Tropical house and signs of Autumn

Our walk in the Great Glasshouse had yielded some interesting results, but the one on the 22nd to the Tropical House wasn’t quite so good, mainly because it was so hot and steamy – no surprise there but it did shorten the time spent there. Not much to see except woodlice, spiders and some fung, including a white one with curly edges, growing on a damp log. Outside in water-lily troughs there were loads of leeches and flat worms under lily leaves.

However, John set up his hedgehog hibernating box next to the footprint trap. This was filled with straw and covered it with roofing felt held down with a brick; we wait and see………. It is a very sheltered position behind the Bee garden wall  so might escape worst of winter storms.

After lunch a visit to the library where Margot discussed cataloging our results to date – and maybe on website in future.  This is certainly going to be an important facet of what we do next year.

The following Tuesday on the 29th was after the St. Jude’s day storm.  Fortunately the worst of the winds passed us by, though the rain didn’t.  The results of that deluge can be seen below and it is interesting to compare it with the same photo taken back in March.

But Signs of Autumn was the theme and we headed out towards the Waun Las entrance. Normally by this time of year the trees are turning colour.  But this year October has been much warmer than usual and there have been no frosts to trigger the colour change.  But what we did notice was a considerable variation in leaf-fall between trees of the same species.  Some had completely lost their leaves whilst others were still fully clothed, some only partially so.  And these could be right next to each other, enjoying similar growing conditions and the age of the trees didn’t seem to have much bearing on their condition either.

Of interest to all of us were a couple of non-native water-loving deciduous conifers that were planted around the lakes when the Garden was first established – the Dawn Redwood and the Swamp Cypress. The Dawn Redwood has fine flattened leaves which turn a bright orange colour before they drop in the autumn. Unlike most conifers the leaflets are attached at the same point of the stem whereas with most other trees with this type of foliage they will be alternately spaced along the stem.  Which is how those of the similar Swamp Cypress are arranged whose foliage also turns bright red before falling. This tree is also known as the Bald Cypress due to the fact that it is deciduous and, like the closedly related Dawn Redwood in its habit of shedding whole segments rather than just the leaves. The wood is extremely durable,  waterproof and does not shrink, which makes it ideal for use in barrels and as window frames.

A notable effect of all the wind and especially the rain was the clearer appearance of the lakes, a lot of the algae having been swept away.  Also notable by the lakes were several pairs of mating Red Darter Dragon Flies – certainly late in the season, as were the presence of at least 8 Red Admiral on the Ivy behind the Tropical House.  This area gets the sun and is a magnet for all kinds of insects.  And whilst we were there we examined John’s footprint tunnels which had been there for 2 weeks and were rather soggy.  Some interesting looking footprints – maybe the Hedgehog had returned.  Unfortunately the other wildlife camera which had been there for a week had captured absolutely nothing. .

If you find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital. on 01792 371630. Thanks  to John for the photos and if any volunteer or member is interested in joining us please  send an email to Colin Miles  – you DON’T have to be an expert in anything, just interested.   If you click on any of the images in these blogs, or anywhere else you will see a larger picture. And if you click on the Wildlife Walks heading on the left-hand side under News you will see a list of the last 10 Wildlife Walk blogs

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