Two Tree Island
641ac/259ha SSSI, NNR
Grid ref: TQ 824 852 (click for o/s map)
Mouse over links for pictures; click for detail page.
Two Tree Island is a former rubbish tip restored to grassland, scrub, reedbed and lagoons. It supports a number of interesting plants and 'escapes' and a wide variety of birds, and particularly migrants. The western section has a network of surfaced paths and a lagoon with a bird hide, from which you can see birds such as redshank and heron feeding. Recently avocets have started to nest here also.
Short-eared owls visit during the winter, hunting for field voles, and large numbers of little egrets roost here. Water vole, kingfisher, water rail, reed and sedge warblers may be seen in the lagoons and reedbed, while adder, slow worm and common lizard frequent the grassland. Insects of note include the marbled white butterfly, roesel's bush-cricket, the house cricket and the lesser marsh grasshopper.
The eastern section is part of Leigh National Nature Reserve, along with the adjoining saltmarsh and a large area of intertidal mudflats. The saltmarsh, along the southern shore of the island, is one of the best surviving in the Thames estuary. Among many typical saltmarsh plants it has golden samphire, sea wormwood, sea purslane, common and lax-flowered sea lavenders and sea aster.
The mudflats support dense beds of eel grass and provide a valuable feeding ground for wildfowl and waders, and especially brent geese. Thousands of these birds stop off here at the start of their autumn migration before moving on to coastal grasslands. Waders such as curlew, dunlin, redshank, grey plover and knot occur in significant numbers outside the breeding season.
The Leigh cockle sheds nearby bring winter flocks of turnstone close inshore and attract some of the rarer gull species.
Turn south off the A13 down to Leigh station, then cross the bridge over the railway and follow the road past the golf range and over the bridge on to the island. There is a car park immediately over the bridge.
Twenty minutes' walk from Leigh station (Fenchurch St line), which is also served by a number of bus services.
Accessible at all times.
Migration periods and winter for birds – the brent geese are normally present from late September to mid-November; July for saltmarsh colours and butterflies. Wildfowl and waders may also be seen before and after high tide from Old Leigh and from the foreshore as far as Chalkwell station.
To avoid disturbing the birds, please keep strictly to the marked footpaths in the eastern section.