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Brightlingsea Marsh

74ac/30ha  NNR, SPA

Grid ref: TM 076 164 (click for o/s map)

Updated 10/12/2020.

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This area of grazing marsh right next to Brightlingsea is part of the Colne Estuary National Nature Reserve (NNR). Redshank and shoveler breed there in summer, and in winter it is used by brent geese and other wildfowl.

It has a huge density of ant hills, and these in turn attract green woodpeckers, for which ants are a favourite food. Its flowering plants include spiny rest-harrow and, on the ant hills, lady's bedstraw.

It is grazed by cattle or sheep in the traditional way. High water levels are maintained using overspill water from a gravel works nearby, to create good conditions for wading birds. The adjacent grazing marsh, outside the NNR, is managed in a similar way.


In Brightlingsea, follow the Promenade towards Westmarsh Point, parking near the Martello Tower.

Regular buses to Brightlingsea from Colchester and Clacton, or rail to Great Bentley and bus from there.

Good views at any time from the sea wall path.

May to July for breeding birds; winter for wildfowl.

© Glyn Baker