Hundreds of people joined Kent Wildlife Trust and their partner organisations at Sandwich and Pegwell Bay last weekend to celebrate 70 years since the declaration of the first National Nature Reserve.
A celebration event was held to raise awareness of the need to protect important wildlife habitats like the Sandwich and Pegwell Bay reserve, which was opened by Sir David Attenborough in 1999.
Wildlife experts led free guided walks showcasing the amazing and rare wildlife in the area whilst younger visitors had fun making crafts, such as birdfeeders, to attract birds into their gardens.
The dog zone, an area where owners can allow their dogs to roam free from the leash, was officially opened with pooches enjoying a free roaming sprint. Free dog training was available throughout the day and it is hoped owners will use the zone as an alternative to letting their dogs run free within the reserve, where they risk disturbing vulnerable birdlife.
People also enjoyed a free art exhibition by Jane Hills Kinsella, who highlights the plight of marine pollution by making art from the huge amount of plastic that washes up on our shores.
Elsewhere Wilder Coast Volunteers helped families to spot wading birds feeding off the nutrient rich mudflats. They also searched for invertebrates and wildflowers within the country park and heard about how the Konik ponies and Highland cattle create a perfect habitat for nightingales.
Nina Jones of Kent Wildlife Trust said: “It was a fantastic celebration event with so many people engaging with us and learning more about the wildlife on their doorstep. The area is a haven for wildlife and it is so important that people from local communities know about this unique and beautiful landscape and what can be done to protect it.
“The dogs enjoyed the free roaming dog zone and we really hope that owners will work with us and keep their dogs on a lead where sign posted. You can read more about where people and dogs are allowed in our new leaflet and on the Kent Wildlife Trust website.
“I would like to thank all of the organisations who gave up their time to put the event on, it was a fitting celebration.”
Sandwich and Pegwell Bay is managed by Kent Wildlife Trust on behalf of the landowners, including Kent County Council, National Trust, RSPB and Thanet District Council.
This celebration event is a result of a collaboration between Kent Wildlife Trust, Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory, Bird Wise East Kent, KCC Country Parks and Thanet Coast Project and has been sponsored by GrowUp Farms.