Grid ref: TQ 933 849 (click for o/s map)
Mouse over links for pictures; click for detail page.
The original Gunners Park is being developed for housing and in compensation an area of land to its east is being developed as a nature reserve by Essex Wildlife Trust, extending its original reserve consisting of an area of SSSI grassland and a buffer zone. The new area was used by the MoD to test artillery and consequently has been untouched by agriculture. An heritage centre is under construction.
It is mainly grassland, divided by ditches and with patches of dense scrub and scattered trees, and a large lake with an island. This combination makes for good bird and insect life in summer. Goldfinches, linnets and whitethroats nest in the scrub and mute swans on the lake, and kestrels and barn owls hunt over the grassland. In winter, turnstones and sanderling feed along the beach. It is also a good place to see unusual passage migrants in autumn and spring.
The vegetation in the SSSI is very fragile, so there is no public access. The SSSI and buffer zone are grazed heavily by rabbits, and the latter has a couple of badger setts, plus an artificial sett built when an original sett was destroyed to build a new access road – but the badgers knew best and preferred to build their own
At the south-eastern corner of Shoeburyness. Vehicle entry from New Barge Pier Road, which turns off Ness Road (B1016) just before it becomes Shoebury Common Road. Turn off right at the yellow height barrier.
15 minutes walk from Shoeburyness rail station: turn right outside the station and continue straight on at the gates (to the garrison area) along Hospital Road, turning left at its end then right on to Mess Road which leads on to the reserve. Buses run from Southend centre.
Accessible at all times.
May to August for birdsong and insects; autumn for passage migrant birds.