A 3.15 alarm call and a half hour drive took me to a favourite reserve near Ashford this morning. I’ve been visiting this site on and off for close to 20 years now though the last time I did any photography was probably 5 years ago. It’s the kind of habitat that yields the best opportunities for photography in late spring and summer when such plants as common sundew, heath-spotted orchid, bog asphodel and heather are in bloom as well as the many insects that inhabit the heath. These include leafhoppers, damselflies, dragonflies (including the scarce keeled skimmer) and sand wasps.
Hothfield Common covers an area of approximately 150 acres making it Kent’s largest area of acid heathland. As you would imaging, it is generally an open space of heath with lowland valley bogs and around the perimeter, woodland of predominantly birch with some mature beech to the south.
Due to the invasion of such species as bracken and birch leading to the loss of the heathland habitat, certain measures were necessary to reduce this risk and consequently highland cattle and Koniks are now a feature.
Hothfield Common really is a great place for everyone. There’s a large car park and trails of varying distance and even a road-side snack bar! Be warned however, with the current hot weather we are experiencing, come prepared with a hat and sun cream or if you prefer, like me, get yourself there at dawn. Trust me, it’s worth it.
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About Robert Canis
Robert Canis is a professional photographer specialising in the natural world.
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