Thursday, 5 June 2008

Postling and Nightjars

The parish of Postling lies unpleasant and unfrequented, at the foot of the ridge of down or chalk hills, which are its northern boundaries.

So wrote Edward Hastead in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent at the turn of the Nineteenth Century.The description seems a little unfair and clearly many new inhabitants have brought money to the village, renovating the old buildings, and the churchyard is a wild flower reserve, with only the paths cleared of grass and other plants.

The village, having the church on the side of it, though at no great distance from the foot of them, lies very wet and swampy, from the numbers of springs in and about it.

Under the hills, above the church, rise those springs, which form the head of that branch of the river stour, called, to distinguish it from the other which rises at Lenham, the Old Stour, the principal one of which rises close to the church here, under the foot of that hill which has a single yew-tree on it. This spring, which comes out of the rock, at five or six spout-holes, big enough to receive a man's hand, is, through there are five or six others within half a mile of it, and all of them contained within the same sinus, what is commonly called the river head, and is a constant fountain, which never fails in the driest seasons. Hence it flows through this parish to Stanford, and thence under a bridge across the road to Westenhanger, and so on to Ashford and Canterbury. When Lambarde wrote his Perambulation, in 1570, here was a park; but it has been long since disparked.
This one of the springs, as rainwater that has tricked through the sparse chalk collects on the underlying non-porous Gault clay, creates streams that converge into the River Stour.

In the eastern part is Postling-lees, being a grass-common of about sixty acres.
The scarp face above Postling has been made an Access Area, and has a good range of downland plants including a scattering of Bee Orchids. It should also be good for butterflies, as it has a similar character to Lydden Down, but unfortunately it was cool and cludy when I visited.

Bee and 'hopper

The first flowering of Centuary this year.

"The brow of the upland overtops the square tower of the Colebrook Church. This slope is green and looped by a white road. Ascending along this road, you open a valley broad and shallow, a wide green trough of pastures and hedges merging inland into a vista of purple tints and flowing lines closing the view."
Joseph Conrad who lived at Pent Farm, near Postling, from his story Amy Foster (1906).

In the evening, we visited King's Wood, Challock for the annual Nightjar watch, and were rewarded with close views of churring males, and the rather more distant sight of roding Woodcocks. Both birds make a bizarre noise at dusk, and compliment each other well.

The Woodcock files slowly around its territory, making an ...ur ur ur ip..... call, or (from a distance) ....ip.....ip.....ip.....ip.....

The clip below (not mine, I hasten to add) shows some remarkable Nightjar footage at the end.


Mary said...

Postling looks like a lovely place...undeserving of the bad press in the old writing. I love the church and the flowers and the river. The video was great, but you sure know how to build suspense! I had to idea what a Nightjar was and had to wait 7 minutes to find out!! Worth the wait :-) The little chicks were so cute and I love the one tucking her egg underneath. Very intersting as always!

Warren Baker said...

Very interesting read steve, excellent bee orchids!