Langdon Meadows, Basildon
Langdon Meadows make up the largest inland nature reserve owned by Essex Wildlife Trust. Lying within Willow Park at Langdon Meadows is Rough Piece; rich in wild flowers and invertebrates, it is surrounded by ancient and semi ancient woodland and has great views down towards Southend. Marbled whites, small heath butterflies are in abundance flitting amongst plants like green-winged and common-spotted orchids and ragged robin. In recent years several southern marsh orchids have also been found in this picturesque meadow.
Rough piece is managed in a traditional way with a hay cut in late summer and aftermath grazing in the autumn and winter. The meadow has recently been fenced using timber from other Essex Wildlife Trust reserves.
"Thanks to traditional management of cutting hay in late summer and then grazing, Rough Piece meadow is a wonderful, species-rich grassland. It is a sea of colour through the year and home to many insects and beautiful butterflies"
- Jonathan Wisbey, Warden, Essex Wildlife Trust Langdon Nature Reserve
Species to spot
Best time to see: May
The jester-like motley of its green and purple flowers gives this orchid its scientific name: morio, meaning 'fool'. It can sometimes be confused with the early-purple orchid but does not have spots on its leaves.
Southern marsh orchid
Best time to see: June - July
Also known as the 'leopard marsh orchid', this wild flower is fairly common in mainland Europe but - apart from local areas of southern England - less so over here. Image © Plantlife
Marbled white butterfly
Best time to see: June - Aug.
A distinctive medium-sized white butterfly, with black-chequered markings, often be found feeding on purple flowers such as common knapweed. The caterpillars feed on grasses. Image © Adam Hincks/CC BY_SA
"The site was part of Basildon Commision New Town but never was developed. Some part of the site were plotlands - i.e. people bought plots and then housing developed. But the plots did not have sanitation or water supply, so the Commission compulsory purchased the plotland to make way for Basildon New Town."
- Neil Bedford, Essex Wildlife trust