On the Friday after Christmas volunteers from the Gravesend Group met at Northward Hill reserve to work off the Christmas excesses by removing wire and plastic tree guards from some oaks that we had planted about 10 years ago. The new woodland area is just below the woodland that contains the Northward Hill heronry. The herons should start gathering on the marsh in the next few weeks. They have a favourite ditch along which they like to gather after spending the winter dispersed throughout the Thames and Medway estuaries. Our group of volunteers worked in the morning and after lunch visited the northern sections of the marsh near the Thames. Two marsh harriers were with us most of the afternoon but a couple of hares soon vanished! Several herons were seen so perhaps they are already starting to return to Northward Hill.