Thursday, 10 December 2020

My take on the rarest of the rare birds recorded in Essex

 My take on the rarest of all the birds recorded in Essex

Brent Goose: Definitely not the rarest birds in Essex 😉 (note the Pale-bellied among the usual darks)

So let's start with the rarest bird ever seen in Essex!

In my eye this has to be the .......

Red-throated Thrush (A sub species of Dark-throated Thrush) 

In 1994 one was found at the Naze on 19th September and was still there on 7th October and was and is Britains only record of this sub species.


Naumann's Thrush would have to be next which was first found in a wooded footpath running behind houses in Woodford Green back in 1990 on 19th January where it remained until 9th March. 

Another first for Britain. and a bird I was lucky enough to see.

Britains second and to date only other record of Naumann's Thrush came in 1997 and was found in South Woodford on 6th March where it remained until 11th March. 


Slaty-backed Gull Yet another first for Britain way back in 2011. Seen on the landfill site at Rainham on 13th and 14th January  and in the area of Pitsea landfill and Hanningfield Reservoir until 19th February this was a mega bird for Britain. As is often the case with gulls it took a while to get accepted. I twitched it whilst "at work" and looked at it through another guys scope struggling to pick out the ID features at the time. I remember lining up against the fence looking up at the landfill site, what a delight! 

This remains the only bird of this species ever recorded in Britain although one was accepted in Ireland in 2014 


 Northern Mockingbird 1988 Horsey Island from 17th until 25th March 

Only the second ever for Britain with the first being in 1982 at Saltash in Cornwall but only for one day.


Egyptian Vulture 1868 one was shot near Peldon on 28th September and at the time and to this day remains Britains second recorded sighting of the species. The previous record being in Somerset in 1825 which of course was also shot.


Eleonora's Falcon A bird that is almost impossible to twitch seen in Maldon on 13th September 2008 being at the time Britains 6th record. We've since had another in Cornwall in 2012 and of course this years (2020) bird bringing the total records to 8 should this years be accepted.


Oriental Pratincole Again this bird was a first for Britain. (Technically second as it was seen earlier in Dunwich!)

Until 1981 we had never recorded this species in Britain let alone Essex.

One was seen on 22nd June at Dunwich in Suffolk where it remained until 8th July after which it was lost until 2nd August when it turned up at Old Hall Marshes RSPB in Essex where it remained until 11th October.

To date we have nine British records relating to no more than five or six individual birds and it remains right up there on my want to see list.


White-tailed Lapwing  On the 7th July 2010 one was found at Rainham Marshes which falls both in Essex and the LNHS recording area for London so was a real crowd pleaser. I was among the crowd in my first year back in the game after giving up the hobby to focus on the upbringing of my two boys. 

This is officially one of only ten records for Britain which relate to just six individual birds with the Rainham bird also being reported in Kent, Gloucestershire and Lancashire.

It was first reported in Lancashire on 27th May and the last sighting was at Dungeness in Kent on 21st July.


Least Tern  probably deserves to be higher up this list. Between 8th May 1983 and 12th July 1992 a single bird spent each and every summer at Rye Harbour. It wasn't seen or heard anywhere else until it was spotted at Colne Point in Essex between 29th July and 1st August 1991.

So although there are eleven records for Britain they all relate to a single bird which was only recorded outside of East Sussex once and that once happened to be Essex. It is a true rarity and the evidence suggests we have only ever had the one bird visit these shore but I suppose it did visit us for a decade.


Greater-spotted Eagle 1891 one was caught alive in Emlstead on 29th October and later that same year another was shot at Leigh-on-sea on 3rd November.  The third Essex record was in 1908 where an immature male was seen around Battlesbridge between 10th and 13th April before being shot in Downham on 14th April.

There have only been thirteen records for Britain Essex holds three of these records.


White-throated Needletail was at the time another first for Britain back in 1846 when it was shot at Great Horkesley on 8th July after two previous days of sightings from 6th. This bird is now in the Chelmsford Museum.

Since this record there have been another twelve sightings in Britain but not a single one of them in Essex.


Asian Desert Warbler When one was found at Frinton-on -sea on 20th November 1975 it was only the second record ever for Britain. it remained until 21st November only. Since then there have been another eleven records including the 2020 bird.

Thirteen records ever so again a true rarity and one that has graced our county.


Western Sandpiper   Back in 1973 one was found at Rainham Marshes on 21st July which remained through 23rd.

At the time this was only the third record for Britain and it remains a very rare vagrant with only fourteen accepted records none other than the above have occurred in Essex.


Trumpeter Finch 21st September 1975 Foulness Island

Just seventeen records dating back to 1971 with the Essex bird being only the sixth ever seen in Britain.


Lesser Kestrel 1974 saw our one and only record of this species in Essex when an adult male spent four days at Rainham Marshes between 31st July and 3rd August.

A species that has only 22 British records altogether.


Baltimore Oriole    1991 at Westcliffe between 2nd December and 24th March 1992

It remains one of only 26 records for Britain and Ireland


This is my take on the best of the rares on the Essex list, you may have other ideas.

The rarest bird on my Essex list is the Naumann's thrush 

I also saw the Lapwing and the Slaty at Rainham although I've not added the Slaty to MY list yet.

My Essex list total is a very modest 264 whilst I think the all time Essex list is 390 as we sit here now in 2020 unless I've missed anything please let me know if you have a different total.

As you can see I've missed a few too....I'll do a separate post on those as there are 126 of them. 

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