Autumn Count

Frog

The common frog (Rana temporaria), is a semi-aquatic amphibian of the family Ranidae, found throughout much of Europe as far north as Scandinavia and as far east as the Urals, except for most of Iberia, southern Italy, and the southern Balkans. The farthest west it can be found is Ireland. It is also found in Asia, and eastward to Japan.

The adult common frog has a body length of 6 to 9 centimetres (2.4 to 3.5 in) its back and flanks varying in colour from olive green to grey-brown, brown, olive brown, grey, yellowish and rufous. However, it can lighten and darken its skin to match its surroundings. Some individuals have more unusual colouration—both black and red individuals have been found in Scotland, and albino frogs have been found with yellow skin and red eyes. During the mating season the male common frog tends to turn greyish-blue (see video below). The average mass is 22.7 g (0.80 oz); the female is usually slightly larger than the male. See Wikipedia for more details.

Goldfinch

The European goldfinch or simply the goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), is a small passerine bird in the finch family that is native to Europe, North Africa and western and central Asia. It has been introduced to other areas, including Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay.

The breeding male has a red face and a black-and-white head. The back and flanks are buff or chestnut brown. The black wings have a broad yellow bar. The tail is black and the rump is white. Males and females are very similar, but females have a slightly smaller red area on the face.

The average European goldfinch is 12–13 cm (4.7–5.1 in) long with a wingspan of 21–25 cm (8.3–9.8 in) and a weight of 14 to 19 g (0.49 to 0.67 oz). The sexes are broadly similar, with a red face, black and white head, warm brown upper parts, white underparts with buff flanks and breast patches, and black and yellow wings.

On closer inspection, male European goldfinches can often be distinguished by a larger, darker red mask that extends just behind the eye. The shoulder feathers are black, whereas they are brown on the female. In females, the red face does not extend past the eye. The ivory-coloured bill is long and pointed, and the tail is forked. Goldfinches in breeding condition have a white bill, with a greyish or blackish mark at the tip for the rest of the year. Juveniles have a plain head and a greyer back but are unmistakable due to the yellow wing stripe. Birds in central Asia (the caniceps group) have a plain grey head behind the red face, lacking the black and white head pattern of European and western Asian birds. Adults moult after the breeding season, with some individuals beginning in July and others not completing their moult until November. After moult birds appear less colourful, until the tips of the newly grown feathers wear away. See Wikipedia for more details.

Hedgehog

The European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), also known as the West European hedgehog or common hedgehog, is a hedgehog species found in Europe, from Iberia and Italy northwards into Scandinavia. It is a generally common and widely distributed species that can survive across a wide range of habitat types. It is a well-known species, and a favorite in European gardens, both for its endearing appearance and its preference for eating a range of garden pests. While populations are currently stable across much of its range, it is thought to be declining severely in Great Britain.

Erinaceus europaeus has a generalised body structure with unspecialised limb girdles. The animal appears brownish with most of its body covered by up to 6,000 brown and white spines. Length of head and body is ~160 mm (6.3 in) at weaning, increasing to 260 mm (10 in) or more in large adults. This species has an extremely short tail as an almost vestigial feature, typically 20 to 30 mm (0.79 to 1.18 in). Weight increases from around 120 g (4.2 oz) at weaning to > 1,100 g (2.4 lb) in adulthood. The maximum recorded weight is 2000 g (4.4 lb), though few wild specimens exceed 1,600 g (3.5 lb) even in autumn. Adult summer weight is typically somewhat less than in autumn, with an average of around 800 g (1.8 lb) and adult weights commonly as low as 500 g (1.1 lb). Males tend to be slightly larger than females, but sex differences in body weight are overshadowed by enormous seasonal variation. See Wikipedia for more details.

Honey Fungus

Armillaria mellea, commonly known as honey fungus, is a basidiomycete fungus in the genus Armillaria. It is a plant pathogen and part of a cryptic species complex of closely related and morphologically similar species. It causes Armillaria root rot in many plant species and produces mushrooms around the base of trees it has infected. The symptoms of infection appear in the crowns of infected trees as discoloured foliage, reduced growth, dieback of the branches and death. The mushrooms are edible but some people may be intolerant to them. This species is capable of producing light via bioluminescence in its mycelium.

The basidiocarp of each has a smooth cap 3 to 15 cm (1 to 6 in) in diameter, convex at first but becoming flattened with age often with a central raised umbo, later becoming somewhat dish-shaped. The margins of the cap are often arched at maturity and the surface is sticky when wet. Though typically honey-coloured, this fungus is rather variable in appearance and sometimes has a few dark, hairy scales near the centre somewhat radially arranged. The gills are white at first, sometimes becoming pinkish-yellow or discoloured with age, broad and fairly distant, attached to the stipe at right angles or are slightly decurrent. The spore print is white. The stipe is of variable length, up to about 20 cm (8 in) long and 3.5 cm (1 12 in) in diameter. It is fibrillose and of a firm spongy consistency at first but later becomes hollow. It is cylindrical and tapers to a point at its base where it is fused to the stipes of other mushrooms in the clump. It is whitish at the upper end and brownish-yellow below, often with a very dark-coloured base. There is a broad persistent skin-like ring attached to the upper part of the stipe. This has a velvety margin and yellowish fluff underneath and extends outwards as a white partial veil protecting the gills when young. The flesh of the cap is whitish and has a sweetish odour and flavour with a tinge of bitterness. Under the microscope, the spores are approximately elliptical, 7–9 by 6–7 µminamyloid with prominent apiculi (short, pointed projections) at the base. The basidia (spore-producing structures) lack basal clamps.

The main part of the fungus is underground where a mat of mycelial threads may extend for great distances. They are bundled together in rhizomorphs that are black in this species.[14] The fungal body is not bioluminescent but its mycelia are luminous when in active growth. See Wikipedia for more details.

Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui is a well-known colourful butterfly, known as the painted lady, or formerly in North America as the cosmopolitan.

The Painted lady (V. cardui) is a large butterfly (wing span 5–9 cm (2.0–3.5 in)) identified by the black and white corners of its mainly deep orange, black-spotted wings. It has five white spots in the black forewing tips and while the orange areas may be pale here and there, there are no clean white dots in them. The hindwings carry four small submarginal eyespots on the dorsal and ventral sides. Those on the dorsal side are black, but in the summer morph sometimes small blue pupils are present. See Wikipedia for more details.

Redwing

The Redwing (Turdus iliacus) is a bird in the thrush family, Turdidae, native to Europe and the Palearctic, slightly smaller than the related song thrush.

It is 20–24 cm long with a wingspan of 33–34.5 cm and a weight of 50–75 g. The sexes are similar, with plain brown backs and with dark brown spots on the white underparts. The most striking identification features are the red flanks and underwing, and the creamy white stripe above the eye. Adults moult between June and September, which means that some start to replace their flight feathers while still feeding young

The male has a varied short song, and a whistling flight call. See Wikipedia for more details.