Scabious and ivy

As the autumn equinox arrives, the downs are browning and the last flowers support the last insects. The slope at Fackenden is now thick with summer growth; the marjoram and other summer flowers create dense blankets of green growth with a few flowers; the autumn gentian has gone over and only the devil’s bit scabious…

Old Tapestry New Forest

The Forest is quiet in September; woodpeckers, crossbills and siskins break the silence in the ancient woodlands and conifer plantations. The heather on the open heaths is at its purple peak and the summer crowds have waned. In the late afternoon, ponies and donkeys start to move to forage on the roadsides, and cause a…

Painted lady

A butterfly lands on the gravel path in Farningham wood and folds its wings; it is unrecognisable. Neither a wall brown nor a grayling both of which nearly always fold up, just a perplexing something in between; the colours are subtle and beautiful and it turns out to be a painted lady doing what it…

The edge of the Stiperstones

On the moorland edge under the bare grey Stiperstones, the hand-reared curlews that have been held since hatching in a netted enclosure are now released. The birds either fly off in a rush or walk slowly out into the field before heading off, a few keep walking and stay in the rushy pasture on the…

Summer shades

Sometimes there is no story, no theme to wrap some pictures around, just the rich sights of late summer to enjoy. Bright sun against a dark thundercloud, flowers in morning light, the appearance of the last swifts in the sky and the effervescent and colourful insects; even the irritating paparazzi, the clegs and mosquitoes, and…

Nightjars and a little night music

Throughout the clear-felled forests of Wales, nightjars are regularly dispersed; monitoring of the breeding population has demonstrated that their numbers appear to be steadily increasing, probably due to the changing climate. Whilst this summer has been, in large part, a cold and wet exception, the warming world provides better feeding conditions as the nightjars hunt…

Pembrokeshire coast

The coastal grasslands and scrub and especially the earth banks that form the field boundaries are flower rich with a purple pink palette of thrift, thyme, English stonecrop kidney vetch and lesser centuary amongst the bracken, gorse and bell heather. The unimproved pastures are grazed by sheep and the better grasslands hold dairy cattle. A…

The Welsh Marches

A unique patchwork of fields rolls over the valleys around Church Stoke. The farms are mixed; winter wheat, rye grass silage fields, and pastures grazed by sheep, and dairy and beef cattle, but the overriding impression is of fields of green. The intensive agriculture means the fields no longer hold many curlews and lapwings but…

Bees, spiders and monkeys

A hot day on the Folkestone Downs and the late spider orchids are up on the edge of the grassland; they are confined to a small fenced area just above the footpath, presumably to stop them being trampled by livestock or passers-by inadvertently squashing them while admiring the view. The spiders are rare in the…