Thursday, 29 December 2011

Winter on the Coast

Brent Geese in Westbrook Bay on a dull winter's day.

Winter Wildlife Treats

Now that all the visitors have gone it is a good time to go down to our beaches and coast. Wrap up warm, check the tide and forecast. This time of the year there are exciting things to find. One example is the Brent Geese that regularly visit us from Northern Russia. Often seen flying in V formation from bay to bay and across the estuary. From time to time off Westbrook you will see in excess of a hundred of these birds feeding at the end of the chalk reef. Many thousands of these geese visit the South East each year. If Bonkers Boris' Airport is ever build these geese could pose a major threat to aircraft. Let us hope common sense prevails as an airport here would devastate wildlife in the estuary.
On the cliff tops and under cliff on some days you will see migrating birds using it as a staging post. For a feast of birds Sandwich Bay is the crème de la crème for birders but any part of our coast has its own treats.

Living on the Edge.

Wintertime can be the time to watch for incidents of nature. Recently we have had a number of seal pups beaching. In previous years we have had phenomenon like the death of thousands of Velvet Swimming Crabs.

Two years ago following a serious drop in temperature Westbrook Bay was the major disaster area and last year Walpole Bay experienced a similar incident. The conclusion is that these crabs have been living on the edge of their existence and had moved up our coasts due to warmer seas. When we had a severe drop in temperature after a number of years of warmer winters they got caught out and suffered the consequences. We cannot be certain but this is our best guess so far. If you witness a similar incident this year please contact the Thanet Coast Project.

Over the years we do witness incidents like this on the coast like the unexplained mass of starfish washed up and many years ago Walpole bay pool being awash with herring.

As Tony Beachcomber tells us the coast and beaches are full of interesting finds especially after a good blow.

So after Christmas, weather permitting, it may be a good time to get out in the fresh air with your bins and cameras and make the most of this winter wildlife wonderland.

We are all depressed by the chancellor about the economy but forget what is really important. The following is a reminder to us all what is really at stake. Put speakers on and watch it to the end. Happy New Year.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from WUNPy WASPies

And from the Westbrook Turnstones


At this time of the year all the media decide to remind us of all the news from the year that is a passing. Not much cheer there then.

However local news looked a bit more promising for Margate with the opening of Turner, a visit from the Queen and Duke and a revival of the old town. Not bad with a backdrop of doom and gloom.

I am not going to mention the local elections in May as they just reflected those of national government and now its all change again.

One thing for sure its been a fabulous year for WASPS and the Westbrook Undercliffe Nature Park.

In February the site became a Town Green (a bit like a Village Green but in a Town). This meant that the site is now protected for future generations and cannot be handed over to developers.

Also in February WASPS became Westbrook Undercliffe Nature Park with the launch and volunteer day when trees, shrubs and wild flower seeds were planted.

In June we got our sign which was unveiled by Mick Tomlinson and established it as a nature park. As a matter of interest is Mick still around I haven't seen him for a long time?

During the summer the wild flowers did well giving a lovely display of poppies, cornflowers and others which I cannot remember the names. The dry weather however meant that the shrubs struggled in their first year.

Not to worry though as we held another planting day on 20th November and another 105 saplings were planted.

Future plans being discussed are an extension of wild flower seeding and we are hoping that TDC will replace the bench that was broken this year.

All this would not have happened without the dedicated work of volunteers with the support of TDC, Local People, Kent Wildlife Trust, Thanet Coast Project and the Westgate and Westbrook Residents Association. Many thanks to everyone involved.

However the year closes on a sad note as Stan the Van passed away on 13th December. He was a lovely chap and supported us with his van serving teas and coffees to all our volunteers on our launch day. He will be sadly missed.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Turnstone Story

You may have spotted these guys as you walk along Westbrook Promenade. Often I am asked what are these cute little birds scurrying to and fro. They are Turnstones and are quite remarkable. Generally they are a winter visitor although some of the juveniles hang around throughout the summer.
During the winter they feed up on our shores storing body fat ready for migration in the spring. This is when they fly all the way to Northern Canada to breed in the summer, only to return to the Kent Coast, mainly Thanet, in the autumn.
Counts of Turnstones that roost on the Promenade at Westbrook are usually around 72 although they can be found around most of Thanet's coastline. It would appear that this number is fairly consistent year on year. It is pretty certain that most of them that return are the same birds that leave each year.
If you want to do your bit to help these guys please keep dogs under control and do do not cause roosting birds to flight. They need to rest at high tide.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Seal Pup Stranded on Westbrook Bay Beach

A grey seal pup was stranded on the sands at Westbrook Bay yesterday (Monday). Thank you to the family that reported it to the Thanet Coast Project as it meant that help could be summoned. Public and dogs were kept away to avoid stress to the pup until the British Divers Marine Animal Rescue arrived. The pup was checked and no injuries were found and it appeared reasonable healthy but tired so the decision was made to try to return it to the sea. This is a very delicate operation and can be dangerous unless you are trained. The pup was placed in a seal bag without harm or stress. Brilliant job by Suzie and John.

Despite being placed at the waters edge the pup was not playing ball. It was decided to leave it there for when the tide came in as it was away from harm. The coastal warden regularly checked during the evening until 11.45pm when it had disappeared back into the sea. It can only be assumed that it has now returned to its colony as checking all the bays this morning shows no sign of the pup.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Westbrook Coastal Walk

Distance 1 mile approx. 20 – 30 minutes.
Wheelchair accessible (Exception parts of Sunken Garden)
Well-made paths with slope to cliff top.
A combination of coast and open spaces.

Start at Barnes Westbrook Lower Promenade car park. Click on Google map in links on this blog for location. Head west along promenade towards Westgate (left if facing the sea).

At low Tide looking seaward notice the series of high and low profiles of the chalk reef. This is often covered with many varieties of seagulls and wading birds including turnstones, plovers, redshanks, curlews and oyster catchers. A cormorant often visits this bay, flocks of Brent geese and the occasional seal.

If you look back to the cliffs you will find Westbrook Town Green and Nature Park in the making. Shielded by the cliffs and free from traffic noise you may see rock pipits, pied wagtails, goldfinches, redstarts, wheatear, kestrel and other birds feeding on the grasses between the cliffs and promenade.

There are wildflowers in spring and summer. A wildflower guide has been produced; follow the link on this blog. You may have noticed bricked up openings in the cliffs; I am told these used to be gun emplacements from the last war which were accessible from the cliff top.

Half a mile on, there are some breakwaters where wading birds often roost. There is a sandy gully where sandlings normally scatter to and fro. So far this year they are conspicuous by their abscence. In autumn and winter at high tide look over the railings and you are likely to see turnstones, plovers and redshanks roosting. Please be careful not to disturb them.

Rounding the point you are entering St Mildred’s Bay there is a café if you feel like a cup of tea etc. There is also a plaque showing the location of the First World War sea plane station. Otherwise take an about turn at the car park and walk up the slope. Turn left at the top and you will see a viewpoint. You can view the coast both ways. If evening this is a lovely spot to just watch as the Sun goes down.

Now head east towards Margate along the cliff top path. There are sea views in both directions and you will have views of Margate, its harbour and the Turner Centre. Keep an eye out to sea for flocks of birds flying either east to west or west to east. You will see in the middle of the cliff top greens, a hedged enclosure. This is worth a visit as it is the famous Sunken Gardens. There is a variety of plants and garden birds to see.

We return to the cliff top path heading towards Margate returning to the car park via a slope.

This walk can be extended for another half mile continuing along the cliff top path and later the road returning to the promenade by one of the slopes or stairs. Return westwards to the car park along Westbrook bay promenade or even venture on to the lovely sands. If you look at the strand line (noticeable by a line of seaweed) you may find egg cases of dogfish and skate (mermaid’s purse), a wide variety of sea shells or even cuttlefish bones like the ones found in budgie cages. There is also a café open in the summer in case you need further sustenance. Return to the car park along the promenade or the beach at low tide.

Click on Link "Westbrook Coastal Walk" for instruction sheet.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sun Tan in November on Planting Day?

Early morning before start.

Even the geese put in an appearance.


Gone for Tea and Cake

Young Environmentalist

Job Done

Wow weather like this was a bonus to a successful volunteer day.

Pictures above show early morning before the event and during the morning.
When you organise an event like this you do it several weeks in advance and then pray for reasonable weather. Well our prayers were well and truly answered for our volunteer planting day. Brilliant warm sunshine and clear blue skies.
Around 50 people turned out to help plant 105 saplings. The job was done by one o'clock about when the press turned up. Still we gathered us together for a photo.

It is really wonderful how events like this bring people of all ages together having lots of fun in the fresh air.

A massive thank you to Pat and John for pitching their caravan and giving us a brilliant service of tea ,coffee and cold drinks. Also for serving all those lovely cakes people had brought. Thank you all those that brought cake.

This tree pack was given to us by the Woodland Trust to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee next year. We even had a sapling grown from seed from the Royal Estates. It can't get much better than that. So the weather today must have been sent to us by Royal Proclamation.

Thank you Thanet District Council for cutting the grass in the week before our event to allow us to plant in grassy areas.

A massive thank you to all those volunteers that turned up to help with the planting.
Thank you also to Suzie Hooper and The Thanet Coast Project for supporting us with help and tools.

Its now over to nature and if these saplings grow we should have a very wildlife friendly nature park. If it is dry and you are going for a walk why not take some water and give our saplings a drink. Every little helps.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Help Green Town Green

Press Release

Help us plant saplings to provide a haven for coastal wildlife for the enjoyment of all on the Westbrook Undercliffe Nature Park on Sunday 20th November 10 am to 3 pm. Meet at Barnes Car Park on the lower promenade at Westbrook.
The event is supported by Kent Wildlife Trust, Thanet Coast Project and volunteers. The Nature Park has received a free 105 wildlife tree pack from the Woodland Trust and need help in planting these. So if you can spare some time why not join them where there will be activities for all ages. Refreshments will be provided. Wear stout footwear and bring gardening gloves if you have them.
In case of bad weather phone Tony on 07890857370
This green at Westbrook was planted with shrubs and wildflowers last February. Many of these survive and the intention is to extend and replant.
Tony Sykes said “last February’s event was very successful with around 70 people turning up to help either with planting or supplying us with drinks and cake. It was great seeing the community at work creating a better environment for local people to enjoy. It proves that the community spirit still lives in Thanet.”
“Planting is a fantastic and fun way for us to do something lasting in our local area. We hope our shrubs will help attract wildlife and make a real difference to everyone who will see them. It's incredible to think that in just 5 years, our shrubs could be well established havens for birds and insects. We'd like as many people from the community to come along and help us."
This project is part of the Thanet Wildlife Project, a partnership approach to wildlife.
Link to Google map of site at the side.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tree Pack Arrives

All systems go for planting as tree pack arrives.

Arrangements are well in hand for our volunteer day on Sunday 20th.November 10am to 3pm. Yesterday the tree pack arrived. I was surprised how small the package is to contain 105 saplings but they all look healthy and moist. I am excited about this event when we can all get together again to create something to enhance wildlife on this coastal site. Hope to see you then.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Nature Park Planting Day

Volunteer Day 20th November 2011 10 AM to 3 PM

This is a day for those interested in gardening, conservation and creating biodiversity for generations to come or would like some healthy exercise.

Please support us with your time if only for a few hours.

Help us plant shrubs and encourage wild flowers. We have 105 saplings coming from Woodland Trust.

Activities for all ages and families

Refreshments available

Meet at Barnes Car Park on the lower promenade at Westbrook. Click on "Google map of the Green" under links to.

Wear stout footwear and bring gardening gloves if you have them.

In case of bad weather phone Tony on 07890857370

If you need more information please e-mail address Click on "Contact Us" below.

Event supported by Kent Wildlife Trust, Thanet Coast Project and Friends of Westbrook Undercliffe Nature Park

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Internet Cafe for Young People in Westgate?

During the Summer 2011 a survey of 45 young people in Westgate was carried out.

Of those questioned 13% were 11-12 years old and 87% were 13- 19.

66% were resident in Westgate the remainder from other Thanet areas.

Of all those questioned 72% did not attend any clubs or social activity.

When asked if they would use a youth cafe 82% said they would, 16% said no and 2% said sometimes.

12.5% of the population of Westgate are teenagers.

Westbrook and Westgate does not have any facilities for young people like an internet cafe or safe place to socialise.

You cannot say that the troubles in Westgate with young people reflect what young people are about but no doubt the lack of facilities does not help. Engaging with young people can only help.

Last night at a meeting with a senior youth worker and volunteers it was agreed to investigate doing something for the young people in this area.

There are considerable obstacles to overcome like premises and helpers but it was agreed to try and see if this idea could become a reality.

Basically there is a need for people interested in helping in any way to get in touch. There is money on offer for a youth worker but there is a need for this project to gain impetus.

They need help with administration, helpers in the cafe, and other related tasks so if you are able to spare a little time please get in touch. Please contact

Erin Bell

Senior Youth Work Practitioner - Thanet

KCC Artwise
St Lukes Ave
CT11 7HS

01843 584343 / 592014
07977 128798

Or contact e-mail address link at top of this page.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Kent Coastal Week 2011

KENT COASTAL WEEK - 2011 (23 to 30 October)Do not miss it.

The ‘creative coast’ is the theme of Kent’s Coastal Week 2011 - so if your looking for inspiration for exploring it, this is a good time to do it! There's plenty to do around the Thanet Coast - tips on Wildlife Photography; 'Seal trips' or' Beaches & Bays' Sea Safaris; RockyShore Discovery Tour; Storytelling Treasure Trails; Rock Doc Walk; 'Beach Hut & Sea Hats' family workshop; and plenty more!

Visit Thanet Coast Project Website follow the link at side.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Volunteer Day Back by Popular Demand

Date for your diary Sunday 20th November 2011. 10 am to 3 pm

We are again arranging another volunteer day with Kent Wildlife Trust, Thanet Coast Project and Friends of the Westbrook Undercliffe Nature Park. We have been granted a Nature Pack of 105 Saplings to plant by the Woodland Trust.

Last February's planting was affected by the Spring drought but 50% survived so we need to replant some and add other areas. So if you are up for some fresh air and exercise why not join us in our efforts to increase nature on the site.

More details will be released next month and we hope to have activities for all the family. There may even be cake again.

Our efforts last February have been rewarded by the increased wild flowers, butterflies and birds on the site. We would like to build on this success.

Watch this space.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

BLINK- Blinking Marvellous Margate

Wow what a brilliant spectacular event. Well done to all those involved. This showcased Margate at its best in art, sound, dance, light, fire and fireworks to many thousands of spectators. Events like this will "Turneround" our town. Keep it up.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Check these Out


Looking at the Website for the above event this weekend this looks to be spectacular.
Check out the website:
Lets keep our fingers crossed that the weather holds.


Have you visited the dump lately and seen what people throw away only to be crushed and to join the endless amount of landfill. One of the best ways to recycle is to re-use. Check out:

This is a brilliant site where you can advertise any unwanted items for free. You can even post wanted adds. I have used it a number of times and it works very well. Furniture, washing machines, old TVs or monitors someone seems to have a need for them. By using the site you are also saving landfill and its obvious costs in terms of money or the environment .

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Going, Going!


A couple of weeks ago one of the most popular seats in Thanet was found to have collapsed.

This was reported to Thanet District Council and was discussed at the last resident's association meeting in Westbrook. Our local politicians agreed to try to get this replaced. The understanding was that there were seats surplus that had been removed from other sites. Simple!!

No!! The response from TDC was:

"Just to let you know I deal with the seating on the Foreshore areas - yes the bench was removed as it was reported as broken thank you for passing the information to us - however, the empty space will only be used for a memorial seats for which the Foreshore section is responsible. We receive many requests for them and as soon as I get a someone showing an interest in that area it will be replaced with a Gloster Evenlode Seat which is the standard bench that we use on our beach fronts areas."

Responses from residents:

"We need a seat now and none of us are planning to die so that one can be put up in memory! Again we should say there are some in the shed!!!"

"A stroll along the top of the Cliffs between Westbrook and Westgate bays reveals several seat locations where seats have simply been nicked! Not surprising really when the Gloster Evenlode is such an attractive bench.

Perhaps the Council should consider using a more functional bench – there are several on offer at

And for that matter at substantially lower cost than the Gloster."

Well there you go the saga continues. The matter is now in much higher hands. Does someone really have to die to get our seat replaced?