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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Nature walks in Sussex throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 30th May 2009
Lewes - Southease - Firle Beacon - Bostal Hill - Alciston - Ripe - Glyndebourne - Lewes
23 miles

Even though I was breaking in yet another pair of new boots (the last pair broke after only 3 months), it seemed an ideal time to do a long, hard, strenuous walk that would cover a variety of habitats and take in some of our favourite Sussex haunts. Well, yes it was, but we hadn't counted on the heat. What a scorcher, there wasn't a cloud in sight all day and we dived eagerly into the shade whenever possible. What were in sight though were  thousands of Painted Lady butterflies. Whichever direction we looked in we could see them, all the day long. The mass migration from Morocco, the largest in living memory, has amazed most of Europe, has totally overrun England and has now reached Northern Scotland.
Anyway, we got down to Rodmell, a place where you always seem to see something good, and were walking along the raised bank of the river, when a Stoat sprang out of the grass just ahead of us. It bounded down the bank, its black-tipped tail flicking in and out of sight in the tall grass, came into full view as it crossed a small pathway and then stopped as it reached the cover of a reedbed. Before it disappeared for good it turned round, sat up on its hind legs (showing us its pale belly) and stared at us for several seconds with great interest. Eventually, it decided that as a prey species we were probably a bit too large to tackle, so off it scampered, no doubt to cause merry mayhem amongst the reeds.
As if all that wasn't enough we had a juvenile Hobby fly about us on Lewes Brooks; we watched a Goldcrest and a pair of Spotted Flycatchers collecting nesting material in Ripe churchyard; we were entertained by the duet of sheep and Marsh Frogs and also by the rather more musical outpourings of a Nightingale. In the last section of the walk as we climbed up to Cliffe Hill, we heard Cuckoo, Yellowhammer and Tawny Owl and the day ended with a blood-red sun setting in a still cloudless sky.
Forty species of bird today, with the air almost chock-full of feathers at all times - what a pity then that Gill had forgotten to pack her binoculars!


Southease church is currently getting new wooden tiles on its steeple.
The woodpeckers seem to love them!

Early Purple orchid

Mount Caburn from up near Firle Beacon

Alciston Church

Broad-bodied Chaser

Clouded yellow Butterfly

Gill contemplates some Common Spotted Orchids

Some desperately needed shade found just below Bostal Hill.

The remains of Laughton Place, most of its surrounding moat is still intact.

The stream that feeds the moat.

Ripe church

A blood-red sunset as we approach Glyndebourne