Probable Bird Society


I love this tea towel soon to be available from the Probable Bird Society. A very excellent place to shop set up by two birders who raise money for such worthwhile charities such as birders against wildlife crime and the RSPB’s Skydancer appeal. Visit them and support them.

A Year in the Life of an Environmental Consultant – October 2015

A Year in the Life of an Environmental Consultant – October 2015

The latest update on my work as an environmental consultant.

For more information visit my website

October 2015 – A pause in a busy year.

After the rush of September, then October was a time to take stock of our first year and prepare for the future.

We continued working with Medway Council and contractor, Ovendens to talk through the plans for Whitewall Drain, a freshwater channel which flows under a road and tunnel complex into the River Medway.

Bank slippage had caused damage to the headwall and a broken tidal flap beneath the road was allowing salt water to enter the drain at high tide.

tidal flow emerging from pipe

tidal flow emerging from pipe

This was causing damage to the biodiversity of the channel, as brackish water will kill freshwater fish and invertebrates and a build up of silt was reducing the capacity of the channel and could lead to flooding.

Ovendens plan to install Penstock structures, which will allow the channel flow to be controlled and should benefit the environment.

The quiet month gave time to review our first year in business and think about how we can continue to grow and improve the services we offer.

funding cuts over the last few years have prevented some local authorities and environmental charities from hiring full time staff. In addition many existing staff are now on short term or part time contracts. Although this may allow greater flexibilty it also makes staff retention difficult.

As a consequence landowners may deal with many different faces over a few years and this lack of continuity means that good relationships are not established.

Clients are now coming to us as a way to ensure that landowners will get to work with someone well qualified who they can get to know.

This is the case with our new role, which will see us working with landowners across North Kent on behalf of Natural England and the RSPB, delivering advice on managing land for breeding waders.

establishing good relationships with landowners is crucial in improving habitat for wildlife.

establishing good relationships with landowners is crucial in improving habitat for wildlife.

This flagship project seeks to turn the numbers of waders breeding on private land around from the current low and emulate the huge success of reserves in the area, which saw record numbers of lapwing this year.

While this trend of taking on fewer staff provides consultancies with opportunities it is not a sign of a healthy environmental job sector.

It is also a sad fact that, while more people than ever are coming out of college with qualifications in countryside management, entry level jobs are increasingly filled by volunteers or interns.

At Carol J Donaldson Associates we believe in helping young people get their crucial first paid steps in the industry and try to support young people in gaining essential experience. This is something we hope to offer more of as our client base grows.

Yarrow Tea recipe

no it's not gillyweed but almost as magical.

no it’s not gillyweed but almost as magical.

November is here, it’s raining outside and everyone seems to have gone down with a cold. Make sure it isn’t you by trying out this recipe for Yarrow Tea.

Yarrow has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb for everything from healing the wounds of men in battle, curing toothache to warding off bad luck. Yarrow also contains anti-inflammatory chemicals and makes a good insecticide.

yarrow flowers

yarrow flowers

To Make Yarrow Tea.

pick fresh yarrow leaves which are widely found in meadows and verges all over the UK. Make sure the area hasn’t been sprayed with any chemicals or messages from passing canines!

Dry the leaves by hanging them upside down which makes the oils flow down to the tips

yarrow leaves ready for drying

yarrow leaves ready for drying

Store the leaves in a glass jar covered with brown paper

take a couple of leaves, steep them in hot water and add a spoonful of sugar, honey or rosehip syrup for extra cold busting power.

It looks like something Harry Potter would be made to drink but is actually pleasantly aromatic.

Great Fireballs from Taurus


Inspired by BBC’s Autumnwatch I headed into the garden to listen for the sound of migrating redwings passing over head on their way from Scandinavia and stumbled into a meteorite shower, if such a thing is possible.

A shooting star flew overhead and I wished on it, automatically, a human thing to do but then, overhead I could see lots of tiny meteors whizzing around and ran out of wishes.

My neighbour Bill came into the garden for a smoke followed by his loyal sidekick, his chihauhau, Blue. I lay still on the bench in the garden trying not to alert Blue’s ferocious guard dog instincts. The neighbours think I’m weird enough and I didn’t want to add to the list of tales they could tell their friends.

“We found her laying in the dark, in the garden, staring at the sky!”

I lay there, waiting for the security lights to dim, wrapped in winter layers and Russian hat and watched the sky fall apart overhead. Laced with twenty first century debris of satellites and airplanes, stars fell, flashing green and streaking white tails across the sky.

One hour later, shivering with cold I’ve ventured inside to find that what I’ve been watching are Taurid fireballs, trails of ice and dust from the comet Encke as it orbits the sun.

The shooting stars are set to peak over the next few nights so turn off the tele, forget the whispers of your neighbours and head out there now.