Almanac: October 2021

Nature and Moon phases

Autumn is here, and the winged and furry ones are growing their winter coats and fattening up for colder climes ahead, as we should too. With less food around, many birds flock together to look for last hedgerow pickings. Jackdaw flocks are spectacular, often perching on telegraph lines and house roofs. But the real wow factor is when starlings form their murmurations – consult websites like starlingsintheuk.co.uk to find displays near you.

In gardens, many plants now have hollow stems and dropping seed heads, but don’t mow all the stems for compost – instead, tie some into bundles and place them where overwintering insects can use them for a safe haven from extreme cold weather.

If you live by the coast, October heralds the grey seal pup season. If you’re lucky enough to see one, be sure to keep your distance or the mother might abandon her pup.


October’s big event, the loved or hated Halloween, originates from the Celtic Samhain festival that celebrates change and all beginnings and endings. Let’s use this 31 October as play therapy: treat yourself with celebrations, ghost stories and laughter: just the warm coat we all need to get us through the darkness of winter.

Positive Ecological News

Extinct orchid flowers in City

The Mediterranean Small-Flowered Tongue Orchid, believed extinct, has unfurled on the roof of an investment bank in London. “Orchid seeds are incredibly small and can travel great distances by wind,” notes the rooftop garden manager, who believes the orchid seed crossed the Channel on the southerly winds that sometimes deposit Saharan dust in London. “Once settled on the roof, the seeds would have formed a symbiosis with a mycorrhizal fungus enabling them to germinate and grow. [But] the odds are astronomical.”

Biden acts to protect Alaskan forest

Tongass National Forest in south-east Alaska is the largest U.S. national forest at 16.7m acres, including trees over 800 years old. Reversing Trump’s move to open up the park for large-scale logging, President Biden has pledged to reinstate the “Roadless Rule” that bars companies from construction and logging there.

Sweden’s “green steel” breakthrough

Sweden’s green steel venture HYBRIT (hydrogen breakthrough ironmaking technology) is set to start full commercial production of non-coal steel in 2026, transforming an industry that produces 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Another venture, H2 Green Steel, plans to build a fossil fuel-free steel plant in the north of Sweden starting in 2024.

Wales to plant new national forest

The Welsh government has announced plans to create a National Forest to preserve nature and improve biodiversity. The pledge is to plant woodlands in over 5,000 acres of land every year across the country, to meet their objective of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.


Sky Events

The best day to view the Draconid meteor shower is on 7 October as there’ll be no interference from moonlight; locate the constellation of Draco as most of the meteor cluster will originate from there. On 25 October the planet Mercury will be at its highest point in the eastern sky, just before sunrise. Venus will shine bright on 29 October, in the western sky after sunset.


1 – 7 October: Neap
8 – 14 October: Spring
15 – 22 October: Neap
23 – 31 October: Spring

Andreas Kornevall is a Swedish storyteller, writer and ecologist. He is also Director of Operations for the Earth Restoration Service charity based in the UK

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