Essex Wildlife Trust
This 600 acre farm is situated on the north bank of the River Crouch. It has been managed by Essex Wildlife Trust since 1998. The Flat Fields have been grassland for the last 100 years and are used as a feeding ground for Brent Geese. Around 2,000 geese come to the area during the winter. Around 2,000 geese come to the area during the winter.
The remainder of the farm comprises of coastal grazing marsh with ancient creeks and hollows betraying its salt marsh origins. The farm has been improved substantially to allow our fastest declining mammal, the Water Vole, to thrive. The creeks and ditches offer an ideal habitat for Water Voles. A wind pump was installed in July 2008 and this raises water levels on a fifty acre field. This area is surface-flooded during the winter months bringing in huge numbers of wildfowl and wading birds. It is also an important area for birds in the spring with Lapwing, Redshank and Avocet all breeding here.
This is a working farm where suckler beef cows are grazed along with a variable number of sheep - all of which are owned by a local grazier.
What to look for:
During the winter months there are huge numbers of wildfowl and wading birds, including Lapwing, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Wigeon, and Teal. Around 2,000 Brent Geese can be seen on the flat fields.
Springtime brings passage migrants such as Green Sandpiper, Ruff and Spotted Redshank. There are a wide variety of breeding birds including Skylarks, Meadow Pipit, Reed Buntings, Yellow Wagtails and Barn Owls.
Summer is the best time to see insects on the traditional grazing marsh; such as Hairy Dragonfly and Scare Emerald Damselfly along with Small Copper, Small Heath and countless Meadow Brown butterflies.
Autumn sees the return of the passage migrants followed by an increase in bird numbers as the over-wintering species begin to return from their breeding grounds.
While enjoying a leisurely walk at the side of the creeks and ditches you may hear the once familiar sound of a 'plop' as a Water Vole enters the water. Throughout the year Hares are abundant across the farm but they are most easily seen on the flat fields.
A permissive path passes around the farm, giving access to the three bird hides - this links up with the sea wall footpath which can then be taken back to the farm entrance and car park creating a 4km circular route around the farm.
No dogs are allowed on the permissive path to limit disturbance to wildlife, however they can be taken on the public footpath along the seawall (please keep them on a lead if livestock are grazing the seawalls). The farm is open to visitors every day throughout the year.
Directions: Take the B1012 east from South Woodham Ferrers and after about 3 miles turn right to North Fambridge. Access is via a track on a sharp right hand bend on the left of Fambridge Road, 400m south of Fambridge station.
Public Transport - North Fambridge railway station, 5 minute walk away.
Did you know?
In 1897 a high surge tide similar to that of 1953 breached the sea wall and flooded the farm.