RSPB Old Hall Marshes Nature Reserve
Embanked from the sea over 400 years ago, Old Hall Marshes was one of seven blocks of semi-natural grassland remaining in Essex, when purchased by RSPB as a refuge for over-wintering dark-bellied brent geese. It has since developed into a series of outstanding habitats and received several protective designations. Such quality, has led to the site being recognised as perhaps the 'best grazing marsh' in the country, making it almost unique in the context of present day coastal wetlands. Like much of the Essex coast, Old Hall has been traditionally managed, with cattle and sheep, for over 400 years - a practice which RSPB continues.
Within the sea-wall, the marsh is vibrant and is afforded further designation for the international assemblages of waterfowl it supports. The improved grassland on the marginally higher ground provides nesting habitat for nationally declining species such as lapwings and redshanks in the spring and provides feeding for over 4,000 brent geese and other visiting waterfowl during the winter months. Thousands of ant-hills pepper the grazing marsh, which undulates and traces the contours of the former saltmarsh. Intersected by a myriad of creeks and rills, it is home to unique vegetation assemblages and scarce invertebrate communities. Among the deeper, reed-fringed fleets has developed probably the largest reed-bed in Essex, the last known breeding site of bittern in the county over half a century ago, but now boasting nationally important breeding populations of marsh harrier, pochard, and bearded tits.
TL 952119 51.77172 0.82782
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- Accepts groups
- Children welcome
- Dogs accepted
- Guided tours for groups