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.
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.
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.
Two Nuthatches, (so named because of the way they jam hard seeds and nuts into the bark of a tree and hammer them open- ‘nut-hackers’), have been making repeated trips to our feeders. If you, like us, find sunflowers sprouting in the most unlikely places, Nuthatches are the likely culprits, since they eat some seed and store some for later. They used to be mostly confined to the south but have spread further north in the 20th Century, first breeding in Scotland in 1989! Feeding from bird tables has probably helped them extend their range. Conditions: Heavy rain showers and sunny spells. Temperature: Max 15- Min 8C.
Parasol Mushrooms are out in fields near woodland, woodland glades, pastureland and sometimes on stable dunes, from now till November, if we are free of frosts. Edible, and best picked when just opening and cooked when very fresh, it is best to check online or in book references for similar species, unless you know your toadstools! Dramatic-looking, it is easy to spot when mature as it is a large fungus standing upright on a tall stalk. Conditions: Cloudy and mild. Temperature: Max 20- Min 16C.
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.