Early spring in west Kent woodlands

The hornbeam woodlands on the North Downs are at their best; carpeted with a white blanket of wood anemones. A perfect example locally is on the rolling hills above Eynsford. The anemones are a near monoculture but the dark green bluebell leaves are emerging and the swathe of deep blue flowers will take over inContinue reading “Early spring in west Kent woodlands”

Sissinghurst on Leap Day

The last day of February brings more squalls from the west with intervals of piercing blue sky and pristine spring sunshine. The castle garden is subdued with the plants starting to grow but needing a run of warmer, gentler days; white magnolias are bursting; the crocus, iris, squill and summer snowflake are out; and aContinue reading “Sissinghurst on Leap Day”

February light

In early February, the cherry plum throws out the first blossom in random bursts of dazzling white along the dark lanes. At Bough Beech in late February, a pair of Egyptian geese have a brood of young goslings that are paraded along the edge of the concrete dam. Garden birds are foraging intently at theContinue reading “February light”

North Kent Marshes

The low sea wall runs through the middle of the Swale National Nature Reserve and maintains the freshwater grazing marsh on the landward side. Seaward, is a wide expanse of flat and featureless salt marsh, beyond which a huge sandbank rises from the Swale estuary decked with an odd assortment of geese, crows and gulls.Continue reading “North Kent Marshes”

Medway mud

The view from the old quay on Otterham Creek looks north toward the Hoo Peninsula and the heavy industry that edges the east end. The creek empties at low tide leaving a single spine of water between wide mudflats deeply incised by snaking tributaries; teal fly in to forage at the water’s edge and redshankContinue reading “Medway mud”

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”

White Hill Chalkhill Blues

The nature reserve of White Hill on the ridge above Shoreham in Kent is carved out of the high beech woodland. The reserve is managed by Butterfly Conservation as the small patches of herb-rich, chalk grassland support a strong colony of chalkhill blues as well as many other butterfly more common species. The scrub encroachesContinue reading “White Hill Chalkhill Blues”

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”