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Chigborough Lakes

46ac/19ha  

Grid ref: TL 877 086 (click for o/s map)

Updated 25/08/2014


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This Essex Wildlife Trust reserve is one of a number of worked-out flooded gravel pits to the north of the Blackwater Estuary. The western compartment was left unrestored after extraction resulting in a wider variety of habitats than the restored eastern section, including willow carr, open water, small ponds, marshy areas, grazed grassland and thorn scrub.

Extraction has left some low-nutrient areas with interesting flowers, such as common spotted and bee orchids, heath speedwell, common stork's-bill and wild strawberry. Trees of note include a single wild service tree, a veteran oak pollard and two recently planted black poplar. It has eleven 'varieties' of willow, including almond and purple willow and several recently pollarded cricket-bat willows.

Over 120 species of bird have been recorded, and more than 40 of these have bred at some time, including great crested and little grebes, little egret, grey heron and kingfisher. The reserve has also seen recent increases in cetti's warbler and smew. Other birds of interest include hobby, bullfinch and barn owl.

Grass snakes can be seen and common lizards appreciate the log piles. Most of the common butterflies and dragonflies can be seen in summer. Harvest mice have been recorded also

Visiting

About a mile up the B1026 from Heybridge towards Tolleshunt d'Arcy, turn north into Chigborough road. Continue past the fishery entrance and Chigborough Farm buildings, until you see the entrance gate to Chigborough Quarry. The reserve entrance is about 50m beyond this, on the left.

Buses from Colchester to Maldon Leisure Centre run along the B1026.

Accessible at all times.

April–July for birds, flowers and butterflies; October–February for wintering wildfowl.

Easy-access path leads north from car park to a seat overlooking Gadwall Lake.

Please keep dogs on leads when there is livestock on the reserve.

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Photo © Phil Luke