1st June 2020

I was going to start my notes today with a heart-warming story about my birds and the fact that my bee hotel is nearly full!

However, I think a cautionary tale is in order. Through lack of paying attention and basic gardening good sense I have taken a lump from the tip of my little finger. This involved a fair amount of blood and pain. So my first message today is that we all need to take care. Garden tools are sharp and a bit of common sense, like wearing gloves, is a must! A lesson for us all to be careful when we are out in our greenspaces!

On a more cheery note my bee hotel is nearly full so I am expecting to see a new generation emerging fairy soon.

Earlier this week I was listening to a programme on the radio about our landscapes and how they shape our lives. Living half way up a mountain in Wales, on the coast of Cornwall or an urban centre in North Kent affects the way we see the world. The urban landscape of Medway sits very neatly between the chalk hills of the North Downs and the North Kent Marshes and we get an excellent idea of how this looks from the top of Bluebell Hill or from the shore line at Riverside Country Park.

Our greenspaces reflect this varying landscape. Luton Millennium Green, close to the centre of Chatham lies on the lower slopes of the North Downs, while on the banks of the Medway in Borstal is Baty’s Marsh Local Nature Reserve, which is flooded by the tide every day. Each of these unique places has its own wildlife which reflects the habitats that are found there. Crucially, they are linked to the landscape of the wider Kent countryside along green corridors; the River Medway is the corridor for Baty’s Marsh, while Luton Millennium Green is linked to the countryside by the Horsted Valley.

The importance of this link was brought home to me a while ago when my daughter found a stag beetle in her bedroom! These beautiful animals are the UK’s largest beetle and well know from the old trees in the Vines. They lay their eggs on old trees and rotting wood and the larvae can take up to six years to develop before turning into the adult. Once the adults emerge in May they have a very short life of just a few months to mate and lay their eggs for the next generation. The fearsome looking jaws are not use for biting, but instead the males fight each other for mates, in the same way as male deer.

They are strong flyers and they reach the centre of Rochester along the green corridor formed by Watts Meadow and Priestfields playing fields and the trees down Maidstone Road; hence one ending up in my house as we live along this corridor. They can be seen at this time of year in our parks and gardens looking for mates, so keep an eye out, especially in the warm evenings.

Green corridors are key to the success of the wildlife in our urban landscape. Our greenspaces and our gardens form these corridors and allow many species to move around. If they find the right conditions they will stay and flourish.

Thar’s all for now.

Stay safe
Simon

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