Tuesday 3 March marks World Wildlife Day. To celebrate the occasion, our Chief Executive, Bill Ferris, has written about the wildlife you might encounter around the Dockyard.
Take a read and see what you can spot on your next visit…
The Historic Dockyard Chatham is a seemingly wildlife “unfriendly” built environment but with a little effort it is amazing how biodiversity can be increased even in this harsh environment.
The creation of pollinator friendly planting schemes in our formal gardens and wildflower areas in more hidden parts of the Dockyard are already paying dividends. A specific bee friendly wildlife garden including a pond has allowed us to introduce a bee hive. The colony is settling well and should love the pollen and nectar from the masses of mature trees on the site as well as the special planting (find out more about our bees in the coming months).
It isn’t only the pollinators that benefit though, our wild birds are beginning to thrive again too. By providing homes (nesting sites), food (not just seeds but all the extra invertebrates that the planting is encouraging) and a wildlife friendly habitat we are seeing greater diversity and numbers of birds. We are particularly pleased to see our swift colony growing as their nesting places were lost due to building restoration. We have installed nest boxes and play their calls nearby. Last year saw a good population on site.
From goldfinches to kingfishers and redshank to tufted duck it is a joy to see what many consider the “more exotic” species using our habitats but equally as pleasing to see are the commoner birds like blue tits and blackbirds doing well and bringing life to this place. We can still do more. I’m really keen to make efforts to help some species that we’ve lost, like house martins, return and even the cheeky house sparrow whose numbers are very low here and declining nationally. The Dockyard would have been full of them 50 years ago but, like most urban areas, the reduction in food sources and nesting habitat has decimated numbers. We can help redress the decline with positive action.
It is a real joy to see our natural heritage doing well on such a wonderful built heritage site. We can all play our part to support nature wherever we are. The reward is not only for wildlife but for people too through the joy that the sighting of a bird or other creature can give, especially if it’s unusual in your location.
The birds mentioned above are good examples but there are plenty more common and less common birds to spot or hear during a visit to The Historic Dockyard Chatham if you listen and look – nature is all around!
Wildlife should be celebrated all year around, not just on World Wildlife Day. If you see or hear anything interesting on your next visit, please do let us know. Tag us in your social media posts or drop an email to email@example.com
Photo by David Fenwick