Friday, 24 December 2010

Friday, 17 December 2010

A Winter Wonderland


Thick frost edges every leaf and twig in crystal white, a dusting of 'icing-sugar' on rooftops, cars, and gardens. Puddles where children splashed in wellies freeze to ice and the rustle of autumn leaves turns to a crisp crunch. As the month gradually creeps towards Christmas, colourful lights begin to appear, shining from each window and front porch, and strung across from shop front to shop front along the city streets. The frantic buying of presents and festive food leaves many shelves bare and busy shop staff hurrying to re-stock. Cattle with steaming breath huddle around feeders filled with hay by a sympathetic farmer who stamps his feet to warm numb toes. Anyone with traveling planned keeps a wary eye on the weather forecast and children peer eagerly out at wintry skies, dreaming of promised snow, Santa and flying reindeer, and lovingly wrapped presents under the Christmas tree.

West Sussex - December 2010

Monday, 8 November 2010

Remembrance Day 11th November 2010

"They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them."

Laurence Binyon, 1914

The above extract is from Laurence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen", (originaly published in The Times in September 1914) .
The poem honoured the World War I British war dead of that time and in particular the British Expeditionary Force, which had by then already had high casualty rates on the developing Western Front. Over time, the third and fourth stanzas of the poem (although often just the fourth) were claimed as a tribute to all casualties of war, regardless of state.

This extract is known as the 'Ode of Remembrance', recited on Remembrance Sunday around the world; the line "Lest we forget" is often added to the end of the ode, which is repeated in response by those listening along with the final line of the ode, "We will remember them".

Friday, 5 November 2010

A Week at the Brooks

I have spent a wonderful week volunteering at Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve; a week of glorious autumn leaves, Highland Cattle like gingerbread cows, and fantastic views of a sky full of ducks!

Autumn Gold

Amberly Wild Brooks

High Fliers - Flock of Wigeon Teal and Lapwing over the Highland Cattle

'The Gingerbread Family' - Highland Cattle grazing the wet grassland of the North Brooks

Birch and Bracken 'Lawn-Mower' - Highland Cow on the Heathland

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The White Paper on the Natural Environment

My attention was drawn this week to a new Government initiative - the White Paper on the Natural Environment, due to be published spring 2011. This was brought to my attention by a facebook post from the Sussex Wildlife Trust, which included one of my photos, and a link to a persuasive and informative speach by Chris Packham telling us how we can get involved. I have filled in my thoughts on the online survey organised by DEFRA and hope that many more people can be persuaded to do the same.
For more information on the White Paper, and how you can be involved in the future of conservation in Britain, please visit:

Fungi Photos

Here is a selection of photos of toadstalls taken on Midhurst Common

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes

Firstly, having just viewed the stat's for this blog, I would like to say a big HELLO! and Thank You! to all my readers - especially those from as far away as America, Brazil, Hong Kong and Russia. The wonders of the internet!

September marks the start of a new academic year for myself and many other students across the world. It's set me thinking about everything I have acheived, everything I have taken part in over the last 12 months.

Late Summer/Autumn 2009- I became a National Trust Volunteer Warden. Over my time with the National Trust I learnt many valuable skills, leasons and experinces.
October 2009 - Represented the Sussex Wildlife Youth Council and met Chris Packham at the Sussex Wildlife Trust AGM
January 2010 - Snow, snow and more snow!
February and March 2010- At the end of the South Downs Campaign I took part in the Final Conference of the Campaign. It was an honour to work alongside Chairman of the Campaign, Robin Crane CBE and Campaign Officer Chris Todd. The South Downs National Park was officially declared 31st March 2010.
April 2010 - I volunteered with the RSPB 'Date With Nature' team at Chichester Catherdral Peregrine project for 2 days a week from April - June; in a matter of 10 weeks I fell in love with Peregrin Falcons, and fell in love with engaging the public with nature.
June 2010 - I finished my 2 years at college where I have been studying for an EDEXCEL Level 3 National Diploma in Countryside Mangement, gaining a Triple Distinction
4th July 2010 - 'Walk on the Wildside', a walking event for under 18's organised by the Sussex Wildlife Trust Youth Council
August 2010 - after spending a wonderful week volunteering in all areas of conservation with the RSPB at Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve, I was proud to accept a part time job as an assistant in the reserve Visitors Centre.
September 2010 - 15 Minutes of Fame; two articles and two photos published in the Sussex Wildlife Trust magazine 'Wildlife' September edition.

Wow - thats one busy 12 months!
The year has now come full circle and I have decided to return to college to complete a further course, this time in Agriculture. this course will benifit me by providing experience, skills and knowledge that will help, not only with practical conservation work, but also when negotiating with landowners and farmers in my future career.
I look forward to seeing what the next year brings!

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Butterflies of St Catherines Hill, Winchester

A foray into foreign lands...(over the border into Hampshire!)...on Sunday 15th turned out to be very productive. I succeeded in obtaining views of two new species. St Catherine's Hill near Winchester is managed by Hampshire Wildlife Trust and includes some wonderful chalk downland wildflowers which were attracting hundreds of butterflies in the warm sunshine. I was very pleased to at last see and photograph Chalkhill Blues and Brown Argus (see below). Also saw Silver Spotted Skipper, although these 'skipped' away too fast to photograph! Other species we saw included Common Blue, Large and Small Whites, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Copper, Brimstone and Small Heath.

Chalkhill Blue

Brown Argus

Friday, 30 July 2010

The Private Life of Butterflies

Today I was priviedged to get a peek into the private life of butterflies.

I found this pair of Common Blues (above) on a Nettle by the side of the path at Pulborough Brook RSPB Nature Reserve.

Below are some more photos of the variety of spectacular butterflies I saw around the reserve today.

Large White (above)

Small Copper (above)

Brimstone (above)

A day spent counting butterflies - Heaven!

Today I sent the day at Pulborough Brooks RSPB Nature Reserve near Pulborough, West Sussex, collecting records for the Big Butterfly Count. This is a national Butterfly survey organised by Butterfly Conservation and sponsered by Marks and Spencers.
The weather was sunny and warm, although cloudy in the afternoon, and the butterflies were very active! We recorded many species during our 15 minute counts, as well as a few others while walking round the Reserve's Nature Trail.
Species seen included:
Common Blue
Large White
Meadow Brown
Small Skipper
Small Copper
Small White
Silver Washed Fritilary

The highlight of the day were fantastice views of both Purple Hairstreak, and the elusive Brown Hairstreak, both Lifetime Firsts for me!

(Above) - A Brown Hairstreak Butterfly nectaring right beside the path, inches from my camera lens; I couldnt belive my luck!

The Big Butterfly Count survey is running until Sunday 1st August and is open to anyone to take part. For more information please visit

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Bio-Square May - July 2010

The year, as a personal project in support of the International Year of Biodiversity, I decided to build a 'butterfly' garden. Having recently built an approx, 1 metre x 1 metre raised bed in the corner of our tiny garden, I wanted to grow a flower bed that would benefit and attract into the garden, all kinds of butterflies, moths, bees and other insects. The project soon developed the nick-name 'Bio-Square 2010'. Reluctant to spend large amounts of money on expensive plants from supermarket-like garden centres, almost all of the plants used in Bio-Square were grown from seeds or 'rescued' from other areas of the garden. In my efforts to attract a wide range of insects, I chose plants that were either native wildflowers, or rich nectar sources. These plants included Scabious, Corn Marigold, Thyme and Lavender, Poached Egg plants, Corn Flowers and Corn Cockles, Nasturtiums, and Night-Scented Stock. I also included some of my favourite flowers; Sweet Peas, to add some height and make the most of the upright, as well as the flat growing space available to me.
The photos below show Bio-Square 2010 in its early stages. (The structure on the left of the photo is our Wild Bird Feeding Station, regularly invaded by the local mob of House Sparrows, among other species.)

The flowers have been spectacular; a total riot of colour that buzzes all day long with uncountable bees and flying insects. The variety of species attracted to the Bio-Square project has been amazing.

Its interesting, and quite exciting, to think that if everyone planted just one square metre of wildflowers or other nectar rich plants, or even a window box, what a huge difference it would make to our native Butterfly, Bee and insect populations, all of which really need our help.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Small Blue Butterflies, Sussex Downs

Taking a break from my pile of college assignments yesterday afternoon, I went for a walk on the West Sussex Downs not far from home in the hot sunshine, in search of some reported rare butterflies. Only a few minutes into my walk and I was lying flat on my stomach in the chalk, face to face with this miniature beautiful creature - A Small Blue butterfly (below).

As I watched I observed some interesting behaviour. One of the butterflies had settled at the edge of a shallow stream which runs across the path here, only an inch or so deep, and appeared to be collecting minerals from the wet rocks. It wandered about carefully, ensuring its wings didn't get wet by staying away from the deeper areas of water, touching the pebbles with its 'tongue' as it would a flower when searching for nectar. I have heard of other larger species of butterflies doing a similar thing with mud, animal droppings, and even human sweat, but hadn't had the chance to study this behaviour myself until now.

I also spotted this fascinating Crab Spider which seemed not to have noticed that it's once yellow Dandelion flower had now turned to seeds that were about to blow away!

Please remember - all photos published in good faith. Copyright © S-May 2010. Please do not copy or use any photos or words from this blog without permission.

Woods Mill, Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve

Pictures taken at Woods Mill whilst listening to Nightingales