Six hobbies hunt insects across the long slope of the down under grey clouds on a warm, humid evening. A sparrowhawk rushes to the woodland with hurried flaps and glides and the evening turns to a quiet dusk. A male yellowhammer sits on the top of the bushes and rattles. A female dashes up from the bottom of the thick hedge where a nest is well hidden.
An hour earlier and the gatekeepers are everywhere on the low vegetation and chalkhill blues work the abundant marjoram. July on Fackenden Down is a picture of pinks and mauves of greater knapweed, field scabious, musk mallow and marjoram dotted with the yellow of cat’s ear, agrimony and trefoils. Burnet moths are also common and fly in a slow, ungainly whir before landing on the field scabious. Metallic longhorn moths jostle on the flowers; and honey bees just keep working.
Down the road at Eynsford a field of blood red poppies has appeared in an old fallow field and the neatly tended, lavender fields are blooming an intense purple.