October 2002
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This first picture shows the same tree, although from different sides of the hedge. The left-hand picture was taken at the start of October while that on the right was taken at the end of the month. At the start of the month it still had a rich foliage but by the end, as you can see it was almost bare.

The remaining green is in fact not the trees own foliage but Ivy. The Ivy does not harm the tree, but rather uses it for support. It is a long lived plant, and the Ivy covering this tree is probably over one hundred years of age.

Their leaves were not the only thing to be lost by the trees. At the end of the month the UK was hit by storms which in some areas, apparently produced winds of over 90 miles per hour (145 kilometre's per hour)

Many trees on the farm sustained some sort of damage.

Large Ash loses
a main branch

Main Branch from Oak
blocks cattle drive

Large Oak in Drive Field loses
large branch

Willow by the Dane loses
a main branch

The grass has nearly stopped growing, as have the various hedgerow plants such as nettles and brambles.

This means less undergrowth for small animals to hide. Some such as the hedgehog, will hibernate for the winter months.

For them, particularly the young, this is the most dangerous part of the year as they have to rely upon their internal store of fat to keep them alive.

Other animals such as the rabbits, while not hibernating will spend more of their time underground in their burrows venturing out more at night which soon comes as the days are shortening.

Spending more time closer together in their burrows can lead to more problems for our rabbits as they tend to pick up rabbit fleas natural in themselves but carriers of the deadly (to rabbits that is) myxomatosis virus .

This one was caught by Smidge, it didn't stand a chance as one of the symptoms of the disease is blindness as the picture shows the swollen and closed eyes. Blind and unable to find food they soon die.

The disease was introduced in the early 1950's as a "rabbit control method" or to use today's parlance "a biological weapon" and it almost succeeded, in the first few years following its introduction the rabbit population was almost wiped out.

Today the rabbits are beginning to develop some immunity, although it still kills many; some are now recovering from the disease and passing this immunity on to the next generation and the rabbit population is again on the increase.

Finally, we end on a more colourful note. If you have ever been walking along the riverbank, especially during summer, you may have caught a glimpse of turquoise and orange flash through the air. This is the Kingfisher, and is one of the UK's most vividly coloured birds.

For most the brief flash of colour is all that is seen, Andy, our webby was a little more fortunate this month, when he was joined one of these elusive birds as he walked by the river Dane.

As you can see from the pictures it is a very distinctive and beautiful bird, though I doubt the fish it's eying up for dinner would agree..

See you next month PHIL

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