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Autumn may be late this year

After a cold winter and a late spring, autumn could also be delayed this year with berries ripening and leaves turning later than usual, wildlife experts said today.

Records of ripe berries are a good indicator of the arrival of poet John Keats' "season of mist and mellow fruitfulness".

Sightings of the first ripe berries in the countryside have peaked on around August 4 over the last five years, but this year Woodland Trust's Nature's Calendar has so far very few records -- suggesting autumn is delayed.



Jellyfish woe hits Spain

A vast flotilla of small, virtually undetectable jellyfish have stung hundreds of people on Spanish beaches this week -- a swimmer's nightmare that biologists say will become increasingly common due to climate change and overfishing. The blobs attacked three areas near the eastern city of Elche along a famed stretch of white sand beaches known as the Costa Blanca. On Tuesday alone, 380 people were stung, compared to the usual four or five swimmers a day







iPhone apps for Ramadan

Ancient Islamic traditions are going high-tech with modern offerings for those observing the holy month of Ramadan, which begins this week.

Mobile phone applications such as iPray or iKoran offer a beeping reminder of requisite prayer times, while the Find Mecca and Mosque Finder programs help travellers in unfamiliar cities find the nearest place to pray.

The applications are not just for Ramadan; there are Islamic-themed programs that help users find the nearest supermarket offering foods prepared according to Islamic dietary rules, or to learn the correct Arabic pronunciations in a daily prayer.