Heritage line invites visitors to learn about its biodiversity and how they can support wildlife
Things are going ‘wild’ at the Kent & East Sussex Railway this coming weekend (Saturday 30th September and Sunday 1st October) as the famous Tenterden-based heritage railway is hosting a community event celebrating all things wildlife including revealing the findings of a major wildlife survey along the railway line.
Throughout the weekend, visitors can learn more about the nature-rich 10 ½ mile line which is home to a host of flora and fauna, as well as experience it from the train and around its pretty rural stations using nature spotting sheets and walking routes.
At Tenterden station, visitors can learn how to encourage and support nature in and around their own homes through a range of talks, interactive stalls and demonstrations provided by local groups such as: Tenterden Wildlife, the Kent Wildlife Trust, Singleton Environmental Centre, Men in Sheds and Tenterden & District Museum. Additional activities include: advice on gardening to encourage wildlife; wildflower and fungi identification; examining owl droppings; making leaf catchers; fossil excavation; how to build your own birdbox, and even how to go about taking wildlife photos.
There are also storytelling sessions (12noon and 2.30pm each day), when visitors looking for a calming moment can listen to celebrated children’s author and composer Jenny Bailey read from her ‘Tales from Mother Earth’ books which aim to inspire children about the wonders of the natural world and ignite their interest in conservation. And the choir of Rolvenden Primary School will be singing Jenny’s Ark Anthem “It Matters To Me”, written and composed with Chris Symons (10.15am each day).
Speakers from the K&ESR Sustainability and Environment Group, Kent Wildlife Trust Consultancy, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Wild Starts will outline some of the findings of the railway’s major nature survey, started earlier this year (talks at 10.30am and 1.30pm). The survey has found an impressive level of biodiversity, including no less than 89 different species of bird, 14 of which are on the are on the British Trust for Ornithology’s Red and Amber lists for highest conservation concern. In addition, the survey team has discovered over 40 varieties of wildflower and at least one rare species of bumblebee.
“The results of this biodiversity survey are confirmation that the K&ESR is not only custodian of an important part of British transport history but also of precious wildlife habitat with its equally precious residents – all of which our passengers can appreciate and enjoy on their visits to the railway,” says Keith Barron, from the K&ESR’s Sustainability Working Group.
“So when, in the mid-1800s, Colonel Stephens enabled a leap forward in rural transport by builidng the first light railway here in the Rother Valley, he inadvertently also created a unique and special nature corridor in this part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that we are committed to preserve and protect.”
The K&ESR ‘Wild About Wildlife’ weekend will be officially opened at Tenterden Town Station by the Mayor of Tenterden, Cllr Sue Ferguson, at 10am on Saturday 30th September.
Visit the K&ESR website for full details of events over the weekend and to book and save on tickets: www.kesr.org.uk/wild-about-wildlife-weekend