Change and adaptation are natural processes, and as the days get shorter and the nights longer and cooler, much of nature starts slowing down. In the Cape Floral Kingdom, many plants, predominantly alpine types, have adapted and continue to grow during the cold and wet winter.

For the most part, deciduous plants, such as the oak trees around the Estate, will start transferring waste into their leaves and extracting beneficial compounds such as chlorophyll – the element that makes leaves appear green and aids in photosynthesis – which turns the leaves into the colourful mix of reds, yellows and browns that we associated with autumn.

As the leaves die, they float to the ground and disintegrate, releasing the trapped compounds, which are then recycled back into the soil. Evergreen plants such as yellowwoods do this continually throughout the seasons.

Insects, amphibians and reptiles, all being ectothermic animals – organisms which cannot produce their own body heat but rely on an ambient temperature for warmth – will start feeding up for winter as the lower temperatures diminish their activity levels. Many of them reduce their metabolism and hibernate, while others, such as the Cape serotine bat, may aestivate – that is, become dormant and only be more active on warmer days.

This is also why fewer insects are around during the winter months, and this means that predators such as birds, which rely on insects as a food source, have to alter their strategy as well. Many birds will migrate, either locally to areas where more food is found, which are often wetlands or, in contrast, move further north to warmer regions but remain on the African continent – these we refer to as inter-African migrants.

The most impressive migrations are undertaken by paleo-Artic migrants, who fly halfway around the earth twice a year. The barn swallow is a classic example, undertaking the six-week, 10 000-kilometre trip to Europe, returning in the spring to where they were born, an awe-inspiring feat for a small bird weighing a mere 20 grams.

With global climate change becoming more prevalent, we see many adaptions within the natural world to overcome weather patterns and intensity alterations. Many studies demonstrate how wonderfully flexible nature is; these could become lessons for future modifications in our own behaviour to ensure the survival of the natural world.