get darker much earlier. This also affects our wildlife as we go to work and come home in the evenings at different times and given most wildlife is particularly active during dawn and dusk so animal-related traffic incidents like deer crossing roads increase.

If you find an injured animals first and foremost is your safety so never try to pick up or touch an animal. This also keeps the animal safe as human scent can have an adverse effect. Make sure that it can come to no harm and as wildlife is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) it’s important that you contact any of the following organisations for advice and assistance including the Countryside Ranger Service, Pollok Country Park 0141 276 0924, Hessilhead Wildlife Centre 01505 502415, SSPCA 03000 999 999 and Scottish Natural Heritage 0141 951 4488.

As the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology draws to a close, why not join the Countryside Rangers for Autumnal events including Fungi walks 14/15th October at Pollok Country park and Springburn Park and during October week arts and crafts events, (14th-22nd) at Pollok Country Park’s Visitor Centre. Telephone 0141 276 0924 for more information.