Autumn Spring Tides

At the end of September, the moon is full and because it is also the equinox, the tides are some of the highest of the year. The ‘Spring tide’ on the Swale fills the estuary and appears to almost drown the land. If the sea level rises as predicted then the coastal grazing marshes and…

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…

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…

Bonaparte’s Gull at Oare Marshes

14th July 2016 Bonaparte’s Gull Chroicocephalus philadelphia, as its scientific name testifies, is a North American species, and as ubiquitous as the similar black-headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus is here in Western Europe. A single Bonaparte’s turns up at Oare Marshes, and immediately the record is run out as an alert online; rarity is prized by many and, like many stormblown ‘Yankees’, the…

Oare Flightlines

The large pool known as the East Flood abuts the narrow lane to the old ferry to Harty. The waders and wildfowl within the nature reserve feed in the shallows at the water’s edge, nearly all immune to passing cars and a slow steam of walkers, some with dogs and others with binoculars and telescopes. A…

Oare and Conyer

The arctic winds across the marshes at Oare are killing and unkind, bending heads towards the frozen earth; but the Sunday morning promises a warming sun but only after a heathen slab of grey cloud has inched slowly away to the east. The high tide is falling and a dense flock of black-tailed godwits takes off from their island roost,…

Wild Oare Marshes

The day is quiet and the sea still; there is not a breath of breeze to turn against. The oblique sunlight breaks through the layers of high grey cloud from time to time and casts a soft shadow. The waders stand quiet in their ranks. The regiments of godwit, avocet, lapwing, redshank, golden plover and dunlin are all present…

Oare Marshes on the Ebb Tide

The roosting flocks of black-tailed godwits and avocets are in their allotted places within the shallow mere as they were a few days ago. Then, they roosted quietly after gathering on the flood tide. Today, they are wing stretching, washing, preening, flying and flapping vigorously just over the water to dry their feathers; their twitchy movements unsettle; their babble…

Oare Marshes

The open door of the Castle Inn in the small village of Oare looks inviting, but we opt for the walk along the edge of the narrow, boat-crowded creek. We nod to weather-lined men in blue, barrelled overalls tinkering with their ladies of all shapes and sizes. We pass fields empty but for a handful of cows…