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.Continue reading “North Kent Marshes”

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 andContinue reading “Autumn Spring Tides”

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 coastContinue reading “Whitstable and Margate”

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 boundaryContinue reading “Curlew River”

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 butContinue reading “Winter windfalls”

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. AContinue reading “Oare Flightlines”

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 aContinue reading “Warm Harty and Shellness”

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 presentContinue reading “Wild Oare Marshes”