Coming on our Hallowe’en walk on Tuesday 31st October? We can promise great food and drink and fun a-plenty – but if you’re very lucky, you might see some unexpected guests as well! The Arboretum is home to a wide variety of wildlife, some of which is traditionally associated with this scary time of year. If you can’t join us at Hallowe’en, why not come along one evening for your own twilight walk – just bring your own torch and wellies, and see what you can spot. Join us afterwards for dinner, and compare notes of what you managed to spot. Here’s what to look out for:
Bats are nocturnal, so the best time to see them is at twilight when it’s still just about light enough to see, and they’re starting to get active. There are many different species in the UK, and they’re easily recognisable by their distinctive fluttering flight as they snap up moths and other insects. It’s an old wives’ tale that bats can get tangled in your hair, so there’s nothing to be afraid of – they actually have a very sophisticated echo radar system and are very unlikely to hit anything as large as a human!
The five species of owl you’re most likely to see in the UK are the barn owl, short-eared owl, long-eared owl, tawny owl and barn owl. The tawny owls are ones that make the familiar ‘twit twoo’ noise we associate with owls in general, but the other species make noises ranging from a bark to a yell! Long-eared owls and tawny owls are the species most likely to be abroad in the arboretum, as the other species prefer mixed farmland or even open moors to woodland.
Owls have a gliding flight which is completely silent, so you may get a shock when one lauches itself off a tree above you! They have extremely acute hearing though, and can hear the rustle of prey such as mice a long way away. That’s why their flight is silent, so it doesn’t interfere with their hearing in the dark. Again, don’t be scared – even if you can’t see them, they can both see and hear you and will avoid easily avoid you.
It’ll be too dark to find spiders in the Arboretum, but they’re everywhere, forming a vital part of nature’s ecosystem. If you’d like to take a closer look, this is the time of year (when it goes colder and darker) when spiders start to come into the house for warmth. If you’re lucky and keep a sharp eye out, you may catch one in the process of spinning a web, a fascinating demonstration of skill and dexterity that would tax any human weaver. Autumn is mating season for spiders, so they’re out and about in greater numbers at this time of year.
Although house spiders look scary, they’re actually handy of have around as they catch insects that could pose us hygiene problems. Did you know, as well, that putting a fresh cobweb onto a cut or small wound will stop the bleeding in no time?
For more information about our Hallowe’en celebrations, take a look at our events page.