• A message from Beccy Speight.

    Update: 21st May 2020

    A message from RSPB Chief Executive Beccy Speight

    In my last update, I let you know of our gradual and phased approach to the challenging task of reopening our amazing network of nature reserves, following the change to Government guidance in England.

    From the many of you who have been in touch, we know how much you are looking forward to getting back out into nature and enjoying these…

    • 4 Jun 2020
  • The importance of insects (part 1). Honey Bees

    Honey bees make honey from pollen and nectar collected from flowers. They live in large colonies with one queen, many sterile females workers and some male drones. In the wild honey bees nest in hollow trees.

    When a new queen emerges, she embarks on a mating flight. On returning to her hive, with help from the workers, she kills the failing, old queen. Alternatively, before the new queen emerges, the old queen may leave…

    • 31 May 2020
  • Trees by Alfred Joyce Kilmer

    I was reminded of this little gem this morning and I thought it worth repeating, as it cheered me up thinking about when the reserve re-opens. I dedicate it to all the hard-working staff on the reserves and the fabulous Walnut Tree in the over-flow car park. Over the years it has been home to Jackdaws, Squirrels and Tawny Owls.


    Alfred Joyce Kilmer 1886-1918

    I think that I will never see

    A poem lovely as a tree…

    • 22 May 2020
  • Sparrowhawk, this afternoon.

    As I drove onto the reserve mid afternoon a Kestrel was hovering over the pear orchard, against the cold, clear blue sky it would have made a great photo. Experience has taught me getting the camera out of the bag affixing the telephoto lens, opening the window and focussing on the bird  was never going to happen as they never stay still in one place for more than ten of fifteen seconds. I had to remind myself to have…

    • 30 Nov 2019
  • Medway Local Group December Talk.


    • 24 Nov 2019
  • Owl talk to the kids.

    Today it was my pleasure as an RSPB Medway Local Group member to be at Foxes and Badgers classes at St Werburgh Primary School, Hoo, near Rochester to give them a talk on the Owls of Northward Hill.

    This year for us on the RSPB reserve it’s been very successful with at least four Barn Owls fledging, two Tawny and two Little Owls as well. All, it has to be noted within a short walk from the Bromhey Farm office.

    • 21 Nov 2019
  • Commemorative plaque to Liz Meredith.

    Earlier this year I was contacted by a very nice gentleman who wished to put a plaque on a bench in the woods in memory of his wife who had passed away last year. The bench he was proposing to place it on has a special place in his family and has many fond  memories for them and their Grandchildren.

    RSPB Warden Will Tofts said "We are very happy to help the Meredith family place the plaque in memory of Liz Meredith at…

    • 6 Nov 2019
  • RSPB Gravesend Group Autumn/Winter Programme.

    Saturday 9 November   10am—4pm


    Park in Old Lighthouse car park, TN29 9NA (TR088169).  Gulls, gannets & grebes on the sea. Later at RSPB reserve TN29 9PS (TR067184) for shovelers, wigeon, goldeneyes & pintails, + egrets, herons and harriers.  Bring binoculars if you have them and a packed lunch. Outdoor meetings are free of charge.

    Thursday 14 November              7:30pm - 9:4…

    • 1 Nov 2019
  • Final Thames Plastic Clean-up of 2019.

    It was two or three months ago I was approached by Fiona Spirals (through the RSPB stalwart volunteer Lygia Shubert) to ask if I could asssist in the removal of the plastic at Higham Bight on the North Kent Marsh. I suppose I am probably best placed to assist in such a project, having done several such clearances on the southern Kentish shores of Englands' most famous river, stretching back almost three years now.…

    • 29 Oct 2019
  • Fantastic day on the North Kent Marshes.

    I arrived at Northwatd Hill RSPB Reserve about 10.30 this morning and bumped into a couple scanning the brambles on the track down to Bromhey Farm office, being nosey, of course I asked them if there was anything of interest. They said a male Redstart had just landed on the road with a load a finches a short while ago, but had not bee seen since. Parking my car I off loaded the muddied ropes and grappling hooks we'd used…

    • 8 Sep 2019
  • 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