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”

Autumn Spring Tides

At the end of September, the moon is full and because it is also the equinox, the tides are some of the highest of the year. The ‘Spring tide’ on the Swale fills the estuary and appears to almost drown the land. If the sea level rises as predicted then the coastal grazing marshes andContinue reading “Autumn Spring Tides”

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”

September’s Flowers of the Chalk

2nd September 2018 There is not a cloud all day and the evening is blue and clear; the low sun blinds the walk west and cuts cool shadows behind great beeches and bushes in equal measure.  The green turf is a dulled, uniform olive and the swathes of bright yellow and pink flowers of summerContinue reading “September’s Flowers of the Chalk”

North Downs Butterflies

On a calm, hot evening the chalkhill blues at White Hill reserve above Shoreham settle to roost on a steep slope of dying grasses in the last patches of warming sun; they latch on head down, one side facing the sun so the other will then catch the morning light, and simply stop. After monumentalContinue reading “North Downs Butterflies”

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”

Pintails and Running Rail

Feather perfect, pintail pairs paddle the gin blue water of the East Flood; the males stay close and carefully guard their females. Every now and then the dominant male lifts up out of the water and bows his head toward his partner, and then a few moments later, pitches forward and lifts his pointed tail. A sweet,Continue reading “Pintails and Running Rail”