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England Essex

Little Owl Athene noctua ©Nigel Blake Website

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.

Top Sites

**Latest Sightings

Sightings

*See places other birders go Birding...

WebBirder Hot Spots

Abberton Reservoir

Webpage

Satellite View

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)

Amwell Lakes

Webpage

Satellite View

Good for Smew.

Aveley Bay

Satellite View

River Thames & marshy fields.

Berwick Ponds

Satellite View

Reedy ponds.

Bradwell Bird Observatory

Satellite View

Lies on the south shore of the Blackwater estuary by the river mouth, access from Bradwell-on-sea.

Canvey Island

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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.

Connaught Water

Information

Satellite View

Good for Mandarin & woodland species.

Copperas Bay RSPB Reserve

Satellite View

access east of Mannningtree.

Copperas Wood

Satellite View

This is an Essex Wildlife Trust reserve.

Dagenham Chase

Satellite View

Lake & surrounding fields.

Danbury Lakes & Country Park

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Hawfinch & woodland.

Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve

Website

Satellite View

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.

Fishers Green

Satellite View

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.

Gunners Park

Satellite View

Good for migrants.

Hainault Forest

Website

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Typical woodland species.

Hamford Water

Information

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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).

Hanningfield Reservoir

Website

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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.

Havengore Creek

Satellite View

Holland-On-Sea

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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.

Old Hall Marshes

Webpage

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…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…

Rainham Marsh

Webpage

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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.

Reeveshall Marsh

Satellite View

Southend Pier

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Sea Watching.

Tollesbury Wick

Webpage

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Open access is from the village of Tollesbury.

Wakering Stairs & The Broomway

Website

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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.

Contributor

County Recorder

Michael Tracy

Robins, Hayhouse Road, Earls Colne, Colchester CO6 2PD

07500 866335

micktrac@aol.com

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 390

County Bird - Brent Goose Branta bernicla

Checklist

Checklist

WebBirder Checklist

Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder

Useful Reading

Essex Avifauna

by Simon Wood 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.

Tetrad Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Essex

M K Dennis Paperback (1996) Essex Birdwatching Society

ISBN: 0902131095

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Birds of Essex

by Simon Wood - due to launch at BBF August 2007

Where To Watch Birds In East Anglia

Peter & Margaret Clarke (2002 4th Edition) Helm
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 0713658649

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

Abberton Reservoir

Essex Wildlife Trust, 01206 738172

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Trip Reports

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

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

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Bay Trees B&B

Accommodation

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…

Old Bakery

Accommodation

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.

Organisations

Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society

Website

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

Website

ELBF was set up in August 1997 as a forum for local birders to network more easily and to accumulate data on the local avifauna and most importantly to promote the importance of local patch birding. Meetings: On the 2nd Tuesday in every month at 8pm. Upstairs in the County Arms, Hale End Road, Highams Park, E4.

Essex Wildlife Trust

Website

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.

Essex Bird Watching Society

Website

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

Harlow Conservation Volunteers

Website

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.

Holland Haven Birding Group

Website

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…

RSPB Southend-on-Sea Members Group

Website

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.

The Greater Thames Marshes Nature Improvement Areas

Website

Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) were nationally launched in April 2012. The Greater Thames Marshes NIA has been awarded £571,875 funding over 3 years…

Wakering & District Natural History Society

Facebook Page

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…

Wildlife Gateway

Website

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…

Observatories

Bradwell Bird Observatory

Satellite View

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…

Reserves

Essex Reserves

Website

A number of pages about reserves in Essex from Essex Wildlife Trust…

Essex Wildlife Trust - Bradwell Shell Bank Nature Reserve

Webpage

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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 - Cranham Marsh Reserve

Webpage

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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.

Essex Wildlife Trust - Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve

Webpage

Satellite View

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.

Essex Wildlife Trust - Hanningfield Reservoir

Webpage

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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 - John Weston Nature Reserve

Webpage

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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 - Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve

Webpage

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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.

Lee Valley Park

Website

Satellite View

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.

Nature Net

Website

List of reserves etc…

RSPB - Old Hall Marshes

Webpage

Satellite View

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.

RSPB - Rainham Marsh

Webpage

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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.

RSPB - Stour Estuary

Webpage

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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

Website

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…

Blogs

Alan Shearman - The Roving Bumbarrel

BLOG

Blog mainly about birding in Essex...

Birders Playground – Steve Arlow

Blog

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…

Birding Braunie

Boat Trips

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…

Bradders Birding

Blog

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…

Brian’s Birding Blog

Blog

A record of my 2012 chase to see 250 UK species…

Chris Jones

Blog

Wildlife photography concentrating on UK birds…

Dave Morrison - Dave Mo Birding

Blog

…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…

Hadden's Nature & Birding Blog

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…

Hawkys Blog

BLOG

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…

Ingrebourne Birders

Blog

A Collective of Birders covering the Ingrebounre Valley, Essex, UK

Jim Anderson - Tick 'N' Go Birding

Blog

After three years going here there and every where and about sixteen dips the target bird for myself and the boys a Hoopoe….

Jim's Birding Blog

BLOG

A diary of birds and birding trips…

Lee's Local Birding

Blog

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…

Other Links

Adrian Kettle's Homepages

Website

Still under construction…

Birdline East Anglia

Website

Birdline East Anglia What's about? Simply phone 09068 700245 Please report your bird sightings to phone/text 07941333970 or e birdnews@birdlineeastanglia.co.uk - Calls to 09068 700245 cost 60p/min from a BT landline other networks may vary…

The Bird Table

Website

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 - Dave Blackwell

Gallery

Welcome to my website I have always had a passion for wildlife but this is the first time I have been able to photograph my passion. I live on Canvey Island in Essex and all my photographs are taken in the area. I am chairman of Canvey Island Wildlife and Conservation Group and I am hoping through my photos I can help encourage the protection of our wildlife. I hope you enjoy some of my photography….

Photographer - Ian Rose

Gallery

Photos of British Birds, mostly taken in Essex and Herts…

Photographer - Margaret Welby

Gallery

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 - Peter Mann - Manny's Wildlife

Gallery

Mainly common birds of the UK including the odd deer…

Photographer - Richard Chew

Gallery

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 - Thomas Harris - Tom's Photography

Gallery

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….