Bees, spiders and monkeys

A hot day on the Folkestone Downs and the late spider orchids are up on the edge of the grassland; they are confined to a small fenced area just above the footpath, presumably to stop them being trampled by livestock or passers-by inadvertently squashing them while admiring the view. The spiders are rare in the…

Denge Woods: The Warren

The Warren is cleared of scrub with a handful of retained trees, and encompassed by ancient beech, oak and sweet chestnut woodland. There is a diverse carpet of primrose, vetches, trefoils, salad burnet, speedwells and orchids, adorned with day-flying moths and butterflies; duke of burgundy fritillaries, dingy skippers, green hairstreaks, brimstones, red admirals and burnet…

Faces of February

A month of extremes; a mild start followed by a week of freezing air from the north east and snow-frozen ground that disappears as quickly as it arrives and is quickly forgotten as the land is brought alive by spring-like temperatures and the first butterflies are on the wing. In the freeze, the small birds…

Mid winter sun

January is dark and dismal; on rare days the sun shines and the coastline is transformed by a palette of powder blue, dark purples and gravel browns. At Shellness, the sea is calm and the views distant, but the tide is out on the full and the geese, waders and gulls dispersed and quiet.

Coppice and wood pasture

The coppice woodlands of west Kent are distinctive with their densely woven blanket of sweet chestnuts dotted with ‘mother’ oak trees. Birch and pine are also present and the autumn sunlight creates rich mosaics of greens, orange and yellows. Sweet chestnut coppice is managed on an approximate 15 year rotation and for the first few…

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…

The Thames Estuary at Cliffe

The now familiar walk across the flat grazing marshes from Higham Church passes a herd of ewes with a busy ram that pursues his next conquest with single-minded determination. A flock of goldfinches sit in the boundary hawthorns and small charms fly into the acres of seeded thistles in the adjacent field. In the distance,…