Wetlands, Wonder and Place Tim ACott

Pink, orange and ochre striations caress low lying grey clouds hanging over the flat expanse of wetland as the last light of day faded into dusk. A formless landscape became less distinct as evening gloom enveloped the swaying reeds and glimmering waterways etched into the mudflats beyond the seawall. Late November and long summer days were a distant memory. Winter was coming and life was in retreat, either escaping and flying off to warmer places or preparing for the colder months ahead. As ever, all was in flux as season gave way to season and the living sought to see off death for another year. An uncanny silence spread as the light faded and the yellow lamps of Whitstable began to glimmer in the distance. As I crossed Nagden marshes and then Cleve Marshes and headed for the car parked at Seasalter I was accompanied only by the occasional call of unseen gulls and waders somewhere out in the estuary. A breeze blew gently off the water, cold and sharp against my exposed cheeks, bringing with it the smell of salt and damp as the incoming tide started to swallow up the mudflats. Soon, the sea would reach the seawall, and nothing would be left of the rivulets and channels of an area appropriately named ‘The Oaze’. By the time it was gone, I would be ensconced in a warm car heading home after a day taking photographs and sketching in what must be one of the wilder wetland environments in South East England.

Wetlands occupy a curious place in our collective imaginations, often portrayed as places of death and disease, sites of terror and the monstrous, for instance depicted as the ‘Dead Marshes’ in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Wetlands are harbingers of death and misery as exemplified by mosquitoes, that deadly humming insect that has bought so much misery to humanity. Of course no mosquito is able to act with intent against humans, yet narratives can fold into each other so that ‘war with mosquitoes’ becomes ‘wetlands as battlegrounds’. Such narratives see wetlands as places to conquer, improve, drain and reclaim, to be made productive and transformed into a more manageable social reality. Such sentiments still hold ground with some local community groups objecting to wetland creation as engineering dismal mosquito infested swamps. However, there is another narrative, emerging in the 1970s, that see wetlands as places of conservation, biodiversity, sources of human wellbeing. Internationally the RAMSAR convention, adopted in 1971, recognises that wetlands are among the most diverse and productive of ecosystems.

Under the influences of popular fiction, international conventions, wars and disease I started a photo journey to explore lowland wetland landscapes in England at the end of 2016. I was interested in seeing Wetlands through a photographic lens. In an age of smartphone cameras people take more photographs than ever before. We are often told that looking at the world through the lens of a camera takes us out of the moment, detaches us from the here and now. Yet, my experience of photography is somewhat different. I thought about what Susan Sontag said, “A photograph is not just the result of an encounter between an event and a photographer; picture taking is an event in itself, and one with ever more peremptory rights…” (1). Moving through the landscape, slowly and carefully observing the landscape, felt like an event itself. The camera facilitating a journey of viewing and creating. Photographs can frame ontology and bring our attention to certain aspects of the world over others, in Heidegger’s terms to make part of the world ‘occurrent’.

I was interested in landscapes and the interactions between ‘things’ sometimes defined as nature on the one hand and society on the other. This division always feels artificial, something imposed from the outside, I wanted to explore wetlands and follow the actors, whether human or non-human and how they intermingle. Throughout my career I have transgressed boundaries. Starting with A’ Levels in Art and Geography, moving into an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science, a PhD in Soil Micromorphology, a then a lecturing career shifting into the social sciences and human geography revolving around different aspects of environmentalism, sustainable development and natural resource management. Through this time the camera and sketchbook have always formed key parts of my intellectual and emotional journey resulting in solo exhibitions and displays in established galleries.

This is not a photo essay about the wildlife of wetlands, although they are certainly characters that come to the fore. Rather, it is a subjective insight into the fantastically diverse and vibrant worlds of wetlands in lowland England. It is a personal encounter as I explore these wet landscapes and think about their sense of place and how different landscape elements come together and have meaning for me. The following are a series of 32 photographs, selected from over 2000, taken over three years across numerous wetlands in England. Ranging across the North Kent Marshes in the South East, to Alkborough Flats on the Humber and the Avalon Marshes in the South West. The photographs and associated text captures my experience of wetlands and hopefully something of the inspiring, haunting and reflective qualities I encountered.

Tim Acott - email: at05@gre.ac.uk

1. Sontag, S., 1977, On Photography, London, Penguin Books (pg. 11).

The Photographs

Fleeting Moment: On the Humber

As dusk approached the river path following the line of the Humber just west of Water’s Edge Country Park was quickly disappearing into the gloom. One last burst of energy from the sun picked out saltmarsh clinging to the edge of the mudflats with New Holland Pier lit up in the distance pulling my eye over the flat wetlands expanse. Experiencing wetlands can be about how the eye is caught by distant features, the wetland a backdrop over which the eye can roam to distant places. Experiencing a place is not just to be in a place, it is how relations and connections are made, perhaps with light, weather, creatures or just how a distant object can become significant for a moment in time. This same view a few minutes later has lost all its magic, the pier just a grey smudge on the horizon barely seen.

Pools of Silver and Grey: South Oaze, Near Seasalter, Kent

A flat landscape of silver and grey, punctuated by the orange of the fading sun and the distant call of feeding waders. The mudflats are well known feeding habitats for birds. Here, with a receding tide, pools and rivulets emerge in the dying light forming an organic contrast to the vertical groynes half submerged in the mud. A unique landscape, newly created each day as the sea retreats and a muddy, waterlogged place is exposed. In the distance a lone person, possibly digging for bait and taking a share of the mudflats bounty, is just visible framed against the skyline and offshore wind turbines. Watching the light slowly fade and the mudflats disappear into the evening gloom, I was struck by the stillness, beauty and sense of peace that can be found in liminal places.

Hidden Fantasy: Fenlake Meadows, Bedford Priory Country Park, Bedfordshire

Located on the edge of Bedford Priory Country park this was the first wetland that I visited as part of the WetlandLIFE project. The tree is leaning, stretching, reaching across the ditch and is clearly ready to wake up and continue its patrol of the forest. The scene lit by an otherworldly radiance of scattered texture and colour. This is a tiny patch of woodland adjacent to a busy, built up urban town. Managed wetlands can create fantastical imaginative locations on our doorstep, their values informed by the narratives that describe them.

A Divided Landscape: South Swale Nature Reserve, Kent

Brutal in its design and implementation, a stark, grey line arcing across the landscape, the seawall is a monument left by the engineer and builder that marks a divided landscape. On the seaward side organic mudflats, interspersed with fragments of salt marsh, a dynamic environment created by the diurnal rhythms of the tide. Sometimes vast expanses of glistening mudflats are exposed, with just the haunting call of birds and gulls being carried on the breeze. Other times, waves lap along the edges of the sea defences, perhaps reminding those who care to listen, that the sea is patient and the time will come when old lands are reclaimed. On the landward side, Cleve Marshes and Nagden Marshes, reclaimed wetlands, now low grade agricultural farmland, pools and drainage ditches, water levels controlled and regulated. On a cold winter’s January day with a biting North Wind gusting over the water the area is a wild, stark place, a forlorn beauty to be enjoyed both at the time and later when sitting by a crackling fire.

Linear Landscape: South Swale Nature Reserve, Kent

Four lines converging in the distance, pylons, path, drainage ditch and sea wall. Four human constructions dominate this sombre winter scene. This is not a beautiful vista, there are no chocolate box rose covered windows here. Yet, in the contrast of water, grass, sky and structures and the linear extent of the features, there is a haunting quality to the landscape. Although water is corralled into drainage ditches and its level controlled, this is a wild place. For me, life’s worries and concerns dissipate as the remote and starkly beautiful landscape works its magic. Opening up to such places is to connect to something larger, wilder and wondrous beyond the individual elements.

Marsh and Nuclear Power:, Hinkley Point from Steart Marshes, Somerset

A nuclear power station glinting against a black stormy sky. This was a wild day in the expansive Steart Marshes in Somerset. Clouds glide across the sky, driven by strong winds gusting across the open marshes causing showers of rain to alternate with warm patches of sunlight. The view of Hinkely Point in the distance contrasted with the rushes closer to hand. Wind, colour, movement and texture combining to create a unique sense of place in a particular moment. The controversy of nuclear power and the white starkness of the power station forms an unlikely backdrop to the ecological, aesthetic and wellbeing qualities of the marsh.

Lines of Light: Steart Marshes, Somerset

In the course of putting together this photo essay I tramped across, through and around miles of wetlands. A shared feature in many of those places were pylons majestically striding their way over the landscape. By their nature wetlands are flat areas, often located in relatively remote locations conveniently close to power stations. The upright, metal skeletal structures immediately draw the eye and create a focus of interest. On this day in the Steart Marshes, I was dodging rain showers, but that bought with it the advantage of deep, dark glowering skies, occasionally lit by bright shafts of sunlight piercing the clouds. In this case creating a silver, grey landscape with the power lines etched into the darkness like the gossamer threads of a spider’s web. Wetlands are places where beauty can fleetingly appear and then be gone in the blink of an eye.

Moment of Wonder: Steart Marshes, Somerset

Clouds, scudding across a stormy sky creating moments of light and wonder. Dynamic, changing, the vista refuses to be formed, always promising something greater until the shutter button is pressed. Waiting for the right moment, in a cold and wet landscape can bring rewards for the patient. Here, the moment when the cloud cleared a little allowing the light to shine through illuminating a path, turning a grey stretch of tarmac into a magical, reflective gateway into the unknown. The values of wetlands can sometimes be seen not in the individual elements, but in how all the pieces come together to create glimpses of other worldly experience. Here a moment appeared when the cloud cleared, a simple path and a line of pylons running across a flat, grassy area, one minute unexceptional, fleetingly transformed into the spectacular.

An Otherworldly Place: Hurcott Pool, Worcestershire

It is rare I visit a place and am lost for words. Yet on a relatively overcast day I visited Hurcott Pool with two colleagues from the Natural Resource Institute. While they attended to their mosquito sampling I went to explore the rest of the site. The contrast from the grand open vistas of the Steart Marshes or the River Humber could not have been greater. This is the largest area of SSSI wet woodland in England. The trees protruding like skeletal fingers groping up from a subterranean cavern. This is an alternate world, smothered in a green weed, blanketing the landscape in its slimy embrace. This is surely a scene from a science fiction swamp world and not a location just a few minutes from a popular dog walkers car park. The variance of wetlands to transform from expansive vistas across vast acres of flat marshland into intimate, strange and compelling places like this constantly amazes me.

A Sense of Caution: Chippenham Fen, Cambridgeshire

A photograph taken on November 2017 at Chippenham Fen accompanied by an entomologist sampling for mosquitoes. We had permission to leave the public path and explore more deeply into the site. Leaving the designated path, I was reliant on the ability of my colleague to navigate us safely around the site. Being away from public areas, deep in the wetlands, rather than traversing its edge, or crossing on safe walkways, heightened a sense of caution and respect for the landscape. The spectacle of bare winter trees, their branches reaching up towards a mottled grey blue sky became even more intense. I felt privileged to be able to visit this vibrant wild and managed landscape where nature was the priority. We have much to thank the many people and organisations that make such places possible.

Movement: Alkborough Flats, North Lincolnshire

The wind whipping across the flat expanse of Alkborough flats, my destination was a bird hide overlooking the confluence of the River Trent and River Humber. A strong wind has transformed the landscape into a blur of motion and colour. Pale green, russet, grey vegetation united in a frenzied dance. A flat landscape transformed into a riot of colour and movement. This quality of the wetland environment only being revealed in a particular instance of wind and weather. Perhaps the following day a calm will have presented new vistas. On the day I visited it was no longer about big views or intimate places, my attention was now drawn to encounters with colour, movement and texture.

Reed Sculpture: Bedford Priory Country Park, Bedfordshire

Wetlands can evoke many aesthetic responses in the textures, patterns and colours they reveal. Walking around the urban wetlands at Bedford Priory Country Park I was struck by the sculptural qualities of the reeds on the edge of a large pond. The large feathery heads suspended on long upright stalks were frozen in a moment of time. In photography there is much emphasis on the golden light that gets produced at the start and end of the day. This image was taken at 14.23 on a grey overcast day in May. I was able to use what light there was to highlight the reeds against a backdrop of dark trees. I feel that there are always special qualities around us but sometime it takes a bit of imagination to be able to see them.

White Noise: Far Ings National Nature Reserve, North Lincolnshire

Wetlands can by windy places, actually they can be very windy places! This day was no exception. A strong wind was whipping through Far Ings Nature Reserve bringing showers of rain. I dived into a deserted bird hide and was treated to the view of reeds and grasses blown and buffeted by the wind. All my attention was directed towards the continually swaying movement, as the feathery heads whipped back and forth creating a riot of pattern and texture. The pits and reed beds at Far Ings are a legacy of the cement industry that operated between 1850 and 1959. Amazing how nature can come back into a place when industry leaves and conservation takes over.

Trail: Hurcott Pool, Worcestershire

A silent, still carpet of emerald green lay over the water punctuated by white, bleached tree trunks and branches reaching up for the sky. No wind, not even a light breeze disturbed this ancient scene. Yet for the imaginative observer others were abroad today, going about their daily business. One meandering creature had left a trail across the pond, small movements displaced the green cover revealing the dark water underneath, but perhaps more importantly, left an indication that someone had recently passed this way.

Whose Environment?: Nr Oare Marshes, Kent

On the edge of Oare Marshes the sluice gate is adorned with signs telling people of the danger of deep mud, deep water and to Keep Out. A crow alighted onto a post, and gazed around. We often talk of other creatures as being part of ‘the’ environment. This crow made me feel that I, and all the paraphernalia of the sluice gate, were part of ‘its’ environment. As we modify and construct places we are shaping the environment for all creatures that live there, in the case of lowland wetlands in England with particular emphasis on providing suitable habitats for birds, mammals and insects. These are not natural places, they are co-constructed places where humans and nature co-habit. Environment encapsulates all the relational associations between people and nature.

Grazing in the Mist: Stodmarsh, Kent

A sodden, rainy day spent walking over the marshes on the banks of the Stour River in Kent to the West of Canterbury. Three ponies were grazing on the Marsh, part of a flooded landscape gradually receding into the mist. This is a national nature reserve and has the largest reed bed in the south east of England. It feels like a timeless landscape that has a long history of human activity, with this photograph particularly echoing the activities of medieval monks who would graze their horses on the marsh. The reserve is not a natural area, Natural England were instrumental in conservation efforts to flood former areas used for gravel extraction and old mining operations. Yet today, on a grey, wet winters afternoon, this place feels wild and vibrant, a brief escape from the stresses and pressures of everyday living.

An Unexpected Encounter: Chippenham Fen, Cambridgeshire

I was not expecting to meet this chap when walking around Chippenham Fen, one of a group of Asian water buffalo we spotted grazing on the marsh. They are used by the reserve managers to help keep the wetlands cropped. Although Chippenham Fen feels ‘natural’ the landscape is a result of the relations between people and nature, in this case making use of Asian water buffalo acquired from a Welsh farm where their milk was used to make mozzarella cheese!

Worlds in Webs: Bird hide somewhere in the Avalon Marshes, Somerset

There are many different creatures associated with wetlands, from the target species for conservation to the animals that are used to help maintain habitats. However, on a trip to the Avalon marshes I wandered into a bird hide late in the day. I was on my own and this wonderful spider’s web caught my attention, caught in a stray ray of sunlight. We live in a world where so many creatures live in close proximity to us, but we either don’t notice them or sometimes actively try and clear them away. I thought the structures and tunnels in the web, softly captured in the gossamer threads, rivalled any feat of human engineering. Wondrous sights are sometimes right under our noses, just waiting to be noticed. An important element of valuing nature is firstly to recognise what needs valuing.

Mosquitoes Finding Shelter: Somewhere on the North Kent Marshes

Somewhere in an old tunnel on the North Kent Mashes these tiny mosquitoes found some shelter. Dark, smothered with cobwebs, we inched our way along, mobile phone torches to light our way. Not normally on the top of people’s bucket list of essential viewing in wetlands, these nevertheless remarkable creatures are intimately bound up with human society and culture throughout the ages. Whereas many people know mosquitoes through their association with malaria, it is perhaps important to remember it is only the female that bites people, and only a handful of species will seek a meal from humans, the rest feeding on other wildlife and livestock, so not all are equally culpable. While there can be no doubt that the small number of mosquito species that can carry pathogens in some parts of the world have bought misery and death to millions of people, mosquitoes are not born with the malarial parasite, there must be an infected person who transmits the parasite to the mosquito. If people infect mosquitoes does this change the ethical argument around their eradication?

Tender Moments: Shapwick Heath, Somerset

Dark graphic water lilies and birds contrasted with the serene calm water. Sitting quietly in a bird hide, this was a reflective, shared moment as two small creatures went about their daily business. Little did they realise their actions would be captured in a photograph and displayed in a photo-book on wetlands. Photography can be used to capture moments which are then shared in a circuit of culture. While wetlands can be valued by people living in and visiting those environments, they can also form an aesthetic starting point for cultural representations that are circulated to wider audiences creating potential for new values to emerge.

Another World: Hurcott Pool, Worcestershire

Wetlands can be difficult places to navigate with water and mud restricting access. This view through the trees and branches at Hurcott Pool provides a glimpse into an otherworldly place where the birds and insects have their domain. Of course this is an illusion as even in these places the water levels are regulated and the conservation professionals are managing the habitats. Nonetheless, the knowledge that in some places creatures other than humans are given priority is a reassuring thought.

A Path To Somewhere: Radipole Lake Nature Reserve, Weymouth, Dorset

A sea of reeds stretches to the horizon, normally impenetrable to most people, a simple wooden walkway creates passage through the vegetation, allowing access into the heart of the wetland. In their raw state wetlands are difficult and treacherous to navigate through. Conservationists put much effort into enabling people to get access into their watery interiors. The combination of flat terrain, raised broad walks and paths make many wetlands an ideal location for people of all ages to enjoy a day out. However, wetlands in the UK take many forms, from the family friendly Radipole Lake to some of the wilder, less visited areas on the North Kent Marshes like Deadman’s Island!

Place for Viewing: Steart Marshes, Somerset

As the low clouds drifted over the River Parrett I was taken by the view point provided. Different types of signs are used extensively in managed wetlands for a range of reasons, from warning people of danger to telling people where to go. Here the information boards provided a ‘living timeline’ to show what happened over a year when the embankment was breached to allow the area to flood in 2014. In addition to information, a QR code is provided, a suggestion that this is a good place to take a photograph and a bench for rest and enjoying the vista. Efforts like these help visitors to get the most out of their visit, but they also influence the character of place. There is a balance to be found between retaining feelings of wildness and providing facilities for people. Sometimes reserves will be zoned with people or nature having different priorities in different locations.

Looking and Reflecting: Bird hide on the Avalon Marshes, Somerset

There are many types of structures in wetlands and one of the most iconic is the bird hide. While these take many forms they are all basically sturdy wooden sheds designed to let people observe the bird life without causing disturbance. They tend to be utilitarian and functional, small wooden flaps open to the front enabling a post-box style view of the waters beyond. They provide refuge from bad weather and are places where people can sit. While bird hides are amazing places they could potentially provide alternative uses. The writer on the WetlandLIFE project created an initiative called ‘Hide and Seek’ which “seeks to uncover stories which exist in our wetlands and believes that by sharing and creating narratives we can better understand our relationship with the natural world”. In addition to the uses that can be made of bird hides, their forms encourage an aesthetic response, the wooden structures illuminated through thin narrow windows creates contrasts of light and dark intermingling with texture and patterns of the construction itself.

Access and Power: Shapwick Heath, Avalon Marshes, Somerset

On the edge of Shapwick Heath I parked the car and was readying for a day’s exploration of the wetland. Before even leaving the car park the juxtaposition of elements in this scene caught my eye. A car park payment machine took centre stage and was the first element I interacted with. I then noticed how the issue of crime was raised on a sign asking if people have locked their car. The path leading into the wetland was broad and covered in tarmac and a gate restricts access to those with permission to take vehicles onto site. Another barrier is added to allow cyclists access but discourage motorcyclists. Two signs say dogs are not allowed on the site while another provides information for people visiting the site. Although a photograph of a car parking payment machine is not perhaps the most spectacular subject, I think this image does say something about wetlands, access and power. It captures something of the sense of place in an aesthetically intriguing way.

Tractors, Pipes and Wet Places: Chippenham Fen, Cambridgeshire

This is not a classic photograph of a wetland. Tractors and pipes have replaced birds and dragonflies. Yet, this does say something about the underlying reality of many of the wetlands I experienced as I travelled around lowland England. When inland or on the landward side of seawalls these are controlled environments, with land managers often having to strike a balance between conservation and farming. Water tries to act in the way it wants. People make decisions on what it should be allowed to do, sometimes things work out as intended, other times unintended consequences happen. As climate change progresses an increasingly important question is the extent that water is allowed to win the battle allowing new wetland spaces to be created with all the benefits that brings.

Place of Leisure: Steart Marshes, Somerset

A warm, clear sunny day, the landscape was framed by blue skies with white clouds drifting along on the breeze. A path takes your eye towards the distant Hinkley Nuclear Power Station, on its way passing a cyclist and a bird watcher. Wetlands are flat places and offer opportunities for spectacular views dominated by big skies. They are places of leisure and recreation where people can go to experience the health and wellbeing benefits of being in nature.

Place to Live: Radipole Lake Nature Reserve, Weymouth, Dorset

While wetlands are places where people visit, they are also places that people live near or in. Urban wetlands are oasis of nature on people’s doorstep as in this example of Radipole Lake. The swan serenely gliding out across the deep blue lake just a stones throw from where thousands of people live, work and play. The vibrant water with ripples gently breaking with the passage of the swan perfectly mirrored a scorching hot summers day in 2018. This wetland was as far from the idea of a dark, dismal swamp that I can imagine.

Digging in the Mud: South Oaze, North Kent Marshes, The Swale near Whitstable, Kent.

On this cold winter’s day wildlife played second fiddle to patterns of water and light on the mudflats just outside Whitstable. Rivulets of water etched a silvery blue web across the muddy terrain. But when a stray ray of sunlight caught the ground a golden radiance lit up a lone figure stooped digging in the mud. This place, the seaward side of the sea wall, is a dynamic, shifting terrain of mud and sand interspersed with patches of salt marsh. The character of the place changes following the diurnal tidal rhythms. But these are not just natural places. As the world has moved into the age of the Anthropocene and climate change transforms into a climate disaster, there is really no place on earth that is beyond human impact. Sea level rise will undoubtedly impact such low lying areas.

Heron Meat: somewhere on the North Kent Marshes near St Mary’s Bay

A forlorn, wild place just to the lee of a seawall looking out over reclaimed wetlands. This is an open, wild, wetland with a hint of menace on a cold, dark winters day. I was walking for hours across reclaimed wetlands and along the sea wall and only saw one person in my journey, a cyclist who stopped and chatted remarking how lonely this place was. The words ‘Heron Meat’ daubed over the wall of a small concrete shed adds to the liminal feel of the place. This wetland sense of place is in marked contrast to some of the more managed, family friendly experiences.

Wreck: Oare Marshes, Kent

Wetlands as otherworldly, liminal places is epitomised in the abandoned and decaying wrecks seen along muddy shores. Wooden vessels that once sailed proudly on the water, now decomposing, rotting hulks testimony to a once prouder existence. Yet, these wrecks are not unsightly. In a world that is so managed, ordered and gentrified, they seem to offer a counterpoint, a sense of wildness where nature reclaims what was once hers. Weed smothered slimy timbers are a reminder of the inevitability of change as the wreck slowly disappears into the mud. There are many such examples dotted around the North Kent Marshes.

An Explosive History: North Kent Marshes, Hoo, Medway Kent

Situated on the far North Kent Coast at St Mary Marshes, just inland from the sea wall, this cluster of old abandoned buildings innocently emerges from the mist, their house like structures belaying their true origins. In the words of English Heritage:

“It is clear from the research that the magazines at St Mary’s Marshes were constructed, at least in the first instance, as a commercial venture in order to aid distribution of explosives, particularly given the restrictions on shipping large quantities of explosives further up the Thames towards London. The initial five magazines were constructed in 1892 by the Thames Storage (Explosives) Company with two further magazines added between 1895 and 1900.”, English Heritage (2013, pg. 25*).

Today, the site is a haunting collections of buildings located in a far flung outpost of the marshes. The past speaks to the present and exerts a particular pull on the sense of place of this location. This is a wild, reclaimed wetland, not managed for the visitor experience. It is a world of drainage ditches and bird calls echoing on the strong winds whipping across the marshes.

* Newsome, S. and Pullen, R., 2013, St Mary’s Marshes, Hoo St Mary, Medway, Kent: An Asssessment of the Late 19th Century Explosives Magazines, English Heritage, Research Report Series 52-2013.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to all that have supported the production of this photo-essay over the last three years. Thanks to Valuing Nature for funding the WetlandLIFE project and making this photo-essay possible (project code: NERC NE/N013379/1). Thanks to all the colleagues on WetlandLIFE who have commented and encouraged through numerous project meetings. Particular thanks to Frances Hawkes for accompanying me around some of the wetland environments, reading drafts of text and the huge challenge of selecting final photographs. Also to Victoria Leslie for her enthusiasm throughout and her comments on text and photograph selection. Finally, many thanks to my partner Moira Mitchell, whose unfailing support helped me get the photo-essay completed and over the line.

Created By
Tim Acott