Tom Gray’s Nature notes: Autumn takes over

Tom Gray
Tom Gray

Last mid-week we were delighted to note the scarlet and gold face of a Goldfinch, at long last, on our Southparks bird table.

Soon a second bird of the same kind appeared before hedge hopping across the neighbour’s fence to find something preferable to the peanutsc we were offering. Knowing goldfinches to be regular visitors to other Glenrothes gardens, now that they have discovered ours, we shall endeavour to entice them back by providing a supply of niger seeds which I understand they prefer.

On the same day we logged in the presence of two Red Admiral butterflies making a rare November visit to our Buddleia bush, surely their last visit before they go into hibernation in whatever sheltered corner they have so far secreted themselves. That done, Mrs Gray and I entrained ourselves for a weekend visit to one of our our son’s Manchester home, where immediately on arrival we soon established from the many ball-shaped nests of Magpies in the tops of the trees lining the city streets that we were in a different environment from usual, albeit Magpies are now more frequently seen here in Glenrothes.

Once settled in to our guestroom we found in the corner of a windowsill a BLACK ladybird with four red patches on the body armour of the elytra which protect its wings. In spite of its appearance we decided this insect’s species must be that of a Two Spot Ladybird, a very variable species which in city industrial areas, such as Manchester, surrenders its red defensive red coloration, for black, which allows more ready absorption of any heat in the rays of sunshine penetrating smoky skies. Once exposed to the autumnal sunshine our ladybird soon sprouted wings and took to the air, no doubt to search out a new sheltered corner, probably under fallen leaves, to escape winter.