Monday 8 October 2007

October: The Colourful Month

As the year heads towards the greyness of winter there’s a final burst of colour as leaves turn yellow and red. In the Scottish Highlands October is the most colourful month, at least in those areas with much deciduous woodland, like Strathspey in the Cairngorms, where I live. Dominant in these spectacular displays is birch and great swathes of golden trees can be seen throughout the strath, dotted here and there with the reds of rowan and gean (wild cherry) and the paler yellow of aspen. The needles of larch, an introduced species, turn a brilliant yellow too, enlivening the plantations where it is found. During September the first changes start to occur but it’s in October that the full glory is usually revealed. Some years the colours are extremely bright, an unsubtle riot of poster paint tints. Other years the colours are more subdued, but also richer and deeper. Dry warm summers and cold autumn nights produce the most dazzling displays, wet summers and warm autumns the darker tones. This has been one of the latter years. Walking in the local woods yesterday I found the colours gorgeous but restrained, the gold of the birches darker than in some years, the reds of the rowans tending to russet. Some trees, especially aspen, are still mainly green, others have already lost most of their leaves. There is more to come as long as the wind holds off. Most years the display lasts for several weeks, until the first big autumn storms strip the leaves and scatter them.

The photo shows autumn woodland in Strathspey, photographed on October 7 this year. Photo info: Canon EOS 350D, 18-55mm lens @ 55mm, f8 @1/125, ISO 200, raw file converted to aJPEG, processed and cropped in Photoshop Elements 5.

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