Fingringhoe Wick Nature Discovery Park
After the government’s announcement of a third mandatory lockdown, we are closing all Essex Wildlife Trust Nature Discovery Centres. The site will be closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays. The nature reserve and car park will be open for the local community for daily exercise on Thursdays-Mondays, from 9.30am-4pm. The bird hides will be closed and toilets will not be available.
PLEASE READ THE TRUST’S LATEST STATEMENT ON COVID-19 HERE.
Know before you go
Parking informationFree on site parking
Bicycle parkingYes - please note cycling is not permitted around the reserve
Grazing animalsWe occassionally have some of the Trust's "Flying Flock" assisting with our reserve mangement. The flock usually consists of Shetland sheep.
The reserve trails lead you through the various habitats woodland, scrub, heathland and past ponds and towards the estuary. Access to the beach is not permitted.
Dogs are welcome on leads on the designated Dog Walk area, this can be easily combined with the walk along the Gravel Pit Trail by the reserve entrance to make a longer route.
Please note cycling is not permitted around the reserve
To assist with access onto the reserve you can borrow a wheelchair, drive to a certain area to take you a little further into the reserve. Through a very kind donation we also have an All-Terrain Mobility Scooter, that can be borrowed, that will access many far reaches of the reserve that are not limited by step access. There are numerous benches around the reserve.
When to visit
Opening timesThe site will be closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays. The nature reserve and car park will be open for the local community for daily exercise on Thursdays-Mondays, from 9.30am-4pm.
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
Fingringhoe Wick has a long history, with evidence of Roman occupation. For many years the area was farmed before being sold for sand and gravel extraction. From the early 1900’s to the end of the 1950s the site as a busy industrial area, mining the sand and gravel to be taken by river to London. You can still see evidence of this industrial past around the reserve.
When Essex Wildlife Trust bought the site, it was a barren lunar landscape and some very dedicated people set about changing and developing it into the wonderful mosaic of different habitats we see today: grassland, gorse heathland, reedbeds, ponds, meadows, scrub.
The nature reserve is now a SSSI (Site Special Scientific Interest), a wildlife haven of over 200 acres (80 hectares) hosting up to 200 species of birds, 27 species of dragonflies and damselflies, 24 species of butterfly, 350 species of flowering plants, as well as Adders, Badgers and many other animals.
Fingringhoe Wick is one of the finest nature reserves in the county with something for everyone at all times of year from families, organised wildlife groups, expert birdwatches to enthusiastic beginners, school parties and walkers.
Fingringhoe is a wonderful place to visit at any time of year
Spring sees the Adders emerge from hibernation and the return of many migrant birds, Fingringhoe Wick is known for its Nightingales each spring. Approx 1% (30-40 pairs) of the total UK population breed on the reserve before heading back to Africa for the winter. These amazing songsters can be heard across the reserve, alongside Chiff Chaff, Whitethroat, Cuckoo. Plants: Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Foxglove, Common Vetch and Orange Tip and Speckled Wood butterflies.
In the summer the Sea Lavender on the saltmarsh looks spectacular, with Marsh Harrier, Turtle Dove, Sand Martin, Swallow, Hobby above. Common Lizards, Slow Worm and Grass Snake can all be seen, plants include Common Spotted Orchid, Green Alkanet, Lesser Calamint.
In autumn you may see: Avocet, Turnstone, and many fungi like Fly Agaric, Parasol Mushroom, Milk Caps, Shaggy Ink Caps and Puff Ball.
During the autumn "Berry Feast" we appreciate if visitors don't pick the fruits, we’d like to leave them for the birds and animals that will need them.
In winter thousands of waders and wildfowl use the estuary where as many as 700 Avocets can be seen, alongside Brent Geese, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Knot, Lapwing, Dunlin, Peregrine, Merlin, Shovelar, Teal, Wigeon and Red Breasted Merganser.
Birdwatching from the hides
The best views of the estuary birds are during the autumn and winter months. We recommend the two hours either side of the high tide provides visitors with the best views of the waders.
The visitor centre includes gift shop offering nature and natural themed toys, gifts, books, optics and bird feeders & feed.
Watch our live webcams
Take a look at our live webcam from our Badger sett at Fingringhoe Wick nature reserve. The sett consists of a male and female adult, 4 juveniles and 2 cubs born January / February this year.
The best time to view the Badgers is just before dusk.
Take a look at our Swallows nesting among the wooden beams of the garage next door to our Fingringhoe Wick visitor centre.
Our Swallow webcam is currently offline, it will return again in Spring 2020.