The area between Dartford and the River Thames was predominantly salt marsh and freshwater marsh for centuries.
Although only a fraction of their former size, the marshes still remain, and have been shaped by many factors into the landscape we see today. Dartford Marsh is currently farmed for a mixture of dairy and arable production, which is another traditional form of marsh management, however these marshes have been used for more reasons than farming over the centuries.
The Marsh is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI), a Roadside Nature Reserve (RNR), a proposed Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and a proposed Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is situated adjacent to Crayford Marsh and has 27km of watercourses running through it with the River Thames at one boundary and the River Darent at the other.
The Marsh can be accessed by car from Joyce Green Lane, off Bob Dunn way. It is possible to park by the old entrance to the former Joyce Green hospital although there is no formal car park and parking is limited.
Birds to see
Quite a surprising selection of birds occur at this somewhat small area of degraded habitat, particularly during the spring and autumn migratory periods, although a good number of species winter here too. Breeding birds are restricted to mainly common species although Black Redstart and Peregrine Falcon have both bred at Littlebrook power station.
There is an abundant source of food for flocks of wading birds such as Redshank, Lapwing, Dunlin and Oystercatcher. Birds such as Graylag Geese and Shelduck can often be found grazing vegetation. In contrast to the open mud, the vegetation also provides shelter for roosting and breeding birds. Teal, Mallard, Widgeon, and Cormorants can often been seen drying their outstretched wings after diving for fish. The marshes provide ideal feeding and breeding habitat for grassland birds such as Swallow, Skylark and Meadow Pipit, but the grasslands are also important hunting grounds for birds of prey, including Kestrels, Sparrowhawks and Barn & Little Owl.
The tall vegetation on the fringes of the ditches provides shelter for birds such as Mallard, Coot, and Moorhen. As the numbers of horses grazing the marsh has varied, hawthorn and blackthorn scrub develops in patches and provides food and cover for a host of small birds such as Robin, Linnet, Greenfinch and Stonechat. The mud exposed where Dartford Creek meets the Thames is often used by gulls all year round and seems to be a regular spot for finding Yellow-legged Gulls.
Tel:020 8303 7777
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Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015