November, 2011

Wildlife

Wildlife
We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Notes on nature

We love nature... from every little bug on a blade of grass to birds, butterflies, otters and oaks!
  • Monday's magic moment: go bonkers for conkers

    Looking more like an undulating landscape ready to be conquered by some adventurous explorer, I love this different take on conkers by Sue Kennedy.

    Close up of horse-chestnut seed.

    There are plenty of other seeds and berries for you to see in a new light on RSPB Images.

  • This weekend... see a different side to spiders

    Frosted spider's web by cskkThe mere mention of the word 'spider' can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest wildlife enthusiast.

    It's true, spiders have a bad reputation, but we shouldn't forget that these amazing little creatures are the master craftsmen behind one of nature's most underrated wonders - the spider's web.

    Works of art

    The crisp, morning frosts of autumn and winter show these beautiful creations off to their best. Ice crystals clinging to the silk strands dance and glisten as the web sways in the breeze, creating a stunning jewelled display.

    And it's not just their beauty that is astounding, a spider's web is a magnificent feat of engineering for such a tiny creature.

    A spider can create one of these intricate, elegant structures in less than an hour, as this wonderful timelapse footage shows. And just think, it could be happening in your garden right now!

    The silk used to spin a web is finer than a human hair, yet five times stronger than steel. Engineers have calculated that a woven cord of spider's silk as thick as a pencil could stop a jet in midair - now that's strong!

    Carpets of silk

    This spider silk is responsible for a very mysterious and atmospheric sight of autumn. You might have noticed it if you've Frosted seedhead, festooned with frozen spider's silk.been walking recently - shimmering carpets of gossamer silk covering shrubs and bushes.

    Though it might look like someone has got a little carried away with the Halloween decorations, this peculiar sight is actually the work of millions of baby spiders. 

    Up, up and away

    When it's time for spiderlings to leave their mother, they climb up to high points on plants, point their abdomens skywards, and start producing silk threads.

    Some of these threads drift gently downwards and become tangled in bushes, producing the sheets of silk we see. But when there's a breeze, the silk threads act like a sail, lifting the spiderlings high into the sky.

    On a calm day they may only travel a few metres, but if there is a strong breeze the spiderlings can drift thousands of feet up into the sky and travel hundreds of miles - a process known as ballooning

    So next time you're out and about, keep your eyes peeled for ballooning babies and wonderful webs - the nicer side to spiders.

  • Monday's Magic Moment: one too many

    I just couldn't resist showing you all this photo of a little owl, by Jeroen Stel. It's great isn't it?!

    I can't help thinking that he looks a little the worse for wear after a night out! What do you reckon? Caption ideas please!

    You can find more amazing, beautiful and downright silly photos at RSPB Images.