Thursday, 11 June 2009

Whinless Down

Whinless Down is a downland ridge leading inland from Dover, above Elms Vale. It's managed by the White Cliffs Countryside Project, and I'd never been there, so it was time for a visit.
It's name does not mean 'windless' - indeed it was quite draughty at the top.

I didn't expect much....just a piece of open downland close to town, with the standard chalk species, but I was surprised by the variety. Some of the area is wooded and is being cleared in stages to provide different growth habitats. Part of the woodland includes oak trees which have seeded up the hillside (becoming more stunted as they ascend).

Also, a thin layer of clay-with-flints overlying the chalk has enabled acid-loving plants like dyers' greenweed to flourish here.
There is also a thriving community of cypress spurge, an attractive member of the family that is only dotted around the county.
Large skipper on cypress spurge

Another plant struck me in one of those 'cool, what the heck is that?' moments. From the books it seems to be crown vetch, a bushy plant that is probably an escape or an introduction, growing right at the top of the hill.
Not many birds around at the moment, as they are busy doing other things. The in-laws have kept their feeders filled and have attracted a wide clientele:
Wood pigeon (they have also had turtle doves visiting)


A great spotted woodpecker feeds his youngsters, who sit in an old plum tree nearby - unfortunately the red-heads kept away from the camera

Plenty of finches (including chaffinches) come down to the ground feeder
and as we know, water is very important too (as is a lack of cats).


Mary said...

Lovely! I hope they really want crownvetch is pretty, but I believe it is fairly invasive. It is sometimes used as groundcover on hillsides and spreads. Love all the birds...unusual jay! Love that water fountain.

Kingsdowner said...

Thanks for the info on crown vetch mary - I assume it's a native plant with you?

Greenie said...

Steve ,
I have seen Dyers Greenweed , but never Cypress Spurge or Crown Vetch , so thank you for that .
Of interest , my book shows Crown Vetch as being a native here and also found throughout Scandinavia and much of Northern Europe .
Stay 'cool' .