Friday 23 October 2020

Nature notes - Autumn 2020

 We've had some lovely nature encounters this year and this past month or so has been no exception. Last month we had a Common Darter Dragonfly in the allotment sunning itself on the fence for instance, and at the weekend we had a kind of Mayfly inspecting the bug house on the same fence. 

In the back yard one morning last week this White Lipped Banded Snail (Cepaea hortensis) was very slowly working its way up the metal gate, still dripping from being in the foliage below. 

Also in the yard we have a lot of Garden Spiders (Araneus diadematus), one of which has made its home in an old water butt that we are turning into a planter for a minature apple tree!

However, the most interesting sightings in this past few weeks have been away from the house and the allotment. In Collingham, a village about fifty minutes cycle ride away (at my speed anyway!) a Hoopoe (Upupa epops) became a local celebrity for two weeks as it pottered around the cricket pitch there, even being in local and national media. 

Last week, whilst out cycling near Catterton near Tadcaster there were eight Whooper Swans (Cygnus Cygnus) in a stubble field and they were also there last weekend too. These birds are winter visitors, mainly from Iceland and usually I have only ever seen them flying over on migration here, in fact a flock flew north early in March straight over the house. 

These birds have much more yellow on their beaks than such as the Mute Swan which is a resident bird and are bigger than the much rarer Bewick's Swan that also comes to the UK in winter. They are also noisy in flight. 

You can read about when we saw Whooper Swans in Iceland here 

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