As expected, the year got off to a good start with many birders eager to start their yearlists. Highlights on the 1st were a Shag at South Fambridge, two Jack Snipe and three Water Pipits at Vange Marsh, the returning adult Yellow-legged Gull at Hullbridge, a Hawfinch at Pound Wood, and three Bramblings at Stambridge. Birds remaining from December included small groups of White-fronted Geese at three sites, Black Brant and Pale-bellied Brent Goose at South Fambridge, Red-crested Pochard at Southchurch, and three Spoonbills, a Hen Harrier, and a Short-eared Owl on Wallasea. Wintering waders included a Common Sandpiper at South Fambridge, six Green Sandpipers and six Spotted Redshanks at four sites each, and four Greenshanks at three sites. There was even a Small Tortoiseshell logged on the 1st. A male Bullfinch noted at Wat Tyler CP on the 2nd and 13th were the only sightings this month of this much reduced resident. There was an influx of Guillemots into the estuary on the 3rd with 32 birds counted off the Pier along with two Razorbills. Last year’s wintering Black Redstart at Southend Business Park was reported on the 4th but despite searching it was not seen subsequently. A Glossy Ibis spent the following day on Wallasea, but disappointingly did not linger. A drake Velvet Scoter flew past Canvey on the 6th and was the only record of this species this winter. The Ring-necked Parakeets at Thorpe Bay remained around the golf course all winter with four together there on the 6th. A Red Admiral made the most of the weak sunshine on the 7th. One of the Dengie Red-breasted Geese dropped in on Wallasea on the 8th before visiting South Fambridge on the 10th, after which it spent most of the month across the Crouch on Blue House Farm and Marsh Farm. The three Twite which spent mid-December on Wallasea reappeared from the 8th until the 22nd although only two were present after the 8th. The Hawfinch at Pound Wood was joined by two more on the 9th and 10th with one remaining through to the 12th. The finch flock at Hampton Barns, Stambridge, attracted two Lesser Redpolls from the 12th through to the end of the month. With 100 Chaffinches, ten Reed Buntings and Corn Buntings, and a handful of Greenfinches, Bramblings and now two Lesser Redpolls, it made for quite a spectacle. Two Woodcock were seen on Canvey Wick on the 15th, with singles reported from a further three sites this month. A Snow Bunting was an excellent find along the Roach seawall at Barling on the 16th; it remained through to the 28th. Merlin were in short supply this month although males were seen at Bowers Marsh on the 16th and Barling on the 18th, with females reported from South Fambridge and Wallasea. A movement of Red-throated Divers into the estuary was noted mid-month when there were 60 from the 16th to the 18th, with a Little Gull also present on the latter date. Four Barnacle Geese arrived on Wallasea on the 18th and increased to six by early February. What little chance they had of being deemed truly wild was scuppered when the colour ring on one of the birds was traced back to a ringing scheme from north Norfolk in July last year. The 21st and 22nd saw some excellent birds recorded starting with a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Hockley Woods, which was totally unexpected given that the last local sighting was here in 2015. Seven White-fronted Geese on Wallasea on the 21st constituted the highest local count this month, two Jack Snipe there the same day were a good site record as was the Lapland Bunting present on the 22nd and 23rd and which was only the second local record in the last ten years. Whilst searching for the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Hockley Woods on the 22nd a male Hawfinch was found and was joined by a female from the 23rd; these were the first Hawfinch sightings in Hockley Woods, a once regular wintering site, since 2013. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker remained for only a few short days whereas the Hawfinches were seen intermittently through to early March. Also present in Hockley Woods throughout the month were up to six Nuthatches and six Treecreepers. A flock of twenty Siskins were found on the edge of Hockley Woods on the 24th where they remained for a week. Two Goosanders were photographed on Wallasea on the 26th where they stayed through to the end of February. Following a report of six Short-eared Owls along the seawall at South Fambridge on the 26th, three were found to be still present on the 27th. Although this was clearly an influx, it was very localised as none were noted at any other sites at this time. Meanwhile, up to three Long-eared Owls were present all month at a traditional roost site in the south. In a predictably quiet month for Red Kites, the only one recorded was over Coombe Wood on the 30th. Good numbers of auks were in the Thames once again on the 31st when 35 Guillemots and ten Razorbills were seen from Canvey Point.





After becoming fairly widespread last year, Raven reverted to its scarce status this year with one seen over South Fambridge on the 1st and one over Benfleet Downs on the 12th the only records this month, following none in January. The only record of Woodcock this month was the two seen at Canvey Wick on the 1st. Last month’s Goosander duo was finally pinned down on Wallasea on the 1st where they remained through to the 22nd. A sizeable flock of White-fronted Geese visited Wallasea several times this month, with the first occasion being on the 3rd; they appeared to be wintering on Foulness but made the occasional sojourn to the east end of Wallasea. The first Great Northern Diver of the year was seen intermittently from Canvey between the 1st and the 9th and was briefly joined by a second bird on the latter date. The first and only Black-throated Diver record of the first winter was an individual that drifted past Canvey on the 3rd. The 800 strong Dark-bellied Brent Goose flock did the decent thing and settled down at South Fambridge from the 4th through to early March. Within the flock, the stand out highlight was the fine Red-breasted Goose although a couple each of Black Brant and Pale-bellied Brent Goose added extra variety. Auks were still present in the Thames during the first half of the month, peaking at 15 Guillemots and four Razorbills on the 4th; they had all departed for their breeding grounds from the 15th with no more records in the first half of the year. Taking a short break from South Fambridge, the Red-breasted Goose visited Wallasea on the 5th for its second and final time this winter. The 9th saw the first of three Blackcap records this month with a male in a South Benfleet garden while Chiffchaff numbered just two this month. Pleasingly, a flock of up to 21 Yellowhammers was noted inland at South Fambridge from the 4th to the 17th; with no records from other sites this month, this has sadly become their last stronghold. A flock of ten Hawfinches was a great find in Hadleigh West Wood on the 13th. With no previous records from here, they were entirely unexpected and a sign of what can be found, as well as what probably goes undiscovered. The Hawfinches showed through to the 26th albeit in smaller numbers, and the female in Hockley Woods also put in an appearance mid-month. Canvey Point produced some sawbill action mid-month, with four Red-breasted Mergansers on the 13th and a pair of Goosanders on the 20th. The Wallasea Twite were reported again on the 14th but could not be refound despite searching. Interestingly, South Fambridge experienced another influx of Short-eared Owls on the 26th and 27th with four on the former date and an impressive seven on the latter, the joint highest ever count away from Wallasea. An early passage Brambling was a welcome visitor to feeders in a Canewdon garden on the 26th and 27th, and was surprisingly the only record all month. Towards the end of the month, both Brimstone and Peacock were on the wing, bringing the number of butterfly species up to four for the year.



MARCH 2022


A Great Northern Diver past Canvey Point on the 2nd was the only record this month and also the last of the winter. The hoped for spring arrival of Black-necked Grebes at Bowers Marsh, which has become a feature of recent years, started with one on the 2nd before being joined by a second bird from the 10th, and rising to four from the 20th onwards. A Bullfinch or two were present in Magnolia NR from the 3rd to the 11th; historically this was a regular site for this species. On the 3rd the Foulness flock of 57 White-fronted Geese visited Wallasea for the final time this winter, whilst nearby at South Fambridge the Red-breasted Goose was still to be found on the 5th. Seawatching on the 6th at Canvey produced the only Great Skua sighting in the first half of the year along with 16 Kittiwakes, the highest count during the same period. Two male Red-crested Pochards dropped in on Bowers Marsh on the 7th, whilst next day two Hawfinches at Hockley Woods were the last of a good run for this species locally. Good numbers of Short-eared Owls remained throughout the month with four still present near South Fambridge on the 10th and a single at Bowers Marsh the same day. Chiffchaffs began arriving from the 11th with Blackcaps following one week later from the 18th. A spring passage of Jack Snipe has been evident at Vange Marsh in most years recently and so it was no surprise that three were found on the 11th with at least one remaining until the 18th. The Red-breasted Goose was still favouring South Fambridge from the 12th to the 14th, it will be interesting to see if it returns next winter; meanwhile the Black Brant was also recorded here on the 13th, 19th and 20th. A small passage of Black Redstarts was discernible during the second half of the month with birds noted at Little Wakering on the 13th, Shoebury on the 20th, and Hockley on the 24th. However, all were seen only by the finders as all were in gardens. Water Pipits were recorded from Vange Marsh on two dates mid-month with two on the 14th and 18th. Garganey arrived back on the 15th with three at Bowers Marsh which remained through to the end of April. The over-wintering trio of Spoonbills on Wallasea were joined by a fourth bird on the 17th and 18th. A Hen Harrier was also seen there on the 17th, with it or another at South Fambridge on the 18th. In addition, an early Little Ringed Plover was reported from Wallasea on the 18th. Nearby at Canewdon, a light passage of Bramblings was apparent from the 18th through to the 30th with six birds passing through one garden during the period. A flock of six Lesser Redpolls at Cherry Orchard CP on the 20th were the only record this month, and the last of the winter. A Raven at Haven Point on the 20th had most likely wandered across from Foulness, likewise two at South Fambridge on the 27th were almost certainly from across the Crouch. A Great White Egret took up residence at Bowers Marsh from the 21st until the 16th April, and was occasionally joined by a second individual. In what has been a good winter locally for geese, three Tundra Bean Geese at Lower Raypits from the 23rd until the 3rd April were probably the least expected. Seeing them in the sunshine in the company of three Little Ringed Plovers and a White Wagtail on the 24th was an interesting juxtaposition. A Glossy Ibis dropped in on Wallasea on the 25th but frustratingly did not linger. The first Sandwich Terns were logged off Gunners Park on the 26th, a day that saw four Emperor Moths attracted to a South Fambridge garden. The last Hen Harrier sighting of the winter was a ringtail at Lower Raypits on the 27th. Bowers Marsh hosted a pair of Little Ringed Plovers from the 27th onwards and a typically elusive Ring Ouzel on the 28th. Wheatears were conspicuous by their absence this month with one photographed on Two Tree Island on the 29th the sole record. The month finished with two Little Gulls upriver past Canvey on the 31st, and the butterfly species count rose to six with the addition of Small White and Comma this month.



APRIL 2022


The first half of the month was largely uneventful as the anticipated summer migrants and passage migrants failed to appear.  A Black Redstart in Gunners Park on the 1st was the highlight of the first two weeks but once again, just like the previous sightings this year, it was only seen by the finder. A female Merlin at Canvey Point on the 4th was the last record this winter of this delightfully diminutive falcon. The trio of Spoonbills on Wallasea were seen together for the final time on the 6th although a single was seen on a handful of dates over the following week. Gunners Park held a White Wagtail on the 10th which transpired to be the second and final sighting of the spring. The 11th saw the first returning Whimbrels and Cuckoos with good numbers of each recorded from many sites this month. The 12th saw a noticeable arrival of Nightingales with six on Canvey Wick, swelling to nine a few days later, five at Wakering Stairs, and two singles elsewhere. The Black-necked Grebe gathering at Bowers Marsh peaked at six on the 12th, with five reported on several dates subsequently. Just seven Dark-bellied Brent Geese remained in the sunshine at South Fambridge, yet incredibly the Black Brant was still to be found with them on the 13th and 14th; two Cattle Egrets were seen flying to roost there on the 13th. A fine male Pied Flycatcher photographed on Canvey Wick on the 14th was an excellent spring record. The first of seven Wall Brown butterflies sightings this month came from Fleet Head on the 15th, and the first of two Green Hairstreaks this month was on Canvey Wick the following day. There was a welcomed arrival of Grasshopper Warblers from the 16th to the 19th with two at Bowers Marsh, one at West Canvey Marsh, and one on Two Tree Island. The fields around South Fambridge continued to attract Short-eared Owls with three still present on the 17th. Totally unexpected was the report of a Hoopoe in a garden in Southchurch on the 18th which was then photographed in another nearby garden the following day. An early Hobby, the only one of the month, was hawking near Battlesbridge on the 20th. Three Arctic Terns were off Canvey on the 22nd, three others passed over Canvey Wick on the 24th and a single was off the Point on the 1st May. With no Sandwich, Little, or Black Terns this month, it was a poor tern passage this spring. The first Small Copper of the year was seen on the 21st in Gunners Park where the next day a Black-throated Diver flew past. A Broad-bodied Chaser at South Fambridge on the 24th was particularly early; Large Red Damselfly, Hairy Dragonfly, and Common Blue Damselfly were all also seen in the latter half of the month. Two Siskins over Hawkwell on the 24th were the last of the spring. The only double-figure flock of Yellow Wagtails this month was 20 on Wallasea on the 26th, the flock also hosted a smart ‘Channel Wagtail’. Two Wheatears at Oxenham Farm on the 26th was the only multiple count this month, eight singles were also noted at several other sites. A near summer plumaged Great Northern Diver was close inshore off Gunners Park on the 27th which, when coupled with a Red-throated Diver off Canvey on the 1st and the Black-throated Diver on the 22nd, meant that all three diver species were seen this month on the Thames. A smart Black-necked Grebe was at Paglesham Lagoon on the 27th and was a good record away from Bowers Marsh. The first Swift of the year was at Vange Marsh on the 27th, with numbers of all hirundines being considerably lower than usual this month. The month closed with a report of five Cattle Egrets over Benfleet Downs on the 30th.



MAY 2022


The flock of 20 Yellow Wagtails on Wallasea held a different ‘Channel Wagtail’ on the 1st. On the 2nd, an immature Little Gull was found on the flood at West Canvey Marsh where surprisingly it stayed for almost the entire month. The Black-necked Grebes at Bowers Marsh reached an even higher peak this month, with seven present on the 3rd and 9th reducing to four by the month’s end. It was with some relief to have Turtle Doves back at Wakering Stairs from the 3rd; they continue to maintain a precarious foothold here with up to four present mid-month. Pleasingly, one or two birds were also noted at three other sites this month although all were likely to have been passage birds. A Long-eared Owl in the east afforded good views most evenings from the 4th onwards. An Osprey on Wallasea on the 8th and 9th predictably spent much of its time sat on a post; two Wheatears there on the 8th was the only multiple count this month, with four singles noted elsewhere in the first half of the month. A Glossy Ibis on Wallasea on the 9th once again eluded most of the locals as it promptly departed overnight just like the previous two records this year. A Great White Egret was present at South Fambridge on the 12th and 13th where an Osprey was also present on the latter date. A female Whinchat was present along the Roach near Stambridge on the 13th, the same day that up to three Spotted Flycatchers arrived on Canvey Wick. Three Black-winged Stilts spent the day on Vange Marsh, but as is often the way, they remained unsettled and were gone the following morning. A count of 17 Wall Brown butterflies at Wakering Stairs on the 14th was notable; smaller numbers were seen at six other sites this month. Meanwhile, the first Painted Lady of the year was recorded on the 18th in Gunners Park and a further 12 were seen at several other coastal sites over the next few days including six on Wallasea. The female Red-crested Pochard in Southchurch, which proved popular at the start of the winter, was reportedly back again on the 18th. Two Spoonbills were new in at Bowers Marsh on the 19th, with another two visiting Wallasea on the 23rd. Surprise of the month, although not entirely unexpected, was the return of the wintering Black Guillemot, now in summer plumage, off Gunners Park again on the 20th and 21st. A single Black-winged Stilt visited Wallasea on the 21st, however much like the previous week’s trio it was not present the following day. A Little Tern off Gunners Park on the 21st was the first of the year and the only sighting all month. A female Goldeneye which unusually had wintered on the shallow flood at Bowers Marsh extended her stay through to the 26th. In what looks to be a good year for Long-eared Owls, two were seen hunting in the south-west on the 28th. Remarkably, another Hoopoe was seen and photographed on the 28th when one was seen from the seawall at Wakering Stairs. By the 29th, the first Heath Fritillaries of the year had emerged with 11 counted in Hockley Woods.



JUNE 2022


A Red Kite around Benfleet on the 2nd was unsurprisingly the only record this month. Long-eared Owls continued to be reported from four sites throughout the month, with juveniles seen at three. One or two Little Terns were present off Gunners Park on the 6th and 10th, with the month’s only Black Tern also there on the 7th. Last month’s summer plumaged Black Guillemot was also reported from Gunners Park again on the 9th. The Heath Fritillaries in Hockley Woods reportedly peaked at an impressive 200 on the 10th. A male Scarce Chaser was an excellent find at Doggetts Pits on the 14th, and was either the first or second ever local record; it was seen through to the 20th, and remarkably, another male was also seen there on the 17th. The warm evenings saw seven Noctule Bats over Belton Hills on the 14th whilst the warm daytime temperatures encouraged an influx of Hummingbird Hawkmoths which lasted through to the end of the autumn. It was pleasing to confirm successful breeding of Grey Wagtails locally with a pair of adults feeding two young along the Prittle Brook on the 15th. The last Green Hairstreak of the year was on Benfleet Downs on the 15th where several White-letter Hairstreaks were also present. The 18th produced some interesting records; a Roseate Tern and a Razorbill past Canvey, two reeling Grasshopper Warblers at Bowers Marsh, two Cattle Egrets from the marina at Wat Tyler CP, the first two White Admirals of the summer at Belfairs NR, and a Southern Emerald Damselfly along Canvey Way. The following day, in addition to the lingering Southern Emerald Damselfly, Canvey Way also played host to a Common Emerald and 25 Scarce Emeralds. A fine summer plumaged Spotted Redshank at Vange Marsh on the 19th and a Green Sandpiper at Bowers Marsh on the 23rd signalled the start of the return wader passage. A Ring-necked Parakeet at Rayleigh Mount on the 25th was the first record away from Thorpe Bay this year. The first Silver-washed Fritillaries were out on the 25th at Hockley Woods where the first Purple Hairstreaks were also noted the next day as were six White Admirals. An immature Spoonbill on Wallasea on the 26th was a good mid-summer sighting. An Eider photographed off Gunners Park on the 27th was the first of the year and the only bird of the year, up until November at least. One of the Grasshopper Warblers at Bowers Marsh was reeling again on the 29th.



JULY 2022


Once again, there was just one Red Kite sighting this month, which was on the 1st over Leigh and Benfleet. Following on from last year, the much hoped for Purple Emperor action started on the 1st at Belfairs NR with one or two seen most days through to mid-month. Little Ringed Plovers were seen in good numbers early in the month, including eight at West Canvey Marsh on the 1st and six at Vange Marsh; encouragingly, juveniles hatched at four sites. A very early Willow Emerald Damselfly on the 3rd at Canvey Way was four weeks ahead of the next sighting. A couple of Great White Egrets roosted on the scrape at Wat Tyler CP on the 3rd, 24th, and 29th. The first of two Wood Sandpipers this month was at West Canvey Marsh on the 4th with the second bird at Vange Marsh five days later. A Cattle Egret at West Canvey Marsh on the 6th ranged around the area for the rest of the month visiting Vange Marsh and Wat Tyler CP on its travels Last month’s Eider popped up again on the 7th, this time at Wakering Stairs, where it was photographed once more; one or two Dark-bellied Brent Geese were also noted there from the 9th. The first of eight Clouded Yellows this month was seen at Vange Marsh on the 8th, nine Painted Ladies were also noted this month. The first returning Common Sandpiper was at Fleet Head on the 9th, with the main passage starting from the 23rd. In what transpired to be a dreadful summer and autumn for Garganey, the only one reported between the end of April and the end of the year was a female at Vange Marsh on the 10th. By contrast, Bearded Tits clearly had a good season as evidenced by a flock of 14 juveniles which were also at Vange Marsh on the 10th. Two immature Spoonbills were present on Wallasea from the 11th to the 13th and one or two Ravens were seen at South Fambridge on the 18th and 31st. A Grasshopper Warbler was still reeling at Bowers Marsh on the 24th. Two Large Coppers visiting a garden in Rayleigh on the 26th were almost certainly a recent release but were interesting none the less, particularly as there was a presumed unauthorised release on Wallasea last August. The two returning Yellow-legged Gulls were back along the Crouch at Hullbridge on the 28th although were not reported again all autumn. Vange Marsh held a peak of five Spotted Redshanks this month on the 29th along with two Ruff, three Greenshanks, and an impressive 350 Black-tailed Godwits.





One of last month’s Great White Egrets remained around Bowers Marsh and Wat Tyler CP during the first half of the month, being seen on three occasions between the 1st and the 14th. A Purple Hairstreak in Gunners Park on the 2nd was the last of the year. On an otherwise quiet seawatch, Arctic Terns peaked at 38 off Canvey on the 4th. Following a record influx nationally, it was not too much of a surprise to find a Lesser Emperor at Doggetts Pits on the 4th which was closely followed by another at Bowers Marsh on the 6th. The first of 15 Wheatears this month was on the seawall at Benfleet Creek on the 5th, the same day that Willow Emerald Damselflies began emerging, with sightings from five sites this month from the 5th onwards. Two adult Spoonbills flying over Bowers Marsh on the 6th soon settled down there and became a daily fixture through to the 9th September. Black-necked Grebe and Grasshopper Warbler were both seen at Bowers Marsh for the last time on the 7th. The Rayleigh Mount Ring-necked Parakeet put in another raucous showing on the 8th and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth at South Fambridge was the first of twelve local sightings this month. The first of eight Whinchats this month was in Gunners Park on the 8th, with the other records coming from Bowers Marsh, Fossetts Park, South Fambridge, and West Canvey Marsh. The first Curlew Sandpiper of the autumn was on the lagoon at Two Tree Island from the 11th to the 13th. The 13th saw the start of a protracted passage of Wood Sandpipers at Bowers Marsh with two birds present initially, building to a reported seven on the 24th. One or two Cattle Egrets continued to wander various sites between Fleet Head and Wat Tyler CP from the 13th through to the 30th before disappearing for the remainder of the autumn. Numbers of Little Tern are much reduced these days so a count of 21 at Wakering Stairs on the 14th was most welcome. The national influx of Pied Flycatchers reached our shores on the 15th when the first of five birds was seen in a Hullbridge garden, swiftly followed by another in a Rayleigh garden the next day, and then one in Gunners Park on the 17th. One was then trapped and ringed on Two Tree Island on the 21st and Gunners Park then hosted the final bird of this arrival for several days from the 24th onwards. Passerines were definitely on the move now with the first of three Redstarts this month in Gunners Park on the 16th and 17th, and Wheatears were present at six locations including five at West Canvey Marsh on the 16th. A White Stork at West Canvey Marsh on the 16th was sporting a blue ring which identified it as a recent release from the Knepp estate. The 17th was arguably one of the best days of the autumn seawatching season with the standout highlight being a Cory’s Shearwater which flew upriver past Canvey from 15:01, and then back out again until lost to view at 15:41. Other sightings from Canvey on the 17th included another Roseate Tern, the first Pomarine Skua, three Arctic Skuas, and a Little Gull. Back on land, a Garden Warbler began a protracted stay in Gunners Park from the 18th, and the first of three Tree Pipits this year flew over Gunners Park the next day. The 20th saw two Redstarts and a Clouded Yellow at Wakering Stairs, with another Clouded Yellow and a passage Turtle Dove nearby at Potton Creek, whilst an Osprey took up station around Wakering Stairs from the 21st to the 23rd. Two Southern Emerald Damselflies were still to be found along Canvey Way on the 21st but were the last of the summer.  On the 24th, Bowers Marsh hosted peak counts of ten Common Sandpipers and three Whinchats; a further five Whinchats were logged from four other sites this month. Little Terns and Black Terns both peaked at Canvey on the 25th with 29 of the former and 20 of the latter. Ravens maintained their scarce status this year with just a single sighting this month of one over South Fambridge on the 26th. On the 27th, Green Sandpipers reached 18 at Bowers Marsh and a second Garden Warbler joined the long stayer in Gunners Park via the mist net of the local ringing group. Canvey Point briefly held a Curlew Sandpiper on the 27th and 30th. The 28th proved to be relatively fruitful at sea with six Pomarine Skuas together past Canvey as well as six Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua. Canvey continued to dominate the local news with a brief Purple Sandpiper and 26 Arctic Terns on the 29th, followed by an impressive 28 Arctic Skuas, two Great Skuas, and two Little Gulls on the 31st. As a result of avian flu on the northern breeding grounds, Great Skuas were incredibly scarce this autumn with just three in August and none in September or October. The month closed with a very early ringtail Hen Harrier lingering over fields between Canewdon and South Fambridge on the 31st.





Seawatching continued to be mediocre, although on the 1st, the only two Long-tailed Skuas of the year were seen from Canvey along with three Arctic Skuas, four Black Terns, and a Razorbill. The ringtail Hen Harrier was still quartering the fields east of South Fambridge early on the 1st and the first two Tree Sparrows of the autumn alighted briefly in Gunners Park; the following day, there was a flock of eight Tree Sparrows in Gunners Park. The first Spotted Flycatchers of the autumn arrived on the 2nd and 3rd with two birds at Stambridge and one at Shoebury East Beach. In addition to the flock of eight Tree Sparrows still present in Gunners Park on the 3rd, a Redstart began a three day stay there also, and one of last month’s Garden Warblers put in a final appearance. Wallasea experienced a glut of Curlew Sandpipers from the 3rd when 12 birds were present increasing to 17 the next day with 16 still present on the 10th. Almost in harmony with the Curlew Sandpiper arrival, small numbers of Little Stints appeared from the 4th through to the 11th with five at Bowers Marsh, four on Wallasea, and one at Wakering Stairs. An Osprey was seen from Wallasea on Foulness on the 5th and was disappointingly the only confirmed sighting all month. Ravens remained conspicuous by their absence although a pair did put in an appearance over Bowers Marsh on the 5th and 9th. The poor skua passage continued with a peak count this month of just seven Arctic Skuas; no Great Skuas or Pomarine Skuas were seen all month. The two Spoonbills visited Bowers Marsh again on the 9th with one still there on the 11th. Whinchats remained widespread albeit in low numbers, with three on Wallasea on the 10th equalling the highest count of the autumn; two Wheatears also there on the 10th was the only multiple count this month. Two Tree Pipits over Gunners Park on the 10th concluded a very average showing for this species. The first returning Short-eared Owls were hunting over Wallasea on the 10th where one remained through to the 12th. Canvey Wick hosted the last Redstart of the autumn on the 11th, the same day that an obvious arrival of Spotted Flycatchers began, with birds being found at five sites through to the 19th, including three together in Gunners Park on the 14th. Willow Emerald Damselflies put on a strong show at Doggetts Pits from the 12th to the 19th with 15 present, whilst on Wallasea on the 12th there were five Clouded Yellows. A frustratingly brief Wryneck showed to just one lucky observer at Bowers Marsh on the 13th. The month’s only Pied Flycatcher was at Shoebury East Beach on the 14th but the juvenile Red-backed Shrike there vied for bird of the autumn. Two Siskins flew in-off at Canvey Point on the 16th and were the first since the spring. In keeping with a national arrival, a flock of 27 Pink-footed Geese were watched reorienting themselves over the sea off Wakering Stairs on the 17th. Five Guillemots and six Arctic Skuas headed upriver past Canvey on the 18th when another three Tree Sparrows dropped in to Gunners Park where one was still present on the 20th as was the last of seven Wheatears this month. A ringtail Hen Harrier, possibly the South Fambridge bird, was seen on Wallasea on the 21st and again on the 29th. Ruff seldom feature in these summaries however there was a small but steady build up at Bowers Marsh all month culminating in nine there on the 23rd. A Spoonbill with an injured leg was in Benfleet Creek on the 24th, and the month’s only Little Gull was off Canvey. A Great White Egret was at Fleet Head on the 28th through to October, others were at Bowers Marsh and Wallasea all month. The month ended with yet another Tree Sparrow in Gunners Park on the 29th along with two Siskins.





The last Hobby of the year flew through Gunners Park on the 2nd. Two Little Stints and four Willow Emerald Damselflies persisted at Bowers Marsh through to the 5th. A Firecrest reported from Pound Wood on the 8th was surprisingly the first local record of the year. An early Great Northern Diver was off Gunners Park on the 9th but soon moved on and the first returning Goldeneye flew past Canvey the following day when the only Wheatear of the month visited Wallasea. A Red-throated Diver at Wallasea on the 11th was the first of the autumn and a good site record, two Wall Brown butterflies there were the last of the year. A Black-necked Grebe spent a few days on the lagoon at Two Tree Island from the 11th to the 15th. A Yellow-necked Mouse was live-trapped and released on the 12th at Starvelarks Wood, the only local site from which it has been recorded. A Firecrest was an excellent garden visitor near Thundersley Glen on the 13th. As the number of returning Dark-bellied Brent Geese hit four-figures off Leigh for the first time this autumn it was not unsurprising that a Black Brant was found among them on the 15th. Remarkably, after nearly four years without a local record, two Dartford Warblers were found on the 16th, with one in Gunners Park and one on Wallasea, although just the Gunners Park bird was still present the next day. A Woodlark flushed from a field at West Canvey Marsh on the 17th was the first ever local ‘on the deck’ record of this less than annual visitor. Also on the move on the 17th were five Bramblings over Gunners Park whilst five Bearded Tits at Paglesham Lagoon on the 18th were evidence of typical autumnal dispersal and a first for the site. Seawatching from Canvey proved worthwhile on the 19th and 20th. The 19th produced a Red-breasted Merganser, a Pomarine Skua, the month’s only Arctic Skua, an impressive 51 Kittiwakes, and a Razorbill. The 20th yielded a drake Scaup, 95 Common Scoter, a Pomarine Skua, and a dismal peak count for the month of just seven Gannets. The lack of Great Skuas, Arctic Skuas, and Gannets this autumn was no doubt a reflection of the impact of avian flu on their breeding grounds. A ringtail Hen Harrier was again over Wallasea on the 21st. A few finches were on the move from the 22nd to the 24th with three Lesser Redpolls over Gunners Park on the 22nd, a Siskin over Gunners Park on the 23rd, and a Brambling in Coombe Wood on the 24th. A small arrival of Firecrests was noted from the 23rd through to the 30th with two in Gunners Park on the 23rd, one at Shoebury East Beach on the 27th, and one in Coombe Wood on the 30th. In addition to the Firecrest at Shoebury East Beach on the 27th, a Black Redstart was on the nearby MOD buildings and a Black Brant and two Pale-bellied Brent Geese were on the foreshore. Seawatching from Canvey was generally uneventful at the end of the month with a Red-necked Grebe drifting out on the tide on the 27th the only highlight. Two Ring-necked Parakeets flew over Benfleet on the 29th, the same day that two Great White Egrets headed south over Gunners Park; a single Great White Egret remained at Bowers Marsh all month. A Merlin was seen to cross the Thames from Kent at Canvey Point on the 30th, and the month ended with another Spoonbill joining the long staying bird at Bowers Marsh on the 31st.





The last Ruff and Willow Emerald Damselfly of the year were both noted at Bowers Marsh on the 2nd. The following day, a Wheatear was photographed at Shoebury East Beach. Being such a late date, it was quite disappointing that it was not something much rarer. Three Little Auks whizzed past Canvey on the 3rd, whilst the following day a Pomarine Skua, a Razorbill, a Short-eared Owl, and 40 Kittiwakes were all recorded there. A Firecrest was found in Hockley Woods on the 4th along with a Nuthatch, a Coal Tit, and three Treecreepers. A pair of Ravens were noted on the 4th over Wat Tyler CP and a single was seen on Wallasea. The Wat Tyler CP duo were seen again on the 12th flying towards Bowers Marsh, and the Wallasea singleton was present again on the 13th. Finch passage was noted through Gunners Park on the 5th with 300 Goldfinches, 15 Siskins, and 10 Lesser Redpolls the highlights. A Shag at South Fambridge on the 6th was the first local bird since early January; somewhat surprisingly it did not linger, and there were no more records from anywhere all winter. The first Water Pipit of the winter dropped in on Bowers Marsh on the 7th. The weekend of the 12th and 13th produced a few interesting records: a Common Sandpiper, Hen Harrier, and a Short-eared Owl were at South Fambridge; a Goosander, two Hen Harriers, and a very late Clouded Yellow were on Wallasea, the regular Yellow-legged Gull returned to Hullbridge, and a typically confiding Snow Bunting was present on both dates along the seafront at Thorpe Bay, and again on the 21st. Three Lesser Redpolls were feeding on fennel seeds in Gunners Park on the 18th, whilst next day one was trapped and ringed on Two Tree Island. Seawatching from Canvey on the 19th yielded 102 Common Scoter, a Velvet Scoter, a Razorbill, 35 Gannets, and a drake Goosander. The only record this month of Red-breasted Merganser was on the 21st when a redhead flew upriver past Canvey. A female Long-tailed Duck took a liking to the borrowdyke on two Tree Island from 22nd until the 26th where it showed well and was the highlight of the month for many. A count of four Short-eared Owls on Wallasea on the 22nd was the peak winter count although three were regularly seen together there between the end of December and early January. Meanwhile, the much more secretive Long-eared Owl numbered five at a south-west location on the 25th. Two Spoonbills were present on West Canvey Marshes from the 25th to the 27th, with a single seen intermittently throughout the month on Wallasea where a Dartford Warbler was found on the 27th. The second and final Water Pipit of the month was on West Canvey Marsh on the 26th, the same day that a Firecrest and another Lesser Redpoll were both trapped and ringed on Two Tree Island. The month closed with three Little Stints on Wallasea on the 29th.





The month opened with the second local Dartford Warbler of the winter in Gunners Park on the 1st and 2nd, with the Wallasea bird also seen on the 1st and then on two further dates this month. A Porpoise in the Crouch off Wallasea on the 1st was notable, as was an extremely late Swallow through Gunners Park the next day. Ring-necked Parakeets continue to gain a foothold in the area as evidenced by a record local count of 18 reported in Hadleigh CP on the 3rd with 12 seen nearby along Benfleet Road on the 9th, and then a further 14 in Thorpe Bay on the 30th. With the north-east winds the 3rd - 5th was all about seabirds in the Thames estuary. Highlights included 15 Scaup, 37 Common Scoter, three Velvet Scoter, a Long-tailed Duck, two Red-breasted Mergansers, a Great Northern Diver, a Black-throated Diver, two Razorbills, 60 Kittiwakes, and six Little Gulls. The Black-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver continued to be reported occasionally throughout the month. After an almost total absence of records this year, Firecrest numbers exploded with nine in Hockley Woods on the 6th, three in Shoebury on the 16th, and singles at a further three sites this month. A flock of 11 White-fronted Geese arrived at West Canvey Marsh on the 4th before relocating to Bowers Marsh on the 7th where they remained all winter. A check on an historic Long-eared Owl roost in the south-west revealed an impressive 11 birds leaving at dusk as well as a Short-eared Owl. Additional Short-eared Owls were recorded from South Fambridge and Wallasea where three were present later in the month. A Bullfinch at Wat Tyler CP on the 10th was the first local record from all sites since March. Two adult Whooper Swans dropped in briefly on Wallasea on the 14th before departing south-west. The lingering Long-tailed Duck in the estuary was seen again on the 16th from Canvey, as was a Goldeneye. The 17th proved to be a ‘branta’ day with a Pale-bellied Brent Goose and a Black Brant at Paglesham, whilst another Black Brant was reported from Canvey Heights. The local ringing group trapped and ringed a Woodcock in Gunners Park on the 17th. Surprisingly, Peacock butterflies were noted at two sites this month, Canvey Wick on the 20th and Leigh on the 29th. Seawatching from Canvey on the 21st produced the winter’s peak count of Red-throated Divers with 22 noted, and the month’s only Guillemot. Christmas Eve visits to Wallasea and Vange Marsh were both highly successful with three Hen Harriers, three Short-eared Owls, a Spoonbill, and a Little Stint at the former, and four Jack Snipe with three Water Pipits at the latter. The third local Dartford Warbler of the month was discovered at Canvey Heights on the 28th where it remained into January. The last few days of the year were quiet, with just a Pygmy Shrew on Canvey Wick on the 29th and two White-fronted Geese on Vange Wick from Wat Tyler CP on the 30th the only sightings of note.


A reasonable total of 209 species was recorded in the area this year and included some excellent birds once again. Bird of the year was the Red-breasted Goose which frequented South Fambridge from January to March with occasional visits to Wallasea. Other notable sightings included three Black Brants and three Tundra Bean Geese, a twitchable Red-backed Shrike and Cory’s Shearwater, the returning Black Guillemot, Hoopoe, and Wryneck. Also seen were a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, good numbers of Hawfinch, Woodlark, two Twite, and the first Lapland Bunting for several years. Non-avian highlights included Purple Emperors, and two each of Scarce Chaser and Lesser Emperor.