For illustrated talks on natural history and history see

For illustrated talks on natural history and history click here for

Sunday 26 February 2012

Tapsel gates at Pyecombe church, Kingston, Friston, Coombes and Botolphs

Tapsell gates appear to be unique to Sussex, named after the blacksmith who made them.  One at Pycombe church, which was built in 1170 is especially fine.  Note the handle in the form of a shepherd's crook, photographed today.
Here is another Tapsel gate at Kingston church taken in November 2008 in a panoramic shot.  Scroll across to see the church, which is from the 13th century.
Above is another one at Friston church, also taken earlier.  The nave of this church is Saxon from the year 1050.
These elegant gates pivot on a central axis post, can be opened with one hand and may have allowed pall bearers to walk either side of the open gate with a coffin, resting it on the gate itself perhaps.  You can see others at Jevington and Coombes, for example.  All of these churches have wonderful historical interest.
For more speculation on Tapsel gates see

More gates below photographed 1st March 2012
Coombes church is a delightful Saxon church from the eleventh century with remnants of wall paintings dating from 1135 to1753, which were uncovered in 1949.
A new gate at Botolphs dated 2003.  The church dates from the year 950.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Exciting nightlife in a Sussex garden

It was warm today.  17C and a Red admiral feasted on the Daphne bhuola in the garden.

Crocus opened fully in the first really warm sun of the year.

Hazel flowers were still capturing wind-borne pollen.
And then came the night.
The first amphibian that I have observed this year: a newt, at least 30m from the nearest pond.

Plenty of slugs out too.

Garden wildlife is as exciting at night as it is during the day.

Ferry busy in Portsmouth harbour last weekend

The Britanny ferry enters the harbour and the Gosport and Isle of Wight ferries leave behind it.

Monday 20 February 2012

Brent Geese, Langstone harbour, Hampshire

Brent geese were feeding near the ancient causeway to Hayling Island at Langstone.
About 150,000 winter in Britain and Ireland -- almost half the world population.  They will leave us for the Arctic in March to April.

Monday 13 February 2012

More path repairs in New England Wood, Cuckfield

It will take more than a little snow and ice to deter John, Carol & Peter (L to R, above), Liz and me from labouring in the woods this day.
Where to start?
A mattock is the perfect tool for John, above and Carol, below to smash their way through the permafrost.

The idea is to increase biodiversity by digging ditches to raise the level of the path, restrict the need to trample plants on an ever-widening boggy path edge and create new wet habitat in the ditches.

The raised path edges are stabilised with logs and pegs cut from the wood.  Then, after trampling down the clay, wood chips are added for the convenience of visitors.

The finished stretch.  What a fine job!  Only a few more miles to go

A ditch across the path should lead water away into the wood.

The following week, another section of boggy path has been upgraded, this time dressed with stone, which was excavated from an old quarry in the wood.

And then the following week, another section started.
How to best surface the clay?  That is the question.

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