MAY 2017


There were still a few Wheatears moving through at the beginning of the month with six at Bowers Marsh and two at Fleet Head on the 1st, with the last of the spring in Gunners Park on the 5th. The adult Spoonbill on Wallasea was joined by an immature on the 2nd through to the 5th when the adult departed and the immature Spoonbill remained until the 15th. Tern passage was noted off Canvey on the 3rd with 28 Sandwich Terns, 120 Common Terns, four Arctic Terns, three Little Terns, and 200 ‘Commic’ Terns all heading out of the Thames estuary. The first of only two Fulmar sightings all year was off Canvey on the 4th when two Wood Sandpipers dropped in at Vange Marsh building to four on the 6th with one remaining until the 7th. Three Black Terns off Gunners Park on the 5th were the only record of the spring. Little Ringed Plovers remained on suitable habitat with four at Vange Marsh on the 7th and groups of three at Wallasea and at Bowers Marsh. A Wood Sandpiper was at West Canvey Marsh on the 9th only when a Temminck’s Stint was photographed on Wallasea. There was a series of Red Kite sightings from the 9th to the 20th which could have been one wide-ranging individual or more probably a number of different birds. The Black-winged Stilts at Vange Marsh were seen for the last time on the 10th after their nesting attempt failed. A Turtle Dove was present intermittently at Butts Hill NR from the 10th to the 21st. A single Green Hairstreak was at the regular site on Canvey Wick from the 11th to the 24th and a Quail was heard calling at nearby West Canvey Marsh in the evening of the 12th, the same day that another Wood Sandpiper was reported at Vange Marsh. A Shag at South Fambridge on the 13th was most likely a lingering bird from the January influx. Turtle Doves were just about still clinging on at their stronghold at Wakering Stairs with a solitary bird purring from the 18th to the 21st. Equally as scarce these days are Spotted Flycatchers, particularly in the spring, so singles at Fleet Head on the 15th and Gunners Park on the 23rd were particularly noteworthy. A Little Gull at Bowers Marsh on the 20th was the last of the spring. Garganey and Wood Sandpiper were both reported again at Vange Marsh on the 22nd. A Garden Warbler seen and heard near Rayleigh on the 28th was sadly the only one of the summer. Long-eared Owls were proved to have bred again when two juveniles were found in the south-west on the 30th. Three distant darters at West Canvey Marsh on the 30th were seen much better the next day when they were identified as Red-veined Darters.



JUNE 2017


The Grasshopper Warbler at Wakering Stairs was still reeling on the 1st and up to four Turtle Doves were now present and stayed all month. The three Red-veined Darters at West Canvey Marsh were seen each day through to the 4th which saw the beginning of a good passage of Red Kites, starting with three together over Great Wakering and a single at Hullbridge, followed by another eight singles through to the 22nd. A drake Garganey was reported at Vange Marsh on the 5th and 9th, it also visited Bowers Marsh on the latter date. The Heath Fritillaries which had been on the wing in Hockley Woods since the end of May reached a peak of 42 there on the 10th. The White-letter Hairstreaks on Benfleet Downs were flying from the 10th onwards and reached an impressive peak of 37 on the 15th. The Southend Peregrines were finally proved to have bred successfully on the 12th when a pair was seen with two noisy well grown youngsters begging their parents for food. White Admirals were noted from the 14th onwards with up to seven at five sites this month. A tatty Green Hairstreak was an unusual find on Benfleet Downs on the 14th. The 17th produced a couple of interesting garden records with a Honey Buzzard viewed from Eastwood flying west over Southend and a bizarre record of four Cattle Egrets viewed from Rochford. The drake Garganey appeared again on the 19th, this time at Bowers Marsh, and a Ring-necked Parakeet was an unexpected find near Rayleigh Mount on the 20th. A female Black-winged Stilt visited Wallasea on the 21st when Purple Hairstreaks were first noted across six oak woodlands including an impressive count of 76 in Belfairs on the 26th. The second Honey Buzzard within a week passed low over Belfairs on the 23rd and three Nightingales were noted on Canvey Wick on the 25th. An adult Long-eared Owl with two juveniles continued to be seen in the south-west this month.



JULY 2017


The month started predictably quiet. A Dark-bellied Brent Goose and two Little Terns were welcome sightings along the Roach on the 2nd. A Silver-washed Fritillary frequented buddleia at Wat Tyler CP on the 4th with another the following day in Belfairs. A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen in Shoebury on the 4th which was followed by an unconfirmed report of a female Redstart at Barling on the 5th. The formally scarce and recent colonist, Southern Migrant Hawker was recorded at six sites from the 7th onwards and included 22 along just one ditch network on Canvey. Little Ringed Plovers were present in good numbers on Bowers Marsh with 12 there on the 12th. Vange Marsh hosted two Spoonbills on the 15th and the month’s peak of six Green Sandpipers on the 18th. There was a sprinkling of Clouded Yellows from the 21st to the 27th. Bowers Marsh held three Little Stints and the month’s highest count of six Common Sandpipers on the 22nd. A Nightingale was ringed on Two Tree Island on the 24th and a Red Kite was over Benfleet on the 25th with another at Wakering on the 29th. Five Dark-bellied Brent Geese were off Canvey Point on the 31st.





The biggest local news of the month, if not the year, was the discovery of a Marsh Tit visiting garden bird feeders near Hockley Woods from the 2nd until the 27th. With the nearest population many miles away in north-west Essex, one can only wonder as to where it came from. This represented the first local sighting in twenty six years! Also visiting the feeders throughout were two Coal Tits with a single in Coombe Wood. After the disappointment at Vange Marsh in the spring it was great to have a family party of five Black-winged Stilts visit Bowers Marsh on the 4th. The adult pair with their three well grown young were possibly one of the families from nearby Cliffe Pools. They stayed loyal to Bowers Marsh until the 16th. A smart Wood Sandpiper joined them on the 5th and remained until the 10th with the first Whinchats noted there from the 6th. Hummingbird Hawkmoths visited gardens in Rayleigh on the 8th and Shoebury on the 13th. Calm sea conditions on the 9th produced little of note off Canvey but did reveal good numbers of Porpoise with at least eight present. The first of only two Long-tailed Skuas during this poor autumn for seawatching was off Canvey on the early date of the 10th whilst a Purple Sandpiper there the same day was equally early.  A migrant Garden Warbler was found in Gunners Park on the 10th where it remained until the 16th. There was a small fall of Spotted Flycatchers on the 13th with four together on Canvey Wick and singles in Gunners Park and on Hadleigh Downs. Two Tree Pipits flew through Gunners Park on the 16th when Whinchat numbers began to increase with three at Bowers Marsh and one in Gunners Park. Two Temminck’s Stints on West Canvey Marsh on the 18th were an excellent find of this less than annual wader. Three Wood Sandpipers dropped in at Lower Raypits on the 18th where one remained through to the 21st. A single Black-winged Stilt on the scrape at Wat Tyler CP on the 19th brought to a close an excellent year of sightings of this striking and increasing visitor. A Honey Buzzard, the third and final one of the year, was seen over Wakering on the 20th. In a dreadful year for skua passage, two Pomarine Skuas past Canvey on the 21st constituted all bar two of the autumn records for this species. Up to three Garganey were present on Vange Marsh from the 22nd through to mid-September. The only Curlew Sandpiper of the month was reported from Two Tree Island on the 2nd. A Cory’s Shearwater viewed from Canvey and lingering in the estuary on the 23rd was a phenomenal record and is the ‘stuff of dreams’ for local seawatchers. Of the two large shearwaters this is the commonest locally with two confirmed records now since the turn of the century. Also present on the 23rd was an impressive 88 Black Terns. A very early Merlin was at Wallasea on the 25th where three Whinchat were also present. An adult male Redstart was a good record at Bowers Marsh on the 25th with another male reported the following day on Two Tree Island. The first Willow Emerald Damselfly of the year was at Star Lane Pits, Great Wakering on the 26th. A Little Stint visited Bowers Marsh on the 26th where it remained until the 2nd September. Another Garden Warbler turned up in Gunners Park on the 27th and remained loyal to a small area of bushes through to mid-September. The 28th produced some good records with the first four Tree Sparrows of the autumn briefly in Gunners Park in the morning, a Red Kite over Benfleet, and a Cattle Egret in the evening on Vange Marsh. An Osprey flew past Canvey Point on the 30th where there were also 15 Arctic Skuas, three Great Skuas, and 40 Black Terns moving upriver. By the 31st the Whinchats had increased to five at Bowers Marsh with one lingering in Gunners Park.





The first of four Ospreys this month passed over Potton Creek on the 1st. In what has now become an expected autumn event, eight Tree Sparrows dropped in to Gunners Park on the 1st with smaller numbers on several days through to the 10th. Long-eared Owls were a surprise find at a different site in the south-west from the 2nd to the 16th although only one bird was ever seen each day, photographs showed there were two individuals involved in the sightings. A Redstart in Gunners Park on the 2nd proved popular. Skua passage peaked on the 3rd with a lowly 19 Arctic Skuas off Canvey and up to three Great Skuas on several dates early in the month. A Cattle Egret, possibly the same as last week’s bird at Vange Marsh, arrived on the saltmarsh at Wat Tyler CP on the 4th where it remained until at least the end of October. A Wryneck was reported on Two Tree Island on the 6th with it or another reported there again on the 18th. Curlew Sandpipers have become much scarcer in recent years with Potton Creek holding just one all autumn on the 7th; in past years they were almost guaranteed from here in September. One of only two Spotted Flycatchers this month was predictably in Gunners Park from the 7th to the 9th. The second Osprey of the month was seen over Rochford golf course on the 8th. Bowers Marsh continued to prove attractive to Whinchats with numbers building here to seven on the 10th with one or two present most days throughout the month. There was an obvious movement of Manx Shearwaters from the 13th to the 15th with up to three birds seen each day in the Thames yet none were seen on any other dates all year. A Sabine’s Gull, the only one of the year, was also seen on the 15th at Canvey with the month’s only Guillemot there the next day. The first Short-eared Owl of the autumn was reported from Wallasea on the 16th but was not seen subsequently. Wildfowl of dubious origin were plentiful from the 15th to the 17th when there was a Mandarin at Great Wakering, five Egyptian Geese in Shoebury Park, and six Ruddy Shelduck at Bowers Marsh; a Garganey also at Bowers Marsh on the 16th and 17th restored some decorum to the sightings page. Another Osprey headed over Two Tree Island on the 18th, the same day that the second and last Long-tailed Skua was reported from Canvey. The last Swift of the year was at Bowers Marsh on the 19th and the last of just four Redstarts this autumn was in Gunners Park on the 19th and 20th. Two Curlew Sandpipers roosted over high tide at Two Tree Island on the 20th when a Lapland Bunting dropped in briefly on Canvey Point where it was photographed. This is the first record of this species locally for five years. The only Pied Flycatcher of a poor autumn was in Gunners Park on the 21st and 22nd. Little Stint numbers increased noticeably from the 21st when there were six at Bowers Marsh and up to four at Vange Marsh through to the end of the month. White Wagtail passage occurred from the 22nd to the 28th and included five at Vange Marsh and five in Gunners Park. A Ring-necked Parakeet was flying around close to Rayleigh Mount on the 22nd and was probably the same bird that was seen here in May. A pair of Bullfinch at Wat Tyler CP on the 24th were notable for the location where hopefully a few pairs still persist. The Thames at Canvey provided a few interesting records on the 25th with the only Sooty Shearwater to date, only the second Pomarine Skua of the year, and a Hen Harrier crossing south across the river. A Tree Pipit at Gunners Park on the 26th was the second and last record of the year. A Turtle Dove at Bowers Marsh on the 27th was an excellent site record and the first from there in recent years; a Little Gull was also lingering over the lagoon. The first and only Firecrest of the autumn was in Gunners Park on the 27th whilst the second and last Spotted Flycatcher of the month was reported from Wat Tyler CP. A Yellow-necked Mouse live trapped in woods at Daws Heath on the 29th was only the third ever confirmed local record. The fourth Osprey of the month was seen over Wallasea on the 30th where it lingered, albeit irregularly, through to mid-October.





The last Hummingbird Hawkmoth of the year was seen in a garden in Thorpe Bay on the 2nd, the same day that the last Hobby and Common Sandpiper of the autumn were at Wat Tyler CP. Little Stint numbers remained high early in the month with four at Vange Marsh and three at Bowers Marsh on the 3rd with one remaining at Vange Marsh until the 11th. Wheatears put in a final appearance on the 3rd when there were two at Bowers Marsh and one in Gunners Park; Whinchat followed soon after with a single at Bowers Marsh on the 4th the last record. A Short-eared Owl was seen briefly at Wallasea on the 8th where there were also two Barnacle Geese present. The first Redwings of the autumn began trickling through from the 10th. A ‘lutino’ Ring-necked Parakeet in Southend on the 11th pushed the boundaries of ‘tickability’ with most yearlisters refraining, whilst the California Quail on Two Tree Island the same day presented less of a dilemma. The Osprey lingering around the Wallasea area was seen for the final time on the 14th. The first of three Ring Ouzels this month was seen on Canvey Wick on the 15th. Two Spoonbills flying north-east over Hullbridge on the 18th were unexpected. Canvey produced a Puffin and a Guillemot on the 18th with a Short-eared Owl there the following day crossing the Thames. A passage Purple Sandpiper was an excellent find on the seawall at Gunners Park on the 20th and 21st. Seawatching from Canvey Point on the 21st was unusually slow but did produce a bonus Glossy Ibis distantly towards north Kent. The last Little Stint of the autumn was on nearby West Canvey Marsh the same day. Several Swallows, a House Martin, and a Sand Martin were all still present over Bowers Marsh on the 23rd when the finch passage which first began over Gunners Park on the 17th reached a peak with up to 1730 Goldfinches, 200 Linnets, 86 Lesser Redpolls, 30 Siskins, 21 Greenfinches, and two Bramblings seen each day between those dates. A Short-eared Owl was seen again on Wallasea on the 25th for only the second time this month, the same day a Coal Tit was seen in a Rayleigh garden whilst the regular two continued to visit a Hockley garden with a further two in a Coombe Wood garden and a single in Leigh. The local woodlands came up trumps on the 27th with a Hawfinch in Thundersley Glen on the 27th and the first Nuthatch in Hockley Woods since February 2016. The first Fieldfares were noted passing through on the 27th and two Willow Emerald Damselflies were seen at Mucking Hall Lake. The second Ring Ouzel of the month was reported from Wakering Stairs on the 28th. After a dismal autumn seawatching season, northerly winds on the 29th finally produced a modicum of interest off Canvey with a Fulmar, a Manx Shearwater, 650 Gannets, three Red-breasted Mergansers, four Pomarine Skuas, two Great Skuas, an Arctic Skua, 120 large auks, of which most were considered Razorbills, and a Painted Lady. Two Woodcocks were found away from their traditional haunts on the 30th, one of which was in a suburban garden in Westcliff. A morning of vis-mig at Hockley Woods on the 31st produced a number of interesting fly-over sightings including three Hawfinch, two Bullfinch, and a Ring Ouzel.