The Swale National Nature Reserve



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The Swale NNR is a grazing marsh close to the Elmley Marsh NNR which supports significant populations of waterfowl, and the wide expanse of marsh also provides an important habitat for other wildlife. If you are lucky you could see a brown hare speeding across the marsh, and the reserve also has a good population of water voles. Sometimes, grey seals can be spotted fishing or resting on the mudbanks. In addition to common waterfowl, gargany, marsh harrier, avocet and short-eared owl have all bred on the reserve. Barn owls and Montagu’s harriers also hunt across the marshes. Uncommon plants found here include narrow-leaved and dwarf eel grass on the mudflats, Ray’s knotgrass and white sea kale on the beach, and glassworts and golden samphire in the saltmarsh. Among the rare migrant butterflies and moths found at the reserve are the Essex emerald and ground lackey moths, and the clouded yellow butterfly.

The Swale National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Essex

Essex is full of pleasant surprises. It has the largest coastline of any county in England, with its fair share of castles, royal connections and scenic valleys. Take Colchester, for example, which was built by the Romans and is Britain’s oldest recorded town. Its castle contains the country’s largest Norman keep and yet, a stone’s throw from here, East Anglia’s newest arts centre promises to put Colchester firmly on the map as Essex’s capital of culture.

Tidal estuaries are plentiful and their mudflats offer migrating birds a winter feeding place. Essex was known as the land of the East Saxons and for centuries people from all over Europe settled here, each wave leaving its own distinctive cultural and social mark on the landscape. Walking a little off the beaten track will lead you to the rural retreats of deepest Essex, while all over the county there are ancient monuments to explore: 

  • the great Waltham Abbey
  • Greensted, thought to be the oldest wooden church in the world
  • the delightful village of Pleshey has one of the finest examples of a former motte-and-bailey castle
  • Hedingham Castle, magnificently preserved and dating from the 11th century.

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