Winter woodland

Christmas Eve morning is layered with fog with a heavy dew dripping off the dead leaves. A solitary woodcock lifts from a muddy fallow. The wind is gone and the woodlands at Elsenham are alive with small birds: goldcrests chase through the low branches of a hazel laden with catkins, great tits call like bicycleContinue reading “Winter woodland”

Warming Denge Woods

The great swathe of woodland south of Chilham in East Kent is coming alive in the unseasonal Mediterranean warmth of early April. Birch, hazel and hornbeam are in early leaf, whitebeams too, but the stolid oak, ash and beech remain in bud. Chiffhcaffs are everywhere, shouting their monotonous zip-zap, zip-zap from the tree-tops. A few blackcaps singContinue reading “Warming Denge Woods”

Dene Park’s Admirals and Emperors

The car park on the edge of the woodland is full mainly with dog walkers but also butterfly watchers. The two groups have an interesting relationship; the latter are highly dependent on the irresponsibility of the former but, of course, not vice versa… The purple emperor Apatura iris male is not often drawn from the high oaks where it takesContinue reading “Dene Park’s Admirals and Emperors”

Denge and Eggringe Wood

May 28th. Denge and Eggringe Wood is part of the great East Kent forests, much of it ancient with oak Quercus robur and sweet chestnut Castanea sativa. It contains two small open patches of scrub and chalk grassland, each renowned for supporting a colony of Duke of Burgundy fritillaries Hamearis lumina. The woods are dry in the open valleys and damp inContinue reading “Denge and Eggringe Wood”