Autumn in the Forest


I have always loved woodlands. They are places of great emotional sanctuary. I can spend hours wandering through the trees and glades, in a dream-like state, forgoing every worry and responsibility back home. October 2014 began like summer. T-shirts in daytime, al-fresco dining and windows open late into the night. And then early on a Sunday morning, it all changed. I couldn't believe it. Beads of dew on the long grass had frozen solid following a calm, clear starry night. Thereafter, each day saw high winds and frequent torrential downpours, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Leaves blocked drains and early morning commuters found themselves stranded, as flash floods overwhelmed transport infrastructure.

A succession of heavy, thundery showers passed over the Arun Valley on an early October afternoon. The tree canopy swayed violently, as squalls cut through the tall slender beeches, opening up the woodland floor to debris and cold raindrops. It became so dark, at one point, that the Tawny owls began calling to each other, as they normally would at dusk. Towards evening, the updraught needed to generate cumulonimbus clouds faded and the sun came out. It was a shame my camera wasn't set up for wildlife photography, as Roe deer, still wearing their summer coats, were present along a nearby glade.

October ended as it began, with temperatures of 19°C, far too warm for jackets. A privately owned forest on the High Weald features a classically beautiful woodland glade, lined with pine and beech trees. The scene only works on October and November afternoons, when low back-lighting generates a spectacular autumnal vista. I arrived just as a cigar-shaped bank of mist slid through the golden autumnal treescape. 

After enjoying an al fresco pub lunch, I had the pleasure of showing two friends around this forest on a gloriously sunny early November afternoon. It didn't take long, before my sharp-eyed Latvian friend spotted a Fallow deer along a glade. Moments later, several more followed suit. Having grown up in a village near Riga, she is the only person I've met, who has seen the Eurasian Lynx. At one time, the Lynx would have roamed Sussex, preying on Roe deer and other mammals. This wild cat survives in Latvia, because it is one of the few European countries still relatively untouched by human development. I had to wait another three days, before capturing Fallow deer on camera. A herd of Fallow deer galloped through the trees, just as it started to pour with rain. I was pleased to obtain something creative and unexpected.


The Sun and the Rainfall

Autumn Jaunt

Friston Forest

Golden Hour, Friston Forest    Forest Glowing in Sunset Light

Rush

Misty Forest Glade in Autumn

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