With the use of thermal imaging it was possible to locate six Jack Snipe at Vange Marsh early on the 1st. A small flock of Siskins was found on the east side of Hockley Woods on the 1st where they remained for much of the winter. Up to nine birds were present, with another two seen briefly at Pound Wood, also on the 1st. A Dartford Warbler was seen briefly at Bowers Marsh on the 2nd, whilst a drake Smew reportedly dropped in on West Canvey Marsh for a few moments the same day. The now expected female Red-crested Pochard in Southchurch Park West was present from the 2nd to the 18th at least. Two Velvet Scoters landed off Canvey Point on the 2nd where they remained through to the 7th. Two Woodcock were at Wakering Stairs on the 2nd with another two at Canvey Wick on the 3rd, where a pair of Firecrests were also found. Eight Firecrests were still in Hockley Woods on the 4th, and with a further seven in Belfairs this month and one or two present at another five sites, a staggering total of 26 birds were present in January. The now regular wintering adult Yellow-legged Gull on the Crouch, upriver of Hullbridge, was noted from the 3rd onwards. Another adult was found at Vange Marsh on the 7th, with it, or another, at West Canvey Marsh from the 12th through to early February. Nine Long-eared Owls were observed leaving a roost in the south-west on the 9th, whilst three Short-eared Owls were wintering on Wallasea. A Guillemot off Canvey on the 4th was surprisingly the only auk all month. A Common Lizard sunning itself at Bowers Marsh on the 4th was an exceptional winter record. A Hen Harrier was reported from Bowers Marsh on the 5th and was seen there again on two more occasions this month. Meanwhile, on Wallasea, two or three ringtail Hen Harriers were present at the start of the month, with an adult male also putting in a fleeting appearance there on the 6thWater Pipits peaked this month at three at Vange Marsh on the 7th, with another two at Bowers Marsh mid-month. A small flock of four Lesser Redpolls was found in birches on Wakering Common on the 8th where they remained until at least the 30th. A Great Northern Diver was seen off Canvey on the 8th, and the month’s only Black-throated Diver was seen there on the 9th when the Dartford Warbler on Canvey Heights was reported again, and a Peacock butterfly was in Leigh. In stark contrast to last winter, a Black Brant at Fleet Head on the 11th was the only record throughout January and February. Kittiwakes were surprisingly scarce, with just two double-figure counts during the first winter, both of which from Canvey in January, with 24 on 12th and 20 on the 20th. A flock of 29 Barnacle Geese arrived at Bowers Marsh on the 13th of which a couple were sporting neck collars; they remained until early February, occasionally visiting West Canvey Marsh. Arriving with the Barnacle Geese at Bowers Marsh was a flock of eight White-fronted Geese which gradually increased to 20 by the end of the month. This flock also visited Vange Wick and West Canvey Marsh. The only Blackcap this month was a female in a Leigh garden on the 18thChiffchaffs as usual fared better this month with four present. Staying with warblers, the Dartford Warbler which had been reported from Canvey Heights on a couple of occasions finally gave itself up on the 19th when it showed well in a patch of brambles through to the 23rdRed-breasted Mergansers are now very scarce locally, especially away from the Thames, so a handsome drake on Wallasea from the 20th to the 23rd was well received. The wintering Spoonbill on Wallasea remained all month, and a second Spoonbill toured sites around Benfleet Creek from the 20th to the 23rd. The Great Northern Diver put in another appearance on the 24th, this time off Gunners Park, whilst the next day, Red-throated Diver numbers peaked at a rather disappointing 12 off Canvey. Bullfinch are very much a local rarity these days so it was great to have two males in Magnolia NR from the 26th to the 29th. Whereas Bullfinches have declined significantly over the years, the reverse is true of the Raven, a pair of which were at Bowers Marsh on the 29th.





An adult Little Gull upriver past Canvey on the 3rd was the only record in the first winter period. The flock of 20 White-fronted Geese at Bowers Marsh was seen for the last time on the 4th although three remained through to early April and four arrived on Wallasea on the 7th, remaining until the 9th. Numbers of wintering Firecrest decreased sharply this month with two in Tile Wood on the 8th the only record. Two Lesser Redpoll at Canvey Wick on the 8th was the only record all month. A male Hen Harrier at Bowers Marsh on the 10th was a good site record; a ringtail was also present there from the 12th to the 15th, whilst one ringtail remained on Wallasea throughout. Ravens were seen more frequently this month, with a pair mid-month on two occasions near Rayleigh, and a pair over Bowers Marsh again on the 10th which were probably accountable for the singles seen at three sites across Canvey this month. A Hawfinch at Magnolia NR on the 11th was entirely unexpected - although typically elusive, it was seen there again on the 12th and 15thGoosanders have always been a scarce local bird due to the lack of suitable freshwater lakes, however, the saltwater lagoons on Wallasea have a history of attracting them, and so it proved again this year with two redheads there from the 12th to the 28th. The dry and sunny conditions resulted in the Common Lizards at South Fambridge coming out of hibernation on the 13th, and Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admirals being on the wing on the 14th. A Great White Egret took up residence on Wallasea from the 16th; it was joined by a second bird from the 18th to the 27th. A Pale-bellied Brent Goose seen from South Fambridge on the 17th was the only record throughout the first winter. A Black-throated Diver took up station off Canvey from the 20th through to mid-March, a Great Northern Diver was also present there on the 20th and 21st. The unstoppable march of the Ring-necked Parakeet continued with a flock of 14 reported from Thorpe Bay on the 21st. Sightings of Short-eared Owl became less frequent this month with a single seen on Wallasea on the 3rd, 9th, and 21st. A pair of Long-eared Owls were seen displaying at a site in the south on the 25th. Two Woodcocks on Canvey Wick on the 25th was the only sighting this month, as was the Jack Snipe at Fleet Head on the 26th. A male Bullfinch was seen on the 26th at a traditional site for them near Rayleigh. The wintering Spoonbill on Wallasea was joined by a second bird on the 28th when a Stoat in full ermine was also seen.



MARCH 2023


Nine Barnacle Geese were present once more on Wallasea from the 2nd, whilst five remained at Bowers Marsh; both flocks persisted until the 21st. The only Caspian Gull of the winter was in Holehaven creek on the 3rd; following the closure of local landfill sites this species has reverted to its former very rare status. The elusive wintering Merlin on Wallasea was reported again on the 4th and 5th. Also on Wallasea on the 5th, the Short-eared Owl put in a rare appearance, as did the Stoat in ermine. Lesser Redpoll remained typically scarce with no wintering flocks although six dropped in briefly to a garden near Eastwood on the 5th. Two Red Kites near South Fambridge on the 7th were observed landing in a ploughed field to feed, it is incredibly rare to get anything other than a flyover in the recording area. The Thames produced several sightings of note with Razorbill on the 7thFulmar on the 8th, 135 Gannets on the 9th, a Guillemot and two Red-breasted Mergansers on the 10th, and 15 Red-throated Divers, two Great Northern Divers, and a Black-throated Diver on the 11th. Away from the Thames, a drake Red-breasted Merganser dropped in on Wallasea on the 11th, the same day that the month’s only Firecrest was seen in Shoebury, and four Jack Snipe were at Vange Marsh. The Black Brant appeared briefly at Wakering on the 12th before returning back to Potton. Nearby, a Woodcock was flushed by a Peregrine from the old tip the same day. Two Eider which flew past Canvey on the 12th were the first since a single off Wakering Stairs in July 2022. The first Adder of the spring was noted on the 15th at Wallasea. Further signs of spring were evident on the 15th with a pair of Little Ringed Plovers at Lower Raypits, and the first confirmed sighting of Black-necked Grebe at Bowers Marsh following a couple of reports earlier in the month. A drake Garganey was an excellent find at Bowers Marsh on the 17th but it did not linger. At nearby Vange Marsh, Water Pipits continued to build, reaching a peak of up to 13 birds on the 17th. On the 18th, Canvey Point produced singles of Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser. The 19th produced what will almost certainly be the bird of the year, when one keen eyed birder, about to start a running race on Hadleigh Downs, noticed an Alpine Swift whizzing around above the start line. With an unprecedented nationwide influx underway, it was perhaps not entirely unexpected. The Alpine Swift remained above Hadleigh Downs until the evening and was only the third local record and the first twitchable. Less exciting, but welcome nevertheless, was the first confirmed Wheatear of the spring and a White Wagtail, both at Fleet Head also on the 19th. The first Slow-worm of the year was at South Fambridge on the 20th when 16 Siskins flew through Gunners Park; a handful of other Siskin sightings elsewhere followed over the next few days; two Bramblings were also logged at separate sites. The first returning Ruff passed through from the 21st with small numbers noted at Bowers Marsh daily until early April. A flyover White Stork was seen over Canewdon on the 23rd and then Prittlewell on the 24th. The first Brimstones were noted at multiple sites over the next two days. West Canvey Marsh held three White Wagtails and three Wheatears on the 25th representing peak monthly counts for both species. A Purple Sandpiper was reported from the Pier on the 25th; there was no sign the following day although a Shag, two Sandwich Terns, and six Porpoise made the trip worthwhile. A daytime roosting Long-eared Owl at a Thameside location in the south was found on the 29th, and the first Willow Warbler was singing at West Canvey Marsh the next day.



APRIL 2023


Firecrest trapped and ringed on Two Tree Island on the 1st proved to be the last of the spring. On the 3rd, a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen at Wakering; it roamed around the Crouch for the rest of the month favouring Wallasea and Lower Raypits. A female Black Redstart was an excellent find at the allotments near Southend Hospital on the 4th and 5th. Remarkably this is the fourth Black Redstart from this site in two years. The first in a good run of Emperor Moths were responding to lures at South Fambridge from the 4thLong-eared Owls were seen in the south-west on the 4th and the south on the 5th. The first returning Nightingale was on Canvey Wick on the 5th where numbers steadily rose, reaching an impressive ten by the end of the month. In addition, four Nightingales were singing at Wakering Stairs and three were at Wat Tyler CP. After a solid spring passage, five Water Pipits could still be found at Vange Marsh on the 6th. Finches remained scarce, the highlights being two Lesser Redpoll on Canvey Wick on the 7th and two Siskins on West Canvey Marsh the following day. The only Woodcock of the month was on Canvey Wick on the 9thWhimbrel passage commenced on the 10th with an impressive flock of 35 high over Canvey Point. The second and third drake Garganey of the spring were found in quick succession, with one on Wallasea from the 10th for a week, and one on Paglesham Lagoon on the 11th. A Hummingbird Hawkmoth in Prittlewell on the 11th was unexpected, although surprisingly, another was seen in a Leigh garden later in the month, on the 23rd. The first two reeling Grasshopper Warblers were back on Bowers Marsh from the 16th, with another on West Canvey Marsh the following week, and one reported from Wakering Stairs at the end of the month. Two Ravens were seen over Bowers Marsh on the 16th; they were seen here on a number of occasions this month, and two were also seen near Rayleigh on two dates. A Short-eared Owl was at Wakering Stairs from the 20th to the 25th with it or another seen over Gunners Park on the latter date. A drake Red-crested Pochard on the sea off Canvey on the 21st was most unusual. A male Hen Harrier was hunting the former Pitsea Tip on the 22nd when, nearby, at Bowers Marsh, an impressive gathering of 250 Mediterranean Gulls were crowding the lagoon’s islands. Whinchats in spring are always a delightful, yet rare, sight, so two at Bowers Marsh on the 23rd and two at West Canvey Marsh on the 24th were well received. A single remained at both sites until the 25th. The 23rd and 24th also saw a good fall of Wheatears, with peak counts of 16 at Bowers Marsh and six at West Canvey Marsh, with two White Wagtails also present on West Canvey Marsh on the latter date. A Wood Sandpiper was a great find at Bowers Marsh on the 26th, where it could be seen in the same binocular view as a Jack Snipe. Other Jack Snipe this month were at Vange Marsh on the 20th and West Canvey Marsh on the 24th. The now expected spring build-up of Black-necked Grebes at Bowers Marsh continued this month, reaching an impressive peak of nine on the 27th. Five Spoonbills on Wallasea on the 28th was the highest count there since September 2021; it seems remarkable that Spoonbills have been present on Wallasea every day since mid-November 2022. A pulse of Arctic Terns through the country saw up to nine lingering off Canvey Point on the 28th and 29th. It was with some relief that Turtle Doves were seen and heard at Wakering Stairs from the 29th, although with just one pair present by mid-May their days here as a summer visitor might be numbered. Two Hobby and a late Merlin were recorded from Bowers Downs on the 30th, the same day that the first odonata were out, with a Large Red Damselfly on a garden pond at South Fambridge, and a Hairy Dragonfly on Canvey Wick. The month closed with the first Green Hairstreak of the year on Canvey Wick, also on the 30th.



MAY 2023


The month started well with a female Ring Ouzel in Gunners Park on the 1st and a fine male Grey-headed Wagtail at West Canvey Marsh from the 3rd to the 5th, the first time this taxon has been recorded in the area. A Spotted Redshank at Vange Marsh on the 6th and 7th was the only record this month and followed the single in April. The first Wall Brown butterflies were noted on the 7th at Wakering, further records came from ten sites by the end of the month. Two Painted Lady butterflies were seen this month, on the 8th on Bowers Downs, and 11th at Doggetts Pit. A drake Garganey was a good find on Wallasea on the 10th and the month’s only Wood Sandpiper was at Bowers Marsh on the 11th. By local standards the seawatch on the 12th at Canvey was unusually productive for springtime, with the highlight being two Fulmars which were, remarkably, the second and last record all year of this increasingly scarce visitor. Other highlights included 58 Gannets, two Little Gulls, 10 Kittiwakes, three Arctic Terns, and impressive counts of 10 Guillemots and eight Razorbills. Another two Little Gulls were off Canvey on the 15th as were an Arctic Tern and three Razorbills. Maintaining their presence, five Spoonbills were still on Wallasea on the 15th when another individual was on the Crouch at South Fambridge which was the scene of the non-avian highlight of the year, when four Common Dolphins were filmed playing around the boats and jumping out of the water on the 16th. A ringtail Hen Harrier at Bowers Marsh on the 16th raised a few eyebrows given the late date whilst a Redstart at West Canvey Marsh on the 17th was an excellent spring record. With almost an air of predictability nowadays, a pair of Black-winged Stilts arrived on Vange Marsh on the 19th with another pair on Bowers Marsh on the 20th. The Vange Marsh pair remained until mid-June whereas the Bowers Marsh pair relocated north of the Crouch to Blue House Farm at the end of the month. Another species which is more or less expected now is Cattle Egret, and sure enough, the first sightings of the year were of three near Wat Tyler CP on the 24th and a single on West Canvey Marsh on the 27th. Excellent fieldcraft resulted in the finding of a female Long-eared Owl on a nest in the south on the 28th. The Thames continued to hold some interesting seabirds towards the end of the month with the pick of the best days being the 29th when seven Black Terns, 12 Razorbills, and 18 Kittiwakes were all seen from Canvey. Another Little Gull was off Canvey on the 30th when the month’s second Garganey, a drake, appeared on Vange Marsh.



JUNE 2023


Unusually, the month started with a Razorbill and a Guillemot off Canvey on the 1st followed by three Guillemots there the next day. The first Heath Fritillaries of the summer were at Pound Wood on the 4th with sightings a few days later from Belfairs and Hockley Woods where 194 were counted mid-month. A female Eider on a small freshwater pool on Wallasea was an exceptional record. Even more exceptional was the pair of Long-tailed Ducks that joined it on the 6th. Also present on Wallasea on the 5th and 6th were a ‘Channel’ Wagtail, three Spoonbills, and a Painted Lady. Seawatching from Canvey on the 6th produced the first Great Skua of the year and the second Shag of the year. Following several records of Scarce Chaser last year at Doggetts Pits, two males were found there again on the 7th with two females joining them one week later. A lone male Black-winged Stilt visited Bowers Marsh from the 9th to the 16th whilst the Vange Marsh pair continued their stay through to the 17th. Concerted efforts with a bat detector from the 10th through to the 20th produced records of Daubenton’s, Nathusius Pipistrelle, Serotine, Barbastelle, & Long-eared from a number of sites. The nationally famous ditch at Canvey Way held three Southern Emerald Damselflies, 70 Scarce Emerald Damselflies, and eight Southern Migrant Hawkers on the 11th. A Norfolk Hawker was photographed on Hadleigh Downs on the 13th but could not be found subsequently. Despite significant range expansion across the south of the country, Norfolk Hawker is still yet to establish a foothold in the area. Willow Emerald Damselflies were noted on Hadleigh Downs from the 15th, smashing the earliest ever record for them nationally. A mid-summer sighting of a Long-eared Owl in the east on the 17th was suggestive of breeding at this traditional location. Searching for Heath Fritillaries at the various woodland sites this month resulted in several Nuthatch reports with birds reported from Belfairs NR, West Wood, and Hockley Woods between the 23rd and 25th with another two at Pound Wood earlier in the month. Cattle Egrets appeared again towards the end of the month, starting with two on Vange Marsh on the 24th, increasing to six on Vange Wick on the 26th. The first Clouded Yellow of the year was seen at Bowers Marsh on the 27th, and the long staying Glossy Ibis, across the Crouch on Blue House Farm, was finally seen in flight from South Fambridge on the 29th and again on 4th July.



JULY 2023


Returning wader passage was evident with a Wood Sandpiper and seven Spotted Redshanks on Vange Marsh from the 1st to the 3rd; the Spotted Redshanks remained all month. A White-legged Damselfly was photographed at Edwards Hall Park on the 1st. This species had never been recorded locally although its arrival had been anticipated. Cattle Egret numbers increased further this month with eight on Vange Marsh on the 3rd; an additional group of three were around the Wallasea area towards the end of the month. Last month’s female Eider put in a surprise visit to Wallasea again on the 9th, more than a month since it was last seen. The long awaited flight period of the Purple Emperor commenced on the 8th at Belfairs NR where one pair was present, but with the poor weather it was all over by the 13th. Other notable sightings in Belfairs NR at this time included seven White Admirals, three Purple Hairstreaks, a Silver-washed Fritillary, and a Treecreeper. A squabble of seven Ring-necked Parakeets visited feeders in Great Wakering on the 10th and 11th. Two juvenile Long-eared Owls were present at a site in the south where a female was seen on a nest in May, an adult was also found roosting at a different site mid-month. A Quail was heard on Wallasea on the 14th but not subsequently, and a pair of Black-necked Grebes had a chick in tow in the south from the 16th. The White-legged Damselflies at Edwards Hall Park were finally ‘pinned down’ when 17 were found there on the 21st increasing to 27 one week later; curiously nearly all were males. The month’s only Clouded Yellow was on Canvey Wick on the 21st, whilst seawatching from the nearby Point on the 24th produced a very unseasonal adult Sabine’s Gull, nine Gannets, and two Porpoise. Continuing the unseasonal theme, a flock of 18 Common Scoter were at Wakering Stairs on the 25th and three Turtle Doves were still present. What followed over the next week was a bit of a ‘circus’… A ringtail harrier, probably a Hen Harrier was seen around Wallasea on the 25th and 28th, a female Montagu’s Harrier was reported from Wallasea on the 26th, and a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen from Paglesham on the 29th. Eventually, sightings through August proved that there were in fact two Montagu’s Harriers and a ringtail Hen Harrier in the area! On the 26th, 16 Southern Emerald Damselflies were an unexpected find on Wallasea and a first for the island. By the 29th, 43 Southern Emerald Damselflies were present as was a Lesser Emperor briefly. The month closed with a juvenile Nuthatch attending feeders in a garden near Coombe Wood.





The month opened with a bang when not one but two Montagu’s Harriers were found commuting between Blue House Farm and South Fambridge from the 1st to the 10th. Aged as an adult female and a first-summer female, the adult bird was traced to a Dutch/Belgian colour ringing scheme. The first returning Wheatear was at South Fambridge on the 3rd, the same day that 30 Arctic Terns headed up the Thames past Canvey. Cattle Egrets continued their wave of gradual colonisation with eleven now present around Wat Tyler CP on the 4th. Heavy rain on the 5th resulted in an ephemeral pool at the bottom of a South Fambridge garden which in turn attracted two Wood Sandpipers on the 5th and 6th. The only Pomarine Skua of the month moved past Canvey on the 5th and the first returning Whinchat was at West Canvey Marsh on the 7th. On the 10th, an Osprey flew out to sea over Wakering Stairs, and the month’s only Silver-washed Fritillary visited a garden by Coombe Wood and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth did likewise in Westcliff. The first two Curlew Sandpipers of the autumn were on Wallasea on the 12th where up to three were present throughout the latter half of the month. Little Stints followed a few days later with one on Wallasea on the 15th and up to seven present through to the 20th. An Osprey at Wallasea on the 15th began a series of sightings from there with at least two birds frequenting the Roach through to late September. Numbers of the irrepressible Cattle Egret reached a new high of 18 on Vange Wick from the 16th to the 19th. A Black-winged Stilt was reported on Bowers Marsh on the 16th and 17th. The first returning Red-throated Diver was off Gunners Park on the 17th, there were no other records until mid-October. Tern passage was prevalent along the Thames on 17th and 18th with five Little Terns, 195 Common Terns, 12 Arctic Terns, 13 Sandwich Terns, 14 Black Terns, and best of all, three Roseate Terns and an adult Sabine’s Gull. Trying to keep up with the burgeoning number of Cattle Egrets, Spoonbills reached a peak of 17 at Wallasea on the 19th, singles were also seen at Bowers Marsh on the 1st and 25th. The first Redstart of the autumn dropped in briefly to Gunners Park early on the 19th and the first Pied Flycatcher was equally as brief on West Canvey Marshes the same day. The only Clouded Yellow of the month was seen on Wallasea on the 20th. The first of two Short-eared Owls this month was on Wallasea on the 21st, the other was at Wakering Stairs on the 27th. Spotted Flycatchers were recorded at Coombe Wood on the 23rd and 30th, and also at Shoebury East Beach on the 26th along with a Redstart there also. One or two Wood Sandpipers were at Bowers Marsh from the 23rd through to the 9th September, with three on Vange Marsh on the 25th and two at Fleet Head on the 27th. An immature Red-backed Shrike on West Canvey Marsh on the 25th and 26th proved popular and was occasionally in the company of a Redstart which lingered until the 27th, the same day that a Crossbill passed low over Shoebury East Beach. A returning Merlin on Wallasea on the early date of the 28th went on to spend the autumn there. The local ringing team had a productive day in Gunners Park on the 28th with a Grasshopper Warbler, two Garden Warblers, and a Nightingale all finding the nets. Arctic Skuas numbered nine off Canvey Point on the 29th, the highest count of the month, and 20 Black Terns followed a ship upriver there on the 31st.





Wallasea was productive on the 1st with impressive counts of seven Whinchats and 14 Spoonbills, along with a mating pair of Southern Emerald Damselflies, 14 Ruff, two Curlew Sandpipers and two Little Stints. Bowers Marsh hosted a Curlew Sandpiper on the 2nd and 3rd, and last month’s Wood Sandpiper remained through to the 9th. Another Wood Sandpiper was at Vange Marsh the following day as was a record-breaking flock of 32 Ruff. Two Crossbills alighted briefly at Paglesham on the 2nd and two Grasshopper Warblers were ringed in Gunners Park in the morning. Calm sea conditions off Canvey resulted in sightings of a Bottle-nosed Dolphin and ten Porpoise. The Bottle-nosed Dolphin was just the fourth local record since the turn of the century. The month’s only Hummingbird Hawkmoth was in a Leigh garden on the 4th. The high number of Cattle Egrets continued, with 16 touring the south-west from the 4th to the 9th. The 5th produced some excitement, starting with a Spotted Flycatcher at Bowers Marsh, followed by a Pectoral Sandpiper at Lower Raypits, and finishing with a Hoopoe at sunset on Wallasea. The first of six Tree Pipits this autumn flew over Canvey Point on the 7th; the other five records all fell in a narrow window of the 14th-16th. A Pied Flycatcher in Gunners Park on the 7th was remarkably, and worryingly, only the second record all year from the entire area. Five Tree Sparrows in Gunners Park the same day were a great find. Skuas were on the move at Canvey on the 8th, with the month’s only Pomarine Skua, 42 Arctic Skuas, and several Long-tailed Skuas recorded, with at least one lingering until the 15th. A Wood Sandpiper was on West Canvey Marsh on the 10th, and the only Painted Lady of the month visited a Leigh garden the same day. Tern passage past Canvey was very evident on the 11th with an unprecedented 160 Arctic Terns moving upriver along with another Roseate Tern, 750 Common Terns, 10 Black Terns, and curiously, just 12 Sandwich Terns. Canvey continued to produce on the 13th, with a staggering, and unprecedented, 134 Arctic Skuas, a single Great Skua, a Leach’s Petrel, and a Sabine’s Gull. A Spotted Flycatcher and 25 Siskins were notable in Gunners Park on the 14th. Remarkably, the Wallasea Hoopoe put in another brief appearance on the 15th, but again, as on the 5th, it eluded all but the initial observer. A Long-tailed Blue was reported from a garden by Shoebury East Beach on the 15th although no further details were forthcoming; a Clouded Yellow on Wallasea the same day proved to be the only record all month. A female Red-veined Darter in Gunners Park on the 16th was an excellent record, and follows one in Southchurch in 2021 and three on Canvey in 2017. All eyes were on the Thames again on the 17th where the highlights included 24 Common Scoter, the year’s only Manx Shearwater, 62 Gannets, 43 Arctic Skuas, two Great Skuas, a Guillemot, and another Sabine’s Gull. Just as the day was drawing to a close, news came, swiftly followed by a photo, of a juvenile Pallid Harrier on Wallasea. There was no further sign in the failing light, but after several nervous hours the following day, the Pallid Harrier reappeared and put on a great show daily through to the 7th October. It could often go missing for several hours as it also hunted the lower Dengie and Foulness, but always visited Wallasea every day throughout its stay. To add to the excitement, and occasional confusion, an adult female Hen Harrier was also seen there intermittently from the 19th to the 27th. A Redstart was an unusual visitor to a Rayleigh garden on the 21st, and was surprisingly the only record all month. On the 22nd a female Eider was photographed off the Pier and two Razorbills were on the water off Canvey. A county record count of 21 Spoonbills was made on Wallasea on the 22nd where a colour-ringed Great White Egret originating from a Hungarian scheme was also present. Five Little Stints on Bowers Marsh on the 22nd was notable as was a Gannet over Wallasea the following day. Cattle Egret numbers inched higher to reach 17 at Wat Tyler CP on the 24th setting yet another record count for the area. A Puffin lingered off Canvey from the 26th to the 28th and was surprisingly the only auk present during those dates; six Little Terns there on the latter date was the highest count this month. Great White Egret numbers increased slightly towards the end of the month with five now present on Bowers Marsh on the 29th in addition to the one on Wallasea, where Short-eared Owl numbers reached an impressive eight on the 29th.





Three Yellow-necked Mice were live trapped on the 2nd at Starvelarks Wood, the only known site for them locally. The last Wheatears of the year were on Canvey Point on the 2nd and Wallasea on the 4th and the last Hummingbird Hawkmoths were on Canvey Point on the 4th and in Rayleigh on the 10th. Two Eiders were present off Gunners Park on the 8th, a late Spotted Flycatcher was also found there the same day as were two Lesser Redpolls. It was a poor autumn for the scarcer migrants with area totals of just six Spotted Flycatchers, two Pied Flycatchers, and four Redstarts. Spoonbills were reported from Wallasea only once all month, which was the 9th when two were present. Two late Black Terns, 75 Gannets, and a Great Skua were off Canvey on the 9th. The last Little Stint of the autumn was on Bowers Marsh on the 10th, the same day that five Cattle Egrets dropped in on Wallasea for a day. The first wintering Red-throated Divers appeared from the 12th with up to three birds on the Thames throughout the month along with a Black-throated Diver. The 14th saw the first pulse of autumn finches through Gunners Park with 25 Siskins, 10 redpolls, and a Brambling all noted. The last Curlew Sandpiper of the autumn spent six days around Two Tree Island from the 14th. A Cattle Egret, the last of the year, was reported from Wallasea on the 15th where four Bearded Tits were a site first, and three Clouded Yellows there were the last of the year. Mid-month produced some good seawatching records; six Red-breasted Mergansers, nine Arctic Skuas, 29 Kittiwakes, and three Razorbills were off Canvey on the 16th; the only Sooty Shearwater of the year passed Canvey on the 17th as did 30 Kittiwakes, and the following day, a Leach’s Petrel, three Little Gulls, and a reported Purple Sandpiper joined in the action, whilst on the 20th, two Great Skuas, two Guillemots, and three Razorbills were off Gunners Park. Also at Gunners Park on the 20th the only Black Redstart of the autumn was on Gog’s Berth and a Yellow-browed Warbler was reported which unfortunately was not seen by anyone other than the finder. In what looks to be a promising winter for Hen Harriers, a fine adult male and a ringtail were hunting east of South Fambridge on the 20th, whilst two ringtails were wintering on Wallasea from the 27th onwards. Vis-migging early on the 22nd at Gunners Park was highly productive with four Tree Sparrows, seven Bramblings, an impressive 800 Goldfinches, 50 Siskins, and 80 redpolls all heading south-west. Two Ring-necked Parakeets over Hullbridge the same day were well away from their usual haunts. A Spoonbill and a Short-eared Owl were both present east of South Fambridge on the 24th. On the 26th, at Canewdon, a flock of 25 Lesser Redpolls were feeding in a front garden Silver Birch and a Brambling was also visiting feeders there on the 27th and 28th. A very late Osprey was still enjoying life around Wallasea on the 27th and 28th where numbers of Short-eared Owls reached a minimum of 13 and the immature female Merlin was joined by a second bird on the 30th. The 30th produced several other good records with 23 Siskins in Ashingdon, a male Hen Harrier at Bowers Marsh, a Short-eared Owl and two Bramblings at Canvey Heights, two Great White Egrets on Wallasea, and Shags at Canvey and South Fambridge, with the South Fambridge bird still present the following day.





Seawatching from Canvey on the 2nd failed to produce any of the hoped for Leach’s Petrels that were flooding the south coast, but did produce an unexpected Long-finned Pilot Whale heading upriver. Seawatching on the 4th however, was much more productive with one fortunate observer recording a Sooty Shearwater, three Leach’s Petrel’s, a Pomarine Skua, four Arctic Skuas, a Great Skua, a Sabine’s Gull, and 118 Kittiwakes, whilst 11 Little Gulls lingered off the Pier. Three Little Stints at Bowers Marsh on the 6th were unexpected this late in the season; the month’s only Spotted Redshank was also present there on the 9th. Firecrest were seen on the 11th in Shoebury and on Two Tree Island, a third bird was in Pound Wood later in the month. A Cattle Egret began an extended stay from the 11th on Wallasea where it remained into the new year, albeit it was seldom seen. Short-eared Owls were having one of their best winters for several years with at least eight still present on Wallasea each day from the 11th through to 2024. A Purple Sandpiper was photographed on the seawall at Gunners Park on the 13th but did not linger. Eider are now barely annual visitors, although November is typically the best month for them, and so proved to be this year with a welcome uptick in sightings which included eight off Shoebury Coastguards on the 16th and 1-2 on several dates at various other sites along the Thames. Staying with seaduck, the 16th also produced a Long-tailed Duck, a Velvet Scoter, and 46 Common Scoter all off Canvey. Other sightings from along the Thames on the 16th included a Goosander, two Great Northern Divers, two Shags, three Little Gulls, and 50 Kittiwakes. The final ten days of the month were full of interest, and started with three Scaup off Canvey on the 21st, which was the only record all year of this species. A Black Redstart was photographed in Gunners Park on the 22nd. Four Hen Harriers were now wintering on Wallasea from the 23rd when Common Darters could still be found at Doggetts Pits; Small White, Red Admiral, Peacock, and Comma were all noted around this time too. A Waxwing dropped in to Gunners Park on the 24th but was unfortunately not the vanguard of the hoped for mass arrival given the high numbers reaching the country. Two Spoonbills on Wallasea on the 24th were new in following the departure of the autumn flock in early October. Sprats reached the Thames estuary from the 24th resulting in some interesting auk records off Canvey. A Little Auk and four Guillemots were recorded on the 25th, a Puffin seen on the 26th, and nine Razorbills on the 27th. Other notable sightings during this time included a Merlin on Wallasea from 25th - 28th, eight White-fronted Geese at Bowers Marsh on the 26th, with a single at Paglesham Lagoon from the 29th, a Black-throated Diver off Shoebury on the 26th, and a flock of eight Lesser Redpolls at Canvey Wick on the 26th. A late Little Stint was on Wallasea on the 28th where, surprisingly, it was seen again on the 10th December. A flock of eight Bewick’s Swans dropped in briefly at Wallasea on the 29th and would have proved popular had they lingered. The month closed with another productive seawatch from Canvey where a Velvet Scoter, 31 Common Scoter, three Red-breasted Mergansers, 18 Red-throated Divers, a Great Northern Diver, a Pomarine Skua, a Little Gull, three Sandwich Terns, three Guillemots, and three Razorbills were all noted.





The focus at the start of a busy month continued to be on the Thames where a Great Northern Diver, three Little Gulls, a Sandwich Tern and two Razorbill were all seen off of Canvey on the 1st. The 2nd saw an Eider, Goosander and Razorbill at Shoebury East Beach; the Eider was still present the next day, but there was only one further Razorbill sighting all month, and remarkably no Guillemots. Also on the 1st a Short-eared Owl was at West Canvey Marsh, and 13 Waxwings flew over Leigh but, like the single last month, did not linger. A Common Sandpiper on the river at Hullbridge on the 2nd only was a good mid-winter record; other wintering waders this month were represented by seven each of Green Sandpiper and Greenshank and two Spotted Redshanks. The 3rd and 4th saw a small influx of Woodcock with four at three sites, 7 Bewick’s Swans flew over Wat Tyler on 3rd, the same day a site nearby held a single Long-eared Owl; there was only one other record all month and no roosts were located during this winter period. The wintering White-fronted Goose flock at West Canvey Marsh had increased to 11 on 4th; they remained into January often commuting to Bowers Marsh. Also on the 4th a flock of 20 Siskin at Magnolia NR was a good count, and the following day 13 more Waxwings flew over Bowers Marsh. Two Chiffchaff were overwintering at Paglesham Lagoon on 6th where a Dartford Warbler was also found, and incredibly a Common Whitethroat was also present! The latter two birds were both photographed, but neither were seen again despite searching. Also on 6th two Short-eared Owls could still be found quartering West Canvey Marsh, where they remained into the New Year. Staying with owls, Wallasea on 8th held 8 Short-eared Owls and a Barn Owl, which was one of 6 at four sites this month. A Blackcap found a Canewdon garden to its liking on 8th and 9th, and nearby at Wallasea Island on 10th a Little Stint and 2 Spoonbills were present, where the following day a drake Goosander took up a winter residence. Two Short-eared Owls and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose were seen on Blue House Farm from South Fambridge on 11th, and two Ravens passed over Wallasea the following day with another duo over Rayleigh on the 15th. Single Black-throated Divers were seen off of Canvey Point and Gunners Park on 13th, with the Sandwich Tern again at the former site, and Red-breasted Mergansers were logged at both sites between 13th-16th. Six Waxwings flew over Rochford on 14th, but again did not linger, while the same day 18 Barnacle Geese arrived at Bowers Marsh; several were bearing white neck collars indicating their origin lay with one of the UK’s burgeoning feral populations further north. Water Pipits were back on their winter territories on 15th with one at Bowers Marsh and another at Vange Marsh the following day, where an impressive 5 Jack Snipes were also present. Two Black-throated Divers arrived on Wallasea on 15th for an extended stay, and represented the first record for the island. Eight Short-eared Owls were also present around this time and over the following week five different Hen Harriers, including an adult male, were recorded, as well as two Merlins. Other Merlins were noted at Bartonhall Creek and Wakering Stairs on 17th, the same day a Firecrest and Chiffchaff were both present in a Shoebury churchyard. A noisy flock of seven Ring-necked Parakeets flew over Westcliff on 18th, a Blackcap was found wintering in an Ashingdon garden on 19th, and on 20th three Yellowhammers were at Bowers Marsh. The Wallasea Spoonbills were accompanied by a third bird on 23rd, all three remained well into 2024. 25 Barnacle Geese were on Blue House Farm on 23rd with several again noted as bearing white neck collars. A Great White Egret was at Fleet Head on 24th, and scouring of the Brent Goose flock there produced a Black Brant, while two Firecrests were in Hockley Woods also on 24th. Walking off the Christmas excesses on 26th was rewarded with three Woodcock on Canvey Wick, eleven Short-eared Owls still on Wallasea and an unseasonal Red Kite over Hullbridge. The last few days of the year were fairly quiet, with a Black-throated Diver still off of Canvey Point on 27th, Great White Egret on 29th and the winter’s first Ruff on 30th, both at Bowers Marsh. A Water Pipit was found along the Roach at Bartonhall Creek on 29th, the same day the elusive Cattle Egret on Wallasea popped up for the only time this month. The year drew to a gentle close with the only other record of note being a Great Northern Diver at the unlikely location of Potton Creek on 30th.

A slightly below average total of 204 species was recorded in the area this year, but did once again include some excellent birds. Bird of the year was the Pallid Harrier which frequented Wallasea for several days in the autumn, and being the first for the recording area and just the second for Essex it just nudged the first twitchable Alpine Swift into second place. Other notable sightings included White Stork, Glossy Ibis, two Montagu’s Harriers, four Black-winged Stilts, Pectoral Sandpiper, with Long-tailed Skuas, Sabine’s Gulls and Roseate Terns the highlights of a relatively poor seawatching season, Hoopoe, Grey-headed Wagtail, Waxwings, Red-backed Shrike and Hawfinch. Non-avian highlights included Bottlenose and Common Dolphins and Long-finned Pilot Whale, a new colony of Southern Emerald Damselfy and the first of White-legged Damselfly, Norfolk Hawker, Lesser Emperor, Red-veined Darter, and the now expected Scarce Chasers and Purple Emperors.