Why the warmer weather expected this weekend is 'good news' for hedgehogs and dormice

Hedgehogs need all the help they can get as their numbers are dwindling. Credit: Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust says the upcoming weather may be "good news" for creatures that are getting ready to hibernate.

The short warm snap forecast ahead could benefit wildlife as they stock up on food, with balmy weather set to boost the berry season.

October is an important time for the likes of hedgehogs, whose populations are widely known to be dwindling, as they prepare for hibernation.

Temperatures are set to peak in the mid-twenties in the South West on 7 and 8 October, which is much higher than the average for this time of year.

The Woodland Trust says while “unusual”, the short warm spell may provide a boost to the amount of food available.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite from the Woodland's Trust said: "Whilst it is clear that our seasons are changing due to climate change, with earlier springs and later autumns, the pretty damp conditions we have been getting, plus this unusual warm spell to come, may not be a bad thing.

“It looks like being a rather short span of warmth so not long enough to confuse plants and animals.

Dormice are also set to benefit from the food boost. Credit: PA

“Rather more positively, it may give a little bit more time for those animals that are set to hibernate like hedgehogs to find their prey.

“Hedgehogs feast on worms, beetles and other insects, all of which will remain active for longer in the milder weather.

“Dormice can stock up on a bigger abundance of berries and nuts. It may also extend the active butterfly season for species like red admiral.”

Leaf tinting is usually seen as one of the first signs of autumn with records coming in for the first tint for silver birch, rowan, oak and beech etc. There are early signs of a good crop of conkers too, possibly linked to the early September warm spell.

Dr Lewthwaite added that it will take a little time to see a true reflection of early autumn as more records are needed.She added: “We recommend people to make the most of this warmer weather and get out and about to enjoy the early autumn signs in our woods. If you’re have a particular eye for spotting signs of nature’s changing seasons, we are always on the lookout for more volunteers.”

The Woodland Trust’s Nature's Calendar project tracks the effects of weather and climate change on wildlife across the UK, with a dataset going back nearly 300 years.

This allows the trust to get a better sense of how climate change and other patterns in the environment are impacting nature.