Weather: October was predominantly shaped by mild west/south-westerly airflow, bringing some spells of unusually high temperatures, both by day and by night. However the winds did turn northerly for the last weekend of the month, bringing the first widespread autumnal frosts. Around the middle of the month, ex-Hurricane Ophelia dragged warm air northwards across the UK, resulting in high temperatures and hurricane-force winds.
Places Visited: Amwell and Rye Meads.
Star Sightings of the Month:
Odonata: Willow Emerald
Insect: Green Shield Bug
‘In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.’
An extremely quiet month produced only three trips out - once to Amwell and twice to Rye Meads.
Various reasons included poor-ish weather; health problems; business meetings and the fact that Amwell had closed down for several months, due to gas works. It doesn’t leave me with many options now - Rye Meads, Cheshunt or WWT Barnes, with maybe a trip down to RSPB Rainham Marsh. A very good year will end with a whimper, unless something special turns up.
My first visit of the month was to Amwell, just before it closed. However, there wasn’t too much about and so I decided to cut my losses and spend the afternoon at Rye Meads. Subsequently, with Amwell then closing down for the Winter I concentrated on RM.
There were several decent birds arriving around the County, but I never managed to pick any of them up. Only the usual suspects were about. Wildfowl continued to arrive, but have yet to appear in any great numbers. The first Snipe started to appear, while Sandpipers, both Common & Green were seen, albeit in ones and twos.
The Kingfishers were still providing great entertainment at Rye Meads, with the male perching up amongst the red berries quite close to the Hide, on several occasions. The first Redwings of the season turned up, but I have yet to see their cousins, the Fieldfare.
I would say that it was all very quiet on the birding front in October, but then I didn’t make much of an effort to get out and about. Only the constant piercing noise of the builders outside my door encouraged me to don several layers and brave the elements.
Although Autumn has now arrived, in force, blowing the golden leaves off the trees, there still haven’t been any decent mammal sightings. However, sandstorms blown up from the Sahara provided a very surreal red sun.
Lepidoptera were predictably sparse but included a lovely Brimstone in the middle of the month, at Rye Meads. Otherwise only several Red Admirals were seen on the wing and I fear that they will be the last of the butterflies for this season.
This year’s odonata season is now sadly almost over as well. Only Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers are still about and only then in small numbers. The last of the Willow Emeralds were seen at Rye Meads, where I found a few pairs egg-laying on a bramble branch – something that even the British Dragonfly Society hadn’t even heard of before. I managed to remember to inform the staff at RM of my findings, so hopefully they will leave everything in place over the winter.
There was a recent report regarding the decline and fall of invertebrates. There has been an alleged 75% decrease over the last 25 years. It’s something that echoes my findings over recent years. I have had to work hard to get sightings of most insects this year and last.
Dock & Green Shield Bugs were seen on a sunny day early in the month. Other than those, the only decent insects still on show included Dark Bush Crickets, a Tortoise Bug and a Hornet. I also noticed that there were still lots of Midges around, reflecting a warm and dry month.
Seasonal work has now begun on all the Reserves, with plenty of strimming and coppicing. For some reason I have volunteered my services to Jenny, at Amwell, for the upcoming Winter BitternWatch. It’ll be interesting to see if we are allowed to enter the area. It’ll be even more interesting if we see a Bittern!
Roll on the Spring!
‘Change happens only when you replace one story with another.’
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