Saturday, 25 December 2010

Swan at Christmas

I've often seen this swan in the distance as I walk with Petra along Kings Barn Lane. Today we took a detour across the floodplain towards the river Adur and saw his home at close quarters. He scuds proudly along the drainage channel quite alone, lord of all he surveys.

Merry Christmas
Mr Swan!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Puffballs and snow

The recent snow has flattened all the grass and nettles along the footpath, revealing some big surprises. Two giant puffballs! They are mature and beginning to decompose so they are brown rather than the white they would have been a couple of months ago. I have been walking past them, hidden in the grass, for all that time.

The scale on my stick gives an idea of their size. The smaller is about 10cm across, the larger 25cm.

The view above of Truleigh Hill in the snow was taken from the spot where I found the puffballs.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Inquisitive sheep

It was a freezing cold day yesterday. The sheep seemed interested to see me, or is it Petra? They watch us all the way.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Wood-pile fungi

I have watched these fungi growing slowly for over a week now. They are on the pile of old logs lying by the wood walk. They are now about 2cm across.

Monday, 15 November 2010

More animal friends

A new group of cattle have been introduced to the field next to the open field.

One curious young bullock seemed determined to make friends - or at least to keep a close eye on Petra.

Perhaps we will see him regularly.

Winter arrives

After a very wet period a bright day encouraged us back into the fields. A lot has changed since our last walk around here.

On the wood walk luxuriant mosses are shining out on the old stumps.

And a curious gelatinous fungus has appeared on old logs in the woodpile.

Along Kings Barn Lane all the blackthorn bushes show a rich encrusting of lichen.

Some of the sloes are still hanging on the leafless bushes.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Lancing Ring again

A sunny beginning to November!

At Lancing Ring again  I found a wild privet bush well covered in berries (left), although most of the leaves had fallen.

In the open areas large stands of dogwood are growing, some still in flower(right).

Among the dogwood there were several pink clovers in flower and a large number of autumn hawkbit was in evidence.

But most surprising to me were the few flowers of scabious and several groups of wild basil.

However, on checking my wild flower book, I see that both are expected to flower into October.

So it can't be very unusual to see them on the first of November.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Fruits continued!

Yesterday's walk was fine between the showers.

The frost has taken the leaves off the hawthorn trees leaving the fruits even more conspicuous.

Berries are hanging heavily on the rowan trees too.

I was surprised to see a blackthorn bush still dripping with sloes. How had I missed this one? This year's sloe gin is already maturing in its jar, ready for bottling around Christmas.

All these berries were seen on the footpath to the open field. 

On a fallen log there was a small crop of fungi (unidentified) and a second set on the roadside verge of Kings Barn Lane, near the sewage works.

Monday, 25 October 2010

More fruits

The walk was a bit outside of my home patch today. We were on Lancing Ring.

I found an amazing vine of black bryony berries reaching high up into an elder tree.

The rose hips are looking beautiful too.
        (Black bryony is NOT an edible fruit!)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Autumn fruits

There are still enough blackberries to provide me with a refreshing bite during my walks. There was a huge crop this year, providing the filling for many crumbles and the base for a gallon of wine, now fermenting merrily at home.

I must take this opportunity to say "Thanks" to the friendly people at Foxhall Farm who have provided free cooking apples through the season to complement the foraged blackberries in our traditional blackberry and apple crumbles.

I don't think the box has ever been empty when I've passed the farm.

Another friend posing for his picture today was Mr Ramsbotham who lives in the field next to the footpath.

Ramsbotham seems to be very friendly and always walks across to say hello. He even greets Petra face to face through the fence.


Lots of hogweed grows along the footpath, between the nettle patches. A TV programme last week said that the seeds were a great spice for flavouring jelly. I crushed some in my fingers. They do have a very attractive scent. I may try this some time.
                 Hogweed                                                                                The seeds

CAUTION: There are some very dangerous poisonous plants which look similar to this. See this one.

Monday, 18 October 2010


Two colour varieties of comfrey appear in the lanes around Steyning. These are rather late examples this year.

The white variety seems more common than the purple variety around Steyning.

Poultices of the leaves are supposed to promote healing of cuts and even broken bones.

These pictures were taken in Kings Barns Lane near Foxhall Farm.

I could not resist taking a picture of the very late flowering bramble nearby.


Hedge woundwort
These plants have leaves which closely resemble those of stinging nettles.

Until they flower they are almost undetectable.

A clever ruse to keep the herbivores off.

Both of these pictures are of plants embedded in a large patch of stingers!

The photos were taken on the footpath between the bypass and the open field.

White dead-nettle

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Insects about!

The ivy is in flower and its heady scent is attracting numbers of bees and a Red Admiral - which would not stay still long enough for a picture!

There are still buttercups to be seen. These were accompanied by a 7-spot ladybird looking for a winter home.

These three were all taken on the footpaths between the bypass and the open field.

                   Yarrow                                                                              Common Mallow

                                                          Which one is in danger?

I was looking for a dandelion today to compare with the ox-tongue and hawkbit in the last post. In an hour's walk I only found three - and one of them was on my front lawn when I got home! This one was on the edge of a footpath.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Autumn sun

Near the start of my walk, an apple tree, heavy with fruit this year, provides me with a refreshing chew.

Two similar plants caught my eye today. Both dandelion like but very different. The first is tall and branched and has colonised the footpath  areas quite profusely. The second is low growing and occurs amid the grass in the open field.

My best guesses at identification are

Bristly Ox-tongue                                       and                                          Autumn Hawkbit    

(But I'm open to suggestions via the comment form.)

Where do I Walk?

Mainly in a fairly compact area on the north-east side of Steyning in West Sussex, UK.

For a map of this area see My Home Patch