Valley of the Flowers

1st May 2022 La réserve naturelle nationale de la vallée d’Eyne rises through pine forests up into montane pastures and runs south to the Spanish border. Known as the ‘Valley of the Flowers’ this is one of the great sites of Pyrenean botany with a long history of surveys since the 18th century and today…

Le rat-trompette

The Réserve Nationale de Faune d’Orlu is magnificent; a single track runs up through the hanging beech woods and moss-covered boulders, where Camberwell beauties now hold territory in sunny glades, to a wide valley surrounded by rugged escarpments and snow-capped peaks. The route follows the small river that crashes down through the steep valley swollen by…

Old Tapestry New Forest

The Forest is quiet in September; woodpeckers, crossbills and siskins break the silence in the ancient woodlands and conifer plantations. The heather on the open heaths is at its purple peak and the summer crowds have waned. In the late afternoon, ponies and donkeys start to move to forage on the roadsides, and cause a…

Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve has been protected one way or another since 1899 and is located adjacent to ‘one of the premier municipal golf courses in the US‘. The nature reserve is accessed by a network of paths from a car park on the crest of the hill. The reserve protects coastal sage scrub…

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 monumental…

Učka Nature Park

19 July 2018 The minor road starts just before the Učka road tunnel and runs up in a series of hairpins through wooded hills with views of limestone crags  At the top, there are numerous marked paths that lead off into woodlands and a restaurant with a blue haze view to the south of Rijeka…

The Crouch Estuary at Wallasea Island

The Crouch Estuary is on the edge of a coastal wilderness of saltmarsh and muddy creeks. Hereabouts, the water and the wind run the schedules and the regiments of moored yachts must hustle, like cars on a crowded motorway, to win the battle for both on summer weekends.  Today at low tide, there is no…

Soğuksu Millî Parkı

The winding road from the spa town of Kizilcahamam leads to Soğuksu Millî Parkı, literally translated as Cold Water National Park, a remnant patch of old pine forest that covers the steep hills. The protection may have been to safeguard the precious water, but the forest also holds petrified trees as the area was volcanic some 10 million years ago. Whatever…

Stodmarsh

In the late afternoon, the warm wind blows from the west and the sun shines over the wide, grazing marshes and rare, reed bed remnant of the Stour valley. The mere at the east end near Grove Ferry is full of moulting teal and shoveler and lapwings, gulls and starlings. Some of the ducks splash and dive into…

Bernwood Forest

19th July, 2016 Bernwood Forest is one of the great butterfly woodlands of England. The forest today is much altered; a great dark window in the heart of Oxfordshire with irregular panes of dull softwood supported by thin hardwood frames. Early morning on the hottest day of the year is quiet and cool. Purple spikes of betony Stachys officinalis line…

Bonaparte’s Gull at Oare Marshes

14th July 2016 Bonaparte’s Gull Chroicocephalus philadelphia, as its scientific name testifies, is a North American species, and as ubiquitous as the similar black-headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus is here in Western Europe. A single Bonaparte’s turns up at Oare Marshes, and immediately the record is run out as an alert online; rarity is prized by many and, like many stormblown ‘Yankees’, the…

Park Gate and Points East

Park Gate Down is a dry valley hidden in the well-wooded hills between Stelling Minnis and Elham. The string of three small meadows, wrapped in dark, dense woodland, are ungrazed chalk grassland full of famous orchids, myriad other plants and insects. The fields were never ploughed in the Second World War or afterwards, when the white heat…