The unstoppable sea

On Saturday, the day is warm with a southerly breeze and the oystercatchers gather on their familiar stretch of shoreline at the far end of the ness of shells that gives the place its name. Another spit near the blockhouse is filled with a tight knit flock of grey plover, dunlin and knot. On the…

Oare today …

The weather is broad grey brushstrokes with brief sparks of sunshine that light small flocks of lapwings and the many ducks on the open waters of the East Flood. A mobile mass of starlings forages in the recently cut marsh with a busy intensity; birds rise from the back and move to the front in…

The Thames Estuary at Cliffe

The now familiar walk across the flat grazing marshes from Higham Church passes a herd of ewes with a busy ram that pursues his next conquest with single-minded determination. A flock of goldfinches sit in the boundary hawthorns and small charms fly into the acres of seeded thistles in the adjacent field. In the distance,…

Feeding on the falling tide

On the Medway at Otterham Creek, a handful of the black- headed gulls are beginning to get their dark chocolate brown heads while the majority remain fixed in winter plumage. The gulls sit in roosts and some paddle across the bare mud; they never seem to have to work too hard for their food. The…

North Kent Marshes

The low sea wall runs through the middle of the Swale National Nature Reserve and maintains the freshwater grazing marsh on the landward side. Seaward, is a wide expanse of flat and featureless salt marsh, beyond which a huge sandbank rises from the Swale estuary decked with an odd assortment of geese, crows and gulls….

Medway mud

The view from the old quay on Otterham Creek looks north toward the Hoo Peninsula and the heavy industry that edges the east end. The creek empties at low tide leaving a single spine of water between wide mudflats deeply incised by snaking tributaries; teal fly in to forage at the water’s edge and redshank…

Upnor and the River Medway

The narrow high street at Upnor drops down the hill to the edge of the Medway; the street today is a smart rendition of Dickensian England with weatherboard houses and fine pubs. Chatham, just upstream across the river, was the Royal Navy’s principal dockyard and the little town, that was built around the old, riverside…

Oare Creek

The November sunshine is uncomfortably warm. The air is clear, the light bright and wind dead. The boats that line the narrow creek are a picture, most wrapped up for the winter. Redshanks and egrets forage on the mudflats; house sparrows in the pathside hips and haws along with blackbirds and reed buntings. On the…

Cliffe Marshes

The north easterly blows hard across the water of the flooded clay pit and whips the waves into a choppy mess. The sun is surprisingly warm out of the wind and insects work the few flowers, all of them yellow; including bristly ox-tongue that swamps every patch of waste ground and yellow-wort that peppers the…

Winter Sun

Oare Marshes, North Kent, December 14th 2016 The sun shines low in the sky and the few high clouds pay scant attention to the stretched blue canvas. The wind warms from the south, and the drying day is a break from the blanket of brooding drizzle. The familiar view of church and brewery in distant Faversham sits…

Cliffe on the Hoo

Cliffe Pools, north of Higham on a breathless, sunny day in mid January is full of sleeping waterfowl. The RSPB reserve is a peaceful, patchwork of large lakes adjacent to the Thames; former clay diggings that fed the local cement industry. Now the industry is all around; power stations with huge chimneys, wind turbines, piles of sand and gravel,…

A Dreich December Day at Lower Halstow

The sou’westerly blows hard and the cloud and drizzle drink the life from the coastal marshes and, usually picturesque, small boats squatting in the inlet on the wide expanse of rivened flats. Small numbers of redshanks and black-headed gulls potter across the mud, the redshanks perfectly camouflaged in soft grey.  Black arrows of Brent geese fly…