Monday 13 December 2010

A Different View of Things

Since my last posting it has been diificult to find something to write about. The reserve remains a mixture of empty ditches and being frozen solid and whilst the high tide roosts of waders at either extremity are still quite huge, the marshland middle part of the reserve remains depressingly quiet birdwise. In fact we seem to have arrived at a rare situation whereby, due to dryness, in the middle of winter a wetland reserve seems to have more passerines than wildfowl or waders.
Once again the only wildfowl present are the ducks congregated in the tiny unfrozen section of the Delph fleet along the seawall, where from unfortunately, they are being shot as they fly over the seawall, by the wildfowlers. That also brings me round to something I also touched on in my last posting, my E-Mail from a guy who supports the Kent Wildfowlers (KWCA). We continued, and still do, to exchange E-Mails on the subject of duck shooting on Harty and it became quite surprising to me as the E-Mails flew to and fro, how much we had in common to a degree, despite currently being from either side of the fence so to speak. There is worse going on than the limited nature of wildfowling.

Now, before you all rise up and scream "oh my god", I haven't been bought out and I will never cede that a wetland nature reserve can share itself with those people trying to kill its wildlife such as at The Swale NNR and Oare nature reserve, but I have through our written conversations seen reason to moderate my views on shooting in some areas. The main reason that we have arrived at the above in my opinion is purely down to the conservation bodies not being assertive enough and the wildfowlers happily exploiting that fact.
One thing that myself and the guy from the KWCA did end up doing as we moderated our opposition to each other's views was to swap experiences gained from close on sixty years being involved in a wide variety of countryside pursuits, something that perhaps many nature reserve wardens are lacking in. Lets face it, in my time I've been a rabbit trapper, eel catcher, even tried wildfowl shooting for one season in the early 1970's and now I'm into wildlife conservation, like my fellow E-Mailer, that's a pretty good education from which to comment from. The one thing that I did eventually agree with this guy on was that, if we are to be totaly honest and lay blame on the wildfowl shooting that is going on out there, then there is actually worse than the wildfowlers. The commercial, for profit, duck shooting that is now being championed by the landowners out there, is having a far more devastating effect on the wildfowl numbers than the few birds being taken by the true wildfowlers.

Now I rather feel that this is currently perhaps 1-0 to his points of view but he knows that I will never relax my opinions on the shooting directly in front of the reserves but I'm happy that our shared lifetimes on the marshes does find us with similar views on how it could or should be.

Now, on a different subject all together, whilst going through my photograph collection I found these two photos. The first is a poor quality view of the old Elmley church and the second is a bit of action at the old Elmley Ferry across to Murston, sadly long gone as a means of access. The was even a time when the children from Kingshill Farm used this ferry to go to school at Murston on the mainland, imagine how many times they got cold and wet and compare it with today's mollycoddled children that have to be driven to school and can't go if there's a few flakes of snow because the school staff see it as an excuse for a day off - out in the snow with their own children!


  1. As an old Teynham-ite, Derek, I started my birding at Little Murston back in the early 1980s and had heard that there used to be a ferry there but this is the first photo I have seen of it. Thanks for such a fascinating blog.

  2. Thanks Graham,
    I'm almost certain that the young lad on the left is one of the Gransden boys from up at Kingshill Farm on Elmley. At low tide there is still a long shingle ridge going out onto the mudflats at the old Ferry site and it also used to be where the gas pipes for Sheppey used to come ashore.

  3. Derek - forgive me if I've asked before but when did the church become derelict and did it literally fall down or was it 'robbed' out for other buildings?

    Keep the old Sheppey stories coming.


  4. Adam,

    I the church was knocked down, before it fell down, in the early part of the 1950's.

  5. I am sure you won't be surprised to read that I won't be changing my views on killing for 'sport' or pleasure Derek but nevertheless your post was an interesting read.

    That last photo is full of character!