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 twitching/listing interest)

Both of Britains Naumann's Thrush records back in the 90's at Woodford Green and South Woodford
and both I believe in the Essex recording area. (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,as opposed to shot)
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

Anyway take a look at the list, but take it on face value please it's just for my personal reflection but maybe you'll find parts of it interesting too.

Update from 2012 to 2018.........

2013 saw the third Black-bellied Dipper which I seem to have missed above. 1st recorded in 1950 before another record in 1964 then the Liston bird of 2013.

2013 also saw the 13th Lesser Yellowlegs with a bird at West Canvey Marsh on 17th September.
19th Black-winged Stilt with a bird at Limbourne Creek on 6th May

2014 saw a Snowy Owl from East Tilbury on 24th March
The 20th Black-winged Stilts with a pair between Bowers Marsh and Old Hall Marshes 
between 11th and 17th April
A Blyth's Reed Warbler in Writtle on 24th May was the counties second record.

2015 saw more Black-winged Stilts this time at Old Hall Marsh along with the following.
6th Wilson Phalarope at Vange Marsh between 20th Sept and 3rd Oct.
7th Caspian Tern at Holland Haven on 1st August
10th Black Stork at Clacton-on-sea on 28th August
13th Red-breasted Goose on 30th Sept. at Frinton-on-sea.
The year also saw 
American White Ibis added to the Cat E Essex list with a bird at Holland Haven on 12th May

saw a new addition to the Essex list with the Dark-eyed Junco on West Mersea and the following additional records...
A Red-breasted Goose moved between Deal Hall and Foulness from 13th Jan until 6th Feb
2nd ever Isabelline Shrike at the Hythe on 27th Oct but moved off on 28th
The 4th ever Franklin's Gull for Essex was seen at Abberton between 9th and 16th May
The counties 6th Forsters Tern was on the River Stour between 19th and 20th November
14th and 15th Lesser Yellowlegs for the county with two different birds being seen in the year.
The first a 2CY bird at Vange Marsh between 22nd Aug and 4th Sep and the other bird a 1CY and seen at Hythe Marsh between 18th Sept. and 4th Oct.
Black-winged Stilts were seen and are now pretty much expected annually and as such have been  removed from the rarities list in 2017.

A Lesser White-fronted Goose 18th Dec. at Foulness Island  which stayed into 2017 was the counties second record of this species. (Excluding the Cat E bird in 1977)

Lesser White-fronted Goose the overwintering bird departed Foulness Island on 26th Feb.
Bonaparte's Gull at Abberton from 22nd April until 2nd May
Laughing Gull at Rainham on 9th May

Marsh Sandpiper               27th - 29th July at Rainham Marsh
Bonaparte's Gull               1st July Creekmouth NR
Ferruginous Duck             3rd March at Leez Reservoir and another 4th Aug - 1st Oct. at Abberton

I'll try to put this all together again at some point to make for an easier read.


  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.

  12. Hi there.Ive been covering the Dovercourt patch since 1978.had King Eider back in the early 80s.Black winged Stilt,Lesser Kestrel last year and Black Stork end of June this year.totalfor patch so far is 250.

  13. i live in bicknare near to danbury common, i and my friends have not seen any swallowsor swifts, is there a reason for this? many thanks

    1. No it seems to be a decent year for both, maybe visit a local of water I'm sure your'll see plenty there. For sure my local Swifts are very active at the moment.