17th October 2017

Autumn fruits and nuts- it’s that time of year again, and the gale-force winds may have brought Conkers, Acorns, Chestnuts, Hazel Nuts down yesterday/today so here’s a reminder of the things you may get a close-up view of- and if it includes Sweet Chestnuts, you may even get a feast to take home and bake, roast or make into great soup with lentils. Conditions: Calming down in Sheffield after a wild night of tail-of-the-hurricane winds. Temperature: Max 14- Min 9C.

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14th October 2017

Moth night tonight. Organised by Butterfly Conservation, once a year, it is held at different times of the year and this is a late season one. The weather is warm and set fair and they’d like people to go out with a bright torch over the weekend and see which moths are feeding on Ivy flowers, such a great source of autumn food for many insects. Even if you can’t identify them, you can look and enjoy the huge variety of moths we have in the UK. Conditions: unseasonably mild, sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 19-Min 13C.

Frosted Orange Moth, a moth that flies into late autumn

Frosted Orange moth

10th October 2017

Goldfinch juvenile- just beginning to get its red head

Goldfinch juvenile

Goldfinch drawing- adults and one juvenile

Young Goldfinch are still showing up in our garden- these must be from a late brood. Goldfinches, recovering from losses in the 1970’s and one of the few birds to be increasing, come to feed on Niger and Sunflower seeds at garden feeders, and have 2-3 broods a year- hence the late showing of juveniles. Still to gain their red heads, they do have the black and white ladder-backs and gold wing stripe. I’m including a drawing I did of adults and young. Conditions: Mild with sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 16-Min 13C.

8th October 2017

Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers are hard to tell apart and both might be stopping off in your garden, like the Chiffchaff is in ours, filling up on their way south for winter migration. If you get the right view, you can see that Chiffchaff’s have dark legs, and, migrating shorter distances, have shorter wings. Willow Warblers have pale pinky-orange legs, are usually more yellow in overall colour, and have longer wings for longer migration. The photo’s should help! Conditions: Cloudy Temperature: Max 15- Min 11C.

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

 

2nd October 2017

Hornets- what is the point of wasps and their large relatives Hornets, people wonder. These highly social creatures which operate in complex colonies are often disliked for their propensity to sting. In fact the Hornet we have (unlike the Asian Hornet) has a fairly mild sting and only attack if disturbed. They chew wood, mix it with saliva and build intricate paper nests often in trees. They eat plant matter but also often hover around plants, like these were last week, down South, predating many garden pests. So, i fact, they are helpful to us humans! Conditions: Sun and a stiff breeze. Temperature: Max 15- Min 11C.

Hornet

Hornet

Hornet

30th September 2017

Butterfly Conservation reports that the wet summer (11th wettest on record) proved another bad year for most Butterflies and Moths, insects which help in plant pollination. The three most common Whites, (see photo’s)- the Green-veined, the Large and the Small White all suffered, though Meadow Brown and Red Admiral did fairly well (featured in earlier blogs this year). More people than ever took part in the Great Butterfly Count they run- 60,000– but, at an average of 11 butterflies per recorder, that is the worst numbers seen since recording began in 2010. Conditions: Sun and showers. Temperature: Max 15- Min 12C.

Large White Butterfly

Small White Butterfly

Green-veined White Butterfly

25th September 2017

Bumper hedgerow crops– The year’s strange weather pattern, with cold early spring, a dry April and enough sun and rain in July and August, has led to a really good crop of autumn Blackberries, Hips and Haws, Crab Apples, Sloes and Bullace (like wild Damsons), Acorns and many other seeds and berries, This is boosting Butterflies, after a late, slow start, and will enable bees, birds and mammals to stock up for migration or to survive winter. Walking the hedgerows today we saw many birds and insects feeding-Redstart, Warblers, Stonechat– it is a good time to keep your eyes peeled, especially for birds preparing to migrate. Conditions: A warm spell. Temperature: Max 16- Min 13C.

Bullace fruit

Heavy Acorn crop

Heavy Sloe crop wherever sheltered from the late frosts

Plentiful Crab Apples and Haws in the hedgerows.