Posts Tagged ‘Gillingham’

Last week Keith and I took a trip to visit the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham Kent. The Museum is situated in a building alongside Brompton Barracks, which is the location of the School of Military Engineering.

The Royal Engineers trace their history back to Norman times. There have always been Engineers who have worked within the army to produce fortifications. The first official separate unit dedicated to this function can be found in the 15th century in the Board of Ordinance, which also included what would later become the Royal Artillery. The two corps were split in 1716. Initially, the Corps of Engineers contained only officers who supervised civilian labourers and craftsmen, but within 60 years this had been abandoned and the army began recruiting its own craftsman and artificers. In 1855 the corps established its headquarters in Chatham. Engineers were present in all campaigns of the British Army.

Some Interesting Facts

  •  It was the RE who in 1911 formed its own air unit, the first in the British Military and as such the forerunner of The Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force.
  • The RE team played in the first FA Cup final in 1872 losing to Wanderers 1-0; they lost again to Oxford University in 1874 but won the following year beating Old Etonians in a replay. Their last appearance in the final was in 1878 when they again lost to Wanderers. Their last appearance in the cup was in 1882-3 although they won the FA Amateur Cup in 1908.
  • Two RE officers played in the first England International Rugby Team- Lt Charles Arthur Crompton and Lt Charles Sherrard.
  • Other Army units which have separated from their initial inception in the RE include the Royal Corps of Signals and the Royal Corps of Transport.

The Museum contains a detailed history of the Corps with displays illustrating the major roles of their work. It also contains some unexpected exhibits including a WWII V-2 Rocket (captured and used for training purposes); a Harrier Jump-Jet and a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Outside in the Museums grounds are a collection of RE vehicles used for bridging and road making.

Went down to the Medway estuary in North Kent to spend a day bird-watching with my friend Keith. The weather forecast was not brilliant but as we started it was a bright if blowy morning. Our first stop was the Riverside Country Park in Gillingham, which is on the southside of the estuary. This walk overlooks a number of marshes and has two prominentaries (Horrid Hill and Motney Hill) which stick out into the estuary.

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We were suprised at the number of Brent Geese that were still here. This winter visitor has normally flown north to its breeding grounds by now. Also present were Shelduck, Oystercatcher and a single Curlew. At Horrid Hill we flushed a Cuckoo which had been resting on the shoreline. Near Motney Hill we heard and then briefly saw a Lesser Whitethroat and I saw my first Swifts of the year.

Shellduck

Shellduck

There were a good numbers of Butterflies present including Peacock, Red Admiral, Green-viewed White, Small white and Orange Tip.

Small white

Small white

Orange Tip

Orange Tip

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In the late afternoon, we moved over to the Northern side of the estuary to Abbotts Court at Hoo. The weather had improved throughout the day and now it was quite warm if you were out of the strong wind. Abbotts Court is an area of wet meadow and fields situated behind the river bank.

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A number of Yellow wagtails were flying around but we didnt manage to find one on the ground. A Little egret flew from the meadow towards the river and a Meditteranian Gull flew overhead. A second Cuckoo was seen and heard and a second Lesser Whitethroat was located in the undergrowth. 2 Northern Wheatears were on the meadows and gave good if distant views. More Brent Geese were on the mudflats.

Brent Goose

Brent Goose

Thanks to Keith and Elaine, his wife, for their hospitality and company. A really enjoyable day.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Brent Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia curruca)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Northern Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe oenanthe)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)