Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Marshland sights and sounds

On my last visit to Swanscombe Marsh I was initially struck by the sense of peace and quiet but the more I wandered, the more my ear became attuned to the variety of sounds in the landscape. Whenever I stood still to concentrate and take a photograph, I became aware of the insistent, sibilant rustling of the reeds, the creaking of the willows, the warbling and chattering of various birds and the occasional strident cry of an unseen pheasant that seemed to be stalking me. The mournful, melancholy hooting of the riverboats and the distant background clanking and beeping of machinery were a constant reminder of the human activity taking place on the periphery of the site. In the little creek the masts of the boats rattled and jangled and the wind tugged at the flapping tarpaulin.

Everywhere were signs of life emerging from the long sleep of winter - trees in bud, pussy willows and silver birch, yellow coltsfoot, an incongruous clump of daffodils, and fat bumblebees lazily buzzing around. As well as the flocks of black headed gulls circling the river, I also saw mallards, coots, magpies, pigeons, and some sort of unidentified warbler swooping low over the grass. Other signs of activity were less welcome - the burnt patches of grass and evidence of pollution in the pools testifying to man's intervention in the landscape. Nature, however, seems to be able to adapt and make the best of things in the most inhospitable and unpromising places..... 

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