You always know that autumn's arrived when the Ivy Bees are out in force. And there were certainly many of them at our Kent survey site today, buzzing round every stand of flowering ivy. It's also spider time of year, and I had a close encounter with the UK's heaviest spider, the Four-spotted Orb-weaver (see extra).
The drive down was surprisingly smooth - I had expected a noticeable increase in traffic now that people are being encouraged back to work. A rather pedestrian day of fieldwork was enlivened by a long chat with a local, an interesting character whose father and grandfather had both been in the RAF. Apparently, as a young boy he'd been used as a test case for the local Air-Sea rescue, being left on the local cliffs and then winched to safety. Very exciting for a seven-year old, but certainly would be frowned upon nowadays!
The journey home was much more tiresome. The Dartford Crossing was busier than it has been all summer, though we mostly kept moving, but later in the journey an accident caused closure of the A14, and we were stuck for well over an hour, with no means of escape. When the police finally released us it was clear that it had been a major incident, with two fire engines, five ambulances and about the same number of police cars in attendance. As we went past Chris spotted a large lorry, which had gone over the embankment and at least 30 or 40 m into the adjacent arable field. I just hope that no-one was seriously injured.
I was so glad to get home and have a bowl of tasty beef stew, prepared for us by Alex.