Friday, January 5, 2007


Fortean Times magazine reported on the flying squirrel of Tatsfield. Although undated, but rumoured to be in the '70s or '80s, a witness reported, "...I was coming round a bend of a country lane and saw this grey creature fly across in front of the car, from one tree to another. The front and rear limbs of the creature appeared to be joined by a flap of skin and it floated and clung to the bark. I'm sure sightings would have been few and far between but I actually saw a similar, if not the same creature again shortly after, but on the other side of Tatsfield."

In 1998 strange, green parakeets were sighted near Blue Bell Hill and one of the local newspapers asked, 'HAVE YOU SEEN THE GREEN ALIEN ?" after various sightings of the birds which were said to have come from West Africa and India. They were the size of collared doves and scream like children in a playground. Such birds, among other migratory oddities, have also appeared in the skies over the Isle of Sheppey, home also to rare voles and red rabbits!

During the late '90s there were reports over Kent of a large, dark-coloured bird which was eventually identified as a vulture. News spread fast of the bird and a man came forward to claim that the bird has in fact escaped from a park. However, there seemed to be too many sightings, and too far and wide to concern the one missing vulture.

In 1948 south Kent was besieged by an unusually large number of rooks. The black hordes allegedly invaded from France and damaged crops in the Romney Marsh area. In the past also there have been several insect swarms, most notably that of ladybirds.

The Maid of Kent beetle was rediscovered in 1997 at a sanctuary lavatory on the Isle of Sheppey. The one-inch long insect was last seen officially in Kent in 1950 and reported officially extinct during the '60s! It resembles a golden-haired bee.

All manner of foreign spiders, scorpions and the likes seem to have made their way to the Kent coast and are now establishing themselves in the woods and on the sea walls.

An alligator was rumoured to have been hooked by an angler at Capstone Park in Chatham during the '90s, and another was said to reside in a pond-cum-lake at Warden Bay, Sheppey. One was most certainly sighted in the '70s on the banks of the River Stour.

During the late '90s the local wildlife trust were becoming alarmed at the amount of dead otters turning up in the county, particularly Sevenoaks, with one corpse being discovered near the railway line. Otters have been pretty much of a rare species in Kent, making the sudden turn up of carcasses a mystery.
To quote
"In the middle of the 1950s otters were considered to be common and widespread across much of England (Stephens, 1957). However, by the early 1960s otter hunts in this country were reporting diminishing hunting success and it appears that otter populations crashed across England in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This was due mainly to the introduction of organochlorine pesticides (Lloyd, 1962; Anon., 1969; Anon., 1974). Organochlorine pesticides, used in sheep dips and as cereal dressing, tend to become concentrated in eel tissues. Those eels not killed directly become poison reservoirs for otters and other predators, which subsequently suffer from elevated levels of mortality and low breeding success (Chanin & Jefferies, 1978). Otters are at the top of the food chain, and because of their natural fat reservoirs, they are highly susceptible to the accumulation of fat soluble pesticides and other toxins. In high doses, toxins can reduce breeding success and immune system function.
By the late 1970s only 6% of sites inspected in the UK showed signs of otters and they were largely absent from the midlands and southern England (Lenton et al., 1980). Voluntary and later compulsory bans on the use of organochlorine pesticides coupled with a ban on the direct persecution of otters in the 1970s has enabled otter populations in some areas of the UK to begin to recover. However, in many areas of England farming has intensified since the late 1950s and much of the riparian vegetation that otters once used for cover has been removed. This together with increased disturbance from human activity and continued building and infrastructure developments along riversides and in floodplains has restricted the otters' recovery in the Midlands and in the south and east of the country.
The otter is currently recovering nationally with most counties in the UK seeing some regular otter activity, although breeding activity is still low in many areas. Otter populations in the South are moving South eastwards from the South West counties, and Southwards from the Thames and Kent regions."

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