Late autumn wildlife

With the swifts, swallows and martins already gone to warmer climes, and expectations of frosty mornings high on the agenda, it's worth noting what a strange Autumn we've had this year.

October was amazingly warm, often wet, and at times very windy, the latter causing us to close the gardens on two occasions due to gales.

So it's no surprise that we are still watching some young birds around the gardens, in particular a family of very late hatched moorhens, and another newly fledged species, the little grebe, though where they nested originally is a bit of a mystery, as they were not present throughout the summer. 

The raucous calls of jays give away the time of year, as it's during autumn that they become more active and far more easily seen, as they forage for acorns and beech nuts, and find places to hide them to sustain themselves during the harsher winter months. 

Fungi is very easy to see, with many species of bracket-fungus seen on our more ancient trees along the woodland paths, and many more species of mushrooms and toadstools abound in and around our grassy areas and the Pasture. 

Chicken of the woods fungus
Chicken of the woods fungus

Many insect species are still on the wing, with queen wasps, harlequin ladybirds and both red-admiral and peacock butterflies all noted as they take advantage of the unseasonal weather and search out log-piles and outhouses in which to spend the winter, in hibernation as the temperature begins, eventually to fall. 

So, with winter approaching and as the north wind begins to stir, we here at Prior Park will be starting the big clear up, closing our doors during the week, and looking forward to the frosts and icicles of winter. We look forward to welcoming visitors during the weekends.