Wednesday 30 November 2011

More fun at Heyshott

'Moi' photo by Mark Colvin
Another work party day at Heyshott Down. On the other side of Bognor at 9am I saw probably the most spectacular rainbow I have ever seen. It was complete and a second one started on the north side. By the time I had found a place to park it had lost its vivid colours. However another one appeared at the end of the work party. Mark took some photos of me this time.

Mark on the right

drag, snip and toss onto the fire (for 3hours)

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Kite surfing on stormy seas

We walked along the front to the pier this afternoon in a cold gale. There were seven surfers and a kite surfer. Some awesome waves.
kite surfer video

River Arun video

Monday 28 November 2011

Degas at the RA

Its been a busy few days. On Saturday I attended a Mountain Bike training course organised by SusSAR and three of us learnt how to maintain, repair and ride these bikes. We spent four hours in a hilly wood in Sussex and all managed to avoid any tumbles, though probably more by luck than judgement! Gary, a former SusSAR member who now lives in the West Country, gave up his day to conduct the course which was first class. We managed to find John, our gallant Misper (missing person) who hid from us in the Dark Wood at night and was no doubt pleased that we found him in good time. A highlight was cycling past a badger who looked up then bounded down 'his' hole. My derrière will take a few days to recover.
Col about to descend a steep slope
On Sunday my club had a dig but nothing of interest was found. I had a few buttons, a musket ball and bits of rolled up lead. I did see a Red Admiral, albiet in a tatty condition.
torn Red Admiral 
This morning the light was interesting over the channel
Today Jackie joined us on a visit to the Edgar Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy. This was excellent, and we understood the artist's work for the first time and learnt how the changing photographic technology of the time influenced him. This RA video gives an idea of the exhibition's content:
The wonderful pastels in the final room were my favourite and the Dancers in Blue (above) was my top choice. He used layers of tracing paper to build up the colours, fixing each colour to achieve the luminescent effect as described in this link I liked 'The Dance Lesson' 1879. This is in the panoramic format popular with photographers at the time. Interesting that this is a popular TV format today. The statue 'Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer' was amazing. Click here to view a blog that adds further information about the exhibition.

Friday 25 November 2011

Mill Hill adder

Today I called in at Mill Hill around noon and found some changes. The reserve management team have been busy clearing more privet and other shrubby areas to create more suitable habitat for the wonderful selection of butterflies that Mill Hill supports. I was delighted to see an adder slither off at the western end of the lower slope. It had been sunning itself in exactly the same place where I saw one in late 2010. The spot gets the late Autumn sun and is next to scrub for cover. I also saw a bumble bee and a crow but not much else.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Arun walk and Heyshott work party

sunset November 20th
Last Sunday I attended a club dig, but didn't find much, a Georgian halfpenny, a 1917 penny, some buttons and a buckle. Plenty of hammered coins were found, but a few of us missed out. 
On Tuesday afternoon we went for a favourite walk along the River Arun at Warningcamp towards Arundel. 
misty view of Arundel Cathedral and Castle
Black-headed Gull

derelict building by the path
Om Wednesday morning I joined Neil and Mark at Heyshott Down for another work party with members of the Murray Downland Trust. More trees and scrub were removed and we now have a very impressive open area which should benefit the Duke of Burgundy butterfly in future years once the Primulas become established.
sunrise November 18
low-lying fog at 10am
Neil in his element
Mark is also a dab hand with a saw
the hillside is looking good
the work party prepares to leave
the cleared area is growing

hillside walk
Neil ascending the hill

Monday 21 November 2011

Butterfly Conservation AGM and Members Day

This year the Butterfly Conservation AGM and Members Day was held at Cheltenham Racecourse so we drove up on Friday afternoon and stayed at the local Travelodge (£20 booked well in advance). 
view over the racecourse
The event was very well organised by the Gloucestershire Branch and attended by 250 BC members from all over the U.K. The formal presentations by BC officers at the morning's AGM were professional and interesting and gave great confidence in the way BC is managed.

The afternoon presentations were varied:-

Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business at M&S, who are a BC partner, gave a impressive presentation on what Marks and Spencer are doing for sustainability. More power to them, they appear to be leading the way and we hope other major retailers will rise to the challenge.

The state of butterflies in the UK: the results of the BNM survey 2005-9 by  Jim Asher, Council member and Chair of Conservation Committee

Crystal the Small Miracle: Engaging children with butterflies by Sonia Copeland Bloom who writes children's books. (Orlando Bloom's mother - see Sue's blog for photo)

Studies of Fritillaries in Gloucestershire by Matthew Oates, Nature Advisor to National Trust. Matthew regularly broadcasts about butterfly matters on radio and TV:
Matthew Oates

Conserving butterflies and moths in the south-east woods by Dr Dan Hoare, BC Regional Officer, SE England:
Dan Hoare
Marsh Awards for Conservation Projects. The West Dean Estate, West Sussex, received one of the six awards.

Mike Dilger, BC Vice President and presenter on the One Show talked about his background studying moths in Ecuador and showed clips from his One Show programmes which featured Butterflies:

There were many stalls which featured everything to do with the butterfly world including books, plants, photos and apparatus of various kinds. I bought too many books!
Richard Lewington, butterfly illustrator extraordinaire
We also met up with Neil Hulme, retiring chair of BC Sussex. We enjoyed the day very much and look forward to next year's AGM on November 17, 2012, probably at Nottingham.

Friday 18 November 2011

Ducal work party

Rewell Wood ride

On Thursday Butterfly Conservation (Sussex) members Neil Hulme, Paul Day and myself joined members of the Murray Download Trust at Heyshott Escarpment. We continued with the creation of open corridors for the Duke of Burgundy to spread from its stronghold in the chalk pit area at the top of the down. A Trust member cut down the trees and we hauled them to the fire. It was steady but rewarding work as more slope was exposed for future colonisation by primulas, the Duke of Burgundy's food-plant. We came across some toads which were moved lower down the slope. 
Later I joined Neil at Rewell Wood for some more clearance work on one of the rides where the small Duke of Burgundy colony is found (photo above). We found some Primulas in flower which is good news for the transplant programme. 
We then finished a tiring but satisfying day with sightings of a couple of Short-eared Owls and a Marsh Harrier at the nearby nature reserve.

Heyshott Down clearance
Heyshott work party
tiny toad

Bracket fungus
Primula at Rewell Wood
Rook and Short-eared Owl