Sunday, 17 September 2017

September Sightings

Sometimes wildlife sneaks it's way into the house. One evening a moth fluttered in through the front door and then happily sat at the top of the living room wall.

This is a brimstone moth, one the UK's brightest. Who said all moths are dull looking? This species is attracted to light which is likely why I headed straight for our doorway. It has a complicated ecology with anything from one brood a year to three broods over two years

There are also still a few butterflies around but with the temperature getting colder the number is getting lower every day. I've mostly seen large whites and red admirals on the wing but I have also seen the occasional comma

I spotted this harvestman this weekend, really obvious against the leaf. 

These arachnids are omnivores and eat everything from squashed slugs, bird droppings and fruit to small invertebrates they catch. Now is the best time to see these creatures- there name comes because they are usually mature by the Autumn, around harvest time. 

There's a lot of spider around at the moment leading to loads of really beautiful webs.

The tensile strength of spider silk is greater than the same weight of steel and has much greater elasticity. Webs are also electrically conductive which causes the silk threads to spring out to trap their quarry, as flying insects gain a static charge which attracts the silk.

The small birds appear to be a little more obvious again now, likely because they need to spend more time looking for food. There will be very few caterpillars and other invertebrates for them to find unlike the abundance over the summer. 

Robins are starting to begin their autumn song which is subdued and melancholy compared to the powerful and upbeat spring song.

I was lucky to get this shot of a blue tit which looks like it was jumping in the air. Despite the breeding season being over, blue tits are often seen around nest boxes at this time of year. There are several possible explanations for this- blue tits often start looking at nest boxes ahead of the breeding season before making the final decision in the spring. It may also be as they are looking for somewhere relatively warm to roost in the colder weather. 

It's not entirely clear what species bird is but I think the streak of yellow in the tail feathers indicate it is a goldfinch. While goldfinches are resident to the UK plenty more arrive for the winter from North West Europe and Scandinavia to escape the colder weather. 

I've also captured a few good shots of mute swans over the last few weeks. 

Whilst mute swans do not migrate they do tend to move to a different area over the winter. Some young swans are driven off the breeding territory by their parents at this time of year too, when their plumage become predominantly white.

Over the last few weeks a bird has taken up resident on the island in the middle of the fishing lake. 

It's really hard to spot in this photo but it's the tiny white speck in the centre. This just shows how far away from humans and land-based predators the bird is. 

This is as close as my camera allows. This grey heron has been sat on this log every time I've been passed over the last fortnight. I rarely saw a heron here over the summer so I suspect this individual has moved to the area, either having migrated here or separated from a breeding colony.

Grey Squirrels are well known for collecting acorns at this time of year but you rarely catch them in the act. I did however manage to spot this one running off with it's find. 

I shall end with one more mammal, the world's longest roe deer

OK, it's really two deer in long grass but it makes for an amusing image!

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