Tuesday 3 July 2012

Time moves on.

The two young Kestrel chicks on the reserve look like they're about to fledge very soon, here one looks out from the nest box.

It's been over two weeks since my last posting, a combination of running out of things to say as a result of the reserve running out of steam and a preoccupation with some tracking down of family history facts and evidence. On the reserve the breeding season has pretty much ended now, there are a few Redshank and other wader chicks about but we're pretty much waiting for the autumn passage to start now. A couple of Green Sandpipers have been about but there's not a lot else of note about, apart from the one Brent Goose that doesn't look 100% fit. Other than that, the reserve remains as overgrown as I've ever seen it and on damp days like today is bloody uncomfortable to walk through, resulting in wet trousers. A few Meadow Browns and Small Heaths have been appearing but no butterflies and Odonata have been about so far, in even reasonable numbers.
So on the back of that daily boredom it was nice a fortnight ago, to welcome onto Sheppey someone who was researching her family history, a family that included in one place down it's line, a member of my family, so we were very loosely related. She has spent the last couple of weeks on and off the Island and with my help, researching her quite tangled family history. It's been good fun and very interesting and having carried out some research on my family history a few years ago, that and my knowledge of local people and history, has enabled me to help her and as a result we have become special friends.
For me, researching family history is a riveting subject and the further down the line backwards that you go, the more absorbing it gets as you go down lots of blind alleys before all of sudden pieces of jigsaw start to fall into place. Coupled with that is the social history that surrounds the family at various stages of their evolution, that too can be just as interesting., In the case of my family, it was possible to follow individual family groups around the various farms on Sheppey as they moved to where work was available. Here, when you look at the ten-year census returns, it is often astounding to see how many people, and not all from the same family, who were recorded in just one simple, two up-two down farm cottages, with no water and no lighting as such. And probably as a result of that, how many, both adults and infants, had died in between the ten year censuses, they certainly lived in some pretty squalid conditions, often stuck out on cold and damp marshes miles from anywhere.

Researching family history is something that you go into with some trepidation at first but as you find your way round the information sites and the discoveries start to mount up and the paperwork starts to overload your desks, it becomes totally absorbing and extremely addictive after a while.


  1. Hi Derek, I am also a sucker for the family history. I started researching mine in the 90s and spent months achieving what is now available online in a few clicks, in fact I have a particular line that goes back to Sherness / Queenborough. All fascinating stuff.

  2. Kieron,

    Family history is a truly interesting and time-absorbing past-time that I thoroughly enjoy and in some ways it is never really finished because there are always new names to explore if you so wish, which take you off in all sorts of directions.