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A single leaf of Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) clings to a twig in the garden

Today is the last day of November and tomorrow we start the three cold months of winter. Throughout these last few weeks the colour has gradually been draining from the garden, as viewed from my desk window. Here are some highlights… (more…)

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Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) on Mahonia this week

I felt a bit depressed as I sat at my desk on Friday morning, overwhelmed by working full-time from home, an unwell husband and all the housework. But blue skies and a couple of “exciting” nature observations brightened my mood no end…

We pruned our huge Mahonia brutally last year but it has come back better than ever, its yellow flowers attracting so much wildlife with their pollen – and later the berries. It was the subject of one of my very early blog posts in November 2009 – see here.

I picked up my camera and zoomed in on a butterfly I didn’t quite recognise and it turned out to be a painted lady (Vanessa cardui) – we see many speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) and holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) butterflies in our garden but I don’t think I have ever seen a painted lady before. (more…)

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Autumn leaves of the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park this week


I am glad I visited the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park a bit earlier this time as I might otherwise have missed its autumn colour.

We have had so much rain and wind in recent weeks that most of the loosening leaves have been blown from the branches and now lie in mush on the grass.

Here are the photos from my latest visit, on a rare dry day… (more…)

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Colourful maple leaves in Victoria Park, Cardiff, this week


Welcome to the November tree-following gathering. I look forward to seeing everyone’s news and pictures once again. And newcomers are also always welcome.

I was keen not to miss the autumn tints of the tall tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) I am following in Cardiff’s Victoria Park so made my visit a week early this time, on a rare fine day – I will report on that later.

We have had a great deal of rain here in South Wales after a parched summer but I wonder what the weather has been like where you are? Is it autumn / fall yet? Many trees here are still green and some seem to have leaves that are more damaged than glorious this time around. The strong winds recently have probably not helped.

I’m sure you regular tree followers will have something new to report. Point to any tree-related post you would like to share, using the link box below. And please don’t forget to leave a comment.

The link box is now open for contributions and will stay open until 7pm GMT on November 14.

If you are new to tree following, read all about the idea here, although, as I have been saying for months, I must update that page when I have the chance! Sorry I am being so neglectful at the moment.

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I saw this moth on my kitchen window and it stayed there all day, just moving an inch or two down the pane…

I went outside and took this picture of its top side, which i hadn’t expected to be grey-brown

It turns out there was no need for excitement – this is simply the “dark” version of Cydalima perspectalis, the box-tree moth, which I had previously spotted in its paler form here.

This is an invasive species and I have seen far too many examples of this moth lately. At least I no longer have any box trees myself and this particular specimen looks rather worn and missing a few legs. Apparently they are around from late July until mid September, so as this is late October it is probably on the way out…

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The characteristic leaves of the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park


Autumn has reached South Wales but not all the trees change colour at once. I fear I will have to visit the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park again before next month or I might miss its full orange glory.

This week, with the weather still changeable, I went to see it on a pleasant blue-sky morning – and there was already a need to wear a warm jacket.

Here are the photos from my visit… (more…)

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I don’t get out much these days but noticed this mackerel sky over the New Theatre in the centre of Cardiff recently

The weather has been very changeable for several weeks, so there has been no shortage of this kind of sky in the area of Canton where I live…

…and another one – sorry they are just phone snapshots, nothing particularly composed about them

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Brimstone moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) in the bathroom at night

Sadly I don’t see many moths these days but the other night I noticed this medium-sized yellow moth perched on the bathroom tiles. I caught it in a glass and tried to make it go out through the window but of course it came straight back, attracted by the bright light. It soon disappeared behind a light fitting and I have not seen it since. I looked it up and it is a common British moth, the brimstone moth (Opisthograptis luteolata).

This reminded me that I saw another moth back in the heady days of July but forgot to blog about it at the time…

Mystery moth viewed through the bathroom window…

…view from outside the bathroom window – the moth stayed on the glass in bright sunlight for several hours

The medium-sized moth was spectacular but turned out to be an invasive species accidentally imported from south-east Asia. It is known as the box-tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis) and was first seen in Kent in 2007. It has now spread through southern Britain. The larvae feed on box-tree foliage.

I did encounter a third moth over the last month, but was so keen to remove it from the house that I did not take a photo. It was a very dark shadow on the curtain net one night and turned out to be a large Mormo maura, the old lady moth or black underwing, It looked very sinister. I caught it in a glass and released it under a street light.

Although I didn’t snap it this time, I found that I had taken this picture of an old lady moth on an outside wall on July 18, 2011…

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Dry leaves fallen from the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Cardiff’s Victoria Park


Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half-dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

[The Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer in the City]

Last month we had a mini heatwave with temperatures in the 30s for a few days, but this time we are on the verge of drought, even here in South Wales, one of the wettest parts of the UK. The hot, cloudless weather has lasted about a fortnight and we are really hoping it will break with some welcome rain in the coming week.

It was exhausting walking the mile to visit Victoria Park to check up on the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) on Friday. The place was full of families, with the loud squeals of children playing on the splash pad – such a good idea in this weather and all the water is recirculated. I don’t like to take pictures of children without permission so this is from the website of the creators of the splashpad…

One of the exciting features of the splashpad is a bucket that gradually fills and then upends over all the children. Click on the photo to go to the Ustigate Waterplay website

Here are my pictures of the tulip tree… (more…)

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Juvenile great spotted woodpecker [Dendrocopos major] in the garden, its beak messy with fat from the feeder

I thought our great spotted woodpeckers had failed to breed this year as for a long time all I saw was a solitary male. But a couple of weeks ago this young one appeared – although the top of its head is now fading from bright orange to red. The adult female has no red on its head and the adult male a red patch on the nape.

The other young birds are also growing up now…

Young blackbird [Turdus merula] on the bird bath

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