Did Thomas Hood describe November accurately?
“No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees;
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,-
He describes what he saw in the early 1800’s but has global warming had a part to play in the years since? Only time will tell!
As I write this month’s nature notes, it’s the last week in October, I can see an oak tree; still a glorious green! My thoughts about the trees starting their Autumn earlier than usual this year have been confounded!
Which-ever direction you take for your walks around the park this month, keep a look out for the fungi. October was so dry that there were not many about; so provided we do not have too many frosts they should be popping up all over the place. My favourite is a woodland one, Fly Agaric. This is the classic poisonous one of fairy stories; red with white blotches on the cup. Sorry I can’t guarantee there will be an elf perched on top! We do have a few poisonous fungi varieties in the UK and our pharmacies don’t provide specialist advice in the way they do in Switzerland; so my best advice is to look, take a photo but don’t pick! If you find anything unusual please let us know. So far recorded in the park are: Bracket Fungus, Honey Fungus, Jelly Ear, Puff Ball, Shaggy Ink Cap, Field Mushrooms and Fairies Bonnets. Good hunting!
On the “twitching” front, our summer migrant birds should all have flown south by now; off to warmer climes! However as the temperature drops we do have our winter visitors to look forward to. In the mean time we’ll have to put up with our resident birds. The Starlings seem to have had a good year and there are small flocks of them about. Green Woodpeckers are around probing the grass with their long beaks and of course there’s our old friend the Robin still singing its wintry song and reminding us Christmas is not so very far away!
The latest news on the University selling the Mansion site is that the “Preferred Buyer” has pulled out. So we are not about to be another educational academy after all and it’s back to square one for Greenwich University’s “sale of the century”!
We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear of any further developments.
If you were expecting the Keats’ quote for October, “Season of mists” etc; sorry to disappoint you! This month it’s Spenser with “Then came October, full of merry glee”!
The park is looking splendid this month with the hedges festooned with berries. Folklore maintains that this will herald a hard winter. I wonder? What it definitely tells us is that the pollinating insects were very busy last spring! The trees were very early to change colour this year; starting in the 3rd week of September, for the first time that I can remember.
We’ll have to wait and see what winter will be and in the meantime just enjoy the autumn tints in our lovely park!
If you’re walking past the MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area) on your way to the little valley formed by the Pippenhall Stream and then Grey’s (the rugby) field. Take a closer look at the very large tree at the start of the avenue alongside the Holly hedge. This magnificent specimen is a Caucasian Wingnut; the dangling “ropes” of seeds give insight into why this tree was named “Wingnut”. If you want to show off your botanical knowledge, the seeds are “samaras”; Sycamore and Ash have samaras too!
Last month I wrote about the bats in Avery Hill Park. Having watched them more carefully over the past few weeks; I’ve come to the conclusion that our bat numbers are down this year. The evidence is that the tell tale urine stains at the entrance of our 5 bat roosts are much shorter this year. We had a very cold spring; with no food about the females will not have given birth. Keep your eyes open at dusk and see what you can spot flying around the hedges and larger trees. Bats don’t like wet, windy or cold weather. If you can see your breath condensing in the air as you breathe out; it will be too cold for the insects and bats to be flying. However, there’s a great food source and a chance to fatten up for the bats hibernation, now the Ivy is in flower. The Ivy flowers attract lots of insects and the berries later this month are a food source for many of our birds.
Whatever the weather, get out and enjoy our park; our park users are very friendly and our café always has a warm welcome.
All parks have a great history, created as public open, green spaces by visionary men and women for the people to enjoy.