Old friends…

On a warm day with strong sunshine and few periods of persistent cloud, we took the sunken footpath up from Shoreham station. The ancient byway was flanked by veteran beech trees with smooth, silver grey trunks above exposed roots that twisted out of the ground. On White Hill, the fragrant, man, pryamidal and common spottedContinue reading “Old friends…”

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”

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”

Chalk grasslands cleared and ready for Spring

6th March Fackenden Down is spring cleaned; a herd of red Dexter cattle has been in over winter. This native breed from south west Ireland is often used to manage chalk grasslands, especially to clear invading tor grass. Being small with short legs that give a comical appearance, they tend not to poach the turf.Continue reading “Chalk grasslands cleared and ready for Spring”

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”

Kent Life

In mid-May, the early purple orchids are up at Fackenden Down. The sward is short and so the orchids stand proud at the top of the ridge. Dingy and grizzled skippers flit low over the ground. The chalk grassland is just coming alive after a long winter of grazing the dull, unassuming turf. At theContinue reading “Kent Life”

May songs and shades

In early May, the dew-drenched mornings are song-filled; the winter silence is drowned by a competition of attraction, much heavy dissuasion and possibly a little distraction.  On a patch of long abandoned heathland, linnets sit atop tall brambles and spin out a breathless jingle; warblers scratch and whistle from the spring green birches. Male songContinue reading “May songs and shades”

April’s end

April went out with great downpours and fleeting blue skies; the air cold-washed and crystal clear. Watched from the down at Fackenden, the slow but relentless passage of an evening storm creates a moving patchwork of contrast and colour with great folded blankets of falling rain. After the deluge catches the edge of the escarpment,Continue reading “April’s end”

Fackenden in July

Six hobbies hunt insects across the long slope of the down under grey clouds on a warm, humid evening. A sparrowhawk rushes to the woodland with hurried flaps and glides and the evening turns to a quiet dusk. A male yellowhammer sits on the top of the bushes and rattles.  A female dashes up fromContinue reading “Fackenden in July”