Autumn is the most colourful time of the year!
The days become shorter, but the beauty increases.
Autumn is the time of beautiful days, berries, seeds, cool days and great reasons to get out of the house for a walk.
Welcome back, autumn!
W𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙞𝙨 𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙪𝙢𝙣?
Autumn, like spring, is an equinox and its beginning is marked on the day when day and night are of equal lengths. Normally this happens, in autumn, between the 20th and 23rd of September, in the case of the northern hemisphere, where Portugal is located.
At the beginning of the season, you can still feel some heat, but as the days go by, they become increasingly cooler, in addition to the rains that begin to appear (and which we need so much this year!).
The landscape gains new colours, new life.
Even though in Portugal the landscape is covered in eucalyptus, you can still see many colourful spots when autumn arrives.
Some trees, the broadleafed ones, in autumn lose their leaves to prepare for winter. If they keep their leaves, they use up a lot more energy during the winter. So they drop their leaves and flower again in the spring.
That’s why the leaves change colour. They are “dying”, but the landscape comes alive with the beautiful colours of autumn.
Also the days get shorter and cooler. And there is more appetite for warm and comfort food, such as stews, or roasts in a wood oven…
Nature adapts to each of the seasons. Although summer and winter seem to us to be the “big seasons”, the truth is that in autumn and spring many transformations take place.
𝘾𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙜𝙚𝙨 𝙞𝙣 𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙚
Autumn, for birds, marks the end of the breeding season and we witness a transition between breeding species and wintering species. Some bird species, like the Common Swift (Apus apus), begin their migrations to Africa with the end of the heat and the arrival of the first rains. Others, like the Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), begin to arrive in Portugal from other parts of Europe to spend the winter here in a milder climate. There are also other species that are only seen during autumn migration, such as the Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), a small bird that moves from its breeding grounds in the north to its wintering grounds in central Africa.
Autumn brings the rains and these bring hope for another group of vertebrates, the amphibians. With the first rains we begin to see the emergence of amphibians, such as Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra), who sought refuge during the hot, dry summer, and are now ready to seek water bodies to breed. It is usual to observe hundreds of amphibians on rainy autumn nights.
In the northernmost forests we can observe one of the most anticipated events, the roaring of the red deer (Cervus elaphus). The males compete among themselves for the best territories and the conquest of the females. Fighting with their imposing antlers, usually winning the one with the biggest.
At this time of year species begin their preparations for winter, the Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius) collect acorns that they hide in the forest, the red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) make authentic food supplies, the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) dispute territories, the Iberian emerald lizard (Lacerta schreiberi) begin to seek refuge to survive the low winter temperatures, and the estuaries fill up with waders, such as the Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa), that seek refuge and food to survive the winter.
Nature is wonderful!
The temperatures at this time of year, although cooler, are great for those who like to enjoy nature. It is more pleasant and allows you to enjoy more time outside, without having to run away from the heat.
But there is a small phenomenon that happens very often in autumn in Portugal. It’s called “Saint Martin’s Summer”. It happens around Saint Martin’s Day (November 11th) and it is common to have some hot days that even remind you of summer.
For some, visiting Portugal outside summer is uninteresting, but they couldn’t be more wrong!
People who choose to travel in autumn in Portugal enjoy a lot of beauty. Nature walks, photographic tours or birdwatching outings are just three examples that fill you up every time you do them.
Portugal has many surprises, all year long!
*This article had the collaboration of the biologist Diogo Oliveira