Nature notes: Mandarin magic

Surrey Comet:

9:10am Monday 13th October 2014

There can be no more colourful and outrageously exotic looking duck than the male mandarin (see picture).

Nature notes: Iconic flyers

Surrey Comet:

8:54am Monday 6th October 2014

Having been a military aircraft enthusiast all my life, a trip to Hendon RAF museum is always revealing and interesting.

Nature Notes: Richmond Park

Surrey Comet:

12:43pm Friday 3rd October 2014

Both stags strut about bellowing, circling their conquests before approaching one another.

Nature Notes: Autumn

Surrey Comet:

8:23am Tuesday 23rd September 2014

There is naturally a degree of sadness associated with the onset of autumn.

Nature Notes: Surrey surprise

Surrey Comet:

9:06am Tuesday 16th September 2014

There is a most attractive, very scarce and elusive late summer butterfly, namely the brown hairstreak, which flies from mid-August into late September.

Nature Notes: Musseling in

Surrey Comet:

7:59am Tuesday 9th September 2014

On a sandy beach, stranded above the tide line reposed a mussel shell with one end partly open and clearly very dead.

Nature Notes: Black and white?

Surrey Comet:

9:12am Tuesday 2nd September 2014

Apart from the rose-ringed parakeet and Canada goose, few birds cause more controversy than the magpie. However, not all is black and white.

Nature Notes: Insect migration

Surrey Comet:

8:32am Tuesday 26th August 2014

Sitting on a Dorset beach on a warm August day, I became aware of an occasional large white butterfly flying in fast from the sea, carrying on up the beach and finally homing in on the cliff face vegetation.

Nature Notes: Bird Watching

Surrey Comet:

10:11am Tuesday 19th August 2014

Birdwatching steadily increases in popularity while the enjoyment we derive from feeding garden birds supports a major industry supplying a range of nuts and seeds and ever more sophisticated designs for feeders.

Nature Notes: Denbies delights

Surrey Comet:

9:00am Monday 11th August 2014

Surrey certainly has some glorious countryside.One of my long-term favourite locations is Denbies hillside near Ranmore.

Nature Notes: Speeding summer

Surrey Comet:

8:44am Tuesday 5th August 2014

Summer speeds by.Blink and we may miss the rest of it. Weathermen predict an early autumn and already crispy brown leaves are falling and grasses readily seeding.

Nature Notes: Marbled marvel

Surrey Comet:

8:35am Tuesday 29th July 2014

One of the most attractive of our high summer butterflies is the marbled white,having a checkerboard wing pattern of black and white (see photo).

Nature Notes: Ant Eaters

Surrey Comet:

7:55am Tuesday 22nd July 2014

On a warm humid late afternoon in July I'm in Bushy park,sitting on the rotting stump of a massive old oak in the long grass.

Busy Bluebirds

Surrey Comet:

8:57am Monday 14th July 2014

Nature Notes: On a rainy afternoon recently,I watched what must be second brood youngsters being fed both in mid-air and perching on boats.

Deformed bird still visits after three years

Surrey Comet:

8:58am Monday 7th July 2014

During a visit to most garden centre open air cafes we are often joined and entertained by a few chaffinches.

It's the summer of the lawn daisy

Surrey Comet: Unfortunately the little flower is often mown to extinction on pristine lawns.

11:37am Monday 30th June 2014

Nature Notes: Only in sunny weather does it open,closing in rain and at night when few pollinating insects are around.

Butterflies and moths

Surrey Comet: The small skipper

9:10am Monday 23rd June 2014

The first half of June sees a lull in the number of butterflies on the wing. Apart from the occasional glimpse of a brimstone, spring species have more or less finished whereas those of summer have not yet taken over.

Nature Notes: What larks!

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: What larks!

12:04pm Monday 16th June 2014

The collective word for a gathering of skylarks is an exaltation.We could equally apply exhilaration, enchantment,celebration and so on for this superb songster.

It's all happening in the bird world

Surrey Comet: Picture: Tony Drakeford.

8:24am Monday 9th June 2014

Nature Notes: The most amazing May sighting of all occured also in Surrey when no fewer than four hoopoes were recorded.

Brief lives

Surrey Comet: The mayfly

1:28pm Monday 2nd June 2014

A thing of beauty is a joy forever?Sadly not so for the adult mayfly whose exquisite ephemeral beauty lasts for just a few hours or at most a day.

Hairy Hawker

Surrey Comet: The hairy hawker

7:45am Tuesday 27th May 2014

The month of May sees the first damselflies and dragonflies emerge from their watery nymphal nurseries where they have spent from one to three years feeding on small water creatures.

Kite flying

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Kite flying

10:00am Monday 19th May 2014

William Shakespeare loathed red kites.Bard and bird didn't see eye to eye and he stated that "city housewives are very angry with them and curse them above all birds"

Swift and Co.

Surrey Comet: The swift

9:12am Monday 12th May 2014

The poet Ted Hughes famously wrote how,when the swifts arrived back in Britain in springtime then he knew that the world 'was working again'.

Colourful Maytime

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Colourful Maytime

8:13am Tuesday 6th May 2014

Frothy white cascades of fragrant hawthorn blossom;white candles of horse chestnut;swathes of hazy cow parsley or to give it a more attractive name Queen Anne's lace combine to usher in the 'merrie month of May'.

Kingston cornucopia

Surrey Comet: Busy Kingston riverside and its environs really are a haven for wildlife watchers.

12:02pm Monday 28th April 2014

Nature Notes: Busy Kingston riverside and its environs really are a haven for wildlife watchers.

Nature Notes: Green and pleasant?

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Green and pleasant?

8:11am Tuesday 22nd April 2014

Last year I expressed dismay over the crazy proposal by the government and DEFRA to destroy a centuries old prime Kent woodland nightingale habitat and 'move' the birds to a newly planted wooded alternative site a couple of miles away.

Vibrant Easter

Surrey Comet: Vibrant Easter

9:08am Monday 14th April 2014

Easter.A symbol of renewal,regrowth and rebirth,not forgetting hot cross buns and chocolate eggs! Birdsong is reaching a crescendo as migrants fly in,territories are defended,nests are built,eggs laid and early fledglings fed.

Richmond Park in springtime

Surrey Comet: One or two stags retain last autumn's antlers but most now sprout short velvet covered stumps of new growth

8:19am Monday 7th April 2014

The sun shines warmly out of a cloudless pale blue sky on 1st April,almost fooling me into believing that summer has arrived.

Nature Notes: Hide and Seek

Surrey Comet: The common snipe

9:37am Monday 31st March 2014

The plumage of birds comes in a variety of colours and tones, from exotic rain forest species to our rather plain dunnock.

Nature Notes: Morley Park

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Morley Park

10:00am Monday 24th March 2014

A few years ago I stood on the site just vacated by the Atkinson Morley hospital in Merton.

Nature Notes: A rising tide of insects

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: A rising tide of insects

9:08am Monday 17th March 2014

In March, the tide of insect life begins to rise. As daylight hours lengthen and temperatures rise, more and more species become active.

Nature Notes: Springtime sights and sounds

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Springtime sights and sounds

1:21pm Monday 10th March 2014

Nature Notes: With spring officially underway, is it my imagination or are wild flowers and blossom even more vibrant than usual? Perhaps they seem so to us after enduring a long, colourless, wet wild windy winter.

Nature Notes: To the Atlantic and Back

Surrey Comet: A truly remarkable sequence of six stages in the life-cycles of truly iconic and aptly named kings and queens of fish.

8:53am Monday 3rd March 2014

Nature Notes: A truly remarkable sequence of six stages in the life-cycles of truly iconic and aptly named kings and queens of fish.

Bye Bye Birdies

Surrey Comet: Indeed there are increases in populations including great crested and little grebe, mallard, wren, goldcrest, goldfinch, great spotted and green woodpecker and chaffinch.

8:26am Monday 24th February 2014

Nature Notes: Recent reports from conservation bodies reveal that Britain has lost about forty million birds of various species since the nineteen nineties.

Rookery Crookery

Surrey Comet: In the countryside, rooks are now busy, noisily repairing nests ripped apart by successive winter storms.

10:59am Monday 17th February 2014

Nature Notes: In the countryside, rooks are now busy, noisily repairing nests ripped apart by successive winter storms.

Nature Notes: Over the rainbows

Surrey Comet: The phrase 'lovely weather for ducks' comes to mind

11:53am Monday 10th February 2014

Nature Notes: When the waters finally recede, fish, which may have ventured out over the flooded fields could well become stranded.

Signs of spring

Surrey Comet: Rare sight: A red admiral butterfly venturing briefly out of hibernation nectaring on a snowdrop

9:27am Monday 3rd February 2014

Nature Notes: Despite January being the wettest for over a century, this winter has so far been exceptionally mild with minimal frost and ice and signs of spring are everywhere.

Raging River

Surrey Comet: Raging River

12:33pm Monday 27th January 2014

Nature Notes: The Thames at Kingston plays host to a healthy number of fish species.

The Redwing tree

Surrey Comet: Redwings utter a thin 'seep-seep' call.

11:30am Monday 20th January 2014

Nature Notes: Redwings utter a thin 'seep-seep'call, seemingly the limit of their vocabulary unlike their cousin the songthrush.

Nature Notes: Early Birds

Surrey Comet: Leafless trees etched against the background brightness

9:40am Monday 13th January 2014

On an exceptionally mild, still mid-December morning back in the calm before the Christmas and New Year storms, a distant songthrush heralded the dawning of another day.

Nature Notes: Snow white elegance

Surrey Comet: Morden Hall Park's marshy area occasionally plays host to egrets in winter.

8:07am Tuesday 7th January 2014

Nature Notes: Like the heron, egrets nest in trees and tall bushes, usually in colonies.

Nature Notes: Christmas traditions

Surrey Comet: Have a merry berry Christmas!

8:57am Tuesday 17th December 2013

Nature Notes: There are countless folklore traditions associated with Christmas, many involving our flora.

Nature Notes: Thoughts of spring

Surrey Comet: Songthrush

12:01pm Monday 9th December 2013

Venturing out of hibernation, a red admiral butterfly soaked up the weak sunshine in my garden on November 4. It had replenished energy reserves by imbibing nectar from ivy flowers draping my fence.

Nature Notes: Charming

Surrey Comet: Goldfinches are one of our most attractive colourful and exotic species

11:33am Monday 2nd December 2013

Goldfinches are one of our most attractive colourful and exotic species and in my district they have increased considerably in recent years.

A million murmurs

Surrey Comet: A million murmurs

12:08pm Monday 25th November 2013

Nature Notes: The synchronised manoeuvering of a huge flock of starlings at dusk, known as a murmuration, is one of the greatest of all wildlife spectacles.

Climate change? Not this week!

Surrey Comet: Many red admirals attempt a trip to France or beyond in autumn to escape our winter

11:25am Monday 18th November 2013

Nature Notes: "It was interesting to note while watching the service from the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday that trees lining Whitehall were still, apart from the odd falling leaf, virtually fully leaved."

Nature Notes: Leaping for Love

Surrey Comet: The lower jaws of cock salmon develop upturned hooks known as 'kypes'.

8:35am Monday 11th November 2013

Initially using the earth's magnetic field and stellar guides to locate rivers, chemical scent and taste receptors then take over allowing fish to invariably remember and detect rivers of their birth.

Nature Notes: Wetland winter wildfowl

Surrey Comet: Nature Notes: Wetland winter wildfowl

8:30am Monday 11th November 2013

Our bountiful crop of berries will be welcomed by blackbirds, thrushes and especially winter visiting redwings and fieldfares.

Nature Notes: Table Manners

Surrey Comet: Recently in the carpark I watched a very scruffy almost piebald juvenile jackdaw

12:19pm Monday 28th October 2013

Nature Notes: To see the huge population in Richmond park taking off en-masse and flying in noisy swirling flocks is fascinating enough but to watch their eating habits is even more absorbing and frankly amusing.

Nature Notes: Deerpark delights

Surrey Comet: Have you listened to the deer in Richmond Park?

11:19am Monday 21st October 2013

Nature Notes: The deer in Richmond Park seem to be in a rather agitated state with much chasing, challenging and seemingly, to us anyway, pointless frantic manoeuvring.






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