Inconspicuous things in the Forest

Autumn is now well settled, and we are slowly but surely slipping into winter – the dark and cold season where trees have no leaves, where animals are hivernating and where everything seems pretty lifeless. But for now, there is still a lot going on! Pretty flowers and warm sunny nights may have gone, yet…

Another home, another heath

A few weeks ago, I moved from Guildford to Woking and decided to explore a few local nature reserves. Located south of the town centre, Prey Heath and Smart’s Heath are two SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) sustaining a very diverse heathland fauna and flora. Both reserves were not grazed for many years, and as…

Fluttering time

Mornings are getting mistier, evenings are getting colder, a sign that we are slowly but surely heading towards the autumn months. 2 weeks ago though, the scenery was still very summery in the local Newlands Corner reserve, a few steps South of Guildford. Fruits are starting to appear in hedges and shrubby areas. Edible ones…

Rainbow colours

No, I’m not talking real rainbows…the rainfall over Surrey has been really low this month, and the sight of yellow lawns and falling leaves might well be a lasting one! I’m talking grasslands, chalk grasslands again, but this time a bit different from the ones found in Guildford. This is Sheepleas reserve, managed by Surrey…

Of grasses and orchids

The area around Guildford is mostly made of chalk grasslands, which are just looking marvellous at this time of the year. Here are some pictures of a quick walk I did in a small reserve overlooking Guildford, Merrow Downs which is also home to Guildford Golf Club. As the name states, this is above all a…

Car Park botany

As some of you might know, I work for a plant conservation charity, Plant Heritage, which manages over 640 National Collections of plants, or, as we like to call them, “living plant libraries“. Some are collections of popular ornamentals such as tulips or yellow daisies, some hold incredibly rare species brought back by adventurous plant…

Riverside walk

After a heathland Bioblitz, it’s time for a change of scene with a walk in Guildford’s Riverside Park (sounds posh, doesn’t it! :D) , a lovely nature reserve maintained by the local borough. The 80 hectare park is made of four different habitats : meadow, wetland, woodland and open water, with the river Wey weaving through it. While…

How much biodiversity on a roadside?

I have been obsessed by roadbanks and escarpments since travelling to South-East Asia. Walking in the rainforest, you can’t help but be amazed by the diversity of plants, invertebrates, birds, and mosses living on these slopes. Here in Mount Kinabalu, Borneo, this ranged from blue spikemosses like this Selaginella uncinata, to jewel orchids with iridescent leaf veins (Anoectochilus…

Heathland awakening

Last week-end was warm and sunny, a good opportunity for a walk in a heathland reserve a few miles away from Guildford. Whitmoor Common is a huge -183 hectares- reserve maintained by Surrey Wildlife Trust, which comprises moor, dry heathland, bracken, birch and pine woodland, a small stream and a large pond. Gorse (Ulex europaeus)…

An after work stroll at Pucks Oak orchard

On Tuesday, the sun finally decided to shine again on Surrey, a perfect opportunity to discover a new reserve, only 10 minutes from my workplace. Meet Pucks Oak Orchard, a traditional orchard that has been restored.  It forms part of the McAlmont Reserves, a collection of natural sites near Compton, maintained by volunteers and the…

Waiting for spring…

March had all well begun, with lovely days of sunshine and soothing temperatures. In the gardens, crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils were blossoming, and birds singing loudly. But it was too good to last – Spring is supposed to be here, and yet, it’s snowing and freezing again… This is a little walk in the local nature…

A pool of mystery…

Some say it is a sacred site that was used by druid for ritual offerings. Some say the famous author Agatha Christie visited the surroundings during her mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926. Some say the ghost of a drowned maiden still haunts the lake nowadays… One thing’s for sure : it casts a spell on…

Berry Times!

Autumn is often regarded as a dull and depressing season, with falling leaves, dying plants and short, rainy days. But it’s also a season of colours, gorgeous harvests, and nature preparing itself for a few months’ sleep! Last week-end, we headed to Newlands Corner, a nature reserve located just a few minutes from Guildford. I…

From Gatwick to Westminster at a glance

In my desperate attempt to catch up with all the blog posts I have missed, this is a lovely place we discovered a few weeks ago, another jewel of Surrey. Wordpress doesn’t to it justice, but the panorama here is gorgeous. London is 25 miles  away (40 km), yet when the weather is clear, you can admire…

Reptile hideout

Oh la la…my last post was one month ago, and I have so many things to say! Well, just to let you know : I took a Franco-Belgian holiday and I just started my new job at an amazing charity called Plant Heritage (hmm..little publicity post coming! 😀 ), so I’ve been pretty busy in…