Local Wildlife Sites

 Residents of the local area are fortunate in that a number of sites important to wildlife are still to be found here.
These include:-


 Belfairs Nature Reserve, comprising Hadleigh Great Wood and Dodds Grove, is a remnant of the ancient woodland that once covered this part of South East Essex. It was the battle to save this important wildlife site in the 1930s that led to the formation of the Society. You can read the story of the campaign in our book “Hadleigh Great Wood: The Wildlife and History of Belfairs Nature Reserve”. A total of 2,295 species of flora, fauna and fungi is listed. 

SENHS Belfairs Woods 2013

SENHS group at Belfairs Woods 2013. 

Belfairs Park Wood TQ829876 Oak Park Wood TQ 935884


Southend-on-Sea Foreshore Local Nature Reserve covers an extensive intertidal area of mudflats important for migrating birds and as a nursery for young fish. It is surprising what forms of marine life turn up on the shore from time to time. It stretches from the edge of the Leigh Local Nature Reserve along to Shoeburyness. Members of the Society helped in the battle that led to the internationally important site being saved from development.

Canvey Wick is a wonderful place for wildlife and people. Some 100 hectares beside the Thames originally comprised a grazing marsh. Later it became a brown field site when it was developed for the oil industry. Following his discovery of its orchids and butterflies, our President, Don Down, campaigned tirelessly for it to become a conservation area. As a result of his work it has now been awarded SSSI status - (Site of Special Scientific Interest). This was the first brown field SSI status reserve in the Country and it has received much media attention.

Orchids on Canvey Wick

 Orchids on Canvey Wick 2003-04.

 The Don Down Nature Reserve Canvey Island Wildlife Conservation Group approached the Town Council’s Environment and Open Spaces Committee to seek the management of the scrub land next to the Winter Gardens allotment site, Canvey Road in order to create a small nature reserve.  A 15-year management agreement and plan were approved by the Town Council on the 3rd March 2014.

The group will rename the site, 'The Don Down Nature Reserve' in recognition of Mr Down's observations and recordings as a keen lepidopterist and wild flower spotter.  Mr Down was also instrumental in getting Canvey Wick classified as a 'Special Site of Scientific interest', the first brown field SSSI status reserve in the country which has been featured in several television programmes, wildlife magazines, national and local newspapers.

Don Down Nature Reserve

Pictured with Cllr Doreen Anderson, Chairman of Canvey Island Town Council, and Don Down are members of the Canvey Island Wildlife Conservation Group at the nature reserve on Canvey Island.

  Benfleet and Southend Marshes (SSSI) TQ854847


 Belton Hills Local Nature Reserve is a remnant of the former flower-rich grassland, that once covered the cliffs along the Leigh-on-sea coastline and included the Deptford Pink. It still supports a serious variety of wildlife, butterflies and other insects and provides a touch of the countryside in this built-up area. It was members of the Society who drew attention to its importance. A study has been made of the plants by Joyce MacConnell and of the insects and spiders by Peter Harvey.

Planting Deptford Pink

 Planting Deptford Pink, Don Down and Betty Matson.

Belfairs Golf Course TQ 909854


 Shoebury Common South TQ925542

 Shoebury Common North TQ 925843

 Southend Coastguard Station Grounds TQ926841

 Shoebury Old Ranges (SSSI) TQ921841