Category Archives: Nature Notes

Broomrape – the fascinating parasite

These lovely photos were taken by Adrienne on MacIntyres Field . They show Common Broomrape (Orobanche minor) Its a parasitic plant which means it takes it nutrients from another host by means of a fungal appendage. Broomrape host  plant are members of the pea family.

Further information about this plant species




Spring is in the air

Sweet Violets

Sweet Violets

Adrienne spotted these as she took advantage of a respite from the rain.

Butterfly bonanza

Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Comma seen in today’s warm sunshine on the hillside. There seemed to be a Peacock around every corner and Comma’s were almost as frequent. The two Small Tortoishell’s I saw were in among the nettle beds near the cemetary.

In addition I rather liked these white form of sweet violets

The Blackthorn flower is only just beginning to open

Winter maintenance

The working year begins in earnest on the reserve, as seen from the picture some Sycamore wood is thinned to give our new Beech trees more light to thrive

Making room for new growth

The Long(er) Walk Home

Please find attached a small article I’ve written following my walk home this morning from the task day, I decided to take a longer route home of about 2.5 miles as opposed to the half mile if I’d gone straight home and thought I’d write a short article on the walk back after reading your appeal for content for the website..

All the best


Sussex Woodsman

The Long(er) Walk Home

There I am with the volunteers from the FOLR clearing the Dogwood, Elder & vicious Bramble from some of the paths by the cemetery at Lancing Ring, but where am I, well I’m the one in the bushes with my saw clearing the larger pieces of timber to open the path right out, behind me I can hear a hedge cutter doing it’s all important and never ending work, clearing the smaller pieces of undergrowth, alongside us, more volunteers are clearing away the  cuttings and disposing of the mess we have made, the paths now look many times better than they did ninety minutes ago.

All the time we are working, we are being watched and kept in check, not by the human eye, but the beady eye of an ever inquisitive Magpie, looking, watching, to see if an opportunity arises that it can take advantage of, Mr Magpie is not alone though, through the undergrowth I can hear  a  Robin and surely if I look carefully I will see him, but it’s not to be.

Chairman Henry declares the work done and thanks everybody for turning up and helping, the old adage really is true “many hands make light work”, it’s at this point that the main group and I part ways for the day with a cheery wave,  I decide that rather than walk the half mile back to home, I’ll take the scenic route home instead, after all, the sun is shining and it’s a glorious day, more Spring like than Autumnal.

Heading down towards the playground, I turn right instead of left and soon find myself on top of the South Downs, looking south the English Channel is just visible through a light haze of mist, almost like a shimmering blue/grey veil that has been thrown across the coast line and a stunning sight in it’s own right, as I walk along the path at the bottom of Steepdown hill, I’m met with a crescendo of birdsong, as the Skylarks rise from the winter barley and  scatter in front of me, singing for all their might, alerting their neighbours to my unwanted presence.

In the bushes to my left a rustle and slight movement as a female Blackbird betrays her position with her characteristic deep “tut tut tut” sound and below, in amongst the bramble & briar further movement as a Rabbit runs for cover, in front of me two Red Admiral butterflies flitter and flutter around, looking around me at the ground cover, I can see amongst other things Mallows, Bristly Oxtongue, Burdock, Speedwells, Cornflowers & Mulleins  growing and the Poppies in the field reminding me of the sacrifices made by generations of families from this very area, then out of the corner of my eye, on the skyline a dark shape, at first I think im seeing things, then no, it is, a Roe Deer, I cant think who is more surprised, it or me?, we look at each other for a few fleeting seconds before it disappears over the hill top and is gone.

Heading down the hill now towards Dankton lane, the woods on the Mountain to the west are resplendent  in  their Autumn  colours,  a  mix  of  Golds,  Reds  &  Browns,  as  I  head  down,  im accompanied by the Jackdaws & Rooks “cawing” in defiance of me being on “their” hillside, to my right I see Cissbury Ring emerging from the mist  & fog, only adding to the mysticism of it’s presence in the landscape.

Cissbury through the mist

I’m now accompanied by Stone Chats and Great Tits, the path acting almost as if it’s   a barrier between the two species, the Stone Chats to my right on the fence line and the Great Tits flitting around in the Spindle, Dogwood  and Blackthorn hedge to my left, never appearing to enter the opposing territory.

As I walk ever closer to home, Im met by the warm sunshine on my face as I turn the corner and head south, there are Sloes on the trees, the remnants of the Damsons cling precariously to their stalks,  ready to fall in the slightest of breezes and to my amazement, ripe blackberries still on the bush, my fascination with the flora is broken with a sudden screech from directly overhead, as I look up, I’m rewarded with the magnificent sight of a lone Buzzard trying to catch a thermal off of the fields.

Approaching home now and the hedgerows are alive with Chaffinch‘s, Great Tits and my friend the Robin, out in the turnip field a couple of male Pheasants are running rings around each other, while the female looks on with ‘a familiar’ disdain at their antics, they soon melt into the landscape and are gone from view, but their calls reverberate down the field towards me, betraying the fact that they are still there and im now more or less home.

All of this, because I went to a Task Day at Lancing Ring with the FOLR.

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The Longer Walk Home

Task Force activated on Pond tidy up

Members of the Friends of Lancing Ring got to work around the Dew pond today, clearing litter, trimming Bramble and invading Hawthorn  and Ash tree seedlings which are beginning to colonise  the banks of the pond.
Several sticks of various sizes have found their way into the mud, some pieces were removed but as rotten wood can be beneficial to burrowing aquatic animals, a few bits were left.

DewpondThe weeks of drought have all but evaporated the water in the pond but mercifully the recent days rainfall has replenished it a little.

One of our volunteers was Mark Emery who runs a bushcraft and countryside skills service providing information and guidance to individuals, small groups and businesses. He can be contacted via this link or from the side links panel

A quick survey

After the pond tidy group had departed I wandered a through the lower meadow for a few minutes.

The Meadow

section of South Meadow

 The sky was clouded and only a briefly a few rays of sun broke through. Neither was is it very warm with a cool wind sweeping across the meadow.

Unsurprisingly then very few butterflies were active. I managed to spot half a dozen Meadow Brown, even smaller numbers of Small Skippers and a single  Marbled White.

In the grasses and herbaceous plants  there seemed to be frequent occurrences of the larval stage of the day-flying Burnet Moth.

Burnet Moth Larvae
As I left the reserve via the car park and down the hill of the Mill Road  I noted that Pyramidal orchids are colonising the verge there.

pyramidal orchid on the road verge

Spring AGM and Coffee Morning


Our AGM is on Sat 2nd April at the Holy Family Catholic Church
Hall, North Road, Lancing. There will be refreshments, books, plants,
jigsaws, bric-a-brac stalls and a raffle, between 10am and 11.30 with a
short AGM at 11.30.

Sweet Violets

Violets are flowering en mass on the reserve.

The volunteers spent Sunday morning working to clear pathways and improve views.
Whilst they worked I took a few photos including this bunch of Violets.
Other wildlife seen included a Brimstone butterfly, Buff -tailed Bumblebee, a Bee-fly (Bombylius major).


First Pond image of the year


February 2011

The pond is full and looking good. This image taken on a rare sunny day.
On Sunday 20th a small party of Friends volunteers spent a couple of hours clearing edges of paths near  the cemetery section. I joined them for a while and helped by clearing the new bramble growth from the clearing where i noted the Dotted Bee Fly last year

Lancing Ring Nature

2 September 2010

A rather uneventful trek to Lancing Ring found the expected butterflies: Large Whites, Small Whites, Common Blues, Holly Blues, Speckled Woods, Meadow Browns, Small Heath (2), but not much else apart from hoverflies including the large and impressive Volucella zonaria and frequent smaller hoverflies in wood on the eastern border of McIntyre’s Field. This smaller hoverfly was distinguished by its crimson head and distinctive epistrophic behaviour. I have identified it as Syrphus. There was a small amount of water in the dewpond after the recent rain.

via Lancing Ring Nature.

-Andy Horton