Large expanses of grassland are a key feature of Gunpowder Park, bounded by hedgerows and farmland. Osier Marsh Wood consists of wet willow and birch woodland, which has naturally regenerated on in-filled gravel pits.
The meadows of Gunpowder Park are used by Skylark and Meadow Pipit as nesting sites in the summer months. Listen out for the Skylark as it performs its distinctive song flight over the meadows.
Wildflowers in the grasslands provide an excellent nectar source for insects. In the summer look out for a variety of butterflies including Common Blue and Holly Blue as well as Essex, Small and Large Skipper.
Black Ditch flows along the site’s northern edge and is home to a population of Water Vole. In the warmer evenings look along this ditch and watch as Daubenton Bats feed low over the water. This is one of six species of bat on Gunpowder Park; others include the regionally rare Nathusius Pipistrelle.
A boardwalk leads you through the wet woodland of Osier Marsh where Woodcock, wintering thrushes and large mixed flocks of tits and finches can be seen. The secluded pools provide the perfect habitat for wintering Teal which can be seen from the viewing screens.
Gunpowder Park is also good for migrants passing through Lee valley. Look out for Whinchat, Stonechat and Wheatear over the arable fields and meadows.
There’s car parking and toilets at the park centre and pedestrian access points on all sides. A network of accessible surfaced paths and boardwalks pass through the site.
Sewardstone Marsh includes the permanent standing water of Knights Pits and the wet grassland of Patty Pool Mead.
The former gravel pits of Knights Pits were in-filled with water and are excellent for dragonflies including the Small Red-eyed Damselfly, a relatively new species within the park. Woodland surrounding the pits is home to a variety of birds including Great Spotted Woodpecker and Sparrowhawk. Long-eared Owl have recently used this area in winter months, although they can be very difficult to spot. In summer Nightingale can be heard and occasionally seen in the dense scrub, listen out for their melodic song.
Hobby can be seen hunting over the grassland and along the woodland edge. In winter the wet grassland of Patty Pool Mead is a good place to see Snipe which feed in the damp grassland. Water Vole can be found in the ditches that cross Sewardstone Marsh and scrub clearance has taken place to improve the habitat for this endangered mammal.
Sewardstone Marsh has pedestrian entry points and a network of surfaced paths run throughout the site. The closest car park is at Gunpowder Park.
This area of rough grassland is intersected by a ditch that runs from the Small River Lee to a seasonal pool adjacent to the Lee Navigation.
From May to June a magnificent colony of Bee Orchid form a large stand amongst the longer grass on the raised ground to the north of the site. The ditch and pools support Water Vole and Grass Snake.
There is a small car park. There’s pedestrian access from the Lee Navigation Towpath. The grass paths can get muddy in wet weather.