Monday 18 January 2021

Green Urban Birding - The Upnor Loop - 18th January 2021

I think I have posted more mail in the last year that I have in the last ten and as such I had another walk out this morning from home via the Post Office and then up the hill towards Frindsbury All Saints Church.

The camera did not come out till I was nearly there and the view opened up down over the Medway towards Chatham.  A limestone retailing wall on the gardens behind me had Red Valerian with a blister gall on the leaves that required some Googling later and some wonderful cushions of Moss and the first of many Lichens to distract me on my walk.

Bryum capillare - thanks Enid

Syntrichia ruralis - thanks Enid

Syntrichia ruralis

Syntrichia ruralis

Trioza centranthi blister gall - it is a sap-sucking hemipteran bug

Now, I am no Lichenologist but they are delightfully distracting in their shape and colour with their little cups, horns and other curious protrusions.  Bob and Enid helped me the other day and so as I wish to publish today’s exploits before Easter, I shall just post the pictures today and leave the id labels for when I can avail myself of both their services. As you will see I got slightly absorbed in them throughout the day...

Caloplaca flavescens

Physcia adscendens

Lecanora campestris

Xanthoria parietina

Lecanora campestris

Xanthoria parietina

possibly Verrucaria baldensis

Xanthoria parietina


possibly Melanohalea elegantula


Xanthoria parietina

Xanthoria calicola

Physcia adscendens

Xanthoria parietina

Caloplaca citrina  (green) Lecanora albescens  (white) All of the above were on gravestones

Anyway, there were plenty to look at throughout the graveyard with different forms on different stone types but I also found some tiny pupae on a carved English Rose but I was not sure if they were from a moth until I spoke to Antony who informed me that they are indeed a Bagworm moth called Luffia lapidella who live a parthenogenic all-female wingless existence!

Pupae of Luffia lapidella - a Bagworm moth

The Jays were being very noisy in the big Yew tree once again but there were still no roosting Tawny owls and only a couple of wide eyed plump Woodpigeons.

More twig loving lichens now caught my eye as I headed down the lane toward Temple Hill STW along with many spent Oak Apple Galls complete with the neat little exit hole where the wasp emerged and the Horse Chestnuts already had sticky buds pointing skyward in an attempt to herald spring.

On the Parsonage brick wall


Probably the same for the above twig shots

Horse Chestnut buds

Spent Oak Apple Gall

Phytomyza ilicis on Holly - fly mine

As I had my Muckmasters on for the first time, I decided to take the short (almost pointless) footpath through the field to my left that leads back up to the road (noting more Lichens on the stile as I crossed!).  The field was nice and wet and I managed to get right down to the now full stream that wends its way past the sewage works.  There was a nicely flooded overspill area that I squelched around in the hope of at least flushing a Common Snipe, if not something better but there was nothing – not one bird.  


Three above are Lichen on an old wooden stile

Redwings were in the bushes but it was quiet so I said hello to the four rugged horses in the field and made for the other side and the gate out and onto Upnor Road.  I had never walked this windy road as it has always felt a little dangerous but the field were flooded when I drove past last Friday so I was hopeful of some wildlife to be seen but alas they water had all gone leaving a couple of puddles with a Woodpigeon having a bath. Hang on a minute... that’s not a pigeon! It was in fact a female Sparrowhawk and despite the 40 yards between us I managed to take a few shots of her avidly flapping in her puddle without her flying off immediately or me getting mown down.


I stopped and had a coffee at the Frog Island Pond which has had some good conservation work done to open up the water again but there were no errant Jack Snipe or Rails around the edges of Redpolls in the Alders.


The verges were strewn with a wreck of obviously windblown migrant Mills & Boon most of which appeared to have succumbed in the recent wet and windy conditions.  The one pictured below was from the Eastern Mediterranean and was in better shape than most and may even have been given a second chance if it had been swiftly taken to nearby rescue centre...


I spend at least part of any walk on roads and pavement  and am well aware that sometimes this can be dangerous but I keep my ears and eyes open and am always facing the oncoming traffic but what I did not expect on a nice straight piece of road was for a battered Astra with five lads in it to speed up towards me with hand on the horn and then veer as close to me as possible whilst calling me a ‘corpulent, ladies reproductive region who should go forth and multiply in the ditch’.

I did not even twitch and I think the driver was more scared at that fact and just how close he had actually come to collecting me as they careened off down the road in a cloud of pungent hash.  I waved vigorously with a single finger and a smile and ambled on with the sudden urge to find something to eat. Now where was Coelho’s cake cafe?

Pastry in hand I swung onto Upchat Road and followed it up and over the Grain road to the roundabout for the old Chattenden Barracks passing more Lichens on trees on the way but no woodland birds at all.

Flavoparmelia soredians on English Oak

Flavoparmelia soredians on English Oak

On Wild Cherry

On Ash

I dithered about which way to go; hang a left and follow the roads all the way home or go straight on and into the woods for a loop back through Dillywood Lane. I opted for this longer option as at least I would see a bit more countryside this way even through it was still mostly on tarmac.


Buzzards mewed overhead and a party of Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests moved across the road. I cut through the woods but they were in a complete mess after the trail bikes and such like from the weekend so I cut back to the main drag and ambled through the silent trees.  The stream was flowing well under the iron MoD bridge and rivulets were joining it from all directions. ‘Ooo... look some lichens on the metal work!’ said Howard.

Common Buzzard

Churned up...

On iron bridge

On iron bridge

The Ash trees lining the last bit of the walk before Haven Steet were smothered in a selection of grey Lichens to such an extent that I do not think that I could see much on the way of bark. A few Redwings came up from the verge and a Green Woodpecker distantly yaffled.

I have seen this little neglected Morris each time I head this way but there has always been another wreck in the way precluding a shot...

The Raspberry tunnels all had their covers down for the winter as I came down Common Road and the frames cut some interesting geometric shapes against the skyline while down along Dillywood Lane the Rhubarb crowns were just beginning to push through their straw mulch like lime green bunched fists on skinny red arms.  I was pleased to discover what I think are some Liverworts on the roadside bank.

Crescent-cup Liverwort - Lunularia cruciata


I noted some of my now usual Fly and Moth mine suspects on Bramble, Cow parsley and Alexanders as I continued up the lane and the big Pyrancantha hedge by Dillywood Nursery was unsurprisingly well populated with Phyllonorycter leucographella moth mines. A large concrete post and the bridge back over the Grain road added this medium to my Lichen sites for the day!


Phytomyza chaerophylli - fly mine

Caloplaca flavescens

Caloplaca flavescens

Caloplaca flavescens, Lecanora albescens and Physcia adscendensAll above on concrete

Phyllonorycter leucographella on Pyracantha

I headed for the Strawberry tunnels which were similarly open to the sky and the patterns they made were even more complicated than the raspberry ones.  Rabbits scampered off on front of me flashing white undertails and one stopped long enough to give me a hard stare before a clattering of Woodpigeons brought it to its senses.  A pair of Kestrels were patrolling the field edges and a flock of Fieldfare chacked from the top of a big Ash and were the the first of the walk while a male Green Woodpecker played telegraph pole hide-and-seek with me.

Green Woodpecker

male Kestrelreen Woodpecker


The view northeastish towards the Kingsnorth jetty in the middle and Sheerness docks out to the left. The hump is Sheppey.

From here it was back on the road for the last stretch where several verge plants were doing their best to flower despite the fact that the councils mowers area still doing the rounds before I cut through Rede Common where Redwings were still foraging on Ivy berries.


Shepherd's Purse

Dandelion and Common Mallow leaves


It was only meant to be a short amble today but with my phone on the way out I did not turn on the mapping function but it was somewhere near the ten mile mark.

Let’s hope the weather holds for another walk at some stage this week.


  1. Replies
    1. They are amazing when you get close up... wonder how many species are in that view?