• Guest Blog: Spring/Summer Update

    Guest Blogger: Alice McCourt, Warden Intern

    It has been a busy spring/summer season again this year, with lots of highlights from our breeding birds. After much frustration, we have finally been able to confirm the first breeding record of Cattle Egret for Kent in the woodland at Northward Hill! It has been a very exciting find, and we are grateful for all the hard work by Murray Orchard and Terry Paternoster to survey…

    • 8 Aug 2019
  • Guest Blog: Owl Awareness Day

    Guest Blogger: Alice McCourt, Warden Intern

    As an intern, I am very lucky to be so immersed in reserve life, but recently I’ve had the pleasure of getting very well acquainted with some of our owl species as they have given me a front row seat to their night-time antics. To celebrate Owl Awareness Day, I'm very pleased to share the news of their breeding success across the reserve this year!

    The season started…

    • 4 Aug 2019
  • Guest Blog: My Residential Volunteering Experience

    Having spent one month at Northward Hill as a residential volunteer, what I thought would be awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping became my everyday norm: birds of prey hunting on the reserve; owls sitting on the washing line; and rabbits playing jovially in the garden every evening.

    Knowing little or nothing isn’t a worry as I was taught and most importantly, shown, everything there was to know. From the broad idea of how…

    • 26 Jul 2019
  • Guest blog: Insects in this week

    Another week another collection of moths. This week the Robinsons trap was examined around midday on the 24th July 2019. Having only mothed twice at this reserve I am unsure if the weather has any effect on the current status of moths, however the trap was filled with over 45 different species of moths and the 32 degree peak heat during the day seemed to really wake up the moths in the trap. There was seemingly a whole…

    • 25 Jul 2019
  • Bee good to bees.

    Having just read The Good Bee by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum I felt I knew a little bit more about this fascinating group. This morning I noticed a bee on my driveway in Chattenden, not flying and crawling in a very lethargic way. Taking the advice of the authors I carefully scooped it up. Then I made a very sugary mixture and soaked it into a small ball of cotton wool and placed the bee on it. Within seconds…

    • 20 Jul 2019
  • Moth trap yesterday morning.

    Yesterday morning I was privileged to look through the specimens collected overnight with intern Marie. Here is a list and a couple of photos of highlights for me. Riband Wave, Latticed Heath, Dark Arches, Box Moth, Small Magpie, Least Carpet, Heart and Dart, Beautiful Hook-tip, Synaphe punctalis, Thistle Ermine, Dwarf Cream Wave, Agapeta hamana, Privet Hawk Moth, Buff Ermine, Lappet, Lackey, Dusky Sallow, Bright-line Brown…

    • 18 Jul 2019
  • Summer colours of RSPB Northward Hill.

    The reserve is absolutely beautiful this time of year, a sea of every shade of green, a myriad chlorophyll created hues, from light lime green to dark spinach green. This evening, even at this tardy week in midsummer a male cuckoo echoed his disyllabic song muffled through the impenetrable close-leaved sallows. How many more days will he throw out his plea and threat to listening brethren and sisters?

    Potential suitors may…

    • 27 Jun 2019
  • A brilliant weekend on the Cliffe North Kent Marshes

    As I say above the weekend has been a little bit special starting off on Friday with a visit to Higham Marsh to look for the Peregrine Falcons nesting on the pylon. On one were two, on another was a third, at least two looking like fully fledged birds.

    On the way back looking left over Higham I could see a raptor being mobbed by the usual corvids, on closer inspection (though bins, of course) I could see the unmistakable…

    • 24 Jun 2019
  • The sheer joy of RSPB Northward Hill.

    The reserve is looking really green and verdant at this time of the year and it nice to hear a fledgeling Cuckoo was seen yesterday afternoon on the power lines near to the office by Frank Cackett.

    Despite the dull weather, the site was still home to a lone Cuckoo not sure of the sex however as it flew low over the brambles in the distance.

    James informed me a female was still calling on Tuesday late afternoon, interestingly…

    • 13 Jun 2019
  • Female Cuckoo laying an egg! Well, maybe!

    I went to the reserve mid-afternoon today and spent most of the time as usual along the 'office track' and up to Ernie Hemsley Vp. Sadly I missed the family scattering Paul Keenes' ashes on Sweeney Vp. After a couple of hours hearing two males singing and a female 'gawking' I went down to the electric fence gate to study the vegetation emerging from the murky water to see if I could catch a dragonfly pupating into…

    • 2 Jun 2019
  • Baby Tawny Owls.

    Tawny Owlets were raised for the first time in the Owl Box on the Walnut Tree, every year over the last half a dozen since it's been there it's been occupied by Jackdaws. It was a surprise to find out 17 days ago that two almost fledged youngsters, were in there. After a week they were both out of the nest and perching high up hidden by the foliage. I watched them over the next few evenings being fed by both parents…

    • 1 Jun 2019
  • Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae)

    This brightly coloured day-flying moth is often mistaken for a butterfly by casual observers and not without good reason. It is brightly coloured and as I say is seen fluttering around the reserve on the sunniest of days. This time of year it is easy to find flying around low to the ground looking for a suitable plant, generally Common Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris). The relationship between these two is interesting, the…

    • 1 Jun 2019
  • A familiar sight, slightly under-estimated.

    We so often see a bird, insect or animal we dismiss as common and sometimes truly miss its' stunning beauty and sheer 'amazingness'. Look at this photo taken in the Walnut tree car-park yesterday. The Male Common Pheasant. A bird introduced by the Romans.

    The common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is a bird in the pheasant family unsurprisingly;  The genus name comes from the Latin Phasianus, "pheasant". The…

    • 30 May 2019
  • Shield Bugs

    I found these two mating in amongst the nettles, not wishing to disturb them too much I took a hurried photo on the mobile for later identification. I believe it to be a Sloe Shield Bug (Dolycoris baccarum).  Apparently, they are also known as Hairy Shield Bugs.

    Now the weather is improving again I am hoping to discover more interesting minibeasts.

    • 30 May 2019
  • My two favourite birds

    This afternoon I went to Northward Hill RSPB a little later in the day than normal ie early afternoon about 2pm.. As I was chatting to Trevor Hatton from the Medway Local Group I heard the unmistakable loud, bubbling trill, not dissimilar to a Little Grebe overhead the office. I immediately went outside and a Cuckoo was clearly on the overhead telephone wires, she was not calling so I made the assumption it was a she. Within…

    • 28 May 2019
  • Medway and Maidstone Groups' Coach trip to Rutland Water.

    Yesterday saw the long-awaited trip to the best place in England to see Ospreys. This is the second time the two groups have amalgamated on coach trips, proving very successful.

    Leaving Sittingbourne at 7 am,  we called in briefly at the Railway Station, then onto Parkwood, Rainham and County Hall, Maidstone to pick up members, eventually leaving at 8 am for Rutland Water Nature Reserve. It was a Bank Holiday Weekend and…

    • 27 May 2019
  • RSPB Gravesend Local Group Outdoor Meetings

    Some forthcoming trips.

     

    Sunday 9 June 10am—4pm

    THURSLEY COMMON NNR

    Meet in The Moat car park GU8 6LW (SU899416).  A special habitat with hobby, redstart, woodlark & Dartford warbler as well as numerous dragonfly species.  Bring binoculars if you have them and a packed lunch. Outdoor meetings are free of charge.

    Saturday 22 June         10am - 4pm

    OARE MARSHES KWT RESERVE

    Oare Marshes ME13 0QD (TR013647). Reed beds alive…

    • 27 May 2019
  • Two male Cuckoos

    A busy day today and I only managed to spend an hour at NwH RSPB reserve. After ten minutes a Cuckoo sang just opposite the office-track, probably on the over-head wire partially obscured by the surrounding trees. I then saw it fly into the wood followed a second later by another. In flight and unless they 'cuckoo' it is fairly difficult to sex them.

    I think I would be safe to describe the Cuckoo as iconic, encapsulating…

    • 24 May 2019
  • Sixth and final Nightingale Walk.

    Yesterday evening was the last walk in this series of showing people the beauty and uniqueness of RSPB Northward Hill. There is something special about an evening walk at this time of year, the light of the setting sun across the marsh to the west is pretty stunning, giving the vista a rich golden bath. It goes without saying the freshly emerging foliage on ancient trees such as the mighty oak in that light is absolutely…

    • 24 May 2019
  • Stoat and Magpie.

    Yesterday morning I saw an unusual sight as I drove off site, it the middle of the road was a Stoat attacking a Magpie as the former saw me it scuttled off in the kerbside bracken. The Magpie appeared injured on its right wing because it drooped badly, enough to prevent it from flying off as would be expected.

    It hopped up the opposite bank and disappeared down a rabbit hole, to either die or be found again by the fleeing…

    • 20 May 2019
  • Lodge Hill

    I visited the disused army camp at Lodge Hill in Chattenden this morning as I've not been there much of late due to going to Northward Hill a lot recently obsessing with their Cuckoos and Nightingales.

    Almost straight away before I'd got out of my car a male burst forth with a full song in an uncharacteristically sparsely leaved bramble, giving me the best view of this actually seldom seem bird.

    As I slowly walked…

    • 18 May 2019
  • Fifth Nightingale Walk

    Thursday was the second walk at RSPB Cliffe Pools and the fifth one overall. It was a pleasant surprise to meet twenty people in the car-park at Cliffe, even though I was a couple of minutes late and the gates were locked as I'd forgotten to remind reserve staff not to close it at five as normal. Once I'd unlocked we went in, parked up and introduced ourselves. It was nice to see a few returning faces and some from last…

    • 18 May 2019
  • A couple of firsts.

    This time of the year is just when old friends are awaited eagerly for their welcome return. The warblers, Cuckoos and Nightingales have been here a little over a month already.

    I saw my first Swift high over the reserve feeding on winged insects up on high last week, but today I heard my first screaming party as two males pursued a female with that classic summer sound,  shrill screeching, as classic as the song of the…

    • 12 May 2019
  • Lodge Hill.

    Today having spent a great deal of time at RSPB Northward Hill, I thought it was about time I paid a visit to the fabulous Lodge Hill. For those who don't know it, it is an abandoned British Army Camp in Chattenden. Medway Council have had their eye on it as a potential 'small town' for some years now. Originally a plan was put in place to build 5,000 dwellings on the site with planned infrastructure such as schools…

    • 11 May 2019
  • Fourth Medway RSPB Nightingale Walk

    Spending most the day on the reserve at Northward Hill I was well used to the weather patterns this Thursday. Basically, it was torrential rain for 20 minutes, then dry for the same period. It was nice to meet the volunteers, as they had their lunch who'd been out on the reserve planting up Comfrey, Ground Ivy, White Dead Nettle and Black Horehound.

    It was really good to catch up with Kate and her team from the Bumble…

    • 9 May 2019