The North Kent Marshes are less than half an hours’ cycle ride away from Palace Farm Hostel and Campsite, great for birds, seals and salt air. Grab your wellies, binoculars, cameras and paint brushes and come and stay with us!
Walking in the early evening looking for Kent wildlife will reveal our wonderful Tawny Owl population calling to each other, from just before dark when they start to wake and call out to find their family members, it is enchanting to hear, they call well past eleven pm on some days and always move to different trees each night.
Our little Owls are still around, we didn’t see much of them in the summer of 2015, but we realised that the trees they nested in were rotten had fallen over, In September 2015 I took delivery of two Little Owl nest boxes and within days of putting them in their place they were visited by an owl. In 2019 both nest boxes seemed to be occupied and we often hear them calling in late afternoon and early evening.
During the short summer nights some usually nocturnal birds and animals can be seen hunting during daylight hours, usually early morning or near dusk, this Barn Owl is trying to feed a family nesting on our neighbouring farm.
Buzzards are now firmly established here in Kent, on warmer sunny days, they can be seen or heard with their distinctive mewing call, thermalling high up in the sky. At other times they sit on telegraph poles, trees and tall hedges around Palace Farm waiting for an opportunity of a meal. Come and watch their graceful flight, at low level they look huge! We see or hear Buzzards every day now. Red Kites are another large raptor that is increasing in numbers.
Pollen and Nectar
We have a Pollen and Nectar area which we have planted on the farm to encourage the wildlife. It is aimed at giving much needed wildflowers for our wild bees. Did you know that we have around 250 types of bee in the UK, one is the Honey Bee, around 225 are solitary bees, including, Mason Bees, Leafcutter Bees and Mining Bees. The other 24 species are Bumblebees, of which there are 22 different species found in Kent. Some are quite common, but some are very rare and need a lot of looking after if they are to survive. Bumblebees don’t store very much honey so a short break in flowers during the summer can be a disaster for them. Did you know that a male bumblebee doesn’t have a sting, do you know what a Cuckoo Bumblebee is? See Bumblebee Conservation Trust for more information.
You really don’t have to go to the coast to see some lovely birds, our woodpeckers are quite exotic with our Green Woodpecker or Yaffle with their olive green wings and yellow rump and a bright red to the top and back of the head, our biggest woodpecker. Green Woodpeckers feed mainly on ants so are often seen boring with their strong beak into a grassy field or even a lawn. The name Yaffle is derived from the laughing yaffle sound of their call mainly when flying. The Greater Spotted Woodpecker is a stunning bird, smaller than the Green but larger than a Song Thrush. They are creamy white underneath with a bright red vent, black wings with white ovals and a black and white head for the female the male has a bright red patch at the back of the head. In the spring you often hear them drumming on an old tree to attract a mate, their alarm call is an abrupt schack! A good place to watch birds is on The Isle of Sheppy at the Elmley National Nature Reserve, just a short drive from Palace Farm, or maybe at The Oare Marshes Reserve on the mainland near Faversham (our favourite spot). Look up the Kent Ornithological Society.