Swanscombe Stories #1 – a Kestrel hovers

Monday 21st September 2020

Guest blog by Donna Zimmer, local wildlife enthusiast from Swanscombe Marshes

There is a September ‘nip in the air’ freshness as I reach the big blue skies at Swanscombe Marshes. A Cetti’s warbler belts out his immediate welcome. Sailing boats drift calmly along the Thames and I enjoy a moment of tranquillity. Suddenly, a Marsh harrier appears flying low over the marshland causing absolute chaos to the wildfowl and waders who are flushed from the water flying in every direction. The Marsh harrier continues her hunt but is unsuccessful she slowly disappears into the distance. I continue my walk admiring the cloudless blue skies, a Kestrel hovers then her juvenile joins in copying her movements diving in and out of the long grass trying to catch small mammals.

As the morning freshness fades and the temperature rises Common blue butterflies appear visiting colourful wild flowers for their sweet nectar. A passing cyclist stops to admire the views. I listen to the calming sound of the vast reed beds moving hypnotically in the warm breeze. Grasses are alive buzzing & humming. A Common lizard runs across the path. Reed buntings call then disappear. Meadow pipit and a Stonechat sit together on a wire admiring the view. Blackthorn and Hawthorn show off their autumnal rich colourful fruit. Dragonflies dart around the pathways occasionally resting in the branches showing their jewel like detail. I relax by a grass bank enjoying the butterflies, Large white then Small , a Red admiral then a pair of bright Clouded yellow butterflies rush past me, one sits for just an instant. I relax for a while in the quiet and close my eyes. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and hear nothing but wildlife.

Our marshlands are as valuable to us as the precious rare wildlife it attracts. Let’s do something amazing and protect Swanscombe Marshes.