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WALKS 1ST HALF YEAR 2014137 - Copy

Shoveler Anas clypeata, drakes in flight, Norfolk, AprilLovely weather for ducks as a record number lands at RSPB Cliffe Pools

The North Kent Marshes are a vital winter retreat for European ducks and waders that escape the frozen north, a birdwatching spectacle that has drawn ornithologist Murray Orchard to Cliffe Pools for the past forty years. This month Murray counted 720 of one of the UK’s most attractive ducks, the Shoveler, dispersed across the flooded clay pits.

Murray said, “This count is probably the highest at a single site in Kent since 1961. In my experience, the last two winters have seen the largest gatherings of waders and ducks in the history of Cliffe Pools. I have never before seen so many Shoveler in one place at one time; the total is four times the national threshold and almost twice the international threshold for conservation significance.”

The male Shoveler has an enormous beak and striking plumage and is normally seen in much lower numbers, less than a hundred, than the other species of duck.

The clay pits became an RSPB reserve in 2000, and are unique in the Thames Estuary for their saline lagoons. Murray lived near Cliffe for thirty years and regularly travels down from his home in Hertfordshire; counting birds on this scale takes experience and patience, skills Murray has honed since the age of 12 when he started birdwatching in his garden. Murray said, “Seeing these Shoveler was a great pleasure but they were hard to count, taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend will be a much simpler task.”

Cliffe Pools recently attracted 10,000 Dunlin at high tide, which Murray described as “twisting and turning like a huge cloud of smoke over the pools,” and 9,000 Black-tailed Godwits were recorded last winter. The information gathered by enthusiasts such as Murray, and all those participating in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, provides a finger on the pulse of nature in the UK, buying time to respond to conservation threats before long term damage is done to UK wildlife.

kwthighcowWith the increasing amount and variety of livestock that the Trust owns or loans conservation grazing is becoming an increasingly important management tool. Thanks to recent project funding, many of the chalk downland reserves in the Darenth Valley are being grazed by sheep and cattle this winter, and this year for the first time we will be using goats to control invasive buddleia and silver birch at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. Read More

golden ploverLate summer and early autumn at Oare Marshes have seen huge numbers of wading birds passing through on their annual migration to over-wintering locations.

During August and September counts in excess of 2,000 black-tailed godwit, 750 redshank, 150 dunlin,100 ringed plover, 200 golden plover and 50 curlew sandpipers have been recorded – the highest count of the latter for many years. Read More

listening to treesIf you’ve ever felt like branching out and having a new experience Medway Council could have the answer for you later this month.

A new art installation will give people the chance to listen to the inner workings of trees.

To get to the root of it – how does it work?

Artist Alex Metcalf uses special high performance microphones to record the sounds from inside the tree as water is pulled up from the roots to the leaves. Read More

Over the last year Hoo Peninsula residents have been meeting with local farmers, environmentalists, businesses and planners to discuss what the Hoo Peninsula could be like as a place to live and work.

Key to this is thinking more about how we can use “greening” projects to improve your quality of life as well as that for wildlife and business. A greening project could be the planting of more trees in villages to reduce temperatures in the summer. Such work could also improve local pride and provide a home for wildlife. The following link to a short video shows other examples of greening projects and their wider benefits http://vimeo.com/38736492.

These local meetings (called Community Conversations) have been organised as part of a larger EU funded project called GIFT-T! (Green Infrastructure for Tomorrow – Together!). The end goal of this work is to see if we can demonstrate what a strong social, economic and environmental future for people, wildlife and business could be.

GIFT-T! is at an early stage but we are really keen to hear the views of lots of local people – of all ages and interests about the Peninsula’s environment and future. To make this as easy as possible an on-line questionnaire has been set up where you can tell us your thoughts. The link is http://139.165.29.43/Gift/Hoopeninsula/

What next?

1. Your information will be saved and will form a key part of the information directing our work.
2. It might be possible to show the results in a future addition of the Peninsula Times.
3. You could attend a future Community Conversation meeting – email Martin.hall@gtgkm.org.uk or call 01634 337593 with your contact details.

Oct Poster

Festival of Wildlife 2013 – Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th August, 10am – 4pm

This free family event, now in its 6th year, is the only annual event in Kent to celebrate the wonderful world of wildlife. Organised by Kent Wildlife Trust and centred in and around a splendid woodland and lakeside setting – the packed programme features bug hunting, guided walks and angling demonstrations. The ‘Best of Kent’ stalls will offer all manner of arts and crafts and tasty locally-sourced food products. More

Harpella forficella by Ross Newham

Harpella forficella by Ross Newham

A species of moth not previously seen in Kent and known only by its Latin name Harpella forficella has been discovered at Kent Wildlife Trust’s Holborough Marshes nature reserve, near Snodland. This striking cream and brown moth, native to Europe, was found by amateur naturalist and Trust volunteer, Ross Newham. Ross undertakes moth recording at a number of Trust reserves across West Kent, with all records helping to build up a detailed inventory of the species in the area. Using this information, conservation bodies can then study the biological records available to plan the management of sites. More

wildlife7oaks2The only annual event in Kent to celebrate the wonderful world of wildlife. This FREE family fun event, now in its 6th year, will be jam packed with interactive activities including bug hunting, small mammal searches, live music, traditional folk dancing and our popular guided walks. There will be opportunities to participate in creative, environmentally aware workshops and demonstrations that share traditional values and you will go home having learnt a little bit more about your natural environment and the wildlife of Kent. More

Two events are coming up at Northward Hill thanks to the RSPB, if you can get there, you really will enjoy both. They are fun and educational for the children (and an adult if I’m honest) and a great way for them to appreciate and develop a feel for the environment.

BWSO Final lowres

W&CF poster 2013 FINAL lowres

03 De Bello CanzioJoin Kent Wildlife Trust on Bank Holiday Monday 27th May for BIGBURY REVEALED!
(Bigbury Nature Reserve, Harbledown. 10am – 4pm) – FREE entry.

Step back in time and experience Bigbury Camp as it was in 54BC. Meet up with the local Cantii tribe as they face the Roman invasion. Discover the hidden side of the recently restored Iron Age Hill Fort – a Scheduled Ancient Monument, thought to be the site of Caesar’s first battle. More

Kent Wildlife Trust is hosting an exciting series of family ‘Discovery Day’ events this May half-term at its Tyland Barn Visitor Centre, Sandling near Maidstone.

The Trust’s Community Education Officer, Mary Blackwell, said: “On Friday 31st May
from 10am – 12 noon and 1.30 – 3.30pm, our brand new Theatre of the Pond event will see trained actress and artist, Victoria Wainwright, helping intrepid budding performers to explore the wildlife in a pond before unleashing their creativity and creating a pond-life play! More

Swan by Jason SteelKent Wildlife Trust has launched its 6th annual Wildlife Photography Competition to encourage local residents to venture out this spring and summer to capture images of the natural assets of the ‘Garden of England’.

The four broad categories cover Fauna (mammals, insects, birds etc.), Flora (plants, trees, lichens, fungi etc.), Landscape, Coastline & People and Junior (aged 17 and under). Photographs can be taken at nature reserves, parks, schools, gardens, seaside etc., but must be in Kent. More

BioBlitz at Darland Banks nature reserve tonight, Gillingham ME7 3ER, 5pm – 9pm. Join scientists, naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts to help us count as many species as possible in four hours.

You don’t need to be an expert to help, you could also have a go with a bat detector, find our about the reserve and meet our cattle and horses and find out what they do for wildlife.

Parking is at the end of Darland Avenue, follow signes from there to the recording hub to get involved. Please telephone Lee or Alison on 01622 662012 with any queries.

Kent Wildlife Trust have a fantastic event for the week begining of the 27th May at Blean between Canterbury and Whitstable. Click on the link below to visit their page with all of the information you need. Fun and learning activities for all the family.

http://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/whats/blean-woodland-festival
blean_festival_queens_of_the_forest

The leader of Gravesham Borough Council Cllr John Burden has issued the following statement in the wake of media reports of rare distinguished jumping spider (sitticus distinguendus) on Swanscombe Peninsula where the Paramount Resort is being proposed. It is one of only two sites in the UK where these spiders live – the other being across the river on West Thurrock marshes. More

Adder (c) Jason Steel

Adder (c) Jason Steel

Kent Wildlife Trust welcomes the recognition of Lodge Hill – earmarked as a 5,000 home development site – as a nationally important site for wildlife by Natural England, the Government’s advisor on the natural environment.

On 13th March Natural England, the Government’s advisor on the natural environment, notified Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

SSSIs comprise some of the country’s best wildlife sites, including our most spectacular, important and beautiful habitats, and Natural England has a duty to designate such areas under national legislation that protects them for future generations.

Chattenden Woods, a large area of ancient woodland and grassland, was originally designated as a SSSI in 1984 under the Wildlife & Countryside Act. More recently, investigations into the adjacent Lodge Hill site as part of proposals for a significant housing development, have highlighted that this area is also very important for the same reasons.

The site supports communities of bats (six species), lizards, grass snakes, adders, slow worms, newts, frogs, toads, badgers and rare insects such as the shrill carder-bee.

It has a significant breeding bird population, most notably nightingales, which were found to be widespread across the proposed development site, and the new SSSI supports at least 1.3% of the national population of this declining species. The new SSSI encompasses the old SSSI and the important areas of Lodge Hill. More

This is a fairly short video showing the importance of the type of countryside we have here in Kent. And in Kent we are lucky enough to have a larger range of environment types than most other counties in the UK, from chalky grassland to marshland and mud flat, from light sandy soils to heavy clay, we have something of everything.

Please watch this video, some of the flowers would leave you believing that you were in the tropics

Groundwork Kent and Medway Landscape Design Team, Medway Council, mhs homes and other partners have secured funding from The Big Tree Plant to plant more than 25,000 trees in Kent and Medway over the next three years.

Trees are great in so many ways – for improving air quality, improving happiness and well being, and for bringing more wildlife and beauty into estates. There are several sites across Medway that are getting additional tree planting this winter. Come along to any of the following events to help plant the trees, learn more about trees, and enjoy quizzes, games, free doughnuts and apples. More

Kent Wildlife Trust is dismayed at the proposals for an airport covering the eastern end of the Hoo peninsula. More

The County’s biggest wildlife event, the Festival of Wildlife, organised by Kent Wildlife Trust, returns to the beautiful lakeside and woodland setting of Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve and visitor centre on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st August – open from 10am-4pm. More

This has been a productive, interesting, and exciting year at Buckland lake reserve, the crowning endorsement for all our efforts being the GOLD AWARD More

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