Essex Wildlife Trust
This large and important 683 acre reserve at the mouth of the Colne Estuary and consists of a shingle ridge enclosing a considerable area of saltmarsh, through which Ray Creek flows. It is an important nesting site for Little Terns.
This large and important 683 acre nature reserve at the mouth of the Colne Estuary consists of a shingle ridge enclosing a considerable area of saltmarsh, through which Ray Creek flows. The shingle and sand is nearly all that remains of a much larger area between Walton-on-the-Naze and St Osyth that existed at the end of the 19th century but has now mostly been developed by the holiday industry.
What to look for:
The saltmarsh is a typical example of the habitat of Essex and supports Golden Samphire and Small Cord-grass (both nationally scarce) as well as Sea Wormwood, Sea Lavender and Thrift. The shingle and sand ridge has many attractive plants including Sea Holly, Sea Bindweed, Sea Spurge, Yellow Horned-poppy and Sea Kale.
The exposed mudflats, shell banks and shingle pools provide a feeding ground for large numbers of waders that arrive in autumn and winter. It is also used as a winter feeding area for Brent Geese. The Point is on a major migration route for finches, chats, Pipits, Skylarks and Hirundines. Raptors are also seen frequently.
In summer there is a small nesting colony of Little Terns on the shingle with Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers. Other breeding birds include Redshank, Skylark, Reed Bunting and Linnet. The nesting area is fenced off to protect nesting birds.
The reserve is also important for its invertebrates with particularly good numbers of spiders, beetles and moths recorded. A variety of solitary bees and wasps find the sandy substrate ideal for nesting. Many of these invertebrates are rare, nationally or locally, and a number of Red Data Book species (the rarest of the rare) are present.
At high tides various parts of the reserve can be flooded for some time, including around the car park and either end of the footbridge so consult a tide table before you visit. It is advisable to wear wellingtons or waterproof boots as it may be muddy, or even necessary to wade, at any time of year.
During the breeding season (March to September) please walk below the last high tide mark as eggs and chicks are extremely difficult to see and are easily trampled.
Directions - Access is via the road running to Lee Wick Farm from St Osyth. A car parking space is signposted and provided just inside the reserve on the seaward side of the sea wall but is liable to flood at very high tides. Please use the car park and do not drive along the track past the chalets which the Trust does not own. Facing the estuary turn right and walk past the chalets to find the nature reserve entrance. Please note the road down to the reserve has many potholes, drive with care.
Public Transport - No easy access by public transport.
Did you know?
The Point itself is of great interest as it is the best developed spit on the Essex coast.
Species and habitats