Bingley Island


Until the 18th century, Bingley was not an island, but part of the larger Bingley Meadow, but the digging of a new, straight channel that cut out a large loop in the river Stour left Bingley marooned, while the more northerly part of the meadow was destined to become Tannery Field. There may have been cattle grazing here as recently as the early 20th century, but now the 1.7 hectares (four acres) are managed as a nature reserve by the owner, Canterbury City Council, in conjunction with the Friends of Westgate Parks.


The island lies on the flood plain of the river Stour, and in wet winters can be partly or completely under water for days on end. This has given it much of its wildlife interest, with many willows and alders, damselflies and frogs.


Bingley Flood
Bingley Flood

An old pond, now very overgrown and hard to spot, attracted reed bunting and reed warbler to nest here until quite recently. A smaller one was dug out in 2014, and is a picture in summer when ringed by flowering purple loosestrife. If you’re lucky, you could spot a marsh frog here; this is an alien species, originally introduced to Romney Marsh in 1935, but now widely established in south east England. Typically a brighter green than our native frog, it is also distinctive for its pattern of large, dark spots.


Prior to 2018 much of the island was wooded or scrubby, but under a new management plan much of the scrub has been mulched and converted into rank herbaceous vegetation, with a proliferation of tall plants such as thistles and willowherb. In late summer the thistle seeds attract feeding flocks of goldfinches. Other management includes mowing some areas of grass several times a year to create informal recreation areas that provide a circular pathway. In winter these open areas prove attractive to a small flock of moorhens that feed on the short vegetation.


250 species of beetles and 56 types of flowering plants have been identified on this small patch of land. All in all, it is remarkable that such a diverse area should have survived barely a hundred yards from the busy Rheims Way.


Marsh frog
Marsh Frog

Moorhen
Moorhen

Goldfinch
Goldfinch

Purple loosestrife
Purple loosestrife


Education programs

Available related education programs include river and bat walks, archaeological digs, and forest school activities for children and adults.

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Canterbury Festival

This year's Canterbury Festival runs from Saturday 16th to Saturday 30th October 2021. There's walks, talks, art, performance, music & much more.

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Help the Westgate Friends

We urgently need new volunteers to help maintain the physic garden, assist with collecting litter and also need new trustees – and funds to keep up our activities.

Email us at Westgate Parks friends