For illustrated talks on natural history and history see

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Monday 22 January 2018

Controlling Spanish bluebells

A former owner of my garden planted Spanish bluebells, which threaten our more delicate native ones with hybridisation.
For years I have hoed off the leaves as they appear and especially the flowers if I missed any, dug up the bulbs and dried them to kill them, and am now trying a different approach.
Emerging leaves are easily pulled off now.
The ground is wet and soft now and the Spanish bluebell leaves are just emerging.
The leaves break off underground if they are grasped by hand and pulled out.
If this works to kill them off, I'll update this entry later in the year.
With my talk The evolution of a formal garden to a nature reserve at  it is important to me to get rid of Spanish bluebells completely.

Friday 19 January 2018

Over 100 Brown Hairstreak butterfly eggs spotted by RSPB rangers at RSPB Pulborough Brooks last Wednesday

 In the blackthorn bushes on the way to Nettley's hide at the RSPB reserve, the rangers had most helpfully tied pieces of string near the tiny eggs.  I had never spotted one before, so this was a most pleasing action by the rangers: very many thanks.
 Over 100 eggs were counted this day compared to some 60 the previous year according to one RSPB ranger.

 Lots of pintails, shovelers, wigeon, godwits and teal to see.
 Click on any picture to expand it.

Wednesday 17 January 2018

An Ornithological extravaganza at RSPB, Pulborough Brooks, West Sussex, UK, today

A Marsh Harrier in flight
Click to enlarge any picture.
Above the images colour-corrected and cropped.   Camera was Panasonic DMC FZ1000, set to aperture F4, ISO200, 1/400sec exposures.


Shoveler, Lapwing, Wigeon

Shelduck and Lapwings


A solitary avocet

Over 700 Bar-tailed Godwits centre pictures above and below.  Thank you  Matt Phelps for this species clarification.

A Kestrel poses (just for me!) at RSPB Pulborough Brooks this afternoon

You little beauty.
Click to expand the picture.

Monday 15 January 2018

Teal, Shovelers, Pintails and other birds at RSPB Pulborough Brooks, Sat. 13 January 2018



View from the hide from where the pictures above were taken


Lapwings and Canada geese

Canada geese

failing light

Pintails landing

Click on any picture to enlarge it.
For my talk on birds, click here.
For RSPB reserve info' click

Sunday 7 January 2018

Two male Green woodpeckers menacing each other this morning in a Surrey garden in the UK.

This morning two Green woodpeckers were alternatively swaying and moving their heads from side to side one after the other in a face off, which lasted long enough for me to grab my camera from upstairs and shoot a few burst pictures at perhaps 30m. distance from an upstairs window in a Surrey garden.

Was it a male and female in a courtship ritual?
A close examination of the pictures above (shown below) reveals that both are males: characterised by red moustaches -- females have black ones.  See
This behaviour then is a sort of harmless "shadow boxing" to establish a territorial hierarchy perhaps.

Click on any picture to expand it.
This sequence has been incorporated into my illustrated talk, "The natural year in focus" detailed at

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