The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and although the weather has been better than predicted it’s still been quite wild and wet at times. Understandably many of us might be inclined to baton down the hatches and prepare for hibernation. It’s an annual process for many species why not us too?
Well hopefully after this you’ll be inspired to swap the slippers for wellies, shake off the blanket and exchange the gogglebox for some time out exploring. This afterall is an exciting and colourful season. It may seem like a drab and dreary time of year but first impressions can be deceiving. So with the help of a favourite childhood song I’ll show you what a colourful season you are able to experience with us here at Coombes Valley. I will also give you an idea of what’s about on the reserve.
(Ladybirds by Becky Austin)
The ladybirds featured in the picture have taken up residency in the gent’s toilets of all places! It's lovely to get to see these little bugs hibernating together, hopefully they found plenty of aphids to eat throughout the Summer. It will be April before they emerge from hibernation and can get their next meal. The scarlet waxcaps have started coming up on the path towards the viewing area, like ruby’s shining in a sea of green. Robins and redwings can be seen in good numbers feeding on the bright red rowan, holly and hawthorn berries.
(Beech tree by Becky Austin)
The trees are really starting to turn now especially the beech, oak and silver birch. The colours are mesmerising and soon the woodland will be a sea of reds, golds, yellows and browns. The beech in the picture looks as if it has had the Midas touch. The gorse bushes along buzzard bank are already flowering a little; they can flower right through the winter but will come in to their own in early spring. I’ve also noticed golden waxcaps near the viewing area. They look really fresh and bright, and currently resemble bouncy balls lost within the grass, well worth a look.
(Rose Russula by Becky Austin)
Lots of bullfinches have been seen in the last week, with many of them gorging on berries and seeds in the various trees along buzzard bank. A gorgeous little bird with the male looking particularly ‘pretty in pink.’ I saw the Rose Russula pictured in Andrew Shaw's wood. One of my favourite fungi on the reserve, with its frilly edges and white underside it always reminds me of a ladies petticoat.
(Oak Moss by Becky Austin)
I noticed the oak moss whilst out on a walk mid-week. It looks really fabulous as if it’s trying to bring back to life the rotten branch it’s attached to. It just shows how important dead wood is for so many species. It provides homes for fungi, lichens and insects and a banquet for birds and mammals. Me, Carl and Rachel also uncovered a very green caterpillar this week. It was whilst we were removing some of the bramble from one of the wildflower meadows. Unfortunately I’m still working on my moth and butterfly ID so identifying this little critter was nigh on impossible.
(Red Fox RSPB Images)
The foxes which inhabit the reserve have been sighted several times over the past few weeks. One of my favourite memories from the week was seeing a red fox slinking down the path towards me. It was a gorgeous dog fox and it was practically glowing as the last amber rays of the setting sun caught its fur. We’ve had a seriously spooky week at Coombes with lots of pumpkin carving done at the Halloween event. It was a real success so a big thank you to all the families who joined us, we hope you had as much fun as we did.
(Marsh Thistle by Becky Austin)
The marsh thistle was in Clough Meadow but I have seen them spotted around several areas of the reserve. They offer another splash of colour to our Coombes Valley pallet. You may find this hard to believe but the purple eyes of peacock butterflies and the border of small tortoiseshell have also been spotted on the reserve. It’s surprising how only a small spell of sunshine and the mild temperatures will bring them venturing out.
(Jay Feather by Becky Austin)
The jays have been both vocal and visible from the viewing platform next to the visitor centre. The oak tree’s which are in the first part of the top meadow are a favourite haunt as they collect the tasty acorns. Although they are sure to be eating some jays also store some of them in tree crevices or more commonly bury them for later.
You can see a rainbow
See a rainbow
Aaat Coombes too.
(Rainbow over Coombes by Becky Austin)
And if you’re still not convinced why not brighten the ever darkening evenings by attending one of our stargazing events. They are running on the 13th, 20th and 27th November from 7.30-9.30 pm. No need to book, just turn up, but do bear in mind these events will only run if the sky is clear so feel free to contact us on the day for confirmation. For more information check out our events page.
Have a fun weekend :-)