Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Back in my Natural Habitat...

A warm sunny afternoon last week tempted me away from my computer (I didn’t take much persuading!) for a wander upon Iping Common, a local area of Lowland Heath. The heathland is by far at its best at this time of year – purple, gold and green, shimmering in the summer sun reflected off the sand.

As I walked the sandy tracks, the heather hummed with nectaring bees and a darting lizard appeared briefly on the path before disappearing between the woody stems. A light breeze whispered in the birches and swayed the tall bracken fronds. Grasshoppers and crickets sprang from the vegetation, and a new species for me; the Green Tiger Beetle, a ferocious heathland predator, scurried across the sun-baked ground before taking flight in a metallic green blur. I had heard of these creatures before but this was the first time I had come face to face with one! They may be small but they are certainly impressive!

I stood for a moment studying some recent management work – sections cut through the heather, the plants only a few inches high and with plenty of fresh new growth, in contrast with the large mature woody and dry heather plants nearby. These sweeping areas look like they should be brilliant for Silver Studded Blue Butterflies next year, as these tiny butterflies need this short fresh growth. I must remember to return to this spot in June.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

And now for something completely different...

In contrast to my more usual meanderings, on Friday I swapped green leafy byways, and flower filled hay meadows populated by buzzing bees and unhurried grazing beasts, for cobbled streets and tarmac highways, and primary coloured floral displays boxed in between the hustle and bustle of market stalls and high-street traders. Caught up in the frenzied atmosphere we rush around towns and cities, intent on our lists and time-scales, often overlooking the finer details of urban settings, made of light and shadow, history and mystery, brick, stone and rust.

In praise of Hedgerows as thoughts turn to Autumn

A tapestry of texture and shape, shade and colour, Hedgerows are more than merely borders between fields or edgings for tracks and lanes. A recent walk along a farm track near my home, bordered on both sides by Hedgerows, revealed countless joys; swollen hips ripening on the Briar Rose, twisted trailing tendrils of Bryony twining between the fence wires, the tentative 'tuning-up' twitters of Robins and other small birds, re-emerging after their summer moult. Branches laden with purple bounty; damsons, sloes and the bramble's berries, and closer to the ground between the grass stems, violet tufts of vetch flowers, white sprays of the hedge parsley and yellow splashes of Dandelion, Fleabane and Ragwort.

Each day it seems that another sign of Autumn is slowly creeping round the curtain to take its place on the stage; ripening berries here, a misty morning there, and an increasing number of seed heads, fruit and blustery winds. The mornings and evenings may have a chill in the air and a cloak of dampness but Summer still rules at noon. Hot August sunshine bathes vivid flowers of yellow and purple, warming the bees that buzz in the gardens and coaxing the grasshoppers to sing of their joy in the green fields.