Sunday, 20 September 2009

Mid September

English Autumn is really kicking off now as we progress through September. The nights are drawing in but there has been little sign of any early morning mists. In fact, the weather has been quite dry for the last few weeks with nothing more that a few scattered showers. Whilst Burton Mill pond still looked quite full when we visited last weekend, on our walk around Pulborough Brooks RSPB Nature Reserve this afternoon we were surprised to see how low the water level was. It was slightly reminiscent of a TV documentary on an African water hole in the height of the dry season!
Here is a selection of Photos that I have taken over the last few days...
Touch Down!
Mute Swan, Chingford pond Burton mill


Spider's web strung between sunlit Yew berries


Seed heads of Greater Burdock, Burton Mill pond

Greeny-grey lichen, Midhurst Common

Dew covered Acorn, Midhurst Common

The intricate seed head of a Hogweed

There are still a few butterflies flitting about. This one is a Speckled Wood, one of half-a-dozen dancing in the dappled sunlight.

The Bracken is slowly turning from lush green to crispy brown.

The sunlight filtering through these Oak leaves reminded me of a churches' stained glass windows.

Many of the spiky cased Sweet Chestnuts were blown from the trees by gusty wind a few nights ago.

This fantastic Dragonfly with its huge eyes and lacy wings is a ferocious hunter, turning 'on a sixpence', chasing, catching, and often consuming flying insects in mid-air. this particular specimen is called a Common Darter.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A Collection of Photos From Two Years of Campaigning - Long Live the South Downs National Park!!

Seeing as it is now two years since I first joined the South Downs National Park Campaign and our success is soon to be marked by the South Downs National Park Celebration Event for which I recently received my invitation (thank you Michael Blencowe of Natural England and Tony Whitbread Sussex Wildlife Trust Chief Executive), I thought it would be fun to gather together a few snapshots of the events I have been involved in. I know there are many many more people who worked extremely hard to ensure the success of the campaign and put in many more hours than me, I look forward to hopefully meeting some of them at the celebration event next month.



Myself and Brian Blessed, July 2007, Harting Down


Brian Blessed addresses a gathered crowd.

The walk begins! Designed to highlight the treasure that is the Western Weald it was a popular event as were several other walks through out the course of the campaign, attracting large numbers of supporters from far and wide.

Thank you Budgens of Midhurst for allowing me to use their foyer to present a petition to members of the public. Over 70 signatures in 4 hours - Thank you people of Midhurst this really helped boost the overall total!


Fame at last! One year on from the announcment of the Governments proposal to cut the proposed National Park boundaries, the campaign held a photo call in Petersfield Town Square, accompanied by Michael Mates, East Hampshire MP.

Robin Crane adresses the gathered crowd of supporters in Petersfield Town Square as the BBC News film rolls on!

Myself and Michael Mates East Hampshire MP, Petersfield Town Square.
Many thanks to Mr Mates for delivering the campaign's well signed petition to Government.


Before I finish typing I believe huge thanks are also due to the excellent Northern Area team of the South Downs Joint Committee. If it wasn't for the wonderful insight I gained into the nature of the South Downs, including the Western Weald during my two weeks work experience with them June 2007, I may well never have become so involved in what has been such a successful campaign, and never done my bit to help save the very special place where I hope to make my career in conservation in the future.

For more examples of my photography, poetry and campaign work, please visit my website http://www.sophieco.co.uk/

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Whats in a name?

Isn't it funny how sometimes you mention something that you don't seem to have seen or heard of for a long time then suddenly, the next day there are examples of it everywhere? Although a Sussex girl at heart I have my fair share of West Country genes, and, typical Gemini, often wish I could be in two places at once! Only the other day I was talking with my Mum, we were saying about how it is nearly the end of the summer holidays, yet we haven't been back to Cornwall this year. Then, a wish-you-were-here postcard arrived from friends who live 'down there'.
Yesterday, satisfying an urge to be by the sea, my parents and I took a walk around Chichester Marina. I have always liked looking at boat names when walking alongside moorings and as I ran my eyes along the rows of yachts in the marina I couldn't help but smile. It seems I'm not the only one who loves the western counties Devon and Cornwall! Many of the names were linked with that area of the world, and others reminded me of aspects of my own life. Here are just a few examples...
The wind does indeed seem to sing as it blows along cliffs and through stone built villages, across moorland and round ancient stone circles of old Cornwall.
The River Dart flows from its source deep in the heart of Dartmoor, across Devon, bubbling over rocks between gnarled green oak trees, along steep sided valleys, meeting the sea at Dartmouth on the south coast.
No-one who has read the book can forget Tarka. Henry Williamson's literary creation follows the story of a legendary otter by the name of Tarka on its journey back and forth across the West Country, and through the trials of the wild life all otters lead.
A real relic of Old Cornwall; an actual Cornish Crabber boat. I could almost feel the Cornish sea air, smell the fish and hear the calls and laughter of the fisherman unloading their catch in the early morning.
Maybe one day these magnificent birds of prey will catch fish in Cornish estuaries? I saw my first Osprey at Thorney Island, West Sussex.
Because everybody needs a Friday Smile - A smile is something that doubles every time you give it away! I may not be a Gypsy Girl but I do know a Gypsy Boy!
The spirit of Cornwall still survives and is felt by every visitor to this lovely place.
Gemini I may be but it's a Pisces whom I love.

Marsh Sandpiper. Not a bird I have seen yet, maybe this winter I shall strike lucky!?

Talking of birds... no bird is more symbolic of Cornwall than the Chough. Living along coastal cliff tops and found upon the Cornish Coat of Arms, the Chough is a member of the crow family; jet black with blood red feet and curved bill. Legends say that when King Arthur, famous for his Knights of the Round Table, died, he did not in fact die but turned into a Chough and will return at the time of the countries' greatest need. Many thanks are due to the RSPB, English Nature, and the National Trust, with the help of the Cornish Chough Watch, for their work in ensuring these birds which were once extinct from Cornwall, can once again live and breed in safety.

Ah well, time to return to dear old Sussex!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Continuing that autumn theme...

Yesterday evening found us climbing a very windy and rather cold Trundle Hill at Goodwood to watch a glorious golden Harvest Sunset






Followed by...




The rise of the Harvest Moon

Thursday, 3 September 2009

A New Month, a New Season






1st September.

For me my last free day of the summer turned into my first day of the autumn. College starts again next week and I thought I would make the most of one of my last days of the summer holidays by taking a short walk around my local area. As I walked I realised that whilst I had been having fun enjoying the summer, autumn had slipped quietly in the back door, almost without me noticing. The last week or so has brought a different sort of dampness to the air, a particular, instantly recognisable smell to the early mornings, and days of weather which cant decide between a t-shirt or jumper!
Whilst many people may think of autumn as a dreary damp pre-runner to winter, shouldn't we really treat it as a glorious explosion of colour; a celebration of a fruitful, and hopefully successful year with all the promise of another one to come.
The sights and smells of this new chapter in the yearly story of the countryside set my hand itching for pen and paper and inspired this poem.

The Circle of the Seasons
As I walk along the lane, on a dull and dreary day,
I realise summertime has faded, autumn's here again.
It seems only yesterday, when sunny days were long,
When flowers danced at roadsides, crops nodded in the fields.
Now the berries on the Hawthorn, the Holly and the Rose,
Swollen by summer showers, are slowly turning red.
Between the dusty leaves of Ivy, that climbs the garden shed,
Small buds of winter flowers are waiting for the frosts.
The mornings are feeling chilly, there's a dampness in the air.
The summer-silent Robin now begins to sing.
As the leaves begin to fall, like the curtain on a stage,
The last summer dancers begin to show their age.
The first autumn actors are waiting in the wings,
They've rehearsed their every line, know the parts they have to play.
The ever-lasting circle has turned and changed once more,
Summertime has faded and autumn's here again.
But beneath the ground are waiting, the expectant seeds of spring,
Promising the circle, will turn and change again.





All photos and poetry published in good faith. Please respect all copyright and do not use or copy from tis site in any way, without prior permission. © S-May 2009