Calm and Dewy Mornings .
Notes from a Lancashire Countryman
The loud honking of geese in the early morning or as darkness descends is a regular feature here in the skies over Lancashire during October and November, as geese from Iceland, Greenland and as far away as Russia arrive to over winter in our relatively milder climate. They arrive in large skeins at Morecambe Bay, the Ribble estuary and large reserves such as Martin Mere Wetlands Reserve which is situated not far from the coast near Southport.
Wood pigeons sit among lofty boughs, heads turning, scanning the surrounding fields, portly birds ever watchful, ever wary. They clatter out of the trees at my approach wheeling over the tree tops, then with strong wing beats, are off, making a great distance between us in a short space of time.
Grey lag goose in flight Bottom Wood pigeon
In the twilight
In the twilight as the light of day gives way to the encroaching darkness I happened upon a hedgehog trundling along poking his nose into all manner of places, rooting about in silent dedication. At this time of the year this spiny mammal will be seeking out a secure place of repose to pass the winter. However, while the present mild weather persists he will continue to go about his business putting on as much weight as he can before he settles down to hibernation.
Squirrels leap from bough to bough
Squirrels leap from bough to bough showing amazing agility in their quest for winter stocks of food. Locally the grey species is taking the fruit of horse chestnut commonly known as "conkers" These adaptable mammals open these with an incredible neatness they are the perfect "nutcrackers". The spiny cases are halved in such a manner that they appear to have been cut with a laser beam, in order to get at the fruit within. Evidence of their activity can be discovered all around the woodland on the floor on tree stumps and old fallen logs. The shiny brown contents are either eaten at once or stored away to see the animals through the coldest months. They are often buried. Sometimes conkers that have been buried are not rediscovered thus germinate to produce a new sapling. In this way the species is distributed.
Conker squirrels leave the empty cases
Spider activity is obvious
When the mornings are calm and dewy as they tend to be at this season of the year, innumerable spiders webs clad the hedgerows, it is at this time when one realises how many of these creatures abound in our gardens and the countryside in general. Harvestmen are spider like creatures with 8 legs, which are usually long this enables them to move around with great mobility among the stalks and vegetation which they tenant.
Although both spiders and harvestmen belong to the same class of animals -the Arachnida they are placed into two entirely different orders, spiders are placed in the order Araneae while the harvestmen belong to the order Opiliones. The common name of harvestmen derives from the fact that they are often encountered in the stiff stubble stalks when the harvester has completed its task. They differ from spiders in many aspects. They do not make webs and they do not have venomous fangs.
The body of spiders have two very distinct parts separated by a salient waist. Conversely the bodies of harvestmen are a single unit. Harvestmen are mainly nocturnal and essentially carnivorous. They feed on insects, woodlice, slugs and even other species of harvestmen. Unlike some spiders harvestmen are seldom encountered indoors.
Top. Spiders web on ivy. Bottom two Harvestmen
Hints of colour
The trees have been kissed by the Autumns first breath with the horse chestnut, maple and beech being the harbingers of the kaleidoscope of colours to come. The leaves are leaving their arboreal mothers spiralling to the earth carried by each gust of wind. The palmate leaves of the chestnut fade to a yellow brown before their inevitable fall. beech is renowned for its gold and copper hues making it one of the most beautiful trees when draped in its autumn gown.