Elmley, bird sanctuary in the Thames estuary

At first sight, it’s not a spectacular destination. It’s a lowland in toned down colours. You hear birds sing and whoop; a paradise for lapwings and redshanks. It’s a very quiet place in a densley populated part of England. In the distance you spot the Sheppey Crossing over The Swale, lorries coming and going. London is only an hour away.

Elmley is an island estate in the Thames, part of the Isle of Sheppey. This national nature reserve is privately owned and managed by the Fulton family from Kingshill Farm, watching over 3300 acres of apparent emptiness. Farming goes hand in hand with nature and bird conservation. Elmley is marshy territory, a seasonal tide-land. Livestock is essential to keep the grass cropped. To optimally utilise the rainwater, ditches and leats are connected to flow pipes. In all decisions, nature seems to be given priority.

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