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Autumn at Escot Estate

There’s never a dull moment at this time of year!

As the sugars in the leaves turn them into those wonderful autumnal colours, so too the ground softens with the seasonal rains. Before it became too wet we managed to run an aerator, or slitter, over the Park, lent to us by Devon Wildlife Trust. This alleviates compaction and helps to reduce surface run off in heavy rain – which means losing less topsoil into the river.

Throw a storm into the equation with wind gusts up to 70mph and some of those beautiful trees, which became heavy with wet leaves and sometimes ivy which has been left to grow on selected trees for habitat, come tumbling down.

The orchard, with over 150 trees re-planted for the millennium (after the Estate received a government grant in the 1970’s to dig the trees up!) has had a bumper crop. Various apple juice and cider groups come to harvest apples in exchange for a contribution to pruning and the upkeep of the orchard. The apples that are not collected create a bonanza for visiting seasonal birds such as fieldfares, redwings and mistle thrushes, which hopefully helps to see them through the winter.

Wild beavers have been busy at Escot during the summer on the river Tale building dams in field ditches. These were very effective at holding back water during the drier months but really come into their own during heavy rain when they slow the flow off the fields, ultimately reducing flooding and silt loading lower down the catchment.

On the subject of holding back water, luckily we remembered the early autumn gutter and gulley cleaning on the House before the rains came, so hopefully none of the water will find its way inside the House!

Generally temperatures have been fairly mild going into November, but we’d be surprised if they don’t start dropping soon. In fact, based on current long range data, the coming winter looks likely to be colder than recent winters. So there’s a good chance we can expect some snowfall.

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