Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My 2014 in Uckfield nature photos

It's the last day of the year. The morning was frosty and bright and I scurried out just long enough to set up the butterfly box that a neighbour had given us for Christmas. Back in the warm my eyes drift over the reviews of 2014 and I find myself thinking about the pleasure our local wildlife has given me.

This year, thanks to getting involved with surveys such as the great garden bioblitz and the Uckfield Neighbourhood Plan I have learnt a great deal about the wildlife in our garden and town.


In the early part of the year, the foul weather kept most of the wildlife away - we just had the occasional fox paddling through.

Fox photographed on 29 January.
At the end of the month, I took part in the annual Big Garden Birdwatch, otherwise known as birds disappear from our garden day.


In the garden, the frogs spawned in the first week of February. Further afield, it's roll our sleeves up time as the Lime Aid group trimmed the suckers that would otherwise weaken the trees in Lime Tree Avenue.

Before and after of one of 'my' trees.


The sun came out properly and butterflies flitted between the early flowers.

The peacock chose the most bedraggled daffodil in the garden


Two fallow bucks started to visit the garden at night.

Two fallow bucks photographed 18 April.

Nature was certainly in a rush. This year, the bluebells were amazingly early being in full flower by the end of April.

Bluebells in Views (Williams) Wood


I couldn't resist this lovely traditional phone box surrounded by wild flowers.
Phone box near station pub.
 If there's one thing more special than wild orchids, it's finding them on the estate where I live.
Wild orchids on a housing estate.


I took part in the Bioblitz, noting all the wild plants and creatures that I could find in our garden. This was something of a breakthrough for me because I started to try and identify the insects and other small creatures in the garden rather than sticking to flowers and larger animals.

Taking part in the Bioblitz.
The two fallow deer that have been visiting Manor Park gardens turned up and posed nicely for the count.
Two male fallow deer.
The badger, who has been a total diva this year, turned up too late to take part.
Badger, in our Manor Park garden.


I rescued George from a path near out house and put him near some birch leaves.

An alder moth caterpillar.

After years of seeing perfect semicircles cut into leaves in our garden, Ryan Clarke kindly identified the bee responsible. This deserves a toast - so, bottoms up!

Leaf-cutter bee on teasel.


Along with thousands of people across the country, I took part in the Big Butterfly Count.

A delicately marked small blue was one of 10 species in our garden.
One garden visitor that I became aware of was the common carder bee - for all the world like a tiny, fast-moving teddy bear.
A common carder bee on verbena.

 It was so wet that one morning I found a newt on Uckfield High Street.
Smooth newt.


I carefully cleared cultivated garden plants that had invaded my wild patch and planted some 'weeds' - because that's how I roll.

Newly planted ladies bedstraw.

Naturally, the butterflies and beetles preferred Mum's verbena to my carefully selected native wildflowers.

Painted lady on verbena.


I joined the Uckfield Neighbourhood Plan environment group and thanks to the generosity of others, I found out much more about places for nature in Uckfield. Nearer to home, I created a bug hotel from a broken planter and a pile of old prunings.

Bug hotel.


It's all about the mellow colours of Autumn.

View of Oast House and allotments from bypass.

As the warm, damp weather continued, fungi seemed to spring up everywhere. The ones shown are not the most colourful but they are the most appropriately named.

Herald of winter fungi in Holy Cross church yard.


As we approached Christmas, I was surprised to find honey bees in the garden.

One of 6 honeybees on our mahonia.
Coming to a close - how could I round this up with anything other than our seasonal favourite?

Robin on our hazel, 14 December.

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