Blooming Dungeness

On the bare shingle ridge, fishing boats are hauled up well above the highest tides. The stark shapes puncture the smooth lines of the foreland. Inland and the first vegetation is sea kale, yellow horned-poppy and prostrate broom. Further inland and the vegetation is more established in increasingly large patches and swathes; there is aContinue reading “Blooming Dungeness”

Admirals and damsels

Dene Park to the north of Tonbridge is a good place to find woodland butterflies; in late June the purple emperors and hairstreaks should be flying but always seem difficult to find. On a cloudless evening and then again on a sunny morning, there is just a glimpse of a hairstreak in an oak withContinue reading “Admirals and damsels”

Ashdown Forest in late June

First light exposes the tall pines on the ridge; dawn is warm with no mist in the valleys that run down off the high heathland plateau or dew drenching the purple moor grass, heather and bracken. Midsummer arrives to the sound of churring nightjars and fluting song thrushes. A cock pheasant is caught in theContinue reading “Ashdown Forest in late June”

Hit and miss hairstreaks

The footpath into Hadleigh Country Park descends steeply through scrubby woodland from the end of St Marys Road just up from South Benfleet station. The path meets a wide grass ride that runs east through an avenue of elms. On a hot day in the late afternoon, the white-letter hairstreaks descend to nectar on theContinue reading “Hit and miss hairstreaks”

The barley field

The back garden runs round a small section of a large field of barley. The crop this year looks in perfect condition after the wet spring and hot dry summer. The cow parsley has come and gone and now hemlock, poppies and common mallow with tussocks of false oat-grass provide a backdrop to the vegetableContinue reading “The barley field”

Old friends…

On a warm day with strong sunshine and few periods of persistent cloud, we took the sunken footpath up from Shoreham station. The ancient byway was flanked by veteran beech trees with smooth, silver grey trunks above exposed roots that twisted out of the ground. On White Hill, the fragrant, man, pryamidal and common spottedContinue reading “Old friends…”

Conserving Crookhorn Wood

To the west of the Medway gap in Kent, an untidy patchwork of woodlands between Cuxton and Trottiscliffe covers the steep, downland slopes and plateaus; much is designated as one large Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and select parts as one half of the North Downs Woodlands Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The latterContinue reading “Conserving Crookhorn Wood”

Nacton Meadows

Nacton Meadows is entirely hidden in a small valley that is accessed by a footpath between Levington and Nacton just north of the Orwell estuary. The first meadow is on a west facing slope with a herd of boisterous heffers so not a place to potter. The second is across a stream on a southContinue reading “Nacton Meadows”

Badley Moor in late May

The byway from Dumpling Green on the outskirts of Dereham leads due east between large. mundane rape fields that are just erupting a sulphur yellow and ancient oak woodland filled with dense hazel coppice. The rape is devoid of life bar a few stubborn poppies but the woodland holds a noisy shower of small birds;Continue reading “Badley Moor in late May”