A Change in Season.


Well 'Brian' is hurling himself at the front of the house, with an occasional wail around the sides and clouds are scudding across the sky in bright autumn sunshine, so instead of wandering in the woods and coming back wearing a tree (so not a good look!) I've been browsing through my photo diary from from recent wanderings and noticed that autumn has gradually appeared.

 On a warm day a while back, I was at the start of my usual circuit on my Local Patch, when I noticed that whilst the tree were holding their colour, the path ahead and the woodland floor had a new carpet of russety dry leaves. 

Here and there along the path though, Speckled Wood Butterflies were still defending their posts, fluttering around furiously in the dappled sunshine at any hint of disturbance.

and scampering could be heard up and down the trees as squirrels chased each other around, sometimes pausing to eat or just sit and grumble and bark.  

The birds, whilst I could hear them, were all staying within the foliage, with small groups of Blue and Great Tits chattering to each other as they foraged for insects in the tree canopy or occasionally small flocks of Long Tailed Tits could be heard as they progressed along the treeline.  

Now and then, I would hear the chatter of charms of Goldfinches as they flew overhead, occasionally perching within view, before flitting off again.

Just along the path is a big old Horse Chestnut tree, which in the spring is an absolute vision when in bloom..  Looking at the leaf litter underneath it, globes of shiny brown and broken spikey cases caught my eye...  the season was definitely on the turn - Conkers!

After resisting the temptation to fill my pockets with the gloriously shiny waxy smooth fruits, I wandered on ( always loved them when I was a kid and whilst I was witness to many a conkers tournament, often felt a little sad at their ultimate demise).  Further along the path, Hawkbit was still in bloom, whilst the thistles had now turned into clouds of feathery seeds waiting to fly away.  This had, a few weeks earlier, been full of butterflies nectaring, however now, hoverflies and Bees were making the most of the flowers that remained. 

I also began to see a few spiders, finding a very impressive female Wasp spider in some long grass, 

As well as a number of European Cross spiders, both in the garden and around the field margins; I also saw a number of Araneaus quadratus spiders too, which are rather handsome ( thanks to photographing them I am no longer the confirmed arachnaphobe I once was it seems!), one of which I watched web building... there is something very calming about watching a spider weaving. 

Around the field margins now, fruits that had spent the summer ripening, were now beginning to show themselves, the Hawthorn trees all seem to have a good crop of berries 

and where there were banks of perfumed roses earlier in the year, there are instead now sprays of scarlet rosehips.. 

 From time to time along the edges and perching amongst the remaining brambles (both along the woods and the meadow, well lets just say that the farmer has had a severe pruning session this year...) a Common Darter would perch, some even enjoying a tasty morsel! 

On sunnier warm days, an occasional late Comma would be seen fluttering and basking in the sunshine 

and when the tree ivy came into bloom a few weeks ago, Commas, hoverflies, bees and pristine Red Admirals were all feasting busily on a rich source of nectar. 

Whilst I've been out wandering in the meadow, I've stopped by a few times at the Common Lizard colony to see how they are faring.  When the meadow was mown, their log was moved about and broken up a bit, however they are hardy little souls and seem to have taken the disruption in their stride.  Having watched them go about their business, I've also noticed that they must have a network of hideyholes inside the log as they often scoot into little holes and crevices, emerging from another a while later. 

They have certainly enjoyed the warmer days, the last time I saw them was mid October , although if it warms up again maybe there will be a chance to glimpse them again before they go into hibernation for the winter.

 One afternoon, whilst watching them, a familiar mewing was heard from overhead, whilst a concerned chorus of cawing and chacking came from nearby corvids.  I was being treated to close views whilst being under observation from one of the local Buzzards who often perches along the edge of the meadow before taking to the wing.  I watched, delighted, for quite some time as the bird circled around above me, before floating off over the nearby Crow's roost and out over the fields. 

More recently, there has been somewhat less green about and more of the autumn hues are appearing.  Sometimes with the foliage this time of year, it is almost as if the leaves glow with the sunshine that they caught in the summer... 

Whilst some of the fruits, sloes 

and blackberries for example look delicious!  

Wandering through the woodland, the floor has been very dry and there was no signs of any fungi, whether on old wood or amongst the leaves underfoot for quite sometime, however, whilst out on a 'fungi forage' (no I don't pick, just look at and admire!) I had a bit of a surprise. 

One part of my route through the woods takes me past a fallen tree and a huge tangle of elder and brambles - the small birds love it and I ofen see Wrens hopping about or it is full of the Tit family, Robins and Blackbirds all foraging as it is a sheltered spot.  Whilst I stood nearby, peering through the twiggage, I could see some movement underneath and a flash of a white rump. Far too big for one of the rabbits I see in the woods sometimes, so I waited... 

 And waited, but I was rewarded - 

an up-close view of a very calm Muntjac buck.  His lady, whom I also glimpsed was not so curious, but once satisfied I was harmless, they both morphed silently off into the thicket, whilst I was left with a silly grin and being watched by a very bemused squirrel! 

As you can see from the leaf carpet above, the seasons were definitely on the change and finally, mostly on 'old' wood I began to find a small selection of toadstools, despite poring over books, I will admit to not being very good on identifying these, but the main types I see seem to be a form of Shaggy Parasol. 

and quite a few of these, which I think are a Mycena sp.  

In previous years, when it has been damper, I've seen Purple Deceivers, Scarlet Elf cups, Orange Peel fungi, Turkey Tails, waxcaps, Ramaria, Honey fungus, Clitocybes and Jelly Ears, however, so far the selection this year has not been huge! (if of interest, there are images here from a forage a few years back)

 A lot higher up in the woods, the birds have become far more visible as they have begun feeding up and getting ready for the cooler months ahead.  One afternoon, I stood quietly and watched Blue Tits dangling from Hawthorn and pecking at lichen covered branches,  

a far off Nuthatch foraging, 

Goldcrests twirling through stems of woodbine and within the Hawthorns, 

as well as a Treecreeper that was scurrying up and along a big Oak, investigating all the nooks and crannies for titbits. 

In the background, I could hear Jays squabbling over acorn rights as well as a flock of Long Tailed Tits who were flitting about between the hawthorns (in this part of the woods, as well as a few venerable Oak trees, there seem to be some equally gnarly and venerable Hawthorn trees!) 

 Here and there, declaring feeding rights for the winter ahead, Robins are rehearsing and declaring their territories again, both within the woods and also in my garden! 

Autumn is definitely moving in apace, with colours creating a grand finale to summer and the wildlife preparing for the winter ahead!  

 What have you seen on your Local Patch as autumn arrives? 



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