Wednesday, 19 September 2012


We have moved away from Steyning so we will no longer be regulars on our old walks. Petra would like to say a fond farewell to all her friends - especially Skip, Rumble, Skye, Lily and Wilma. Doug says bye to all the owners and to the "happy wanderer". Keep a look-out for us though. We intend to visit our old haunts sometimes.

This blog stops here but we will continue to record our walks at

Petra sends her regards from her new home.

Monday, 23 July 2012

New demoiselles

At the footbridge I have been used to seeing the beautiful demoiselles quite regularly. But this week I have noticed that they have been joined by a group of banded demoiselles.

The photo quality isn't great but at least I have recorded that they are there!

The male (above) is a much brighter blue than the beautiful demoiselles. And the female is quite striking when in flight - a bright yellowish green.

I saw several males but just one female (left).

Sunday, 8 July 2012


There was very little wind on Thursday and the butterflies were flying easily around the open field. There were many marbled whites. The females were resting on grass stems and approaching males were usually getting the wing-fluttering refusal signal.

The picture right shows the pretty "stained glass" look of the underside of a marbled white.

Among the grasses were a large number of small skippers too.
(Shown left)

The greater part of the field was alive with meadow browns, dancing around each other in flight, sometimes in groups of four or five. (Female shown left, male on right)
Over the footbridge by the stream were red admirals, each patrolling its own territory. They frequently return to the same resting place making it easier for me to prepare for a picture.(left)

Catching some sun  amongst the brambles in this area were a few large skippers too.

Friday, 6 July 2012

A beautiful girl

Thursday's walk provided good views of many interesting insects. This female beautiiful demoiselle posed nicely for a picture near the stream. The males were flying strongly and interacting with the butterflies. (More of the butterflies to follow.)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A hive of industry

The wild bees nest that I found last year has survived the winter and is clearly well into production on this year's combs.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

White and red

The flowers of a Swedish whitebeam tree are out in St Cuthman's Field. Red berries should set after the flowers have faded. The berries need to "blet" before they become edible. (That's halfway to rotten) I tried some last year when they were at that stage on the tree. They made a palatable titbit but not one that I would walk far for!

These are flowers of red valerian, growing from the bank in Jarvis Lane. They are related to, but not the same as, the plant valerian which is used as a help to sleeping at night.

Red valerian is a foodplant for the angle shades moth which I see around here occasionally. It is classed as an introduced species in Britain though it is fairly common in the wild now.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Spider and the fly

 A crab spider sits waiting on a leaf.....

...unaware that his aphid prey is sitting three leaves higher up the stem!

The spider is a Green Crab Spider (Diaea dorsata)
I like its eight eyes! It looks like a cartoon character.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The flags are out!

But not for the Jubilee! These flags are out every year.

Yellow irises grow on the edge of the little River Brad that flows through St Cuthman's Field.

They make a pretty sight shining out amongst the sedges and tall grasses on the edge of the parkland.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Flowers in the trees

Ten days ago these flowers were all showing well in the wood walk.

This is known as bird cherry. It flowered later than the common wild cherry. The  much smaller flowers sit mainly in upright spikes although some do hang over the branches.

After the flowers the small black berry like fruits develop on the spikes.

I tasted them last year. They were intensely bitter. The name probably is a sign that the fruit is only fit for birds to eat!

These are crab apple blossoms.

Again the fruit is sour and not good to eat, though in this case they are often used in jams and jellies.

I don't suppose the name indicates what creature should be eating them this time!

Last are these flowers of the wayfaring tree.

They give rise to a pretty set of berries which I pictured last autumn.

But again they are food for birds, not us!

Friday, 27 April 2012


The firebug  ( Pyrrhocoris apterus ) is very rare in Britain. Only a few colonies are known.

I was alerted to the existence of a colony at Sompting by Graeme Lyons' blog "The Lyons Den" so I took a walk over there today. And there they were!

Not many people in England are familiar with the firebug and I think that they should be described as the "African mask bug". I'm sure you can see why.

I forgot ..... photograph these last year. Although there are plenty of them on my routes. Forget me nots!

I thought they were always blue, with tinges of pink as they age, but I have found some white ones mixed in with the blue.

This flower is said to be a favourite nectar source for holly blue butterflies and I found one confirming this today!

Sunday, 15 April 2012


The English bluebells that I was looking for. These are on the verge of Kings Barn Lane near Foxhall Farm. It's easy to see the difference from the hybrids I took pictures of last week. The curving stems with bells hanging below them are distinctive. The bells are slimmer and bluer too than the Spanish varieties. Altogether a much prettier flower. 

Another pretty flower near the bluebells at the moment is the greater stitchwort. At first sight they seem to have ten petals but there are really only five deeply divided. As a herb it has been traditionally used to cure pains and "stitches".

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Spring in the lanes

The spring flowers are all coming along in the lanes. Today's pictures are all taken in Jarvis Lane and Kings Barn Lane.

 These are known as lady's smock. Another name for them is the cuckoo flower because they appear at the same time as the first cuckoos are heard. I haven't heard one yet though!

I have always found it in damp ditches at this time of year but this clump is growing on a fairly dry verge next to a wall on Kings Barn Lane.

It is a member of the cabbage family. The leaves are edible and said to make a good substitute for watercress.

 Few flowered garlic originates from the Caucasus and has naturalised in Britain after escaping from gardens.

It propagates via the bulbils which grow amongst the flowers at the top of the stem. They show up well in the picture right.

The flowers are papery and short lasting.

These are growing along the side of Jarvis Lane.

Another garden escapee is the three cornered leek or wild onion. This one came from the Mediterranean region. The bulbs, stems, leaves and flowers are all edible and give a mild garlick flavour. I actually use these as they grow as volunteers in my garden. The flowers make a pretty garnish.

They also grow around gardens and driveways in Jarvis Lane.

The bluebells have appeared in Kings Barn Lane. Unfortunately these seem to be the Spanish hybrid variety that are rather taking over from our more delicate English type. I will keep looking to see if I can find some of the old natives.

On a different theme, these are the rather insignificant flowers of a tree growing near the bridge on Kings Barn Lane. I don't know what type of tree it is yet! I will have to revisit this when the leaves come out and make an identification.    (Addition later - It's an ash tree! )

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A pheasant day.

I suppose I can count this as part of my dog walk. I have to walk through my front garden to start the walk after all.

This pheasant has decided to stay in my garden for a few days. He is hiding in the bushes and coming out to feed on the seed that drops below the bird-feeders.

It's a bit surprising when he starts calling during the night though.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Birds and Maudlin Lane

Keeping up with the easy ones! A young herring gull and a wood pigeon gave me a bit of practice on this walk.

I noticed a spring snowflake standing brightly in Maudlin Lane with a small patch of lungwort just nearby. (Shown right)

The white (with a touch of purple) violets shown below were forming quite a large patch on the grass verge at the end of Goring Road.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Marching on!

The year is marching on. It feels like summer on the walks this week but the pictures still look like winter. This is part of the area we walk around between Foxhall Farm and the Adur.

The wild plums are out in flower. They come before the wild cherries.  I didn't know this last year. But I collected plums and cherries from these trees in July so now I know which they are even before the leaves open.

The primroses are another sign that spring is well under way.

I decided that this year I should try to capture some bird pictures - so here is the first. Lets start with the common ones! A sparrow. It's not a brilliant picture but it's a start.

Friday, 2 March 2012

It's spring again!

The first picture of the year was taken on leap year day - February 29th. It was a lovely day, definitely feeling of spring so Petra and I had a longer walk than usual.

Some pretty groups of snowdrops were in flower in a wooded area on the path of the old railway line.

I didn't see any wild snowdrops last year. I saw a spring snowflake at the end of March. Comparing the two, the differences are very clear to me now.

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