For illustrated talks on natural history and history see

For illustrated talks on natural history and history click here for

Thursday 30 June 2016

Mash Harriers at Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve, Kent, UK on Tuesday 28th June 2016

 We came here to photograph damselflies and dragonflies and got no pictures.
 Marsh Harriers and a Kestrel made this a walk to remember though.
 A male Marsh Harrier.
 The larger female Marsh Harrier with a white head on the far side of the reserve.
These birds are a must to add to my natural history talk on birds: details at

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Saturday 25 June 2016

Six Native Orchid species at this location this week: Bee, Common Spotted, Pyramidal, Frog,Southern Marsh and Fly Orchids

 You can see my image reflected in the water film on this Bee orchid.

A great day out -- especially as this is the first time I have photographed Frog Orchids, which can now be added to my talk on native orchids at

Thursday 23 June 2016

Common Carder bee, Red-tailed Cuckoo bee, butterflies, a Burnet moth and the Labyrinth spider, Agelena labyrinthica yesterday in a Sussex meadow..

 I came here yesterday to photograph Frog Orchids -- successfully.  The insects were great too and are shown first.  Six Orchid species to follow: Bee, Fly, Common Spotted, Southern Marsh, Pyramidal and Frog Orchids.  It was a great day out.

Common Carder bee on Yellow Rattle.

A Red-tailed Cuckoo Bee, Bombus rupestris with pollen beetles.  It isn't collecting pollen.  Why should it?  It is a parasite of the Red-tailed Bee, Bombus lapidarius.
 Six-spot Burnet moth, Zygaena filipendulae

Male Meadow Brown butterfly sharing a bramble flower with a male Fat-legged Flower beetle, Oedemera nobilis.

 Another Brown butterfly -- the Marbled White

 A Spotted Crane Fly, Nephrotoma appindiculata

 It was drizzling rain, which highlighted the webs of Funnel spiders beautifully.

 Here is a Labyrinth spider, Agelena labyrinthica.
See the excellent site for more info'.

UK spiders are not harmful to most people and are really fascinating... at least to me.
An illustrated talk has been prepared.  Details can be seen at

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Tuesday 21 June 2016

There is only one thing better than walking on the Sussex Downs... and that is to walk there with a National Trust Ranger.

National Trust Ranger, Graham Wellfare, lead a wonderful walk this afternoon from Saddlescoobe Farm over Newtimber Hill.
 Where the path starts and where the cattle churn up the soil and flatten plants, Graham showed us the rarest plant on the Downs.

 It is Centaurea calcitrapa known as the Red Star-thistle. A biennial herb of waste ground and tracksides in dry grassland, and on banks on well-drained sandy, gravelly or light chalky soils. Lowland.  ref:
 It is an archaeophyte: a plant species which is non-native to a geographical region, but which was an introduced species in "ancient" times from the Mediterranean, rather than being a modern introduction.  It doesn't appear in my books.  The Romans or King Alfred (he traveled to Rome) may have inadvertently brought it here.

Graham pointed out the diversity of plants where the ground had not been ploughed or fertilized.
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It was the orchids that stole the show -- Fragrant, Common Spotted, Pyramidal and Twayblades.
Keep an eye on for future National Trust events.  Alternatively, clubs and societies interested to see the Pride of Sussex, the County Flower of Sussex on a lead walk by me could take a look at 
In any case, enjoy our beautiful Sussex countryside this summer.

Sunday 19 June 2016

Orchid walk and talk with the National Trust


The National Trust invite you to enjoy an illustrated talk by orchid expert, Peter Lovett, followed by a walk on glorious Newtimber Hill with ranger Graham Wellfare looking for these beautiful flowers.
When: Tuesday 21st June
Where: Saddlescombe farm. BN45 7DE.
Time: 10am – 2pm.
Cost £10
Booking is essential

Peter Lovett is a keen nature lover and public speaker.  Get an insight to his talk at

Call Graham on 01273 857712 to book.  Details are also at and the combined event of talk and walk costs just £10.00

Press release issued jointly by;
Graham Wellfare
National Trust Ranger
Saddlescombe Farm
BN45 7DE

Peter Lovett

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Three Queen Bumblebees and soaked workers in a Sussex garden yesterday

Styrax japonica is a colouful small tree, which although not native to the UK, is great for bees.
THREE bumblebee species' queens were active yesterday evening.

A Buff-tailed Bumblebee queen, Bombus terrestris.

A White-tailed Bumblebee queen, Bombus lucorum

And a Red-tailed Bumblebee queen, Bombus lapidarius

Some bees were struggling to survive the downpour of rain.
This Buff-tailed Bumblebee worker or male is drenched to the chitin.
Elsewhere in the garden other species were active.
This Early Bumblebee male,  Bombus pratorum was very happy on cornflowers.
What a joy to see all these species thriving in a formal and wildlife garden
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Sunday 12 June 2016

11th June 2016, Red-tailed Bumblebee, male Bombus lapidarius "stealing" nectar from Aquilegia

 This Red-tailed Bumblebee male, Bombus lapidarius' tongue is too short to reach into the Aquilegia flowers' long spurs.  It "steals" nectar by cutting into the blind end of the spur, missing the pollen completely and playing no part in pollination of the flowers.

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