October began with a trip to discover Swanscombe Marshes, one of the last little pockets of wetland habitat on this part of the Thames. Set behind the Kent Wildlife Trust reserve of Baty’s Marsh, this area of fen and scrub is home to lapwings, Dartford warblers (which must be the last stronghold near Dartford) and rare insects such as the distinguished jumping spider.
The site has been awarded SSSI status but is threatened with the development of a theme park by London Resorts. This, to me, seems an obnoxious idea, unnecessary and no doubt doomed to failure. How can such a pointless development be set against the survival of a living creature? Conservationists from Buglife, Kent Wildlife Trust and the RSPB have united in condemnation against these plans and I was happy to go along and add my voice.
The rest of the month has once again been focussed on restoration plans for the farmland surrounding Conyer. Mid- month I took a great walk along the sea wall outside the village to view Blacketts Marsh and ensure restoration plans supplied to Natural England are accurate. As is so often the way, this walk threw up even more questions and possibilities, so more work will be needed before plans to create wetland habitat can be finalised.
I also met up with local farmers to discuss plans for the marshes as a whole and refine long term aspirations to improve water management for breeding waders on their land.
My work on the marshes around Conyer has proved to be something of a maze. Each time I feel I have learnt all I need to know to write my report, then I find out another tantalising piece of information that leads me along another route. It has been a real privilege to attempt to get to grips with the lovely area but at some point I have to say enough is enough and finalise the report I am working on for the Upper and Lower Medway Internal Drainage Board so I can deliver a suite of ideas to the board for them to consider funding.