A new wildlife-friendly lookout has been installed at Essex Wildlife Trust’s Two Tree Island nature reserve in Leigh-on-Sea. The lookout is not only a place to enjoy the spectacles of nature, but also provides a habitat for some of the important species that call this reserve home, including insects, birds and even bats.
Monty’s Lookout, designed by Green Roof Shelters, and its associated interpretation was funded by a generous legacy and donations from a Justgiving appeal after the previous hide, including its informative interpretation boards were lost due to arson in 2019.
Rosalyn Leclercq, Senior Legacy Officer at Essex Wildlife Trust said: “When the previous hide was so badly vandalised it affected more than just the nature reserve. The Boulton family were particularly devastated as they had not long funded the interpretation in memory of Marion Frances Boulton, however, they valiantly organised a Justgiving appeal to help fund the replacement of the hide and interpretation. The support from the local community and the generous legacy of Anthony Cooper otherwise known as ‘Monty’ enabled the Trust to replace both the structure and interpretation. When you visit the lookout, you will see it has been named after Monty, he was a local man and a very good friend of the Trust who spent many hours of his life volunteering at our Two Tree Island nature reserve while his health permitted. He loved the natural world and above all, birdlife.”
Overlooking the serene western lagoon at Two Tree Island, Monty’s Lookout is in pride of place to witness the fantastic bird life that the island supports throughout the year. Adjacent to the internationally protected Thames Estuary, Two Tree Island is situated within an urbanised landscape but is still a hub for wildlife, providing the perfect habitat for thousands of birds including wildfowl, waders and short-eared owls, rare bees, such as brown-banded and shrill carder bee, beautiful butterflies and striking reptiles such as slow worms and adders.
The new lookout is inviting, fully accessible and is made from re-purposed shipping containers complete with a shingle habitat roof and a wall made from log and stone filled gabions that allow more light into the lookout and provide a habitat for invertebrates. Inside the lookout reclaimed hardwood shelves line the walls as well as a display of engaging interpretation panels to educate visitors about the wildlife they can expect to see and the habitat around the lookout.
Macbradan Bones, Essex Wildlife Trust’s Landscape Conservation Area Officer said: “I’m delighted that following the loss of the previous hide we have managed to create a wonderful new structure thanks to the kind support of the public and a generous legacy. We wanted Monty’s Lookout to be more than just a space for bird watching; somewhere where families, people with disabilities and those who aren’t necessarily experts in wildlife to feel welcome and safe whilst engaging with the plethora of wildlife that you can witness at Two Tree Island. I’d like to thank all those who have supported and encouraged Essex Wildlife Trust with this great project, particularly the families who so generously gave in memory of loved ones, all those who donated towards it and those who have helped us create something wonderful, including Laser 24, Trait Design, The Grass Roof Company, Green Roof Shelters and the kind people at Leigh Marina for helping with the installation.”