Essex is a large county with a great variety of habitats, from the mud flats & sea-watching of the north Thames, many scattered woodlands, an area of chalk-land in the extreme north west, large reservoirs, coastal salt-marsh & last, but not least, vast arable fields that, surprisingly in some areas, still support large numbers of Corn Buntings.
Essex is heavily populated; this means that a lot of public areas are intensively used by the public, which means early mornings are quite commonplace on Essex birders days in the field.
There are many excellent local nature reserves (see below); which cater for a good range of birds & general wildlife.
Estuaries, Salt Marsh & Grazing Marshes - Essex is a county with many good examples of this sort of habitat, having as it does an indented & eroded coastline. Places worth a visit are the Blackwater estuary and Stour estuary including: Tollesbury Wick, Old Hall Marshes RSPB, Copperas Bay RSPB Reserve, Hamford Water, Rainham Marsh, Aveley Bay, Havengore Creek, Reeveshall Marsh, and Fingringhoe Wick.
Farmland, Lakes & Woodland - Farmland in Essex is very intense but some areas still hold good numbers of Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer etc. Good areas are the Dengie peninsular, which runs north south from Bradwell in the north to Holliwell point in the south. It is short on both woodland and lakes but there are some good examples, such as: Amwell Lakes, Berwick Ponds, Connaught Water, Dagenham Chase, Danbury Lakes CP, Gunners Park, and Hainault Forest.
Reservoirs - There are many good reservoirs to choose from each with their own character, including: Abberton and Hanningfield. The Lea Valley reservoirs are mostly permit access only & stretch from Walthamstow (G London) in the south to Hoddesdon (Hertfordshire) in the north. The best area is around Fishers Green.
Migration points - The best-known migration area has to be the Naze, which is the point of land NE of Walton-on-the-Naze. Its huge area of bushes with a scattering of Sycamores provides ideal habitat for tired migrants, but can be frustrating to try & find birds or re-find them. It has had many rarities in its time the most well attended twitch was the Red-throated Thrush the first for Britain, which stayed for some time around the outskirts of the town.
Sea-watching - The place to sea-watch in Essex is the Thames estuary, Specifically: Southend Pier and Wakering Stairs.
Smaller than Abberton but has a totally different character, it often gets sea birds for example, which Abberton does not , there are hides & a visitor centre.
Complex, which is accessed off the B194 just north of Waltham Abbey. This area is famous for it's wintering Bitterns, which show extremely well from the Bittern hide. It is also very good for Smew in the winter.
Bradwell Bird Observatory
Lies on the south shore of the Blackwater estuary by the river mouth, access from Bradwell-on-sea.
Danbury Lakes & Country Park
Hawfinch & woodland.
Good for migrants.
Excellent for wildfowl & occasional rarities, it also has the advantage of a visitor centre selling everything from food to optics. (August 2011 access restricted by construction work - check the Essex Wildlife Trust website for access details)
Area is excellent, especially in winter, but access & parking are difficult. Best access is from Walton-on-the-naze. The John Weston Nature Reserve on the Naze is a special protection area and the backwaters behind the Naze, called Hamford Water, is a National Nature Reserve and is recognised as being an internationally important wetland for birds (RAMSAR).
Thames foreshore & rough grassland recently purchased from the Army by RSPB - a grazing marsh hardly changed in centuries. The Rubbish tip is renown for attracting unusual gulls.
River Thames & marshy fields.
Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve
An Essex Wildlife trust reserve & is excellent for a wide range of species. In spring it is probably the best place in the country to see Nightingales sitting in the open in full song. Up to 40 pairs in this reserve. The Fatbirder has sat in his car in the car park here hearing 10 nightingales and seeing three or four without even breaking sweat! The reserve has salt marsh, estuary, scrub and young woodland and there is a gravel pit close to the entrance road which is excellent for swifts and hirundines.
Lake & surrounding fields.
Old Hall Marshes
…In winter, 4,000 brent geese feed on the pasture, with small flocks of ruffs and golden plovers. Thousands of wigeons, teals, shelducks, grey plovers, curlews, redshanks and dunlins frequent the marshes. Divers, grebes, goldeneyes and occasional seaducks are seen in the estuarine channels. Short-eared owls, hen harriers, barn owls and merlins regularly hunt the reserve…
Copperas Bay RSPB Reserve
access east of Mannningtree.
This is an Essex Wildlife Trust reserve.
Holland Haven lies just south of Walton-on-the-Naze & is Excellent for migrants, gardens along the seafront held a Steppe Shrike for sometime in 1996.
Seafront shelters, this is just far enough up river to funnel the birds close in before they turn around & fly back to sea, Long-tailed Skua & Sabines are regular on Easterly winds in August/September.
Wakering Stairs & The Broomway
Sea watching & migrants. The Broomway is a Byway Open to All Traffic, which means that the public is entiled to drive any kind of vehicle over it, rather than traffic being restricted to certain kinds as would be the case with a public footpath or public bridleway.
Robins, Hayhouse Road, Earls Colne, Colchester CO6 2PD
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 390
County Bird - Brent Goose Branta bernicla
The Birds of Essex
by Simon Wood - due to launch at BBF August 2007
Essex Bird Reports
Essex Bird Reports and the excellent magazine Essex Birding are produced by the Essex Birdwatching Society (EBWS) and are obtainable from the Membership Secretary. Please check their website for further details.
by Simon Wood 2007
Where To Watch Birds In East Anglia
Peter & Margaret Clarke (2002 4th Edition) Helm
See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 0713658649Buy this book from NHBS.com
Tetrad Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Essex
M K Dennis Paperback (1996) Essex Birdwatching Society
ISBN: 0902131095Buy this book from NHBS.com
Essex Wildlife Trust, 01206 738172
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
Places to Stay
A warm welcome awaits you at this converted bakery on the outskirts of a small village, overlooking open farmland and on the Essex Way. Well placed for Constable country and the historic towns of Colchester and Maldon.
Bay Trees B&B
Bay Trees is a large, comfortable chalet style bungalow, in a quiet Avenue in the Cinque Port of Brightlingsea in Essex. At Brightlingsea, which is near Fingringhoe and Abberton and within 1hr of Minsmere, we have a good selection of birds, including Little Egrets and we are a SSSI…
Essex Bird Watching Society
Members actively participate in many national surveys and projects, including the BTO Atlas projects, Wetland Bird Surveys, Common Birds Census, etc. All members and other observers are requested to send their Essex bird records to a Society Recorder. Chairman is Gerry Johnson - gerry2johnson at aol.com
Wakering & District Natural History Society
Early in 1980 John Threadgold was approached by Councillor Ernie Adcock to see if he would be willing to start up a Natural History group in the village. The answer being 'Yes', John then had to liaise with the Parish Clerk to fix up a meeting place and then get some helpers. The obvious choice for help was George Bailey who was a keen photographer and a fellow member of the South Essex Natural History Society…
RSPB Southend-on-Sea Members Group
I particularly like the pages introducing birdwatching to the novice… The keys to success in bird watching are stealth, patience and quietness - in short, the ability to make yourself as inconspicuous as possible. Some birds, of course, are more easily alarmed than others: birds in towns, for instance, are generally much easier to come close to than their counterparts in the country, simply because they are more used to the presence of human beings. But wherever you are, remember that any sudden noise or movement - the crack of a dry branch underfoot, the unexpected raising of a hand - can easily frighten birds away. By making the best use of hedges, shrubs, shadows and other forms of cover, and by moving at a steady pace, you can frequently come close to even the shyest birds. The clothes you wear may also help to conceal you, so always choose quiet colours and make certain that your clothes are warm, well-fitting and weatherproof.
Harlow Conservation Volunteers
Harlow Conservation Volunteers (HCV) is a group of volunteers who work for nature conservation in and around Harlow - Essex. Their aim is to improve the environment for wildlife, nature conservation, and recreation, and to improve public access. All over the country conservation volunteers do practical work which makes a major contribution to our natural heritage. They manage trees, woodlands, and hedgerows; build bridges, hides, steps, and stiles; and clean out streams and ponds. They work on footpaths, clearing them of vegetation and making them easy to walk along; they work mostly on nature reserves and public open spaces, but occasionally on privately owned land. The work done depends on the time of year, but has included coppicing, tree planting, hedge-laying, scrub control, wild flower planting, constructing boardwalks, and even charcoal making.
Essex Wildlife Trust
We manage 93 nature reserves covering 7,700 acres of land. We give advice on wildlife problems and campaign on wildlife issues. We run five visitor centres that welcome 200,000 visitors per year. We have a membership of over 16,000 that is growing fast. Our members are the backbone of the Trust, funding its activities, providing volunteers that are vital to its operation, and spreading the word to others. Without them the Trust would not be able to function and wildlife would be under even greater threat.
Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society
Welcome to the BSDNHS. We are a traditional but forward-looking Natural History Society preserving the old skills of recording and observation whilst not hesitating to move forward and embrace new technology and ideas. We pride ourselves on being a Society and social interaction at our meetings is an important part of our philosophy. You would be very welcome to join us at any of our planned programme events and visits as outlined below.…
East London Birders Forum
Mike Dent started the ELBF in August 1997 as a forum for local birders to network more easily and to accumulate data on the local avifauna while promoting the importance and enjoyment of local patch birding. Things have changed over the last 18 years and we have moved with the times from initially meeting once a month in a pub in Chingford to the creation of our website and now inevitably embracing Facebook.
Wildlife Gateway has been created by the Wildlife Trusts in Thames Gateway as part of their commitment to high quality regeneration which delivers for people and wildlife…
Holland Haven Birding Group
The Holland Haven Birding Group recording area generally lies in north east Essex between the furthest most north east residential area of Holland on Sea and the seaside town of Frinton-on-Sea. Historically known as ''Holland Gap'' this undeveloped area is bordered to the south east by the sea, to the west by the B1032 and to the north west by a low ridge running from the village of Great Holland to Great Holland Hall. Contained within the recording area is a diverse range of habitats including a council maintained country park complete with scrape, Frinton Golf Course, grazing marsh, arable fields, a small sewage farm, paddocks, modest reed beds and fringes as well as scattered bushes and a small woodland all of which are transected by Holland Brook and associated feeder ditches which release fresh water to the sea via a sluice…
The Greater Thames Marshes Nature Improvement Areas
Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) were nationally launched in April 2012. The Greater Thames Marshes NIA has been awarded £571,875 funding over 3 years…
Bradwell Bird Observatory
The reserve is run jointly by Essex Wildlife Trust and the Essex Birdwatching Society. The latter also operates Bradwell Bird Observatory, situated in the grounds of Linnett's Cottage on the edge of the reserve…
Essex Wildlife Trust - Cranham Marsh Reserve
The reason is that Cranham Marsh is home to wildlife that is so rare or so threatened that it has been listed for national action: animals like the water vole - Ratty from Wind in the Willows - or the great crested newt, and birds like the song thrush, once common in suburban gardens but now worryingly scarce are cause for concern.
Lee Valley Park
Covering a thousand acres on either side of the River Lee between Waltham Abbey (Essex) and Broxbourne (Herts) River Lee Country Park is a unique patchwork of lakes, waterways, green open spaces and countryside areas all linked together by paths, walkways and cycle tracks. The River Lee Country Park abounds with wildlife throughout the year and is the perfect venue for informal, outdoor recreation.
List of reserves etc…
RSPB - Stour Estuary
At the Stour Estuary reserve you can enjoy both strolling through a coppiced wood and watching wading birds, ducks and geese on the estuary…
Wildlife Sites at Water Company Property
Abberton reservoir has become an important site for migrating birds from north west Europe and Asia. The visitor centre offers excellent facilities including educational displays and a viewing room for bird watching. Bird hides built around the reservoir also provide good views…
A number of pages about reserves in Essex from Essex Wildlife Trust…
RSPB - Rainham Marsh
One of very few ancient landscapes remaining in London, these medieval marshes right next to the River Thames were closed to the public for over 100 years and used as a military firing range. We managed to acquire the site in 2000 and set about transforming it into an important place for nature and a great place for people to visit. Now you can expect to see breeding wading birds in spring and summer, and large flocks of wild ducks in winter.
Essex Wildlife Trust - Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve
Essex Wildlife Trust's first nature reserve and visitor centre, set in a spectacular position overlooking the Colne Estuary, even on the dullest of days the views are fantastic. It offers the visitor real peace and quiet and a chance to escape from it all. A wide range of habitats are on view here, including grassland, heathland and ponds.
RSPB - Old Hall Marshes
In winter, 4,000 Brent geese feed on the pasture, with small flocks of ruffs and golden plovers. Thousands of wigeons, teals, shelducks, grey plovers, curlews, redshanks and dunlins frequent the marshes. Divers, grebes, goldeneyes and occasional sea ducks are seen in the estuarine channels. Short-eared owls, hen harriers, barn owls and merlins regularly hunt the reserve.
Essex Wildlife Trust - Bradwell Shell Bank Nature Reserve
Bradwell Cockle Spit on the Dengie Peninsular consists of some 30 acres of shell bank together with extensive saltmarsh. The spit has been built up by tidal currents and is mainly cockle and oyster shells.
Essex Wildlife Trust - John Weston Nature Reserve
This 9 acre reserve lies within the Naze public open space. It consists of Blackthorn and bramble thickets, rough grassland and four ponds or 'scrapes', three of them excavated since the reserve was established.
Essex Wildlife Trust - Hanningfield Reservoir
Providing panoramic views over the 870 acre reservoir. The visitor centre is set in mature woodland and has proved a popular bat roost, with a beautiful carpet of Bluebells in the spring.
Essex Wildlife Trust - Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve
This 600 acre site is a rare example of an Essex fresh water grazing marsh, worked for decades by traditional methods sympathetic to wildlife. Tollesbury Wick is home to Essex Wildlife Trusts flying flock of sheep. You should be be able to see Marsh Harriers at most times of the year.
David has always loved birding and spending time outdoors. I enjoy the odd twitch and birding holiday but generally I'm happy to let him get on with it while I spend time crafting at home…
Birders Playground – Steve Arlow
BLOG, trip reports. Photos and more - I've now been birding for 25+ years on a predominantly local patch bias. This area is the south Essex region around Southend-on-Sea, which includes a number of different locations and habitats. It must be said that despite being on the coast it is severely over shadowed by other far better birding counties that bookend it, namely Suffolk and Kent. Even north Essex has better birding by a long way. That said perseverance over the years has brought the birders of Southend a number of decent birds…
Dave Morrison - Dave Mo Birding
…welcome to my blog. I Have been birding around the Hornchurch and Rainham area for 20 years now and enjoy local patch birding.I also enjoy birds of prey,and have travelled abroad to watch and photograph them…
Wildlife photography concentrating on UK birds…
Lee's Local Birding
The Learner Birder – Lee's Birding – Local Birding - I started birding a local patch known as Rainham Marshes back in October 2010 (so in birding terms i am still learning and have a long way to go). My skills as a birder have increased massively and i have found an interest in bird calls within birding…
Welcome to my birdwatching blog. This blog will contain stories about my bird watching trips, interesting bird news and other tales that may or may not be bird related. I want to make it useful to the avid birder as well as those who may only have a passing interest in bird watching. I enjoy photographing bird life, common and rare through a spotting scope, not that they always sit still long enough for me. Being on the outskirts of North East London, my reports will not only cover my local patch of Redbridge/Waltham Forest, but also dip into deepest Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Norfolk…
Welcome to my blog. I am Hawky, 37 year old local birder to mainly Rainham marshes RSPB and Barking Bay most recently, with occasional filthy twitches further away, have been birding over 25 years now and am interested in all natural history and can't wait for my young son Jack to follow in my footsteps…
Hadden's Nature & Birding Blog
I am a 16 year-old birder and Wildlife photographer from Chelmsford, Essex. I enjoy many aspects of birding but certain things interest me more: Identification, zoology, ornithology, world bird listing, rarity finding, surveying, distribution, ecology and (Very rarely) Local twitching…
Brian’s Birding Blog
A record of my 2012 chase to see 250 UK species…
Jim's Birding Blog
A diary of birds and birding trips…
Jim Anderson - Tick 'N' Go Birding
After three years going here there and every where and about sixteen dips the target bird for myself and the boys a Hoopoe….
A Collective of Birders covering the Ingrebounre Valley, Essex, UK
Alan Shearman - The Roving Bumbarrel
Blog mainly about birding in Essex...
Adrian Kettle's Homepages
Still under construction…
Birdline East Anglia
Birdline East Anglia What's about? Simply phone 09068 700245 Please report your bird sightings to phone/text 07941333970 or e firstname.lastname@example.org - Calls to 09068 700245 cost 60p/min from a BT landline other networks may vary…
The Bird Table
The Bird Table is a site dedicated to the care of birds in the wild. Please feel free to browse our Online Shop, featuring our Bird Table range of quality wild bird food, plus lots of handy advice on feeding and caring for wild birds. We also stock a large range of carefully selected treats, feeders, nest boxes and bird tables. Our specially commissioned artist has created a collection of unique drawings, displayed throughout the site and in The Gallery.
Photographers & Artists
Photographer - Ian Rose
Photos of British Birds, mostly taken in Essex and Herts…
Photographer - Richard Chew
I am an amateur photographer and my principal interest is the wildlife and landscapes of the UK. My website includes a selection of photos that I have taken over the last 12 years or so in England, Wales and the Scottish Highlands and Islands. I have also included details of the equipment that I use and some of my own personal photography tips which I feel have contributed to my development as a photographer.
Photographer - Peter Mann - Manny's Wildlife
Mainly common birds of the UK including the odd deer…
Photographer - Margaret Welby
I have been taking wildlife images since the late 1980s and my work has been published in many publications and books. I have also been Highly Commended in the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition…
Photographer - Thomas Harris - Tom's Photography
This website has most of my best photos that I have taken around Essex and the UK. The pictures here were taken using a hand-held Canon 1000D or my newer Canon 600D and a 75-300mm or 150-500mm lens. Images are updated frequently….