• Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-December 2020 to mid-January 2021

    The RSPB, Kent Wildlife Trust and Canterbury City Council have just announced the creation of a £1.9 million project, funded by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, to enable major habitat improvement work to be carried out at Blean Woods and Seasalter Levels (RSPB), West, East and South Blean and Thornden Woods (KWT) and Wraik Hill (CCC).  A project manager and three other staff will shortly be appointed to oversee…

    • 18 Jan 2021
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-November to mid-December 2020

    This month’s number is 40 – wood pigeons and fieldfares.  In November it struck me as slightly odd that I was considering a flock of forty wood pigeons to be noteworthy as, in the past, counts of a hundred were not so unusual, and in the winter of 1985-6 I twice counted a thousand erupting as a dark cloud over the oakwood where they had been gorging on acorns.  I hesitate to say that they darkened the skies…

    • 16 Dec 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-October to mid-November 2020

    Back in the early 1980s it was extremely rare to see a magpie in the wood, not surprisingly, given that it is essentially a bird of open habitats.  However, in the later 1980s there was a fairly sudden rise in the number of sightings, reflecting a steep national increase, and coupled with the creation of more open spaces within the wood, and in the 1990s and 2000s magpies were regularly recorded, occasionally up to eight…

    • 17 Nov 2020
  • RSPB Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-September to mid-October 2020

    The latest report from Michael Walter:

    Russet, orange and red are rapidly becoming the order of the day, now that summer has very definitely lost its grip.  One of my favourite shrubs is the guelder rose;  not very frequent at Blean Woods, it is providing some fiery colour now, but is interesting for much of the year.  In early summer it produces exuberant plates of white flowers, rather like the flattened parasols of cow…

    • 16 Oct 2020
  • RSPB Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-August to mid-September 2020

    The latest report from Michael Walter:

    This spring’s bird populations have now been calculated and, of the 18 monitored species, four have increased (green woodpecker, stock dove, blackcap and jackdaw), three have declined (mistle thrush, tree creeper and bullfinch), while the remaining eleven have been about average.  I didn’t start monitoring stock dove and jackdaw until 2004, so have a much shorter run of figures…

    • 21 Sep 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve - mid-August to mid-September 2020

    This spring’s bird populations have now been calculated and, of the 18 monitored species, four have increased (green woodpecker, stock dove, blackcap and jackdaw), three have declined (mistle thrush, tree creeper and bullfinch), while the remaining eleven have been about average.  I didn’t start monitoring stock dove and jackdaw until 2004, so have a much shorter run of figures than for the other species.  For…

    • 16 Sep 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-July to mid-August 2020

    The latest update from Michael Walter:

    The world seems to be divided into those who luxuriate in this summer’s heat and those who find it unbearably debilitating.  In the natural world there are also bound to be winners and losers:  woodcock, which rely on probing soft ground for invertebrates, are probably suffering, but many young birds may have benefitted from the warm and dry conditions during the critical fledging…

    • 20 Aug 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-July to mid-August 2020

    The world seems to be divided into those who luxuriate in this summer’s heat and those who find it unbearably debilitating.  In the natural world there are also bound to be winners and losers:  woodcock, which rely on probing soft ground for invertebrates, are probably suffering, but many young birds may have benefitted from the warm and dry conditions during the critical fledging period.  We’ll have a better idea…

    • 17 Aug 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-June to mid-July 2020

    The holy grail for butterfly enthusiasts is undoubtedly the purple emperor, our largest butterfly, scarce but probably massively overlooked due to its habit of spending much of its life wheeling above the tree canopy.  So determined were the Victorian collectors to bag their specimens that some took to wielding nets on 30-foot poles in a bid to snare them on high.  There are some known sites in west and north Kent for this…

    • 16 Jul 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve Mid-May to mid-June 2020

    The good news is that the heath fritillary has enjoyed another splendid season, marginally better than last year’s excellent total.  The graph below shows how numbers have built up rapidly over the past three years from a nadir in 2016-7.  Although populations collapsed at several normally reliable colonies, these losses were more than made up for by healthy numbers at other sites, and by strong colonisations of several…

    • 17 Jun 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-April to mid-May 2020

    Roll out the good news!  After last year’s poor showing of just thirty nightingale territories, the provisional figure for this spring is a far healthier 42.  Interestingly, several of the sites are in what I would normally consider sub-optimal habitat – narrow strips of scrub, and coppice that is at least ten years old (the normal age range of chosen coppice is around three to eight years old).  Nationally…

    • 18 May 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-March to mid-April 2020

    The latest report from Michael Walter:

    When the birds of a wood, albeit quite a large one by southern English standards, have been recorded for 38 years, you do tend to be running out of surprises;  in that time I’ve recorded ten species of wader, rarities like wryneck and Arctic redpoll, and, most bizarrely, fulmar, but nothing had prepared me for the latest addition to the reserve list on 2nd April – a white-tailed…

    • 14 Apr 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-February to mid-March 2020

    The latest update from Michael Walter:

    Keeping databases seems to be a largely male fetish, and I have to admit to my fair share of them (databases and fetishes!), but they aren’t necessarily a sign of an obsessive compulsive disorder, and these rows and columns of figures can have their uses. So, for example, when the press says that this has been the wettest winter on record, I can turn to my weather statistics and…

    • 18 Mar 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-January to mid-February 2020

    The latest report from Michael Walter:

    It seems to have been an extremely quiet period for most species that usually grace the reserve for at least part of the winter:  two small finches, the siskin and redpoll, are virtually non-existent, at least when I visit the wood;  and our two wintering thrushes – redwing and fieldfare – have been in extremely short supply, even in the orchards locally.  The mild weather…

    • 22 Feb 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-Dec 2019 to mid-Jan 2020

    The latest report from Michael Walter:

    One of Blean Wood’s hidden gems is its heathland and, if you’ve visited the reserve, you’ll no doubt have followed a waymarked trail through a two-hectare heath.  Delightful though this is, especially in late summer when all the heather is in drowsy, honey-scented bloom, it is quite a small area.  A second heathy block, six times the size, is tucked away down the…

    • 17 Jan 2020
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-Nov to mid-Dec 2019

    The British Trust for Ornithology annually mobilises thousands of volunteers to carry out counts in a variety of habitats as part of its Breeding Bird Survey, which monitors the health of the UK’s birds.  There is an inevitable time lag between the data being collected and the results published, but we now have the figures for 2018.  One interesting trend is that for nuthatch;  nationally, the population has been rising…

    • 17 Dec 2019
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve Mid-October to mid-November 2019

    Unsurprisingly, given that it is our smallest bird, the goldcrest is easily overlooked, but there are actually quite a lot of them in the wood at the moment.  This is because, perhaps even more surprisingly, it is a partial migrant;  that is to say, some goldcrests remain here all year round, but others arrive here in autumn from Scandinavia, along with redwings and fieldfares, which are all escaping the harsh winter climate…

    • 18 Nov 2019
  • Fungi Foray at Blean Woods!

    On Saturday 9th November (10am - 12pm) we will be hosting a 'Fungi Foray' at Blean Woods. Our local expert will lead a guided walk, delving into the hidden world of fungi! You will learn how to identify different species and separate the fact from the fiction. 

    A magnifying glass will be handy, but is not mandatory.

    BOOKING ESSENTIAL.

    £3 for RSPB members or £5 for non-members. Under 16's and students go free!…

    • 22 Oct 2019
  • RSPB Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-Sept - mid-Oct 2019

    The latest report by Michael Walter:

    Returning from a few days’ holiday in a glorious part of the Lake District in mid-September, I was quite surprised to note that the development of bracken’s autumn hues of yellow, orange and bronze were more advanced in Blean Woods than in the harsher climate of the exposed fells.  I can only assume that the much greater stress from heat and drought down in the soft south…

    • 18 Oct 2019
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-August - mid-September

    Last month I touched on the resurgence of the brimstone.  Well, now it’s official:  this has been the best season in 38 years of monitoring for this large and attractive butterfly, as the graph opposite shows indisputably.  The line is now approaching verticality, and it will be interesting to see if it starts to level off next year, as such a meteoric rise is unlikely to be sustained for much longer. 

     

    With just seven…

    • 17 Sep 2019
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-July - mid-August 2019

    Michael Walters' latest report:

    In the plant world, the flowers with the greatest charisma, panache and pizzazz are undoubtedly the orchids.  While we can’t boast the dramatic epiphytic orchids that grow on trees in the tropics, there are about fifty species to be found on these islands, and we can even claim five of them at Blean Woods, although two (pyramidal and southern marsh) were only ever present as single…

    • 16 Aug 2019
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-June - mid-July 2019

    Michael Walters' latest report:

    Butterflies have been very much to the fore in recent weeks, starting with a minor invasion of painted ladies;  I qualify the influx as “minor” in order to distinguish it from the 2009 inundation that overwhelmed the countryside, when many millions of painted ladies reached our shores from north Africa.  This migration is achieved by a succession of generation hops – adults…

    • 18 Jul 2019
  • Butterfly walk - Saturday 29th June

    (Brimstone - photo by Lesley Brown)

    We are hosting an afternoon walk at the RSPB Blean Woods National Nature Reserve to look at a selection of the 25+ species that call the reserve home. We will look at the wildflowers and grasses that the butterflies feed on and keep an eye out for the rare heath fritillary!

    £3 for RSPB members and students. £5 for non-members. Under 16's go free!

    To book phone 01227…

    • 25 Jun 2019
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve Mid-May to mid-June 2019

    Michael Walters latest report:

    Last month I mentioned the unwelcome find of a clump of Spanish bluebells in the wood;  I am therefore grateful to a reader who drew my attention to a post on the BBC website which suggested that the Spanish bluebell may itself be a hybrid, and is less fertile than our native bluebell, so unlikely to hybridise it out of existence.

     

    A surprising sight on 27th May was of a flock of about 80…

    • 24 Jun 2019
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-April to mid-May 2019

    Michael's latest report:

    Rewilding is very much in the news these days, with landowners allowing the whim of nature to dictate how a habitat develops, nudging to one side the contractors with chainsaws and bulldozers.  Instead the land managers are livestock, preferably old breeds of cattle, horses and pigs, which eat some of the developing scrub, create a seedbed by churning up the ground and stop ponds from disappearing…

    • 18 May 2019