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 thenContinue reading “Devil’s bit”

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 distanceContinue reading “Autumn Arrivals at Bough Beech”

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 coastContinue reading “Whitstable and Margate”

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 earshotContinue reading “Queendown Warren’s Autumn Flower Show”

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 andContinue reading “Cobham Wood and Darnley Mausoleum”


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 intoContinue reading “Stodmarsh”

Whitstable Shore

Whitstable is quiet without the summer visitors or weekenders down from the Smoke. The few about are pensioners and young mothers in the main. A couple of windsurfers tiptoe down the beach and soon have more zip than most. The westerly is only tamed by turning your back or finding some shelter. Whitstable seafront; ale, fishContinue reading “Whitstable Shore”

Bough Beech Reservoir’s Autumn Colours

The day is bright; clouds build in thick lines from the southwest and a fresh breeze blows over the bright water but these never quite overcome the warming autumn sun. Bough Beech Reservoir is observed from the low causeway with its gently shelving banks of concrete, softened over the decades by a spreading, soft carpetContinue reading “Bough Beech Reservoir’s Autumn Colours”