The Group’s first Volunteer day of the year took place at Cliffe Pools where our main activity was litter picking. Our enthusiastic team met Will and Ruth from RSPB Northward Hill, and we discussed our plan of action – although it was noticeable that there was far less litter around in the areas we covered three years ago, Will knew of an area near the car park where litter is regularly thrown. So we began there. Soon we had cleared the mess, left filled bags in the vehicle and were strolling through the car park to make our way along the entrance drive. In this area the majority of litter was drinks cans and takeaway packaging.
As we moved along the reserve towards Cliffe Creek, there were butterflies, including large white, red admiral, meadow brown, and much to Peter’s delight a wall brown. We wandered along, chatting and picking up the occasional piece of litter. The story was very different at the creek however and we spent a long time gathering items large and small – the largest being a plastic barrel and the smallest being cotton bud plastic sticks. Picking up small items was harder and a bit less rewarding as we had to spend a lot longer on each small area to make a difference. Much of the paper and plastic had blown into the undergrowth, but we didn’t let it defeat us. We soon had a pile of filled bags ready for collection.
We took a return route between the main pools and as we walked, Will and Ruth discussed the breeding news on the North Kent reserves this year:
1875 pairs of black-headed gulls
45 pairs of mediterranean gulls, with 53 fledglings so far and there are more to come.
31 pairs of lapwing have produced a average of 1.1 fledged young per nest, this is above the target of 0.07
One pair of marsh harriers have fledged three young
Avocets have already started to increase there were around 100 pairs on the reserve, but no evidence so far of fledging
38 pairs of lapwing with a productivity of 1.1 per nest
Turtle dove returned after an absence last year
Yellow wagtail fledged five young – the first nesting record for several years
Five marsh harrier nests produced four young
48 pairs of avocet, but again no fledglings confirmed so far
51 pairs of lapwing with a productivity of 1.9 per nest
One pair of marsh harrier produced three young
58 pairs of lapwing with a productivity of 1 fledgling per nest
As we talked it was obvious that environmental issues continue to be a challenge, but our walk to the car park was less litter strewn than on previous visits. Several members of the public thanked us for our hard work, so hopefully showing that we are looking after the area will help to highlight the problem to visitors.
Thanks to all those who attended and helped to clear 14 bin bags full of rubbish and to Will and Ruth, who were informative and made the event so enjoyable.
For those who would like to be involved in the future, get in touch with any of the committee members at our indoor or outdoor meetings, or message us through comments on this post. You will also find full details of our winter volunteer day nearer the time, where we will be scrub clearing and having a bonfire at Northward Hill on, Saturday 3rd November.
Look forward to seeing you there.