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Sometimes we don’t have to wander far to find lovely and unusual landscapes. We have been watching the the transformation of Wallasea Island for the past several years as the sea has been allowed to breach the sea defenses in a carefully orchestrated and managed conservation project. As wetlands and lagoons are created, birds and wildlife are finding it a welcome place, as are the human visitors who enjoy seeing them while breathing in the fresh sea air. With new paths opening, we have more to explore each time we visit.

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The peace is profound. The tide moves in and out quietly, and the wide lagoons and mud flats give plenty of space for birds, insects, critters, and human daydreams. And yet, as this sign far out on the sea wall reminds us, the reserve really is a crossroads, not actually all that far away away from civilization, at least as the crow flies.

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The construction of the nature reserve was made possible by bringing in 3 million tonnes of spoil from the huge crossrail project deep underneath London. In recognition of this, a section of the cutter head from one of the tunneling machines has been installed alongside the Jubilee Marsh trail.

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Its enormity bears tribute to the magnitude of the project, and stands in contrast to the tiny lifeforms that are settling into their new home, like this late season Clouded Yellow butterfly (Colias croceus).

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