Saturday 26 September 2009

Glorious Autumn Weather

Golden SunriseI don't want to speak too soon, but after a mixed summer this autumn has started beautifully - bright blue skies with a few fluffy clouds and glorious golden sunrises.

The leaves started changing colour in August, but very few have fallen. If we don't get any high winds, I think this will be a very colourful autumn.

Golden Sunrise
Today was sunny and warm and the creatures in the garden were making the most of it. Two buzzards were soaring over the house and butterflies (Comma and Speckled Wood) and dragonflies were enjoying the sunshine.

Friday 25 September 2009

More New Moths

The Herald MothMoths tend to be rather intimidating to some people. They flutter around the windows and light bulbs at night trying to get in the house. They are mostly associated with darkness even though there are many day-flying moths. They were never one of my favourite creatures.

However, since I have started to look at them more closely I have realised they can be very beautiful. I am also amazed by their diversity.

This Herald Moth (Scoliopteryx libatrix) was on the glass door tonight. At a glance it looked like any other dark coloured moth. It wasn't until I took a photo that I realised how striking it was, with its jagged wings and bright orange/red markings.

There was another new one on the kitchen window which I think is The Gothic (Naenia typica), but I am not completely sure.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Shaggy Parasols

Shaggy Parasol - Macrolepiota rhacodesToday, I found two huge patches of Shaggy Parasol Mushrooms (Macrolepiota rhacodes) near the compost heap. The photo shows one of them. There must have been about a dozen of them, all about this size - more than 4 inches (10 cms) diameter.

These mushrooms have brown scales on the cap and a bulbous base to the stem.

They are apparently edible, but can cause stomach upsets in some people. I should stress that you should never eat any fungus unless you are certain it is safe to eat.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Daytime Bat

No photo unfortunately, but several times this week we have seen a bat flying around the house in the middle of the day. It was fairly light in colour and probably a Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) registering about 45KHz on the bat detector.

I just wonder what is bringing it out so early in the day?

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Face Off

Cock PheasantsThese two cock pheasants were having a bit of an argument today. There was no female around, so I am not sure what the disagreement was about. They usually live happily together in the garden until the mating season comes around.

Sunday 6 September 2009

Very Unwelcome Resident

American Signal CrayfishAlthough I knew there were American Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) in our pond, we don't often see them. It was a case of out of sight - out of mind, until I found this one, today, in the stream that feeds our pond.

These crayfish are a non-native species and their release into the wild in Britain is a disaster for our native wildlife. They are voracious predators which have almost wiped out our native crayfish. They eat fish, plants and invertebrates and cause erosion problems along riverbanks.

This one was about 6 inches (15 cms) long.

I am not really sure what we should do about them. Should I start trapping them?

Saturday 5 September 2009

Crickets and Dragonflies

Speckled Bush CricketThis Speckled Bush Cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima) was on the window today.

Not much else around except a couple of dragonflies - probably Southern Hawkers (Aeshna cyanea).

Southern Hawker - Aeshna cyanea
I find dragonflies almost impossible to photograph because they never seem to land. Southern Hawkers are fairly distinctive with their bright blue/green colouring.

Friday 4 September 2009

Determined Badgers

Wasp Nest dug out by BadgerI went back to have another look at the wasp nest mentioned last week. The badgers have been at it again and the hole is now much bigger.

I suspect the wasps have been fighting back but the nest is now much more exposed.

Because badgers have such thick fur they have a lot of protection against wasps stings. I would guess only their noses are susceptible. It will be interesting to see who wins this battle.