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,…

By Tom Loft’s Wood

The walk from Great Buckland runs across a wide valley called the Bowling Alley up through vineyards and chalk grasslands with a view of the ancient woodlands that make up part of Rochester Forest, past a mob of rooks and jackdaws that sit in the top of Tom Loft’s Wood and descend to forage in…

Moving with the Tide

At dawn, the tide is out and the birds are dispersed across the wide mudflats that stretch north from Shellness past Leysdown-on-Sea to Warden Point. This is some 5 square kilometres of sands filled with worms and molluscs. There are perhaps a 1,000 birds out there; mostly black-headed gulls, oystercatchers and black-tailed godwits with smaller…

Corn buntings and the barley harvest

On the downs between Wilmington and Hextable, a small population of perhaps five or more pairs of corn buntings nest in the barley fields and feed in the boundaries and weedy fallow fields; strips of which are periodically turned into immaculately tilled and planted rows of spring onions and garlic. Males sit on the barley…

The carnival of the insects

The weather has been grey-clouded with storms threatening but not fulfilling their promise, providing a steel backdrop to the downland. Fackenden Down is bone dry after a long dry summer and the flowers are going over fast; the butterflies are are no longer thick on the ground, just a single marbled white and a handful…