It was a Task Day and the friends working party were spending Sunday morning around the area of the commemorative Beech tree at the top end of the wood, as I found out when I phoned Henry, the group chairman. I explained to him that I had fully intended to join them but circumstances had conspired to thwart my plans.
After lunch Jan and I took our cameras and went up to the reserve.
The sun shone bright and felt very warm as we walked up the grassy path from the entrance in Firle Road.
The change in the past two weeks is very clear, the ground and trees have become verdant with increasing richness.
It wasn’t long before the butterflies started to appear. This year the Peacocks have come out in good numbers, over the walk of about two hours there were easily twenty or more.
On reaching the grassy area we previously cleared of bramble, the Ground Ivy was flowering well and on close inspection almost teeming with Honey bees as well as a good few Bumblebees.
A couple of Brimstone butterflies fluttered in and left, returning a few minutes later.
Moving on, we made our way along the slope on the west side of the hill pausing often to see a resting Peacock or listen to a birdsong.
On a clearing of grassy tussocks a Peacock butterfly briefly tussled with a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly. The only Small Tort we saw. They are still struggling to increase their numbers under the pressure of the parasitic fly called Sturmia bella.
Among the trees a pair of Speckled Wood butterflies danced together in the dappled light and then settled on the ground close to each other before fluttering off to repeat the dance elsewhere.
Some friends we met on the path told of a patch of Wood Anemone in flower in this area and we were glad to find it, having been unaware it was there. There is another patch of it further round the path through the trees just beyond the dewpond path.
Nearby I spotted the dance of a pair of Green-veined white butterflies. I homed in to where they had landed and found they were mating while perched on a blade of grass in the shady fringe of the wood.
A little further on we arrived at the site where Henry and the Sunday Task team had been at work and could see evidence of their labours.
A couple of weeks before the Adur Watch management team had been at this place carrying out some heavier clearance with chain saws to keep the previously cut Sycamore from regenerating.
Heading downhill we skirted past the Early Purple Orchid area to find a single stem of an emerging flower, there were many others with their purple speckled leaves only just coming into active growth.
A final interesting sighting of a Whitethroat song bird made the walk complete.