You would be forgiven for missing this small island tucked into the shore near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. From the coast the eye is drawn beyond to Canvey Island while the small Two Tree Island appears to be part of the low shoreline of the Thames Estuary. This is an island for those in the know, a small road sneaks past Leigh-on-Sea station and passes over to the island by a narrow bridge.
My rules for islands allow for a bridge but also require present or past habitation, the scout hut, model aeroplane club and scatter of containers at the slipway don’t constitute habitation but a search back to 19th century maps appear to show a small farmstead on the island.
The day we visited was grey, but the rain we’d passed through on the way hadn’t arrived. The view from the slipway took in Canvey Island and, faintly in the far distance the industry of the southern side of the estuary but even that soon was lost in the gloom.
The island is managed by Essex Wildlife Trust and the western end is part of Leigh National Nature Reserve. It’s reclaimed land and part has been a landfill site, little blue vents show the location of this. We were too early in the year for insects and flowers, although a cherry tree by the car park was beginning it’s floristic show. Birds however were more visible, a huge flock of waders roosted in the saline lagoon at the western end with shoveller there too. A small flotilla of brent geese navigated the near submerged saltmarsh to the island’s southern shore along with pairs of teal.
Standing at the eastern tip the unfeasibly long Southend Pier can be seen as it points out into the sea. Closer at hand is the saltmarsh with its myriad of tidal channels, the muddy waters were sweeping back out as the tide ebbed, soon the island would have been much larger and the small creek that separates it from the shore even narrower. For now, however, we’d explored pretty much all there was to explore on a gloomy February day.