Here's a classic autumnal scene. Crisp leaves and the cases of Beech nuts littering a woodland floor – or even a pavement. I think you can even see a beech nut or two, as well as the empty burred cases, especially in the top left area of the picture. However if you really want to know what they look like, here are some great pictures and advice on eating them from Raw Rob's blog on wild food. Apparently they were used as a coffee substitute during the war!


This is a poor photo taken in the corner between wall and ceiling of a dimly lit bathroom, but it clearly shows a Green lacewing becoming increasingly browned off with the weather. No longer a pure green, it is fading and turning brown, which is how it will see out the winter months before taking wing again next year.

So don't assume like I once did that those faded brown lacewings have died – they are perfectly fine and just hibernating. For a better picture of a fresh Green lacewing in close-up, check out my original blog post.

Admittedly this is rather cheating as far as UK nature goes, but I couldn't not post this picture of an imperious male lion taken at Whipsnade Zoo. They tend to loll around by the floor to ceiling glass of the viewing area, hence availing themselves of good close up photos. That is assuming you can find a clean enough bit of glass to put your lens up against.

How do they keep their fur so clean when presumably they nosh down on bloody meat? I suppose they bathe in a pool and lick themselves clean but I'm still rather surprised.

Thanks to Jenny for sending in this great picture of a young Common toad. At least I assume it's young as it seems rather small in relation to the grass. It might seem surprisingly brown, but apparently that's within normal range, especially in hot weather.

I see toads extremely rarely in my neck of the woods (I can't remember the last time) so it's nice to see this picture. You may be more likely to see their spawn, as evidence of toads in the locality, which forms long strings as opposed to the clumps of frogspawn.

The bird feeders in my garden have been largely silent all summer – I don't think I've refilled them in months, until just two days ago when I got out the special sanitising spray, a bottle-brush and hose and gave them a good clean, then refilled. Because it seems the birds are back so I felt I should put the effort in.

So far it's been mainly tits of various sorts and the odd Robin, but hopefully thigns will pick up as they refind it.

Is everyone else finding the same pattern through the seasons this year and others?

As I mentioned once before Autumnwatch is nearly upon us. In fact as I write this it's a mere 15 minutes away, so settle down with your beverage of choice, watch the end of Gardeners' World and prepare to manage with Kate Humble.

I wonder if this year's unusual weather will mean that they're got some unusual stories as a result.

Your intrepid UKNB editor has been on tour, this time to the Portuguese island of Madeira, off the coast of Morocco. Take a look at this Google map if you're not sure where I mean exactly.

One of the things I love about sunny climes such as Madeira (which was 26c by day, 21c by night) is the little lizards festooning every sun-baked stone surface, even the heart of the town. Apparently these are Madeiran wall lizards, though I'm not sure if the one pictured above is one of those specifically (as they look more like monitors, which the one above doesn't).

They tend to dart away if you get within a metre or two and are lightning quick so I assumed it would be very difficult to catch one. This YouTube video (which is nothing to do with me) shows that I was wrong!