Archive for the ‘Kent’ Category

Today’s venue was the New Hythe and Leybourne complex of lakes in the Medway valley in Kent. This is one of the best venues to hear and see Nightengales when they first arrive and so Keith and I decided to visit to see if there were any early returners.

Certainly, there were migrants establishing territories and a number of Chiffchaff and Blackcaps together with a single Willow Warbler were heard and in some cases seen. Apart from these birds, it was relatively quiet on the lakes and there was no sound of any returning Nightengales yet.

DSCN9190-13

Blackcap (m)

The other highlight of the day was a number of butterflies, probably all overwintering species brought out by the warm weather. Brimstone, Red Admiral and Peacock were all seen.

DSCN9187-12

There were plenty of Rabbits as well

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

A Tour of Gravesend (2)

Posted: February 2, 2018 in Kent, UK
Tags: ,

Turning east and returning to the Riverfront we soon pass the Customs House and the headquarters of the Port of London Authority.

DSCN8612-17

Just east of here is New Tavern Fort, which replaced the blockhouse in the 18th century. Its well-preserved fortifications now stand in a riverside park. Originally built to defend the Thames against raiders during the American War of Independence, it was strengthened in the 19th century during The Napoleonic Wars. General Gordon, experienced in the construction of fortifications, was stationed here between 1865 and 1871 whilst he oversaw building works on the Thames forts. New Tavern Fort was decommissioned at the start of the 20th century but reused during WWII. Unfortunately, the buildings, which house a museum, were not open the day we were there.

Our final stop is what was once the canal basin of the Thames and Medway Canal. This was intended to provide a safe route to move ships from the dockyards at Woolwich and Deptford in London, through the newly constructed Higham and Strood tunnels, to the River Medway and the dockyard at Chatham – thus avoiding the waters of the open estuary. Construction began in 1799 and it finally opened in October 1824, by which time the Napoleonic war was over and the need for the use of the canal by the Navy had disappeared. It was opened to commercial traffic but it was never a success. In 1845 the railway between Gravesend and Strood laid a single track through the Higham and Strood Tunnels on the path adjacent to the canal. The following year the canal company sold the tunnels to the South Eastern Railway and the canal closed. The canal was filled in and the railway company laid a double track through the tunnels. All that can be seen now is the basin at Gravesend and the entrance to the Medway at Strood, although if you travel from Gravesend to Strood you still pass through the original canal tunnels.

DSCN8634

A Tour of Gravesend (1)

Posted: February 1, 2018 in Kent, UK
Tags: ,

After we left the Sikh temple we passed the Clock Tower built in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Inside are contained copies of newspapers and coins of the time.

DSCN8557-2

Then we walked down to the riverfront and visited the site of Gravesend Blockhouse. Built as part of the river defences in 1539. The gun platforms faced both east and west and it operated in conjunction with Tilbury Fort on the north bank of the river opposite Gravesend. It was remodelled in 1588 during the war with Spain and in 1667 during the war with the Dutch. It became obsolete in 1778 when the New Fort was built a little way to the east.

A little way further along the riverfront is moored LV21, a lightship which is now an arts performance space. Built in 1963 it saw service mostly off the Kent coast and was involved in the worst collision involving a light vessel when on 28th June 1981 LV21 was hit by the ‘Ore Meteor’ which was under tow at the time in rough weather.Observers at the time commented that the tug seemed too small to be handling such a large vessel in open water. In rough seas, the tug and its tow, past too close to LV21 and first the side and then the stern of the Meteor crashed into the bow of the Light Vessel. Thankfully all damage was above deck and the ship escaped and was later towed to Southampton for repairs. It was finally decommissioned in 2008.

DSCN8569-6

Near here is St Andrews Mission Church. Originally a mission to the dockside community it is now an arts centre. It was here that General Gordon (of Khartoum fame) taught as a Sunday school teacher whilst he was stationed in Gravesend.

DSCN8608-16

Our next stop was the 3 Daws pub. This is a historic riverside Inn which is said to date back to around 1400. Originally a group of cottages for ship workers, it was granted a licence in 1565. During its history, it was often targetted by Naval press Gangs looking for new recruits. The 3 Daws of the name refers to 3 Jackdaws, a member of the Crow family.

At this point, we turned inland and made our way through St George’s Churchyard. There had been a Royal Chapel on this site until 1376 when a chapel of ease was built. It became the parish church in 1544. ON 24th August 1727 a fire swept through the town destroying over 100 houses and the Church. The new building was opened in 1732. The church is famous for its connection with the Indian Princess Pocahontas, who was buried in the church in 1616. A search was made in 1923 to find the burial site but nothing conclusive was found. A statue of the Princess, a replica of one in Jamestown was placed in the gardens in 1958.

For more details about the Jamestown settlement and Pocahontas see

https://petesfavouritethings.blog/2016/10/18/all-aboard-the-waverley-2-gravesend/ and https://petesfavouritethings.blog/2015/02/12/statues-and-memorials-in-london-virginia-settlers/

 

When Keith and I visited Gravesend we went to see the Sikh temple. It was opened in 2010 replacing an earlier Gurdwara in the town. It is thought that it is one of the largest Gurdwara in the UK and one of the largest complexes outside India.

We were welcomed inside and encouraged to look around at the prayer rooms which make up the major part of the temple building. It is a very peaceful place.

Keith and I spent the day in Gravesend, a town of the south bank of the Thames estuary in Kent. We visited sights of interest (see posts later this week) but also found time for a walk along the riverfront to see what was feeding on the mud exposed by the falling tide.

3 species of Gull and Mute Swans were present together with 3 Ruddy Turnstone, 15 Common Redshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Mute Swans and 2 Shelduck. At the end of our walk, we explored the lake area in Fort Park where we got some excellent views of Eurasian Wren. Returning to the Railway station and moments after Keith had got his train, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk passed overhead. A good way to end the day.

DSCN8571-2

Ruddy Turnstone

Black-headed Gull (left above), Common Gull (left below) and Herring Gull (right)

Common Redshank (left), Black-tailed Godwit (upper right), Shelduck (lower right) and Mute Swan (bottom)

Eurasian Wren (top), Collared Dove (bottom left), Chaffinch (bottom centre) and Moorhen (bottom right)

 

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A trip to the Kent coast with Bexley RSPB Group on a misty and cold morning. As we approached the reserve, a party of around 12 Swans were visible in a field. From the coach and in the early morning light identification was impossible, but I was later told by one of the volunteer wardens that they were a flock of Bewick Swans, which winter in this area. Arriving at the reserve the first stop was to try and find the roosting Long-Eared Owl which frequents the scrub at the back of the dipping pool. A long scan by many people drew a blank and as others headed off for the hides, I retreated to the visitor’s centre for a hot drink. Suitably refreshed I made my way back for another look for the owl. I was fortunate in that a group of birders from our group haa already located it and soon people were gathering to see the bird which was in vegetation but once found could clearly be seen. A Common Kingfisher paid a visit to the scrub whilst we were watching the Owl giving excellent views.

DSCN8298-2

Spot the Owl

With the days primary objective completed a circuit of the hides reveals the usual wintering waterfowl, although sadly there are no Smew, Goldeneye or Goosander to be seen. With the milder winters, these once regular winter visitors may become more of a rarity in future. Highlights include a number of good views of Common Kingfisher along with more common ducks and Geese including a single Brent Goose.

                 Common Kingfisher, Northern Shoveller and a Western Marsh Harrier

 

                                   Great Cormorants and Flight of Geese (Canada and Greylag Geese)

At the end of the afternoon, a small group of us walk out to the ARC hide at the farthest extent of the accessible part of the reserve. We were well rewarded for this trek as on the way we found some Tree Sparrows on a feeder and on the ARC pit we got good views of a Great White Egret and on the return walk to the visitor centre saw a Western Cattle Egret fly into one of the small pools by the reserve entrance.

DSCN8363-2

Great White Egret

 

An excellent day.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Long-eared Owl [sp] (Asio otus)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

DSCN7550-2

The Ropery in Chatham Dockyard is the only one of 4 original Royal Navy Ropeyards still in operation. Rope has been made on this site for over 400 years. The building is over a quarter of a mile long.

DSCN7554-4

The rope is made by taking individuals strands and winding them together. This process can be repeated a number of times to produce the required thickness of rope.

DSCN7563-7

Inside the ropery – the machinery travels from one end to the other in the production of the rope. At this end the strands are held in place.

DSCN7556-5

DSCN7561-6

The heads which combine the strands into one rope.

As the strands pass through the heads they are combined

DSCN7575-9

Keeping the rope taught and a quick way to get from end to end of the Ropery

DSCN7578-10

The finished rope is coiled

 

The Ropery still makes traditional ropes for sailing ships etc but also produces rope made from more modern materials

DSCN7630-8

 

A Sloop launched at Sheerness in Kent in August 1878 she saw service in the Pacific from 1879-1883 before returning to the UK. In 1885 she was sent to the Mediterranean sea and was used in anti-slavery patrols. She also saw action off the coast of the Sudan and Eygpt. From November 1888 she was assigned to carry out survey work in the Meditteranean Sea, which she did until 1891 and again from 1892-1895.

In March 1895 she returned to Chatham, where she was assigned to Harbour duties. In 1900 she was used as accommodation by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Co at Grain. In 1903 she became the Royal Navy volunteer reserve drill ship moored in the London docks and was renamed HMS President after its predecessor in that role. She was relieved of that duty by HMS Buzzard in spring of 1911. In 1913 she was loaned out as a training ship under the command of C B Fry, the famous Cricketer and transferred to the River Hamble where she served as a dormitory for boys training to join the Royal Navy. She remained at Hamble until the school closed in 1968. The ship was given to the Maritime Trust for restoration, the years in the Hamble having taken a toll on the structure. Restored to her 1888 glory she was, in 1994, passed onto the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust where she is now on display.

 

 

 

DSCN7476-5

HMS Cavalier 

Built at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, HMS Cavalier was launched in March 1943. She served in the Home Fleet during World war II, mostly on Russian and Scandinavian bound conveys and post-war in India and the Far East until she was decommissioned in 1972.

She is the last surviving example of a British WWII destroyer and as such was an important heritage vessel. She was purchased by the Cavalier Trust. As a privately owned vessel, she holds a naval warrant to retain the ‘HMS’ title and to fly the white ensign of the Royal Navy. She was originally docked at Southampton, then in 1983 moved to Brighton and four years later to the River Tyne. Following a period of restoration, she was purchased by Chatham Historic Dockyard and arrived on site in May 1998. She was housed in No 2 dry-dock, the same dock where Nelson’s HMS Victory was built.

DSCN7605-2

In 2007 HMS Cavalier was officially designated as a war memorial to the destroyers sunk during WWII (142) and the men who lost their lives serving on them (around 11000).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The RNLI houses its collection of Lifeboats within one of the sheds at Chatham Dockyard. The collection contains an example of many of the different classes and types of lifeboat used since the RNLI’s foundation in the late 19th century. As such you can visually trace the development from the rowing boats to those more recognisable as Lifeboats today.

‘St Paul’. The oldest lifeboat in the collection entered service in 1897 spending the next 34 years at Kessingland in Suffolk. Credited with saving 18 lives.

‘Lizzie Porter’ entered service in 1909 and spent the following 27 years at stations in Northumbria. Credited with saving 113 lives

‘Helen Blake’ saw service for 20 years from 1939

‘Susan Ashley’ spent most of its service (1948-79) at Sennen Cove in Cornwall. Credited with saving 67 lives.

‘ North Foreland’ spent 27 years at Margate in Kent

‘Grace Darling’ (1954-84)

‘JG Greaves of Sheffield’ (1958-93)

Waveney Class Lifeboat (1967-99). 44-001 was the class prototype and spent its service after trials in the RNLI reserve fleet. Credited with saving 100 lives

Early inshore rescue boat. This example of the McClachin class served at Weston-Super Mare in the west country from 1970-83 and is credited with saving 60 lives

Atlantic 21 class inshore boat. (1970-1999). Some are still in service with marine rescue around the world in Australia, Finland and Poland.