Life in the Walton Backwaters

The Walton Backwaters can be found just a 30 minute drive away from Colchester to the Essex coastline. Here there is no clear divide between the terrestrial and marine causing these two worlds to collide. The Backwaters are constructed of many tidal creaks, mudflats, saltmarshes and small islands and there is a huge tidal range. Many hundreds of meters of intertidal environment go from being fully submerged in fresh seawater, to being left for many hours at the mercy of the terrestrial environment. This makes very fertile lands particularly for birds which flock here in huge numbers hunting up sheltering worms and molluscs. This aggregation of Birds has led to RAMSAR classification of the habitat, meaning they are an internationally important wetland for birds.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Little terns (Sternula albifrons) come here to breed which are protected by the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). The Backwaters are also important wintering grounds for Dark Bellied Brent Geese (Branta bernicla) where almost half of the global population winter on UK shores.

Dark Bellied Brent Geese (Branta bernicla)

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea

But it’s not just the UK’s Birding Collective who flock to this nature reserve. Many tourists are also attracted by the resident seal population of both Harbour (Phoca vitulina) and Grey Seals (Halichoerus grypus). approximately 80 seals reside, mate and pup here, and with differential seasonal pupping between the two species there is always a good chance of spotting pups!

Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina)

So why not see what you can spot and dont forget your bird ID guide or Camera!


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