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Medway Valley Countryside Partnership
3 Lock Cottages

Lock Lane
Maidstone

ME14 3AU

Tel: 03000 422997
medwayvalley@kent.gov.uk

 

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More volunteers
We offer opportunities for practical volunteering in the beautiful Kent Countryside. Every Thursday our dedicated team of volunteers undertake a huge variety of tasks, from hedge-laying to pond restoration, apple picking to school wildlife garden creation. In addition we have a large team of litter wardens and wildlife surveyors, so call us or email derek.whitehead@kent.gov.uk

to find out more.

Medway Valley Countryside Partnership
Medway Valley Countryside Partnership

Medway Valley Countryside Partnership         Officer Blogs

Rabbit on the moon

21st May

At first glance a partially eclipsed rabbit, rather I was expermenting with a camera phone and binoculars to see what was possible. 

 

The mousearnickles were about today though, an old Sussex dialect word for dragonfly. Here is a beautiful demoiselle from Dene Park near Shipbourne.

"Mousearnickle"
Barn owl eggs

20th May

5 barn owl eggs seen this week in a preliminary check at a site near Yalding. Last year there were excellent numbers of breeding birds and we continue to put up new boxes, in the last few weeks 7 in total including one at Gibbs Hill just this week.

 

Shipbourne bluebells

22nd April

First dormouse survey of the season, no mice today but the bluebells, wood sorrel and young hornbeam are now out in force. White tailed bumblebees occupying one box which I will give a wide berth to next time after a somewhat angry surprise encounter. 

 

Barn owls have also been laying their first eggs in nearby Shoreham. After last years excellent breeding hoping for a good year again. They have been making a larder of the excess prey for the hungry mouths once the owlets have have hatched.

Barn owl egg and prey items
Bombus ruderatus

7th April 2015.

The Dumbledores are out then. As in bumble bees or a Dumbledore as they are known in Sussex dialect. Some large queens already biffing their way against the window panes outside our office, buff tailed mainly but I have also spotted a red tailed too. Went on a very informative Bumble Bee Conservation Trust training course in Dungeness last weekend, learning all about the ecology of this essential pollinator and how we can all help them in our own gardens.

Polecat

Interesting peek at British wildlife yesterday at the Biritish Wildlife Centre just of the A22 in Surrey. This little weasel was curious as was I to learn of the growing population of polecats in the south east of England. Evidently there are plans afoot to maybe release pine martins again, the last being shot in Sussex in 1933.

 

Mark Pritchard

Senior Partnership Officer 11/02/15

Mark Pritchard - Senior Partnership Officer

Yalding Fen 15/01/2015

 

Orchard pruning and management is the order of the day at this time of the year at Yalding Fen. Here we can see some vigorous "TAG" action securing new fence posts and tree shelters for the sites, dealing with fallen timbers and finally burning the brash to leave a neat and tidy site.

Planting new apple trees

Yalding Fen 27/11/14

Late autumn is the traditional time to plant trees and that is just what we have been doing at the traditional orchard at Yalding Fen. This lovely site has some 120 veteran trees still standing, but there has been no replacement planting regime for decades. To try and reverse this decline, with the help of the admirable Angela's (Mrs Gent on the day) funding efforts from the Tree Council, we were able to plant 26 new bramley and James Grieve apple trese. This was done by a team effort from our MVCP volunteers erecting the tree guards to stop the sheep and rabbits wreaking havoc, with the trees proudly installed by a dozen pupils form Yalding Primary school. Thanks all round to what was a physically exerting day.

Ham Fen - 10th November

 

Just been down to see those clever beavers at Ham Fen and the remarkable habitat management work they do there. From small scale coppicing they have built woody debris structures and dug their own network of channels across the site. This is wetting the site nicely and providing an excellent habitat for the rare sedges, insects and birds which visit. Many thanks to Tony Swandale for his time. I wonder if they would like some cousins on the Medway? 

Just need to teach them how to fill out the relevant EA forms now...

Woody debris
Beaver channel
Gnawed logs
Pigeon selfie

Playing with my new motion detection camera - but have only managed to capture a few pigeon selfies and a great tit on the feeder. However, the image is great quality and there are still some of these cameras available at Aldi's of all places for a bargain £50. Will be placing it in a pill box along the Medway where we know there are hibernating bats, so hope to get some good shots there.

Springtime at Yalding Fen?

Well, you would think so with ragwort and common mallow in bloom, plenty of common darter dragonflies about too and a flush of green on the fen itself.

 

 

Drainage ditch on Yalding Fen

The cattle have now gone to their winter quarters and as the ground gets wetter we are moving on to more typical winter tasks. However, this year will see some ground preparation for new wildflower and pollen rich meadows in two of the drier fields, watch this space to see how they develop in 2015.

 

More sheep are now back grazing the orchard compartments courtesy of Norman Coles at Roundoak Hebridean. This hardy breed can tolerate almost any conditions and will over winter at the site.

Hebridean sheep in the orchard

Finally spotted some fungi too, they have made a late appearance this year owing the prolonged dry spell in September. This fragile russula had been nibbled by some rodents, but there are hordes of fairy bonnets and brown rolled rim fungi now poking their heads through.

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