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Two Tree Island Nature Reserve

This 640 acre island is situated south of Leigh on Sea train station. The island itself consists of grassland, scrub, reedbed and lagoons and supports a wide variety of birds, particularly migrants. Avocets breed on the island each year.

It was reclaimed from the sea in the 18th century when a seawall was built around the saltmarsh, the enclosed area being used for rough grazing and subsistence farming. The island is now bisected by a roadway that neatly divides it into two halves. Essex Wildlife Trust now manages the island as a nature reserve. The island itself consists of grassland, scrub, reedbed and lagoons and supports a wide variety of birds, particularly migrants.

What to look for:

The saltmarsh has a good range of saltmarsh plants including Sea Purslane, Common Sea-lavender, Sea Arrow-grass, Common Saltmarsh-grass and Sea Aster.

The mudflats support dense beds of Eel-grass and the mudflats provide food for thousands of wildfowld and waders. These overwinter on the shoreline including Brent Geese. Waders such as Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank and Grey Prover can also be seen in significant numbers.

The reserve is also a good habitat for a number of insects including the three species of carder bee, butterflies including Marbled White, Small Skipper and Essex Skipper.

Birds such as Green Woodpecker, Kestrel, Short-eared Owl, Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Fieldfare can all be seen. Slow Worms, Addrs and Common Lizard can also all be found.

During the winter, Kestrels hover over the grassland and Short Eared Owls visit, hunting for Field Voles.

Avocets also nest on Two Tree Island and for two consecutive years their eggs were stolen days before hatching. Essex Wildlife Trust in partnership with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Essex Police now coordiante an Avocet egg watch, which has resulted in a number of chicks each year. Current numbers in 2009 stand at 22.

There are various walking routes around this reserve. Visitors are advised to keep to the marked tracks to avoid disturbing the birds. Please keep strictly to the marked footpaths in the eastern section.

Public Transport - Leigh on Sea station (Fenchurch Street line) is 20 minutes walk away and is also served by a number of bus services.

Dogs allowed if under effective control.

Directions - Turn left off the A13 down to Leigh station, then cross the bridge over the railway and follow the road past the golf range and over the bridge onto the island. There is a car park immediately over the bridge.

Did you know?

The name of the island originates from two large elms that were a prominent feature until they were brought down by storms in the early 1960s.

Species and habitats


Nearby nature reserves

Belfairs Woodland Centre
1 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Pound Wood Nature Reserve
2 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Tile Wood Nature Reserve
3 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Two Tree Island
Nature Reserve
Leigh on Sea
Map reference
TQ 824 852
Best time to visit
Apr - Jul
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
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Opening Times
Accessible at all times
259.00 hectares
Walking information
Please keep to the marked footpaths in the eastern section
Car park immediately over the bridge
Dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Essex Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01621 862960