Adders on the down

A black and white male adder sunbathes on the upper slope of an old pile of fence posts and the chocolate brown female does the same on the lower slope. On another day, a darker male is on the fence pile tightly coiled as the cloud is over; he tastes the air then slides silentlyContinue reading “Adders on the down”

Spring butterflies

The early butterflies are nearly all widespread species including orange tips, brimstones and ‘cabbage whites’, the exception in southern England is the Duke of Burgundy fritillary and the nearest colony is near Canterbury. Peacocks and small tortoiseshells are also out and both common this year. The hedge garlic and lady’s smock are the host plantContinue reading “Spring butterflies”

Red kite mobbed by a carrion crow

Red kites are renowned nest predators especially of rooks and crows. In mid April, most carrion crows pairs have a nest on the go, probably with with four blue speckled eggs in a stick nest lined with wool, and if a kite approaches then the male will climb vertically out of the woods to harryContinue reading “Red kite mobbed by a carrion crow”

Early Spring woodland flowers

Spring in the ancient oak, ash, beech and hornbeam woodlands of the North Downs is announced by wood anemones, sweet violets and celandine but quickly followed by a flurry of others. Moschatel, colloquially known as townhall clock or five-faced bishop is a diminutive and uncommon plant found in small colonies amongst the much showier swathesContinue reading “Early Spring woodland flowers”

Nuthatches and woodpeckers

An old ash tree probably suffering from ash dieback, has three woodpecker holes in its dying wood. The middle hole is occupied by a pair of great tits that carry in beakfuls of moss. The other two holes are being inspected by a pair of nuthatches but also, from time to time, a pair ofContinue reading “Nuthatches and woodpeckers”

Blackthorn winter

Late March is cold and grey with fleeting sunshine; the woods are still winter dead and the promise of spring seems a distant dream. There always seems to be a cold snap when the blackthorn flowers and lights up the hedges. The early spring flowers appear foolhardy in the chill easterlies that keep the landContinue reading “Blackthorn winter”

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”