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Friday 30 July 2010

Insects in the Long Plantation, the North Downs, Surrey

Clearings in a forest allow wild flowers to grow and attract insects.  This clearing in the Long Plantation, near Kingswood, Surrey on the North Downs is a spectacular example of such conservation work.  The flowers are lovely and the insect life awesome.
Nettle-leaved Bellflower lives up to its name.  You are careful not to brush against the leaves until you see the flowers.
Margoram, Origanum vulgare, was highly attractive to many butterflies and insects.
This is a Holly blue butterfly.
All of these flies will have to wait for identification until I get delivery of a new insect guide.

What a fine wasp...? ... on a wild parsnip.

Yet another species of hover fly.
The ubiquitous soldier beetle(?), or Hogweed bonking beetle, which seemed to be bonked out today.

Flies like wild parsnips too.

Tiny, weeny flies too.

What beauties.

 Holly blue.
Speckled wood.
A fritillary, which one though?  Click on this picture (and any other) to expand.  Above, just might be the finest butterfly photo that I have taken to date.
This looks like a Silver-washed fritillary.  In any case, the poor butterfly has taken a pounding.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Wolstonbury Hill today

What lovely weather for a stroll up Wolstonbury with Border collie, Jess.
A Comma butterfly caught my eye feeding on bramble flowers.
Click on any picture to expand it.
Harebells were in flower on the hill.
Whitebeam was fruiting well.

 Scabius flowers were common.
Butterflies were really abundant.  Above looks like a Gatekeeper.

Above a Common blue.  They were numerous after some weeks of absence.
Marbled Whites and Peacocks were around too but were too elusive to photograph on this day.

A skipper of some sort.


The hillside was dotted with these lovely "Pride of Sussex" flowers.
Another abundant plant in full flower was the Greater Knapweed.

Hoverflies galore

Rocket has colonised a path where I let a pot plant go to seed last year.  The flowers have a lovely scent and the leaves are good to eat.  There has been no chemicals on my ground for years (except, shamefully a sparingly few slug pellets.  I can't be out every night with a torch and scissors).  Now, suddenly there are hover flies everywhere, hundreds of them.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Cuckfield Historical Circular walk, 10.7 miles.

This walk, lead by me, focused on the history of the old grammar school in Cuckfield.

The earliest known record is from 1521 and the school was later funded by William Spicer in 1529.

Between the school and the church is the memorial, designed by Kempe, to the four Cuckfield men who died in the Boer war -- three from disease, one from wounds.  To my knowledge there is no memorial in Cuckfield to the 30,000 Boers, mainly women and children who died of disease in the concentration camps into which they were herded by our soldiers.
We touched on the great wealth that the Elizabethan wars created for the High Weald from the production of cannons, cannon balls and iron products in general.
This stone in the church buttress shows the presence of iron in the local stone.

In 1822 Dr Gideon Mantell discovered the fossilised remains of the first dinosaur to be found in England at Whitemans Green.

 We passed Spicer's Farm, the home of the Rev. William Spicer, Rector of Balcombe, who in 1529, gave endowments to Cuckfield Grammar School and a new constitution requiring teaching along the lines of Eton.

 These various shots are pictures that I took earlier in the year.
 Lunch was taken in the Jolly Tanners , which is a wonderful pub for real ale drinkers and everyone else too.
Our route took us past Bigges Farm, which is an exquisite 15th century building.
It was a joy that Caroline, left (and Betty right) could join us on this walk.  Caroline knows this house well and was able to explain the interior and just what a fine house it is.
My thanks to all fifteen of you who joined this walk and made it a day to remember and a pleasure to lead.  For information on other walks that I and my associates lead in Sussex, please click

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