News More tip slots

THE Tovil tip is set to open more slots to the public and no restric- tions on the frequency of visits – but booking is still required. Kent County Council cabinet member Cllr Susan Carey wrote to a local parish council outlining the new arrangements. The online booking system was introduced a year ago so that peo- ple could access the dump during the first COVID-19 lockdown. Now the number of slots has

been increased with no restrictions on frequency. Cllr Carey said: "The next change is to allow same day bookings in half-hourly slots. We hope this will be operational by late June when the household recycling centres will once more be fully open.” KCC is considering extending hours on busy days.

Street attack

A MAN was rushed to hospital for a head injury following an assault in Maidstone town centre. The incident happened in the High Street at about 3pm on May 11. Officers reviewed CCTV footage and carried out forensic examinations at the scene.

Visiting swallows are few and far between

THEY say one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but birdwatchers in this corner of Kent are con- cerned they haven’t seen any at all. The migrant from Africa nor- mally starts to arrive in March to April, but keen ornithologists re- port few if any are being seen. The familiar sight of mud nests in

the eaves of houses and line-ups on telephone wires have largely dis- appeared.

And it is not just the swallow – martins and swifts are absent, too. Naturalist Theo McCausland, of Langley, said: "I haven't seen one, and I am out and about quite a lot. I've heard a cuckoo but no swal- lows, martins or swifts this year." House-building and the spraying of pesticides are factors in the local decline, although the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) does not class the species as under threat. In fact, the charity puts swal- lows on its green list, with a healthy


“They will just go somewhere Leeds resident Monica Wratten

looks out for the arrival of swallows each year, but has so far been dis- appointed. She said: "I haven't seen a single one around here." This was echoed by Sutton Va- lence resident Eve Poulter, who re- calls seeing dozens on the wing just two years ago.

860,000 British breeding territories. Mr McCausland added: "All wildlife will go where they can get a readily available supply of food. There is so much housebuilding and crop spraying on arable land, that the supply of insects they need isn't there.

The RSPB notes: "Swallows are found in areas where there is a ready and accessible supply of small insects. They are particularly fond of open pasture with access to water and quiet farm buildings. "Swallow numbers in the UK

have fluctuated over the last 30 years, with pronounced regional variation in trends." Picture: RSPB Images

l Have you seen a swallow, martin or swift? Let us know by emailing

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