Cathy's Blog: Autumn has arrived

The equinox has passed, the AONB Family’s Outstanding Week has finished, days are getting shorter and the leaves are changing colour - it can only mean one thing: Autumn has arrived.

This new season promises a whole new way to enjoy the two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – woodland walks to see the colourful leaves, estuary strolls to welcome the ‘winter’ wading birds, conker fights and eating the last of the blackberries in a warming pie… We’ve still got another month to go before the clocks change, so to give you some ideas for walking, cycling and places to explore go to the Publications section of and

The Great British Beach Clean in mid September, coordinated by my colleague Lynn, resulted in over 21 teams registering with Marine Conservation Society UK (MCS UK) and submitting their litter data. There were eight new teams, over 600 individuals taking part, and more than 20,500 items of litter collected! Plastic and plastic based items now count for all Top Ten litter items collected on the coast.

Submitting data to MCS UK is invaluable, as the evidence they can build of current litter directly influences policy and campaigns nationally. For example, manufacturers are now making cotton bud sticks out of cardboard and not plastic because of an MCS campaign, with wet wipes being another campaign. In case you didn’t realise… wet wipes CANNOT be put down the toilet!

Autumn is time for the AONB team and volunteers to transition from summer tasks to winter ones, with new volunteer work programmes. In the Dedham Vale my colleague Alex has ended a season of Giant Hogweed control, having worked on 56 sites in the Stour catchment, and held six Himalayan Balsam pulling work parties – aka ‘Balsam bashes’.

Alex’s attention is turning to tree planting in the Stour Valley again. The success of the 500 Trees project in 2016 has led Alex to develop an ambitious project for planting 3,000 trees in 2018! Trees can really help stabilise river banks, give shade to invertebrates and offer perches for birds – on a recent canoe trip on the Stour it was great to see a kingfisher, now a more regular sight.

First published in the East Anglian Daily Times September 2017

By Cathy Smith on October 20th, 2017

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