Trip reports

Nightingale Walk at RSPB Northward Hill (Leader David Saunders)

Nightingale Walk at RSPB Northward Hill (Leader David Saunders)
Nightingale Walk - RSPB Northward Hill - Enjoying fading light and magnificent sunset

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Taken from Dr Hoo's RSPB Northward Hill Blog

Yesterday evening was the last of this year's 'Nightingale Walks' and I was always a little worried as their singing period is so short and this was pretty near the end of that period. Never-the-less nearly thirty members of the public and volunteers gathered in the Bromhey Farm car park to hear the nightingale's legendary song. Alongside the usual welcome, I gave the assembled people a short talk and literature re the Medway Council's plans to build 2,000 houses on the SSSI site at Lodge Hill, the ex-army camp in Chattenden, less than a mile away from where we were standing.

So just after 7.00 pm, we set off up to Sweeney Viewpoint to enjoy the fantastic vista across the marshlands to the River Thames and beyond to Essex.

This gave me the opportunity to talk about Owen and Linda Sweeney and what great champions for nature they'd been and in particular the latter years with Owen's passion for nightingales and their plight due to Medway Council's plans for Lodge Hill. It's also interesting to note that it's almost one year to the day that I, Adrian Thomas, a representative from KOS, Owen and Lynda Sweeney's family plus members of the RSPB Medway Group held a small ceremony to unveil the signage naming the viewpoint.

On the way down, we spotted a barn owl out on the marsh hunting back and forth from the wartime radio station to the Cherry Orchard, sometimes coming within a hundred yards or so of us. Most of the group had never seen a barn owl or hadn't seen one for several years!

On the way to the sanctuary snatches of nightingale notes could be heard, but not, unfortunately, the full song. As a bonus, a male cuckoo landed in a nearby silver birch giving good views and again most of the group had never seen one of these either.

We continued up into Northward Hill itself hoping to hear the fabled songster, but it was not to be. That said as we made our way back to the car park, enjoying the fading light and magnificent sunset, notes could again be heard from distant bushes.

Back at Bromhey everyone was very happy and had enjoyed the walk, especially the owl and cuckoo. So the only one that was disappointed was me as I hadn't been able to let people listen to bird, but there had been plenty of others singing, including wren, Cetti's warbler, reed warbler and whitethroats.

My thanks to Will the Warden, the interns Ruth and James, Medway local group volunteers Des and Carol Felix and of course Adrian Olsen.