Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Monday 4 November 2013

No clouds, no rain, no cold, November

This title of this post may well be inaccurate by tomorrow, but for now - in this part of Britain at least - it is warm, dry and sunny. More importantly, it has remained warm apart from a couple of cold nights and dry apart from a few days of stormy rain for much of the autumn. This of course affects our wildlife. For example, a 'proper' hot, dry summer after several cool, wet ones has seen butterfly populations bounce back to some extent, and this is likely to be helped by a long warm autumn. Undoubtedly, migratory birds will have done better than in previous years, being able to find more food for there long autumn flight, and hibernating species will have a better chance of storing enough energy for the winter. Personal observations also bear this out - garden birds are not using our feeders so much as they have been (though I have seen plenty of birds around) - presumably there is still plenty of wild food available.

This year our strawberry plants have fruited into November - some wild plants will be doing the same
A long season of favourable conditions means that breeding/reproduction can go on for longer with 'extra' broods possibly being squeezed in before winter. I have seen late jackdaw broods in chimney-pots nearby, but on a smaller scale, the female Steatoda nobilis false widow spider (one of the species associated with tabloids' recent scaremongering) that lives in our garden storage box has another brood which she guards closely.

Female Steatoda nobilis guarding her egg-sac - two old sacs remain showing that this is the third brood in this sheltered location.

 Of course, it is autumn - leaves are turning yellow and falling - and it has been damp recently, so Fungi are also appearing to remind us that this is not simply an extension of summer. There are 'toadstool' or mushroom-types of Fungi, but personally I am drawn to the smaller species (as I am with invertebrates), some of which have appeared, almost overnight, on some of our garden woodwork...
The common species Coral Spot Nectria cinnabarina - associated with dead wood, here it is on a batten forming part of a garden shed
A small species on hardwood garden shelving - I haven't yet identified it but it look a little like an oysterling (Crepidotus sp.)
So, just a few observations about this autumn, but they do give a flavour of how the current and recent conditions affect the wildlife we see - hope you enjoy whatever you are watching out for!

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