It’s October and we have never seen so many berries on the dogwood, rowan, spindle and guelder rose. We have heard and seen long tailed tits, chiff chaff, magpies, wrens, ravens, jays, blackbirds, robins and heron. The weather has been very mild but the nights are getting colder and drawing in.
The hundreds of webs covered in dew early mornings are a lovely sight. The common orb web spiders are abundant,
including the well-marked and best known one – A.diadematus (also called the Cross Spider). There are plenty of shield bugs to be found. We caught a pair of Spiked Sheildbugs mating. This species predates caterpillars and also sucks sap.
The common darters are still around. The male is a bright red. Darters are narrow-bodied dragonflies of the family Libellulidae and one of the most common dragonflies found in Europe. They fly mainly from July to October but they can appear as early as May and can still be around in December if the weather is mild.
We are cutting back quite a bit of the bramble as this is an abundant species and can easily take areas over. Amongst the bramble is wild rose and some carry the Robins Pincushion (Diplolepis rosae) created by gall wasps to carry their grubs. The wasp lays its eggs in the leaves or stems of the rose and the gall is formed with chambers which protect the grubs.
There are still many butterflies around. It is hard to photograph most butterflies but, with patience, we did manage to capture a specked wood. Other species seen this month included red admirals, comma, large white, small tortoiseshell, small copper and peacock. Yellow shell is the most abundant daytime moth we see.
We often see the very furry caterpillars of the fox moth. They feed on a variety of plant species, including bramble and meadowsweet, abundant here. We see them basking in the sun on the mown paths and low vegetation prior to over wintering in leaf litter and loose soil. The adult moth flies from May to July but we rarely see these.
Leaf hoppers are tiny but can be very colourful. We found one that was very pretty with its yellow, brown, black and cream blotches. A leafhopper is the common name for any species from the family Cicadellidae. They are plant feeders that suck plant sap from grass, shrubs, or trees.
Alt-y-garreg is a 20-acre nature reserve created in 2010 from four fields that had been improved pasture. There are areas of new woodland (over eighteen thousand trees of eighteen native species), wildflower meadows, scrub and ancient hedgerows. Two of the fields are now a natural burial site. The area is teeming with wildlife.