THE FALL OF THE COPSE
It's autumn, when several of our members feel that the copse is looking at its best, as the beeches turn colour and cover the woodland floor with a copper and gold carpet. But blink and you'll miss it. The gusty winds will take away the colours overnight, so if you feel like venturing through the best woodland in Hove – do it now.
In New England, famous for its colours in the "Fall", some special properties of the climate, cold nights, warm sunlit days, perpetuate the colours over several weeks, and the sugar maples are the star attraction. Our autumn spectacle is a tad more unpredictable, and unfortunately, no sugar maples.
However we do have a large amount of squirrel activity. Hundreds of grey squirrels are busy there, collecting acorns and beech nuts and hiding them in the woodland floor (called caching). They don't hibernate in winter, but remain in nests and dig up their buried food to survive through the cold season. Much of the nuts and seeds remain uneaten and hidden, and sprout in the spring; in this way the squirrel population will enhance the pace of forest renewal, as well as entertaining the interested dogs that walk along the paths.
Because of our glorious summer this year, there is also a proliferation of ladybirds, some days, in these woods. You have to pick your day, but on a warm wind one can find that there are clouds of these creatures drifting in the wind. The main population is now the harlequin version, and they have been with us since 2004, and are now an established native to our parks and countryside.
I have mentioned the lack of plastic carrier bag litter in the copse in previous articles, and it seems that since the ban in October 2015, according to Keep Britain Tidy, we have used 9 billion carrier bags less than previously in a similar time. In light of the recent gloomy news about climate change it's good to hear a positive outcome of some environmental action for a change, and also good that we don't have to pick up as many from Three Cornered Copse on our litter picking expeditions.
We have two work days left this year; weather permitting, as we have to say, the next one is later this month on Wednesday 21st November. All welcome to come along and help tidy the copse up for the winter.