Early spring in west Kent woodlands

The hornbeam woodlands on the North Downs are at their best; carpeted with a white blanket of wood anemones. A perfect example locally is on the rolling hills above Eynsford. The anemones are a near monoculture but the dark green bluebell leaves are emerging and the swathe of deep blue flowers will take over inContinue reading “Early spring in west Kent woodlands”

A Day with Heather Angel

12th March 2020 Heather Angel is one of the great wildlife photographers with a wonderful portfolio of images; she is a constant traveller, especially to China and the mountains of Sichuan, as well as a prolific nature writer. I had a day (thanks to a brilliant birthday present) with Heather learning how to photograph plantsContinue reading “A Day with Heather Angel”

Chalk grasslands cleared and ready for Spring

6th March Fackenden Down is spring cleaned; a herd of red Dexter cattle has been in over winter. This native breed from south west Ireland is often used to manage chalk grasslands, especially to clear invading tor grass. Being small with short legs that give a comical appearance, they tend not to poach the turf.Continue reading “Chalk grasslands cleared and ready for Spring”

Sissinghurst on Leap Day

The last day of February brings more squalls from the west with intervals of piercing blue sky and pristine spring sunshine. The castle garden is subdued with the plants starting to grow but needing a run of warmer, gentler days; white magnolias are bursting; the crocus, iris, squill and summer snowflake are out; and aContinue reading “Sissinghurst on Leap Day”

Feeding on the falling tide

On the Medway at Otterham Creek, a handful of the black- headed gulls are beginning to get their dark chocolate brown heads while the majority remain fixed in winter plumage. The gulls sit in roosts and some paddle across the bare mud; they never seem to have to work too hard for their food. TheContinue reading “Feeding on the falling tide”

February light

In early February, the cherry plum throws out the first blossom in random bursts of dazzling white along the dark lanes. At Bough Beech in late February, a pair of Egyptian geese have a brood of young goslings that are paraded along the edge of the concrete dam. Garden birds are foraging intently at theContinue reading “February light”

North Kent Marshes

The low sea wall runs through the middle of the Swale National Nature Reserve and maintains the freshwater grazing marsh on the landward side. Seaward, is a wide expanse of flat and featureless salt marsh, beyond which a huge sandbank rises from the Swale estuary decked with an odd assortment of geese, crows and gulls.Continue reading “North Kent Marshes”

January in the Clavering Hundred

In the very west of Essex, on the arable fields above the small village of Manuden with its distinctive church spire that appears half buried in the hills, the dawn is quiet, clouded and cold; new red-roofed houses huddle together in the valley. Undaunted, a song thrush sings its distinctive double tap from the edgeContinue reading “January in the Clavering Hundred”

Medway mud

The view from the old quay on Otterham Creek looks north toward the Hoo Peninsula and the heavy industry that edges the east end. The creek empties at low tide leaving a single spine of water between wide mudflats deeply incised by snaking tributaries; teal fly in to forage at the water’s edge and redshankContinue reading “Medway mud”