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Autumnwatch Unsprung round-up week four: Spiders, fungi, frogs and bugs!

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 11:15 UK time, Tuesday, 1 November 2011

We hope you enjoyed last week's Unsprung. If you missed it you can catch up on the BBC iPlayer here. We pack so much in every week that if you blink (or nip out to put the kettle on) you can easily miss something. So here's a round up of last week's show.

We had a spooky quiz this week in the form of a skulls spectacular. If you want to have a go at it, go to the Unsprung quiz.

Lots of you had reported seeing birds nesting now which seems unusually late. Big Chris saw swallows on the nest on 8 October, Jane Rees saw a pair of magpies building a nest two weeks ago and Jim Mercer fillmed some young ducklings last week.

Our Chris explained that some species such as collar doves, blackbirds and barn owls do breed in every month of the year and Pauline from Secret World brought in an extraordinary find: an orphaned young barn owl that was rescued in Somerset.

Orphaned barn owl on Unsprung week 4

An orphaned barn owl visited the show from Secret World

Pauline was putting out a request for any other young barn owls in captivity that might join this orphan to help their release. Since the show Pauline has been in touch to let us know that she may indeed have found another owl to help with her orphan's release. Tune in to next week's show for the latest update.

Our group of the week, the Avon Bat Group asked us some great questions:
Joe asked what is the largest fungi in Britain? This question is a tricky one as what many people don't realise is that the fruiting body, the bit we see above ground, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fungi.

Fungi by Jenn Turner

The fruiting body is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fungi. Image © Jenn Turner

Chris mentioned the world record holding fruiting body that used to exist at Kew Gardens. This measured over four metres in diameter but was actually knocked off the top spot this summer when a giant fungus was discovered in china which weighed half a tonne!

In terms of the entire fungus, however, the largest ever recorded fungus was discovered in Oregon, USA. It spanned across 8.9 square kilometres or about 2,200 acres! This honey fungus was discovered in 1998 and is thought by some to be the largest known living organism ever recorded. We get honey fungi here in the UK and the chances are that the largest individual fungus that we have here is a honey fungus.

Richard asked how far frogs travel since he gets them in his garden and there's no water nearby. Frogs don't actually need to be in ponds and river the entire time. They go to water to breed and lay eggs but otherwise they're quite happy just to be near damp habitats. You can find them up to about a kilometre away from ponds and rivers. Also at this time of year they will be out and about searching for places to spend the winter.

They'll find a damp spot and hunker down to lie dormant through the cold months, coming out in good weather to forage. Although some do go to the bottom of ponds to do this, many will seek out crevices under logs and rockeries (or your shed!) and in your compost heaps.

We were also pretty arachnid-tastic this week with Nick 'Bug Boy' Baker starring alongside some of his leggier friends!

We've launched a challenge to find Britain's biggest spider so if you spot an eight-legged arachnid in your house you can get involved. Just grab a coin or ruler, drop it next to the spider and snap a picture. Then post your picture on the Autumnwatch Photo Group and let us know in the Britain's Biggest Spider discussion.

If you've got any questions for next week's Unsprung let us know by commenting below. We love seeing your pictures of autumn wildlife so add them to the Autumnwatch photo group, or if you're more handy with a camcorder then upload your wildlife home movies.



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