A new worry has emerged for those that would like to freeze nature in time: the rise of the black squirrel, as reported by the BBC. Apparently the result of a rare genetic mutation that only affects colour, these are basically exactly the same as grey squirrels, apart from the obvious difference.

It's thought that they must have been brought across from America at some point in the fairly distant past. Anecdotally the UK population seems to be gradually increasing in numbers and spreading, with a decent foothold across Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Seeing as they are fundamentally the same critter, the blacks are not competing with the greys – it's all just one big inter-breeding population as far as they're concerned, aesthetic preferences aside – but the black gene is dominant so tends to show itself as it gets passed on.

SpiderMakingWeb

Here is a common garden spider building a web in front of my shed. You can just about see (and more so if you click for the larger image) how the silk comes from the spinnerets at the end of the the abdomen and then is handled by the rear legs. If you look very closely you can see that each of the lines in the web (but not the radial ones) is covered with tiny, regularly spaced droplets of stickiness.

SnailStripey

Autumn is upon us it seems and for most that means less time outdoors enjoying nature. Which is a shame. But at least it presents a prime opportunity to pay more attention to snails, large and small that swarm across the wet surfaces of the garden. They actually move surprisingly quickly if you watch them – certainly fast enough to cause a bit of motion blur when trying to photograph them on a grey day.