For illustrated talks on natural history and history see

For illustrated talks on natural history and history click here for

Sunday 29 September 2013

A cooperative Field grasshopper today in my Sussex garden.

What a handsome insect, posing against the yellow of a "Bountiful" apple.
I was able to rotate the apple to get this facial view.
For a side view, it posed on my finger.  Would that all subject were as cooperative.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Bottling damsons and windfall apples and destoning Damsons with an olive stoner.

The damson crop this year is very good and the fruit is splitting on the tree.
When the fruit is so ripe the stones can be removed with an olive stoner. 
The stones shoot out like a bullet from a gun, which is very satisfying.
They can then be boiled with a little water, no sugar and bottled to keep until needed.
This week BBC Gardeners' World TV programme suggested juicing windfall apples.  Fruit juice removes all of the useful fibre and minerals in the skins leaving lots of natural sugar, which you don't need unless running a marathon.  Better is to slice the apples with the skins on, (Katia variety above) and boil with water and no added sugar and then bottle. 

Friday 6 September 2013

A cooperative Common Darter dragonfly.

Just how close could I get a camera lens to this Common Darter yesterday?
Within a few inches as it turned out.  What a cooperative and amazing insect.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Ladies' tresses on Levin Down today

The native orchid, Autumn Lady's-tresses, is flowering now.  It is tiny and easily overlooked.
The glamorous Sandra from Somerset posed with this tiny orchid, which you might just see in the foreground just off-centre to the left.  There were a dozen or so of these orchid flowers within yards of this bench.

Monday 2 September 2013

Pensioners make temporary bridge repair this morning enhancing its rustic charm.

Retired managing directors don't just fade away.  In this case they take to the woods to mend things -- like a rotten bridge.  The bearers look dodgy there Stephen -- just flip it over to take a look!
Crumbs... the supports are rotting and crumbling!
Fell an undesirable non-native oak...
and a coppiced chestnut that needed re-coppicing anyway.
Place the oak and chestnut trunks over the stream and flip the sound remains of the bridge back over. Then make good with some new planks.
The repaired bridge is now much sturdier and has a greatly enhanced rustic charm to it.  Nice work Stephen!  Job (almost) well done.

Spangle Galls on the underside of oak leaves today in a Sussex wood.

Caused by a wasp, how strange these galls appear.

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