Now that everything has come to life, the landscape around us is buzzing. Driving over the forest the other day I stopped at Four Counties car park and had a short walk and enjoyed the amazing view across to the North and South Downs. The light was gorgeous so I was fairly pleased with the picture looking north-west:
Stepping through all the heather and grass I noticed loads of insects, many of which were small flies and moths. I've not paid much attention to moths before; the very small ones were too hard to photograph, but this one was obligingly inert.
Then, walking over the golf course towards the Hatch last weekend we found many more, including this Brown Silver-line. The web sites of the Sussex Branch
of Butterfly Conservation
and the Sussex Moth Group, as well as that of Paul Lister (Sussex Wildlifer
) proved very useful in helping me identify these two (admittedly common) moths.
We spent ages at one of the ponds, which was absolutely teeming with life, and replete with a girdle of yellow irises:
and had these rather charming common water crowfoots emerging out of the brown:
Not surprisingly, the air was full of flying things, especially damselflies and dragonflies, the biggest being this male broad-bodied chaser. Sorry it's not in focus, but it barely kept still.
The damselflies were a bit more sedate and both this female large red, and the azure damselfly stayed motionless for ages, giving me plenty of time to work out how the macro worked on my camera.
Again, I needed a bit of time to figure out what these were since I've not looked at these insects before. They're all fairly common, as the book The Dragonflies of Sussex
makes clear (ISBN 0-9525549-1-7 Essedon Press). Even so, I should submit a record to the Sussex branch of the British Dragonfly Society, especially since they make it so easy
The reading after my walk made me realise that there are several organisations locally to which one can contribute your time if you're interested in the environment under our feet. The Sussex Biodiversity Partnership
(SBP) produce a list of opportunities for volunteering
as well as their interesting newsletters. For example, the spring newsletter describes the Parish Hedgerow Survey
, full details of which are at the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre
including information on submitting reports. The latest SBP Newsletter
introduces the project to map traditional orchards, which is a project lead by the People's Trust for Endangered Species
. Both of these projects look like things that we could get involved with here; if anyone fancies a walk and some light plant identification, let me know.
So, I'm contiuing to enjoy my small-scale exploration of our local biodiversity. It's making me want to read more about efforts that are underway to enhance it, for example in the context of the South East Biodiversity Strategy
, which provides useful information for those bodies that impact on our environment. The Association of Local Government Ecologists
have some interesting-looking material to plough through too, and there are also other organisations such as flora locale
which work to enhance the biodiversity of country and town.
Lots of things to think about and do, but at least many of these could get me out and away from my computer, which would be a very good thing indeed.