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Dawn and I are in Kent, we are house-and-dog sitting for three weeks, the weather is awful, cold, wet but there are some sunny hours. We are restricted to 5 hour-outings because of the dogs and I refuse to take them with us. I do like dogs but I am not a dog lover and I will certainly not pick up dog poo off the floor!

We are making the most of our National Trust Memebership by visiting some interesting sites in Kent, we have also been to Reculver Nature Reserve and we go for local walks. 

The house where we are staying is actually in Kings Hill and is owned by Dawns Daughter Sophie and her husband John. Dawn's other daughter, Amy and her family, live in West Malling about 3 miles down the road. I have walked between the two homes on a few ocassions and found a couple of Orchids along the wayside. The local council do not cut the verges which has resulted in a proliferation of wild flowers including the orchids.

Pyramidal Orchid seen along the A228 - and below is a Bee Orchid found nearby 

This Blue Tit shown below had recently fledged from Amy's nest box in her garden, it could hardly fly but it managed to get back into the trees.


Blue sky over the half-timbered west front of Ightham Mote, a moat in the foreground

This 14th Century moated manor house at Ightham has extensive gardens, a supply stream and a lake. We spent a whole morning there and my wallet took a bashing when we stayed for lunch. 

One of biggest and oldest Sweet Chestnut Trees I have ever seen.

the Lake at Ightham

a rare sight - blue sky above the stable houses at Ightham

During our walk around the gardens and lake we saw Pied and Grey Wagtails, Song Thrush, Blackcap and we heard Chiffchaff, Robin, Blackbird and Wren. A couple of dragonflies and damselflies dashed around the reeds on the lake but we only saw one single Small White Butterfly!!

RECULVER 9th June 2024

The map showed a lovely coastal wetlands at Reculver and a recent report from local birder encouraged me to visit. The local birder had seen 62 species in 3 hour walk, which I thought was pretty good. Dawn came with me and we set the sat nav for the Reculver visitor's centre. It took 45 minutes to get there, Reculver is just east of Herne Bay.

We parked in the expensive car park near the cafe and set off towards the huge Twin Towers, the remains of a Roman Fort and the ruins of the 12th Century medieval Church, which were impressive. It was very windy there and really quite cold out on the coastal footpath. 

The twin towers of Reculver

We walked for about a mile along the coastal path towards Minnis Bay which was very busy with cyclists. I was abit disappointed with the wetlands, you hardly see any water in the grassland and very few birds were flying around. However, I did enjoy watching Linnets, Reed Bunting, Common Whitethroat and a displaying Sedge Warbler. We aslo heard Skylarks and Yellow Wagtails were flying around. I never took my scope so I didn't capture any of them on film.

A few waders did appear in some open pools, we saw Oystercatcer, Redshank and a Ringed Plover and few Mallards. Groups of Herring Gulls sat in the ploughed fields and Black-headed Gulls flew over us, a Cormorant was the only bird seen out on the sea.

Dawn got very cold after a mile or so, we turned back back and headed to the cafe where hot Crepes and tea and coffee went down well.

BLEAN WOODS - 11th June 2024

I have wanted to visit Blean Woods for many a year, it is only a 40 minute drive from West Malling and so today I had my chance. The weather didn't look to good, it was cold, cloudy and quite windy, but I took my chance.

The Blean Woodland Complex is massive, sveral forests are joined together and cover a huge area, it is a patchwork of ancient deciduous woodland, coppiced areas, woodland glades and heathland. The newly coppiced areas and the woodland galdes attract a wealth of butterflies and it was the HEATH FRITILLARY that I was after.

There are many well marked trails throughout the woodland, I picked to follow the 'Red' Trail a two hour circular walk. Bird song was coming from all directions, just common species, but a lot of them. I never thought that I would bump into a Nigtingalke or a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, I was right I didn't.

But, I did bumped into a birder after a just 100 meters, he was tracking a Firecrest which was nowhere to be seen or heard. He told me of a place where to find the Fritillary but it was quite a distant away from where we were.

I set out in the general direction changing from the Red trail to the Green Trail. The first open glade I came to I heard Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, very nice.

Then the first coppiced area I came to I found several Heath Fritillary butterflies, my target species in the bag! Amazing, I never had to walk half as far as the birder had suggested. I also saw Large Skipper, Holly Blue, Meadow brown, Small Heath and Small White Butterflies.

Heath Fritillary

A few dragonflied were on the wing too! Broad-bodied Chasers and a species of Hawker, I could not see the hawker settled anywhere, so I didn't get an ID of it.

te best I could do with the Borad-bodied Chaser

I also found some orchids in Blean Woods, I think that they are Common Spotted Orchids but please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

Common Spotted Orchid


There isn't a castle at Sissinghurst, its just a tower, which is all that remains of a huge 14th century country manor. However there is a garden, a world famous garden, created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. Vita is also famous for being a lover of Virginia Wolf, an intriguing lifestyle was led by Vita and Harold, both having same-sex relationships and bizarre parties.

Looking from the approach track to Sissinghurst Castle and Manor House, also showing the Oast houses

The gardens are absolutely fantastic especially in June! The rose garden alone has 350 different species! There are several well defined segments of the garden, the colours are sublime and the variety of plants is incedible. We visited all of the sections, 'Rose garden', 'Sunset Garden', 'Mediterranean Garden' and the 'White Garden'. The view from the top of the 'Castle' was stupendous.

milling about in the rose garden

the 'Castle' at Sissinghurst

in the 'White Garden'

a view from the tower of the Mediterranean Garden

A Giant species of Clematis - these flowers are 12 inches across!

 my 'rose' in the 'Sunset Garden'

I found this Orchid in the lower gardens - a Marsh Orchid perhaps, Although the leaves are very spotted??

looking from the tower towards the Oast Houses

We never saw many birds and certainly not a butterfly, what is happening this year to our butterflies!! The weather??

My wallet took another bashing as we popped into the cafe for lunch, luckily for me the kitchen was closed due to a plumbing issue, so all we had was hot drinks and a sandwich!!