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Summer surveys round II

Following success last year in finding a brown argus butterfly, Malcolm Watling visited Dane Valley Woods back in July to try and re-spot the rare beauty.  Whilst he did not find the brown argus, he recorded the first ever orchid found at the woodlands, a wonderful surprise for us! Read what he found below:

On the 2nd and 3rd September, I visited the woods again to see which butterflies would still be around.  There were lots of Small Whites, several Large Whites, two each of Common Blue and Small Copper, and one each of Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Comma and Brown Argus.  The Brown Argus was in exactly the same place as my observation of one last year.  This is encouraging, because it probably shows that they are breeding here, and they are known not to wander far from their colonies.   The female of the Common Blue is brown and can look very like a Brown Argus, but can be distinguished by differences in the spots on the underside, especially an extra spot on the forewing.  You can see that some of the butterflies are quite worn and ragged after a busy summer dashing about amongst the grass.

 

Malcolm also sent photos along with captions, to help identify certain butterfly species, check them out below!

brown-argus-underside brown-argus common-blue-underside-bletchley-buckinghamshire common-blue small-copper-1


Summer surveys

In between the rain and wind, we have had a few sunny days, and these are the best times to find wildlife at Dane Valley Woods.

We were contacted again by Malcolm Watling, who sent us in a butterfly survey here, from last year. This year he said:

‘The weather hasn’t been very butterfly friendly during my visits to Margate this year, but the 3rd July had some useful sunny intervals when I visited the site.  There weren’t many butterflies, but that was partly because this time of year is between the spring and summer broods of some species.  However, the Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns had recently begun to appear, and there were quite a few of them around, despite the rather cool wind.  I saw several Small Whites, some Holly Blues, a couple of Small Skippers and one each of Large Skipper, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Burnet moth and the pale, summer form of the Comma.  A botanical bonus was a Pyramidal Orchid in the Oxeye Daisy area patch.’

Pyramidal orchid

Such a beautiful photo from the eagle-eyed Malcolm!

Elsewhere in the woods, we have spotted 10 lizards in just a 20 minute stretch, including yet anther rare colour variation of the common lizard, which can be spotted in the middle in the photo below.

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A talk on waste

After doing a voluntary litter pick last month at the woodlands, 1st Margate Cubs were thanked by Secretary Kashmir Flint, who also did a talk about waste, its problems and how we can all help to reduce it. Every year, England and Wales produce enough waste to cover Hyde Park in 80 foot of rubbish, which is around the equivalent of 4 double storey houses! A lot of this waste ends up in natural areas or in the sea where it harms wildlife, with the RSPCA receiving over 7,000 calls over litter-related incidents every year.

But as Kashmir explained to the attentive Cubs, waste is a problem that we have created, therefore it is a problem that we can solve! Using the waste hierarchy, we can reduce, reuse and recycle, often in fun and creative ways.

Waste is an issue closely tied with Dane Valley Woods, from both its past and present. Dane Valley Woods was an old landfill site, as a result, we often find odd items when digging around! Whilst this is great because it is now covered in emerging woodlands, we care about the environment and do not want to see all our natural spaces being covered in landfill sites. Waste is also a present problem for us, as the site is a main route through Dane Valley, therefore we are constantly battling with litter. We spend many task days litter-picking, which consumes voluntary time and effort.

The Cubs kindly helped us by using their time to litter-pick at the woodlands and giving us a kind donation, to which we are incredibly grateful.

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Thanet Volunteers Fair

Dane Valley Woods is pleased to be attending todays fair at the new Dreamland Ballroom, organised by the Thanet Volunteer Bureau – we hope to meet many like-minded organisations and spread the word about our project. The event is between 11am-2pm, there is free entry, refreshments and a raffle, so we hope to see you there!

Thanet Volunteer Fair 2016


Tesco Bags of Help – Update!

Amazing, amazing, amazing news!

Thanks to everyone voting in Tesco stores, we have been awarded the first prize of £12,000 in the Tesco Bags of Help scheme!

The team are all over the moon, and we’d like to thank everyone who voted, spread the word and showed their support for us!

We have won #BagsofHelp


Tesco Bags of Help

We are excited to announce Dane Valley Woods has won a major new grant proposal, with a guaranteed £8,000 but we could win more with your help!

Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch its Bags of Help initiative across England and Wales. The scheme will see three community groups and projects awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag charge. Bags of Help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco’s 390 regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags.

Dane Valley Woods has been shortlisted in the Thanet region, and the public will now vote in store from 27 February until 6 March on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards.

To help us, please spread the word, and go into stores and vote for us during the voting period!

BOH Poster

 


Butterfly survey

Every so often we are contacted by members of the public who have spotted various things in the Woods. Mr Malcolm Watling, a former Margate resident who now lives in North Wales, visited Dane Valley Woods during the summer and recorded butterfly species present. These included a Brown Argus, which has not been recorded here before. Malcolm writes:-

“On the 28th and 29th July I spent a couple of hours on each day looking round the site for butterflies and other wildlife. The weather was a bit breezy and cloudy, but warm with enough useful sunny intervals. Here is a list of my observations:

– Large White and Gatekeeper, very common
– Small White and Meadow brown, frequent
– Oak Eggar Moth (1) (by the Mill)
– Speckled Wood (1)
– Migrant Hawker dragonfly (2)
– Brown Argus, (1)
– Common Blue male, several
– Common Blue female (1) (with a lot of blue colour)
– Essex Skipper (4)
– Holly Blue (3)
– Red Admiral (1)
– Peacock (1)
– 6-Spotted Burnet moth (1)

There was also one Common Lizard, basking on a crumpled-up black bin-liner!”

Brown Argus (female) 29 July 2015

Brown Argus (female) 29 July 2015

Malcolm has also sent a picture of the Woods site from 1973, showing what is presumed to be the former tip site, with loads of starlings on a bush. He notes that the size of the trees along the road is worth comparing with now, as is the style of the cars. Thank you Malcolm for sending this information in, we look forward to hearing from you again, and we would also like to hear from anyone else who has memories like this or are recording wildlife – let us know via the contact page on this website.

Dane Valley Woods on 2 June 1973

Dane Valley Woods on 2 June 1973


Woodland Action Day

A morning of tasks keeping the woodland in tip top condition. The trees need our help to help them to survive, we will clear back growth from the fledgling saplings, and then mulch them with woodchip from our stockpile. There are over 4,000 young trees in the woods, so plenty of helping hands are needed! We also maintain a network of paths to improve access to the woods, which local people have told us they enjoy using.

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods. Follow this Google Map link – we are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.


Show a tree some love!

We’ve planted 600 trees this winter, and now need your assistance to help them to survive! We will clear back growth from the fledgling saplings, and then mulch them with woodchip from our stockpile. There are over 4,000 young trees in the woods, so plenty of helping hands are needed…..!

TreerescueWe also maintain a network of paths to improve access to the woods, which local people have told us they enjoy using.

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods – we are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.


The Big Tree Plant II

It’s our second big tree planting event of the current winter season….. and your chance to help create the future legacy of a community woodland for Margate!

We have already managed to get 400 trees in the ground this season, which leaves another 200 trees to be planted, in conjunction with The Big Tree Plant scheme. Willing helpers are required, to help us to get them in the ground before the end of the morning…. a race against time!

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can come directly and find us in the woods – we are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Free hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all of our hard working volunteers!


The Big Tree Plant

It’s our big tree planting event of the current winter season….. and your chance to help create the future legacy of a community woodland for Margate!

Due to the success of our previous efforts, we have been allocated another 600 trees by The Big Tree Plant scheme. So loads of willing helpers are required, to help us to get them in the ground before the end of the morning…. a race against time!

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can come directly to the proposed tree planting area through the morning – follow this link – we’ll be near the green arrow. We are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Free hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all of our hard working volunteers!


Woodland Action Day

It’s our Big Tree Plant next month so one of our main tasks will be to ensure that land is clear for the big day.

The trees already in the ground need our help to help them to survive, we will clear back growth from the fledgling saplings, and then mulch them with woodchip from our stockpile. There are over 4,000 young trees in the woods, so plenty of helping hands are needed! We also maintain a network of paths to improve access to the woods, which local people have told us they enjoy using.

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods. Follow this Google Map link – we are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.

Don’t forget the clocks go back one hour on Saturday night!


Woodland Action Day

A morning of tasks keeping the woodland in tip top condition. The trees need our help to help them to survive, we will clear back growth from the fledgling saplings, and then mulch them with woodchip from our stockpile. There are over 4,000 young trees in the woods, so plenty of helping hands are needed! We also maintain a network of paths to improve access to the woods, which local people have told us they enjoy using.

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods. Follow this Google Map link – we are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.


The case for….. Volunteering

Our secretary and media manager, Kashmir Flint, has been talking about her role and the benefits of volunteering…..

“Being a full-time student isn’t always easy and after all the essays and exams, we need experience to get onto the job ladder. To gain this experience, you get a job and to gain a job you usually need experience. It’s a vicious cycle and no wonder that many students end up frustrated.Kashmir

But as I have found out, volunteer work can often provide invaluable experience that will hopefully land me in a dream working placement. I’m entering my third year of a Wildlife Conservation degree at the University of Kent, and hope to be employed as an ecologist after graduation. This job market is competitive and skills are often essential. This is how Dane Valley Woods is helping me out.

The project is found in the heart of Margate and was established in 2002, on land formally used as a rubbish tip. The council owned land is managed by the Dane Valley Woods volunteers, who have heroically braved the winter planting season each year since its establishment to plant over 4,000 trees on the site. They meet on the last Sunday of each month to help maintain the site through various tasks such as bramble clearance and mulching around trees to help prevent weed growth. Since joining the group in June 2011, I’ve been fascinated at the wide range of wildlife found at the site, and have recently started to add to the list of species recorded in order to give an almost complete audit of biodiversity.

I’m hoping that both my practical experiences in maintaining the woodlands and species identification as well as managerial skills gained through my role as secretary will help me to stand out against a crowd of graduates, all applying for the same vacancies. Tree plantingBut the woodland doesn’t just help me. Dane Valley Woods is a community wild space and is open for everybody to enjoy and use. The volunteers established a memorial garden in 2013 for the public to plant trees for loved ones. Wildflowers have been planted at the site for aesthetics as well as for the insects and tasks such as Easter egg hunts and summer fetes have been held to engage the public.

However, Dane Valley Woods is in urgent need of volunteers to help the upkeep of the site. Task days are held on the last Sunday of each month from 10am until 2pm, meeting outside the Dane Valley Woods HQ, at the Dane Valley allotment site and volunteers are given free tea and coffee after their hard work. The group have a website address which can be found at www.danevalleywoods.org and we can also be found on Facebook or Twitter, where you can see many of the photos that I have snapped myself at the site.”


Woodland Action Day

A morning of tasks keeping the woodland in tip top condition. The trees need our help to help them to survive, we will clear back growth from the fledgling saplings, and then mulch them with woodchip from our stockpile. There are over 4,000 young trees in the woods, so plenty of helping hands are needed! We also maintain a network of paths to improve access to the woods, which local people have told us they enjoy using.

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods. Follow this Google Map link – we are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.


Woodland Action Day

A morning of tasks keeping the woodland in tip top condition. The trees need our help to help them to survive, we will clear back growth from the fledgling saplings, and then mulch them with woodchip from our stockpile. There are over 4,000 young trees in the woods, so plenty of helping hands are needed! We also maintain a network of paths to improve access to the woods, which local people have told us they enjoy using.

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods. Follow this Google Map link – we are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.


Summer Open Day

Join us for a summer fete with stalls and guided walks around the woods. We will be situated on the green at the entrance to the woods, near the junction of Dane Valley Road and Kent Road. Look out for the large gazebo!

Saturday 16 August, from 10am til 2pm. See you there!

DVW_Poster


The DVW Quiz

Teams of up to six are welcome to participate in The DVW Quiz, to help raise funds for the Woods. Limited space, so book in advance via www.danevalleywoods.org/contact or our Facebook and Twitter feeds

£5 a head, this includes quiz admission and cheese and biscuits. Bring your own drink. The venue is Taddy’s Barn, East Northdown Farm Nursery, George Hill Road, Margate, Kent, United Kingdom, CT9 3TS – see venue location via this link.

Also on the night will be a raffle and a heads and tails game. Arrive 7pm for 7.30pm start.

We hope to see you there!


AGM 2014

Our Annual General Meeting is taking place on Monday 21 July, 7pm at Taddy’s Barn, East Northdown Farm Nursery, George Hill Road, Margate. On the agenda is the following:

1) Purpose of AGM

2) Presentation by Kashmir Flint – “Tiny Terrors – The Dark Side Of Kent’s Wildlife”

3) Minutes of the last AGM (8 July 2013)

4) Chair’s Report (Steve Darling)

5) Treasurer’s Report (Michaela Flint)

6) Dane Valley Elders

The steering group has the discretion to nominate persons for this award, having been deemed to have made a significant contribution to the project.

7) Amendments to Constitution

8) Any Other Business

Requests to be received by the Chair or Secretary at least 7 days prior to the AGM.

9) Election of Steering Group

Nominations to be received by the Chair or Secretary at least 7 days prior to the AGM. At present, six people are on the Steering Group: Steve Darling, Kashmir Flint, Michaela Flint, Carol Davenport, Paul Harrison, and Evie Bünte.

 In respect of Items 6, 8 and 9, you can contact Dane Valley Woods via the Contact Form on this website.

All members of the community are welcome to attend, whether or not they wish to be considered for the Steering Group. Come along and find out more about us!


Woodland Action Day

A morning of tasks keeping the woodland in tip top condition. The trees need our help to help them to survive, we will clear back growth from the fledgling saplings, and then mulch them with woodchip from our stockpile. There are over 4,000 young trees in the woods, so plenty of helping hands are needed! We also maintain a network of paths to improve access to the woods, which local people have told us they enjoy using.

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods. Follow the Google Maps link on the right. We are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.


Woodland Action Day

A morning of tasks keeping the woodland in tip top condition. The spring undergrowth is well under way, so we will be clearing this back from the trees to help them to survive, and then mulching them with woodchip from our stockpile. We also maintain a network of paths to improve access to the woods.

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods. Follow the Google Maps link on the right. We are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.


Woodland Action Day

A morning of tasks keeping the woodland in tip top condition. The spring undergrowth is well under way, so we will be clearing this back from the trees to help them to survive, and then mulching them with woodchip from our stockpile. We also maintain a network of paths to improve access to the woods.

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods. Follow the Google Maps link on the right. We are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.


The DVW Quiz

Teams of up to six are welcome to participate in The DVW Quiz, to help raise funds for the Woods. Limited space, so book in advance via www.danevalleywoods.org/contact or our Facebook and Twitter feeds

£5 a head, this includes quiz admission and cheese and biscuits. Bring your own drink, although some wine will be available to purchase on the night. The venue is Taddy’s Barn, East Northdown Farm Nursery, George Hill Road, Margate, Kent, United Kingdom, CT9 3TS – see venue location via this link.

Also on the night will be a raffle and a heads and tails game. Arrive 7pm for 7.30pm start.

We hope to see you there!


Spring Tree Planting

It’s our final tree planting event of the current winter season….. so your last chance to help create the future legacy of a community woodland for Margate!

We have been allocated more trees by The Big Tree Plant scheme. We have hundreds, so loads of willing helpers are required, to help us to get them in the ground before the end of the morning…. a race against time!

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can come directly to the proposed tree planting area through the morning – follow this link – we’ll be near the green arrow. We are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.


Spotted in Dane Valley Woods: Snake’s head fritillary

Snake's Head Fritillary

Snake’s head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) is a British flower which has become nationally scarce. The snake’s head fritillary is commonly found on meadows, explaining its population reduction due to habitat conversion of wildflower meadows into arable land or grassland for grazing. During our 10th year anniversary in 2013, Dane Valley Woods planted these bulbs and other native wildflowers in the hope to increase the diversity of flora within the woodlands and within a few months, they had flowered. We are hoping to see many popping up this year!

Snake’s head fritillaries are easily identifiable in spring by their bell shaped, drooping flowers and chequered patterns, often in purple, pink and occasionally white. Its scientific name Fritillaria comes from the Latin word for ‘dice box’, referencing the chequered patterns which make the flower so unique with meleagris translating to ‘spotted like a guinea fowl’. In folklore it is said that the flowers droop because they witnessed Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and hung their heads in sorrow.

The flowers of the snake’s head fritillaries are pollinated by insects, particularly bees, however, the flowers are hermaphrodites so the plant can self-fertilise to produce a clone of itself.

Did you know? Work at Kew has uncovered that Fritillaria meleagris has 15 time mores DNA than humans have and if its genomes were unravelled it would stretch 30 metres.


Vote for trees!

The DVW crew will be in the foyer at ASDA Broadstairs on Sunday 16 March

We will be promoting the project, seeking to increase awareness of what we are all about, and signing up new members. We will also be using our best persuasive powers, to encourage shoppers to put their #GreenTokens into our charity box in the store, as we go up against two other very worthy local causes throughout March and April. Come along, say hello, and vote for trees!


Woodland Action Day

As well as our monthly morning of tasks keeping the woodland in tip top condition – mulching trees and clearing back growth to help them to survive – we have just been allocated more trees by The Big Tree Plant scheme. Lots of willing helpers are welcomed, to help us to get them in the ground before the end of the current winter planting season…. a race against time!

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods. Follow the Google Maps link on the right. We are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.


Spotted at Dane Valley Woods: Common lizard

Common lizard

The United Kingdom is home to six types of reptile, and one of these scaly friends is found abundantly in Dane Valley Woods. The common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) is found across most of the country and Dane Valley Woods is ideal habitat for it to thrive.

The common lizard has a great variation in colour but tends to be brownish with spotted and striped patterns, although different colour morphs exist, such as the rare plain morph which has been spotted in the Woods! Common lizards may also be melanistic, which means completely black (but melanistic adults are not to be confused with new-born common lizards which are also totally black).Rare plain morph common lizard

Common lizards are sexually dimorphic meaning males and females look different. A male lizard tends to be ‘spotty’ whilst a female tends to be more ‘stripey’. The sex can be more easily distinguished by their bellies as males have bright orange or yellow bellies covered with black spots, whereas females have plain grey or yellowish bellies with no spots.

Common lizards are also known as viviparous lizards, which means they give birth to live young, unlike many other species of reptile which lay eggs. However, interestingly, populations in warmer climates actually lay eggs and these populations tend not to interbreed successfully with live young laying lizards. A female may give birth from 3 to 11 offspring which are born black with no markings.

The juvenile lizards as well as adult lizards are important prey species, as you may have read in our Kestrel blog, however, they are not easy prey to catch. Reptiles are ‘cold blooded’ so use the sun to warm themselves up and become active, so on hot days common lizards are extremely fast and nimble and catching a sight of them becomes difficult. Common lizards are also competent swimmers and may use this as a means of escaping. However, in extreme cases, a lizard may also shed its tail to escape. The tail remains wriggling to distract the predator, giving the lizard a chance to get to safety.

Whilst this species is widespread, studies have suggested a decline in its numbers and it has recently been added to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, it is also protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.

To read up about this species and other reptiles, visit Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group.

Tiny juvenile common lizard

 


Spotted in Dane Valley Woods: Kestrel

Kestrel

Kestrels (Falco tinniculus) are familiar British falcons, due to their ability to adapt to changing environments and their distinctive flight patterns.

Their sex can be distinguished from their plumage; males tend to have blueish grey hoods and rumps, whereas females are more chestnut brown, however, both have a dark band across their cheeks and speckled brown over their bodies.

Kestrels are notorious for their graceful hunting, hovering motionless in mid-air whilst keeping their heads perfectly still as they search for prey. This has lead to them also being known as wind-hoverers. These falcons fly extremely slowly, spreading their feathers to allow a constant flow of air over their wings as they face into oncoming winds, which generates enough lift for them to hover. To watch the kestrel’s flight and see its extraordinary ability to lock its head perfectly when it hunts watch this clip by Attenborough: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Common_Kestrel#p010v3zt

Kestrels usually feed on small mammals (and perhaps in Dane Valley Woods’ case, small lizards, which is rare, but does still occur in Northern latitudes when feeding nestlings) and particularly invertibrates in the Winter. They usually raise 2-3 chicks, although lay 3-6 eggs and they can live for around 16 years. Although they are classified under least concern under IUCN conservation status guidelines, the RSPB lists them as amber species, meaning a moderate decline has occurred in the past, which they attribute to changes in farmings methods since the 1970s.


Woodland Action Day

A morning of tasks keeping the woodland in tip top condition. These can include mulching trees and clearing back growth to help them to survive, plus maintaining and creating a network of paths to improve access to the woods.

We meet 10am at the Dane Valley Woods HQ in Dane Valley allotments at the end of St Peters Footpath, or you can find us in the woods. Follow the Google Maps link on the right. We are easy to spot in our hi-viz yellow jackets!

There is no need to book – we provide all tools and safety equipment, but please wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come dressed for the weather.

All ages welcome, under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Hot drink refreshments are provided at the end of the morning for all hard working volunteers.