Saturday, 31 October 2015

Day 351 - Happy Halloween! - Pammene aurana

Pammene aurana (I think) at Silton Forest
14 Days to go!!

Hey everyone today's Day 351 and the first thing to say is: 'Happy Halloween'! Well, as it's Halloween I thought I would do a Halloween theme post. A while ago, I saw the Agapeta hamana and I gave it the common name of the Smiley Moth as, on its wings, it had a smiley face! Well, a while ago as well, I saw another one that looked like it. But this looked almost exactly like a pumpkin. I thought there and then, even though I saw it in July, "Halloween!".

Now, I've done loads of web research on this moth and had advice from a moth expert but its one that's not easy to identify from a photo. It's definitely the same family as the Agapeta hamana, one of the Tortix family of moths but after that it's hard to tell. The closest match I could find to my photos is the Pammene aurana so that's the one I've researched. No common name so I'll say it's the Halloween Moth.

Enjoying the Hogweed
So, here are the facts:

  • They aren't the most common. They are found around England, Wales and Scotland. Not at all in Ireland though.
  • In Yorkshire there's been about 300 sightings. The were first recorded in Yorkshire in 1883.
  • One reason why they aren't seen might be not seen as much is because they are extremely small! 
  • "How small?" you say. Well, they are very small only, on average, 11mm with their forewings! 
This is why it reminded me of Halloween
  • They fly most commonly between June and July. This is a very small flight period. The smallest I have seen.
  • The adults like to feed on Hogweed and so do the larvae which will spin seeds together, I assume with silk, and will feed on the seeds inside the spinning they have made.
  • Around October when the larvae are fully grown they head to the soil and spin a cocoon which they live in over the winter.
  • They will then pupate in the cocoon in the spring before emerging as adults.
    Can you see now?
  • Habitats they like are really anywhere you will find hogweed so hedgerows, woodlands rides and edges and roadside verges
  • I bet you're all wondering where 'Jack-O-Lanterns' come from. Well it seems to be a Celtic tradition and Halloween is a mix of Christian and Pagan traditions.
  • Originally they were made in Britain out of turnips and on Guy Fawkes night and Halloween turnip lanterns. A man with a lantern used to be known as a Jack-o-lantern and eventually it got applied to the turnip lanterns.
    Our Jack-o-lanterns this year
  • When Irish settlers went to America they found Pumpkins made better lanterns and so we get the modern tradition.
  • There is also a legend about a man called 'Stingy Jack' who was supposed to have tricked the devil - cut a long story short he was made to walk the earth with a turnip lantern not being allowed into heaven on account of being an 'unsavoury character'.
Well here's a few link to more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Friday, 30 October 2015

Day 350 - Fabulously, Resplendently Special Fen Raft Spider

15 days to go!

Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius) at Bird Fair
Hey everyone today's Day 350. Only 15 days to go! The countdown had now officially begun. Well, as it's such a special occasion, I thought I would write about a special species. Well, I chose the Fabulously Resplendently Special Fen Raft Spider. It's quite a rare species so I thought it deserved the spot of Day 350. We saw this at Birdfair, It was captive but it's such a beautiful species I felt like I had to cover it anyway.

Also, it seems fitting for Halloween Eve!

So, here are the facts:

  • Specifically, this spider is called the Fen Raft Spider, Raft Spiders is the family that it comes from.
A Spiders eye view - it has one leg holding onto a leaf
  • They are one of only two species of spider that are fully protected by the UK law. Don't worry, they had clearance to own them!
  • This is understandable as, in the UK at least, they have been branded as 'vulnerable to extinction'! 
  • Adding to this, you can see why, as they are only known to live at 3 sites across all of the United Kingdom. 
  • Not only are they a beautifully coloured and marked spider they are quite big at up to 7cm across. They will live for around two years.
With a big egg sac!
  • It is rather a caring mother, for 3 weeks it carries up to 700 eggs in a silk sack and then weaves a nursery web just before the eggs hatch.
  • This web, which looks sort of like a tent, is found between 10cm and a metre above the water.
  • Well, seen as they live right above water, they'll need some adaptations. This why their legs are kind of hairy and the hairs are very sensitive. 
  • Using the surface tension of the water they spread their legs over the surface of the water and detect vibrations with the sensitive hairs. They feel for their prey's vibrations on the waters surface like most spider do on their webs.
  • Also they have great eyesight and can see under the water and will pounce on fish and tadpoles that get close. I found a great video on youtube showing this - narrated by David Attenborough too!

  • Apart from fish they will eat tadpoles and insects like pond skaters.
A beautiful Spider!
  • They are seen, in the few places they are, from May until August. That is most commonly, they can be seen at other times.
  • The Males have a body length of between 13 and 18mm and the Females have a body length of between 17 and 22mm.
Here are some links to some more information:

ARKive - Fen Raft Spider

Another video here tells you about conservation work for this wonderful Spider.

Hope you enjoyed,


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Day 349 - Obviously So Magnificent - Orange Swift Moth

Orange Swift Moth (Triodia sylvina)
Hey everyone, today's Day 349 and I went to the Nosterfield Open Day, it was quite a while ago now that I think about it, almost 65 days! When I was there, though, I was granted the great job of helping to man the Moth traps. Specifically, I was told to put one of almost each species of Moth into the jars so people could look at them later. It also helped with me being able to take pictures at the end before I released them again. I learnt a lot about the different species. This lovely Orange Swift Moth turned up in the Moth trap too!

So, here are the facts:

  • As in most Moths and Insects I have covered, they are quite common in England and getting less so the further North and West you go.
A side view
  • Weirdly, they are found on all of the islands around Britain, such as the Isle of Wight, but not Ireland.
  • They apparently fly later in the year than most of the 'Swift' moths. Some examples of these moths are: The Gold Swift and the Common Swift.
  • The time that it flies most commonly is from July to September. But of course they may be seen a couple of months either side of this time scale.
  • In total they have been seen with wingspans 32mm - 48mm, but, again, there will have been cases where they are bigger.
  • Adding on to this fact, they do have a case of sexual dimorphism. The Males are actually smaller than the Females.
  • They also have marked sexual dimorphism. In this case the Males are actually more brightly coloured than the Females.
  • They inhabit mostly Gardens, Woodlands, Grasslands, Moorlands and even the verges on the side of roads!
  • They choose these habitats as the larvae feed on the roots of herbaceous plants like bracken, dock and dandelion amongst others.
  • They can spend two winters as larvae before the pupate, which they do underground.
And a bugs eye view :-)
  • As adults they don't live long apparently as they have a short proboscis and can't feed - that seems to be a bit of a design flaw!
  • There are apparently 500 species of Swift moth family (Hepialidae) in the world but we only get 5 in the UK.
Here are some links to some more information:

NatureSpot - Orange Swift 

Hope you enjoyed,


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Day 348 - Wonderfully Whopping Wood Wasp

Wood wasp (Urocerus gigas)
Hey everyone today's Day 348 and a while ago, I was out at Nosterfield, but today's post isn't about what we saw there. Lightwater Valley (an amusement park well known in the North) is not too far away so we thought we would go out and play a little bit of mini-golf. But I keep my watchful eye out for nature wherever I am and me an my Dad saw this absolutely huge wasp flying around. As, it was a) a wasp and b) huge I got my Dad to take these pictures. Sadly we only got it with a phone as we didn't have the camera with us at that moment in time. Yes, today's post is about the Wood Wasp.

So, here are the facts:

  • Funnily, the golf that we were doing was pre-historic themed and when I first saw the wasp I thought it was one of those 2 metre long pre-historic dragonflies it was so big!
  • After we had taken the photograph of it, we saw that it didn't have a sting. I guess if you're that big you don't really need one!
  • Adding on to this, sometimes it does have something that looks like an absolutely huge sting but it's actually only females that do and its just a large ovipositor that they use for laying eggs in wood.
It was enormous, this post was as thick as my leg!
  • Well, to the people that discovered it apparently looked like a Horn which is why they granted it the name 'Horntail'. As well as the Giant Wood Wasp.
  • They are found mostly in areas where there are pine or coniferous woodlands as that's where the females lay their eggs.
  • They lay them in the wood and the larvae spend up to five years developing.
  • They are found from May to October but most commonly they are found all of Spring from May to August inclusive.
  • Now, I keep going on about how big they are without actually saying how big they are. Well, The Wildlife Trusts say that they are 7cm in length.
  • Despite being big and scary looking with the 'fake' big sting, they are in fact harmless.
  • They are one of the rarer species that I have covered with only about 100 records across the UK. 
  • Like the last species that I covered, they don't seem to be affected by how Northerly or Easterly you are, they're found rarely basically everywhere. Including Ireland.
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Day 347 - A Cracking Brilliant Carder Bee & Really 'Yor-some' Radio York

Me in the Radio York studio!
Hey everyone its Day 347 and a mix of something old and new today. I'll start with the new first. I had the chance to go back on Radio York again today and I met Jonathan Cowap who thought as it was close to Autumnwatch that he'd invite me in to talk about my blog and how its been going since I talked to them last back in May (around Springwatch time). It was great to be on the radio again and I enjoyed the interview. Sorry about the poor alliteration today Jonathon but Y is really hard to deal with, even with the internet. You can hear the interview at the link below - it starts about 2 hours and 14 mins in. I really enjoyed it so thanks Jonathon and Radio York and I'll happily come back again if you want :-)

My interview on BBC Radio York with Jonathan Cowap

The meadowy bit of Geltsdale
And now for the old. The species I'm covering today will be grateful it wasn't where I first headed that day as I saw it the same day as I went to see the Bee Eaters in Cumbria. This little critter was on some plants in a meadowy part of RSPB Geltsdale. As you can see in the photos it was hard to see at first as it didn't stand out as much as some bees. Today I'm talking about the Carder Bee. So what did I find out about this lovely bee?

Not so easy to see!
  • Generally the first fact I do whenever I do insects is how common they are and where they are found. Well the bottom line for this one it seems is that it's very common.
  • This is relatively interesting as I haven't seen many. myself. Maybe I don't know what they look like in comparison to others.*
  • Weirdly, whenever I do insects as well, they get less common the further North and East you go. Well, not in this one!
    But ok when you get close
  • The only place it doesn't seem common is in Ireland. There's still a couple there though! This might be because not many people report them. You don't know.
  • *Well, they look rather different to any other Bumblebees that I have ever covered in my blog, they look more like a Honeybee in shape, and from the top, a Yellow front and a Black back.
  • The 'Carder' Bee gets its name from the way they group materials such as wool and other materials together. Another name for this is 'Carding'. Dictionary Definition. They do this to create cover for the larvae.
  • They are found most commonly flying from June to October but they can bee ( it had to bee said at come point :-) seen from March to November.
Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum)
on Devils Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis)
  • The colonies that they have up to 200 workers in them and only young queens survive Winters and get new nests in Spring. 
  • Carder Bees are found in the usual bee-y place, meadows, other grassy areas, sometimes they are found even in gardens!
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed.


Monday, 26 October 2015

Day 346 - A Super Sunday

Up close with a fabulous Bullfinch
Hey everyone today's Day 346 and yesterday, I had an incredible Sunday. I started off waking up at what should have been 20 past 7, but because the clocks had gone back, was 20 past 6. Now, it was quite early for a) a Sunday and b) a half-term. This, however was worth the lack of sleep as I went bird-ringing and then I went to help out at my favourite local nature reserve, Nosterfield.

So, in today's post I will be talking about first, the bird ringing, and second, how I helped out at Nosterfield.

I didn't know Goldcrests have tiny feathers
like little eyelashes!
Bird Ringing

Such a cute bird the Long Tailed Tit
Well, the place I went ringing was near the Ripon. In fact it was on the edge of a military training area. now, don't worry, we had clearance to go in there by the people that run it. My favourite, yet nerve-racking, sign was one that I couldn't get a photo of but it said 'Warning! Do not touch any military debris as they may explode and kill you.' I'm not joking, that's what it said. :-D Anyway, on with the ringing. We had what was technically 5 nets set up. We had 2 nets set up in between to hedges so that if a bird flew out of one it would fly into the net. We also had 3 elevator nets set up (they were all joined together). What these were, were just huge nets going up to the top of the trees around it, they could be taken down with hooks on the poles that were holding it up. This was probably the most productive, due to its size, and we caught some very nice birds. One of these which was actually caught before we got to the ringing place and was also caught 3 times! It was the lovely Fieldfare, now we had seen some of these in the past (see my Fieldfare post here), but we only got some very bad shots of a couple in a field, taken from the car window, but this one was very up close and I even got to hold it and set it free! That's what I love about Bird Ringing, not only do you get to help out the birding community, but you get some really close-up experiences with birds.
A fabulous Fieldfare up close

So, a big thank you to the East Dales Ringing Group for inviting me over to do this incredible activity. 


Love the lichen on this Nosterfield sign
Well, I've said that I was helping out at Nosterfield but I haven't said what I was doing, well I have been cutting down some saplings and some mini-trees! Now, I didn't just go there with a hack-saw and just start to cut down some random trees. No, no I didn't, . It was an organised by 'the mere minion' (quoting from him) Whitfield. Also, we weren't just chopping down any trees, we were chopping down a lot of the Ash Saplings. Now, both me and Charlie (a Moth Expert that volunteers there) raised the point 'why are we being nasty to Ash, is it National Be Nasty to Ash Day?' or as I called it 'N-ash-ty Day'. Well, the reason that Whitfield told us is that if we didn't get rid of them then they would completely block out the view of the lakes. So, what we had to do was get rid of them at an early age and stop them growing. The process was that I chopped down some of the saplings with some loppers, and my dad painted over the tiny stump with special blue chemicals that would stop them growing. Everybody using the chemicals had to wear gloves as they could be irritating but my Dad somehow managed to get some on his head and turned into a Smurf... :-)

And still time for a walk!
Silton Forest changing colour

After that, well Esme still needed a walk, so my family were off out to another of my favourite places, Silton Forest. I hadn't been for a week or so so it was great to get back there. It was nice to see all of the trees changing colour and see if we could spot any new fungi. I didn't find anything different but it was still nice to walk in the woods. I then went home and sat down in front of a nice log fire!

So, that is my report on my favourite Sunday for a long time.

Hope you enjoyed,


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Day 345 - Extremely Spectacular European Spoonbills

Six Sleeping Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia)
Hey everyone, well I did say I'd kept a few species back that I had seen that I thought were quite special for the last few days of my year of nature hunting and today is one of those! Twenty days to go!

I'm going back to my holiday in Norfolk over the summer for this one. Now something that I find quite annoying is when I have seen birds far better than in my photos. Kingfishers and Spotted Crakes are two species, as well as today's, that I have had really good views of before I got my camera. I saw today's species much closer at Cley Marshes about two years ago. The six in my photo today I saw at Titchwell Marsh in August. They were all sleeping as well so you can't see the feature that gives them their name - their spoony shaped bill - well if you hadn't guessed before I'm sure that you will know now that today I'm looking at Spoonbills!

So what did I find out in my research?
They were at the far side of the reserve
  • They are considered to be a passage bird and you are only likely to see them around the coast of South and East England
  • To find one the most likely habitats you should visit are lakes, marshes and mudflats.
  • In the UK the most breeding pairs recorded is four. In the winter there are a few more, somewhere around 20 individual birds may stay here for the winter.
  • When they do breed they form colonies like herons, maybe even nesting alongside herons, and build a large nest of sticks in a low tree or bush.
  • They lay around 3 or 4 eggs in a clutch.
  • Because their breeding numbers are quite low they have an amber status, they are also a bird of European concern
  • They are quite a big bird on average 85cm in length with a 122cm wingspan. 
  • An average weight isn't known as too few birds have been ringed. This is the same for finding an average age for them.
Spoonbill from the Crossley ID Guide Britain and Ireland
Spoonbills from the Crossley ID guide
This shows them much better than my photos!
  • Their scientific name Platalea leucorodia is made up from Latin and Greek. The first bit is from latin and means 'the spoon bill' and the seccond bit is Greek and means 'the heron'
  • To feed they stir up mud with their feet and then sweep their bills from side to side in the water.
  • This allows them to filter out invertebrates, small fish and amphibians which is their main diet.
  • European Spoonbills are one of six species of Spoonbill in the world.
If you want to find out more try these links:

RSPB - European Spoonbill

BTO - European Spoonbill

Encyclopaedia Britannica - Spoonbills

Hope you enjoyed,


Saturday, 24 October 2015

Day 344 - Extrarodinarily Lovely Ectemnius Lapidarius

Ectemnius lapidarius
Hey everyone, today's Day 344 and quite a while ago, in the lovely warm days at the end of the Summer, when it was more the just 8*C of this morning, I went to one of my favourite places to go for a walk called Silton Forest on the edge of the lovely North York Moors. I always keep my eye out on all of the Umbelliferous Plants, especially for hoverflies, beetles and wasps. Now, I used to be a little afraid of wasps but all my nature hunting has meant I've got lots closer to all sorts of bugs and learnt about them so I sort of lost that fear so I've managed to get some nice close up pictures.

Well, today's post is about the Ectemnius lapidarius. I haven't found a common name for them. This is the best guess for this Wasp and I even got help with ID from a great entomologist Dr. Roger Key. Apparently, to be sure, you need to look very closely at bits of them with strong magnifying glasses or microscopes. Ectemnius lapidarius is most likely though as it's most common of the wasps it could be.

Sharing the head of an Angelica plant with
a Tapered Drone Fly
So, here are the facts:

  • Firstly, these aren't the normal type of wasp, they are what's called a Solitary Wasp.
Zoom in to see this one covered in pollen
  • They like to live in places like 'woodland rides' - I like that term it describes the lovely big wide paths through Silton Forest.
  • You will also find them in woodland clearings, wetlands, open countryside and the coast. You might find them in urban locations but not so often as the other habitats.
  • Adults feed mostly on Umbellifers like Angelica, Hogweed, Hedge Parsley, Rough Chervil amongst others.
  • They like area's where they can catch medium sized flies and hoverflies. They don't eat these but store them in their nests where they lay their eggs ready for the larvae to eat when they hatch.
  • Nests are made in dead wood like tree stumps, fence posts, small bits of wood and some plant stems.
  • Now looking at those few facts I'm not surprised I found this critter at the Siltons as it describes the habitat very well.
It had a really good feed.
  • They are quite a small wasp, Females being smaller than Males. Males are 9 - 12mm long and Females are 7 - 11mm.
  • There are not many records of this wasp that I can find, but what I have seen says that they are found mostly in the South of England and East of England (see NBN Trust map)
  • They are a Solitary Wasp meaning that the egg is laid singly and the Wasp lives on its own and when it finds one Male, it mates with it, flies off, makes a nest and lays the eggs with the captured prey
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Friday, 23 October 2015

Day 343 - Brilliantly Black Vine Weevils

Black Vine Weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus)
Hey everyone today's Day 343 and I was recently out walking Esme. We've generally been taking her out to Silton Forest or the reservoir near Osmotherley while the nights are still light. There's quite a few ducks and geese at the reservoir at the moment but mainly Greylags and Mallards. I'm glad its half term as I can get out and do some proper birdwatching and nature hunting.  The bugs are not out and about much at the Forest much now it's getting colder, but the leaves and fungi are making up for that. As the bugs are not out and about much I was quite surprised to see this little critter climbing up the door frame of our house when we got back from a walk.  I really like them but have already done a post on their species in general. Today's post is about Vine Weevils.

So, here are the facts:
  • Something I realised very quickly when I was researching these little creatures was that all the websites listed them as a 'garden pest' and rather than giving facts about them, it was about killing them.
  • They are also known as the Black Vine Weevil for obvious reasons...
    End of October and it was climbing up our door frame
  • ...These reasons include their colouring but (even though their name says so) there's nothing to do with vines that I can find.
  • Back to their colouring, they are matt black. They also have fused wing covers meaning they cannot fly.
  • They are very small, well Weevils are, aren't they... They have been recorded as 9mm long on average.
  • The adults like to feed (at night) on the outer-edges of leaves and also the roots which causes death to a lot of the plants.
  • They seem to go after plants that are grown in containers so make sure to protect your plants, they are a beautiful bug though and we shouldn't hate them.
  • A humane way to protect your plants is to manually remove each bug at night time where they can be found feeding on the leaves but you have to use a dim torch as they are startled by bright light and will drop to the ground and scurry away.
    Tricky to photo in the dark but got a good bugs eye view!
  • When I say protect, I don't mean all of them. Just the ones that they like. They particularly like soft fruits such as Strawberries and Raspberries.
  • Females can reproduce Parthenogenetically. This is a rather long word and means only Females reproduce without Males. Basically, Males aren't needed...
  • ...More on their lifecycle, after their larvae have become adults, they emerge between Spring and early Summer when a feeding frenzy begins. They then lay more eggs on a plant.
  • Once the eggs have hatched, the larvae bury underground towards their root foods, they them moult several times over-winter before pupating at the start of Spring. The cycle restarts.
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Day 342 - Fabulous Footmen

Common Footman (Eilema lurideola) at Titchwell
(though also told it might be Dingy Footman)
Hey Everyone, well it's Day 342 and I've got a species for you today that I've seen in several places this year. This could be one on my Titchwell Toilet series as I've seen them there. There was also one or two in the trap when we did the moth trapping at Nosterfield Open Day, and I've also had them in my house. I'm sure I've seen them other places too but these are the main ones that I remember. If you read my blog regularly you'll probably have guessed by now that its a moth that I'm covering today, and it is in fact the Fabulous Footman. It's a lovely moth, and it has quite a unique look compared to most moths I know.

So I did my research and here's what I found out about them:

And one at Nosterfield
  • Well not surprisingly I found that they are found across most of England and Wales but are only found in bits of Ireland and Scotland.
  • They like habitats like farmland, marshes, gardens and woodland - but there has to be lichen.
  • Why does there have to be lichen? Well that because their larvae feed on it.
  • They have a wingspan of 28-35mm but I've never seen one with its wings stretched out.
  • I've only ever seen them like they are in the photos here where the wings are wrapped around their body.
  • When they hold their wings like this they are supposed to look a bit like a Footman which was a type of servant - I looked this up and the Queen was looking for a new Footman this year so they still exist!
And a bugs eye view :-)
  • Well you might see the Queens Footman all year but this moth you will most likely see between May and August with a peak in July.
  • The ones I've seen are the Common Footman (or maybe the Dingy Footman) but there are at least five types of Footman moth in the UK, Common, Buff, Scarce, Dingy and Orange. The Eakringbirds website has some great pictures of them
  • Well there's not so much I could find out about this moth but I did notice that the Common Footman wasn't one of the species that Linnaeus named! I haven't seen one of those for a while, this was named by some one called Johann Leopold Theodor Friedrich Zincken - a German entomologist in 1817.
If you want to see more pictures and information try these sites

Hope you enjoyed,


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Day 341 - Awesome Autumn / Fabulous Fall

Seasonal Showcase for Awesome Autumn -
I see this out of my bedroom window
Hey everyone today's Day 341 and I am going back to a long time ago where I covered Spring and what I found then. Well, as it's quite a little way into Autumn, I thought I would do another 'Season Showcase'. It's probably my favourite Season as after the madness and heat of the Summer you get the calmness, mists and amazing colours of Autumn.

So, I thought I would explain a lot of the science and also just about what happens in Autumn anyway.

Sloes look amazing in the sunlight

In England at least, something called Harvest happens. Autumn is the time where most of the crops in England are harvested. But what does this mean for nature? Well, there are some perks for them such as some birds pick up any grains that are spilt and some animals like to eat on the actual stem, not the heads. But on the other side, it is really bad for a lot of other birds, if they have nests for example in them, the tractors will completely obliterate them. Also, there is way more wildlife that eats the crops and the seeds than the stems.
And lovely against Autumn flowers


Well, just adding to the Harvest, Fruits. Now, when I say fruits, I mean berries, such as Blackberries and Rose Hips, even Elderberries. These are technically part of the Harvest. They only seem to grow in Autumn. Well, I've always wondered why, I can't find anything on-line but I think it's just evolution.

Fly Agaric mushrooms are
very colourfull
Trees and shrubs spend the spring and summer gathering energy from the sun and nutrients from the ground and produce lovely seeds wrapped in nice food. Then birds and other wildlife which needs to have the food otherwise it won't survive the winter comes and eats it. Think about them as a walk-in Greengrocers. :-) The plant gets a benefit as the animals take away the seed and distribute it in a nice little package of fertiliser!

And clusters of little mushrooms
are pretty too

Coming out of Fruits and into something that you wouldn't really think of as a Fruit. Yes, Fungi. They are technically the fruiting bodies of the Fungi which is found under the ground. You can see the all-year-round but they are found mostly in the Autumn, this is something that completely deludes me as there isn't really anything that would want to feed on a possibly-poisonous-food. It could just be as it's the best time to come up for sunlight as most of the sky-space is free.

And a creeper at Thirsk


Well, since as it leads into it, I'll do Leaves to end off this post. They are probably the most scientific parts of nature that I know of, and know... But anyway, the science is basically how and why they change colour.

Well, it's because of the Chlorophyll that is found in only plant cells that is vital to photosynthesis. That is what makes them Green. Now, what I have been told is that in the Autumn, trees and plants actually know that days are shortening and the sun isn't so intense so they won't be able to photosynthesise very well as there will be hardly any sun for them to absorb. So they start to break down the Chlorophyll and store it in the tree ready for the next year. as they do this other pigments in the leaves show through giving us the lovely colours we see.
A tree changing colour at Silton

There aren't really any links as this is mostly from my head. :-)

Hope you enjoyed,

The sunsets are pretty awesome too

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Day 340 - Fabulously Delightful Fallow Deer

Male Fallow Deer (Dama dama)
Hey everyone today's Day 340 and I am sort of going to be continuing Day 338's genre of finding nature outside of the reserve. Firstly, I want to say that today's post is relatively special as it's Day 340 it's just a 10 number but I still thought I would cover something relatively significant. Well, that's exactly what I'll do. When we were over at Leighton Moss RSPB we started to drive home after a lovely trip there. We thought our nature hunting for the day was done but no, I spotted out of the car window a lovely Fallow Deer. I jumped out of the car (it was a country lane) and took some pics.

So, here are the facts:

  • Firstly, I want to say that these were the first Fallow Deer that I have ever seen in the wild. It was even more impressive seeing the Buck as well as the hinds, though they went into the trees before I could get my camera ready.
Quite happy grazing whilst I photographed it
  • The other place that I have seen Fallow Deer is Fountains Abbey but this is a Deer Park and they are kept in the grounds there.
  • They like to live in mature broadleaf woodlands with clearings but they will live in open coniferous woodland and open agricultural land. 
  • They like to eat grasses but will eat trees and shrub shoots in autumn and winter.
  • Fallow deer are a native deer but that was around 400,000 years ago! When we had ice ages they were pushed out to other warmer parts of Europe. They were brought back by the Normans who kept them in parks for hunting but some escaped and set up home again!
  • The first thing about the Bucks is that their horns look absolutely amazing. They are really thick and they are very impressive.
  • I found it relatively hard telling apart the 3 main Studley deer types but I managed to get this short guide into my head:
    • Fallow = Spotty bodies.
    • Red     = The biggest ones, and they are Red.
    • Roe     = They have a Black Nose and a White chin.
  • The Males are about 84cm - 94cm at their shoulder and the Females are about 73cm - 91cm, So a case of sexual dimorphism is what we have.
Lovely antlers and spotty coat
  • The difference in size makes quite a difference in weight too. The Males weigh 46kg - 94kg and the Females only about 35kg - 56kg.
  • Well, one final thing on the Male Deer, they can live usually from 8 - 10 years but they have been recorded all the way to 16 years.
  • In most populations of Fallows, they maintain the usual rut. This is basically where they will literally fight over the Females.
  • Now, I said in most cases, well, it's true that some populations where there are lots of Males they will create a lek where they try to attract the Females.
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Monday, 19 October 2015

Day 339 - Surprisingly Popular Scarlet Pimpernel

Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)
Hey everyone today's Day 339 and as I have covered Orchids in the the last couple of days, I was in the flower mood. So today I decided to visit something that I found quite a little bit ago in Summer at a place called Nosterfield, a place I love to go to. It's my nearest local nature reserve but it has so many wonderful things, not just birds and bugs (all of which I cover an awful lot) but lots of great plant-life too. Today's post will be about the lovely Scarlet Pimpernel.

So, here are the facts:
  • The reason that they are called the 'Scarlet Pimpernel' is because of the lovely colour that they are. 
  • Now, I'm colour-blind so I can't really see what the colour is, all I can see is an orangey-red colour that looks like all other things that are orange, so I'm going by what my Dad says. :-)
  • They are seen mostly through out Summer, a little bit into both Spring and Autumn, strictly speaking May to September.
  • The particular habitats the The Wildlife Trusts say are mainly Gardens and Fields, Grassy areas. This seems right from where I found it.
    'No heart can think, no tongue can tell
    The virtues of the Pimpernel.'
  • Some of its other names are the 'Old Man's Weather-Vane' or the 'Shepherd's Weather Glass'. I wonder why that is...
  • ...Well, both of these are linked with the weather. That's because when atmospheric pressure falls, basically when it's about to rain, the petals will close.
  • It is a plant that has been used as medicine by people as far back as ancient Greek and apparently for all sorts of illnesses. I'm not sure if we would use in the the modern day but it was used a lot and I found a rhyme about it which you can see under the picture.
  • Now, strictly speaking, it's not actually The Scarlet Pimpernel, well not always. It can also have blue flowers which I found quite interesting.
  • They are apparently always blue in Spain. The blue ones are most likely to be found when there are more hours of sunshine so they can sometimes be seen in the South of England.
    They seek him here, they seek him there, 
    those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
    Is he in heaven or is he in hell? 
    That damned elusive Pimpernel.
  • Today's the second day in a row where I have covered something that doubles as something in the media. Yesterday's Herald is an English Newspaper and the Scarlet Pimpernel is also a novel which has been made into a film.
  • There are novels and films about the Scarlet Pimpernel, the quote under this picture is the apparently the most famous quote from them.
  • The usual thing in these novels is that The Scarlet Pimpernel wanders around France saving young, female aristocrats from the guillotine. He gets his name from the card with a Red Flower on it that he leaves at the scene of his adventures.
  • I've covered a lot of species so I find it very interesting that this tiny little flower has so many rhymes, novels and films it features it! Surprisingly Popular! 
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,