South Swale

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South Swale is a nature reserve between Faversham and Whitstable in southeast England. It is a Local Nature Reserve (called South Bank of the Swale)[1][2] and it is part of The Swale Site of Special Scientific Interest.[3][4]

It consists of 428 hectares (1,058 acres) of the North Kent Marshes on the south bank of The Swale and along Faversham Creek. It is important for its plants and as a wintering site for wildfowl and waders.

The site is also a Ramsar Site, Special Protection Area (Birds Directive) and part of the North Kent Marshes ESA.


The Saxon Shore Way public footpath follows the top of the sea wall for the whole length of the reserve, around the village of Graveney, for about 3 miles in total. [5]


Visit on a calm sunny day in summer and the site buzzes with the sound of grasshoppers, beetles, skylark, reed warbler and breeding redshank. Amongst the reeds you might also hear the 'ching' of a bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus) or catch a distant view of a marsh harrier.

In winter, the mudflats and tidal waters of the Swale estuary teem with shellfish, worms and certain specialised plants. These attract huge numbers of birds to feed, especially as the tide goes out. Grey plover, dunlin, oystercatcher, godwits and curlew all probe the mud for food. Wigeon and up to 2,000 brent geese rely heavily on eelgrass (Zostera), which grows below the high tide mark.

Buntings and finches often search for seeds on the beach. Over the sea wall, look for flocks of golden plover and the occasional short-eared owl or hen harrier hunting for small mammals or unsuspecting birds. The merlin, which eats mainly birds, is also a frequent winter visitor.


On the beach, look for the spectacular yellow horned-poppy (Glaucium flavum). Saltmarsh plants grow best in Faversham Creek: golden samphire (Inula crithmoides), sea-lavender and sea-purslane (Halimione portulacoides) together make a colourful show.

On the landward side of the sea wall you can find many more wild flowers, including the tall, white, umbrella-like wild carrot (Daucus carota) and the short, pink, spiny restharrow (Ononis spinosa).


The site is managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust. Recently they have been using Konik horses, closely related to the original European wild horse, to graze coarse vegetation.[6]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "South Bank of the Swale". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. 
  2. ^ "Map of South Bank of the Swale". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. 
  3. ^ "The Swale citation" (PDF). Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. 
  4. ^ "Map of The Swale". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. 
  5. ^ Archived September 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "South Swale". Kent Wildlife Trust. Archived from the original on November 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°20.7′N 0°57.4′E / 51.3450°N 0.9567°E / 51.3450; 0.9567