30 October 2015

Mist and Fruitful-ness

At risk of being obvious but this has been the best season of 'mist and mellow fruit-fullness' in many years.  What a wonderful drawn out  mellow autumn we have enjoyed.

Even so there are still a few butterflies to be seen, mainly Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell.

Butterflies do not all have the same life cycle.  The above find somewhere warm and dark to hibernate over the winter, to re-emerge as the days get warmer.  Many others  die, but leave their offspring at various stages of the life cycle.  

Meadow Brown have already hatched as caterpillars and are eating and living in the grass.  On cold days they rest and warmer ones they feed. 

Small and large White  fat caterpillars are already turning into chrysalises and will spend the winter hanging under shed roofs and fences to come out and join the emerging elderly Peacocks and Tortoiseshells.

Earwigs are looking for mates and will lay their eggs about now, watching over them until they hatch. Amazingly I have just discovered they can fly but rarely choose to do so.

The new interpretation signage has arrived after a long wait, now heralds the entrance into the wilderness zone of the gardens.

When the meadow was harvested and bailed recently we donated several of the bails  to the Cass Foundation, subsequently we received the following letter :

This Diary is on a break  until the 'Wilderness'  review is completed.

5 October 2015

Harvest Moon

The enormous harvest moon this month has been a joy to behold in this balmy Indian Summer of an Autumn.  Provided the weather continues this way we look like having a long languid  colour filled  autumn.

The meadow has been cut, dried and is now ready to be bailed.  This year the wilderness team will endeavour  to gather some cornfield annual seeds to pass on.

Butterfly and Bee surveys are coming to an end, but there are still several butterflies such as, Comma, Red Admiral and if you are very lucky Common Blue to be found.  Large numbers of new  Queen Bees are searching for over-winter nesting sites, whilst the workers are slowly dying off.

There are several species of wildflower still evident if you search, in pockets around the wilderness, including  Ragwort, Wild Geranium and Evening Primrose.

The team recently came across a perfectly shaped chamber in the floor of the spinnney that had once been a wasps nest full of combs.  It had obviously been dug up recently having been  raided by badgers and what was left was the wreckage of their visit.  What was impressive was the perfect circular shape of the chamber and the combs.

19 September 2015

Mammal Survey

Using infra red mammal cameras is a great way to monitor the presence of wild animals living in the gardens, but periodically small mammal traps are set up overnight in order to conduct a mini survey of smaller mammals.  

These traps are set at a chosen location the night before and are checked and emptied the following morning.  (Any mammals caught are released safely and unharmed the next morning.)

Off 48 traps laid, 4 mammals were caught. A Vole, shrew, and two field mice.

The meadow has now been cut and is slowly drying out after all the torrential rain.  The hay will then be gathered and baled ready to be used around the gardens.

The Information Shelter is also being prepared for the onslaught of the winter months with its first two coats of protection.  The Bee Hotel will not be treated, as it is made of hardwood and it is essential to keep pollutants away from such sensitive occupants.