Friday 31 August 2012

A wood-gas stove for Kenya

I recently heard about an interesting organisation called Kenya Stove, they are working to promote a design of gasifying wood stove that doesn't need a fan (unlike the ones I use). The design looks to be simple and durable - ideal for use in developing countries, where it should help reduce deforestation, improve health by reducing smoke, and also save people money on fuel for cooking. Check out the video they've made:

and go here if you want to donate some money to help get the whole thing started:


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Saturday 25 August 2012

Summer camping in the woods

Well, the British Summer has been wetter than usual, but this week we managed to get a couple of days off to coincide with some sunshine, and went to camp in the woods for a night...


This was the first time we'd both been camping there since I got a new phone, so we took advantage of it to set up a solar-powered woodland wifi hotspot, so Tracy could use her ipod and keep up to date on facebook!
DSC_4355 solar wifi hotspot in the woods


We had a great dinner, cooked mostly on the BBQ:
DSC_4358 BBQ in the woods

Using our own charcoal of course
DSC_4359 home-made charcoal

Here's the end result, including sweetcorn, chicken kebabs and halloumi cheese!
DSC_4360 Dinner in the woods

Of course, for taking photos of food I should really be using a new iPhone 5... :-)

After dinner we settled down around the fire for the evening...
DSC_4363 camp fire

As usual on a first night sleeping in the woods, we woke up early. As it was sunny, I wandered around getting some photos of the sun coming up...
DSC_4365 Early morning in the woods

DSC_4372 Early morning in the woods

DSC_4373 Early morning in the woods

DSC_4377 Early morning in the woods

DSC_4383 Early morning in the woods

DSC_4388 Early morning in the woods

Later in the morning we went to watch the wildlife. There were several flocks of a variety of small birds moving through the wood, though it's hard to get photos of them at this time of year, due to the leaves on the trees. I managed to catch this Robin briefly:
DSC_4403 Robin

and then got several of a Treecreeper preening:
DSC_4435 Treecreeper

DSC_4441 Treecreeper

DSC_4440  Treecreeper

DSC_4442 Treecreeper

I also got these pictures, which at first I had thought were of the treecreeper too, but on closer examination I think they might be something else, though I'm not sure what...


Lots of insects around too, like this Red Admiral butterfly:
DSC_4464 Red Admiral butterfly

A Small White:
DSC_4473 SMall White butterfly

A Silver Y moth (thanks to Heather for the ID)

Loads of dragonflies:

and lots of bumble bees too:

When we were packing up the tent, we also rescued this cricket(?) from getting squashed:

and I found this weird insect, which looks like a bit of algae off a tree, trying to eat me:

And finally, insects are of course food for spiders...
DSC_4466 Spider catching a fly in its web


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Tuesday 21 August 2012

The birds and a bee

I know we're still a bit short of bees, so when I found this one half-dead on our conservatory floor, I took it out into the sun and gave it some sugar:

DSC_4277 Large Earth Humble Bee (Bombus Terrestris)

According to this site, it's a Large Earth Humble Bee, or Bombus Terrestris.
DSC_4289 Large Earth Humble Bee (Bombus Terrestris)

After feeding, it preened itself and flew off - job done!

We went down to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve over the weekend to take a few photos from the bird hides there.

We saw a Great White Egret:
DSC_4326 Great White Egret

Some Curlew:
DSC_4309 Curlew in flight

DSC_4310 Curlew in flight

A female Wheatear - thanks for the comment that ID'd this for me, the RSPB bird ID website was showing the male one first, which looks quite different.
DSC_4318 Wheatear

DSC_4340 Wheatear

DSC_4348 Wheatear

DSC_4321 Wheatear

And finally, some cute ducklings (I think - no sign of the parent), who started off on their little island:
DSC_4294 Ducklings

Gradually made their way down to the water:
DSC_4295 Ducklings

Swam round the island:
DSC_4304 Ducklings

And then came out again on the other side:
DSC_4302 Ducklings

They did this several times, but didn't dare move to another island!


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Saturday 18 August 2012

The day our trailer died...

With the log store nearly full:


we thought we'd get on and move some of last winter's logs to our storage area. All went well at first...

But on the second load, there was a small problem:

The logs had slipped back in the trailer while going over some bumps in the track, and as a result tipped the trailer back - but because the hitch stayed attached, the arm that connects it to the trailer bent:

Meanwhile the back of the trailer got rather bent too...

It's a shame, but we did only pay about £130 for it second hand, over five years ago, so it's done a good job while we've had it. As it was already a bit damaged in some other places, we decided that this was the end for it. We managed to get it straight enough to drive it to the nearest scrap merchant, where we got £8.40 for it.

We've picked a new one to buy, which will be slightly larger and also allow us to drop the front as well as the back, so that logs can be loaded more evenly in future...


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Saturday 4 August 2012

Butterflies at last!

The wet summer has not been great for the UK's butterflies, so it was pleasing to see so many this afternoon, especially as we had friends who'd been helped in coppicing in Sweep Wood visiting to see the wildlife benefits of their work! Some of them lived nearby, others were from Rother Guardians.

Here's one of the old favourites, a Peacock:

DSC_4273 Peacock butterfly

The Buddleja it's settled on has self-seeded at the top of Sweep Wood - we have quite a few garden escapees up there, and while I wouldn't have planted this one in a woodland, as it's arrived by itself I'm quite happy to leave it - and the butterflies are delighted I'm sure!

Just as a reminder, Sweep Wood used to look like this:

Then we got busy coppicing and it looked like this:

And just a year or two later it looks like this:

DSC_8137 foxgloves

The hill in Sweep wood had lots of other butterflies present, especially Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers:
DSC_4236 Meadow Brown

DSC_4203 Gatekeeper

DSC_4196 Gatekeeper

There were also various White butterflies, but I didn't get photos of them. Lots of dragonflies too - remember none of these insects were to be seen here before we did the coppicing:
DSC_4252 dragonfly

DSC_4260 dragonfly

Heading further into the woods we saw several Speckled Wood butterflies:
DSC_4233 Speckled Wood

White Admirals:
DSC_4190 White Admiral

DSC_4187 White Admiral

and a beetle too...
DSC_4229 beetle

In the wayleave were Comma butterflies and more dragonflies; I got a rare opportunity to photograph two together:
DSC_4215 dragonflies

We also saw this wasp feeding on Common Figwort - apparently they're a good pollinator for them:
DSC_4209 Wasp and Common Figwort

DSC_4207 Wasp and Common Figwort

Great to see all of these creatures around again!


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