September and October 2023

1698922149520As we move towards winter the weather has been unseasonably mild and changeable. The reserve is a mass of autumn colours. The shrubs, in particular, are full of colour either from their autumn leaves or berries. Once again, the berries have been spectacular. The dogwood, holly and spindle berries remained abundant into November. Those apples that were not eaten by wildlife (or visitors!) before they fell from the trees are now on the ground to provide a continuous food source into the winter. Most of the hundred or so apple trees that were planted now produce apples – not the crab apples we expected but delicious eaters of several different types. It was crab apples that were originally ordered!


Jobs over the last couple of months have included managing bramble and blackthorn. We stopped mowing the grass paths in September, yet the mild weather has meant the grass is still growing. We have found it better to leave the grass longer in winter as it helps prevent the paths from becoming muddy.


On the morning of the 26th October we had a rare walk around the reserve – not working but just appreciating everything that we have here. It was very mild with sunshine and showers. There were three showers and each time there was a colourful rainbow. The1698327050666 one seen from the car park behind the birch trees, all now devoid of leaves, was a double. The lower one was bright and multi-coloured, the top one rather faded. Whilst the sun shone, the droplets of rain sparkled from the many branches of the birch – such a lovely sight. There were over fifty redwings enjoying the berries, flitting overhead from one tree to another, frequently calling as they flew. The bullfinches we see regularly were enjoying the seeds. The flash of white and black makes this species easy to identify in flight. Today we saw eight, mainly on the birch, eating the seeds. There were several young among them, not yet showing their adult colouration. Ravens (with their wedge-shaped tails) ‘croaked’ overhead. There were some crows too, identified in flight by their fan shaped tails. Noisy jays screamed as they took chunks out of the apples still on the trees. A small flock of around fifteen linnets visited the shrubs and trees. On leaving the reserve a red admiral was perched on some fallen leaves enjoying the sunshine.


At the end of October the starlings arrived. Hundreds come here for the winter and form huge roosts not far from the farm. They roost in the taller trees. When the trees are bare there are sometimes so many the trees look as if they are full of strange dark leaves.


orb weaver spiderThe spider (a four-spot web weaver) was seen and photographed by James whilst he was clearing blackthorn. It is said to be the heaviest spider in the UK.  Two species of lacaria fungi (common and purple) were found by Sally whilst she was clearing bramble1698327050717 from under some young oak trees. This species is now abundant under many of the trees. The photo shows the common form.  A lesser yellow underwing lava was found by Keith. We often see the adult moths.


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. A list of species we have seen on the site can be found here.