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 smallerContinue reading “Moving with the Tide”

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 barleyContinue reading “Corn buntings and the barley harvest”

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 handfulContinue reading “The carnival of the insects”

Somewhere on the Downs above Postling

The downs are driven by a fierce westerly. The dry valleys built of soft Cretaceous chalk are a kaleidoscope of greens and yellows as the sun catches the grasslands and trees. Water is whipped from the eyes; ears deafened by the roar. From the crest of the escarpment there is a dim view of DungenessContinue reading “Somewhere on the Downs above Postling”

Blooming Dungeness

On the bare shingle ridge, fishing boats are hauled up well above the highest tides. The stark shapes puncture the smooth lines of the foreland. Inland and the first vegetation is sea kale, yellow horned-poppy and prostrate broom. Further inland and the vegetation is more established in increasingly large patches and swathes; there is aContinue reading “Blooming Dungeness”

Admirals and damsels

Dene Park to the north of Tonbridge is a good place to find woodland butterflies; in late June the purple emperors and hairstreaks should be flying but always seem difficult to find. On a cloudless evening and then again on a sunny morning, there is just a glimpse of a hairstreak in an oak withContinue reading “Admirals and damsels”

The barley field

The back garden runs round a small section of a large field of barley. The crop this year looks in perfect condition after the wet spring and hot dry summer. The cow parsley has come and gone and now hemlock, poppies and common mallow with tussocks of false oat-grass provide a backdrop to the vegetableContinue reading “The barley field”

Conserving Crookhorn Wood

To the west of the Medway gap in Kent, an untidy patchwork of woodlands between Cuxton and Trottiscliffe covers the steep, downland slopes and plateaus; much is designated as one large Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and select parts as one half of the North Downs Woodlands Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The latterContinue reading “Conserving Crookhorn Wood”

Farningham Wood revisited

Farningham Wood is renowned, botanically speaking, for its colony of Deptford pinks Dianthus armeria that hide amongst the wood sage Teucrium scorodonia on one short edge of the great woodland. But this is no wilderness; the M25 is just to the west, the M20 and the old village of Farningham to the south, and plasticContinue reading “Farningham Wood revisited”