The Vanguard Way Blog has been started to complement the Vanguard Way official website: The Vanguard Way is a 66 mile, long distance footpath between East Croydon (South London) and the South Coast port of Newhaven.
Primarily we hope to record interesting sightings along the Vanguard Way with an emphasis on flora and fauna and other 'natural' phenomena. To offer a contribution, please email We will be interested to receive details of what has been sighted, where and when, together with a photo if available.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Early July - preheatwave

Speckled Wood butterfly - photo from the Butterfly Conservation website

While I have been travelling round northern Europe, members of the Vanguard Rambling Club have been out checking the route description to make sure the is up-to-date.  I heard my first cuckoo in Holland, no mention of cuckoos on the Vanguard Way yet this year! 

Report from Sue and Dave:

"The only fauna sighting we experienced was the settling of a brown butterfly with creamy yellow spots on Sue's sleeve at Brighton Station on its concourse for a full 2 minutes (2 mins. is a very long time in the life of a butterfly, so we guess Sue must consider herself privileged), and, of course, a plentiful supply of bunnies on the South Downs, not to forget
the  sighting  of  several  skylarks over the South Downs.  Incidentally, some years ago when we were on a week's walking holiday of the South Downs, whilst at Alfriston, we saw nightingales at dusk.
 In terms of flora, there were the usual suspects for late June/early July (geranium, possibly cranesbill, daisies, buttercups, ox-eye daisies, dog roses, periwinkle, red and white campion)."

Many thanks to Sue and Dave!  We have consulted the Butterfly Conservation website,  which has a very useful butterfly identifier, and are fairly confident Sue's butterfly was a Speckled Wood.  If you would like to identify a butterfly here's the link This charity also has a Big Butterfly Count in July and August which is helping to keep track of our butterfly population, rather like the RSPB one in January for garden birds.  Do take part if you can!

Michael and Jenice have also been out on the Vanguard Way and its links around Edenbridge.  Michael has submitted some rather fine photographs too.

© Michael Hartley

"The following are notes of wildlife found on our walk between Edenbridge and Marsh Green on 6 July 2013.

Speckled Wood butterflies were in evidence during most of our journey.  I was intrigued by a small, translucent, bright red butterfly that came towards me along the bank of the River Eden.  Tantalisingly, it sat on some long grass beside the river. Just as I prepared the camera, it flitted off. In fact, having done some Internet research, I believe that it was not a butterfly, but a Cinnabar moth.

Beside the river when crossing the wooden footbridge by the brick pill box (point k in the VGW description) there were damsel flies, one large dragon fly and bees.

Plants included, clover, buttercups, large daisies.  There were some red flowers that I think may have been Scarlet Pimpernels.

© Michael Hartley


 Close to the junction with Greybury Lane, stood two trees, the slimmer one apparently hugging the other."

© Michael Hartley

Many thanks to Michael and Jenice!  It's interesting that both reports refer to the same type of butterfly - though, having looked up butterfly details I was reminded that there are typical times for adults to be flying for different species.

The Scarlet Pimpernel always had a story attached to it when we were children - it is/was a weather forecaster in that open flowers indicate sunny weather and closed flowers indicate rain.  The Scarlet Pimpernel flowers will have been working overtime in the past few weeks of the UK heatwave!

So far as the 'hugging trees' go, I think your slimmer tree is in fact a well established ivy plant.

Michael's unidentified white flower has given me cause to scratch my head!  Which would be entirely appropriate if it is Hogweed as that can cause skin irritation, especially in sunshine and/or to susceptible people.  Otherwise, perhaps it is Wild Angelica or even Ground Elder?  To provide a proper identification we would need to see a leaf and/or the size of the plant.  However, it is a very fine photo!  Do any of our readers have an idea?

© Michael Hartley
Please send us a comment or email, enjoy your walking!

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