Saturday 30 May 2009

Snake in a Lake

Penny is here for the weekend so we visited Petworth House for the first time. Wonderful gardens, excellent talk about the history of the house and its owners – the Percys and the Egremonts. The walk around the lake built by Capability Brown was very enjoyable, geese, ducks, coots, Fallow deer, damselflies, dragonflies and a snake swimming from shore, the first time I have seen this. Plenty of wild pasture with Common Spotted Orchids and butterflies – Small Coppers, Large Whites, Painted Ladies and a Peacock. We will return to see the renowned art collection. On our return Penny and Sue plunged into the icy (so they assured me) Channel waters.

Friday 29 May 2009

Jacqui the Voice

We saw Jacqui Dankworth this evening at the Worthing Pavilion Theatre. Saw her at Chichester a few months back where she did Ella Fitzgerald to someone else's Frank Sinatra. We saw her Mum and Dad at the same theatre a few years ago, she is the image of her mother with a gifted voice to match. Her brother Alec was on bass. Most of her numbers were from her new album, could have done with some more standards. She has a natural stage presence, sadly the theatre was only partially filled, a symptom of the credit crunch. A lovely warm evening, during the interval we ate ice cream on the promenade looking out over low tide and the pier. An excellent evening, look forward to seeing Jacqui Dankworth again.

Ladies rule in Rustington

Took Audrey to Baird's Farm Shop and she mentioned that many butterflies were enjoying the flowers in the garden. Enough said, we collected my camera on the way back and found two Painted Ladies feeding and staying still for a change. The migration is in full flow along the south coast with reports coming in daily:

Thursday 28 May 2009

Beer, Brian & Boats

A lovely day started with Jackie bring young Brian over so he could review his Monkey World pics, his first photos I think. After a delicious Oscars fish’n’chips lunch over Bargain Hunt I finished some bathroom decorating then bottled the latest batch of beer (Woodforde’s Admiral’s Reserve - Strong with Great Norfolk Character it says - £19 kit made 22 litres or 50p/pint). Then a walk along the seafront to the mouth of the Arun where the tide was just going out.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Walter Sickert brings back memories of Venice

We did our £10 daysave rail deal to Victoria, and visited Dulwich Picture Gallery for the ‘Sickert in Venice’ exhibition. It was a good choice on a drizzly day. My favourite was ‘Il Canal, Venecia: Palozzo Montecucciola’ shown above. Sickert was into Nocturne paintings, but some require cleaning, an idea strengthened by the Gallery exhibition handbook showing some considerably lightened. A great exhibition at a lovely gallery, we hope they have further exhibitions to attract us. Some references:

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Tuan, star of Monkey World

We trusted the forecasts, left in a downpour with Jackie and young Brian, and by the time we arrived at Monkey World it had become a perfect day. Everything was well organised, seats and refreshments everywhere and plenty of kids play areas to get rid of young energy! Wonderful facilities for the ‘guests’ and beautifully laid out, with keeper talks at the different pens well advertised. And diesel at 101p on the way back! We are off to a pub meal treat by Jackie now, the end to a perfect day.

Monday 25 May 2009

High fliers and Roe Deer between showers

We visited Mill Hill with Jackie and her grandson Brian between the morning downpour and the afternoon shower. Spotted a Roe deer buck in a field below. Two model gliders ducked and weaved overhead like a couple of jousting dragonflies. Everyone survived a walk down the hill and back up again and we discovered carpets of Horseshoe vetch. Painted Ladies, Brimstones & Large Whites fluttered around and plenty of Adonis Blues landed on their foodplant, the Horseshoe vetch, but none stayed long enough for a photo.

Sunday 24 May 2009

Battle of the Blues at Mill Hill

Mill Hill is reknowned for its Blues, Currently there are Small Blues and Adonis Blues, in June there should be Chalkhill Blues. I witnessed an Adonis beat up a Small Blue on the ground – the Small Blue escaped into the bushes after a while. A Yellow Hammer appeared near me, surprising us both, no time for a shot. Painted Ladies abounded. Wonderful view of Lancing College across the River Adur, and plenty of seats along the walks.

Saturday 23 May 2009

Adonis, Man orchids and a mysterious Earthwork

The Sussex branch of Butterfly Conservation organized a walk to Wolstonbury Hill just north of Brighton. An earthwork of unknown origin tops the hill, and a carpet of Horseshoe Vetch covers the slopes. Great photo ops for a Cinnabar moth, Small Blue, Small Brown and an Adonis Blue, which the site is noted for. Neil showed us the rare Man Orchid, very pretty in a macro shot. Horses trekked across the down, and a roe deer buck eyed us on the way back.

Friday 22 May 2009

A Duke, an Admiral and a Feather

Another sunny day at Kithurst Hill. A yellow hammer flew by for the second day and a Red Admiral alighted near a Duke of Burgundy. Since the Duke stayed around for the next few hours I wish I’d gone for more than one shot of the Admiral. A grey squirrel climbed to the top of a flimsy sapling and gliders were towed into the sky every 30 minutes. Met Brian, another butterfly enthusiast who advised me to see the Adonis Blues at Mill Hill.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Sun, Brimstones and Pud

A sunny day again so back to Kithurst Hill for more butterflies. Common Blues were a new feature, with another appearance of the wonderful scarlet Cinnabar Moth, but it didn’t hang around long enough for a decent shot. Brimstones were fluttering high and low and one actually obliged for a few minutes in one place in a great pose. Some new moths appeared – Silver Y, Burnett companion, Grass rivulet. Met Pud, a young collie with owner who gave me some orchid news.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Reds, blues, peacocks and a lady

A lovely sunny day, perfect butterfly weather so I took Sue for her first visit to Kithurst Hill. We walked through a meadow covered with wild flowers and saw Green-veined whites flitting around. A stroll beside rape fields produced a Painted lady and Peacocks. Another meadow provided a Brown argus, Small blues, a Silver-ground carpet moth, a Small copper and the spectacle of a Cinnabar moth fluttering around, it’s brilliant red wings almost surreal. We also met Neil, Sussex butterfly man, doing conservation work.

Nothing Small about Heather

We saw Heather Small at Croydon last night – wow, wow and wow again! She performed many of her old favourites and others such as Fernando and Summertime to demonstrate her versatility. First time we have seen her live, she gets the audience going, the stalls were dancing in front of the stage. Supporting act Lucy Noble, a flautist, was great with her band. “Don't Change a Thing” Heather!

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Rape, Ups and Downs

Kithurst Hill is designated as an area of outstanding beauty with butterflies, so I eagerly departed after a few days cooped up in the flat due to rain and wind. The views were typical South Downs - undulating sensual curves and when the sun finally appeared late morning the butterflies presented themselves for the camera. Green-veined whites, a rare Duke of Burgundy, Small blues; Dingy Skippers, a Speckled wood and a Small copper all appeared and shared the lens with some orchids. A steep woodland walk with some passing horse riders and another hiker were a pleasant contrast to the open downland.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Beach Walk & Coots

The heavens opened this morning, scuppering my plans to photograph butterflies on the Downs. We went for a walk along the beach in the afternoon. The water has been high recently, combination of tides and wind I guess. The lower beach has been covered by water for a couple of days, so no metal detecting. Today we saw dead dogfish, spider crab, many cuttlefish bones and loads of seaweed. A couple of windsurfers were having a great time and three lads with boogie boards were heading out. A walk round Mewsbrook Park revealed some nesting coots and lots of young gulls. This coot had no trouble telling some Mallards where to go:

Saturday 16 May 2009

Van Dyck and Britain

Yesterday visited the "Van Dyck and Britain" exhibition at the Tate Britain. What a wonderful exhibition! Never realised how influential Van Dyck was in British portraiture. The comparison with previous very stiff portraits was amazing, his are so relaxed. Died young at 42 years but produced around 400 works due to his factory techniques. He painted the faces and outline from life, his artists completed the rest. His patrons were royalty and aristocracy, he was very ambitious and trained under Rubens. Two centuries later, everyone wanted to be painted in a Van Dyck costume. His prices were £60 - full portrait, £30 - half portrait, £20 head and shoulders. Costumes worn by the sitters could cost £45. £60 in 1620 would be worth £93,000 today.
above: portrait of Mary Hill, Lady Pettigrew (1638)