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Blackwater Estuary (N) Essex

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Common Crane
Ring-necked Duck
Black Brant
Ring-necked Duck
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Site Location Details

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Site Details

The area described starts in Maldon, finishing at Mersea Island, and has a mixture of habitats including coastal grazing, mudflats, saltings, sea wall, borrow dykes, arable farming, offshore islands, marinas, tidal creeks, disused gravel pits and lagoons Nature reserves in this region include Tollesbury Wick Marsh, Abbott's Hall Saltings and Ray Island, owned by Essex Wildlife Trust, and Old Hall Marshes owned and managed by the RSPB. Specialities include waders, wildfowl and in winter, divers and grebes, raptors and owls.

Local Weather

Birding Sites in the Blackwater Estuary (N) Area

Additional Site Details


From Maldon, take the B1126 east to the villages of Heybridge, Goldhanger, Tolleshunt D'Arcy. Then take the B1023 to Tollesbury. Heybridge Basin and the disused gravel pit are situated on the right-hand side, and access to the pits is from the lock gates of the Heybridge-Chelmer Canal heading south by foot, following the seawall at ref. TL873069. Access for Rolls Farm, high tide bird viewing: drive down Prentice Hall Lane, Tollesbury. DO NOT DRIVE ALL OF THE WAY DOWN. Park at the storage barn at the end of the asphalted road, TL945096, then WALK down the gravel track, past the farmhouse, onto the sea wall, then turn left towards the point. For Tollesbury Wick Marsh, park at Woodrolfe Road car park, then walk in front of the white elevated flats along the grass path, past the marina and along the sea wall, through the stile, at TL968105. Old Hall Marshes are at the end of Old Hall Lane, north of Tollesbury, at TL965124, but a permit MUST be obtained from the warden first. For Ray Island, park at the north end of the Strood, in the layby, TM012152, and walk along the saltings at low tide. WARNING: THIS TRACK IS COVERED AT HIGH TIDE, AND THE WALK TAKES APPROX. 1/2 HOUR EACH WAY.


Permits must be obtained for RSPB Old Hall Marshes reserve. All other areas have public access from sea walls, except section between Salcot village and Mersea Strood.


All sites mentioned above have free parking.

Opening Times

Any reasonable time.


Public toilets at Woodrolfe Road car park, at Tollesbury. Heybridge Basin car park, and on Mersea Island, at car park next to Dabchicks sailing club at Mersea Hard. Cafés are situated in the areas of the above public toilets. A logbook is available at the RSPB Old Hall Marshes car park, on a notice board.

Key Areas / Routes

Public footpath along the seawall between Maldon and Tollesbury. Circular walks around Old Hall Marshes, and Tollesbury Wick Marshes (Up Mell Creek into the village, and down to the car park). Heybridge Gravel Pits can be a circular walk, returning along the canal, towards the lock gate.

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British & Irish Records Archive Blackwater Estuary (N)

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