Elmley is the only National Nature Reserve that is farmer owned and managed. Part of the reserve was previously managed by RSPB but the entire management has now been taken over by the Elmley Conservation Trust allowin,g RSPB to free up resources for other projects.

The 3000 acres of grazing marsh provides an important habitat for wildlife. In addition to the birds, you are very likely to see hares bounding across the meadows, water vole and grass snake along the ditches and a variety of insects will be exploring the waterways which in spring and summer will be resonating with the sound of marsh frogs.

Elmley is renowned for its large number of breeding waders and birds of prey.

In winter you can expect to see common buzzard, hen harrier, marsh harrier, peregrine, merlin, kestrel, sparrowhawk and, if you’re fortunate, a wintering rough-legged buzzard. Add to this little owl, barn owl, short-eared owl and possibly long-eared owl, and you can appreciate what a special place this is.

Huge flocks of ducks and geese spend their winter on the marsh and the spectacle of swirling duck and wader flocks being harried by birds of prey is a spectacular sight.

Spring and autumn will see migrating waders using the scrapes for roosting and feeding with a rarity or two turning up most years, and from as early as the middle of June returning spotted redshanks will start to appear.

Spring will also see breeding redshank, lapwing and yellow wagtails all very active and able to be seen from the entrance track to the car park.

Entrance costs £6 per person. Opening times are on the Elmley Nature Reserve website. Toilets and car park are on site.

How to get to Elmley:

Map reference : TQ938679

Postcode: ME12 3BR

Follow the A249 towards Sheerness. The reserve is signposted from the exit for Iwade and Ridham Dock, which is immediately before the Sheppey bridge. At the roundabout, take the second exit onto the old road bridge. On the Isle of Sheppey, after a minute or two, take the first right, following the brown Elmley Reserve sign. There is a 2 mile (3km) access road to the car park at Kingshill Farm.

Location

Postcode: ME12 3RW

Latitude / Longitude: 51.377781059864, 0.78380584716797