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Friday 26 September 2014

Lapwings, greylag geese, coots, black-headed gulls, cormorants and a heron. in the Loder Valley, Wakehurst Place, Sussex, England

 Lapwings can be seen all year round in the UK.  They leave upland areas after the breeding season and move to lowland fields for the winter. Large numbers of N European birds arrive in autumn for the winter. Source; RSPB click for more info'.
I can't remember seeing them in the Loder Valley before though, here on the 14th of September 2014.
An exceptionally dry September means the water level is low, exposing mud for birds to probe.

As well as the Lapwings there were Greylag geese, coots, black-headed gulls, mallards, cormorants, a crow pecking at a dead gull and a heron.

Views across the High Weald of Sussex from Cuckfield to Wolstonbury Hill and Wolstonbury to Cuckfield

Cuckfield, like many villages in the High Weald of Sussex, sits on a high ridge.  To the south it overlooks the Low Weald including Hurstpierpoint to the South Downs and the characteristic wooded "eyes" of Wolstonbury Hill, seen above in a zoomed photo' from the High Street.
I thought to share the reverse view -- from Wolstonbury Hill towards Cuckfield.  Yesterday the weather conditions were conducive to such a shot.
Here it is below;
 The Elizabethan house in the foreground is Danny House and the church like building in the middlegound is Hurstpierpoint College, a public school.

Cuckfield can be identified by the church spire with open fields in front.

More red colours of Autumn on the South Downs of Sussex; rose hips and Bryony.

 Wolstonbury Hill in Sussex yesterday was dotted with  bright red berries on hawthorn bushes and also rose hips above.
 Bryony berries were plentiful and if this is Black Bryony are poisonous, unlike rose hips, which taste good after the first frosts of winter.

Thursday 25 September 2014

The Sussex Downs today, resplendent with drifts of blue Scabious flowers; Devil's-bit (Succisa pratensis) & Small Scabious (Sabiosa columbaria)

 The Bellflower, "The Pride of Sussex" had finished flowering on this walk today.  Its deep blue flowers are now replaced with magnificent displays of drifts of blue Scabious flowers; Devil's-bit Scabious, Succisa pratensis.

This is the view from Wolstonbury Hill looking westwards to Chanctonbury Hill in the far distance.

Small Scabious flowers were lovely as well.  Both flowers are members of the Teasel family.

Saturday 20 September 2014

An Autumn woodland walk in Shabden Park, Surrey; crane flies, harvestmen, diptera, Silver Y moth, dragonflies & grasshoppers

Beech leaves are turning brown on the trees and their beech nuts are crunchy underfoot,

Coppiced hazel shoots have been nibbled away by deer,

 Ivy flowers were being visited by lots of wasps

 In a meadow a Silver Y moth was flying around.
Dragonflies were active and a Common Darter posed, below, on a dead Ash leaf.

 This meadow was full of tiny Eyebright flowers.
 And Crane flies were abundant.

 A Harvestman scurried quickly through the grass in search of prey; unlike spiders it has no silk glands to make a web.

A tiny fly fed on a Scabious flower.
Can anyone identify it?

And a grasshopper tried to hide behind a stem.

Saturday 6 September 2014

Brown Hairstreak, Brown Argus, mating Meadow Browns and beautiful Bellflowers and Eyebright on the Surrey Downs today.

Our walk was only two miles with 380 feet of ascent and descent from the car park at Ranmore Common.
This field to the east of the car park had been well grazed by cattle. 
Several tiny Brown Argus butterflies were flying around.
 A battered Meadow Brown was seen.
 This moth posed elegantly on a blackthorn twig.
 Look at the sycamore trees in the background above.  The cattle have eaten all the lower leaves within their reach showing how they limit the growth of such trees when they are small.  This encourages me, having felled a tall sycamore on Wolstonbury hill yesterday (in a National Trust work party clearing scrub) the cattle should eat the leaves that will sprout from the remaining stump.
Common Rockrose flowers into September.
Traversing Steer's field and heading westwards past the beech wood rich with beech nuts...

 ... the downland here is resplendent with tiny yet exquisite Eyebright flowers.  From a distance they appear white; close up -- quite different.

 Harebells and Clustered Bellflowers were lovely too.

This blue butterfly was very cooperative, allowing my camera to get within a few inches away for this shot.  It is worn out.  How I wanted it to be an Adonis Blue.  It may be but to me is too battered to confirm  that and may be a Common Blue; any ideas anyone?  Many of its scales are lost. 
 A pair of Meadow Browns were doing what they do on a warm, humid September afternoon and were mating.

 In the corner of this meadow, right by the kissing gate, was a female Brown Hairstreak butterfly.
It flew into the meadow and looked as though it was crawling through the grass.  The following shots were from some meters away and zoomed in.
 It had settled in the grass alright but on a blackthorn bush.

It really looks as though it was laying eggs.

What a fabulous sight and what a joyous short walk in September.
 Feeling very hot and sweaty and bitten by mosquitoes it was a cool relief to return along the North Downs Way though the woods.

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