After a fine morning it was disappointing that when we met at 2.00 a light drizzle began to fall. In view of this we didn’t expect to see much, but were pleasantly surprised at the variety of wildlife, and that many flowers were continuing later into the season than last year. Sloes and hips were still in abundance.
Earlier in the year we had found many pinkish round oak galls growing on the oak trees adjacent to the railway line. These galls are caused by the larval stage of the gall wasp, and the growth of the gall encloses them. We notice today that there are many holes in the dried galls from which the larvae have now emerged. There are apparently more than 30 species of gall wasp and their life cycle is complex with alternating generations that are either sexual with males and females, or asexual with females only. The two generations often produce different types of gall on different parts of the tree, and in some species the two generations alternate between native and non-native species of oak.
Gall wasps however, cause no long-term ill effects to oak trees. We also noticed today that acorns had been affected, which was probably caused by the Acorn Gall Wasp (Andricus quercuscalicis). Gall wasps that attack the acorns can substantially reduce the acorn crop in some years, which may have consequences for pigeons, jays, squirrels and other rodents that eat acorns during the winter. This wasp became established in the UK in the 1970s and is now widespread; they also are not a threat to the tree itself.
As usual there were many birds in the bushes beside the railway line, in the trees by the reed beds and also in the former caravan park and a surprise today was seeing a fox slinking beside the hedge making its way towards the housing estate. A variety of birds fed on the mud in the river, heron, egret & godwits amongst them.
In spite of the poor weather it was a lovely day to be out and the good thing about poor weather is that it keeps the crowds away!
Next Meeting – Friday 24th November 2.00 pm meet in the marina car park
Birds: Robin, Blackbird, Wren, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Pied Wagtail Magpie, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Black-headed & Herring Gulls, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit
Flowers: Bristly Ox-tongue, Dandelion, Mallow, Scentless Mayweed, Ragwort, Speedwell, White Campion, Field Poppy, Red, & White Clover, Yarrow, Honeysuckle, Bramble, Ribwort Plantain, Cat’s Ear, Hedge Bindweed (Bellbine), Marsh Thistle, Great Reedmace, Daisy, Black Horehound, Red & White Deadnettle, Groundsel, Hedge Mustard, Gorse, Wild Radish.
Other: Mole activity, Fox, Hips, Sloes, caterpillar of the Large White Butterfly.