Jul 232012

A few months ago, some friends and I decided to take part in the Nightingale Survey.    One of the tetrads we were allotted covered part of the Gravesend Canal.    After our initial recce visit (which I wrote about on this website) we were kindly invited by Brian and his team of volunteers to join them for a walk along the canal, looking for species of flora and fauna along the way, and carrying out an informal survey of the area.

Water Figwort

The first opportunity we had to get together was the second week of July, and although the weather had recently been less than conducive to walks in the country, we were extremely lucky, and the weather held long enough for us to amass a huge number of species.     We met at the car park at the Nuralite site near Higham.

At this time of year the birds are starting to quieten a little, but we did find chiffchaff, blackcap, reed warbler, wren, green woodpecker, long-tailed tit, robin, whitethroat, chaffinch, dunnock, skylark, goldfinch and pied wagtail.     On and over the nearby fields we saw pheasant, grey heron and swift.    The find of the day was hearing a turtle dove, sadly in decline at present.

White Mullein

When we carried out our nightingale surveys we also found three nightingale on the site – probably the first three to be found east of London, and heard cuckoo.    We would not expect to hear these two species at this time of year, but hopefully they will have had breeding success this year.

Plants along the first mile or so of the walk were diverse and ensured our progress was slow and productive with many plants, flowers and trees, our full list can be seen below but there were over 80 species in all.

The team are working hard to maintain the pathway open for walkers and cyclists (it is part of the Sustran 1 route), whilst also keeping habitat for wildlife – not an easy balancing act at the best of times, but with a limited number of volunteer enthusiasts and little funding, they are doing a great job.

If you would like to help, and can spare a few hours on a Tuesday morning, please leave your details below and we will pass them on to Brian.

Picture-winged fly

Tephritid or Picture-winged Fly

Thanks to all involved for a great morning’s walk,  especially Sally for keeping the various lists, Malcolm, John and Stephen for their knowledge and to Brian for giving us the opportunity to learn more about our local canal.

Plants seen:

Water figwort, lesser burdock, hedge woundwort, mustard garlic, nipplewort, spearthistle, bramble, herb robert, buddleia, hemp agrimony, ragwort, hogweed, fleabane, greater willowherb, mignonette, common sorrel, common mallow, white campion, welted thistle, japanese knotweed, mugwort, smooth sowthistle, white mullein, common scurvey grass, common cleaves, creeping thistle, goat willow, cinquefoil/tormentil, common mullein, slender thistle, blackthorn, rosebay willowherb, hop trefoil, black mullein, bladder campion, vervain, horseradish, water dock, weld, narrow-leaved dock, curled dock, ox-eye daisy, rib plaintain, self-heal, perforate st. john’s wort, spotted medick, black horehound, white clover, hawthorn, prickly sowthistle, yellow toadflax, teasel, ivy, red campion, white briony, stinging nettle, forget-me-not, ground ivy, coltsfoot, bittersweet, willow, rock rose, white dead nettle, old man’s beard, germander speedwell, bristly ox-tongue, wild lettuce, rough hawkweed, common vetch, yarrow, everlasting pea, hedge bedstraw, agrimony, clustered dock, lesser stitchwort, ploughmans spikenard, tufted vetch.

Elm, sycamore, birch, oak, elder

 Lipara lucens – agar gall on phragmites (reed)