Blue House Farm
605ac/245ha SSSI (part), SPA
Grid ref: TQ 856 971 (click for o/s map)
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Blue House Farm was bought by Essex Wildlife Trust in 1998 with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and many other donors. Originally saltmarsh, it was then farmed mainly as grazing pasture, this practice continuing today. Some of the higher, drier fields were used for crops but have now reverted to grassland.
Its wildlife is internationally important, particularly overwintering birds and also coastal plants and insects. It is a working farm, managed by maintaining high water levels and balancing good livestock farming with good conservation practice.
Most of the pasture has never been ploughed and retains the features of the original saltmarsh, such as winding creeks and countless hollows and bumps often topped with the large anthills of the meadow ant. The creeks and ditches are important habitats for rare water beetles and other insects like the hairy dragonfly and scarce emerald damselfly. Those with thick vegetation support water voles and may in time again give shelter to otters, known to have lived here until at least 1963.
The saltmarsh and intertidal mud between seawall and river provide abundant food for wading birds such as oystercatcher and black-tailed godwit. On the river itself you will often see red-breasted merganser and cormorant and occasionally common seal, feeding on the rich marine life of the estuary
Take the B1012 east from S Woodham Ferrers and after about 3 miles turn right to North Fambridge. Access is via a track on the left off Fambridge Road 400m south of North Fambridge station.
A regular train service runs to Fambridge via Wickford.
Accessible at all times.
Mid-October–March for brent geese and wintering wildfowl; April–June for breeding birds and for hares.
No dogs on the permissive footpath, please. Please keep dogs under strict control elsewhere.
Please take care to close gates behind you as this is a working farm as well as a nature reserve. Leaflet available at the reserve or from Essex Wildlife Trust visitor centres. For more information call the warden on 01621 740687.