108ac/44ha SPA, SSSI
Grid ref: TM 041 195 (click for o/s map)
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Fingringhoe Wick is Essex Wildlife Trust's flagship reserve on the west shore of the Colne Estuary, created out of disused gravel workings. It has a wide range of habitats, including patches of grassland, gorse heathland, mixed woodland, reedbeds, ponds and a large lake. The river frontage has saltmarsh, foreshore and inter-tidal mudflats. On sloping ground overlooking the Colne Estuary, it offers one of the finest saltmarsh panoramas in eastern England.
Over 200 species of birds have been recorded, of which 50 species nest each year. The highlight is the mass nightingale chorus in spring. Kestrels nest, as well as tawny owls, little grebes and sparrowhawks. Between June and September, migrant waders find the Scrape attractive. The estuary, quiet for much of the year, comes into its own in winter. Thousands of wintering waders and wildfowl rely on the expanses of mud and saltmarsh for food or for roosting. This includes up to 700 avocets, viewable from the shore hides. Sea duck can be seen in mid-river.
At least 350 species of flowering plants have been recorded, including common spotted orchids and bee orchids. The shaded, humid conditions in the thickets suit ferns, mosses and lichens. Visit in spring for tiny unobtrusive clovers, medicks and trefoils. Summer is best for colourful species, especially sea lavender on the saltmarsh, and masses of dog roses.
Thirteen species of dragonfly and damselfly breed on the reserve. Many common butterflies flourish, together with the less usual green hairstreak. The sandy, eroding cliff faces attract bees, ants and wasps.
Three miles south-east of Colchester. Take the B1025 from Colchester towards Mersea for three miles. After crossing the Roman River turn first left and follow the brown signs to the reserve. The lanes between Fingringhoe village and the reserve are narrow – please drive with caution.
Bus routes run to Fingringhoe Village only, from where it is a 30–40 minute walk to the reserve via the Fingringhoe Gravel Pit Trail.
Centre and reserve are open Tuesday to Sunday 9 am–5 pm, excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day: please obtain a permit from the centre. Donations are requested from non-members of the Trust – £2/adult, £1/child and £5/family (2 adults and 2 children).
Worth visiting at any time of the year, but the highlights are the nightingale chorus in May and the flocks of brent geese in winter.
Wheelchair and mobility access to selected parts of the nature reserve and selected bird hides; wheelchair available on request.
Dog are permitted on site, but must be kept to the dog trail and be on a lead at all times.
Group visits of parties of more than ten people are welcome, but please advise in advance by calling 01206 729678. For details of events etc. call the centre on 01206 729678. Waymarked nature trails start from the centre.