Look, Hoo's singing... but for how much longer?
17 July 2012
Preliminary results from this year’s national nightingale survey have revealed that the Hoo Peninsula in north Kent is a national stronghold for the iconic songster that inspired some of our greatest writers.
The Hoo Peninsula’s nightingales are bucking a national trend that has seen this wonderful bird decline drastically. Around 150 nightingales were pouring forth their liquid songs on the peninsula this spring, almost double the number found during the last national survey in 1999.
This makes the Hoo Peninsula one of the bird’s strongholds in Kent and nationally.
The key areas are at Lodge Hill near Chattenden, and the area between Higham, Cliffe and the RSPB’s reserve at Northward Hill.
With 84 singing males, the Lodge Hill area looks like it is one of the most important in Kent and possibly the whole country.
Yet this news comes just when their very existence is threatened by a Medway Council plan to build up to 5,000 houses at Lodge Hill.
Chris Corrigan, the RSPB director for the South East region said, “Most of the nightingales are found in the proposed development site, a development that would wipe out their habitat. Recreational disturbance and predation by domestic pets mean the remaining nightingales
in the adjacent Chattenden Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest would be very badly affected.”
“We objected strongly to the development at the recent inquiry into the Council’s plans and urged them to reconsider their plans. We find it astonishing that a site that is so important for a rapidly declining species is earmarked for development. This is precisely the kind of magical place for wildlife that the Council should be protecting for the nation.”
Chris went on to say, “The Council and the developers have claimed they can create new habitat for nightingales, but this is untried and untested – we simply should not be taking a risk with somewhere this important.”
“Now that the true value of Lodge Hill has been revealed we are calling on Medway Council to withdraw its damaging proposal and instead work with the RSPB, other conservation bodies and the local community to celebrate Lodge Hill and the Hoo Peninsula; this place is one of the natural wonders of Kent, the nightingale was celebrated by Keats and Shakespeare and should be protected for the inspiration of future generations.”