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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sedums of many sorts, so brilliant for feeding numerous bees, bumblebees, hoverflies and butterflies during these autumn weeks, have been providing important nectar for many insects and three types of Bumblebees in the garden today. Here are queens of the Tree Bumblebee. I covered this species early in the year, being one of the first to emerge in spring. First colonising from Europe in 2001, in the New Forest, it has now spread north beyond Glasgow. The rest of the colony die out by now while the Queens emerge to feed up before hibernating. If you don’t already have sedums, there is a wide range of size and colour to choose from. Conditions: Sunny. Temperature: Max 16- Min 10C
Brown Hawker Dragonfly- A common and easily identified Dragonfly, seen into autumn in gardens, woodland rides and well away from water, as well as by still or slow-flowing water, where it lays its eggs. The bronze coloured wings and
brown body, with yellow patches on the thorax are easy to pick up as this fast, big hawker catches insects on the wing, or hovers or even flies backwards. Conditions: Sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 18- Min 14C.