October at Oare

A pale clouded yellow dances in the breeze on the sea wall and after many attempts finally settles in the couch grass, small whites are also on the move, nectaring on the last sow thistles. The clear autumn skies and gentle warmth put the wintering flocks of godwits and redshanks at ease; there is no…

Scabious and ivy

As the autumn equinox arrives, the downs are browning and the last flowers support the last insects. The slope at Fackenden is now thick with summer growth; the marjoram and other summer flowers create dense blankets of green growth with a few flowers; the autumn gentian has gone over and only the devil’s bit scabious…

Old Tapestry New Forest

The Forest is quiet in September; woodpeckers, crossbills and siskins break the silence in the ancient woodlands and conifer plantations. The heather on the open heaths is at its purple peak and the summer crowds have waned. In the late afternoon, ponies and donkeys start to move to forage on the roadsides, and cause a…

Penshurst Place

Penshurst Place is one the finest manor houses in England; it sits in the heart of the Weald at the confluence of the Rivers Medway and Eden, surrounded by wooded hills and ridges. On a fine autumn day, the house and the grounds look like something out of an 18th or 19th century painting.

Autumn at Chalk Cottage

The sun is out at lunchtime lighting up the hedgerows; the autumn insects are feeding on the abundant ivy and there is a surprising diversity of wasps, flies and hoverflies. In the evening, the lanes are in deep shadow but the sun hangs bright low over the downs until a huge grey cloud inches across…

A little bit of Broadstairs

17th and 18th October A grey Saturday is followed by a bright morning. The last swallows and sand martins are chasing up and down the cliffsides; rock pipits are on the beach and sea walls. A flock of linnets feed on the weedy flora above us. A huge dog chases a small flock of turnstones…

Devil’s bit

The early September colours across the downland slope are golden brown. The devil’s bit scabious is out in brilliant blue; the small pincushion flowers on slender stalks light the dying sward. A spider hides beneath a flower head and waits; a solitary bee lands and busily works the florets; the spider climbs up and then…

Autumn Arrivals at Bough Beech

The woodland-fringed wetland north of the causeway is drained down by the end of the long dry summer and migrating waders feed in the shallows.  Green sandpipers are expected, a wayward black-tailed godwit less so.  The best is a grey phalarope, which is in winter plumage with elegant steel-grey feathers that appear at a distance…

Whitstable and Margate

The sun rises slowly over the black hill and strikes the sleeping town; it lights the flocks of restless turnstones that sit out the high tide on the quayside and flat-topped marker buoy, clad in rough-hewn timber. A single Sandwich tern flies by and a cormorant perches precariously on a high marker post. The coast…