News archive

January 2015

Thursday, 22 January 2015

40th Anniversay Celebration

40th Anniversay Celebration

Councillor Mrs Sasha Luck, The Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling, joined 100 RSPB supporters last night in a special meeting to celebrate our 40th anniversary. Peter Holden MBE gave an excellent talk on the work of the RSPB in taking care of all of nature, as it has done since its foundation. This was followed by a special cake cutting and other refreshments. There was a display on the activities of the local group over the last forty years, a raffle and items to support birds and wildlife were available for sale.

There was a real party atmosphere and everyone had a most enjoyable evening.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Big Garden Bird Watch - this weekend

Bird populations are a great indicator of the health of the countryside. That's why it's so important to take part in surveys like Big Garden Birdwatch to keep an eye on the ups and downs of the wildlife where we live.

All you need to do is spend an hour over the weekend of 24-25 January counting the birds in your garden. It's that simple! You can send in your results online. See the RSPB web site for details.

The more people involved, the more we can learn. Around half a million people took part last year when 7 million birds were counted.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

News from the RSPB's Weald reserves, Broadwater Warren and Tudeley Woods.

News from the RSPB's Weald reserves, Broadwater Warren and Tudeley Woods.

Broadwater Warren:
Winter can be a quiet time for wildlife spotting but there's still a lot out there! The kestrels are still quartering over the heath and getting mobbed by meadow pipits. Stonechats can often be seen on the firing range. Large mixed flocks of tits are clinging to the bare branches of the trees, and siskin and redpoll groups are feeding on the birch. Listen out for the fluting calls of bullfinches too - I saw a group of 4 on the patch of heath straight out from the car park just today.

It was great to hear reports of brambling on the boundary we share with Sussex Wildlife Trust last weekend.

The last part of the heathland restoration will be underway very soon. The 'brash mats' made from tree debris out on the clear fell areas were used as rafts by the harvester and forwarder machines, to stop them sinking into the mud completely. They will be mulched and the resulting material will be raked into bunds and banks. These banks provide homes for hibernating reptiles and mammals, nesting birds and loads of bugs, beetles and spiders before rotting down to attract a whole other host of wildlife. The raking and scraping will also create new ponds and pools for water to collect in, which again will attract even more wildlife. Scraping off the debris and conifer needle litter layer that has been smothering heather seeds for decades will help boost them into life when the sunshine returns in the spring. It will look very brown for a while but fear not - it will recover.

Some of the whippy birch along the most northern path has been coppiced by our team of volunteers with the help of RG Group, who came out on a corporate work day just before Christmas. They successfully cut a swathe of birch to open up a lovely view over the heath, which you can enjoy from the new bench that they kindly donated and installed! Many of our birch stands will be cut and allowed to grow back up in patches over the next few years, diversifying the age structure so that we can keep seeing birds like willow warbler, whitethroat and black cap.

Tudeley Woods:
There've been more signs of the elusive Dartford warbler up on the Heathland Ridge part of Tudeley. These little birds have suffered serious declines in recent decades due to harsh winters and habitat loss. They thrive in dense gorse bushes which protect them from predators and provide a warm, if very prickly, shelter from the elements.

The volunteers have been busy as ever, this month mostly clearing invasive birch and alder scrub from the valley mire. This sensitive soggy area hosts a beautiful array of flora and gives a home to many specialist invertebrate species which thrive on the saturated ground. Birch and alder trees that have seeded from the surrounding woodland suck up vast quantities of water, so it's really important to reduce the scrub in order to keep the mire a mire!

Chloe Ryder
Assistant Warden, South East Woods and Heaths

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Special 40th Season Indoor meeting

Remember to invite your friends and neighbours to our meeting on Wednesday 21st January, as we celebrate 40 years of the local RSPB group in Tonbridge.

Not only is there no charge but there will be free refreshments, a cake, the Mayor and an excellent speaker, Peter Holden who will be talking about the RSPB's Natural Secrets. See the Events page for further details.