Old Hall Marshes

Old Hall Marshes are part of the Blackwater Estuary RSPB reserve. The site is part of the Blackwater Flats and Marshes, a key site in this Nature Conservation area. It is proposed as part of a special Protection Area under the EEC Directive on the Conservation of wild Birds (Directive 79/409/EEC). It is also proposed as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar convention. 

Old Hall Marshes are comprised of a large area of grazing marsh almost completely surrounded by intertidal mudflats and salt marsh, together with more restricted habitats such as sea wall and brackish dykes. The central core of agriculturally unimproved neutral grassland represents the largest remnant of traditionally managed reclaimed grazing marsh in eastern England, whilst an associated area of reedbed is the largest in Essex. This large block of marsh, along with areas of improved grassland at the western end of the site, supports eleven species of birds in nationally important numbers, with two of these species also reaching levels of international significance. The diverse range of habitats also supports 284 species of vascular plants including 20 nationally scarce species. The invertebrate fauna is similarly rich, including at least 4 Red Data Book species and 37 notable species.

The site supports internationally important numbers of wintering Dark-bellied Brent Geese (typically around 2% of the total world population), and of migrating Ringed Plover. A further seven species of wildfowl and wader reach nationally important numbers in winter: Curlew, Dunlin, Goldeneye, Grey Plover, Shelduck, Teal and Wigeon. Great Cob Island is one of a number of well-established roosting areas within the site. 

Notable Species

All Year

Little Grebe

Canada Goose

Greylag Goose







Barn Owl

Marsh Harrier


Cetti’s Warbler

Reed Bunting


Bearded Tit




Turtle Dove


Reed Warbler

Sedge Warbler


Yellow Wagtail

Common Tern




Reed Warbler

Sedge Warbler

Common Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Mediterranean Gull

Little Egret





Spotted Redshank

Little Ringed Plover


Common Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper


Dark-bellied Brent Goose



Short-eared Owl

Peregrine Falcon


Hen Harrier

Dark-bellied Brent Goose

White-fronted Goose

Red-breasted Merganser






Past Rarities

Lesser Grey Shrike

Blue-winged Teal

Wilson’s Phalarope

Broad-billed Sandpiper

American Golden Plover

Long-billed Dowitcher

Pectoral Sandpiper

Montagu’s Harrier



Pacific Golden Plover

Woodchat Shrike

Black Stork

Black-winged Stilt

The Notice Board at Old Hall

The Short Walk

This three-mile circular walk leads you through the range of habitats on the reserve. In summer you might see nesting Avocets and Common terns, whilst in winter, scan the semi-improved grassland to catch a glimpse of overwintering Dark-bellied Brent Geese. All year round you’ll see wading birds, ducks, geese and swans on Bale field.

Along the sea wall

The Long Walk

Follow this six-mile trail along the sea wall surrounding the reserve and you’ll get a real feel for Old Hall Marshes. Stop off at the viewing screens at Pennyhole Fleet and Pennyhole Bottom for close encounters with a wonderful range of ducks, geese and swans all year round. From the sea wall, you’re almost guaranteed views of the resident Marsh Harriers flying over the reedbeds.


The creeks to the north and south of the reserve are a great place to see a wide range of wildfowl and waders from Autumn through to Spring. Look for Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye during high tide plus the chance of Great Northern Diver or Long-tailed Duck during the winter.


The bushes and scrub just east of the carpark are an excellent place in spring to find Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler and Cuckoo, whilst in the winter berries provide food for Redwing, Song Thrush, Blackbirds and Fieldfare.




Nearest town: Tiptree, Postcode: CM9 8TP

Map reference

TL 959 122

Contact Details

Tel: 01621 869015 E-mail: oldhallmarshes@rspb.org.uk

Old Hall Marshes RSPB Reserve