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Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 16 February 2015 by Tim Ingram

Natural History of the Isle of Sheppey

Natural History of the Isle of Sheppey

Transactions of the Kent Field Club 18: 2014 (ISBN 978-0-956 1926-4-6)

 

Sometimes it is the places closest to you that you know the least. This was brought home to me by a wonderful talk to our local village gardening group by Bob Gomes, a Wildlife Warden on the Isle of Sheppey, describing the birdlife of the salt marshes of the Swale Estuary and Medway Channel (illustrated by the way by some of the finest photography of birds that I have ever seen). This latest publication of the Kent Field Club contains detailed papers on the wildlife and its history on the island, emphasising the unique importance of these habitats for a wide range of bird, plant and animal life, and how this has been and may be impacted by human influences and climate change.

The entomologist John Badmin, who has edited the Transactions for many years and is the current President of the Kent Field Club, has lived on the island and studied its natural history closely, and introduces this volume with a quote from Charles Darwin: 'The zoology of archipelagoes will be well worth examining'. The final contribution by John Stanford, who lives on the island now, summarises the developmental pressures that threaten some of the (particularly) marshland and intertidal habitats. However, he finishes on a positive note by saying: 'It seems that a conservation culture is taking hold on Sheppey, with the "Nature Watch" syndrome growing and people getting out into the countryside more'.

Sheppey is certainly somewhere we should explore and learn more about. Here are Avocets and Marsh Harriers, Black-tailed Godwits and Little Egrets - extremely exciting to see! But also, as John notes in his introduction, the mainland European scorpion, Euscorpius flavicaudis, and 'somewhat fierce large spider', Segestria florentina, both in the dockyard at Sheerness, and 37 species of plants listed on the Rare Plants Register of the BSBI. 

Detailed studies like these inform the larger picture in ways that are very real even if known to relatively few - and even if, like for myself, they lie right on the doorstep!

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