Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A short break in Kent

After a disappointing Summer with no really decent chunks of dry sunny weather here in Cornwall, we set-off 'up country' on a short break centered in Kent around a couple of Nature Reserves we wanted to visit, a brief stop with family and then to the smoke for some work.

We started at Sandwich and Pegwell Bay which is a lovely spot on the Kent coast, close to Ramsgate.  We waited for the rain to clear into what proved to be a sunny lunchtime.  While walking around the Nature Reserve there we saw a female Hen Harrier chasing a Green Woodpecker, we were drawn to the spectacle by the noise made by the fleeing Woodpecker.

As well as the clouds of Hirundines (both House Martins and Barn Swallows) zooming over the shore and the reserve, we saw and heard a number of Reed Warblers and just heard a number of Cetti's Warblers.

The colours of Autumn were everywhere from the Wild Asparagus:











To the Blackberries:




















The Privet:

And Guelder Rose:















From there we drove on to Rye Harbour, parking in the free car park and this time rather than walking to the coast we headed in land towards Camber Castle:












It's quite a trek to a monument from the 17th century, which is very rarely open, however it was worth it.

On the way we enjoyed seeing and hearing lots more birds including Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, various Ducks and Geese and the more familiar garden bird species.

On the way back to the car (it's a reasonable distance if you walk from the harbour car park), we admired the Church on the edge of the village:



As the sun headed down to the horizon we headed to our hotel.  The hotel was next to a Beefeater and on an estate with a drive-in Macdonalds, Burger King, KFC, Nandos, Pizza Hut and Frankie and Bennies.  No wonder we have an obesity crisis in this country.   The food was fatty, salty, meaty rubbish and we struggled to choose anything.

The next day we drove to visit Dungeness RSPB, the very first RSPB reserve in the UK and one that is well worth a visit.   These places have a very different feel to them.   The wildlife doesn't live in fear of humans so you get to interact with it and see it much closer than you do in the wider world where our relationship is much more dangerous and destructive.

I'd only brought a medium lens so not much in the way of wildlife images but we did get a first for us, a Small Heath butterfly:



And enjoyed watching this Common Wheatear, which was watching us from the top of the bird hide:














From the RSPB Nature Reserve we drove to Dungeness Point, which frankly is mostly a human mess of wrecked boats, huts, and other detritus.

This is the new lighthouse on the Point:

We did walk to the shoreline and sat and watched a seal, some Sandwich Terns and a small pod of Dolphins feeding relatively close to the shore, and enjoyed the ongoing sunshine and warm weather.

From there it was back to the hotel and to pack for our onward trip the next morning.... to Sissinghurst National Trust, where we met Helen's brother Rob and his long-term partner Kath.

Sissinghurst is an odd-property for the National Trust, well I think so anyway:

Typical Kentish buildings abound:















The gardens are kept in the manner the last pre-NT owner designed.  I have no idea what this species is though it has an 'alien splat' feel to it:














This I am assured is a Dahlia:




















The gardens have extensive borders, trees including nut-bearing trees and therefore a number of birds too including a large mixed-flock of Tits, a number of Nuthatches and Robins, the singers of Autumn with their sad sweet song heralding the changing of the seasons:















It's an odd-spot indeed and given the usual NT pricing we headed out to a garden centre for lunch and then on to allotments, wine and a very close game of Rugby but that's another story.


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