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…

Queendown Warren’s Autumn Flower Show

The North Downs in Kent are sandwiched by the M20 and M2 motorways; the wilderness muted by the constant roar of traffic and ancient grasslands nearly neutered by post-War agriculture. The nature reserve of Queendown Warren is one of the best remnants to have escaped the plough; it lies on south facing slopes within earshot…

Cobham Wood and Darnley Mausoleum

October 9th A father and son are up in a walnut tree wobbling and stretching, chasing a rich harvest of green nuts. A little owl calls from a huge oak and two kestrels hang about. We walk up the track to the ancient woodland that is still not autumn gold but remains stubborn green and…

Stodmarsh

In the late afternoon, the warm wind blows from the west and the sun shines over the wide, grazing marshes and rare, reed bed remnant of the Stour valley. The mere at the east end near Grove Ferry is full of moulting teal and shoveler and lapwings, gulls and starlings. Some of the ducks splash and dive into…