A small day on the Downs

At Fackenden, the sun-baked escarpment is covered in a white spray of ox-eye daisies, with an understorey of quaking grass, stemless thistle, chalk milkwort, kidney vetch and bird’s foot trefoil. Small patches of fragrant and common spotted-orchids and a handful of man orchids add to the richness. Small blue females are hanging in the tall grasses at the base of the escarpment and a couple of small coppers are on patrol. There are holly blues in the hedge and dingy skipper, common blues and a blizzard of small moths on the down. The sounds include the ‘tizz’ of yellowhammers, jumbled rattle of whitethroats and ‘cheeack’ of jackdaws. A pair of kestrels have a nest in the beeches and ‘yicker’ briefly; a procession of large gulls slide silently along the ridge riding the updraft. In June, this remnant sweep of downland is a colourful portrait of yesteryear hung on an otherwise, whitewashed wall of well-farmed fields.

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