13 Mar 2009


This is an article I wrote last year and was published in the High Halstow, monthly magazine, some may find it of interest My name is Dave Jordan, well past retirement, and a Man of Kent, I was born in Whitstable, I have had many hobbies over the years but painting and photography have been the mainstay of my life, having taught photography and darkroom techniques at Maidstone College of Art in the early 70’s I studied Graphic Art, for a year at Canterbury art college and decided this was not for me so I joined a small art studio in Canterbury where I applied my skills, I did not persue this line of work but have always kept up the interest. The North Kent Marshes in my opinion stretch down as far as St Nicholas at Wade, locals refer to this area as Reculver Marshes, as a child my Great Grandmother lived at Marshside and I spent many happy hours at play on the marshes, in those days it teemed with wildlife. The areas that I frequent most and where most of my material has been gathered are RSPB Elmley, Isle of Sheppey, my own Cliffe Marshes, Oare near Faversham, Rainham Saltings, Higham Marshes, and Conyer, all of these birding places are within 35 miles of my domicile, Cliffe. The marshes in history have always been a mystical, foreboding place especially when shrouded in mist It’s almost magical, and yet foreboding, but to experience natures reminder of where you are the lone sound of a curlew, or a formation of geese chatting to each other just epitomises to me exactly what the marshes are all about. The North Kent Marshes are now very well known for birds of prey, the variety, and more importantly, the frequency of sightings, RSPB Elmley, and Harty both on the Isle of Sheppey are my particular favourites for raptor photography species, include Marsh and Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Hobby, Merlin ( our smallest bird of prey }Peregrine Falcon, ( probably the fastest bird on the wing and has been clocked at just over 200 MPH ) They prefer to be well off the ground when nesting and both chimneys of Grain and Kingsnorth are nesting sites in the breeding season, the Sparrow Hawk and with more frequency the Common Buzzard, Rough Legged Buzzard, Kite and sightings of Ospreys are not that uncommon, and lastly the Owls, Long Eared ( a great example can be seen on my website ) Short Eared Owl little Owl, Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, I once witnessed nineteen Short Eared Owls on a salting roost at Harty, all of these birds can be seen on our marshes plus there are also a great variety of other birds to be seen and appreciated. The North Kent Marshes also has a large variety of wading birds great favourites of mine. The beautifully elegant Avocet now common on our Northerly shore, and the adopted emblem of the RSPB, the Little Egret, a member of the heron family, and need I mention the Grey Heron, High Halstows Northward Hill Heronry which also doubles as an Egretory ( no such official word but it does give them better status than tenants of the Herons, as they are now well established in North Kent ) There are now more frequent sightings of relatives of the heron family, Cattle Egret, great White Egret and Crane sightings, who knows what will be seen on our marshes in twenty years time. As global warming increases. And finally a few tips about photography, never be 100% satisfied with your work there is always room for improvement, and when you stop taking snapshots and take pictures, you are well on your way, and in bird photography take the shot, preferably a bracketed exposure and then move closer for a second shot and so on until your bird has had enough, using this method will at least get you a reasonable shot, and always have your camera preset to suit weather and environment conditions, always be prepared for the unexpected it happens that way in the field. I will leave you with a little ditty from my collection. Author anonymous Were I a water-wagtail pied, And free of all the countryside, With feet for earth and wings for heaven I’d go to Cornwall or to Devon. I wouldn’t stay like a silly fool, On a sewage farm in Liverpool. Good Birding Dave Jordan Email:- pixelman@btinternet.com

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