Thursday 17 February 2022

Kentish Nature Walk #25 - Great Crabbles Wood

Yesterday was a working at home day and given the thrashing trees, scudding clouds and periodic squalls it was a day well chosen to be indoors. Today on the other had was the lull between the two incoming systems and with blue skies I decided to head out for a short circuit of Crabbles Bottom Orchard and Great Crabbles Wood.

The wind had not abated but it was not cold and I had hopes of finding some insect life in some of the warmer spots.  The wood itself is undergoing some much needed coppicing and a very neatly stacked woodpile greeted me upon arrival – I do like a pile of logs.

I followed the inside path looking for early signs of spring. There were very few Celandines even in leaf but the Bluebells were doing a sterling effort to get going.  New Dog’s Mercury and Lords and Ladies were showing with the latter pushing through the leaf litter like a green rolled tongue (if you are capable of doing that!) before unfurling to spearhead glory – some with spots and some without.


Lords and Ladies

The same can be said for the Early Purple Orchids up by the Pit with plenty of rosettes with and without dark adornments.  Some where already racing away but it seems that grazing has already happened on several so lets hope they come to fruition.

Early Purple Orchid

Early Purple Orchid

Butcher's Broom

Not quite sure on this tiny conical snail...

Up in the wood I found several large shopping bags stuffed full of the glorious ‘tumbleweed’ Moss that forms patches across the site.  I suspect that someone was either collecting it for garden baskets or for selling as such so I accidentally emptied them all out across the woodland floor before stashing the six bags for collection on my way back.

The wood was quiet with little birdlife but the Bullfinches were vocal but invisible as ever but I did find some flies with by first Hover of the year with the expected Eristalis tenax – a female. A few other flies were basking and I reckon that most that I got a good look at were Phaonia.

Phaonia sp

Eristalis tenax

Spurge Laurel clumps were in flower and only a single Cherry Plum added a splash of spring white to the proceedings.  Many other trees were budding and the Brambles were riddled with the mines of Stigmella aurella along with just a single Coptotriche marginea while most Hollies had Phytomyza ilicis mines on them.


Cherry Plum

Cherry Plum

Wayfaring Tree


Spurge Laurel 

Spurge Laurel 

Stigmella aurella 

Coptotriche marginea

King Alfred’s Cakes and Jelly Ears adorned decaying tree limbs where I stopped for a coffee just outside the wood at the bottom of Bowesden Lane.

King Alfred’s Cakes

Jelly Ears 

I was unsure where to go at this point but fancied having a look for Firecrests in the Holly that screen the huge front gardens as you walk up the lane.  It took me all of a minute to find a singing bird as her followed his mate back and forth across the road giving wondrous views.


Cyclamens and naturalised Crocuses littered the verge as I continued up to Peartree Lane and the gleaming yellow council salt bin was attracting sunbathers with three male Eristalis tenax, two Calliphora vicina (no ginger beards) and another small fly that I think may be a smaller Calliphora.



Sweet Violets

Eristalis tenax

Calliphora vicina 

Calliphora? - wing veins look same as above but fly half size

A Buzzard circled overhead but the wind was getting up again and I could hear nothing so I cut back into the wood via the next footpath. I felt pretty safe in amongst the trees with the tall Chestnuts swaying in unison, clattering and creaking as the gusts found their way through the branches and I followed a path down towards the main path I had come in on, remembering to collect the moss burglar’s bags on my way.


I found this naturalised Hellebore last spring and it is doing even better this year

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