Nature never got the memo that it’s Autumn down South

While everybody in the Northern Hemisphere is noticing the early signs of Spring, here in the Southern Hemisphere, I am trying hard to recognize any signs of Autumn being here. Although the calendar says it is now officially Autumn, Nature never got the memo. Though maybe after the long drought we had, Nature is making up for lost time?

Autumn Birds

The wild duck startles like a sudden thought,
And heron slow as if it might be caught.
The flopping crows on weary wings go by
And grey beard jackdaws noising as they fly.
The crowds of starnels whizz and hurry by,
And darken like a clod the evening sky.
The larks like thunder rise and suthy round,
Then drop and nestle in the stubble ground.
The wild swan hurries hight and noises loud
With white neck peering to the evening clowd.
The weary rooks to distant woods are gone.
With lengths of tail the magpie winnows on
To neighbouring tree, and leaves the distant crow
While small birds nestle in the edge below.

By John Clare

Nice poem . . . that’s how I like to think of Autumn, birds fleeing the impending cold, Nature slowing down. But that’s not the reality here in the Southern Cape. Autumn here is . . . balmy. There might be a slight nip in the air in the early mornings, but it’s still quite hot during the day. The South-Easter – a summer wind here along the coast – dies down. Most days are beautiful and sunny and calm. The sun is less glaring than it was in mid-Summer, but it’s still bright enough to burn your skin.

This Wagtail isn't going anywhere!

Scratching his head and thinking "this is Autumn?!"

And Nature here definitely isn’t slowing down. We have some plants here which have only just started flowering, other plants that continue to sprout new shoots and leaves as if there’s no winter coming. Everything is very green still. Birds cheep and chirp and sing as if it’s early Spring. Willie says that the swallows have gathered and have flown back North. Really? I wonder whether something else has left without me noticing?

A tree in our garden which has just started flowering

Anybody know what this tree is?

Update: Debra (bagnidilucca) has helped me identify the mystery tree as a Tibouchina granulosa. If you happen to have other ideas about this, please leave a comment. Click on photos to enlarge them.

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Categories: Nature/Environment, Random


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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23 Comments on “Nature never got the memo that it’s Autumn down South”

  1. March 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    The same happens in BA … I cannot say that I realize it´s autumn. The day before yesterday I went running and I thought that my body was in flames, it was so hot that you could hardly breath. The following day temperature dropped to 15C and it was rainy. Today is 24C and raising. Someone must have mixed up the memos!!!

    • March 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

      Just had a look at a map, and guess what? We’re on the same latitude: around 34 degrees South. Not far enough North to be tropical; not far enough South to have a “proper” Autumn.

  2. March 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    I like the photo of the confused wagtail! They are such cute little things, with so much character.

    I find our messed up seasons a little disconcerting at times, and I can totally understand the birds’ confusion. Isn’t it amazing though how nature adapts?

    • March 24, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

      These are the first okay photos I’ve got of a wagtail. They are normally bobbing up and down and jumping around, so I can’t focus on them.

      I don’t think the wagtail was that confused – just itchy – that was just me interpreting animal behaviour again! 🙂

    • March 31, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      I also love the photo of the wagtail – well done on snapping him! They are very fast-moving, and often so nicely camouflaged, that it’s tricky to get a clear picture without branches in the way.

      • March 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

        Thanks! They are very energetic little birds, aren’t they? This one was too busy grooming himself, to jump around.

  3. jacquelincangro
    March 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    It’s “supposed” to be spring here, but last night it snowed again. I hope the budding daffodils survive.

    I like that poem. Great images!

    • March 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

      So it’s not just us having weird weather?

      Hope Reggie has recovered from his thundersnow fright.

  4. March 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    I think the purple tree is a tibuchia (I’m not sure of the spelling and this doesn’t look right) They grow in Brisbane as well. I always think of Shakespeare’s sonnet “That time of year when thou mayest in me behold, when yellow leaves, or none, or few do shake against the cold” I don’t remember the rest. It really doesn’t apply in Brisbane, but it certainly does here in Italy. I love the autumn here with the chestnut trees turning gold. The trees here are just beginning to turn green, and it will happen quickly now.

    • March 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

      Yes, I think you’re right about the tree! I think the species is Tibouchina granulosa. I read online that there is a pink variety as well. Which we also have one of in our garden. Thanks so much for identification.

      I have just found your “Autumn comes to Bagni di Lucca” post. Beautiful!

      • March 24, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

        Thank you, I did that last year just before I went back to Brisbane.

  5. March 24, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    I’m scouring the trees looking for buds- they should be there by the time we get back- spring is on its way here.

    • March 25, 2011 at 6:19 am #

      I hope you take lots of photos when it does happen. Does Hawaii have seasons?

      • March 25, 2011 at 7:11 am #

        I think technically there is a summer and winter which one knows based on storms but since its a tropical island the reality is that the temperature remains constant so everything stays relatively constant. I think based on length of day the blooming patterns probably change but unless you live here you probably don’t notice. I absolutely love the plant life here. You might be the only one to appreciate my tree pictures….

      • March 28, 2011 at 7:34 am #

        Ah, maybe you can sneak a couple in in one of your posts . . .

  6. March 25, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    Same thing in Aus. Over the past week have had hotter days then some of the ones in Summer. Weird.

    • March 25, 2011 at 6:21 am #

      I think South Africa and Australia often experience similar weather conditions. When Australia was having those floods in Queensland, parts of South Africa were also experiencing severe flooding. Luckily, not the area I live in though.

  7. March 25, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    It’s very much Spring here in Kentucky! Trees are blooming! But today was cold again. Hope you get some relief soon, my friend!

    • March 25, 2011 at 6:23 am #

      Thanks Kathy! I don’t know if it would detract from the current focus of your blog, but I would love to hear about what it’s like being in Kentucky. The place, the people, the Spring there.

  8. March 27, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    Spring has sprung in London, for sure – everything looks so beautiful, it’s quite breathtaking! I hear from my family, though, that Cape Town is still so hot … but my dad told me today that it’s dark when he wakes up these days, so something’s changing!
    Lovely photos, Lisa – thanks.
    Sunshine xx

    • March 28, 2011 at 7:36 am #

      I hope you post some Spring photos from London on your blog. Yes, things are changing here, but I think it’s going to be a delayed Winter – at least here in the Southern Cape.

  9. April 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Lovely post, Lisa! And timely as well. Just as you write of the swallows leaving your area I’ve seen the first of them arriving here this week! Perhaps the very ones that have been circling your neighbourhood.

    Terrific poem by Clare also – just loved the opening line; and great to see the wagtail photographed so well. Thanks!

    • April 3, 2011 at 8:28 am #

      Thank you for your kind comments, Julian! It would be interesting to know where “our” swallows went. We have a pair of martins that also visit our garden every year (they have a nest under our roof). They’re only here for a couple of months each year, and I always wonder where they go when they leave.

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