Today I had a lunchtime walk along the Medway Valley Walk near Allington. The sun was shining, and there were hints of Spring in the air!
The Medway Valley Walk stretches a linear route along the banks of the River Medway, from Rochester to Tonbridge, a distance of 28 miles. The walk is a wonderful route to see our river wildlife.
Today I observed mixed flocks of tits and goldcrests moving busily through the flowering hazel bushes, picking up tiny springtails, flies and spiders hidden amongst the twigs and branches. There was also plenty of blackbirds feeding on ivy berries in a few pockets of woodland.
The river here is always reliable for sightings of kingfisher, most of the time an electric blue flash, but occasionally you might be lucky enough to have a longer lasting view! You can rely on finding Mute Swans and Mallards though, and these have recently been joined by a pair of Canada Geese that have moved to Allington Lock.
With the winter sunlight, and naked branches, it is an ideal time to have a closer look at some of the lichen species on the trees beside the river; the moist air being the perfect conditions for most lichens and bryophytes to grow. Lichens are fascinating organisms – part algae, part fungi – a lovely example of a mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationship. Plus, they come in a huge variety of colours, shapes and sizes, a fascinating group to look at, and adding another branch of interest to a winter walk.