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Friday 21 May 2010

Broomrape and Early-purple Orchids on 7 miles Loder valley circular walk.

Starting from Wakehurst, where we obtained entry tickets for the Loder valley, it was a pleasure to see this toothwort, Lathraea clandestina from the Broomrape family, flowering near the bridge over the Loder valley lake.
It produces no green chlorophyll and is parasitic on tree roots such as hazel.  You can only see it when it flowers and pushes its flowers above ground.
It looks like bumble bees, Bombus terrestris are happy to pollinate it.  Click on any picture to expand it.

The group from this Mid Sussex Ramblers' walk in the Loder valley, lead by me.
Passing a fine line of pines.

There are great views to Chanctonbury hill from this vantage point.

Lunch was taken at the water's edge where one could watch fish swimming and splashing about.  The above picture was taken with a polarising filter so you can clearly see the fish.
 Heading towards Little Strudgate Farm.

 There were some fine (wood?) spurge by the roadside.

Before Newhouse Farm, there were some splendid Early-purple Orchids in the roadside verge.
They did smell awful in contrast with those of some weeks ago.  The speculation is that the smell changes once the flowers are pollinated.  A UV filter was used for these pictures in the vain hope of getting a better colour representation.  It was to no avail.  The flowers are more red than these pictures show.  Come back Kodachrome film -- all is forgiven.

Passing this beautiful wood, we entered the final "down-and-up" of this walk, which is somewhat more energetic that its 7 miles suggest because of the many hills.

It was a lovely walk in perfect weather.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Bluebell Walk in Cowdray Forest

Some places are just magical.  And for me, the Cowdray Forest, just north of Balcombe, is one such place.  We are fortunate that the enlightened owners allow us access to enjoy a wide range of forest types.  Starting off at 19.00hr. through copiced chestnut and mature pine forests, 48 walkers then entered a magical birch grove, followed by a steep sided valley with Alder trees lining the stream.  Those in the front watched a roe deer watching us before it dashed away through the birches.
Walking poles can be useful in negotiating a couple of steep ghylls.
This 2.4 miles walk, lasting just 65 minutes, was from the Mid Sussex Ramblers' programme; on this occasion lead by me.
Click on any picture to expand it.  Enter "Cowdray forest" in the search box on the front page of this blog to pull up walks in this same area at different times of the year and with less benign weather!

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Green-winged orchids on Pagham harbour 9 miles circular walk.

In light winds and 16C temperature, this was perfect weather for walking.  The harbour side path was full of red and white campion, gorse, thrift and bluebells.  Click here for a map of the route.
The walk was from the Mid Sussex Ramblers' programme, lead by me.

The tide was right out, which made bird watching less fruitful.  However, we did get some fine views of distant ringed plovers with a cameo appearance of a little egret.
There were a number of shell ducks close by...

...and this handsome pair of oyster catchers.
The sea kale was about to burst into bloom on the shingle beach.
Sea campion was already in bloom.
After a picnic lunch on the beach, we were entertained by Nicky who went for a swim.... and then went for a swim again -- just for the camera.  For sheer bravado Nicky is awarded the highly coveted "Sussexrambler award of Merit".  He is only the fourth person to be awarded such high honour!

Click on the above picture (and any other) to expand it and read the text.
Leaving Selsey, the public footpath goes through an extensive caravan park, a couple of fields and some roads before passing this wonderful field, which was bursting with orchids.  My digital camera fails to record the colours of orchids accurately.  Has anyone any ideas how to overcome that - short of manual enhancements, which I dislike?  The actual colours were more red than these pictures show.

These orchids are Green-winged Orchids. 
These orchids were just beautiful and made up for the paucity of birds that we saw.
We never spotted a tern, but probably could have seen nesting birds had we headed east along the beach and viewed them from behind the protective wire.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Bluebell Walk from Cuckfield, 8.5 miles

Although not exactly firing on all cylinders whilst still recovering from a very nasty respiratory infection, I managed to lead this walk - rehydrated after 5 miles with a quart of excellent ale from a local Sussex brewery in the Ansty Cross pub.  On this day we started off with a detour through the magical New England Wood.  The walk was from the Mid Sussex Ramblers' programme.
The Bluebells were magnificent -- especially so with Yellow archangel, Lamiastrum galeobdolon mixed into this wonderful floral display.  Click on any picture to expand it.
We passed this newborn foal, all legs and head.

19 happy ramblers, including the photographer.
The Pickwell estate is at its best perhaps at this time of year, when the specimen azaleas and rhododendrons are in bloom.

This meadow was a feast of dandelion seeds for small birds.  Having watched goldfinches eating such seeds in my own lawn, I have now learned to welcome such weeds and seed heads in my garden.
It was a lovely day and the promised rain hardly touched us.  Too bad!  The garden needs the rain.

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