The super moon and its total eclipse

by Trevor Morgan

Supermoon1A total lunar eclipse of the super moon is a rare occurrence: the last one was in 1982 and the next one will occur 2033.

I looked forward to it with increasing anticipation and excitement. Luckily the observing conditions were excellent during the early hours of Monday morning the 28th September 2015. The weather was also kind, so there was no need for a thick coat and gloves.

The super moon is supposed to appear 14% bigger and 30 % brighter than an ordinary full moon so I began to observe the moon before the eclipse started. I could not honestly say that the super moon looked any different to an ordinary full moon. Our memories are short after we make observations and it is difficult to remember how bright the full moon is from one month to the next. Continue reading

Dark skies from Tubbenden Meadow by Trevor Morgan

When I was a young lad living in West Wales in the 1950s I had no problem finding a location without any light pollution as all I had to do was walk about half a mile from my village. It was easy to see the Milky Way and recognise the constellations. Orion in particular was a wonderful sight and you could easily see its nebula with the naked eye. The night sky was an inspirational sight and my sense of wonder and awe at seeing the heavens in their full glory has not diminished and it still stimulates my imagination. Continue reading

Summer Migrants on the Way!

Gary1In the next few weeks our woods will be full of the sounds of birds singing. Males make themselves known at this time to attract mates and to establish and maintain their territories. They add to the resident birds like Great tits as they call ‘teacher, teacher’ and the drumming of the Great Spotted Woodpecker. Soon we will be hearing Chiffchaffs as they sing throughout the woodland like their name implies.




Gary2Later Blackcaps and Garden Warblers will add to the chorus with their melodious, bubbly song. Approximately the size of a House Sparrow, the male has a black cap on his head, while the female has a brown cap.

Look out for these new arrivals as you wander through the woods in Spring!

Keeping Fit In Darrick Wood

Image0019 (1)Last year my wife and I took up running to keep fit. We reckoned that the school playing field near the tennis courts and bounded by Darrick Wood would be a good place to train. We found it to be perfect. We were a little hesitant to run far at first and planned four laps of the track, just over 1600 metres, but we were pleasantly surprised that we achieved over 3,000 metres on our first run.

We have always been avid walkers and we often walk through Darrick Wood to get to Downe village via Farnborough. The walking had stood us in good stead to achieve a medium distance on our first run.

The track and the paths through the woods and Tubbenden meadow are ideal for running. The ground has plenty of give in it and it is much easier on the knee joints than running on the streets. Continue reading

Darrick Wood – March / April 2014

P1000934by Pat Collinson
We do love to discuss the weather, don’t we – and the first ten weeks of 2014 have given us plenty to discuss – with confirmation by the MET Office that it has been the wettest winter on record. I confess that I am a “statistic addict” and have kept daily weather details since 1982 – so here are the local rainfall figures for the start of 2014.  January 228mm, February 143mm, and March (up to the 21st) 24mm – a total of almost 16 inches compared to other parts of the country (Somerset for instance) this is paltry, but we are considered to be one of the driest areas and it certainly felt pretty wet!!  The previous wettest start was 2001 with 335mm, which included the whole of March (113mm) and made a total of about 13½ inches . . . So what surprises has the coming Spring got in store for us?  Two inches of snow in April?  A hosepipe ban in May? Continue reading

Winter 2013

By Pat Collinson

It is hard to believe, as I write this, that there are only seven weeks to go before we welcome the new year. Will 2014 give us better weather than 2013? I do hope so!

At the end of May the Met Office announced that it had been the coldest Spring for 50 years, and temperatures continued unseasonably mixed — June 30th max 78°f (approx. 26°C) but July 2nd chilled out at a max of 58°f (14°C), a shivering drop of 20°f!! July 6th gave us a max of 78°f — then down to 70°f by July 11th — but on 13th we hit 82°f, and the mini heat wave continued (too hot for some—myself included!) for two weeks reaching a sizzling 88°f (31°C) on 22nd July. August stayed mostly in the 70—72°f range — comfortable but seeming rather cool for the (usually) hottest month of Summer — and the 24th and 25th were two of the wettest days of the year, with a combined total of 49mm — just missing 2 inches (50mm) of rain. I have been asked several times what the rainfall totals were for September and October, so here they are — September 96mm, October 110mm — compared to 2012, 61mm, 137mm and 2011, 29mm, 27mm. 2012 was one of our wettest years, with a total of 943mm, and 2011 was one of our driest years with a total of 605mm. And I apologise to all readers who are falling asleep form boredom — no more weather — except to say thank goodness the October 2013 storm was not as fierce and destructive as the infamous 16th October 1987. Earlier in the summer we were told we might expect a particularly spectacular show of Autumn colour — but the foliage of trees and bushes remained stubbornly green as September and October passed! The Field Maples took on their lovely yellow hue and Oaks mingled ochre and rusty tones with their green — but the winds of October have brought down a lot of leaves and the dominant hue is still green! Continue reading

Bethlem Royal Hospital Walk

By Vanessa Dixon

On August 15th a group of us took the opportunity to explore new territory. We went for a walk in the grounds of the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham.  The weather didn’t look too promising at first, but we were fortunate and the threatened rain never arrived. Once Alan Filby had given a brief introduction to the history of the hospital and security had been made aware of our presence we set off on nature trail number 1. Continue reading

Spring 2013

by Pat Collison

So far 2013 has been high on the list of my unfavourite years.  Reason?  The weather . . . I cannot remember such a prolonged spell of chilly days and nights.  It was reassuring when the Met Office announced – at the end of May – that 2013 had been the coldest spring for 50 years.  I had not started making weather notes back in 1963, so I take their word for it.  Not only was it cold, it was gloomy – as though the layer of cloud was fixed overhead for days at a time.  The woods and fields were cold and wet – the mud often with a layer of ice, as though winter refused to loosen its grip.   But at last the anemones and bluebells made an appearance in the wood – the anemones first, about two or three weeks later than usual – then the bluebells, also late, more numerous and widespread than ever before – while at the woods’ edge the buds of hawthorn and sloe began to open along their black twigs – and, slowly, Spring began to catch up and the blossom seemed more generous than usual – in gardens as well as hedgerows and wood edges – cherries and especially wisterias, were positively laden with flowers.  Foliage, too, seemed more dense – the woodland canopy heavier and more shady – dramatically beautiful on the (rare) sunny days, creating deep, dark shade, broken by dazzling patches of sunlight – especially where shining through the young leaves. Continue reading

Winter 2012

by Pat Collison

As a nation we British tend to be rather weather obsessed (the first question asked of returning holiday makers – “what was the weather like?”).  Well, 2013 has already been a hot topic – or a cold and wet one – on TV, radio news and weather forecasts, with stories of floods, blizzards, landslides – all weather-related, of course, and in various parts of the British Isles – though not (so far!) in Darrick Wood or the surrounding areas.  Here we suffered mainly from grey gloomy skies, plus quite a heavy snowfall on January 18th, which covered the ground – and everything else – for 8 days before rain on 25th washed most of it away.  Altogether January rain (and snow melt) totalled only 55mm (just over 2 inches).  But coming on top of the 317mm of the previous three months it left marsh-like conditions in most of the wood and meadows – and many regular dog-walkers transferred to High Elms which benefitted from stonier, higher and drier paths. . . Continue reading

Autumn 2012

by Pat Collison

Those of us still waiting for summer to begin can now officially give up – September 22 was the first day of Autumn, and this is driven home firmly with the statement that on Sunday 28th October British Summertime ends, – which means, of course, that we put the clocks back an hour, evenings are dark earlier and we must look forward to (hopefully) a colourful autumn and a not-too-chilly winter, – and forget about the summer that never quite got settled in. There were plenty of sunny days but few “spells of sunny weather”, the sunshine constantly interrupted by grey days, with or without drizzle, – and of course the torrential downpour of 77mm (just over 3 inches) of rain on June 10th and 11th. Continue reading