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Ray Island and Bonners Saltings Nature Reserve

This 100 acre reserve comprises Ray Island which is a large sandy mound rising out of the surrounding saltings. Access by boat only.

Ray Island is a remote and somtimes bleak 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 but the owners have kindly agreed to Trust members having access to cross to Ray Island.

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 is grazed by Soay sheep, a primitive rare breed, who have been on the island for a number of years.

The southern edge of the island has some of 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

Restricted from 1st March to 31st August. Essex Wildlife Trust members only. The pathway is about one mile long and visitors have to negotiate a number of single plank bridges without hand rails. Care must be taken as these can be very slippery. No dogs.

Public Transport - Regular bus services run between Colchester and West Mersea and will drop and pick up at Strood Villa.

Directions - To the west of the Strood - the causeway that carries the B1025 from Colchester across to Mersea Island. Footpath access for Trust members only across Bonner's Saltings. Check the state and times of the tides before crossing Bonner's Saltings as the pathway is often flooded to a depth of several feet - do not attempt to cross in the two hours preceding high water.

Did you know?

There are many small mammals on Ray Island, in particular Voles.

Species and habitats

Habitats
Coastal

Nearby nature reserves

Abbotts Hall Farm
3 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre
3 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Bradwell Shell Bank Nature Reserve
4 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Location
Ray Island and Bonners Saltings Nature Reserve
Mersea Island
Essex
Map reference
TM 011 154
Best time to visit
Apr - Jul
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Restricted from 1st March to 31st August. Essex Wildlife Trust members only. A footpath circles the reserve and is open to the public.
Size
40.47 hectares
Access
Members Only

Walking information
The pathway is about one mile long and visitors have to cross a number of shingle plank bridges without hand rails. Care must be taken as these can be very slippery
Parking
yes
Dogs
No dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Essex Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01621 862960
admin@essexwt.org.uk