Nature Notes For November

Spiders! The very word has just struck fear into more than one reader I’ll bet. Be warned this is the time when ‘The Old Basing spider’, more commonly known as the House Spider, will creep back into your cosy centrally heated houses and paralyse the place as it scurries across the carpet. Yes, completely harmless but scary for some for sure. Not so the False Black Widow (pictured right) however, which has multiplied significantly in this county over the past few years, to the extent that over 150 people have reported being bitten over the past four years. This statistic doesn’t necessarily apply to a jump in numbers in this parish but if you’re not sure of the beastie you find then treat with a little caution.
By coincidence John Watson who lives just down the road from me emailed about the huge number of tiny spiders working their socks off around his car door mirrors. Literally every day it’s become a process to clean off the webs before going anywhere. I concurred that we had noticed that there did seem to be many being strung from every branch, fence or doorway. Annoyingly too, around our alarms and security cameras which then sent notification alerts to our phones! They are just Garden Spiders but which become very active in late summer.
Back in the spring there was a worryingly slow start to the influx of Swifts, Swallows and Martins but we found out this was mainly due to very bad weather across France and Spain which slowed their progress. When they got here they wasted no time in setting up home to breed and by all accounts it seems as if it’s been a very good year. Judith Patterson and other residents of Paddockfields noted most Swift and Martin boxes being occupied, even as I write (end of September) there are still young heads poking out of the fabricated Martin boxes, gaining strength as they ready themselves for their daunting flights to Africa.
The stunning 10 days we had at the end of September bought out all the birds, bats, butterflies and bees. It was a glorious end to the summer and many people remarked how great it was to see shrubs such as Buddleia flowers brimming with Bumble bees and Red Admirals. Alison Wells in Belle Vue was delighted to see the return of a pair of Nuthatches to her feeders and Stephen Thair reported a mass of Blue, Great and Coal tits on his feeders plus Gold and Greenfinches. He also noted six raptors moving south, so very high it was impossible to make out what they were. We’ve speculated migrating Osprey (we know one was observed over the Millfield recently) but think it may have just been a Buzzard family enjoying the thermals.
‘Lord’ Leavey was fishing Willow Pool at Bramley with eldest son Ben last weekend when a Grass Snake took a dip in the lake and ended up in Ben’s swim, heading his way. Ben vacated the area pretty smartly until he was sure that it wasn’t an Adder. No worry mate, Adders aren’t keen on wet habitats but Grass Snakes are very much at home and this one would have been much more interested in finding a tasty frog rather than spoiling your fishing.
Rick Bourne
Don’t forget to send all your nature-related photos to or or tel. 01256 321108 for news. For all your bird food requirements, order it from me at ‘Bird Drop-ins’ use the former email address or ring me on 07900 648675 to place an order or get a form.

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