The Beginnings of Autumn
Sunday, September 26th 2021
The 1st, the Met Office autumn date, and 22nd of September, the equinox, have past and so it is definitely autumn. Signs of autumn are beginng to show themselves. Some Beech leaves in the tree in the orchard have turned golden. Usually these leaves remain on the tree right through until spring.
Outside the Field Centre the Red Oak is showing off its red leaves.
Larch needles have just a hint of yellow to them but their cones are hanging heavily on the branches. Over winter flocks of birds can be heard twittering as they feed from the cones.
Hawthorn berries are ready and waiting for the migrant Blackbirds and Redwings.
Warm sun brings out the butterflies and once warmed by the sun they feed, storing up fat levels ready for hibernation. Brightly coloured Comma butterflies hibernate in amongst dead leaves.
This Speckled Wood looks somewhat battered but is camouflaged against the fallen leaves. The males usually perch in a suny glade, from where they rises rapidly to intercept any intruder. Both sexes feed on honeydew in the treetops and are rarely seen feeding on flowers, except early and late in the year when aphid activity is low. Winter survival relies on caterpillars and pupae, which is unusual amongst butterflies.
Thank you to Andrew for providing the Larch and butterfly photos.
Weekly Round Up
Friday, September 24th 2021
Visitors often ask what a typical day at the reserve involves. The answer is always 'there isn't one'! Work varies from day to day depending on the season, the weather and the help available. Last week volunteers assisted in catching a sheep with a bad foot so that it could be treated. Earlier this week, the same sheep discovered that he could fit underneath the bottom rail of the wooden fence. Caesar (with the spotty fleece) had been joining visitors on their walks!
A new wire was added to prevent him from wandering around the reserve! All 7 are now back where they should be safe and sound.
Sections of boardwalk had to be repaired too, not a scheduled task but one that was found on a routine walk. As often is the case, it turned out to be a much bigger job than expected!
An invasive pondweed from New Zealand (Crassula helmsii) was spotted in one of the ponds and needed to be removed.
Another 'wader' job!
The weeds were carefully removed from the area.
Back on dry land, chaff was sieved ready to be put in large bird feeders all around the reserve.
Other work carried out included footpath repairs, monitoring for Mink and identifying moths, fungi and flowers.
Thank you to everyone involved, it all makes such a difference!
Monday, September 20th 2021
The bees are busy around the flowers, feeding on the nectar. Water Mint is a good nectar flower. Thanks to Tim for these photos.
Andrew also caught one feeding, this time on Hemp Agrimony.
It was starting to feel warm and this bee was cleaning itself and warming up. It was also raising a leg to warn me that I was too close!
Views Around the Reserve
Sunday, September 19th 2021
It is not often that there is a combination of sun, blue skies and white fluffy clouds, and no wind at Spigot Mere. These conditions show Spigot Mere as a large mirror!
Risedale Beck runs through this hidden away part of the reserve.
The woodland offers views of Risedale Beck through the trees but sometimes it is the sun sparkling through the dark trunks of the conifers that catch the eye.
Not long after sunrise across the heath.
Saturday, September 18th 2021
Andrew and Jan visited the reserve this week on a warm sunny day and the butterflies were out in profusion. No apologies for more photos of these beautiful insects, feeding up for hibernation. Catching a Peacock sunbathing on the boardwalk shows off its fantastic colours and patterns.
Hemp Agrimony's flowers are full of nectar and the butterflies (and bees) are always flitting from one flower to the next. Catching two different species at the same time, especially as one of them is a Comma, (the other is a Red Admiral) shows that, at least, sometimes they like to share.
Andrew also managed to catch a 'dragon' in flight.
Thank you Andrew for great photos showing off the beautifully coloured species that can be found at Foxglove.
Maxwell emptied the moth traps this morning. One had very few moths whilst the other held more including the first Red-line Quaker of autumn. Seven Pink-barred Sallows were also caught from this trap. The adults feed on Ivy flowers and overripe Blackberries, of which there were many in the surrounding area.
But the best catch of the day, although one should not have favourites, was the Red Underwing. In recent decades this moth has spread into Northern England. A few weeks ago one was caught but it refused to show its red underwings and flew off strongly. Today this one did show its colours but the background was not of the best however the colours more than make up for it. When released for a better photo - yes it flew off!
Moths are a good way down the food chain and many other creatures feed on them. A spider came out of its tunnel web on the ceiling of the veranda and claimed a micro moth. A Large Wainscot was released and flew onto a branch and no sooner had it landed than a Robin swooped down for its breakfast!
Thank you Maxwell for emptying and identifying all the moths. All the data willl be forwarded to Dr Charlie Fletcher the recorder for VC 65.