For illustrated talks on natural history and history see

For illustrated talks on natural history and history click here for

Wednesday 31 March 2010

Badger activity in the Surrey woods

In the Surrey hills last weekend, there were many signs of badger sets being cleaned out.
A badger set entrance tends to be wider than it is high -- unlike a rabbit burrow, which is more rounded.
This tree stump was such an amazing colour that I had to take a picture.
The main growth is a splendid lichen.

Friday 26 March 2010

Daphne bholua - a must-have plant for bees

Today Bug Life launched an initiative to encourage wildlife flower meadow corridors for bees and other insects.
A must-have shrub for me to encourage bumble bees, bees and hover flies is Daphne bholua.
It has an intoxicating scent and is a magnet for pollen and nectar seeking insects.

The above bumble bee looks like Bombus terrestris which is described as very common and nests below ground.

This looks like a Honey bee worker, which is unsurprising as one of my neighbours has a hive.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Trailer for Easter Sunday Walk in New England Wood, Cuckfield

On Sunday 4th April, the Mid Sussex Ramblers have a walk through New England Wood. The walk is entitled "Wood Anemones" and was submitted months ago. This day I checked out how the cold winter and late spring had affected the wood anemones' flowering time. Most flowers have yet to emerge or are just emerging, as the above and below pictures show.
By Sunday week, the day of the walk, the woods should be a blaze of dazzling white flowers.
So the timing of this walk looks to be just about perfect for optimal wood anemone displays.
Sometimes you have to be lucky!
Click on any picture to expand it.
Dog's Mercury, Mercurialis perennis is flowering now.
The male and female flowers are on separate plants, so bring a hand lens to inspect them perhaps, if you join us on this walk.

Primroses are already a lovely sight.And this snow or gale fallen pussy willow tree was looking especially beautiful this day.
I hope to see you on the 4th April for this short walk!
For a longer walk join Sue and Paul for an 8 miles Downs walk from Lewes.
Details for both walks are at

Monday 15 March 2010

A walk with Kingston Ramblers, Sunday 14th March 2010

Kingston Ramblers, lead by Mike and Linda set off for a 7 miles circular walk from Epsom Down.
Much of this very pleasant walk was on bridle paths and I was fascinated by this equestrian crossing.
I had never noticed one before.
A fine specimen of evergreen oak.What is remarkable about Surrey, compared to Sussex, is that after 7 miles of walking one's boots are spotlessly clean. No mud, clay, sheep or cow dung and the bridle paths are so well maintained that it is easy to avoid horse dung. Who would believe it?

Thursday 11 March 2010

Hazel Nut Flowers

Along with snowdrops, hazel flowers are a joy to see at this time of the year.
Wind-pollinated hazels need no showy flower petals to attract insects.
The lone red stigmas are all that is needed to capture wind borne pollen from catkins.
Lots of red flowers sticking out of the buds promises a good nut crop in the autumn.

Saturday 6 March 2010

LIpton's seat

Lipton used to like to sit and survey his lands from a high point on his estates
and on this day of the HF Holiday "Jewels of Sri Lanka", we drove and walked to Lipton's seat.
Tamil tea pickers need heavy aprons for protection against the bushes.
Lipton's seat
The tea bushes like light shade, but the trees that provide it are
probably more important in stabilising the soil from water erosion.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Electrocution risks in Sri Lanka

Across the Mahaweli river in Kandy is a roosting site for fruit bats.
They are safe there.
Click on any picture to expand it.
They are also safe in their hundreds in the magnificent botanical garden in Kandy.
This bird is safe too, perched on the live or neutral high tension electricity cable.
Bats try the same trick too... and come to a sparky end when they straddle
the live and neutral cables.
You see electrocuted bats hanging everywhere.
And now for this "Jewel of Sri Lanka" near Adam's Peak.
The light switch for the bathroom is next to the sink.
A deathtrap was exposed live wiring for a shower head water heater
inches from the water flow to one's head and just a couple of inches from the temperature control
In addition there was an electrical socket on the wall next to the shower.
Luckily we were not electrocuted.
And neither were others from the HF holiday to whom we offered our bathroom,
as they had no water at all in their rooms.
Neither did we burn to death as there was no fire escape.

The third guest in our room sadly did not survive the night -- falling victim to my boot.
RIP little cockroach. Sorry.

Blog Archive