Sunday, August 30, 2009

E-piece Path Clearance

Will we, won't we ... yes we did.

It was drizzling early this morning, although the forecast was for sun and 0% precipitation (so, they got that wrong). Being optimistic and trusting that the weather would turn good, we met up to tackle the path down to the E-piece, which although not yet completely overgrown was starting to head that way.

Only a few of us on a Bank Holiday weekend but armed with brush cutters, slashers (they're hard work!), loppers and shears we cleared both gates - although there's not much left of the lower one and the grassy area on the left which is rapidly being invaded by brambles and the occasional hawthorn with time for lunch and an early finish.

Hopefully, now that it's back down to grass level the rabbits will come in and keep the growth down so that some more of the chalk flowers can come in.

I'm sure I saw an Adonis butterfly flitting around where we were clearing. It was definitely small, blue and with white edges to it's wings and a lighter colour underneath, although I didn't get a good enough view for a positive identification and I've only recently managed to identify the common blue. I did uncover two large anthills while clearing the fleabane and thistles and I know there's a link between ants and the blue caterpillars. Wishful thinking maybe but worth taking a second look - especially as the summer broods are now flying.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Window Casualty

A dull thud on the window had us rushing out to see what hapless bird had collided with the window.

The casualty was a young female blackbird - unfortunately dead, as it was totally limp and not just stunned. Then a rustling in the undergrowth under the window and another young blackbird appeared, somewhat dazed and flopping about on the ground with one eye completely closed, although it's wings didn't appear damaged. Unusual to see two at once - maybe they were chasing each other.

A cardboard box was produced which I caught it and tried to see what damage it had done itself. A little blood around it's neck but legs and wings looked OK. Putting it into the box and placing it inside while I searched for the natural first aid treatment - water and lavender oil (antiseptic and antibacterial). Aromatherapy oils can be used on pets, so I don't see why wild birds can't benefit as well.

Having got hold of some T-tree (the lavender couldn't be found) the bird was moving around in the box a lot more. It had been quiet when it was first put in. It was much more active when I got it out and I got a sharp peck for trying to wipe the wounded area down. It didn't look good, there was a nasty looking gash in it's neck but it was lively and eager to get away, so I let it go and it flew off up over the trees.

Fingers crossed that it does survive.

The window now has an old CD dangling in front of it to deter any further birds from crashing into it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wildlife Break

Thought I'd pop out into the garden for a break to enjoy the sunshine and sit watching the wildlife. First the plaintive call of a young seagull - going on and on and on, getting more persistent when another adult gull landed on the roof close to it. Presumably not it's parent, as it was being ignored.

There are lots of these 'teenage' gulls around at the moment. Practising their flying technique and spending a lot of time on the ground or squawking from the roof-tops. Whether their parents have gone off fishing (or raiding rubbish bags) or just abandoned them to get on with it, I'm not sure.

I watched a common blue butterfly laying eggs on the lawn. Switching between feeding and egg-laying and having studied it carefully, I spotted the tiny, single pale blue egg it laid on the upper side of a black meddick leaf.  No, my lawn isn't a pristine, green sward ... thank goodness.  A speckled wood butterfly also made an appearance but didn't settle, just flew around for a while.

There are plenty of wasps around - mainly attracted to the fennel - along with hoverflies and pleasingly several bumblebees.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Migrant Watch - Painted Ladies

The Butterfly Conservation is conducting a survey of two of our migrants - the Painted Lady and the Hummingbird Hawk Moth (these are amazing creatures if you're lucky enough to see one).

Now I spotted eight Painted Ladies out of my window the other day and have seen several at any one time in the garden over the past few weeks, as this year's batch of caterpillars hatch out, so I've entered those sightings and will be adding more from this year.

If you spot any in your garden or when you're out and about, report your findings on their website.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Crop Circle 2009

Spotted my first crop circle of the year on my back from Wiltshire. Not in Sussex but on Chilcombe Down. Don't get to see many around here, as it's not prime crop circle country - strangely enough one appeared near the University a few years ago - no connection there then :). The harvesters are out at the moment, so only the mark on the field was visible from the road but you can see the original version here. Not as impressive as some.

Check out this year's crop of circles on the Crop Connector website.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Buzzard Over The Tye

A first for the Tye today - a buzzard. I know they're in the area but this was the first time I've actually seen one over the main Tye.

Not many dead sheep for it to pick off (joke) so it moved off but it's nice to see one there. They're a more common sight over the E-piece and other parts of the Down's but I always like seeing them and hope they become an even more common sight.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Pulborough - Early August

Trekking off to Pulborough yesterday, I wasn't sure whether I'd see much - it being a bit of an in-between time of year - summer migrants leaving and autumn migrants arriving slowly but it was a great day out with some interesting if not spectacular sightings. One of those days where the longer you look and the more patient you are the more likely you are to see something else. The Brooks have been mown since my last visit and many of the pools and wet areas are drying up fast - although the North Brooks still has plenty of water on it.

One of the more spectacular sightings was a white wagtail. No, not the white race of the pied wagtail but a 'white wagtail' and albino or more accurately a leucistic version of a pied wagtail. A bit like you sometimes see white feathers on a blackbird this was a whiter version of a pied wagtail and easy to spot at a distance as it flitted along the edge of the ponds on the North Brooks. The young pied wagtails are confusing at this time of the year - much greyer than their parents.

Another lovely sight was six buzzards circling over the Visitor's Centre. Parents and four youngsters, circling in the thermals before disappearing out of sight.

A good show of waders - redshank, green sandpiper, common sandpiper, dunlin, black-tailed godwit and a greenshank. It took a while but I finally spotted a little ringed plover out on the Brooks too.

There were still house and sand martins around - along with a few swallows and swifts. A lone male pintail who has been there a while - apparently it's got a broken wing and there were a few teal and a lone cormorant. Several heron appeared at intervals or flew from one part of the Brooks to the other.

Towards the end of the afternoon, a fox trotted along near Netley's Hide looking intently at the rabbits who dashed for cover, as it got closer. It sat in the grass for a while with only the tip of it's ears showing before disappearing from view.

There's a small herd of Highland cattle out on the North Brooks. Always a nice sight to see, these large shaggy creatures out there and there's a large solid bull with them. Visitors are always surprised to see 'highland' cattle out there and got a good view when they all wandered past Netley's.