Showing posts from 2019

Autumn Adventures on the High Weald

I've been visiting a wonderful forest and sandstone rock formation in East Sussex since late August. As I already pay for unlimited bus travel, getting here doesn't cost me any extra. I would love to visit this site during June and July, but the days are so long, I would have to camp overnight, which is of course an option next year! Climate change is causing the UK to experience the same weather patterns for weeks or months. We enjoyed fine, settled weather until late September. Spells of heavy rain, strong winds and overcast skies blighted the period from late September to 11th November, when the project finished. You will see an abrupt transition between seasons, due to a long gap. I spent half of my annual leave watching torrential rain cascading down my street, leaving just five fine days in which to capture the fall before everything shuts down for the winter.

The wet, damp conditions during October 2019 provided great stimulus for wild mushrooms. The actual organism is a…

The Sussex Butterfly Safari

For my 2020 butterfly safari, click here.

Welcome to my summer butterfly project for 2019. I've spent two months visiting sites in East and West Sussex, often travelling via train and my electric bike, without which some sites would be out of reach. The Knepp Estate rewilding project is a good seven miles along narrow country lanes from the railway station, but I am there in just 25 minutes. Poor weather over weeks 2 - 3 in June killed many Purple Emperors at the chrysalis stage, while dry July weather meant few visited the ground. I spent 3 days waiting and waiting, when my time could have been spent on less elusive species. Should I try the Purple Emperor again, I will pitch my tent somewhere on a wet night and search for grounded Emperors feeding on the moist surface. The challenge is that summer rainfall in the UK now falls in torrential downpours, killing numbers of the prone, tree-top dwelling Emperors.
Both visitors and locals in the area surrounding the Knepp Estate are frie…

Early Summer Roe Deer Project 2019

23rd May 2019: I was so pleased with the images from my first visit, that I could easily have finished the project in one evening. Temperatures were a good seven degrees warmer inland, reaching 23°C and the Roe deer were just shedding the last of their thick winter coats. Grass height was still short enough to allow the easy observation of these small deer. The three babies from last year survived the winter; two bucks and one doe. The young buck was quite tolerant of me. When people wandered through the field, the buck went and hovered about the perimeter until they disappeared before returning to grazing on buttercups. Two adult does were present, but neither were pregnant. An adult buck accompanied one of the does. Possibly mistaking her availability, the buck chased the doe around the field in an unusually early display of courtship. My theory is that the doe is infertile, as she was not pregnant in 2018 either. 

To avoid being bitten by pest insects, particularly ticks, I brought …