Moving with the Tide

At dawn, the tide is out and the birds are dispersed across the wide mudflats that stretch north from Shellness past Leysdown-on-Sea to Warden Point. This is some 5 square kilometres of sands filled with worms and molluscs. There are perhaps a 1,000 birds out there; mostly black-headed gulls, oystercatchers and black-tailed godwits with smaller…

Elmley Marshes

The pewter grey sky hangs heavy and deadens the afternoon light; on the long road to Kingshill farmhouse, lapwings are dotted everywhere on the endless flooded meadows, foraging at the edge of silver pools and occasionally displaying low over the ground. A flock of starlings hurries across a distant horizon, no doubt mindful that this…

Orchards and Estuary

The church of St Giles at Tonge is old and overlooked behind dense, green yews. The simple, square tower sits next to a richly coloured, clay-tiled roof that that stoops down to the ground and shrouds a beautifully carved, wooden porch. The narrow lane leads past farmhouses and large orchards full of fieldfares, redwings, starlings,…

Shellness

The tide is running in fast and the crowd of oystercatchers in the bay walks up the beach like an invading army in black and white tunics. Then the bulk of the birds flies to the shelving bank of cockle and osyter shells on the spit to sit out the high tide like a well-drilled…

East is East…Shellness and Sheerness

From the sea wall on the Isle of Grain, the Port of Sheerness is an unbroken strip of trade and industry between the gun metal Medway and the brilliant blue sky. The Grain Tower, once the principal defence for the Medway ports, squats in the shallow estuary like an old, broken barrel. The high tide takes it…

Early Winter Snows

The  wind drives the Swale into a muddy broth. Small flocks of Brent geese career down the coast on the wind and then turn and hang before alighting on the barren shore. Oystercatchers flock on the tideline with curlews, redshanks, grey plovers and a handful of turnstones. There has been a recent passage of scoters and…

Warm Harty and Shellness

Capel Fleet is sunny, warm and windless; today there are only timid sheep in the field and the brown bulls are gone. The Fleet is stacked with waterbirds and the large maize field full of geese, lapwings and the rest. Suddenly, the entire sky is on the move, sound fills the air and for a…