The Messenger - Serving Gislingham, Mellis and the Thornhams

Nature Notes - October

Date: 4 November 2019

Eddie, a village resident of some 20 years, has had hedgehogs visiting her garden over all of that time – sometimes just one, at other times a pair and now and again a baby! This is indeed great news against reports of their declining numbers and doubly great news for Eddie who is keen gardener – slugs and snails don’t stand a chance against their prickly foe!

As we’re now at the end of the butterfly season, I thought it would be nice to wrap things up with some recent photos. The coast near Bawdsey is something of a hot spot in late summer and autumn for a favourite of mine, the Clouded Yellow and that’s where I set off in search of these beauties. I saw half or dozen or so during my visit to East Lane, but to my frustration they were preoccupied with flying around and not wanting to settle and pose for a photograph. Anyway, persistence eventually paid off and a gorgeous pristine specimen obligingly decided to take nectar from a Hawksbeard (Crepis) flower, allowing me to get a shot. I also saw a nice Common Blue that finished off an enjoyable and successful day.
Back in the garden, I was surprised to see a Small Copper for the first time, fluttering around for some 3 days and nectaring on Verbena flowers. This was quite a treat as it wasn’t disturbed by my presence and I managed to try various camera settings to get the best result. In this photo I used flash, which tends to darken the background and make the little butterfly really standout.
Still in the garden, I mentioned last month that we’ve had lots of Goldfinches on our feeders and here’s a particularly fine specimen, looking rather imperious! Margaret and John Watson have been in touch to give some sad news about their fish pond. Over the past few weeks the pond has been largely emptied of fish – with just some of their half- eaten remains being left behind. Maragret wonders if a Heron is responsible or perhaps an otter – small footprints have been seen around the pond. Having had my own pond emptied of fish earlier this year I do sympathise.
On a happier note, Jenny and I have just returned from a short break in North Wales, near Menai Bridge. During our blustery stay we enjoyed many places along the beautiful coastline as well as on Anglesey, where we visited Plas Newydd House and Gardens that are owned by the National Trust. Here there is a colony of some 100 Red Squirrels and we were delighted to see a couple gathering up beech nuts in the woods and frolicking about in the trees. Lovely! Possibly, some of these squirrels have come from Pensthorpe where they have a breeding and repatriation programme to Anglesey, which is free of their nemesis, the Greys.