Fowlmere

The chalk aquifer bursts to the surface at Fowlmere on the edge of a low escarpment of arable land to the south of Cambridge. The island of wet woodland, reedbed and chalk grassland is an RSPB nature reserve with wooden hides and winding boardwalk.  Here in the summer, small brown trout swim in the fast…

The Crouch Estuary at Wallasea Island

The Crouch Estuary is on the edge of a coastal wilderness of saltmarsh and muddy creeks. Hereabouts, the water and the wind run the schedules and the regiments of moored yachts must hustle, like cars on a crowded motorway, to win the battle for both on summer weekends.  Today at low tide, there is no…

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…

Minsmere’s old retainer

The early morning at Minsmere is warm and humid under a blue sky. The view from the Island Mere Hide is a huge reedbed enclosing a long shallow waterbody where mute swans and great crested grebes idle on the water and cormorants and common terns perch on horizontal wooden poles. Male terns catch small fish…

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,…