Wonderful wildlife monitoring in Kent!
The South East team is proud to have some volunteers with fantastic skills and passion to bring to the Woodland Trust’s work. The sites that we look after also attract a growing number of wild species, which is exactly what we all hope for when we are doing what we do! Across the region, there are wildlife monitoring groups and individual volunteers, busy recording the flora and fauna who are making the woodland and surrounding habitats their home. We caught up with new wildlife monitor (and Volunteer Warden), Tim Hewke, who has been recording some fantastic sightings in Longbeech North and Park Woods in Kent…
Hi Tim, thanks so much for answering our questions to find out more about what you do! Firstly, what brought you to volunteer for the Woodland Trust?
“I love walking and often borrow a friends dog to go on long walks – and I love the woods. The two go together; I found some local woods online and off I went. I really like Longbeech North as this woodland is different. It is a recently acquired woods by the Woodland Trust so during this transitional period it is a demonstration site of how to do it and how not to do it!
There was a bit of fly tipping and then a bit more fly tipping so I got in touch with the site manager and eventually he asked if I would be interested in becoming the Woodland Warden and Wildlife Monitor. Being retired, I jumped at the chance.”
Tell us about what your role involves?
“Just for pleasure, I visit Longbeech North or Park Wood about five times a week so I now include my role as Volunteer Warden, which only adds to the pleasure of being in the woods. Because you are tasked with this role you tend to look deeper into “your” woods. I look out for any rogue activities such as camping, camp fires and fly tipping as well as any trees that have fallen across footpaths or any wrongful access to the woods. When I am doing this, I can also keep an eye out for wildlife!”
What is the most enjoyable thing about the role of Wildlife Monitor?
“Being a wildlife monitor opens your eyes to the wildlife around you. I tend to stop, look and listen more than I ever did just walking the dog. It’s great when you come across the unexpected. I recently came across a badger latrine and yes, I was very excited by this! I use some trail cameras and it’s amazing what images you catch when all is quiet. I have recently caught images of a weasel, a tawny owl catching its prey and a hare going wild in the middle of woodland!”
What makes Longbeech North and Park Wood special sites to monitor?
“Longbeech is a site in conversion so it is great to see new wildlife coming into these woods and Park Wood is an ancient woodland so has lots of well established wildlife to watch.”
And finally… tell us your best wildlife joke!
“I cheated on this and looked some up online. Two mates are at a pub having a beer when the bald one starts complaining about being bald. His friend says he should have a hair transplant operation. The bald guy says he cant afford it, so his mate says he should go and have some rabbits tattooed on his head. The bald guy says: “How will that help?” His mate says: “Well, from a distance they will look like hares!””
Thanks so much to Tim and all of our volunteers! You make such a huge difference to the Woodland Trust’s mission and it’s fascinating to hear what you are getting up to. Want to share your experience as a volunteer with the SE team? Please email Anna Claxton, Volunteer Development Officer, if you would like to submit an article.
Photographs courtesy of Tim Hewke.