Sunday, 25 October 2015

Alder Flea Beetle

Walking in Dunsop Valley we noticed quite considerable damage to Alder leaves, caused I think be Alder flea beetles.

Most of the trees still have their leaves though a big gust brings down lots of golden "pennies from heaven". The young cock pheasants are perfectly colour co-ordinated with the season in their rich new plumage and spend their days squaring up to each other or displaying to the drabber females. We still have plenty of bright nasturtiums cascading over the drystone wall and colourful little cyclamens and cheerful winter pansies and violas brighten up the patio now the geraniums have all been tucked up in the greenhouse. The cats refusing to go out unless the suns shining and mice have learnt that we sometimes forget to put the lids back on the big tubs of birdseed we keep in the shed. In the morning we have to put a big stick in for them to climb up and out which they do very sheepishly. In the picture of the cyclamen you can see a pot full of cowslip seedlings. We just put a pot of compost under a tub with cowslips in and let them self seed as they always seem to come up better from fresh seed.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Leighton Moss

We had a lovely day out at Leighton Moss. We haven't been for ages so it was interesting seeing the improvements being made which were highlighted on Countryfile. Its easy when you are surrounded on all sides by the dense reedbeds to not quite be able to picture what the sight looks like for a bird looking for a good place to overwinter. From the skytower you really realise how big and how attractive the site is to birds, with a variety of feeding and roosting opportunites. Its also just really cool.  Areas of reed have also been cleared and drained temporarily to encourage regeneration and a more open habitat for bitterns to fish in.


View from Skytower

Regeneration in reedbed

Pear Rust

I noticed these bright red blotches on a Conference Pear and a William Pear in a friends garden, when I turned over the leaves there were gall like outgrowths on the underside. A quick web search identified it as pear rust caused by the fungus Gymnosporangium sabinae which has spread from the continent in recent years. It lives on pears over summer releasing its spores in autumn and then overwinters on junipers which produce an orange spongy outgrowth from cankers in the bark in spring which reinfect pears. It is most common in humid conditions and seriously affects pear yield on the continent.

Friday, 2 October 2015


While I was sketching some pine cones something scuttled out and went between the leaves of my sketchbook. It was a tiny pseudoscorpion. They live in leaf litter and inject other tiny creatures with paralyzing venom delivered from their tiny pincers and then cover them with a liquid that soupifys them prior to ingestion. When they think they are under attack they pull everything in and look like a tiny speck of leaf litter. They are incredibly beautiful and its just amazing to watch something so tiny.