Walking this footpath either side of Copper Lane provides a good opportunity to see, or more likely hear, a Turtle Dove – the UK’s fastest declining breeding bird. It needs tall, thick, untidy hedges for nesting and bare patches of soil to search for farmland ‘weed’ seeds. It only eats seeds, so will be found in what at first sight might seem an untidy area of a farm where ‘weeds’ have been left to grow. Look out for Fumitory, Chickweed, and Common Mouse-ear three of its favourite plants. It also loves Birds-foot Trefoil (a common plant known as granny’s toenails in days gone by!).

The fields down the east side of the Lane are carefully cultivated to leave bare areas for the doves, and additional seed is strewn on the track to help turtle doves build their strength again for breeding when they arrive back from Africa in late spring. If you walk slowly and very quietly across the fields (if you have a dog, keep it next to you on the path) you may see turtle doves feeding – and some may have two coloured rings on one leg. Please tell us if you see any – use our Marden Wildlife Facebook page, email mardenwildlife@gmail.com  or turtledoves@kentwildlife.com

This turtle dove, ringed nearby, has yellow above yellow rings.
(Photo: Jacques Turner-Moss)

 

As well as the tall hedges, some are kept low, and thick vegetation allowed to grow along the edge of the field up to the hedge bottom. Many birds nest close to the ground so these conditions are perfect for them in the summer, when you often hear the ’little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheeeese’ song of Yellowhammers.

This is part of the village where Glow Worms can be found in the hedgerows and road verges. The females (glow worms are beetles, not worms) produce their green light to attract passing males – and lucky evening walkers!

The vegetation left to grow around the field margins is a valuable source of insects and seed that feed mammals and birds. On warm summer days, myriad butterflies can be seen – Large Whites, several species of ginger-coloured Skippers and endless numbers of Meadow Browns.

These insects are themselves preyed upon by bigger insects, such as dragonflies that have spent several years as nymphs in the nearby ponds. Look out for the formidable Broad Bodied Chaser in early summer, then later Black-tailed Skimmer. In late summer you could see Southern Hawker or Migrant Hawker dragonflies. One of the first Willow Emerald damselflies to reach the UK with global warming, was recorded in a Copper Lane pond.

What will you discover?