To celebrate nature's final flourish before the slow descent into winter, the team pulls on its wellies, kicks through the crisp leaves and explores the fruits of our forests.
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Autumn - a kaleidoscope of colour, before the slow descent into winter.
For many, it's a season to wind down, but in our woodlands,
nature's having a final flourish, bursting with ripe treasure.
In today's special celebration of the season,
we're going to put on our boots, kick through the crisp leaves,
and explore the fruits of our forests.
Anita's exploring the wonder of walnuts...
..John catches a glimpse of some rare hazel dormice...
because this is the first time I've ever seen a dormouse.
..Naomi hears how conkers nearly helped us win the war...
..and Adam pigs out with celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwala.
Can't come and cook lunch for me tomorrow as well, can you?
I'm in the depths of East Sussex. At least, I think I am.
I've got a map, but there aren't any road names.
It's more like a floor plan of a wild supermarket.
Well, I've been invited round for dinner
about living off the fruits of our forests.
Now, where you may see a thicket, a stream, and a few trees,
he sees a meat counter, a vegetable aisle, and a salad bar.
In his mid-20s, Nick Weston gave up the rat race
as a jobbing chef in the city, and set himself a challenge -
to move back to the countryside, build a treehouse,
and stay in it for six months, living off the land.
Every day, he kept a diary, detailing his steep learning curve.
Pigeons have a reputation for being reasonably bulletproof.
I waited until the bird gave me a profile of his head,
GUNSHOT WINGS FLAP
The pigeon folded, and dropped like a stone to the forest floor.
I feel Mother Nature was smiling on me.
Either that, or the pigeon was depressed,
Well, Nick has since upgraded, and he's built a bigger treehouse,
but as he's now married with a young baby,
he uses it to teach others how to get back to nature,
And, according to these three, he's just up here on the left.
Morning, Matt. How are you doing? This is mightily impressive!
Good to see you, mate. Good to see you. Oh, who's this, down here?
This is Bea. Hello, Bea. She's our little truffle dog.
Goodness, what a place you've got here, Nick! Lovely, isn't it?
So, you've got a kitchen here, then? Yep, this is our wood-fired kitchen.
In here, we've got the grill, clay oven, got a built-in smoker.
And I'm glad to see you've got the coffee on as well. Yes, indeed.
Which is great. Most important bit.
So where did all this idea come from, Nick?
So, I mean, originally, I worked as a chef in London,
I got to the point where I wanted to get
a bit closer to my ingredients, and do hunting, fishing,
so it was kind of about being a 21st century hunter-gatherer.
Were you quite outdoorsy as a kid, though?
so it sort of partnered quite well with the challenge I'd set myself.
And of course, the whole point is seasonality. Mm.
You're eating what's fresh at that time of year,
so the way that your food must change through the year
must be quite an exciting thing for you, from a chef's perspective.
I mean, that is the amazing thing about doing this,
cos you are so close to the ingredients,
and we do, throughout the year... Every month,
there's a new plant that comes in, or a new part of a plant.
This time of year, obviously, some fruits, nuts,
which is always a very exciting time of year.
And, so, what's on the menu today, Nick?
So, today we have some pheasant and some partridge.
We've got some of Bea's truffles that she found. Oh, good stuff.
But then we're going to have to go and forage some ingredients
Let's go shopping! Let's go shopping indeed.
'Needless to say, this is a private woodland,
'and Nick has permission from the landlord to forage.'
The important thing, I think, with foraging,
Flavour-wise, you can have a little nibble of it.
..slightly, kind of, aromatic. Oh, yeah, that's good.
Its Latin name is Achillea millefolium,
cos it's believed that Achilles used to use this
'A bit of sorrel and vetch, and we've got ourselves a wild salad -
'though I think Bea wants fish for dinner.'
So, we've got our pheasants and we've got our partridge,
and then we've got another ingredient,
which is over there, and over there, which is fire,
so that's all our wild elements for the dish.
OK. And how long do you expect this to take, then,
before it's on a plate, ready to eat?
Cos we're going from scratch, about an hour. OK. Sounds good.
I'm not the only one making the most of autumn's abundance today.
to meet a man growing a crop that's a tough nut to crack.
an ancient 300-acre estate on the edge of the Somerset Levels,
once owned by the medieval abbots of Glastonbury.
Today, the estate is in the hands of Roger Saul.
Roger has championed the use of the age-old grain spelt.
But this autumn marks the first commercial harvest
In a nutshell, Roger's growing walnuts.
So this farm has an ancient heritage,
and is that something that you've consciously tried to recreate?
was I had a look at the history and said,
"Could we recreate, in some way, that mixed economy organic farm?"
So, as I set out, I had sheep, cattle,
You don't really think of walnuts as being traditionally very British.
No, and very much, they'd have come from Persia, I suppose, originally,
but as I was doing building work in the house,
we were going through a really old wall,
a scallop shell, chicken bones, and they were all stuffed in,
where the monk had been putting in plaster to make the wall.
Clearly, they'd been here 500 years ago, or more.
So, how old is this tree behind us? Can I have a closer look?
Yeah, this tree would have been... We planted these 12 years ago.
Here's one that's already fallen down. OK.
That's the husk, and in here, you've got...
That's not quite ready yet. It's still very damp.
Right. So, that's now what we call a wet walnut. OK.
It really is brain-shaped. You know, so if you look at...
It's brain food as well, isn't it? Yeah.
Delicious though they are, with 200 trees to harvest,
entrusted to gather Roger's first commercial crop -
farmhand Gemma Dart and manager Rowan Norman.
Hello, Rowan. Hiya. How are you doing?
All right. Good to see you. Yes, and you.
No, we harvest walnuts with tractors nowadays. I thought you beat them?
Not any more, thankfully. Let me show you this thing.
Apple shaker, from cider orchards. Right.
So, we hook it up to the trees, and shake them all down.
And how do you collect the walnuts, then?
We then collect the walnuts off of a tarpaulin that we lay on the floor.
We sweep them into a big pile, and shovel them into boxes.
This is our very first time. All right, well, let's do it.
Let's give it a go. Let's hook it up.
Let's just hope harvesting this new crop with traditional methods works.
Oh, right, I'd better get out from under the tree!
He's done a good job. The system works.
And there we have the first ever walnut harvest.
I feel a bit queasy after that. ROWAN CHUCKLES
Having collected all the nuts from the ground,
we've ended up with a good few boxfuls,
before drying in Roger's own home-spun fashion.
OK, Roger, so what's this bit of the process?
So, we've got a tray of walnuts at each level. Oh, fantastic.
So these'll be in here... Depending on what the weather's been like,
they'll probably be in here for up to 24 hours. Yep.
No, but it just takes the moisture down by about 20%,
and then we put it out here, just to air dry,
and this netting is to keep the squirrels off.
again depending on how much moisture there is in the air.
And how many do you think you'll have this year?
Should be somewhere between 300 and 400 kilos.
those 200 trees should produce about five to ten tonnes.
Well, it's been fascinating seeing the whole process,
Roger's toasting some of last autumn's haul
So you're just replacing the pine nuts with the walnuts?
That looks like a nice paste coming on, there.
Let's just pop a bit of that in there.
Let's pop some more Parmesan in there. Yes, please.
And I think the walnuts are just about ready.
Smells so good! This is going to be great. I can tell.
Fingers crossed. Fingers crossed.
That is delicious. You can't get fresher or more seasonal than this.
Somerset walnuts... On the Somerset Levels. On the Somerset Levels.
Autumn's certainly a plentiful time in the trees and hedgerows,
but beneath the display, there's inevitably decay.
Tim Shepherd is a botanist and cameraman
who's captured some of the most famous time-lapse sequences
His footage offers a window to a little-seen autumnal underworld.
Looks like an earth ball that's got some parasitic fungus growing ON it.
It's pretty much the only toadstool that you'll find
that is more or less guaranteed to kill you.
I was really lucky at school, to have an amazing teacher,
and we went a bit mad, and we spent a whole term on fungi.
And it just got me so excited about this other world,
It sort of looks like a piece of raw meat,
and it's actually a beefsteak fungus.
Fungi do crop up at different times of year,
but the autumn is just so much better than any other time,
and it's really down to their biology, because of humidity.
I've found this amazing bracket fungus.
It's very important for the fungus to release its spores
when it's humid, and then the spores can survive
for a long time in the air, and spread a long way.
The puffballs release their spores by raindrops landing on them,
and the energy of the raindrop puffs the spores out the top.
A lovely row of sulphur tuft along here.
Time lapse is great, cos it reveals things that you can't see.
You're just speeding up the action, that's all it is, really.
Reducing a day or two into a few seconds.
And then you can see exactly how they're growing,
Slime moulds are just a fascinating group. Very common in the autumn.
They're not animals, and they're not plants. They're really unique.
And it creeps about really quite quickly.
They pulse, they look sort of like an alien creature, in time lapse.
If I collect something and take it into the studio,
then I can control all the conditions that it's growing under.
I can make sure that the lighting is consistent.
And, as long as I've got the right conditions
hopefully it'll grow, and you'll get a lovely shot.
I've got a lovely old building which my studio is in.
It's an old sawmill. It's full of old sets and bits and bobs.
You could say my studio is a bit haphazard.
But, what really matters is what the camera sees.
Most of my fungi shots end up with a set being built
inside a, like, a little mini greenhouse type arrangement.
Then the fungus has got its 100% humidity.
It's just a stills camera, and you just take one frame at a time,
and replay them back at 25 frames per second.
It's not until you actually sequence the shot and play it back,
you realise what's happened in between.
And, very often, there's some amazing surprises.
You have to sort of make it up as you go along, really,
I'm not a boffin, but I'm a... I don't know what I am!
If you've been inspired to get out and take some autumnal photos,
Tweet us, and you never know, you might even see them on the show.
Now, they're the very essence of autumn -
horse chestnut trees, laden with conkers -
this humble nut can pack a punch in more ways than one.
Green, spiky orbs, containing precious treasure.
Every year, the horse chestnut gives up its fruit -
but they don't lie abandoned for long.
We've been soaking them in vinegar, baking them,
and threading them on a string for generations,
each autumn, children and adults alike,
battling it out in a game of conkers.
But these tough nuts haven't just been used for childhood fun.
110 years ago, they were called upon for a far more serious battle.
It was 1915, and our country was at war.
The British Army was facing a crisis.
Continuous, fierce fighting had led to a chronic shell shortage,
guns only firing as few as four shells a day.
To create firepower, the government needed a propellant called cordite,
but a key ingredient, acetone, was in short supply.
which, when fermented, could produce the much-needed acetone.
And who better to collect them but children?
The Ministry of Munitions released an urgent demand
to schools and Scout groups up and down the land.
Thousands of tonnes of conkers were collected and sent for processing.
So how did they conjure up an explosive material
Dr Kristy Turner is a chemist from the University of Manchester.
Loving this woodland science lab. Very nice.
So, can you tell me, how did you go from one of these
into something used to fire shells and bullets?
So, in World War I, they did this by doing a fermentation process
which is what you we're going to show you here. OK.
In the war, they used bacteria to do the fermentation,
but today, to make it a bit easier, we're going to use yeast.
The bacteria and water would be added to the conkers
enzymes getting to work to create the acetone.
So we're going to have to filter the solids from it.
the next step was to distil the acetone mixture to make it pure.
Only then would it be mixed with other explosive ingredients
to make the spaghetti-like strings of cordite.
But the grand ambition for conkers wasn't to be.
On this small lab scale that we have here,
but when they scaled it up to factory scale,
it didn't work too well, and in the end
they abandoned the process after about three months.
may not have left a dent in the history books,
but their traditional use as a tool for fun is as strong as ever.
And it's the tiny village of Southwick in Northamptonshire
for those who are nuts about conkers.
For decades, the World Conker Championships
has drawn competitors from all over the globe
and I think I need to find out a bit more from King Conker,
who I believe is this gentleman in green here.
Now, should I call you King? Yes, if you wish, for the day.
So, can you tell me, how did this all get started?
Well, it started many years ago - 1965 to be precise.
it was a windy day, they couldn't fish,
so they decided to go to the public house, have a drink.
Conkers were falling outside the public house,
From there on, it became a yearly event,
and it's multiplied and multiplied and multiplied.
Well, my role is probably keep order, make everybody happy,
try to advise people how to play conkers,
and just hope everybody has a good time.
COMMENTATOR: He's not invoking the rule.
Struggling with that knee injury, but soldiering on at the age of 81.
Richard Howard has been chief umpire -
but his connection to conkers goes back much further.
I'm nearly 75. I've been playing it all my life,
And in fact, my father and his family
used to actually collect conkers during the First World War.
Looks like I've picked the right guy for some tips, then.
You don't have a choice of conker. Thank you.
We gather them within the week leading up to Conker Day,
How many do you collect? About 2,000 to 2,500.
Three hits each until the conker is knocked off.
And you better keep your string at the right length.
It's got to be eight inches between the knuckle and the nut.
Careful. I'm going to yellow card you. Oh, oh...
Well, that's my conker career shattered.
Luckily there are some people here who know what they're doing.
as well as some rather eccentric costumes.
to the thousands who come to this tiny village every autumn?
I see people here from all round the country every year.
And it's this beautiful setting, a village atmosphere.
I can't get enough of it. HE LAUGHS
One by one, hopeful champions are knocked out.
COMMENTATOR: This, for the world title, Tom Dryden.
Until a new Conker Queen and King are eventually crowned.
The humble conker has had an eventful history,
And now, as this eccentric event shows,
they're still giving pleasure to people all over the world.
An autumn tradition that will hopefully never grow old.
Well, thanks to the Countryfile calendar,
we'll know when to start prepping for next year's World Championships.
If you haven't got one yet, here's all the details.
It costs ?9.50, including free UK delivery.
where you'll find a link to the order page.
Or you can phone the order line on...
Well, last year's calendar was a record breaker,
raising over ?2 million, and it goes without saying,
this year, with your help and the help of these beautiful photos,
we want to continue that amount of support.
then send your name, address and a cheque to...
And please make your cheques payable to "BBC Countryfile Calendar".
A minimum of ?4 from the sale of each calendar
will be donated to BBC Children In Need.
Autumn is as fruitful as it is flamboyant.
vital fuel to get animals through the winter.
Not to mention the odd calorific crumble for us.
autumn also presents a last-minute opportunity to pig out.
I'm delivering some pigs to a farming friend of mine,
and I've already overloaded some Tamworths and Iron Age,
and next, we've got this litter of Berkshires
and some Gloucestershire Old Spots too.
And these old-fashioned breeds fell by the wayside
because of fast-growing, modern pork production.
But now, thankfully, they're coming back into their own
It's really lovely to be able to take these rare breeds
to a farm that's going to appreciate them.
The piglets are going just down the road
Farmer Simon Wilson sells his rare breed meat
But his methods of rearing them are very traditional.
Good to see you again. Good to see you.
This is lovely for them in here. Yeah, it's perfect.
They've got three acres to run around in here. Wow, lucky pigs.
Hoovering up woodland nuts and berries
not only gives their meat great texture and taste,
it also clears the woodland floor, allowing regeneration.
Simon, they're instantly relaxed, aren't they?
If they were in the natural situation,
If they were just native pigs, they'd be in a forest or woodland.
And is that why these more ancient, sort of, traditional British breeds
like this kind of environment, do you think?
I think so. They wouldn't be happy indoors.
They need to be outside, rooting around.
They've got more hair and more fat, haven't they?
They've got the wherewithal to survive out here.
And the flavour is in the fat, you know,
so we don't mind a little bit of extra fat.
there's plenty of food for them, isn't there?
There's acorns, blackberries, there's even the briars,
they'll eat those, and the fallen leaves. Nothing's wasted.
And they'll rootle in the ground as well?
Yeah, there's worms and slugs in the ground.
They've all got their heads down already.
They're looking really happy, aren't they?
the porkers would take about five months to rear. Yeah.
Well, we're looking at six to seven months,
because we're producing a premium product.
They want to know where the animals are living? Yeah, they want a...
They want free-range pork. That's really quite important.
Well, if I was going to be a pig, reared outdoors,
This is lovely, isn't it? This is a happy place, isn't it?
It's good for the pigs, good for the woodland,
and especially good for the customer.
Simon sells his woodland-reared pork locally in his farm shop.
What I'd like is some of your free-range woodland pork mince. Yes.
A couple of kilos, if you've got some of that. Couple of kilos.
Thanks very much. Thank you very much.
Being able to buy meat of this quality and provenance
is a real treat, but to make the most of the flavours,
you don't want me cooking it. We need to bring in the professionals.
Right, I'd better get him paid for this.
Back at my farm, I'm meeting up with celebrity chef
and rare breed enthusiast Cyrus Todiwala.
Look very docile, don't they? Yeah, they're nice and quiet.
for his contribution to the hospitality industry.
who's embraced the qualities of our rare breeds in his dishes.
His series The Incredible Spice Men brought together the best
of what British ingredients and Indian spices have to offer.
Cyrus, when my father first started keeping rare breeds
it was all about saving them from extinction.
Sure. But you're more about giving them a purpose, aren't you?
in the sense that he actually had vision
beyond what was required at the time.
To save them from absolute extinction,
It sounds rather strange, but the more of the rare breed
you demand as a meat, the more the chances of the breed surviving.
And for you? What are your favourites?
Oh, my favourites. Manx Loaghtan, for example. The sheep.
I think they are as interesting to look at as they are to cook.
They are absolutely mad, I think, when I tried to catch one once.
So Manx Loaghtan, I've got very fond of at the moment.
And is it about educating farmers, chefs, AND the public?
I think we need to start with the public,
because the public dictate how food trends go,
and I think that's where the value comes in.
If people will start to demand, "Where did that come from?
"Who farmed it? Where was it grown? What did it eat?"
That makes the bond between the customer and the chef closer,
but, again, the third party involved is the farmer
for his producing such high-quality produce
I couldn't agree more. I'm loving what you're saying.
'And what better way to appreciate such fine British produce
'than to use Cyrus' expertise to knock up a batch of spicy sausages?'
'But first, we need to know what we're working with.'
So, Cyrus, as an Indian chef, you're famed for your spices,
but you're cooking this without any seasoning at all so far.
No, so, that's the way I like to understand my meat better.
It's very important that I get the flavour of the meat in my mouth,
for me, to work the spicing - or I could get over-enthusiastic,
as I would, normally, and chuck it all in,
and then realise, "What have I done? I can't taste the meat any more.
"All I'm tasting is the chilli, the ginger, the garlic."
Yes. But I want the meat to stand true.
which is reared with passion and love and affection...
You need to be careful. You need to be careful.
We want juiciness. And look at that.
OK, what you're seeing is the juiciness coming through.
See, if you look at that. Look at all that.
You see? How good that meat is? Really juicy, really soft.
And the meat itself is so flavoursome. Mm.
It is full of flavour, isn't it? Yeah.
What you're tasting there is purity in its best form.
What you're tasting is what's gone into making that animal grow
from there to there, before it comes to us.
Now what will you do with the spices to enhance the flavour?
For that sausage, we are going to saute some onion.
They are very basic, but they enhance meat.
'Seeing a top chef like Cyrus at work
'makes you appreciate how he values ingredients like this woodland pork.
'I'm just glad to have played my part in rearing it.'
This is my contribution, I'm not very good at the chopping.
No, you still have to make the sausages, my dear sir.
Have you made sausages before, are you good at that? I tried once.
On a professional machine, and it flew 50 yards.
Well, between us, we might make a right hash of it.
This is good fun. Oh, we've lost one, we've lost one.
'Little touches like poaching the sausages before grilling them
'gives you some clue as to how far Cyrus will go...'
That is showing how great we are as sausage makers.
'..to get the best out of his bangers.'
Well, it's lovely, the energy and effort
that farmers put into producing their food,
and then chefs like you put so much passion into cooking it well.
And if you didn't have customers who appreciated good food,
'Some of my pigs, given the top chef treatment by Cyrus.
Now, think about it. 100% meat, no bread, nothing in it.
And just to arrange a few slices on top, like that, like that,
I can't wait. Are you ready for this?
but those spices you put in are really bringing it out.
You can't come and cook lunch for me tomorrow as well, can you?
Just absolutely wonderful, thank you so much.
'Today, we're exploring the fruits of our forests,
'autumnal treasures ripe for the picking.
'I've been learning about the wonders of walnuts
'Joining in with the harvest is Catherine Lewis from Cardiff -
'but she's not here for the delicious, nutritious nuts,
'but for their inedible outer husks.'
Why would anyone be interested in the husk?
This is full of tannins, tannic acid,
which is great for dyeing cloth and making ink,
so you can see my hands are already stained pretty quickly with it.
See, I thought tannin was something you just found in wine and tea.
Yeah, it's found in wine because the wine's stored in oak barrels,
and oak trees and chestnut trees and walnut trees
are all really high in tannic acid, which is a dye.
'Back in Catherine's studio in Wales,
'she starts transforming the husks into creative colorants.
'It's an Aladdin's cave filled to the brim
Catherine, this place is perfect, isn't it? Thank you.
It's just what you'd imagine... An art den.
Yeah, an artist's studio-to-be. I've got a pinny for you.
Thank you very much. This was dyed with blackberries and indigo.
Oh, wow. So you did this as well? It's gorgeous.
Right, so what are we doing, Catherine?
We're going to be using the walnuts we collected at Sharpham Park
And we're just going to cut them up and put them into water.
Some natural dyes need what's called a mordant,
which helps the dye stick to the fabric,
but walnuts don't need anything. And does it have to be fresh?
For dyeing fabrics, I've found they work best fresh, yeah.
So this is the best time of year to be doing this?
Yeah, it's really good to get them straight off the tree,
straight into the water, and get the fabric in there, yeah.
And how do you know what strength of colour you're going to get?
You don't, really. It's a bit of trial and error, yeah.
Sometimes I leave them in soaking overnight,
sometimes you can get a really great colour in an hour,
it's a little bit of alchemy, really.
It is alchemy, I love that you said that,
because this does feel like a little alchemist's studio-to-be.
'Catherine's chemistry does spin gold. Not from lead,
'but various seasonal plants, like daffodils.
'And complementing the walnuts' dark hues,
'Catherine uses woad plants to produce indigo blues.
'The walnut husks are gently simmered
'to reduce the liquid and enrich the colour.'
So we're going to do some fabric dyeing now.
This is an old parachute? Yeah, from an old parachute, yeah.
So these will become scarves, like the one I'm wearing now.
So, depending on what type of fabric you use,
this is the colour palette you can get from the walnuts.
and then coming down to cotton and linen.
And they're all really different. And they were all dyed exactly
'We're using the ancient Japanese technique of kanoko shibori,
'better known in the West as tie-dye.
'It should create a series of circles. Fingers crossed.'
So we're going to do that a few times. As many as you fancy doing.
'the silk is quickly soaked to ensure a consistent final colour.'
So we're going to take it out of the water and put it into the dye.
And I'll give it a little stir, shall I? Yeah.
And now it's going to be a pretty tie-dye scarf.
'Not only do walnuts produce beautiful fabric dyes,
'but richly coloured inks for writing and printing.
'Catherine carefully adds a few magic ingredients.
'Gum arabic to thicken, iron sulphate to make the ink permanent,
'alcohol for preservative, and even juniper for scent.'
There's a mesh that's had a photographic image put on there,
and this is a walnut tree. Perfect. Of course it is.
And the tree that these walnuts came from, actually. Ah!
So I'm just using recycled cotton bedsheets.
I'm just going to put some of the ink on there.
OK, so you're going to lift your squeegee up and put it behind,
and then about a 45 degree angle, and pull it slowly down towards you.
Oh, wow. It's worked. Fantastic. Walnut ink, walnut tree. Beautiful.
'And the scarf hasn't turned out too bad, either.'
'From food to fashion to calligraphy,
'the humble walnut is the gift that keeps on giving.'
And is this quill for me? It is. And so you just dip it in.
Just dip in, give it a little tap to take any excess ink off.
I'm going to write something, I'm just going to go for it.
I'm going to write something for Countryfile.
It's a lovely autumn brown. Isn't it?
Very good. Where is she going with this?
I'm actually just using this quill, letting it do its thing.
Very good. "Countryfile is nuts for autumn."
'that take advantage of autumn's rich pickings. Fish do, too.
'We caught up with wildlife photographer Jack Perks
'in Nottingham, as he filmed this seasonal wonder beneath the water.'
I used to quite enjoy fishing from an early age, like 11, 12.
And I'd come down here on the brook, catch little tiddlers.
It seemed like this giant river that had these monster fish
And it was just great when you'd peer over
and you'd see in the willows these chub cruising by like submarines.
That really drove my interest in fish.
Fairham Brook, it's quite an odd place.
It's this mosaic of habitats that come wild, urban, wild, urban,
and they just mesh together to make this really strange looking place.
Really, it's an urban oasis, it's a wildlife corridor.
Autumn's a fantastic time on the river.
This is certainly the time of year that I look forward to most,
particularly now we're just starting to see the leaves threatening
to turn yellow and those kind of golden hues.
The main thing that I focus on is freshwater fish.
They're just amazing, they have all these interesting behaviours
and different lifestyles - they're just fascinating.
Underwater photography really appealed to me,
just cos it was a way of showing off these fish.
The fish don't particularly want to be photographed,
so that meant using things like camera traps -
so, having small cameras weighted down on the bottom
and then leaving them be for however long,
and then watching what fish come in to investigate.
Other times, I'll get in the river and I'll snorkel.
other times I've had them almost come in and nibble my finger,
really, really curious, which we don't tend to think of with fish,
this big, gangly thing, floating in the river.
It's all about the blackberries along the river bank
and, in particular, chub gorge on them.
But I just love watching them wait under these blackberry bushes
They're straight in there, filling themselves silly on fruit.
I mean, the word "chubby" comes from chub,
Elderberries they'll eat, hawthorn berries...
It's quite weird, fish that eat fruit, but they do.
and of course that's important for them for the winter
to pack on the weight when there might not be as much food around.
They love the autumn, and I'm almost sorry when it's over,
without them scoffing all these berries!
Back in East Sussex, I'm with chef Nick Weston,
And I'm getting very hands-on with some pheasant and partridge
So we're going to focus mainly on the breast.
The thing about pheasants, I mean, they are such...
Just coming into season, beginning of October,
so it's a really good wild meat to use, and so plentiful.
Nick's approach to butchery is very much in the field...
..and a quick warning, if you're squeamish, look away now!
So if we lay the bird down on the floor like that
and get one foot really nice and close into the breast,
and then same on the other side like that,
now if you grab the legs around there, quite firmly...
And then what happens is you end up with two bits of birds,
that crown and the breast, which we're going to take out,
so all you have to do is go to your chopping board
So you just run your knife in right up
So, you know, that's a really nice chunk of meat,
and that's about as free-range and wild as you can really get.
Next up, the partridge. So, just going against the grain, as it were.
Just literally pulling them straight out, like that.
Of course, Nick's not one for convention,
so we're roasting the partridge over fire...on a sycamore branch.
The thing is, cos this is kind of spring-loaded,
it keeps these birds on here really nice and snug.
Though Nick is passionate about eating wild,
he freely admits nature often needs a helping hand.
It's not all about using just foraged ingredients.
You'd probably end up having not a particularly great meal
if you didn't use things you can get from the supermarket,
because game has very little fat, so adding in things like butter,
..is just a wonderful way of keeping it nice and moist
While the partridge roast over the fire,
Nick does his cheffy bit with the pheasant.
He opens it up, adds a shaving of truffle
They look done. Shall I bring them over? Yes, please!
You can't really beat that smoky flavour.
Our wild salad, some pickled carrot to garnish
and that's our partridge dish done.
Look at that, eh? That's autumn on a plate, isn't it?
Right, let's stop looking at it and get eating it.
Joining us upstairs for our autumnal feast are Nick's wife Claire
Look at this beautiful display of wonderful colour and gorgeous food.
Do you eat like this all the time, Claire?
Pretty much, yes, pretty much. Do you?
I have to say though, I'm not a massive fan of game or truffles!
Right. Two of the things I have on tap! Well, that's fair enough.
But I think we should certainly give it a go.
It looks beautiful, it smells delicious.
That's good, isn't it? That is actually very, very good.
It's very tasty, that. And you butchered it. Mm.
It's about trying to get it all on a plate and capture that season
and I think with those two, we've certainly done that. Yeah.
Do you know what, I'll do the washing up in just a moment.
If you wouldn't mind. I will quite literally wipe the slate clean!
But before that, I'm just going to link to the weather!
Yes, if you are planning an autumn adventure
then you're going to need to know what the weather's got in store,
so here's the five-day forecast for the week ahead.
Has been very dry, 14% average rainfall, also dry in Pershore. Most
of the rain on the east coast, way born more than average, the showers
have been hit and miss and brought in on an easterly wind. We still
have an easterly wind right now, the wind will be lighter overnight but
there is more cloud in the southern half of the UK so it won't be as
cold, not likely to get the fog, we will get showery bursts of rain in
the south-west. Further north with breaks in the cloud it will be
culled enough for a touch of frost and patchy
fog and a few light showers coming into eastern parts of Scotland,
perhaps. As we head into Monday the first fog Emma North will lift and
we will get sunshine coming through. Further south, Midlands, Wales
southwards there will be more cloud than today hence the chance of
showery bursts of rain clipping south-west Wales and especially the
south-west and potential flaws in torrential and perhaps thundery
downpours, not far away at all. That is something to watch. No more than
the odd spot of rain in the south-east, dried but much more
cloud, as they will be further north through the Midlands and across
Wales but in northern England it may stay dry with a few showers around.
More of Scotland will be dry, the winds will be lighter so the showers
not coming as far inland. Light winds on Tuesday, frost and fog in
Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England, only slowly
lifting. Further south, not as much cloud, the cloud will be thinning,
more of us will get sunshine, very few showers around, 15 or so in the
South, 11 or 12 degrees in the North. As we head into Wednesday we
start to see a change. We have some stronger winds coming in across
northern parts of the UK, not easterly but westerly wind and the
weather front arriving. It will not give much rain at all but the rain
will trickle down across Scotland, Northern Ireland and into northern
England and North Wales together with strong and gusty winds. Further
south and east lighter winds and dry, early mist and fog and
sunshine. The weather will start to change from mid week onwards.
Looking to the other side of the Atlantic, there is colder air
digging down from eastern parts of Canada. But there is warm air moving
northwards closer to the UK and the clash is strengthening the jet a
powerful jet stream developing later in the week. The position of the jet
stream means that to the south high pressure builds in and that will be
dominant across the southern half of the UK. Stronger winds on Thursday
across the North colour may be outbreaks of rain over the hills but
gusty winds to the east of high ground. Further south across the UK
the winds will be brighter, -- lighter but temperatures rising
across the board. Friday sees the threat of rainbow are mainly the
hills of western Scotland, cloud in other areas, the best sunshine in
the east and temperatures of 13-16d. By the end of the week of the high
pressure will build in and push rain to the north-west of the UK. There
will not be much rain over the week ahead. We start off pretty chilly,
some patchy frost, fog and sunshine too. From midweek less likely to
have frost and fog because it will JOHN: Autumn,
one of nature's greatest displays. A final fanfare before
the cold sets in. And for hibernating hazel dormice,
the race is on to stock up on the fruits of the forest
before winter takes its hold. For thousands of years,
they've survived everything that's been thrown at them,
but now dormice are on the brink. In just 16 years, in the UK, their
numbers have dropped by a third. there is hope for these
endearing creatures. are owned by the People's Trust
for Endangered Species and they're on the front line in the
fight to help our native dormice. Ian White is the trust's
Dormouse Officer. that makes it such
a safe haven for dormice? Well, we manage this woodland
by coppicing it, and there's just really good
and important understory There's no deer on the island
to eat all this regrowth, so it actually comes back
really well and creates a really
good habitat for dormice and a range of other species,
as well. Dormice have been known to double
their body weight in autumn as they build up for that
risky time, hibernation. If it's a mild winter,
they can actually wake up and every time they wake up,
they lose energy, they can only do that so many times
before they can no longer survive. So what kind of percentage
do you reckon Well, from the long-term monitoring
programme we've looked at, it looks like between 40 and 70%
of dormice won't survive over the winter. Goodness me, that's
a shocking percentage, isn't it? Certainly the biggest killer of
dormice in this country Ian and his team are giving dormice
a helping hand by pioneering The woodlands that still exist are
becoming more and more fragmented. Where there are fragmentations
of woodland, we can actually use this
to connect those up, as they live
in the tree and shrub canopy - it helps them move
between woodlands. A number of wildlife bridges have
been put up throughout the country, but this is the first one
that's been shown to be used by wild dormice,
so it's quite exciting. 24 cameras monitor the area
every night, and the dormice certainly seem to
like their new high-level crossing. And Ian's brought along some proof,
to show me. that they seem to prefer
the bridge to the ground. The woods also have more than
600 nest boxes that give vital shelter for the
dormice as they breed and sleep. So this is a dormouse nest
because of the green leaves on top. That is a telltale sign, is it? Yes,
definitely. Oh, look, there's one. There's another one there.
Two. Two so far. There's another one inside,
as well. Wow. 'We're in luck -
a mum and her two young.' So this is a juvenile dormouse.
What sort of age would that be? This would be born this year,
probably about six weeks old. that they use to feel their way
around the woodland at night and big eyes, again,
to help them see at night. There's his tail. They've got quite
long tails, haven't they? They're our only small mammal
with a furry tail. to check they're building up
well for hibernation. that have been through one
hibernation. So, Mum is weighing in at 21.5g,
so, heavier. And they're quite safe
in these bags, aren't they? Yes, there's plenty of food,
the amount of time we'll be, there's plenty of air
in there for them. The young male is also
looking healthy, so Ian is hopeful for this
family's chances over winter. I must tell you, Ian, that this is
quite a moment for me, because during my time
on Countryfile, and looked into them and never found
anything inside - this is the first
time I've ever seen a dormouse Though numbers have gone down
dramatically in recent years, The right kind of woodland
management and new ideas like the dormouse
bridge here at Briddlesford That and a coldish winter,
so they keep on sleeping. Well, the native dormouse certainly
needs our protection, against its invading
non-native cousin, which is currently causing
many problems for people living on the
Chiltern Hills? Well, find out more about that
and many other things by tuning in to
Countryfile Autumn Diaries every morning this week
on BBC One at 9:15. It's the most sensational season
of them all... FIREWORKS EXPLODE
..autumn. it's a chance to stock up before
the harsh winter days ahead. We'll be bringing you the seasonal
stories that matter Well, hope you can join us then,
but for now, goodbye.
To celebrate nature's final flourish before the slow descent into winter, the team pulls on its wellies, kicks through the crisp leaves and explores the fruits of our forests.
Anita heads to Somerset for a rare autumnal sight - walnut woodland with laden branches. We meet walnut farmer Roger Saul as he reaps one of Somerset's newest crops, borrowing technology from one of its oldest.
Matt is in the wilds of East Sussex to meet Nick Weston, a writer, woodsman and chef who spent six months living off-grid in a tree house built from wood and recycled materials.
Tim Shepherd is a botanist who specialises in timelapse filming. We gather young fungi on deadwood from Tim's local woodland to take back to his studio to film them growing.
We join Adam as he delivers some of his pigs to a Gloucestershire farmer using this traditional way of animal and woodland management.
John investigates the hibernation of dormice on the Isle of Wight.