Male Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), 15 November 2018. Photo Ken Dobson.

November 2018 was a rather ‘grey’ month, living up to that month’s reputation. There were only around half a dozen really sunny days, mainly in the first half, whereas on around 16 days little or no sunshine was recorded. The total sunshine was 66.5 hours (93% of average), the mean sunshine 2.2 hours per day and the maximum on any one day 7.1 hours. There was significant rainfall on 12 days, mostly in the second half; total rainfall was 58.8 mm (91% of average) and the highest amount on any one day 10.6 mm (29th). Like October, the month started off mild, and there was another mild, dry and sunny spell in the middle. The maximum temperature was 16.1°C and the lowest air minimum -1.5°C (lowest grass minimum -5.5°C). For a variety of reasons rather little wildlife recording could be done in the month but nevertheless it was possible to add one moth species to the Garden’s total wildlife list which now stands at 1,077, of which 257 are moths.

Birds: Despite the rather low frequency of wildlife sightings during November, thirty-seven bird species were recorded.  A wintering male Blackcap was seen again in the Chinese Hillside, and photographed (15th). The ‘Snipe’ recorded last month (29 October) was corrected to a Woodcock while another Woodcock was seen on 20th November. Two redhead (female or juvenile) Goosanders were again on the main Garden Pond on 22nd with singles there on 12th and 13th. Once again, both Kingfisher and Nuthatches were recorded throughout the month, with at least one, sometimes two, of the former present practically every day on either the main Pond or the one in the Chinese Hillside. Grey Wagtail was recorded several times in the middle of the month (11th–20th) whilst the ponds were being drained for maintenance. Finally, after several months with no records, Siskin was spotted on 2nd. The complete list of 37 species recorded during November 2018 was: Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Kingfisher, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Nuthatch, Oystercatcher, Redwing, Robin, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Tree Creeper, Wood Pigeon, Woodcock, Wren.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla flava), 12 November 2018. Photo Ken Dobson.

Mammals and amphibians: A Fox was seen on 15th and there was regular evidence of Badgers’ night-time activities in the shape of grubbed-up grass.

Insects and other invertebrates: The only butterflies recorded during November were Red Admirals on 4th, 13th and 15th.  Moth records included Red Sword-grass (8th, a new Garden record), Spruce Carpet (9th and 15th), Grey Pine Carpet (15th), Mottled Umber (8th and 15th), and an unidentified tortrix moth on 22nd. Bees and wasps recorded in November were Honey Bee (six dates between 1st and 15th), Buff-tailed Bumblebee (6th, 8th and 15th), Common Carder Bee (five dates between 4th and 15th) and Common Wasp (15th). No dragonflies or hoverflies were sighted. Mainly because most leaves had now been shed,  only three species of leaf-mining fly were recorded but these included the mines of Amauromyza verbasci on 8th, the first time this species had been found in the Garden during 2018. Other fly sightings included bluebottle, Calliphora vicina (2nd and 8th), and more Winter Gnats on 8th. No bugs were recorded during November and Pine Ladybird (15th) was the only beetle record. No spiders or harvestmen were seen but a very few Lime Nail-galls of the gall mite Eriophyes tiliae could still be found on the few remaining yellowing lime leaves. Lastly, a Common Rough Woodlouse was seen on 2nd.

Red Sword-grass (Xylena vetusta), 8 November 2018. New Garden record. Photo Lucy Cooke.