Friday 1 May 2020

Green Urban Birding: The Strood Loop: 1st May 2020 after a week off

On my Chattenden walk last Friday I developed a rather intense pain in the front of my left shin which left me limping home in some discomfort. Shin Splints is apparently what I have (rather than need) and as such I have taken it very easy for the last week which gave me a nice feet up weekend in the sunshine up the garden with Swallow and House Martin to add to the lockdown list, regular noisy Med Gulls and some great Peregrine and Buzzard action.

Buzzard and Carrion Crows

A rare flyover - a thermalling Cormorant

Herring Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull



The much needed rain was well appreciated by me and the garden and I tinkered here and there between squalls; knocking back the vigorous new Bindweed growth, planting some more seeds and marvelling at the germination speed of the Radishes I recently planted. 

I noticed this afternoon that the first shoots from my Potatoes, Onions and Broad Beans are pushing through and I created a wigwam for my Runnerbeans using some nice tall Hazel binders from my hedge and another makeshift frame from some older binders for the two Grapevines that have just started to come back to life.

There have been plenty of insects in sunny spells with Speckled Woods and Holly Blues flicking around and visiting the Montana Clematis that is now flowering high up the Corkscrew Willows. Epistrophe eligans seems to have gone over but Helophilus pendulus is now the commonest hover in the garden along with some furry Myathropa florea and Eristalis pertinax. The first Tree Bumblebees are now around and I suspect they are just waiting for the Raspberries to flower which i have seen them on in previous years.

Helophilus pendulus

Helophilus pendulus

Myathropa florea

Myathropa florea

Speckled Wood

And as people were asking, here are two videos from the garden.  The first is from just after lockdown on the 25th March and the second from 25th April.  Things have grown up quite a bit in a month!

Anyway, back to this morning, the 1st May. My shin was feeling ‘normal’ when I got up and so after some breakfast and, don’t laugh, stretching exercises I set out for a short amble with as little gradient as possible which took me back on the route of my Birthday walk on the 6th April. It was actually quite chilly and the Hat was back out on duty along with three layers.  I headed into Strood and then down Knights Road towards Temple Marsh but this time walked a little beyond the railway tunnel to have a look through the fence at Temple House the 13th century Knights Templar residence. 

Temple House

You can see where all the street and place names come from now.  It is only open occasionally and had a seriously ‘get orf my laand’ fence around it but I still managed a couple of pictures.  A male Greenfinch wheezed and twittered from the Yew in the gardens.

I followed the path along the saltmarsh once again and there were certainly more plants to see this time with clumps of Scurvy Grass in flower along with patches of Sea Purslane and Sea Arrowgrass and the new shoots of Sea Aster and Glasswort pushing through.  I found another succulent salt lover that appears to be Annual Seablite, (Suaeda maritima) and two patches of Sea Wormwood, (Artemisia maritima). As ever I am indebted to Enid for her help this evening.

Scurvy Grass flowers

Scurvy Grass
Sea Purslane

Glasswort ? & Sea Aster

Annual Seablite, (Suaeda maritima)

Sea Wormwood, (Artemisia maritima)

Sea Arrowgrass

Blackcaps and Greenfinches sang and several male Whitethroats were new additions to my territory plotting and I was delighted to find two male Nightingales singing from the scrub under the Poplars.  I could see the site of my first local ones at Borstal under the M2 bridges from this point.  A single Oystercatcher was probing for lugworms in the flats but I was disappointed that there were no other waders.

1st summer Black-headed Gull

1st summer Black-headed Gull


Not an ideal tool storage location

I spent some time looking at my feet as I walked along the rubble beach and picked up a few glass and pottery bits that caught my eye. I was not looking for proper treasures, just things with a nice shape, pattern or some words.  I washed them when I got home.  Two of the very thin glass pieces have CHE as the start of a word on them and one has measurement marks of different scales top and bottom. I wondered if the word was CHEMIST

However, my favourite was a little green piece of pottery that I think is from the base of a Celery Vase.

I decided not to overdo my walking and headed back up alongside the new riverside development which has a WWII pillbox embedded in the far corner, past my first flowering Borage, Fumitory, Red Clover and Common Storksbills of the year as well as a yellow flower that Enid has identified for me as Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris). 



Common Storksbills - you can see how it gets its name

Common Storksbills

Red Clover


Hop Trefoil

Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris)

I looped back into the scrub and discovered a huge open grassy area which is obviously where the dog walkers go and this area may be good for insects later in the season and I intend to still visit these sites after we return to some semblance of normality.

Rusty wheel and Ground Ivy
I retraced my steps home, thankful that I had been able to once again to take a walk.

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