Posts Tagged ‘River Medway’

Old dockyard buildings

Lower Gun Casement. Upnor Castle

Upnor Castle

 

 

Upnor Castle was constructed between 1559-67 to defend the Chatham Dockyard and Reach which was at the time the primary port for the British Navy. In June 1667, the Dutch launched a surprise raid on Chatham. The entered the reach and burned and captured a number of ships. The defensive positions such as Upnor were severely hampered by a lack of ordinance supplies and thus were unable to prevent the progress of the Dutch fleet up the river. They were resupplied overnight and when the Dutch returned the next day intent on burning the dockyard, Upnor and the other positions were successful in driving them off before they reached their target. However, the raid had shown that any raid needed to be stopped before it got that close to the dockyard and so a series of larger forts were built nearer the Thames. Upnor became a gunpowder and cannon store for ships visiting the Dockyard. It remained a military establishment until 1945 when it passed to the Dept of Monuments and is now open to the Public and managed by English Heritage.

Medway Tugs

The Medway is a major leisure location

Motor launches at the Royal Engineers Station on the Medway

The Royal Engineers Station on the Medway

Rochester Cathedral with the Castle beyond

Our River cruise on the Medway took us past Chatham Historic Dockyard

Reminders of Chatham’s military history now blend into the environment

Old Dockyard sheds

HMS Cavalier, a destroyer launched in 1944 which served for 28 years in the Atlantic, Pacific and Baltic oceans.

The tower of HMS Ocelot, a submarine, shows over the dock wall. It was the last naval ship built in the Dockyard at Chatham. Launched 1962.

HMS Gannet, a sloop, built at nearby Sheerness in 1878. Used as a patrol and communications boat.

The Submarine sheds. Now used as repair shops for ferry boats.

Dockyard cranes

 

 

A lovely sunny day saw Keith and I take a trip out with skipper Ray Wade exploring the islands and sandbanks of the River Medway. Before we got to the dock we stopped off at Motney Hill to look for birds and butterflies. We recorded nine different species of butterfly inc Red Admiral, Brimstone and Holly Blue.

 

Motney Hill

Motney Hill

But perhaps the best sighting was one we did not see! The distinctive purring of a Turtle Dove is a rare sound these days as this summer visitor has become very scarce in the UK.

Otterham Quay

Otterham Quay

Then it is onto Otterham Quay to join the boat for an afternoon cruise into the River Medway. Before we leave the dock we have had excellent if passing views of Kingfisher and Common Sandpiper.

Most of the breeding birds have already departed from the islands and no Terns or Meditteranean Gulls were recorded. However, the waders are starting to return and large groups of Common Redshank, Oystercatcher, Black-Tailed Godwits and Ruddy Turnstone were located along with some Whimbrel, another pair of Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank.

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

 

Black-Tailed Godwit

Black-Tailed Godwit

 

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

 

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

Passing one of the old jetties a female Peregrine was located on the rails at the end and stayed there for a couple of passes in the boat. Maybe she has just fed and could not be bothered to move off.

Peregrine

Peregrine

Soon it was time to head back on the turning tide to get back into Otterham dock. Not the most extensive bird list, but a lovely way to spend an afternoon and great views of a Peregrine

 

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)                                             Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Turtle Dove [sp] (Streptopelia turtur)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Sunsets are one of my favourite scenes to photograph. here are some photos taken at the end of the afternoon on a recent boat trip on the Medway Estuary in Kent.

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River Medway: Napoleonic forts

Posted: April 13, 2016 in History, Kent, UK
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On the islands in the River Medway are the remains of a number forts built to protect the docks from attack. Their construction was matched by the building of large garrison forts in the Medway Towns area.

River Medway: Industrial Legacy

Posted: April 7, 2016 in History, Kent, UK
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The Medway estuary has long been a place of Industry. originally the saltmarsh islands were used for grain farming and the crops shipped directly from the islands to London. Later there were large oil refineries (now abandoned) and 2 power stations (now in the process of being taken down).

Now the saltmarshes are just left to the wildlife and it has become a marvellous area to observe both birds and marine mammals. But the remains of that legacy linger on.

Kingsnorth Power Station - disused and in the process of being demolished

Kingsnorth Power Station – disused and in the process of being demolished

 

A boat jetty with facilities for those who couldn't wait to phone home

A boat jetty with facilities for those who couldn’t wait to phone home

The piers which linked the deep water berths of the Oil tankers to the refinery. This was once the longest pier in the world at over 2 miles long

The piers which linked the deep water berths of the Oil tankers to the refinery. This was once the longest pier in the world at over 2 miles long

 

farm buildings on the saltmarsh

farm buildings on the saltmarsh

 

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Another very pleasant day and a chance to do some birdwatching from the water during a trip Keith and I made with Skipper Ray Wade out to the saltmarsh islands in the River Medway. Our morning trip took us out past Burntwick marsh and we got a look at the Gull colonies, where there seemed to be a lrger number than usual of Mediterranean Gulls. There were also large numbers of Brent Geese and Black-tailed Godwits on the mud-flats, either already on migration or just about to leave.

Mediterranean Gulls

Mediterranean Gulls

Black-tailed Godwits

Black-tailed Godwits

 

Brent Geese

Brent Geese

 

We dropped anchor off Greenborough marsh for lunch and were immediately busy as there seemed to be birds everywhere. Along with the numerous Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzards, a passing hawk was identified as a migrating Honey Buzzard and shortly afterwards a Hen Harrier was seen over one of the islands. Rather than moving on it was decided to just sit where we were and see what went past. During the coarse of the afternoon we also saw an Osprey and 3 Honey Buzzards plus numerous Common Buzzards and Marsh Harriers.

Common Buzzard

Common Buzzard

On the way back to dock at the end of the afternoon we found 3 Peregrines and a Shag around the remains of the old oil jetties.

Shag

Shag

 

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

We also saw a number of Common Seals and one Grey Seal

Common Seal

Common Seal

 

Red-legged Partridge [sp] (Alectoris rufa)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Osprey [sp] (Pandion haliaetus)
European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus cyaneus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Northern Raven [sp] (Corvus corax)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)

Common Seal

Grey Seal

Curlew

Curlew

The year is drawing to an end and a final chance to get out on the River Medway with Skipper Ray Wade. Birdwatching estuaries from a boat gives a different perspective to watching from land. Using the boat you can get to places that would be totally inaccessible or unseen from land.

As we left the harbour we saw a large raptor in a tree. The slightly odd light did cause some confusion but eventually it was identified as a female Marsh Harrier.

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

 

As we toured the small pieces of Marsh still above the high water we found small parties of waders using these small islands as roosting places, but in fact the waders and other water birds will use anything they can find – old mooring jetties, wrecks and even navigation signs.

 

Turnstones and Ringed Plover on an old jetty

Turnstones and Ringed Plover on an old jetty

 

Oystercatcher and Turnstone on old boat

Oystercatcher and Turnstone on old boat

 

Turnstone and Ringed Plover

Turnstone and Ringed Plover

 

Greater Black-backed Gull

Greater Black-backed Gull

 

Room for one more?

Room for one more?

We located a Peregrine perched on a jetty although unfortunately it flew off as we manoeuvred the boat for a clearer view. Occasionally we spotted a Common Seal which seemed to come to watch us.

Common Seal

Common Seal

A peaceful couple of hours in calm still conditions with good birdwatching

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Bar-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa lapponica)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Red Knot [sp] (Calidris canutus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Common Seal

 

Medway Sunset

Posted: December 9, 2015 in Kent, Landscape, Natural History, UK
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Apart from the strong winds it was great to be able to get out of the office and spend a day with Keith walking the River Medway near Gillingham. The tide was well out, which meant that many birds were far out on the mud-flats. We began our walk at Eastcourt meadows in the hope of a Woodcock, but given the mild nature of our weather so far it was not surprising that we did not locate one of these winter visitors, Making our way to the estuary we headed towards Copperhouse creek. In the pools and channels in the mudflats were groups of Wigeon and Teal. 3 drake Pintail briefly made an appearance before disappearing out of sight. Further out on the mud were large groups of Shelduck

Teal and Wigeon

Teal and Wigeon

 

Shelduck

Shelduck

On one of the pools a few gulls were present and we were delighted to find a Mediterranean Gull amongst the Black-headed Gulls. Once a scarce visitor to these shores, it is now an established breeder,

Mediterranean Gull

Mediterranean Gull

 

Tracing our way back east past we made our way towards Horrid Hill, a piece of land which sticks out into the river. In a channel we found a Greenshank.

Greenshank

Greenshank

 

Ringed plover scurried about on the mud and we found a second Mediterranean Gull  this time even closer.

Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover

 

Another Mediterranean Gull

Another Mediterranean Gull

Off the wharf near Motney Hill, we found another large group of Teal and Wigeon.

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Wigeon

Wigeon

We finished our day at the reed bed alongside the Motney Hill road. Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush and a single Redwing were all seen, whilst we could hear singing Song Thrush. A Water Rail called and a silent Sparrowhawk glided through the reed tops looking for one last meal before dark.

All in all a good day and we both agreed that those Mediterranean Gulls were the highlight of the day

Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Water Rail [sp] (Rallus aquaticus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)