Places to see birds

Roding Valley Meadows

Snipe perched on fence post

This Essex Wildlife Trust nature reserve consists of flower-rich unimproved hay meadows, both wet and dry, bounded by thick hedgerows, together with a small amount of scrub, secondary woodland and tree plantation. It follows the River Roding for some 1.5 miles between Chigwell Lane and Roding Lane, Buckhurst Hill, as it meanders across this ancient landscape.

The meadows are rich in flowers, including pepper saxifrage, southern marsh orchid, ragged robin, marsh marigold and devilsbit scabious. The impressive green lane that runs from near the river to the M11 motorway by Grange Farm forms part of the old route from Epping Forest to Romford market, and has many woodland flowers.

In spring and summer, sedge warbler, skylark, reed bunting and whitethroat can be found about the river and meadows. Late summer sees flocks of finches and other seed-eating birds on the seed heads of thistle and teasel. Grey heron, little grebe, snipe, green and common sandpiper are regular winter visitors.

Many insects inhabit the meadows and hedgerows, both unusual and common. Most summers produce drifts of meadow brown butterflies with their lazy, dipping flight.

The meadows are managed in the traditional way by taking a hay cut in summer, followed by cattle grazing. A total length of almost ten miles of hedgerow is managed by laying and coppicing.

How to get there:
Buckhurst Hill, Loughton and Debden tube stations on the Central Line are all within a few minutes' walk of the reserve. Additionally, many bus services run to Debden and Loughton stations.