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Tuesday, 16 November 2021

October, 2021 - A Round-up

Having returned from the wonderful Isles of Scilly on 4th October, I found myself rather bogged down with photo processing, blog post writing, gardening, time-consuming household maintenance works, and the making of Lindsay's Christmas present (an ongoing project which, hopefully will be completed in time!).

In consequence, I only ventured out once with the camera in the rest of the month, but I did take a few photos around the garden.

So here is what will probably turn out to be a rather short blog post - by my standards, anyway!

Warning!      If you are an arachnophobe, you might now want to rapidly scroll down a way!

Wednesday, 6th October

While painting the garden fence, I had to pause to let this harvestman depart. Harvestman is a group of  arachnids, but not spiders, of which there are several species in UK, but many more worldwide. This one had lost one of its front legs


harvestman (Leiobunum rotundum) (male) - Garden on 6th October
Thursday, 7th October

At this time of year, we seem to get many Garden Spiders in the garden. The Garden Spider is one of our most common and largest spiders and makes a large web of the sort that features in halloween motifs. It rushes to disable prey caught in the web, quickly encasing it in silk, as this one has done, before removing it to its larder for later consumption. 

Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) - Garden on 7th October
More recently, from the comfort of our conservatory, Lindsay and I watched a wasp getting caught in a Garden Spider's web. The spider was instantly on the scene and wrapping the wasp. It was obviously conscious of the sting which was thrusting in and out of the wasp's abdomen in an effort to defend itself, as it wrapped the front end first and waited for the wasp to become still before cautiously working on the tail end, and then carrying it off.
 
Friday, 8th October
 
Sadly, Great Spotted Woodpecker is now a very infrequent visitor to our garden, so I was particularly excited when a female of the species visited us on this day. 
 

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopus major) (female) - Garden on 8th October
Saturday, 9th October
 
After a disappointing period of absence, a Robin has now included our garden in its territory and is a daily visitor. Even if it is a common bird, there's no getting away from the fact that it is a British icon for good reason!

Robin (Erithacus rubecula) - Garden on 9th October
Sunday, 10th October
 
This was the one time that I made it out for a local walk, with my destination being Thortit Lake, which is less than five minutes away from our home by car. I could walk to it in less than half an hour, but I'd probably get wiped out on the way as it is a narrow bendy lane with no footpath and people tend to drive rather fast along it.

A few days previous to this, I had participated in an on-line presentation on the state of dragonflies in Leicestershire. During this, it was stated that the Willow Emerald Damselfly, first recorded in the county in 2019, was spreading rapidly. Someone commented that they'd recently happened upon one at Thortit Lake. As, just one month earlier, I had travelled 45 miles (72 km) to the other side of the county in order to see this damselfly species, I was keen to see if I could find one 'on my doorstep'.
 
The lake is just over 300 metres long by just under 100 metres wide with views only available from the long north side. There is a well made path which runs at an average of approximately 25 metres from the water's edge. This is probably best explained by the 'grab' from Google Earth, below.
 
Thortit Lake, taken from Google Earth
From the main path there are a few places where tracks have been worn to the water's edge, possibly by dogs as much as by people. I went down a couple of these, before I found one which looked promising. In the water ahead of me was a pair of swans. This is one of them.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - Thortit Lake
Nearer to the water, a Common Darter was perched on the path ahead of me.
 
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Thortit Lake
I stood at the edge for a while, scanning the small Willow that was in the water at the edge of the lake before I noticed a movement and a damselfly flew to the back of the reeds in front of me. It eventually moved to a spot where I could see it more clearly. However, it was distant and into the light. These are heavily cropped images taken with the lens fully extended to 500mm, and not to a standard that I'm happy with, but show that I had, indeed, found a male Willow Emerald Damselfly.
 

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) (male) - Thortit Lake
I waited patiently hoping it would move to a more accessible position but, eventually, it flew off and was lost to sight. While waiting and hoping for its return, I photographed another Common Darter - this one a female.
 
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (female) - Thortit Lake
I also spotted a rather unusual-looking spider (another warning for arachnophobes!) which appeared from behind a leaf and then descended out of view. I have consulted my spider field guide and can find nothing that resembles it. Any help would be much-appreciated!
 

spider species - Thortit Lake
Before I left, I tried taking some shots of a Migrant Hawker in flight, but this was the best I could do against the light and at a distance.
 
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (male) - Thortit Lake
The finding of the Willow Emerald had made my day. Sadly there was a change of weather after this day, and a few other things got in the way too. My next visit yielded absolutely nothing in the way of Odonata.
 
Wednesday, 13th October

On this day, I noted a micromoth resting on the remains of the mint against the shed wall. It was one of the plume moths with its distinctive 'T' shape.
 
Common Plume (Emmelina monodactyla) - Garden on 13th October
Thursday, 21st October
 
A sunny day, with me busy in my study, but I couldn't resist a shot from my desk of this very spotty Starling in the elder at the other end of the garden.

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) - Garden on 21st October
Thursday, 28th October
 
Yes, I'd been a whole week without photographing anything, and my offering for this day was purely a chance spotting of a caterpillar crossing the path outside our back door. I brought it in so that I had better light to photograph it in before placing it somewhere safer outside. I have tried to identify it, but without any success whatsoever. Not finding it on a food plant doesn't help!

unidentified caterpillar - Garden on 28th October


This brings me to the end of my October round-up. I have no concept of when my next post will be or what it will feature as I seem to have lost my mojo of late and have only managed two relatively brief, and frustratingly uproductive, excursions so far this November.

Until then, please take good care of yourselves and Nature - - - Richard