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…

October at Oare

A pale clouded yellow dances in the breeze on the sea wall and after many attempts finally settles in the couch grass, small whites are also on the move, nectaring on the last sow thistles. The clear autumn skies and gentle warmth put the wintering flocks of godwits and redshanks at ease; there is no…

Mid winter sun

January is dark and dismal; on rare days the sun shines and the coastline is transformed by a palette of powder blue, dark purples and gravel browns. At Shellness, the sea is calm and the views distant, but the tide is out on the full and the geese, waders and gulls dispersed and quiet.

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….

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…

Whitstable and Margate

The sun rises slowly over the black hill and strikes the sleeping town; it lights the flocks of restless turnstones that sit out the high tide on the quayside and flat-topped marker buoy, clad in rough-hewn timber. A single Sandwich tern flies by and a cormorant perches precariously on a high marker post. The coast…

Curlew River

On a clear and crisp Sunday morning in the churchyard at Teynham, muffled sounds of singing escape the thick, flint walls of the old church. In the treetops and overhead, fieldfares laugh their pagan cackle; redwings rustle deep within the heart of berry-laden holly trees; immigrant blackbirds pink pink and a local robin ticks from the ivy-covered boundary…

Winter windfalls

Adrift in the North Downs, the small village of Eastling sleeps in the early morning sun. The great yews bury much of the churchyard in deep-frozen shade. A goldcrest briefly emerges from the dense needles in its hunt for tiny prey. Goldfinches sing their light, liquid trickle from high, hidden places. A chaffinch bursts into its plain, spring song but…

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…