Monday, 30 April 2018

Eridge Rocks

Eridge Rocks,  26 April 2018
Eridge Rocks,  26 April 2018
This part of the High Weald has quite a few sandstone cliffs and outcrops, something we did not have in the Hayes area where I used to live.  That area was mostly on chalk or gravel.  Eridge Rocks consists of about 600 metres of what you see here, a small but impressive cliff.  You can walk out along the bottom, where these photos were taken from, and back along the top. 

Eridge Rocks,  26 April 2018
Eridge Rocks,  26 April 2018
Today, the Sussex Wildlife Trust led a walk along the rocks and through the woodland they sit in.  It's a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest for the mosses, liverworts, ferns and lichens that grow on the rocks.  Climbers come here too, and you can see their chalk on some of the drier rocks.

I expect it counts as a cheat if you go up that dead tree.

Eridge Rocks,  showing the erosion patterns.  26 April 2018
Eridge Rocks,  showing the erosion patterns.  26 April 2018
Erosion has produced cracks in two directions, and a lot of unusual honeycomb patterns on the surface. 

The Victorians loved this place and apparently were known to have dined out here in luxury at least once.  The people who care for the rocks have had to remove a lot of Rhododendron (the Victorians loved Rhododendrons) and now they try to keep the damper rock faces in dappled shade.  This lets the mosses, etc get some light without being shaded out or burnt dry. 

The surrounding woods are full of bluebells.

Woods by Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Woods by Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Not quite fully out yet, but nearly.  I saw a number of other ancient woodland indicator plants too, such as Redcurrant and

Yellow Pimpernel, Lysimachia nemorum.  Woods near  Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Yellow Pimpernel, Lysimachia nemorum.  Woods near  Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Yellow Pimpernel, which likes to grow beside paths.

We saw quite a few beeflies, some hoverflies, bumble bees and a couple of butterflies. 

Beefly, Bombylius major.  Woods near  Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Beefly, Bombylius major.  Woods near  Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Interesting woods - I'll be back.

Woods by Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Woods by Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Another Thorn!

Purple Thorn, Selenia tetralunaria.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
Purple Thorn, Selenia tetralunaria.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
Thorns are my choice for the UK's most dramatically beautiful moths.  This one was in my light trap, but flew out and landed on my fence while I was looking in.

I have had a few colourful species recently - about time, after such a slow start to the year.  Here's a Pine Beauty:

Pine Beauty, Panolis flammea.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
Pine Beauty, Panolis flammea.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
It's the first time I have seen one.  But I knew it as soon as I saw it.  It's unmistakeable.


Herald, Scoliopteryx libatrix.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
Herald, Scoliopteryx libatrix.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
This Herals is an old favourite.  It's one of those moths that hibernates in garages and outbuildings.  There were two in my trap this time.

Finally ...

Early Thorn, Selenia dentaria.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
Early Thorn, Selenia dentaria.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
An Early Thorn, more brightly coloured than the one I showed in March.  I'll stop repeating Thorns now.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Walshes Park


Alder Brook, Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Alder Brook, Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Walshes Park in Crowborough is almost a secret.  A huge, empty secret.  It's a new park, and it's not mentioned in the town guide booklet, and although it's easy to find a map on line you can spend some time looking for any information about how to get in.

I found a passing mention of a small car park eventually.  This car park is very small, with room for 3 or perhaps 4 cars.  Walshes Park itself is large and open, a shallow dome on a south-facing clay slope, crossed by a footpath and a few mature hedge lines.  Paths have been laid out around it, and some of those have been gravelled.  A stream, the Alder Brook, runs along one edge.

There are plans to open up the river bank and increase access.  That seems to be why some mature alders have been felled, though no thought seems to have been given to preserving the local ecology.  Once I knew what to look for it was easy to find some information ... Trees Felled at Alderbrook. The photo above shows where those alders used to grow.

Alder Brook, Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Alder Brook, Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Here's another look at the brook.

Anyway .. I went for a look round.  The weather was wet, lots of rain recently.  It was raining when I took these photos.

Gravelled path in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Gravelled path in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Some of the gravel paths are going to need regular maintenance.  The general feeling is of open ground, but when it's dryer I will have a look at some of the wooded land around the edges.  

Meanwhile .. at the moment it is really wet ...

A rushy slope in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
A rushy slope in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Rushes don't grow in such profusion if the ground is not always moist.

Quite a bit of preparation has been done.

A laid hedge in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
A laid hedge in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
I saw more than one carefully laid hedge - this is where thorn bushes have all had had a cut made in their trunks and been bent over, and the stems and branches woven into a lattice of uprights.  It grows into a thick impenetrable hedgerow.   It's not clear to me what this is intended to achieve in this park, unless some grazing is planned for the future.  It takes some time and expertise to make these hedges well.

I'll be back to see how this changes with the seasons.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Sevenoaks Moths for March

Oak Beauty, Biston strataria.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
Oak Beauty, Biston strataria.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
Once a month (usually) I go to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve to unpack a moth trap that has been set out behind the visitor centre the evening before.  (These traps are harmless and the moths and any other visitors are all released.)

Here are some from the March catch that are all different from those I have had so far in Crowborough.  First, an Oak Beauty, one of the prettier early moths.

Early Thorn, Selenia dentaria.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
An Early Thorn.  Thorns are my favourite moths for looks.  This species sits with its wings clasped above its body, like a butterfly.

Yellow Horned, Achlya flavicornis.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
Yellow Horned, Achlya flavicornis.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
These are Yellow Horned.  They look only faintly yellow to the naked eye, and not really very horned, but enough of both for a good name to be found.  The one on the left is only showing its underwings because it has been disturbed.

Twin-spotted Quaker, Anorthoa munda.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
Twin-spotted Quaker, Anorthoa munda.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
A Twin-spotted Quaker.  This moth is common in areas of deciduous woodland.

Brindled Beauty, Lycia hirtaria.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
Brindled Beauty, Lycia hirtaria.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
A Brindled Beauty, showing off its antennae like huge eyebrows.

We also had this visitor in the trap:

A ground beetle, Carabus nemoralis.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
A ground beetle, Carabus nemoralis.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 24 March 2018.
A large ground beetle, Carabus nemoralis.  This is a carnivore, and although moths are not its normal diet (it likes slugs and worms) it will happily eat them if they come down to ground level.  I am pleased to say that I did not find any half-eaten specimens or discarded wings.  In my Hayes trap I often found left-over wings in the summer.  That was down to the local ants, which came in through cracks in my trap.  Lots of small creatures can be as dangerous as one large one.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

moths moths moths

Small Brindled Beauty, Apocheima hispidaria.  In my light trap in Crowborough 4 March 2018.
Small Brindled Beauty, Apocheima hispidaria.  In my light trap in Crowborough on 4 March 2018.
The moths are back!  Here are a few that have turned up in my garden light trap in Crowborough.  Some of these are moths I haven't seen before - they may well be common around here, but I haven't trapped in Crowborough at this time of year before.

This first one is a Small Brindled Beauty, one of those which are new to me.  Here's another new one:

Grey Shoulder-knot, Lithophane ornitopus.  In my light trap in Crowborough on 11 March 2018.
Grey Shoulder-knot, Lithophane ornitopus.  In my light trap in Crowborough on 11 March 2018.
A Grey Shoulder-knot.  Moths with stripes on their shoulders like this one were called shoulder-knots.  There are three others in this country, though one of them has only been seen once.

Hebrew Character, Orthosia gothica.  In my light trap in Crowborough on 11 March 2018.
Hebrew Character, Orthosia gothica.  In my light trap in Crowborough on 11 March 2018.
Unlike this Hebrew Character, which is extremely common.  It gets its common name from the resemblance of its marking to the Hebrew letter Nun.

Here's another common one:

Common Quaker, Orthosia cerasi.  In my light trap in Crowborough on 11 March 2018.
Common Quaker, Orthosia cerasi.  In my light trap in Crowborough on 11 March 2018.
A Common Quaker.  This shows in its simplest form the typical wing markings of the family Noctuidae, usually called the oval and the kidney-mark, though I often see the kidney-mark referred to as the reniform stigma, which means exactly the same but in language which says "I am an expert, so you have to believe what I say."

The Hebrew Character above has exactly the same markings, but they are disguised by the rest of its wing pattern.  You can also see them on the Grey Shoulder-knot, but again they are mixed in with the rest of the pattern.

Small Quaker, Orthosia cruda.  In my light trap in Crowborough on 11 March 2018.
Small Quaker, Orthosia cruda.  In my light trap in Crowborough on 11 March 2018.
On this Small Quaker, you can see the kidney-mark clearly, but the oval is almost completely invisible.

These last three moths are not only in the same family, Noctuidae, but belong to the same genus, Orthosia.


Thursday, 1 March 2018

Wide Angle Moorland

Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest.  22 February 2018
Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest.  22 February 2018
I walked around part of the Old Lodge nature reserve with an extra wide angle lens on my camera.  It's just a cheap add-on, and not very sharp, but it gives quite atmospheric results. 

This is a ridge and ditch which runs down the hill.  It looks like an old border marker.

Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest.  22 February 2018
Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest.  22 February 2018
Near the entrance, some trees were being trimmed back.

Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest.  22 February 2018
Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest.  22 February 2018
You can find some flowers on Gorse nearly all year, though they are not abundant all the time.  It puts on the best show early in the year.   Back in Hayes I used to see early bumble bees taking advantage of this.  It's too early yet for those, though.

Dwarf gorse is quite common on the Ashdown.  It is at its most showy later in the year.

Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest.  22 February 2018
Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest.  22 February 2018
There are some ponds and marshy areas near the path that circles the reserve.  There are dragonflies in season ...

Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest.  22 February 2018
Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest.  22 February 2018
This last shot was taken with an ordinary 24mm wide angle lens.  It's much sharper, and the resulting pictures are easier to crop.  I like the circular pics for an occasional change of mood, but it's not an everyday lens.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Some Ashdown Fungi

Marden's Hill from Church Hill car park, Ashdown Forest, 24 October 2017.
Marden's Hill from Church Hill car park, Ashdown Forest, 24 October 2017.
The Ashdown is a mixture of woods and moorland.  This spot has a good mixture of trees, and not far away is the stream I showed in my last post.  Now that the fungus season is well under way, I have walked around several areas with them in mind.

I haven't found any woods as stuffed with fungi as some of the best spots I now in Kent, but I did find some very interesting types.  You have to keep a sharp eye out to spot them in the leaf litter.

Hydnum repandum, Wood Hedgehog.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017.
Hydnum repandum, Wood Hedgehog.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017.
The creamy blobs in the foreground are Wood Hedgehog, a fungus that has no gills or pores, but teeth.  Fungi that look like mushrooms or grow as brackets usually have pores or gills, so it's interesting to find the scarcer toothed kinds.

Hydnum repandum, Wood Hedgehog.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017.
Hydnum repandum, Wood Hedgehog.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017.
It doesn't look anything like a hedgehog unless you pick it and turn it upside down.  This fungus is very tasty when cooked, and it's easy to identify, but don't pick any fungi to eat unless you are with an expert. As with all wild picked fungi, this one needs to be quite young and fresh.

On the same day I saw this, I also came across two other less common toothed species.

Hydnellum spongiosipes, Velvet Tooth.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017
Hydnellum spongiosipes, Velvet Tooth.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017
Here's one, called Velvet Tooth.  It is close to the ground and more compact in habit than the Wood Hedgehog.  You have to lift a piece to see the teeth.

Hydnellum spongiosipes, Velvet Tooth.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017
Hydnellum spongiosipes, Velvet Tooth.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017
This was growing on a bank beside the path, underneath some holly, together with another darker species.

Toothed fungi.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017
Toothed fungi.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017
Here you can see one Velvet Tooth at the top right, and many of the better concealed species scattered around.  These might be Hydnellum concrescens, or possibly a Sarcodon species.  I was shown Velvet Tooth and a Sarcodon with yet another toothed species very recently at Hosey Common, near Westerham, and the fungus expert who was with us told us how unusual they were, so I was excited to see a very similar display here.

Sarcodon or Hydnellum species.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017
Sarcodon or Hydnellum species.  Ashdown Forest, 15 October 2017
Here's a side view of the one I am vague about, showing the teeth.  The two-tiered appearance is also unusual for a mushroom fungus.  Some were like this, some had the usual one tier, some seemed fused together.

Here's the other species from Hosey Common.

Phellodon tomentosus, Woolly Tooth.  Hosey Common,  8 October 2017
Phellodon tomentosus, Woolly Tooth.  Hosey Common,  8 October 2017
This has a similar habit to my uncertain species from the Ashdown, but I know they are not the same because this one has a distinct curry smell, and the Ashdown specimen does not.