Sunday, 23 June 2013

Morris dancing with risk assessments!

One of the main attractions at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museums' Midsummer celebrations this weekend were the fabulous West Sussex based Mythago Morris group. Traditional Border style Morris dancing, with compelling music and emotive story telling, (and some amazing costumes!).
Check out their website:


Wild Petals

There is something special about the simple beauty of wild flowers, from the liquid gold of the buttercups amongst the wind-blown grasses, to the rambling rose that climbs though the hedgerow to kiss the sky with soft pink petals. 

Historic Gardens at Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

I visited the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum (Singleton West Sussex) today. Despite being just past mid-summer, the weather was unpredictable with sharp showers, looming clouds and blasts of wind.  In a few moments of sunshine however, I was able to enjoy the fantastic historic gardens, and their bounty of herbs and flowers, that nestle around flint-faced cottages. Wild roses rambled in the hedgerows and pear trees drooped over shady corners. Hardy geraniums softened stone steps and jostled around doorways with sweet rocket and hyssop, buzzing with bumblebees.  

Friday, 14 June 2013

Marvelous moths and brown butterflies

I was very disappointed whilst watching the final episode of this years' Springwatch BBC series, yesterday evening. An infuriated response was triggered from my sofa, upon hearing presenter Martin offer viewers that distinction between moths and butterflies is, generally butterflies are colourful and fly during the day, whilst moths are generally brown and fly at night. I am glad that he did not say that moths are small and butterflies large, (unless I missed that bit!). 
It is a commonly held miss-comprehension that moths a small dull boring brown things that fly around at night (and are a pest because they eat our clothes), whilst butterflies are hailed as the jewel of the meadow, dainty fluttery kaleidoscopic colourful creatures. Whist a significant proportion of moths and many butterflies do fit neatly into these categories, (except the clothes-eating, to the best of my knowledge there is only one species that does this and its the caterpillars that do the damage, not the moth itself!) there are numerous exceptions that defy the 'rule'. 
The Elephant hawkmoth for example. a carnival-coloured-creature of bright lime-green and pink. Or how about the Hummingbird hawkmoth, an exotic visitor that hovers around our flowers on summer days bringing a dash of Mediterranean sunshine. 
Sadly, I have not yet managed to capture photos of either of these glorious moths, however here are a few of other species; some favourite examples from my archives. 

This glorious and striking red and back Five spot Burnet is a day-flying moth, here photographed on Common Spotted Orchid (left) and White Clover (right)

The Meadow Brown (above) and Small Skipper (below) are very lovely, brown, butterflies. 
Beautiful and intricate, and brown!

Above is a photo of a female Clouded Buff moth, its bright flame colour caught my eye as it flew across the brown woody heather on a local heathland, disturbed by my passing feet.

The best little brown butterfly - the Dingy Skipper - even the person who named it doesn't sound impressed!

Butterflies and moths are having a very difficult time at present, with many species in serious and dramatic declines, due to habitat loss, and the effects of recent late springs and wet summers. Please visit the website of your local Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation or Buglife (or many other conservation organisations who are doing great work and need your support) to find out about more about these wonderful insects and what we can all do to help.  

Sunday, 9 June 2013

British Wildlife Center

Yesterday I visited the British Wildlife Center, near East Grinstead. A fabulous place with a strong mission and dedication to education and conservation. The Center is home to many different species of uk willdlife from owls and birds of prey, to stoat and weasels, otters, wildcat, foxes and rodents.
When we arrived at opening time, the Red Squirrels were waiting eagerly for their morning feed. Visitors are able to walk through the squirrels' copse, on a raised board walk, and the little russet creatures didn't hesitate to use a passing human as a bridge or ladder to cross from one tree to another!
Enlightening talks about each species, by the Center's Keepers throughout the day, provided fantastic views of the animals as they ventured out for food.
On the further extent of the site, a wetland nature reserve was alive with flowers and insects, and water voles rustled in the rushes.
I finally dragged myself away 10 minuets before closing time, feet aching, yawning, but grinning from ear to ear.

Here are just a few of my favourite photos from the day.