Nature Notes - September/October 2018
Hardly a day goes by that we fail to see or hear the local Ravens, when out in the garden, the largest member of the crow family. Usually they are just flying out to the River Mersey estuary, calling with their deep gruff 'croaking' voice. The Raven is also known for its ability to display excellent flying skills in the right weather conditions. Last week I had the pleasure of watching a pair in a thermal going round and round chasing each other, flipping over on their backs and at times talon grappling with each other and showing off their wedge shaped tails. All this went on for several minutes. For me personally I enjoyed the moment.
To talk about spiders is usually a subject in which you either 'love them' or you 'hate them.' However, I was removing all the old flowers from the Rats Tailed Cactus in my greenhouse recently when I found a large spider hiding. I managed to collect the spider in a plastic observation container so I could look at it more closely. Its circular body was good half inch in diameter with fairly short legs. I tried to photograph it out of the container but it moved that fast I was unable to focus quickly enough, so I returned it to the container to get a record shot before releasing it again in the garden. My knowledge of spiders is very poor and even with the help of the internet I am still unable to identify this spider.
As mentioned in previous notes, it has been a very poor year for butterflies with us. There was a brief ten days when I recorded many of the regular species but after that it was Large and Small Whites only.
On the 6th September the only pair of Swallows at Wood Farm pledged their third brood. They stayed around for twenty-four hours then moved away to start their migration south. In recent days we have seen the usual autumn gathering of Swallows and House Martins on the wires in early morning but the numbers appear to be well down on previous years so far.
A new feature at Wood Farm: we now have a House Sparrow and Starling roost in the garden each evening About 50+ House Sparrows and twelve Starling choose to spend the night in the well established deciduous climbing shrub on the house wall. Time will tell what happens when the leaves fall.
The British Trust for Ornithology have organised a Tawny Owl survey this year. The survey is based on randomly selected 10k squares throughout the country. Our nearest square is in the Chester area, however I would be very interest if any of our readers hear the Tawny Owl calling this autumn / winter. Please let me know a location. I have not heard an Owl calling locally for many years. As the nights are drawing in, this is a good time to start listening as Tawny Owls start taking up territories very soon and will become more vocal.