Trip reports

Borden Dawn Chorus Vigil - International Dawn Chorus Day

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Steve and I were invited to represent Medway RSPB Local Group on a walk for International Dawn Chorus Day around the village of Borden near Sittingbourne. Hopefully we would identify birds which could be affected by plans to build houses on green belt land there.

So just before 5.00 am we met up with Vivien Smith and her twelve friends in the churchyard of St. Peter and St. Paul's just as dawn was breaking. Vivien mentioned that Owen Sweeney had spent time trying to teach her birdsong identification at Queendown Warren some time ago and that she had attended his funeral.

Unfortunately the weather was chilly and overcast but already blackbird, wren, dunnock, robin, song thrush and pheasant were tuning up to welcome the new day.

Introductions over we set off past the Maypole Inn to the Playstool, where Steve spotted a sparrowhawk dash by and a couple of herring gulls flew over. We heard a mistle thrush call and a chaffinch and a great tit in song.

We then walked round to the nature reserve which used to be a landfill site and still has a chimney to vent off the methane gas. However, nature has taken over with lots of wild flowers, bush scrub and hawthorns. Although no nightingales were recorded, the habitat looked to be ideal for them. A low-lying boggy area was fenced off with plastic barriers so that slow worms, newts and the like could be surveyed and removed before topsoil was added to build up the level.

In the reserve area we listened to blackcaps, chiffchaffs and a flyover Mediterranean gull plus we had fleeting views of a long-tailed tit and a green woodpecker.

Then we walked along to Wises Lane and pontificated on the plans to build 700 houses on the green fields, thereby joining the village of Borden to the urban conurbation of Sittingbourne. Here we heard a whitethroat singing from a hedge which will no doubt be scrubbed up.

The RSPB slogan is "Giving Nature a Home". It seems a dichotomy because if 700 houses are built in Borden (or 5,000 at Lodge Hill), then nature will be the loser and we will all be the poorer for it.

Thank you to Vivien and her friends for making us so welcome and for the breakfast cooked and eaten in the Old Forge. A very memorable morning.

Vivien has donated £25 to the RSPB for which we are very grateful.

Sue Carter