Tuesday, 24 February 2009

North Kent Marshes

I went out today looking for hares again and had decided to try somewhere different from the Elmley track. Whilst where I went is open to the public and I walked along a footpath I'd prefer to keep the actual site detail to myself. A bit selfish I hear you cry, well you are probably right but it is my first visit to this area and until I get to know it a bit more and how the hares behave I wouldn't want to put them at risk. To those birders out there, this outing was one of those look at a map, try and work out suitable habitat and then pay a visit type of trips that worked out. Not far into the walk, I'd already managed to see a good group of 8 corn buntings and then whilst scanning my first hare bounded off into the distance. I wasn't even close to it and it's effortless stride took it far away from me and then it disappeared in a rutted field. Moving on another scan revealed 3 distant brown lumps that then became 4 distant brown lumps.

It was time to try out a theory that I'd been told about how to approach and get close to a hare and it seemed to work, although obviously they were a bit worried and crouched even closer to the ground but I must have got to within 15 feet and they stayed put.

I then did something that they weren't expecting and I laid down to see what they would do. Unfortunately for me, I had chosen the only patch of young nettles in the vicinity and ouch! it bloomin hurt but I couldn't then just jump up so I stayed put and suffered and took a few more photos.

Two of the hares then had enough of this odd behaviour and made a dash for it.

They both then stopped and one stood up on it's hind legs looking back at me laying down. I was lucky with these shots and I love the perspective that being so low down gave me.

I'm definitely going to try lying down again but next time chose my patch a little more carefully.
On the walk back to the car a merlin flew low over the marsh, rounding off a great few hours.

Sunday, 15 February 2009


I had to work on Saturday night starting at 23:30 and going on until the early hours of Sunday. I had only driven about 400 yards from home and there in the road was a badger that had been hit. Remembering that a friend of mine who is involved with marine mammal rescue told me that it is usually the second collision that kills a badger, as the first is usually not fatal having strong skulls they just get knocked out. I turned my car around and parked up to ensure that no overtaking traffic could run the poor animal over. The badger was still breathing and looked like a male, there was a fair amount of blood around its mouth. I couldn't tell how alert it was and not wanting to get bitten I gently gave it a prod with a shovel that I had in my boot and it didn't react. I then picked it up by the fore and hindlegs and laid it on the verge of the road out of harms way. There was still warmth coming from its body, the collision could only have just happened a few minutes before I came by. I had to then get to work but I decided to check on the badger when I returned home. At 02:30 it was still where I had left it, still breathing and its front legs kept on jerking, it appeared to me to be in a state of shock. To be honest I didn't know what to do, should I bring it home and leave in the garden covered in straw and an old blanket for warmth and trust to luck. I was tired and not thinking straight, it then dawned on me, the latest newsletter from the North West Kent badger group was still in the kitchen and the back page had contact numbers for just such an occasion. Back at home I rang the RSPCA and provided them with the details of where the badger was, I said that I would return to the animal and wait for a van to appear to pick up the badger. With torch in hand I returned to the badger and waited, hearing the laboured breathing and snuffling of the poor animal in the dark from the other side of the road. Whilst I waited, little and tawny owls were calling in the distance, robins were singing and two foxes calmly trotted along the road toward me only realising that there was something odd (me) lurking in the gloom when they were within 15 feet and then quickly scurrying away. Whilst I was waiting I checked where I thought the badger had come from and where it might have been going and I could see that there was a well worn path in the hedges on either side of the road. After an hour the RSPCA appeared and the badger was placed in a basket and taken away more or less in the same shocked state. I got back home, around 04:15, cold and very tired but relieved to feel that I had done the best I could.

I guess the badger was destined to be put to sleep, old Brock just couldn't compete with a ton of car probably travelling too fast and maybe being driven by people that just didn't care.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Northward Hill

I wanted to go and look for hares around Northward Hill and decided to try the marsh around Swigshole which used to be a place where you could park up and then wander out from but alas not any more and there is no where else to sensibly park. So my next stop was to Bromhey Farm which is now called Northward Hill RSPB reserve. Certainly over the years this area has greatly benefited by having the RSPB around but I guess that it is not an area of priority for them as whilst there are viewpoints to watch over the marsh you just feel that the birds are a little bit distant. A few well placed hides overlooking the scrape and pools would do wonders for the visitor experience, maybe one day when the money for Cliffe Pools is released. Anyway the area is quite flooded at the moment and full of common gulls as a consequence. It didn't really look that good to try and find hares and needless to say I didn't see any. For the first time though I wandered along the heron trail which provides you with a good view of the heronry in the woodland, and there were a few individuals already displaying and one bird that looked as if it was sitting tight on a nest. I've also been told that it is a good trail for grass snakes, so I'll be back another day.

Saturday, 7 February 2009


At last some warmth from the sun although it was hard to believe, given that everywhere is still carpeted in snow. Whilst enjoying a cuppa and the goldfinches in the back garden I noticed a buzzard soaring over against the blue sky heading north. It is the first I have seen over Longfield since I moved here around 12 years ago, so I nice surprise and a welcome addition to the garden list.
A wander around the local countryside saw me end up in the churchyard down Fawkham lane and I couldn't resist this shot of snowdrops.