• Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-July to mid-August 2021

    Michael Walter's latest update:

    It’s the time of year when graphs get brought out of the cupboard, dusted down and re-examined.  The bird survey data has all been analysed, with the result that for some species emerging trends look even stronger than a year ago.  Two examples are given below, and the good news is that jackdaws are enjoying a bit of a renaissance.  The first thing I should say about this graph…

    • 24 Aug 2021
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-June to mid-July 2021

    An update from Michael Walter:

    This year’s heath fritillary season was messed about by the weather, and the peak probably occurred during a fairly prolonged sunless period.  This butterfly is a particularly fussy creature, being reluctant to fly if there is no sun and, to misquote Naomi Campbell, they don’t get out of bed unless it’s 20°.  Despite these problems, it is safe to say that this has been…

    • 19 Jul 2021
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-May to mid-June 2021

    The latest update from Michael Walter:

    On 22nd May a friend heard, and possibly saw, a golden oriole close to the access track leading into the wood from Blean village.  The gorgeous male with yellow and black plumage, red bill and eye ring, has the loveliest, fluty song imaginable (one of its old country names is gypsy whistler), and the species has a somewhat chequered history in England.  In the second half of the …

    • 16 Jun 2021
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-April to mid-May 2021

    Early morning bird surveys have been memorable mainly for the frostbite and hypothermia and – oh yes, the lack of birdsong!  Of interest, though, was a firecrest singing in a holly bush in late April;  about 300yd further on another firecrest was singing, also in a holly thicket, with a possible third bird lurking in the dense foliage.  Less tied to conifers than its cousin, the goldcrest, it nevertheless does enjoy…

    • 18 May 2021
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-March to mid-April 2021

    If you drive up to the car park now, you’re in for a mix of a smooth and bumpy trip;  smooth, because the whole of the access track up to the car park has just been tarmacked, but bumpy because there are now no fewer than eleven speed humps – possibly one of the highest concentrations of sleeping policemen in the country (other than at the end of a long shift at Scotland Yard).  The track is now also lined with…

    • 14 Apr 2021
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-Feb to mid-March 2021

    The arrival of milder weather suddenly made February’s eight days of snow and ice seem like a distant memory, to the extent that a flock of 17 fieldfares loafing in oak trees appeared anachronistic, despite the fact that winter thrushes may be with us for some weeks yet.

     

    Still on the subject of winter thrushes, three times in the past ten days I’ve been cheered enormously by a redwing chorus.  In early spring…

    • 25 Mar 2021
  • Blean Woods National Nature Reserve mid-January to mid-February 2021

    It takes quite a major event to push ‘The Virus’ off the front pages and demote it to second or third topic of conversation, but the recent snow, no longer customary in winter, has done a pretty good job of doing just that.  Initially looking rather grim and forbidding in the deep gloom, the landscape was sparklingly transformed with the return to long-awaited sunny weather.  Eight nights of hard frosts were…

    • 15 Feb 2021
  • 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