My usual Wednesday walkers and I decided to follow a recommended walk near Warehorne and Kenardington in Kent. Near Ham Street, this delightful part of Kent has remained peaceful and rural, with traditional buildings and old barns, and with the Royal Military Canal to walk alongside it made for a delightful walk .
The Royal Military Canal was originally built to hinder an invasion by Bonaparte and his troops, and the guide suggested a walk for about 5 miles, which would take around three hours. Needless to say, we only managed about two miles in five hours, but we saw many interesting galls on oaks and turkey oaks; found a great pub – where we had lunch outside, and enjoyed a great day wandering along the side of the canal.
From the car park we could see a mixed flock of gulls including, Black-headed, Herring and Lesser Black-backed. House Sparrow, Chiffchaff, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, and Green Woodpecker were all quickly added to our day’s list.
As we worked out how to get through gates, over gates and bypass electric fences, we had great views of several Grey Heron as they flew between the various drainage ditches.
A pair of Mute Swan moved quietly down the canal, disturbed by a man in a kayak. As I scanned the distant trees which were full of Rooks and Crows, I noticed four birds flying past. Focussing in one them I realised it was a Turtle Dove. Although I have heard a couple this year, this was the first I had seen.
On the canal Coot and a juvenile Moorhen were flushed as we walked by. Greenfinch, a single Long-tailed Tit, Jackdaw and Chaffinch all followed as we made our way into the village. House Martin and Swallow fed overhead, with the Swallow lining up on the telegraph wires nearby.
In the village of Warehorne (named in 820 AD as Werehornas, meaning “a place on the bend by the weir”) there is an old church, parts of which have been dated at 1200 AD and mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Best of all, there is an ancient Ash tree which has been logged with the Woodland Trust and apparently has a girth of 6.41 metres. We had to hold Malcolm back from giving it a hug.
As we returned on the other side of the canal, we worked our way through some farm land with young cattle. Pied Wagtail were on the farm buildings. Malcolm started to inspect an Oak tree for galls, of which we found three, [sorry Malcolm but I cannot begin to name them all] then out of the corner of his eye he spotted a butterfly. After some little time we all managed to catch up with it – a Purple Hairstreak – by the time I had the telescope on the appropriate leaf it had flown however.
Further along the path Irene spotted a Yellowhammer (another first for me for the year), and then a Small Tortoiseshell was seen, looking bright and clean.
We stopped by the canal for a mid-afternoon snack, and Great-spotted Woodpecker was heard calling nearby, try as we might, it was not to be seen. Red-eyed damselfly was more obliging, settling on a lily leaf in the canal.
As we crossed the final bridge back to the car, a Kingfisher flew away from us down the Canal, a brilliant end to our walk.
We did in fact take a short extension, but the rain started and we retreated to the car and our journey home.