The Gallery Snippet’s Directory

Natural Encounters Snippets

Alexanders is the common name for Smyrnium olusatrum, and it is an edible plant that grows abundantly or invasively around these parts of coastal Kent. It is best seen between April to June. The plant, also known as horse parsley, can be eaten.
It is known as Alexanders, Black Lovage, Horse Parsley, and Wild Celery.
It is a tall biennial plant that towers above other plants it companions with and measures between three to five-foot. It is a very leggy or stemmy shiny green plant with light yellowish green flower clusters that smell like celery.
It is sometimes confused with Keck or Cow Parsley. Foragers favour this ancient food as they use it in raw and cooked form, and it can be added to soups and broths.
The Latin Smyrnium olusatrum means parsley of Alexander.
Bees and other pollinators love it.

Found in shaded woodlands, nature reserves, countryside, grass side verge, and hedgerows. They are known for their blueish purple drooping bell-like flowers and flowering between April to mid-June. They can grow to 30 cm in height. Spanish Bluebells are often mistaken for English Bluebells. However, the former is listed as an invasive species. Many pollinators benefit from the bluebells, such as bumblebees and bees, hoverflies and butterflies.
Blackbird, Common
They are also known as the Eurasian Blackbird, is widespread in Europe, Asiatic Russia, North America and North Africa, New Zealand and Australia, where it was introduced. Depending upon the location, the blackbird is found in the species and will either be a full-time resident or part-time or full-time migratory species. The UK is thought to have around six million breeding pairs. Blackbird pairs are territorial during the breeding seasons, and they can be found in parks, woodlands and gardens.
The blackbird’s diet is omnivorous and consists of insects and spiders, earthworms and snails, fruits, seeds and berries. The male of the species is very distinct with his orange eye ring and beak on an otherwise all-black body. Blackbirds are well known for their fantastic bird song in which they will mix in a combination of variations to the basic song tune. Mostly, the males sing all year whilst the females sing during the breeding season.
Blue Bugle
Ajuga reptans are also known as bugle, bugleherb, bugleweed and common bugle. Reptans in Latin come from repto, which means creeping.
Blue Bugle is a perennial and covers the grounds in Gazen Salts Nature Reserve where l volunteer, which isn’t that unusual as this wildflower is often found in woodlands and shaded moist environments. I have seen it growing locally in the town of Sandwich’s gardens.
It is quite a lovely plant to add to a wildlife garden or meadow and can be used in shaded but fertile soils to act as carpeting ground cover. Be mindful when planting that it can be invasive.
Bugle flowers between April to July and can grow to a height of just over 20 cm. It is favoured by many insects ranging from moths and butterflies to bumblebees and hoverflies.

Common Oak
Found in woodlands, parks and nature reserves.
The oak is a large deciduous tree that can attain a height of between 20 – 30 – 40 metres and can live for as long as 250 years. Hundreds of insects, birds, and squirrels are homed within each oak tree. It can take an oak tree many years before it is mature and become a fruit producer [acorn], providing more food for other animals.
Oak leaves are lobed and around 10 cm long. During the winter months, clusters of long hanging yellow catkins can be found at the end of each twig. These distribute pollen into the air. Acorns are around 2 – 2.5 cm long. Green acorns turn brown and fall to the ground, where Jays and Squirrels will often forage for them.


Eurasian Jay
Jays may be crow family members; however, they are pretty shy and not always easily seen but more easily heard due to their screeches, which can warn other wildlife residents of any dangers. Found in dense woodlands, hedgerows and wild gardens, parks and nature reserves. 
Jays, like squirrels, forage for acorns in the autumn for winter foods and will also eat nuts, seeds, and insects and, on occasion, will prey upon both young birds and nest from nests.
The jay’s plumage is primarily pink and buff, cream and grey.
Eastern Grey Squirrel
The Eastern Grey Squirrel is also known as simply the Grey Squirrel. This species mostly has grey fur and, on occasion, reddish buff face and leg patches. The tail is long and bushy and sometimes transparent in appearance due to the finery. The tail aids the species in balance and climbing.
Their diet is mainly seeds, nuts, and acorns that will be foraged for and collected in the autumn season and buried in the ground for winter food consumption when food is scarcer. It is not unknown that the species include bird eggs, flowers, pine cones, buds, and berries in their diet.
Female squirrels may produce up to two litters per year if food is readily available, with each nest containing 3 – 4 pups.
Grey squirrels are gregarious and curious species with other species, including humans. They create ‘dreys’, the name for their nests, out of twigs and leaf matter. Squirrels will inhabit large holes in trees for their dreys, but also they can be seen in the forks on a tree trunk.
When you see squirrels chasing each other around a tree, this is not always a sign of play or courting but might be a territory dispute or argument. The species are not highly territorial but do share their living space with other species, and conflicts can occur, especially if food sources are low.

Grey Heron
Herons – Ardea cinerea – have a wingspan of between 1.5 to 2 metres and belong to the family Ardeidae. They are long-legged wading birds that resemble the Pterodactyl from a distance. The heron is mostly a solitary bird, and this is not the case only during the breeding season.
Quite often, l see both the heron and the cormorant ever watchful over the waters of Gazen Salts Nature Reserve. If not observing and stalking, then they are swimming or fishing. The heron is often seen near waters and prefers slower-moving waters like lazy streams, wildlife lakes and rocky seashores or marshlands during the dawn or the dusk and can quickly go unnoticed by the casual observer.
Their diet comprises small mammals, frogs, insects, lizards, ducklings, small birds, molluscs, crustaceans, and fish. The heron’s hunting strategy relies upon speed and shadow stealth, and playing the patience game.
If food prey comes close to the heron’s position, then a quick bill stabbing motion like a spear into water will hopefully provide a meal. Smaller prey can be swallowed whole whilst larger fish will be broken into smaller pieces on hard ground before being consumed.
For me, the heron is one of my bucket list moments regarding taking photographs. I often see them a moment too late is the usual or a moment too soon before my eyes and lenses can adjust, and l can capture them before they squawk at me and take to the air!

Hawthorn is both a tree and a hedgerow shrub and can be found in several locations as it can grow anywhere due to its very hardy undemanding nature. It is most commonly planted in hedgerows to act as a barrier against entry and exit from fields, especially from farm animals. It grows well in partial shade and full sun but prefers well-drained soils.
You can make a hawthorn tea from the leaves after being boiled for fifteen minutes and eat the berries known as haws. They are similar to apples, just a little drier, although they are not as palatable as the apple and are better once cooked. Haws has also been used in countryside winemaking and used by apothecaries for hundreds of years as a herbal remedy.
Hawthorn starts to stir in April, flowering in May and providing an incredible bounty for bees and bumblebees alike. The haws turn bright red by October, providing an autumn fruit for birds and small animals.

London Plane
London Plane Trees are the result of crossing an American sycamore and an Asian planetree. Also known simply as London Plane and is one of the most common trees in London and was first introduced to Britain in the 17th century and was planted across London during the 18th century.
These tall and leafy trees can attain 35 metres and live for hundreds of years. The leaves are similar to those of the maple. This large tree’s main benefits are shade and what it does for air quality and quickly adapts to urbanisation. Birds nest in the tree, and Eastern grey squirrels readily eat the seeds.

Moorhen, Common
Also known as Marsh Hens and Waterhens are members of the Rail family and are found in freshwater streams, town parks and nature reserves, lakes and ponds and other aquatic type environments.
Moorhens are omnivorous. I often see moorhens when walking, and l find them to be nervous birds and quite skittish. They feed whilst walking and foraging on plants like chickens, searching for grasses, fallen seeds and berries. They will readily take small fish species, small rodents, algae, tadpoles, insects and water spiders, snails, and worms. Adults measure between 30 – 38 cm.
The males are slightly larger than the females, and both sexes are very similar looking. The moorhen has a striking red bill tipped with yellow on a dark brown-black body and a grey underside striped with white sides and undertail. Its long toes help it to walk on floating vegetation and riverbed banks.
Moorhens are not the most substantial flyers l have seen, preferring low height flight in short spurts. They walk with a strange gait and swim forward in jerky motion as if always late for an appointment! If surprised, they will dive for cover or underwater.
Moorhen females lay between 6 – 12 eggs and may have between 2 – 3 litters per season. Both males and females care for and raise the young. Young moorhen chicks can forage for themselves after three weeks. Youngsters stay with their parents to assist with later clutches. Moorhen chicks are precocial [meaning they can leave the nest and feed themselves within a few days after birth].
Mallard Ducks
If it looks and sounds and swims like a duck, chances are it’s a mallard duck! I like most ducks but do have a soft spot for the mallards, and they are plentiful where l live. Mallards are widespread wildfowl in Britain and are found in almost any body of water in both rural and urban environments.
Mallards are long ducks with an overall body length of around 60cm with a wingspan of about three feet. Male’s [drakes] bodies are a buff grey with a dark green head, a yellow bill and a dark brown mauve breast and darker rear, whilst females [hens] have a mottled brown body with orange bills. Both drakes and hens have a blue speculum with a white feathered border on their wings, which is often seen in the females at rest and on the males when in flight.
Mallard ducks begin to pair up for breeding between October and November, and the nesting starts in March and continues through to the end of July. April is mid-season. The male leaves the female once the eggs arrive and has nothing to do with the rearing. The incubation period of the eggs is around 28 days.
A mallard egg clutch can have anywhere between eight to fifteen eggs. However, the survival ratio of ducklings can be variable – 30-50% due to predation. Magpies, seagulls and hawks, poor weather conditions, diseases, other ducks, large fish and predatory animals like foxes. Ducklings take between 50 to 70 days before they can fly.
The Mallard duck’s diet is omnivorous and comprises seeds, berries, aquatic plants, bugs and small fish.

Red Campion
Some see Red Campion as a weed, others as a wildflower, and others as a woodland herb. I find it beautiful, especially when seen with other flowering flowers such as end season bluebells, parsley, creeping buttercups and garlic mustard. The pinkness of the flower is quite distinctive. I photograph them quite often in Gazen Salts Nature reserve.
Red Campions are found in partially shaded wooded areas along pathways, hedgerows, and roadsides and can quickly grow to three feet. They are commonly seen from late April and early May to September and flowers from spring to autumn with some green foliage throughout all the seasons.
They are particularly beneficial to wildlife such as butterflies, hoverflies, bees, moths and other pollinating insect species. It is also known as Adder’s Flower, Devil’s Flower, Ragged Jack, Red Lychnis and Hare’s Eye.
Apothecaries and herbalists used the flower to treat various ailments like internal bleeds, sores and stings. Healers in other parts of the world used them also for digestive issues and the treatment of warts.
Red campion enjoys well-drained soils of moderate fertility and complements both wildlife gardens and meadows.

Sycamore Maple
The sycamore maple is related to the maple but is a non-native species to the UK introduced from Central Europe in the 15th century. It can easily attain a height of over a hundred feet. If left unchecked and unmanaged, this maple species can spread rapidly due to its speedy growth. They are superb for shade coverage due to their widespread canopy.
Sycamore trees are used by wildlife, especially if hollow, as they are extraordinary storage chambers for sheltering species, nesting and squirrel’s winter food.

Sandwich Snippets

The Bell Hotel

Since Tudor times, the Bell Hotel has been an essential part of Sandwich life. A hotel of one sort or another has been in the location since the 1300s. In the mid to later 1700s, the building on the Quay was known as the Bell Inn overlooking the River Stour. Other names the location has been referred to have been The Bell, Bell Tavern and Old Bell Inn. The building sits between The Quay and Upper Strand Street.
The Butts

The waterway that runs along much of the town’s Ramparts circular walk is known by many names – Guestling, Butts Stream, Town Drain, Town Ditch – Moat – Canal and connected via sluices to the Delf stream and River Stour and was first constructed in 1384.

The Butts are part of what used to be the western side of Sandwiches defences. During the mid to late 15th-century Dutch engineers significantly improved the workings. Their processes of managing water systems form the backbone of the drainage, water supply and sewers for the town of Sandwich today.
River Stour

Sandwich was one of the main Cinque Ports in Kent and England in times past. However, the once broad and deep River Stour silting up meant that its time of seeing great sailing ships pass through had gone. Back then, the town was known as Sandwich Haven.

Sandwich is now only two miles from the sea. In 1457 4000 French, primarily from Honfleur and led by Marshal Pierre de Breze, raided ‘Sand Wick’, and so significant was their damage that they nearly razed the town to the ground. When the Mayor of Sand Wick, John Drury, was killed that day, all mayors of Sandwich since that time must now wear black robes to commemorate this sad event. Today Sandwich is twinned with Honfleur.

Initially, the Cinque ports, of which five harbours were Sandwich, Romney, Dover, Hythe and Hastings, supplied both ships and men to the Crown in return for toll freedoms and customs duties with trade benefits.
The Ropewalk

The Bulwarks, Mill Wall, The Ropewalk and The Butts are all parts of a circular walk around the medieval town of Sandwich called The Ramparts Walk. The four sections made up the old fortifications of the historic town and were built from 1066 to 1540. Each section of the walk comprises grassy banks called earth ramparts.

Each walkway has a view of the town itself, and most are treelined avenues containing yews, planes and hornbeam. They are considered some of the most significant completed defence earthworks surviving in the United Kingdom today.

The Ropewalk was so-called as the flattened area of the town’s early fortifications were used for the ropemaking of ships. The practice required long space so that the ropes could be ‘walked out’ when the rope was being braided and held tautly.

Alongside the Ropewalk and The Butts, walkways run the Delf and Butts stream, where moorhens and mallard ducks can be seen. The Ramparts were adapted to public footpaths in the mid-nineteenth century.
St Clement’s Church

You can easily walk to this beautiful church from the town centre or the southeast side of the Ramparts. St Clements is an Anglican Parish Church and has been so since 1948 following the union of three parishes of St Clement’s, St Mary’s and St Peter’s churches.

The graveyard is filled with many ornate headstones and flourishes with gorgeous blossoms throughout the year, from bluebells to daffodils, primroses, and crabapple trees.
USN – P22 Gunboat

The Sandwich P22 was used in the 2017 Film Dunkirk starring Tom Hardy and Harry Styles. The boat was one of a fleet of 17 used during the Marshall Plan. Each gunboat had a crew of six US Navy personnel on board.

A German shipbuilder built the United States Navy gunboat P22 – Hizzler Ship Yard – shortly after WWII in 1952 for the USA. The American military could then patrol the Rhine river during the Cold War and keep the USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist Republics] to their agreed borders.

The gunboats were awarded to the West German Army in 1958. For ten years afterwards, the German army continued with the role of navigation surveyors and escorts to cargo ships using the vessels. By the end of the sixties and when the Rhine was once more fully functional and open to navigation. The gunboats now surplus to requirements were sold off.

The gunboat arrived in Sandwich Quay in 2017, having moved from Ramsgate Harbour. In 2019, she participated in the 75th D-Day commemoration events. An enthusiastic group of volunteers now work with the Trustees to ensure that this vital vessel survives. 
The Old Kings House

The Old Kings House is also known as The Old House or King’s Lodging and is located on Strand Street; Sandwich was listed as a Grade II Conservation building in 1950. It was built for King Henry VIII.

Queen Elizabeth [1558 to 1603] is recorded as staying here in 1573, and King Henry VIII [her father] was here to observe the fleet’s departure for the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.
St Peter’s Church

Today St Peter’s Church is found in the centre of Sandwich, and whilst it is not used as an active church for praying. It is still a consecrated church and is open for visitors worldwide to journey here to discover the wonders of the church’s history. This church is a Grade I listed building.

A Norman church was on these grounds of St Peter’s in 1100, which was destroyed mainly by warring French parties in 1216. The church was rebuilt in the 13th century by French friars. The church underwent refurbishments during the 14th century, and the grounds and buildings were expanded.

By the mid 15th century, the church underwent more expansion under Flemish Protestant supervision, who migrated to Sandwich from the Netherlands and decided to stay and made the church their church. The church’s tower collapsed during the 16th century and enjoyed being rebuilt. Since the mid-eighteenth century, various restorations have been awarded to the church following storm damages and refurbishment.
The Butchery – 1447
The Butchery is part of Market Street and was used in the 13th century as a meat market.
Sandwich Guildhall – 1579

The Guildhall has been in the centre of Sandwich and the central-local government building since the town mayor in 1579, Edward Wood, ordered such into the Corporation Year Book. “The new building in the Corn Market shall be the Courthall of the town for ever.”

The presence of a Courthall or Guildhall is a clear sign of the status of the borough and so of the Borough of Sandwich. It awards the local government the right to hold Courts and maintain law and order.
Sandwich Quay Recreation Walk
The Quay is now a landscaped park and play area. The reclaimed space here wasn’t always so green and pleasant. This was once the site of a shipbuilder’s yard, a blacksmith’s forge, and by 1839, the Sandwich Corporation Gas Works.
New Street
Way into Sandwich through New Gate built in 1451
Loop Street
Street leading to the ‘Water Loop Sluice Gate’ near to the Butts. One of the many sluice gates introduced and installed to the town by Dutch Water Engineers in the 15th century.

EWWW Gallery Snippets

The Microchaetus rappi of South Africa is the largest species of segmented earthworms. It can easily attain average lengths of 55 inches, and extraordinary lengths of up to 200 plus inches have been recorded. In 1967 one such specimen was measured at 6.7 metres or 21 feet in length!
Depending upon the species, there can be between 1 and 20 worm eggs in one cacoon.
There are more than 7000 earthworm species found around the world today in many soil types.
The average spadeful of soil can have up to 9 earthworms present. One acre of fertile ground can have more one million earthworms present, whilst poor ground can yield much lower quantities.
Earthworms are hermaphrodites – meaning they have both male and female organs for reproduction. Reproduction still requires two worms, however. The two earthworms press their bodies together and exchange sperm before separating.
Worms don’t have a mouth or a nose. They breathe through their skin. Their skin needs to be moist so they can breathe through it. Dissolved oxygen passes through their skin into their bloodstream, so it is vitally important to have your worm farm moist.
The study of earthworms is called helminthology. Charles Darwin chose to study earthworms to complete his theory of evolution by natural selection. He learned that the movement of earth by earthworms called aeration and their gut chemistry helped with the fertility of plants.
Young earthworms are not born, they are hatched from cocoons smaller that rice grains. Inside each cocoon can be between 1 – 20 embryos and the gestation is between 2 – 11 weeks. If soil conditions are not right the cocoons sense this and go into a stage of dormancy until the conditions are right for the hatching.
Worms will die if they are exposed to extreme termeratures [hot or cold]. Earthworms thrive in moderate temperatures. If an earthworm’s skin dries out it will die.
In the right conditions earthworms can eat their full weight in scraps a day whilst in not so ideal environmental conditions they are happy with half of that consumption rate. The best ratio is to feed only half of the overall weight of your worm occupants.
It is essential to keep a steady temperature on your worm farm as earthworms are a cold-blooded species meaning they cannot regulate their body temperature.
The earthworm’s digestive system comprises the mouth, pharynx, crop, gizzard, intestine and anus. Worms do not have teeth. Food is, therefore, softened and broken down by microorganisms. In simple terms, the worm’s digestive system is a tube from the mouth to the anus. It eats with one end and shits with the other.

The worm eats hard particles like tiny stones to further break down the food and allow the moistened food to travel through the gizzard. In addition to this process, intestinal gland cells release digestive fluids and, combined with the muscles in the digestive system, allow for the food to continue to the anus.