Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Nature notes - inc spiders on boats

 As Roy Rogers nearly sang: 

An eight legged friend

An eight legged friend

He'll never let you down

Yes folks, autumn seems to be spider time, and I realise that I've come to enjoy and even welcome them.  The one I like best is the little one that hides overnight in the hole where the tiller pin goes through the swan neck on Herbie.  Perhaps I should call him Trigger after the Roy Rogers song. He's always there in the morning and I'm careful to let him escape before I drop the tiller pin in.  I still haven't worked out how he spins a single thread from the side of the boat across three feet of thin air to get there, but it's impressive.

Kath, although a nature lover is not quite so keen on spiders inside the boat, especially the bedroom.  Nevertheless we never remove them, preferring instead to just discourage them. She adopts the old custom of putting some conkers on the shelf in the belief that they give off some odour that deters spiders. I admit that it seems to work, although whether it's causation or correlation I'm not sure.

Although it's autumn there are still loads of bees about, and the best place to see them now is on ivy which is flowering at the moment. We noticed loads of them by the side of Claydon top lock last week.  Not just the so called ivy bees which are like smaller versions of honey bees, but honey bees themselves, bumble bees and even wasps.  If you have some ivy near you, take a look this week and you'll be amazed how many of the little critters are buzzing round it.  I think this first picture might be a honey bee.

This morning we took a stroll around the lovely old graveyard behind our house.  Half of it is left as a conservation area and it's a great place for wild flowers, grasses, butterflies and other insects.  And of course the birds come there to dine on them. Here's Kath looking at this year's abundant crop of holly berries.

People will tell you that lots of berries means we'll have a hard winter.  Personally I'm not persuaded that plants can tell the future, and it's more the result of the previous summer's weather. You might think otherwise.

We have quite a few varigeated holly trees over there, and one which has  some white leaves.

Soon the council workers will show up with their strimmers and cut the long grass back.  It's probably a good thing but I rather like it long. It makes the gravestones look more dramatic.  

That's our house you can see in the background.

The long grass also lets us see where the foxes have been. There are nearly always foxes over there. They frequently make their dens in the old graves.  This photo tries to show one of their paths but I'm not sure if you can make it out. I can see it, but then I know where it is, straight up the middle of the picture. 

We used to have foxes regularly visiting our garden but sadly because I've had to put chicken wire in the hedge to keep our daughter's little dogs in, it also keeps the foxes out. Instead we have to put up with squirrels trying to rob our bird feeders.  Bah!

There are still a few wild flowers out amongst the graves, most notably the not-all-that-common Devils Bit Scabious which is supposed to be good at relieving some skin ailments including of course scabies. I like it because it flowers late on and I love the colour.

Don't tell anyone but we harvested a bit of its seed today to see if we can introduce it into our garden.

Lastly a more winter flowering plant is poking through the grass

The good old cyclamen.  Is it a wild flower?  Probably not technically, but it grows wild.

The nights might be drawing in, but we still plan to go boating over the next few weeks and months.  Anyhow we have to take Herbie to Banbury in November to get her blacked at Tooleys.


Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

We are back in NZ and spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is.
Well, I know where the tui are: zooming among the numerous kowhai trees, calling out to each other with the most amazing range of sounds.
We had a duck in the pond outside our kitchen today and there are lots of thrushes and other birds in all the trees and on the ground.
A few NZ natives that populate Parkwood Retirement Village for you to look up, Neil:
tui, pukeko, kereru

Cheers and hugs to you both,


Jo said...

We once plunged a boatyard into silence when unbeknown to us a spider overwintered in our external land line socket. Connecting the landline squished said spider and the resulting goo stopped all work in the yard.......!
Other than that, we always collected conkers in the belief that they helped keep the spiders at bay.
Jo ex n/b Sarahkate

Anonymous said...

I like the look and sound of the TUI Marilyn. Can't say I envy you that pigeon though we get more than enough of our native pigeons

Neil said...

Poor little spider, I bet no one felt sorry for him

Vallypee said...

Lovely photos of the graveyard, Neil! I must try that conker trick!