Places to see birds

Elmley Marshes Reserve

Elmley Marshes Reserve
Red-breasted merganser - RSBP images

The RSPB Reserve of Elmley Marsh is part of the North Kent Marshes. The two-mile drive across the vast wetlands, managed by the Elmley Conservation Trust, to get to the reserve car park is an exciting start to your visit. Situated on the Isle of Sheppy on the southern side of the mouth of the Thames. It is separated from the mainland by a channel known as The Swale. The salt marshes and mud flats are a haven for wintering waders and wildfowl and are home for some of the largest flocks in the South of England.

Dunlin, knot, curlews, golden plovers and oystercatchers may be numbered in thousands and grey plover, redshank and bar-tailed godwits can be found in lesser numbers. Several hundred Brent geese and a good number of white-fronted geese are regular winter visitors to the marshes. Ducks which may be found include wigeon, teal, shoveller, shelduck, red-breasted merganser, eider, pintail, pochard and common scoter.

The reserve is fascinating and the sheer numbers of birds will leave you spellbound but it is worth keeping a lookout for the more unusual like a short-eared owl, merlin or hen harrier hunting over the marshes, while flocks of pipit, finches or thrushes may forage in patches of vegetation. Elmley is a wonderful place to watch birds but it is remote and exposed so take warm clothes and good boots so you can enjoy this special place to the full.

Fred Twilley 2002