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Bradwell Shell Bank Nature Reserve

Bradwell Cockle Spit on the Dengie Peninsular consists of some 30 acres of shell bank together with extensive saltmarsh. The spit has been built up by tidal currents and is mainly cockle and oyster shells.

Bradwell Cockle Spit on the Dengie Peninsular consists of some 30 acres of shell bank together with extensive saltmarsh. The spit has been built up by tidal currents and is mainly cockle and oyster shells. During bad weather and strong tides, the spit moves and in the past two decades, up to 100 metres of saltmarsh has been lost to erosion.

The reserve is managed jointly by Essex Wildlife Trust and The Essex Birdwatching Society. The latter also operate Bradwell Bird Observatory, situated in the grounds of Linnett's Cottage on the edge of the reserve.

What to look for:

Little Terns, Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers breed on the shellbanks and the saltings support a wide variety of species including Redshank, Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting and Linnet. There are a number of raptors that visitor smay see including Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine and Short-eared Owl in winter and Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Hobby.

There are a number of flowers including Yellow-horned Poppy, Slender Birdsfooot Trefoil, Grass-leaved Orache, Sea Rocket, Sea Holly and Rock Samphire.

The mud and sandflats to the east of the reserve are part of the Dengie National Nature Reserve. These are internationally important for overwintering waders and notably for Grey Plover, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit. Flocks of Brent Geese can also be seen on the fields, mud or the sea.

The barges which you can see offshore are there to protect the saltmarsh and seawall from erosion.

If you want to see waders, time your visit to coincide with high tide.

In order to protect breeding shore birds and this fragile habitat, please keep to the seawall overlooking the reserve between April and August inclusive, or where no wall exists to the edge of the saltmarsh.

Directions - Head for Bradwell-on-Sea via Latchingdon or Southminster following the B1010, B1018, B1021 from Chelmsford or Maldon. Turn right in Bradwell by the church and follow East End Road to its end and park at Eastlands Farm. Follow the farm track down to the Saxon chapel of St Peters on the Wall. To enter the reserve, walk northwards along the seawall to Sales Point, then southwards along the public beach to Tip Head Creek. This can be crossed quite easily at low tide and gives access to the first few hundred yards of the reserve, as far south as Gunners Creek. This creek is wide, with deep mud in parts, and no attempt should be made to cross it.

Did you know?

In autumn and winter large flocks of up to 20,000 waders roost on the reserve at high tide.

Species and habitats

Habitats
Coastal

Nearby nature reserves

Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve
3 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Ray Island Nature Reserve
4 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Abbotts Hall Farm
5 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Location
Bradwell Shell Bank
Nature Reserve
Bradwell on Sea
Map reference
TM 035 081
Great for...
birdwatching
overwintering birds
spring migrant birds
stunning views
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Status
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
Special Protection Areas (SPA)
Parking
yes
Dogs
No dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Essex Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01621 862960
admin@essexwt.org.uk