“Stepping Out Seasonal Special”

Stepping Out Directory
Seasonal Special
Saturday 27th November 2021
Naturism or Naturalism Or Something Else
This moment was perhaps one of the busiest of the day, the majority of the visitors dribbled in during the six hours.

In the last episode of Stepping Out, l discussed briefly that the Gazen Salts Nature Reserve would have an Open Day on Saturday 27th. Well, we did. We shared it also with the tail end of Storm Arwen, meaning that Saturday was not just wet, but wetter and totally wetted down! It was cold, misty, grey and dank. We did enjoy some sunshine between midday to just before one pm, so that was nice.

The council have finally given the go ahead for the dredging of the Guestling stream. The Guestling is a small stream that flows off the River Stour and runs through Gazen Salts. The stream surrounds the entire reserve and is considered separate from our main waterways and ponds. The dredging starts this week – fingers crossed!

It rained, sleeted and hailed, making the day not that pleasant and yet despite all of that bad weather and a day in a month that isn’t well known for Nature Reserve optimum Open Days, we had people turn up. The actual die harders, the birders, the environmentalists and l have to say l don’t think l saw one ‘Inna towna’ anywhere, but that is hardly surprising! Inner Townas prefer the comfort of the town, they don’t want to have mud or WORSE on their shiny boots, it’s bad enough that it was raining, but ‘wet mud’ on my shoes! That’s a no.

The one thing the reserve is NOT short of is leaves …

In all, the day ran from 9am – 3pm, and although that is not many hours, it was a long day being outside in the cold and the wetness. We had 100 people turn up, but that figure also includes the Mayor’s party of 3 and 12 volunteers, so 85 isn’t bad for a wintery open day. Also, although the figure is to be confirmed, l think we received £200 in donations and may have recruited two new volunteers. We had one naturalist giving tour talks of the birds and wildlife in the park, although there was some debate on that term.

The parakeets especially loved the new styled bird feeding station. It now consists of two long branches across a series of pronged tree stumps, this replaced the metal feed stands we used to use and is now more natural. The squirrels, ducks, parakeeets and a host a smaller bird species now feed from here and this extends also to a resident pair of brown rats who take pleasures in collecting all the fallen seeds and nuts.

I insisted that the wildlife naturalist was better termed a conservationist. He wasn’t a naturist, which many believed him to be. They demanded to know the difference, so l asked the conservationist to consider giving the tour naked? Strangely, he declined for some odd reason and said laughing, “l am not that kind of naturalist!”

For the last month, the warden and the volunteers have worked clearing new pathways and observation points in the shrubs and brush. Log piles and bracken heaps have been created to ensure new microclimates are present for the diversity of flora and fauna we have here.

I suggested that naturism was a form of social nudity, whilst others said that naturism was a form of appreciation of nature – a Google search concluded we were both right. So the wildlife naturalist decided to call himself a wildlife conservationist!

Since the voluntary work began 35 weeks ago, the reserve has undergone a huge transformation. We now have a total of seventeen paths through the entire area. When l walked here for the first time in October 2020 there were two paths only. The first time for me and l never realised back then, just how wonderfully large this place was.

I remember writing back then, if they ever decided to do something with the place it would be fantastic. I never knew that l would be part of the great team that made it what it is today and will help with its tomorrows too.

My task for the day was to walk, and walk and walk some more; l walked around the reserve looking for lost souls, not saving souls, but trying to locate the lost. However, most of our visitors were not new to the reserve, so no one was lost, but l still walked around to the tune of 18,125 steps worth or 9 miles in all weathers!

What’s new pussycat l ask?

By the time l got back home at around half three, l was absolutely shattered, frozen and achy and tired and damp. Still, it was an exciting’ish day, and if anything, the positive is that it served us well as a prototype for future open days.

An update to the shed …. painted, painted over and still the witches are visible – mm, a more hardline approach will be needed l feel.

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21 thoughts on ““Stepping Out Seasonal Special”

    1. Hey Grace, they are Rose Ringed Parakeets. The UK has several flocks, as to why, l have not yet found someone with a definitive reason though although there are many theories.

      Here in sandwich we now have 2 – 3 flocks of around perhaps 200 total. The reserve has a resident flock of maybe 70 alone, they even produced young this season just gone.

      [Isle of] Thanet which is a Kent district down the coast from us here has a flock of around 5000 according to some science teams. There are rumoured to be 30,000+ in the south of Kent alone.

      One suggestion is that when they were filming 1951’s The African Queen is Shepperton Studios, some escaped and that was the origin of the flocks we have today …. but who knows 🙂


  1. 🙂 Did the parakeets tell you, “Thank you,” for their new feeding station?

    Anyway, they look quite contented.

    Oh, you certainly taught the so-called naturalist the difference between a naturalist and a conservationist.

    Do enjoy the rest of your day, Rory.

    1. Hey Renard, the parakeets do indeed love their new feeding stations, but then so do most of the feeders that visit from the paras to the pair of rats 🙂

      Many thanks my friend, here’s hoping your day is working well for you too 🙂

  2. Looks like those witches don’t wanna be banished😉 maybe instead of covering them, some street artist could incorporate them into a different picture, like fixing a bad tattoo 🤔

    I only see our Parrots on rare occasions now, and only at a distance. They move around to where the food is. Are the parakeets as noisy as our Parrots?

    Fingers crossed for dredging🤞🤞🤞 that algae or duckweed or whatever is unattractive as well as bad for the fish..

    1. Good idea, l also suggested hat what may be needed was a big bush on the door. With the quip, nothing beats a good bush, unless asked for ….


      For some that went down well, others just looked at me …..

      Say no more. Had to be done!

  3. The parakeets seem content with their new feeding stations, Rory! I like how the shed looks with the subdued graffiti! Too bad it can’t be enhanced to blend in with nature.

    1. Hi Eugenia, The problem with the shed is that they used a typical paint for the shed, not taking into consideration what the graffiti artist used paint wise. he used a spray pain and the volunteers used a wood based paint.

      The artistry may be fine, but it needs to be either covered up or indeed made part of the shed as in as Angie suggested, like a tattoo cover up. but that will require some more spray paint and the artist who wasn’t there by invite but was vandalising the shed .

  4. Hey, Rory! I am so happy for you to be involved in such a wonderful and interesting endeavor. I feel it is really good for you on so many levels and most certainly, too, for the environment.
    As always, wishing you well, Dear. Regards to Suze. 🤗💞

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