Canvey Wick Nature reserve may be more known for its importance to invertebrate life and its brownfield oil refinery roots, but what is special about the reserve does not end there. This brownfield reserve is special for other types of wildlife too, from whitethroats singing in the scrub, the distinctive sound of warblers in the reeds, to the occasional sighting of a green or great-spotted woodpecker, the reserve comes alive in the summer months!

One particular spectacle that has developed on the reserve since the completion of the initial invertebrate habitat restoration, is a spectacular sea of orchids that blossoms annually in early summer. Literally hundreds of common spotted orchids pop up, interspersed with pyramidal orchids, their dark purple colour showing up in amongst the lighter shaded companion.

Common Spotted Orchid

The annual sea of Orchids does not end there in variety as over the past two summers a flurry of Bee Orchids has come through behind some of the sites distinctive round tarmac pads, once planned to be filled with towering oil containers in decades past. Even a single rare Southern Marsh Orchid has been recorded on the reserve in recent years.

Our volunteers now conduct an annual count and for 2018 this result from this showed well over 1700 Common Spotted, over 500 Pyramidal and 25 of the much less common Bee Orchid.

Bee Orchid

Oil refinery’s can be dangerous and combustible places, however this old refinery continues to explode annually with something much more colourful and pleasant!

Common Spotted Orchids at Canvey Wick


Steve Roach - Warden, South Essex

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