The Garden Diary

September(Second half) - 2001

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13 September - As Autumn creeps onwards, and it is getting cooler our Hawthorn has what is probably its best yet crop of berries. I last pictured the tree back in May as the first flowers opened. The Hawthorn had little trouble with aphids this year, even though they were in other parts of the garden.

Today I saw two Sparrowhawk attacks, both times leaving 'empty-handed'. A dragonfly made a brief visit, although I did not get a chance to identify it.

I spent a short time doing some cleaning in the bird-box ready to start making some changes to improve camera angles ready for next Spring.


18 September - Today has been a dull, damp and thoroughly miserable Autumn day. Only occasional trips into the garden were possible with the camera. This bee was using one of the few remaining Buddleia inflorescences to feed and shelter from the drizzle. Hours after I took these pictures it was still there.



In sheltered places spiders wait for their food to be delivered. This one is dealing with a woodlouse that had become caught up its cobweb. The spider belongs to the family Pholcidae. Its size (about 8mm) seems to suggest that it is Pholcus phalangioides, a common species in Southern England.

I had to be very careful not to touch the web because as soon as it is disturbed it starts 'bouncing' very rapidly.

There are larger versions of both images. Click on them to see these.

20 September - Over the last week or so I have been watching the development of this fungus below the Birch tree. I believe that it is a Brown Roll-rim (Paxillus involutus).

The cap of the largest specimen measures about 7cm across, although they can grow to 12cm. It is a very common, poisonous (perhaps deadly) fungus. For the first time, I am trying to get a spore print. If it works out I may get a picture into my diary tomorrow.


While doing some plant trimming I came across this caterpillar on the ground, probably having fallen out of something I had pruned. It is about 3cm long. Although it is not visible in the photograph, the head is yellowish in colour. I have not spent time trying to identify it, I shall do that tomorrow morning.

(Click on images for larger versions)


21 September - This is a rather poor quality microphotograph of spores from the Brown Roll-rim fungus pictured yesterday. The spores are ellipsoid and brown in colour. I cannot give a scale for the picture, but the Roger Phillips book gives their size as 8-10 x 5-6 microns (1 micron = 0.001mm).

Click on the picture to see a spore print that was created overnight.



Autumn continues to bring out the fungi in the garden.

As I did some grass cutting today I uncovered this fungus. It may be a Boletus, although I have not yet been able to match the stem with book illustrations.

Click on the image for a larger version with different views.


This is a picture of a couple of spores from this fungus. Although I cannot give a scale for these, they are slightly larger than the ones pictured above.


The Bird scene in the garden has continued to be quiet with only the regulars feeding (House Sparrow flock, Collared Doves, Blue Tits, Robin, and the odd Starling and Great Tit). I have not seen a Dunnock here over the last few days, nor the Sparrowhawk. A very noisy Jay flew over while I was working in the garden this morning. It is a pity that their call lacks a certain musical quality.

A bit of good news today, in that I have seen both a male and a female Blackbird in the trees at the bottom of the garden in the last two days. Blackbirds have been absent from the garden since I returned from the Summer holidays, so it is encouraging to see them reappear.

25 September - The bottom of the garden is now scented by the opening of the Ivy flowers, and during sunny periods I could hear the sounds of the insects taking advantage of this late food source.

I have seen bees, hoverflies and a couple of wasps here today. Hopefully, it will also attract butterflies if we get more sunshine over the next few days.

This has been an extremely quiet year for wasps in the garden. I had hoped to get some pictures of wasps scraping wood to make their nests. There is very little evidence of this having happened at all this year.



This afternoon I spent some time perched at the top of a step ladder trying to get close to the insects as they fed on the sap that is visible as droplets on the flowers.

Getting a steady image was a problem both because of my perch and constant movement of Sparrows inside the cover of the Ivy. This is the best result so far.

Click on the images to see larger versions.




28 September - Today started off with a misty Autumn morning, although not heavy enough to really make the spider webs stand out well enough to photograph. However, by 10.30am the sky was clear and the bees were arriving at the Ivy. As I watched, two butterflies arrived to feed.

The first was this Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). After a few minutes on the Ivy, it fluttered down onto the Bamboo to sunbathe, giving me a chance to take this photograph.


The second butterfly visitor was this Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). Much more difficult to approach, it required a step-ladder to get this picture as it rested on the Birch tree. Unfortunately it would not open up its wings any more than shown here.

Based on last year's Ivy flowering I hope to see more butterflies taking advantage of the food source. Unfortunately, wet and windy weather is set to arrive on Sunday and Monday so opportunities will be a bit disrupted for a few days after tomorrow.


While I was perched on my ladder this Green Shield Bug arrived on the tree and immediately positioned itself to soak up the sunshine.

Click on the images to see larger versions.





29 September - Heavy rain this morning has meant that while the sparrows and other birds are sheltering, down on the ground there are some animals which welcome the wet conditions.

The most obvious are the slugs and snails. This Large Red Slug (Arion ater) is on a log just outside the house, and a pause in the rain gave me the opportunity to grab a couple of images. The close-up shows the opening into the slug's mantle cavity, through which it breathes.

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