Some Autumn snippets 8 November 2020
As I write this, autumn is heading towards winter and many trees, once golden, are losing their leaves. Autumn has however, been wonderful with so much going on.
Our oaks have been a vision of yellow, orange and gold and have been dropping their acorns for squirrels to hide or be taken by mice and jays. Hedgerow hazels have had their nuts taken by squirrels, leaving jagged empty shells on the ground, while others are taken by mice, dormice and voles leaving neat round holes. Hedgerow crab-apples have been shedding their fruit onto the ground, food for badgers, foxes, mice, voles and also black birds and thrushes. Ivy flowers have supported many insects and especially the pretty little ivy bee that only emerges at ivy flowering time.
Golden colours of our autumnal oak.
In the garden, we have had foxes and so chicken keepers should watch out. We often smell their musky scent as we walk the village footpaths. Sadly, we have not seen hedgehogs this summer and autumn but did see one dead on the A3 slip road at the A272/A3 junction recently and which is now recorded on Hedgehog Street’s Big Hedgehog Map (https://bighedgehogmap.org/). Many birds have been coming down to the feeders and it is always a delight to see great spotted woodpeckers in the garden (the red mark at the back of the head identifies this as a male). Walking down Ridge Common Lane this evening, past the great oak, pipistrelle bats were flitting back and forth.
A fox at the end of the garden.
Male great-spotted woodpecker.
Misty weather brings out jewel-laden cobwebs, the flat spiral orb webs of the garden spiders are particularly beautiful and identified by their cross marking. There are many other spiders about this autumn and a nocturnal flattened walnut orb-weaver spider has made its home in a gap on the side of our shed and appears every night in the centre of its web.
Garden cross spider.
Walnut orb-web spider.
Dew laden spiral cobweb.
Moths have had a good autumn too with many colourful species that only fly at this time of the year. The Merveille du Jour (French for ‘wonder of the day’) is a beautiful brilliant emerald green moth. Interestingly, several green moths appear in the autumn and the Green-brindled Crescent is another with wonderfully iridescent green scales. These moths appear to disappear against a backdrop of lichens so good is their camouflage.
Merveille du Jour Moth
Green-Brindled Crescent Moth
This autumn has also been good for fungi and many species have been sending up their fruiting bodies. I have chosen just two. The pink-gilled fungus was growing at the end of the garden and remains unidentified but is rather pretty. Much easier to identify are candle-snuff fungi growing on damp dead wood. Fungi are not easy to identify and experts take spore prints and test them with various chemicals before offering an identification.
The Pink-Gilled Fungus
Modern research is showing that the roots of most trees (and plants) in a wood are connected by an underground web of fungal mycelium (the ‘wood-wide web’), the trees and fungi being both dependent upon and supportive of each other. Perhaps more on this in a future blog.