This 100 acre reserve is a large sandy mound rising out of the surrounding saltings. Access by boat only.
Ray Island is a remote nature reserve, owned by the National Trust and managed by Essex Wildlife Trust. Ray Island has a shingle foreshore/beach area and a extensive areas of rough grassland. (Bonners Saltings is a saltmarsh between the Strood causeway and Ray Island and is private property - therefore access to Ray Island is by boat only.)
What to look for:
Ray Island has a shingly foreshore/beach area on the northern side, with a sizeable freshwater pond nearby, and extensive areas of rough grassland. On higher grounds, there are Blackthorn thickets and some old Hawthorns. The island was previously grazed by Soay sheep, a primitive rare breed, which were on the island for a number of years.
The southern edge of the island has some fine examples of salt-marsh-grassland-scrub. There is a wide range of saltmarsh plants including Lax-flowered Sea Lavender, Golden Samphire and Sea Rush.
Breeding birds include Redshank, Oystercatcher and Shelduck. Large numbers of wildfowl and waders overwinter.
All the common finches can be seen throughout the year. Birds of prey are commonly seen, including Long-eared and Short-eared Owl, Hen Harrier, and Barn Owl.
Access is by boat only, to designated moorings, and restricted to 1st March to 31st August. No dogs. There is no public access via Bonners Saltings.
Public Transport - Regular bus services run between Colchester and West Mersea.
Did you know?
There are many small mammals on Ray Island, in particular Voles.
Species and habitats