ESSEX sites and rarities

I thought a page dedicated to my home county and the fabulous nature reserves and birding sites within it would be worthwhile.

I have decided to list links here to the main birding sites/reserves.


Wallasea Island
Bowers Marsh
Cattawade Marshes
Old Hall Marshes
South Essex Wildlife Garden
Stour Estuary
Vange Marshes
West Canvey Marsh
Rainham Marshes


Abberton reservoir
Bedfords Park
Belfairs Woodland
Chafford Gorges
Fingringhoe Wick
Hanningfield Reservoir
Thurrock Thameside
Abbotts Hall Farm
Chigborough Lakes

Other sites

Wat Tyler Country Park
Noak Bridge Nature reserve
Norsey Wood
Mill Meadows
Coalhouse Fort
Connaught Water
Epping Forest
Fishers Green 

National Nature reserves

Leigh & Two Tree Island
The Blackwater Estuary
Colne Estuary
Hales Wood
Hamford Water
Hatfield Forest


Holland Haven
Belhus Woods
Cudmore Grove

Hope the links are useful.

I'm sure there are lot's more so if you have a local hotspot for birding that isn't covered please drop me a message with details.


I've put together the list below of rarities recorded in Essex
Very interesting to review and see the early records all seem to be by way of collecting dead birds shot in the field many of which are now in Essex museums where as todays records are more often than not supported by photographs instead of handing in the dead bird to get it recorded.

Some interesting records:

Britains first accepted record of Thayers Gull on Pitsea tip photographed in November 2010 but not accepted until September 2015.

Britains one and only Red-throated Thrush at The Naze in 1994 (which was a little before my real interest)

Both of Britains Naumann's Thrush records back in the 90's at Woodford Green and South Woodford
(I did get this one on the way to work in Chingford!)

Essex's only  American Bittern, Egyptian Vulture, White-throated Needletail, White's Thrush and
Two-barred Crossbill all fell victim to the Gun. Whilst Tengmalm's Owl and Alpine Accentor are listed as "killed". (whatever that means)
Greater Spotted Eagle is recorded in Essex with the first bird being listed as "caught alive" and both other records being shot although the latter made it into Suffolk before meeting it's demise.

I think the last rarity shot in Essex goes to the Red-breasted Goose in 1970 so we still have a few things to learn yet.

Anyway take a look at the list.......and I'm sure there will be a few additions since I put it together (Black-winged Stilt Bowyers Marsh to name one) but take it on face value please it's just for my personal reflection but maybe you'll find parts of it interesting too.


  1. Hello,
    I've tried to contact Martin Davison, but to no avail. Together with Heimo Mikkola we are studying the daylight calling of Tawny Owls. A fairly common event in some parts of Essex, as you may know. I also live in Essex, just outside of Colchester.
    What we would like to now is if this is a piece of behaviour that you have recorded in the Kielder? Here I am talking about males hooting and not females kewicking. These are birds that are calling in the middle of the day, and not near dawn or dusk.
    Any information, positive or negative, will be appreciated.
    Kind regards,
    Jeff Martin

  2. Only day calling Tawny I've had was in Norfolk where a male called at midday otherwise mostly heard at dawn for me.

  3. Hi there.

    I live in Stanford-Le-Hope.My "local patch" is Fobbing Marsh".It's little watched,and I'm one of only 2 or 3 who regularly bird-watch there.Despite this,it's one of the best places in the south of the county for birds,and probably one of the best in Essex.

    I see a Richard's Pipit there on the May.Today I see Hobby,Marsh Harrier and heard Bearded Tit along the manorway reed bed,which is quite good for an ordinary day bird watching.I see Bearded Tits on the nearby Manorway Fleet at Coryton in March.

    Thank you.

  4. Hi there.

    The last Essex Roller at Beumont,is near Harwich,not Clacton.Nearly forty years ago though,that's a long time ago.Prehaps we're due for another soon.....?

  5. That'd be nice! least the last one faired better than the first one
    note the Harwich/Clacton bit too, thanks.

  6. Yes......nice to see two on there I see,the Cream-coloured Courser in 1984 and Essex's first Blue-winged Teal in 1989.

  7. I can only claim Naumann's Thrush and White-Tailed Lapwing from the firsts but I do have a few of the later birds too.
    Found it very interesting....especially looking at how many got shot in days gone by.

  8. Yes well it's the only way you could get them into the record books in those days.I noticed the Pacific Golden Plover that was shot not far from where I live,at Shellhaven in 1896,near my local patch at Fobbing Marsh and Coryton.That bird wround-up in Brighton Museum so far as I know.

    A Glossy Ibis was also shot at Fobbing Creek in 1920.I'd like to know more about this one.

  9. Read about the Black-winged Stilts nesting at Cliffe.I wondered why they were there so long.

    It's very near to where I live just across the river.....I wonder where the'll turn up when they get their first set of feathers!

  10. We recently moved to Essex and walk our dog along the coast at Haven Country park every morning. We see some beautiful birds but are only able to identify the 'common and garden' varieties. Can you give some suggestions for what our 2 current favourites are - firstly one that looks like a member of the tit family, is marked like a coal tit but the colours are chocolates not greys, usually in the grasses and secondly a partridge sized and shaped black and white bird that is always on the beach or rocks in groups of about 3.
    Think my birthday list might contain binoculars this year!
    Thanks Lynne

  11. not sure to be honest Reed Bunting, Bearded Tit? maybe the black and white guys are Oystercatchers?
    Get some bins and an ID'll bring a new dimension to your walks and you do get some great birds along that coast too.