Just last night I found a dead wasp hidden inside the leaves of a head of cauliflower that I took from the fridge. Actually, it was my wife that found it and insisted I remove it. I put the diminutive vegetable trespasser in the kitchen compost bin and closed the lid. Later that very same evening we discovered a wasp crawling on the work surface in the kitchen, and I must assume it was the same one. It seemed to be in pretty good health, so I imagine that the cold of the refrigerator had slowed it right down to a stop for I don't know how many days, only to be reanimated when warmed.

The BBC has a nice video report summing up what an odd year it's been in terms of weather, from the poinbt of view of a fruit farmer. I too have had strawberries flowering and bearing red fruit in the garden up until very recently, and it remains relatively dry in the South East.


A couple of pleasant and typically autumnal scenes for you, in case the darkening days are starting to get you down. Both of these are in UKNB's home town of St Albans, so if you're local you might recognise the first one at least.


Sadly I didn't have my 400mm lens with me on the day I spotted a Grey wagtail in the mud on the other side of a small lake. But this picture is good enough to identify it well. It's a good opportunity to point out some things about Wagtails in general.

You've no doubt seen the monochrome Pied wagtail doing its dipping and dashing, commonly seen in car parks. At the other end of the scale in colour as well as rarity is the Yellow wagtail, which is like our grey friend above but more yellow throughout. And that's the trick – to realise that Grey wagtails are in fact yellow, at least on the underside, but grey on top.

It's been unseasonably warm recently, continuing the yearlong trend for 2011 of going against the established theories of what the weather should be like at any given time. I found Marsh marigolds flowering today (they are a spring flowering plant ordinarily) as well as Brambles, which would usually be done by September.

This is assuming I've correctly identified Marsh marigolds above. I think I have but most of the web pages I found about them had them growing on land and with slightly differnt looking leaves.


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Obviously this isn't indigenous to the UK, being Madagascan ordinarily, but I couldn't resist this picture of a cheeky chappy (or lady for all I know) at Whipsnade Zoo. You can walk amongst these Ring-tailed lemurs in a special enclosure. They reminded me of cats, walking haughtily with their tails held high.

This is a good study of a male Eider duck if I do say so myself, but what might surprise is that it was taken at the Penguin pool at Whipsnade zoo, high on the escarpment of the Dunstable Downs and a long way from the coast! As the RSPB will tell you, this is the UK's largest duck and a true seaduck that spends its time out on the waves of the ocean. Except for when it's mixing it with the penguins well inland apparently!

That head is sheer 30s art deco if you ask me – a seriously designer duck! Here's another angle, though it's a shame I didn't get any pictures with the penguins in as well, so you'll just have to believe me.



It seems to be the time of year that Ladybirds decide they've had enough of being outdoors and crawl through our open windows to curl up in the corners of our nice central heated rooms. I've found quite a few around the house, of various sorts but mostly Harlequins and Seven-spots.

There's more information about this autumnal habit of Ladybirds courtesy of ladybuglady.com. They emit a pheremone that attracts more ladybirds so you can end up with masses of ladybirds clumped inside your house, which may emit a bad smell and stain the walls. I get the impression that the Harlequins can be a particular nuisance.

The picture above is a Harlequin as evidenced by the big black M on its head and the orange legs.