It has been awhile since my last birdwatching trip, so it was with anticipation that I set off to meet Keith at Gravesend for a trip into unknown territory. We often walk the promenade at Gravesend, usually before RSPB meetings as it is a convenient place midway between our homes. On these walks we often look across the river and wonder about what is on the other side, around the town of Tilbury in Essex. So it was on this day that we decided to venture across the water and see what possible habitats we could find.
We took the ferry from Gravesend, leaving from Town pier.
and 10 minutes later were stepping ashore at Tilbury
Even as we left the terminal we could see the potential of this site for waterbirds and waders in the winter. Unlike the developed Gravesend riverfront, the Essex side, east of the terminal is just marshland (to the west is the cruise terminal and the container port!).
Inland from the river was a mosaic of grassland and pools which surround Tilbury Fort
Tilbury Fort was originally built by Henry VIII to protect London from ships coming up the river and eventually became one of a number of forts on both sides of the Thames. It has been updated in many conflicts and during times of tension since as can be seen by the current armaments, which date from WW2.
Moving on we passed more marshland until we reached the power station, where the path turns inland. We hardly saw anyone on our walk, although we did find our way blocked by a family of horses at one point.
There plenty of butterflies and it was nice to see some Marbled Whites, a species which seems to be spreading into London and is seen much more frequently than it used to be.
There was not a great variety of birdlife present, with Mediterranean Gull probably being the best sighting, but the site will be a lot more productive in the winter, when the water birds return to the river from their nesting grounds.
So with lunchtime drawing on, we made our back to the ferry and the crossing to Gravesend.
After lunch we did our normal walk along the promenade to Gravesend Fort and the local park.
The highlight of our walk was a Painted Lady butterfly, which we found in the park.
A good day out and some nice sightings but also we have identified another local area of potential, which we cant wait to return to in the winter months to see what is there “across the water”.