Friday, July 24, 2009

Freshly Painted Ladies

Plenty of Painted Ladies around again. Must be hatching time for those that flew in earlier this year. Every time I go out into the garden I see at least half a dozen flying around.

I rescued one this afternoon from a spider's web just outside the back door. It was well tangled and I managed with some delicacy to pull it free and carefully pull the sticky threads away from it's wings and legs, so it was able to fly off.

Sorry spider - no large meal for you today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Arlington Reservoir

A quick stop at Arlington Reservoir on my way back from a meeting. Well, I was literally passing by, so it seemed silly not to stop and see what's around, particularly as it was a lovely afternoon. The water level is down and although initially there didn't appear to be much around, I did manage to notch up 33 different species in my walk round the reservoir.

Only a few water birds - plenty of Great Crested Grebe - I counted at least 15 in one area, and a large number of Canada Geese. The highlights being three Common Sandpipers feeding and chasing each other along the shoreline, a Common Tern fishing off one of the central pontoons and just as I was finishing off the walk, a Raven croaked overhead, flying across the reservoir being followed but not mobbed by a few gulls.

It was also good to see a good mixture of house martins, swallows and swifts. Not huge numbers but more than I've seen over my way recently.

Several butterflies around too - including a lovely comma on the path in the wood and several gatekeepers feeding on the fleabane. I wasn't totally sure they were gatekeepers but checked when I got home - yes, the double white dot in their black eyespot is the defining feature.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saltdean Carnival 2009

An extremely windy but sunny day for this year's Saltdean Carnival. Gazebo's were fighting a losing battle against the relentless wind. Ours was the first to be taken down, as otherwise we'd have spent the whole day hanging on to tent poles, rather than talking to people. Other stalls also gave up as poles got bent and even the more robust looking had given up within a few hours. Only the marquees were left standing.

We were close to the refreshment tents so within easy reach of cups of tea and cake - although sadly the cakes ran out early afternoon. We had the dog show right behind us - the Tye is a favourite for dog walkers, so that generated some interest. We also had a prime view of the 'arena' and it was great to see the children's sports like egg and spoon, sack race and the tug of war.

Luckily we had an A-frame display board for our pictures of the group (kindly lent to us by the Sussex Business Bureau) so those weren't getting blown away and were easier for everyone to see some of the things we get up to. We signed up four new members and hope to see some of you on our tasks later in the year.

If you're interested in finding out more about the Friends of Telscombe Tye - take a look at our website -

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sparrow First Aid

My neighbour turned up last night with a bird her cat had caught. It was a poor little female sparrow that she carried round in a plastic box. It didn't look too great although there wasn't much damage and it was moving but curled up and not very receptive.

Not an ideal time to call a vet on a Sunday evening, just for a wild bird, so I did what I could to clean up the wound, gave it a little water and put it in a cardboard box with scrunched up paper and then left it in peace and quiet to see if it would survive the night.

I came down and opened the box to find it standing (a pleasant surprise) and looking much more alert, if a little puzzled. It flapped around when I tried to give it some water, so I decided it was better off outside if it was strong enough to survive rather than put it under more stress by keeping it indoors.

As soon as I opened the box it flew off, so fingers crossed it will survive. I'll be looking out for a sparrow with a damaged cheek in the next few days.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Surveying The E-Piece

Thankfully the rain had cleared up as we headed off up to the E-piece for the annual survey - although looking at the variety of plants maybe we should be surveying it more often - anyone care to join us?

Taking note of the overgrown area at the top of the slope to say nothing of the collapsing kissing gate on the way down. However, it might be best to wait and see what comes out of the recommendations and any new management plan that develops as this might change boundaries, fencing and grazing.

Quadrant 1 was easy to find - part way down the slope but Quadrants 2 and 3 are starting to disappear into the growing scrub at the top of the slope.

Starting with Quadrant 1, which initially looked as if it didn't have much in it but on closer and prolonged inspection we managed to find seven flowering plants - some of them were so small that it took a while to spot the really tiny white flowers of squinancywort (left) and fairy flax.

We then found another tiny plant that wasn't yet in flower and had us completely flummoxed, searching through all the books until I spotted one that was flowering and we finally identified it as a common milkwort.

It doesn't help doing this only once a year, as you've forgotten what it was that you were looking at and managed to identify the year before but it's good fun and amazing how much you can actually find in a 2m square. The top two Quadrants were quicker to do - being mainly regrowth of blackthorn but with lovely patches of eyebright (right) and violets, cowslip and scabious that had flowered earlier in the year.

Perhaps next year we can do the surveys twice a year - to catch the Spring and Summer flowers and the same for the main Tye.

We really could do with someone who knows the difference between one form of thistle and another and can distinguish hawkbit from catsear. Anyone with a bit of botanical knowledge out there?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

House Martin Survey

The British Trust for Ornithology are conducting a house martin survey this year. If you have house martins nesting on or near your house, you can report your sightings on their site.

BTO House Martin Survey

There certainly seem to be less around this year and I haven't had any nest on my house for years. I usually see several pairs flying around the area and they nest on houses further up the road but this year I've seen one pair at the most. A few swifts but no swallows this year.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Telscombe Tye Management Report - 2009

The report on 'The historic issues and management of Telscombe Tye' is now available to download and view on the Telscombe Town Council's website.

It's a good weighty tome at 97 pages and includes 62 pages of Appendices, many of which are pictures and maps of the area. It's interesting to read that some of the existing issues have been going on for decades and many of them are nothing new - including fencing, access rights, grazing etc.

The report makes a number of recommendations - 26 in all, although I haven't read all the detail yet. The Friends of Telscombe Tye will be making comments on the report and recommendations, so if you have anything you'd like to add or comments you'd like to make - let me know.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Path Clearance

We'd had a request for the path alongside the Tye to be cleared as it had become very overgrown. We hadn't managed to get to these earlier in the year so arranged an impromptu task.

At least it wasn't raining but it was pretty warm. Not as hot as it had been previously but hot work all the same. At least this time around we got offers of juice and water from the local residents - most gratefully received - thanks.

We managed to clear the gates along Ashurst Avenue, the steps up on to the Tye and about half of the path along the west side of the Tye.

There was a bit of excitement when one of the brush-cutters hit a wasps nest. They weren't happy and pursued Tim (who'd been unfortunate to find it) out onto the Tye and beyond. Persistent little blighters but luckily he only got a few stings on his hands.

We resumed clearing further up the path before calling it a day. It was to hot to work all day and half a day is enough. It certainly looks a lot better and we'll be back to finish it later.

Walking back across the Tye and the butterflies and wildflowers along the strip of land between fields and houses is quite impressive. Most people probably just see it as 'waste land' but it becomes a haven for wildlife. I counted eight Marbled White butterflies in one small area and several skylarks singing over the Tye and surrounding fields.