Amazing Autumn

Saturday, October 17th 2015

Children from Hipswell School have been visiting Foxglove during autumn.  It has been interesting to see how autumn has progressed during their visits.  The first groups were able to see butterflies and bees when the sun shone and the temperature rose.  A dragonfly investigated one child's coat, which she was still wearing!  Flower numbers and species have decreased but seeds and fruits have increased.  Yesterday, we thought there would be little animal life about, but we were wrong.

Various seed heads were opened to explain how seeds were dispersed.  Hawthorn fruits were of great interest when their dispersal was discussed!  And on cue a flock of Redwings flew overhead.  Gorse is always interesting as it provides home for many wintering invertebrates.  Its seeds are scattered by explosion and when a pod is opened the seeds can be easily seen.  Opening one pod was a surprise, a podful of Gorse Seed Weevils! 

Another insect seen was this lacewing larva. (Honest it is an insect - it did move when being photogrpahed!)  After feeding on its insect prey, it uses bits of them to camouflage itself.  Apparently some lacewing larva and adults can give a nasty nip!  They do have vicious looking mouth parts.

Lacewing larva

Minibeast hunters found other larvae.  After consulting reference books and the web we are still looking for IDs.  Quite often young larvae do not look like the photographs in reference material as they show much older larvae and some can change during their larval development.

Initial thoughts were that this was another lacewing species but it is not, well we don't think it is!

Larva

We thought this one to be a ground beetle larva but it does not fit the description.  Devil's Coach Horse Beetle was another suggestion but that doesn't fit either.

Beetle larva

This beautifully marked insect is still without a name!

An insect!

We will continue our research to see if we can ID these insects.

Signs of autumn are obvious.  Apples are ripening.

Ripe apples

And then there are some surprises.  Bush Vetch was showing beautiful flowers.

Bush Vetch

There are still Rowan berries in profusion about the reserve.  Usually by now Blackbirds and Song Thrushes have made inroads into them.

Rowan berries

It was a surprise to find a Rowan in flower!  It was difficult to get close to and the wind was blowing, but a photograph confirmed it was a Rowan flower.  Will it produce fruit?

Rowan flower

There is always something to see as you walk around Foxglove, from what you would expect to what you would not.


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