For illustrated talks on natural history and history see

For illustrated talks on natural history and history click here for

Saturday 26 April 2008

Pulborough circular

Walking around the RSPB reserve at Pulborough Books was thirsty work, so we walked to Pulborough and The White Hart at Stopham bridge for some ale.Click this link for more on Wiggonholt church, which dates from the 13th century.
Views across Pulborough Brooks RSPB nature reserve.

There are three pubs in or near Pulborough and we walked to all three. The above had a poor selection of bitter ales compared to the other two
Click on this picture to read about the history of this historic place.

The oldest part of St Mary's Church dates from about 1220.
Derek Atwell explained how the font was damaged during the reformation and thrown out into the churchyard. Made of Purbeck marble on a sandstone base, it dates from the 12th century

The beers were excellent in this pub, which is well worth a walk!

Stopham bridge.

Looking back towards Pulborough and St Mary's church from along the river Arun.

Afterwards, the Sportsman pub at Amberley is worth a visit for great views across the Amberley wild brooks , for a good selection of ales and food.

Friday 25 April 2008

Loder Valley

At 09.55am, before the opening of Wakehurst Place at 10.00, I was waiting keenly to get tickets for entry to the Loder valley nature reserve, which are restricted to 50 persons a day. It is a magical place. The bluebells were not quite in their prime on this overcast day, yet are beautiful as the above panoramic shot shows. The picture below is from the viewpoint overlooking the reservoir. You can expand any picture if you click on it.

This row of mature black pines (?) below, is on the hill above the badger hide.
Just what do they feed those badgers?

This pretty flower is a broomrape Lathraea clandestina, Purple Toothwort. It is a garden escapee, perhaps from the bog garden at Wakehurst. This was growing quite profusely in the woods alongside the public footpath near the footbridge over the lake. The 12 native broomrapes from the family (Orobanchaceae) have no leaves or chlorophyll and are parasitic on the roots of various plants, including clover, daisies, hazel, elder. Quite a lovely plant to see!

Above is a grainy shot of a sleeping tern! Earlier a kingfisher flew across the lake in a straight line , like an iridescent missile! And below another poor quality pic' of a kestrel on the fence by the deer enclosures. I must read the manual to figure out how to use this camera!

Sunday 20 April 2008

High Weald Landscape trail.... cowslip update - blooming lovely!

The cowslips that I planted are now blooming lovely! The foxgloves fared less well. They were denuded by slugs, rabbits or deer, I suspect. And the brambles are decidedly hammered from being cut off at the base last year. A quick slash with a sickle this afternoon to cut back any emerging brambles and this section of the path, west of New England Wood, Cuckfield, should now be good for the rest of the year. It looks like a big success! As always, click on any picture to expand it.

Saturday 19 April 2008

Strictly for the birds - circular around Pagham harbour and Selsey

The looks of euphoria on the faces of these happy ramblers was possibly due to a diversion from the intended path to the sanctuary of the old church at Church Norton. There, for a peaceful few minutes we escaped the freezing east wind and steady rain that battered us for the first exposed miles around the harbour. Click on the picture to expand.

We started off well with fabulous views at Ferry pond of an avocet, shoveller, redshanks, and scores of shell ducks. Then followed the icy blast around the harbour. After lunch in the second hide, we battered our way along the beach to the harbour entrance. Ringed plovers swirled around us as we walked along (see rspb plovers). It was near high tide and the shingle bank at the harbour entrance looked precipitously steep. It being too cold for an accidental swim, we retraced our steps back along the beach.

After a little debate in the wind and rain, we walked along the beach to Selsey as an alternative to the farms route. That was a good decision. We noticed that slurry was being sprayed on the field that we would have walked past! And it was a strong wind.

The weather was just too awful to take any pictures. There are some below, on the blog entry when I walked out the route. The Alexanders plants were just starting to flower, with a heady, rather pleasant scent. The strong celery taste of the leaves was refreshing too.

The weather forecast was for heavy rain. So it was pleasing that there were 9 of us braving the elements. Despite the possibility to escape back on the bus from Selsey, we all finished the 9.8 miles walk on this Saturday 19th April. Sussexrambler is so impressed with the tenacity of this gallant band that I have inaugurated and awarded the "Sussexrambler order of Merit" to one and all! Thanks for coming.

In addition to the birds listed above, we saw, coots, egrets, mallards, herons, mute swan, curlew, oyster catchers, cormorants, black-backed gulls, black-headed gull, chaffinch, blackbird, Canada goose, skylark and heard chiff chaffs, pheasants and green finches. There were loads of other birds that we just could not identify due to glasses streaming with rain and condensation and the inclement weather.

Friday 18 April 2008

Amelanchier canadensis

This stunning tree is coppiced in my garden -- typically chain sawing a quarter or a third of the stems each year, keeping it as a "shrub". There are fabulous standard trees at Sheffield Park, which are well worth a visit. In Autumn, the red fruits are delicious if you can find any not already gorged by green finches, blackbirds and thrushes, which go crazy for them.

Friday 4 April 2008

Lovely birds; on and under 4 sisters.

This was the Friday of the heat wave before the snow that is forecast for the weekend. It was a glorious walk along "the sisters" to give you a taste of the walk that I shall be leading on Sunday 18th May. See for details. Walking doesn't get any better than this for the diversity of habitats and wildlife within a day's stride!

Stonechats (above and below), meadow pippets, rock pippets, kestrels, skylarks, jackdaws, rooks, green woodpeckers, grasshopper warblers(?), wrens, chaffinch, gulls etc. provided a symphony of bird song during this walk. There is a nesting bird on the cliff face, see below. I have not named it here though, in case it is googled by someone with undesirable intentions.

You need to expand this to read the text on the warning sign.

Section of flint stratum exposed by the sea.

For the security of this stunning bird below, I will not name it here.
These cliffs are awesome from the top. And just overwhelmingly beautiful and dangerous from below.

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