There are currently over 70 seals in the Walton backwaters, a small but healthy breeding population which has risen from only 5 in 1986.

The colony of both harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) are unusually of a russet colouration for much of the year due to the iron oxide-rich mud on to which they haul out.

The seals enjoy resting on the mudbanks, and prefer areas where rivers flow into the sea, like the backwaters, because these waters are permanently ice-free.



The backwaters behind the Naze, called Hamford Water, is a National Nature Reserve and is recognised as being an internationally important wetland for birds (RAMSAR).


Hamford Water and the Walton Backwaters is an area of tidal creeks, mudflats, islands, salt marshes and marsh grasslands. It can be viewed best by boat.

This area is recognised internationally and is designated as a National Nature Reserve. It is an internationally important breeding ground for Little Terns and wintering ground for Dark-bellied Brent Geese, wildfowl and waders.

It also supports communities of coastal plants which are extremely rare in Britain including Hog’s Fennel.


Hamford Water and the Walton Backwaters have RAMSAR classification. This means that it is an internationally important wetland for birds.

It is on the migration route for many bird species and provides wintering grounds for Brent Geese, Godwit, Redshank, Shelduck, Teal and Avocet and breeding grounds for terns.

In addition, there are nationally important numbers of Wigeon, Pintail, Ringed Plover, Curlew, and Dunlin. During migration in the autumn and spring, the Naze is a prime birdwatching site. Curlew and Sandpipers are regularly seen along the beach, with Gannets and Arctic Skuas passing offshore.