Archive for the ‘Kent’ Category

Rainham Marshes

After a trip to IKEA at Lakeside, Sue and I dropped into the RSPB reserve at Rainham Marshes for a coffee and a quick walk around the woodland area of this large marshland reserve.

The woods were full of song, much of it from newly arrived migrants and Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Blackcap were seen. Sedge and Reed warblers were calling from the nearby reed beds and we came across one very tolerant Reed Bunting which happily posed for pictures. There were also good numbers of butterflies with Orange Tip particularly numerous. A single Swallow was the first sighting of this summer migrant for me this year.

Orange-Tip

Orange-Tip

Reed Bunting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later we stopped for lunch at Bough Beech and were rewarded with sightings of Garganey and Little Ringed Plover both recently arrived from their Winter homes, together with my first House Martin of the year.

Bough Beech

Little Ringed Plover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garganey (from archive)

 

 

Grey Heron

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Garganey (Anas querquedula)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Rochester Castle

Posted: January 16, 2017 in Kent, UK
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Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle

The first castle on this important site where the London Road crosses the River Medway was built by  Odo, the half-brother of William the Conqueror shortly after their victory in 1066. In 1088, following Williams death, Odo supported the King’s eldest son Robert for the crown and the castle was besieged by forces supporting the eventually successful son William Rufus. Records show that the following year repairs were made to the castle by Gandalf, Bishop of Rochester. The tower keep, much as it is seen today, was built in 1127 by William, Archbishop of Canterbury,  who had come into possession of the castle.

The Keep at Rochester Castle

The Keep at Rochester Castle

In 1215 the castle was taken by the rebel barons and was subsequently besieged by the forces of King John. The defenders held out for two months but eventually, starving, they had to surrender the castle. It was besieged again in 1264, this time holding for the King against rebel barons although the outcome was different as the castle was relieved after a week by Royal forces.

The Castle Keep

The Castle Keep

In 1381  the castle was captured and ransacked during the peasant’s revolt. It was badly damaged and this seems to have made it turning point in the castle’s history  as although repairs were carried out and people continued to live in the keep, the records show that the amount of repair work done was insufficient to keep the castle in a fully functional state and eventually it fell out of use. Much of the stone from the external walls and outbuildings was carried away and used on other building projects such as nearby Upnor Castle.

One of the few remaining portions of the external walls of Rochester Castle

One of the few remaining portions of the external walls of Rochester Castle

In 1870, the site was opened as a public park and eventually passed into the hands of the local authority, then the ministry of public works and finally to English Heritage.

 

Views of Rochester (2)

Posted: January 12, 2017 in Kent, UK
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Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle

A Rochester town-house

A Rochester town-house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathedral gatehouse

Cathedral gatehouse

Rochester High Street and war memorial

Rochester High Street and war memorial

Catapala Tree (American Indian Bean Tree) outside Rochester Cathedral. It is over 100 years old.

Catapala Tree (American Indian Bean Tree) outside Rochester Cathedral. It is over 100 years old.

Views of Rochester (1)

Posted: January 5, 2017 in Kent, UK
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The Keep at Rochester Castle

The Keep at Rochester Castle

Rochester Cathedral from the Castle

Rochester Cathedral from the Castle

Rochester Cathedral from the Castle

Rochester Cathedral from the Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River Medway from the Castle Terrace

River Medway from the Castle Terrace

Road Bridge over the River Medway

Road Bridge over the River Medway

A Rochester Terrace

A Rochester Terrace

The main reservoir

The main reservoir

A bright sunny winters day and so Sue and I decided to spend a couple of hours at Bough Beech Reservoir.

As we arrived it was clear that things were not going to be plain-sailing as the sun was low and straight into our eyes as we looked over the main reservoir. This made bird identification quite difficult as all appeared as dark shapes without any colour. The exception to this was the group of Mandarin Duck hauled up on the bank as the sun caught the orange in their plumage. Also present were Grey Heron, Little Egret together with Eurasian Teal and Greylag Geese in large numbers. A group of Great Crested Grebe could be seen on the water but there was no sign of the party of Goosander that had been recorded earlier in the week.

Little Egret

Little Egret

 

Turning our attention to the northern section (looking away from the sun) a Buzzard could be seen in a tree being harassed by the crows. A few Moorhens could be seen and a single Common Snipe made a brief foray from the reeds into open water.

Northern reservoir

Northern reservoir

Common Snipe

Common Snipe

At the reserve visitors centre there was a hive of activity around the feeders with large numbers of Blue Tits and Great Tits together with Blackbirds, Chaffinches and Dunnocks. A pair of Fieldfare together with single Coal Tit were also seen along with a very brief sighting of a flying Brambling as it disappeared into the hedgerow never to re-emerge into sight.

View from reserve centre

View from reserve centre

Fieldfare

Fieldfare

Blue Tit bathing

Blue Tit bathing

Back at the causeway, 2 Peregrines were located when they spooked a group of Woodpigeons and a Buzzard flew overhead giving excellent views. Still no sign of the Goosanders although a single Gadwall was found amongst the ducks on the bank.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)

 

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

When Keith and I recently visited Rochester Cathedral we took the opportunity to visit the exhibition space in the crypt. This traces the history of the Cathedral through items from its collection.

Head of a medieval Bishop's crozier. Photo by Keith

Head of a medieval Bishop’s crozier. Photo by Keith

Reliquary.  Photo by Keith

Reliquary. Photo by Keith

The centre of the exhibition is a copy of the Textus Roffensis (The Book of Rochester).

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

The Textus Roffensis is a codex of books probably written from around 1120 AD and bound together in the 14th century. It was written by a monk at Rochester in a local ‘font’ known as Rochester Prickly. It is in two languages Old English (Anglo-Saxon) and Latin. Part of the codex contains the only existing copy of King Ethelbert of Kent’s code of Laws, which originated from around 600 AD. It also comprises a copy of the Coronation Charter of Henry I, used by the Barons as a template when composing the Magna Carta. Other items include documents relating to land holdings of the Cathedral and other legal documents. Together they seem to comprise a reference book to be used in legal disputes involving the rights and holdings of the Cathedral.

Images of Rochester Cathedral

Posted: December 29, 2016 in History, Kent, UK
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Rochester cathedral from the Castle

Rochester cathedral from the Castle

The Nave

The Nave

The Great Organ

The Great Organ

The Christmas Crib

The Christmas Crib

Steps worn away by centuries of Pilgrims

Steps worn away by centuries of Pilgrims

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In 1926 when workmen were building a new roadway for the local council offices adjacent to Orpington railway station in Kent, they came across some the remains of a building. This was quickly identified as a Roman villa and some preliminary work was carried out before it was covered over. It was not until 1988 that the villa was actually excavated and investigated. Part of the remains was then preserved within a building and opened to the public.

Plan of Villa remains

Plan of Villa remains

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The villa is thought to have to have been occupied between 140-400 AD and to have been the centre of a family farming estate. At its largest, the villa had around 20 rooms and parts of 10 of these can be seen in its current preserved state.

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Roman Floor

Roman Floor

Finds from the site

Finds from the site

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Evidence of the rest of the villa can be seen in the surrounding grounds

Evidence of the rest of the villa can be seen in the surrounding grounds

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The first record of a Cathedral on this site is from 604 when King Ethelbert donated a plot of land for its building and Justus was appointed the first Bishop. In 1082, following the Norman conquest, a priory was added by Gundulf, the first Norman Bishop of Rochester and the following year he began work on a new Cathedral. This was completed and consecrated in 1130 and its importance is testified by the presence of King Henry I at the consecration service. However, this building was badly damaged by fire only 7 years later. In 1180 a rebuilding was started, transforming the existing building into the gothic style.

West Door

West Door

 

The Nave

The Nave

The Cathedral was plundered and desecrated by rebel troops in 1215 after the city has held out in favour of King John. Despite these setbacks, the building continued to grow and in the following 40 years the two transepts were added.

The Nave

The Nave

The Cathedral was again damaged by military action in 1642, this time at the hands of the Parliamentarian forces. The Cathedral as we see it today underwent a major restoration project in the late 19th century.

The Ithamar (early bishop of Rochester) chapel

The Ithamar (early bishop of Rochester) chapel

The Great Organ

The Great Organ

Waxwing

Waxwing

A good start to the morning with my first record of Grey Wagtail in the garden before I left to join Keith for a day in Rochester.

Our first stop though was on a housing estate on the outskirts of Strood, where a group of Waxwings has taken up residence attracted by the berry bushes. This attractive winter visitor is irruptive, that is the numbers in the UK depend on the success, or otherwise, of the winter-berry crop on the continent of Europe. The poorer the continental crop the more birds find their way to the UK in search of food. It took us about 10 minutes before the birds appeared and they then proceeded to visit various berry trees in the area around us, usually returning to a perching tree before going off to find more food.

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After this we went into Rochester to visit the Cathedral and get some lunch before taking an afternoon walk along the River Medway, along what had been the dock quays but what is now and open space and a riverside path. The bird count was not high but we did find 3 Common Sandpipers, a few Common Redshank and Oystercatchers and a Stonechat.

Riverside Walk Rochester

Riverside Walk Rochester

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

Common Redshank

Common Redshank

Not the longest list but very satisfying to get such good views of the Waxwings

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Bohemian Waxwing [sp] (Bombycilla garrulus)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)