The site is situated along the western bank of the River Hamble and is designated a local Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The site has an open access policy, although most people stick to the footpaths provided as the reedbed during the winter months can be considerably wet.
No visitor facilities are present apart from an oak bench at the quay and one at the viewpoint offering attractive views of the River Hamble. A slipway exists for the local residents only, to launch small boats from into the river, no motor vehicles are allowed on the site without permission from Site manager.
The site consists of some woodland species, reedbed and inter tidal mud, creeks and islands. Pendunculate Oaks with an understory of hazel, hawthorn, bramble and gorse and a herb layer of ivy fringe the reserve, with an area of wet alder carr, dominated by mature alders in the middle, with a very rich herb layer of tussock sedge, greater pond sedge, yellow flag iris, hemlock water dropwort and broad-leaved willowherb.
The area had been invaded with Japanese Knotweed. Reedbed covers the majority of the site with patches of willow carr existing along the path edges. The intertidal area is dominated by saltmarsh vegetation such as sea purslane, cord grass, sea aster, glasswort, etc. The islands have similar vegetation. The site also has areas of bare mud.
The reserve is of particular importance for some invertebrates, and forms an important feeding area for waders,(especially lapwing, golden plover (600+), black-tailed godwit, dunlin, greenshank, curlew and redshank), Wildfowl and herons. Water rails, reed buntings and warblers frequent the reedbed and willow carr.
The site is centred around the T.S. Mercury Memorial, slipway and boating quay which has recently been renovated and an oak bench located. A tidal creek divides the site in the middle allowing views of the river. The memorial reads
TS MERCURY 1885-1968
A new viewpoint located at the water edge, near the old pier gives visitors a focal point to observe the river and local landscape. The site is of high landscape quality and is recorded as one of Hampshire's beauty spots.
Manor Farm Rangers Depot, Pylands Lane, Burseldon, Southampton, SO19 8HH
tel 02380 402 534
Mercury Marshes is managed by Hampshire County Council's Countryside Service.