Holland Haven Birding

Official Site Of The Holland Haven Birding Group ©

Non-passerines (v4 September 2011).  page 1




Red Throated Diver


Regular passage migrant and winter visitor.

Can be seen between mid September (2 on the 15th September 2007) and May, although more regularly encountered from early December to the end of March. Odd birds regularly seen offshore and, where tide and weather conditions are favourable, in small, or very occasionally, sizeable feeding flocks. A total of 134 seen flying south west in an hour on the 4th December 1992 and around 100 passing offshore over two hours (plus a maximum of 50 on the sea) on 28th December 2002 are representative of the higher day counts recorded.

Black Throated Diver

Irregular passage migrant in spring and autumn and recently an occasional winter visitor.

Recorded annually in recent years and probably previously overlooked amongst the more numerous Red Throats passing distantly offshore in spring and autumn. Maximum of 7+ seen in 2009 is the best showing to date and suggests that individuals may well be lingering or even wintering distantly offshore. (Very occasionally recorded on the sea but rarely close inshore.) Following 2 flying north east on 6th February 1992 there have been four other occasions (1st December 2008, 10th February 2009, 13th December 2009 and 13th March 2010) where 2 individuals were seen on a single day. A rather un-seasonal occurrence concerned an individual in non breeding plumage seen close inshore on the 17th June 1994.

Great Northern Diver

Irregular passage migrant and occasional winter visitor.

Formerly rare and perhaps under recorded. In recent years recorded annually with three individuals noted in 2008, a maximum of 8+ records received during 2009 (possibly only a single wintering bird involved in 5 reports covering the period January to March) and an unprecedented 16 individuals in 2010, all of which were noted on the morning of the 16th March (including a flock of 7 together) moving north east in the general company of 30+ Red Throated Divers. As with Black Throated Diver this species is usually only seen passing offshore however one or two have been recorded on the sea including a very obliging individual very close inshore on the early morning of the 28th November 2007. A tide line corpse was found on the 5th November 1978. A very early individual was noted passing offshore on the 29th September 2009.

Little Grebe

Breeding resident and possible winter visitor.

At least one pair bred occasionally on the heavily vegetated ponds adjacent to seawall (an adult with 4 young was noted on two dates at the end of July 2008). Breeding has also been suspected on the small farm pond at Great Holland Hall. Up to 10 seen on Holland Brook on a single day prior to 1988 represents the highest count. Otherwise recorded singularly or occasionally 2 or (rarely) 3 to 5 can be seen. Tends to be absent during mid winter particular in periods of hard weather. An adult with a chick on the late date of 15th September 1996 was unusual.

Great Crested Grebe

Regular passage migrant and winter visitor. Rare in summer.

Occurs offshore in winter months but rarely numerous with only a handful of records per year being the norm. Day count of 40+ on the sea on 6th March 1996 was exceptional and coincided with a large movement of Red Throated Divers. Would appear to have been, on average, present in slightly larger numbers on the sea prior to 1988 when regular day counts of up to 10 were recorded. Very exceptionally odd birds have been seen on freshwater found within the recording area. A presumed family party of 6 individuals on the sea on the 4th July 2009 and an immature seen on the unusually early dates of 6th and 7th August 2003 are assumed to have been locally dispersing post breeding birds.

Red Necked Grebe

Two records.

The first record was a juvenile found by the late Tariq Watson on 11th October 1991.

Nearly 16 years later, on the afternoon of 8th October 2007, Pete Davis and Gary Gardiner noted a single Red Necked Grebe flying south west close inshore.

Perhaps surprisingly these are the only two records. It is possible that some of the various grebe ‘sp’ seen passing occasionally very distantly offshore may include this species.

Slavonian Grebe

Four records

In view of the coastal location and availability of fresh water on site there has been surprisingly few records of this diminutive grebe which regularly winters in good numbers a stone’s throw away (relatively speaking) in the Blackwater estuary.

One frequented flooded grazing marsh from the 21st to 23rd January 1985.

On the 16th January 1996 one was present on the stretch of Holland Brook immediately north east of the B1032 road bridge.

One was offshore on the 23rd November 2008.

One was offshore on the 12th December 2009.

Black Necked Grebe 





The record for this Grebe is from reliable source. 

However, the date of the sighting was not available to 

include at the time of this compilation. 


Infrequent although annual passage migrant. Also seen in summer, rarely in winter.

Recorded annually in small numbers usually from early spring through to September/October. Occasionally individuals can be encountered passing close inshore or even directly over the seawall. A total of 7 noted passing during a sea watch on 14th September 1994 is the highest number recorded in a single day. A ‘blue phase’ type was noted passing offshore on the 22nd May 2007. One found dead on the 18th January 1997 had been rung as a pullus on North Ronaldsay.

Sooty Shearwater

Total of 28 individuals recorded as follows;

2 on 13th September 1986

3rd October 1992

5 on 14th September 1994

6 on 18th September 1996 (in ‘’strong easterlies’’)

31st August 1997

8th October 2001 (north)

4 on 2nd September 2002

2 on 1st October 2007

2 on 24th August 2008, 1 on 29th August 2008 (south)

3 on 6th September 2010 (all north east)

Unsurprisingly all records have occurred between the end of August and early October.

Manx Shearwater

All records listed involving 57+ individuals of which 40+ recorded during a single sea watch on the 14th September 1994.

 31st May 1984

2 on 30th September 1987

28th September 1991

40 to 50 on 14th September 1994

2 on 30th September 1997

14th October 2005

9th July 2006, 20th September 2006

2 on 10th September 2007, 2 on 15th September 2007

17th August 2008

21st July 2009, 14th September 2009, 14th October 2009

The extraordinary movement witnessed by Pete Loud on the 14th September 1994 also involved 5 Sooty Shearwaters. With the exception of single spring and two midsummer records, all sightings have fallen in a 2 month period between 17th August and 14th October with a clear peak in the last two weeks of September.

Storm Petrel

Single Record

On the evening of the 17th August 2008 whilst sea watching from Clacton Sailing Club, Karen Aldous found the first known record for the Haven. Passing steadily south west the Stormie subsequently offered excellent views as it passed relatively close inshore. Also witnessed by Gary Gardiner this species came as real bonus to the only two Haven regulars to now have this species on their patch list.

Leach’s Petrel

Three records

29th September 1962

21st October 1990

21st September 1997

The 1997 individual spend 2 to 3 hours appearing and reappearing in the area immediately around the Haven outfall buoy. Although it is entirely possible that more than one bird was involved, this was never confirmed.


Passage migrant

Recorded in all months although late summer/early autumn see the majority passing offshore. Often only single birds are encountered although not infrequently small groups, travelling together line astern, can be seen. 18 seen on both 3rd May 1996 and 10th November 1996 were surprisingly the rather modest highest day counts for this regularly recorded species until 40+ seen passing offshore on the 14th July 2008, with 50+ 5 days later on the 19th July 2008 and just over a year later, 112 counted passing north between 0800-1030 on the 16th September 2009.


Resident, winter visitor and passage migrant.

Recorded in all months either offshore or loitering around the scrape and river bank the other side of the B1032, where eels appear to be favoured prey. A total of 27 is the largest day count noted before 1988 with 15 seen on the 14th September 2009 representing the largest gathering in recent times until the morning of the 13th March 2010 when an unprecedented 77 (including a single flock of 71 on the sea) were noted offshore coinciding with a significant movement of Divers. Recent critical examination of birds at rest on the scrape suggests a predominance of the continental race sinensis as opposed to the UK cliff nesting form carbo. 


Infrequent, less than annual visitor, predominantly in winter.

Normally encountered singularly either on the sea or passing relatively close inshore. Strong bias towards immature birds. Nine present on the 6th February 1984, 5 immature birds on the 7th December 2009 (including the second record of a colour ringed bird originating from the Isle of May) and 4 immature birds on 4th March 1990 are the highest day counts. An exhausted individual picked up on the 23rd April 1988 (and released later at Colne Point following a period in care) had been rung as a pullus on the 11th June 1973 on the Isle of May.

Night Heron

Single record.

On the 7th May 1990 whilst engaged in a game of alcohol fuelled rounder’s on the greensward, Clive Atkins inadvertently flushed an adult Night Heron from the willows in the dell by the toilet block. Unsurprisingly the no doubt petrified Night Heron immediately disappeared in the general direction of Frinton-on-Sea.

Cattle Egret

Single record.

On the early morning of 2nd April 2007 a report of a possible Cattle Egret on the scrape was later confirmed by Tony Critcher. Tony promptly put the news out to a wider audience and by mid morning the bird had moved to farmland immediately to the north west where it could be easily viewed throughout the rest of the morning. The majority of Haven regulars were able to get this ‘’first’’ before later that afternoon it somewhat surprisingly flew off to the north until lost to view.


Two records.

During the early afternoon of the 28th August 2009 Gary Gardiner found the first authenticated record for the Haven. Initially seen standing at the back of the scrape in full view it quickly took to the reeds and, during the early part of its stay at least, could be somewhat elusive. By no means seen daily it could be encountered anywhere across the site during its 3 month stay, often in flight, before being last reported on the 28th November 2009.  

12th January 2010. Hot on the heels of the above, although a good 6 weeks after the 2009 bird was last reported, Mick Rodwell watched what is assumed to be a different bird fly from the direction of the golf course over the grazing marsh until lost to view on the other side of the B1032.

Little Egret

Regularly visitor to the scrape, drainage ditches and grazing marsh.

First recorded 14th May 2003 (2) in the company of a Spoonbill. Subsequently recorded in every month although most occur between early spring and late summer. A total of 5 on and around the scrape on the evening of the 6th June 2008 is the maximum recorded on any one day. Records of up to three individuals moving north east on 1st September 2007 and one low over the sea 29th July 2006 plus the association with a Spoonbill referenced above, may suggest occasional continental origin as opposed to otherwise assumed wanderers from nearby established populations such as those frequenting the Howlands Marsh heronry at St Osyth.

Great White Egret

Two records involving 4 birds.

Around mid morning on the 11th May 2002 Pete Davis and Clive Johnson were looking out to sea from the sluice when they were amazed to see a trio of this species appearing out of the mist close inshore. All three promptly veered north east flying parallel to the coast and were subsequently noted 30 minutes later passing over Stone Point, Walton-on-the –Naze. Perhaps surprisingly this occurrence apparently constituted the first record of this species for Essex.

On the morning of the 17th January 2009 Gary Gardiner and Kas Aldous were at Great Holland Hall when they noted a single individual flying towards them. Assumed to have arrived in off the sea it duly passed over the two lucky observers before moving inland and lost to view.

Grey Heron

Resident and passage migrant.

Individuals or small numbers recorded daily up to a maximum of 6. The nearest breeding colony is at Howlands Marsh, St Osyth, around 5 miles to the South West. In addition to birds possibly returning from distant offshore sand banks, other individuals noted occasionally in autumn arriving in off the sea may refer to birds arriving from the continent.

Purple Heron

Two records of two or three birds.

Although rejected by BBRC a 1st summer bird seen by the late Tariq Watson on 27th May 1981 is considered to be the first record of this species within the recording area.

On the afternoon of 6th September 2004 two birds were reported to have been flushed from one of the Holland Brook feeder ditches. At dawn the following day Simon Cox and John Sawyer noted a single juvenile appear out of the reed bed in front of the hide before flying off in the general direction of Holland-on-Sea. What was considered to be the same individual was subsequently seen at East Mersea intermittently between 15th September and 3rd October 2004.

Glossy Ibis

Two records involving two birds

Just after midday on the 19th September 2009 the ringing team gathered in the plantation noted an individual dropping out of the sky on to the scrape in front of a hide full of birders! The colour ringed bird, originating from Cota Donana, stayed but a couple of minutes before taking flight and heading off north east where it eventually settled at Bawdsey in Suffolk.

Just after midday on the 7th October 2009 Mick Rodwell and Brendan Spooner were in the right place at the right time to witness an individual passing south west close offshore.

The above represents the Haven’s share of what was an unprecedented influx of Glossy Ibis’s in to the UK in 2009. Having witnessed the arrival of the September bird, Brendan holds the unique privilege of being the only person to have seen both birds!

Black Stork

Single Record

On the 30th September 1991 a Black Stork was reported (and subsequently accepted by BBRC) flying over Frinton-on-Sea Golf Course.


Recently an annual visitor to the scrape. Majority in spring/early summer. Single August and September records. Recorded 7 in out of the last 8 years. All records listed as follows;

27th May to 18th June 1996 with 2 from 29th May (adults)

14th and 18th May 2003

12th May 2005 (sub adult)

13th to 17th May 2006 (adult)

27th to 28th April 2007, 5 on 2nd May 2007 (3 adults, 2 sub adults)

27th June 2008 (sub adult), 23rd September 2008 (2)

2nd May 2009 (2), 1st August 2009.

6th May 2010 (adult), 12th May 2010, 22nd May 2010 (adult), 30th May 2010 (3 being 2 adults and a sub adult).

Assuming one wandering individual was responsible for the three records on May 6th, 12th and 22nd 2010, a minimum of 21 birds have been recorded in total of which 17 have occurred in the last 5 years. This steep increase in records mirrors a national trend culminating in the recent attempted/successful breeding in Norfolk and elsewhere in the Country.  The individual seen in May 2003 disappeared from the 15th to the 17th but had returned to the Haven scrape on the 18th May having, like many Haven regulars, found the rather desolate malaria infested bird-less surroundings of Colne Point not to its liking. The May 2007 record was a remarkable sight with 5 birds together feeding at close range from the hide during the early evening. Unfortunately they, like so many Spoonbills seen at the Haven, did not linger, disappearing within two hours of their arrival.  

Mute Swan

Resident pair augmented by short staying/visiting individuals or family parties.

Most years a pair breeds on the main island in front of the hide. In 2008 this pair had 7 small cygnets in attendance on 25th May however from the 2nd August 2008 only 2 remained. No breeding took place in 2009. An unpaired individual has resided at Great Holland Hall farm pond since 2007.

15 (12 adults plus 3 cygnets) on the 28th May 2005 is the largest day count. A lock of 12 passed over north east on the 18th April 2010.

Bewick Swan

Less than annual passage migrant and winter visitor.

Extreme dates range from a singleton on 1st October 1966 to another singleton (immature) on 4th March 1969.

44+ on 16th January 1994 is the largest herd recorded. The only other double figure records include 10 on 19th December 1980 (west of the B1032) and 17 on 9th January 1995. November through January appears to be the peak time of occurrence.

Whooper Swan

Less than annual passage migrant and winter visitor. All records listed below.

19th April 1983

6 on 19th November 1988

7 on 22nd November 1990 (flew south west)

12th December 1992

2 on 22nd February 1996, 5 or 6 on 24th March 1996

5 on 18th December 2006 (3 adults and 2 juveniles)

6 (2 adults and 4 juveniles) together on the sea 14th November 2007. (In addition 22 seen from Frinton-on-Sea on the 12th November 2007 are also quoted in the 2007 EBR for Holland Haven).

9 adults on the sea 10th November 2010, 2 (adult and juvenile) 21st and 23rd December 2010, 7 (5 adults and 2 juveniles) in off the sea 23rd December 2010.

The April 1983 represents one of the latest records of this species in Essex.

Bean Goose

Less than annual winter visitor. 14 records involving 108 individuals as below.

7  (4 adult and 3 immature birds) 10th to 24th February 1982, 7 on 5th December 1982

7 on 1st February 1989 increasing to 8 on 5th February 1989. (probably fabilis)

2 on 2nd to 7th January 1990, 6 on 15th to 23rd December 1990

5 on 27th December 1992

2 on 7th to 21st December 1993 (rossicus)

25 on 14th January 1996, 14th to 26th December 1996 (fabalis)

2 on 25th January 1997, 28 on 14th December 1997 (rossicus)

28th November 2004 with 2 from 5th December to 16th March 2005 (rossicus)

3 on 4th November 2008 (rossicus)

10 on 3rd December 2010 (rossicus, also reported early 4th December)

Extreme dates are 4th November (2008) to 16th March (2005). Although both rosicus and fabilis forms have occurred, the former constitutes the majority of records. The 28 together on 14th December 1997 represent the largest flock seen.

Pink Footed Goose

Since 2004 annual passage migrant and winter visitor, previously only 3 records. All records listed below refer to singletons unless specified otherwise.

12th December 1993

14th November 1999

20th January intermittently to 24th March 2002 at least

29th January intermittently to 8th February 2004 at least, 9 on 8th October 2004

5 on 30th October 2005 (flew south offshore)

2 on 23rd – 30th December 2006

19th January 2007, 29th-30th September 2007, 2 on 24th and 25th December 2007

11th April 2008, 9th October 2008, 15th November intermittently to 20th February 2009

2 on 12th December 2009

3rd January intermittently to 3rd February 2010, 4, 19th-20th February 2010.

Formerly a rarity with the origin of some single birds associating with Grey Lags dubious although none have been recorded at questionable times of year. In 2003, 2005 and 2010, small flocks of almost certainly wild (presumed) family parties have been seen possibly reflecting an ‘overspill’ from the increasing numbers of this species recently wintering in coastal Norfolk.

White Fronted Goose

Annual winter visitor in varying numbers.

No doubt attracted by the presence of the ‘resident’ Grey Lags this species (and other geese) often remain on the grazing marsh for extended periods. Has arrived as early as 4th November (2008) with few appearing or lingering beyond early March. January is the most regular month of occurrence. Maximum single day count of 84 seen on 31st December 1993 with 62 still present on the 1st January 1994. Otherwise 51 seen on the 1st February 1991, 41 on the 23rd and 24th December 2007 and 35 present 24th to 26th December 1996 are also noteworthy. Maximum flock recorded prior to 1988 was around 50.

Greylag Goose

Resident in variable numbers. Odd pair occasionally breeds.

These days present in all months but most numerous from late summer or early autumn with 200+ now being regularly recorded. Far fewer are present from mid April to early July during which time the species can for short periods be completely absent. Has bred i.e. May 2002 when 4 goslings seen, 2003 when 5 goslings were raised and again in 2010 when 7 goslings were reared. Formerly scarce with 11 on 24th February 1979 and a single bird on 26th April 1987 being the only known records prior to 1988. Certainly recorded regularly from March 1996 when 6 were noted, thereafter increasing slowly over the next 4 years to 27 by September 2000. Numbers then increased rapidly from 50+ in September 2001, 150+ by September 2005 and 250+ by September 2006 whereupon peak numbers appeared to have stabilised as 220+ recorded September 2007. However, a new record count of 295 on the 9th September 2008 followed by 380 noted on the 19th September 2009 and a whopping 480 counted on the 21st September 2010 confirms numbers are still increasing, in autumn at least, at a tremendous rate. The whereabouts of these birds when absent from the Haven is unknown although Hamford Water does seem a strong candidate with flocks noted arriving from inland i.e. from a generally north or north westerly direction.

Canada Goose

Regularly Visitor.

Singles or small groups can be encountered at any time of year. Bred 2007 producing 6 goslings, 5 remaining by August. The somewhat modest all time maximum day count of 13 (including 5 juveniles) recorded on 4th August 2007 was smashed just over a year later when 36 were counted on the 15th November 2008 to be followed two days later by an astonishing 51 birds present on the scrape on the early morning of the 17th November 2008. Thirty six were again noted on the 8th August 2009.

Barnacle Goose

Records involving maximum of 129 individuals as follows;

c90 on 25th February 1981

3 on 29th January 1979 (grazing marsh)

11 to 15 on 15-18th February 1996

Single 2nd and 3rd February 2002, 26th October 2002 intermittently to 16th November 2002

Single 4th December 2004 to 3rd January 2005, 10 on 5th March 2005 (grazing marsh south of golf course)

3 on 26th April 2008

5 on 15th March 2009

3 on 9th May 2010

As with records of Pink Footed Goose the origin of singletons or even small groups of this species is highly questionable with the status of truly wild birds being at best rare. In addition to the February 1981 and 1996 flocks, the 10 birds frequenting the grazing marsh towards the golf course on 5th March 2005 were almost certainly wild birds. Extreme dates range from 26th October (2002) to 9th May (2010). New recruits have struggled to add this species to their Haven patch list as the small parties recorded in both 2008 and 2009 remained on the site for less than 30 minutes and the 3 in May 2010 flew straight through!

Brent Goose

Passage migrant and winter visitor.

Large flocks can be found on the grazing marsh and nearby arable throughout the winter. 200+ present during winter 1985/86 was at the time thought to be a significant number however in more recent times 700+ on 15th January 2000, up to 1200+ on the 4th January 2008 and around 1300 on the 16th December 2010, represent the largest gatherings. In addition large numbers can also be seen passing offshore, predominantly in autumn, including a massive c6000 south west over two protracted periods of sea watching on the 30th October 2008. Odd birds, possibly sick or injured, have been noted up until early summer at least with return passage offshore, albeit in small numbers, often noted as early as mid July.

Black Brant has been recorded as follows;

25th February 1996

18th January 1997

26th October 2001

12th January 2003

21st December 2007 to 16th January 2008

15th December 2010 in to 2011

Pale Bellied Brent has been recorded as follows;

13th February 1980

29th December 1996

18th January 1997 (with the Brant above and 500+ Brent)

12th January 2003 (with Brant above and 60+ Brent)

31st December 2007 (with Brant above and 500+ Brent)

8th November 2009 (passing offshore south west with 28 Brent)

12th January 2010, presumed same 17th and 18th January 2010, 11th December 2010 intermittently to 23rd December 2010 with 3 on the 12th December 2010 and up to 2 in to January 2011.

Red Breasted Goose

Single record.

On 21st February 1996 Liz Huxley found an adult present with Brent Geese on the grazing marsh. This bird was thought to have been the wandering individual seen elsewhere in Essex at Old Hall and Steeple at various dates between 3 January and 11 March 1996.

Egyptian Goose

Eight known records involving 23-30 birds.

23rd August 1988

10th August 1991 (8 flying north east)

16th November 2008 (7 on the scrape), same or another 5, 29th November 2008

28th March 2009

4th then again 7th to 10th July 2009 (4 juveniles)

9th intermittently to 19th September 2010 (2), same or another two on 23rd December 2010. 

With no known records between 1992 and 2007 this species has subsequently been reported annually suggesting that it has been previously ignored or (more likely) has genuinely become more common place.


Regular visitor and breeding bird.

Can be encountered in all months, although less so in late summer when virtually the entire adult population leave to moult in large numbers at a number of sites along the north west European coast. Numbers steadily build up on the scrape during the early part of the year reaching a maximum of 44 recorded on the 25th May 2010 (43+ recorded on the 18th May 2009) until falling back again once breeding begins. There is variable breeding success most summers i.e. 14 young were noted on 15th July 2006 however the following year only 4 young were present on the corresponding date. In both 2008 and 2009 20 young were noted with 17 reported in 2010.

‘’Hundreds’’ seen passing offshore during a cold snap in January 1987 was exceptional. In more recent times 55+ noted on 11th February 1995 and 81 on the 2nd December 2009 represent the highest counts of birds moving offshore.

Mandarin Duck

5 records involving 6 individuals as follows;

14th September 1996 (eclipse drake)

8th March 1997 (pair)

6th June 2003 (drake)

13th September 2005 (female)

1st to 5th September 2006 (female/eclipse)

The origin of these individuals is unknown however in addition to rumours of captive/known semi feral breeding as close as Weeley Woods and Elmstead Market, a small free flying flock was reported a couple of years ago in what appears to be suitable breeding habitat, just a few miles from the Haven near Thorpe-le-Soken.


Winter visitor and passage migrant. Presumed sick or injured individuals have summered.

Grazing flock of between 500-1500 individuals present most winters with an exceptional 6500+ recorded in a cold snap during December 1981. Some visible passage offshore mainly in autumn. Other than the odd summering birds a few most years linger until early June with first returning individuals noted from around early/mid August. Occasional suspected Widgeon x Teal hybrids noted most winters. A Wigeon x Falcated Duck hybrid was present during early part of the 2007/2008 winter.


Regular visitor.

Singles or small groups recorded in most months (1-10 birds) although relatively scarce from late summer to late autumn. Rarely seen on passage offshore. 41+ present on the 20th February 2009 set a new site record easily eclipsing the 25+ seen on the 11th February 1995 and the 24 noted on the 29th January 2008.


Present throughout the year.

Can be seen in all months although very few present mid- summer. No breeding has yet been confirmed despite the presence of a pair or pairs most summers. Winter flocks whilst fluctuating from year to year regularly number from c200 to 500 with 706 noted on the 27th December 2009 and a new site record, c800 estimated to be present on the 17th January 2010 both beating the long established previous site record of c660 reported on 5th/6th February 1988. Apparent Teal x Wigeon hybrids are noted most years.


Present throughout the year.

Several pairs breed across the site. Large congregations of moulting birds numbering up to 200 can be seen in autumn. During mid winter around 100+ can be present when marshes flood with an exceptional 190+ noted on the 2nd January 1982.


Regular but probably declining visitor with no records in 2010.

Singletons or small groups can be encountered on the scrape predominantly during winter months. Also seen occasionally passing offshore. Prior to 1988 maximum of c35 when grazing marsh became flooded since when highest count of 13 recorded on 25th September 2006. Although generally absent in summer months 6 fully grown juveniles reported on the 2nd and 3rd June 1994 may be suggestive of relatively local breeding. Also a female was present continuously from 4th May 2008 to 18th June however no drake was seen during this time and as such breeding was not suspected.


Virtually annual passage migrant in both spring and autumn.

Extreme dates 6th March 1993 (pair) and 11th October 2010 (female/immature). 4 (two pair) on the 23rd March is the maximum recorded in a day. Spring records extend over a protracted period with a drake on 17th June 1995 being the latest recorded. Earliest returning autumn individual noted 30th July 2009. An extraordinary series of records involving a drake seen on the 2nd, 9th, 11th, 15th and 16th June 2008 (on which date in company with a female) may be suggestive of attempted breeding. Conversely more than one drake may have been involved, i.e. separate birds passing through.


Present throughout year. Has bred.

Numbers generally peak at between 20-40 in mid winter reducing through the spring with only the odd pair or individuals intermittently present in summer before numbers increase again from mid to late autumn. Maximum of 70+ present on 17th February 2001. More recently a maximum of 50+ were present on the scrape on the 18th February 2009. Very rarely seen passing offshore.

Red Crested Pochard

All records quoted. 2 to 4 individuals involved.

5th August 2000 (eclipse drake)

22nd – 24th August 2006 (female/eclipse). Same or another female, 23rd October, 25th November and 9th December 2006.


Nowadays an infrequent visitor in any month, recorded just about annually although no reports received for 2009.

Prior to 1988 up to 10 occasionally recorded on flooded grazing marsh. More recently encountered singularly, in pairs or trios with 4 on 12th March 2004 and 28th May 2005 respectively and 6 together on 11th January 2003 representing the highest day count. 3 passing offshore on the 30th October 2008 and a single drake amongst Wigeon loafing offshore on the 3rd December 2010 are rare examples of records away from the scrape.

Tufted Duck

Regular visitor. Can be seen in any month

Usually encountered singularly, in pairs or small groups to maximum of 12 on both the 18th February 1995 and 23rd April 1998. Normally seen on the scrape, more rarely passing offshore and most unusually female/immature drakes noted on the sea on the 5th November 2009 and 3rd December 2010.


All known recent records quoted as follows; 

11th January 1991 (14 passing offshore)

10th February 1996 (7, 3 female and 4 drake on the scrape with at least 1 drake remaining until the 17th)

27th October 1996

1st January 1997. (2 drakes passing offshore)

Prior to 1988 seen regularly passing offshore during movements of other wildfowl, either singularly or in small groups to a max of 10. With 12 years or more having elapsed since the last record this species is close to the top of many regular Haven sea watchers wanted list!

Common Eider

Passage migrant, winter visitor and very occasionally seen in summer.

Recorded annually as either singletons or in small groups passing offshore. Maximum of 80 on the sea on 29th October 1978 more representative of a time when Eider could be found in larger numbers nearby at both Colne Point and Hamford Water. 30+ on 20th March 1986 was the last occasion when double digit numbers were recorded until 2009 when 10 were seen passing offshore on the 9th February since when 5 more ‘double digit’ flocks have been noted, with, most notably, flocks of 14 and 18 seen passing offshore on the 22nd November 2010. Although the sample of records is small, perhaps we are seeing an upturn in fortunes for this species locally. Alternatively the nine reports in 2008 (totalling 24 birds), eight reports in 2009 (totalling 38 birds) and around nine reports, totalling 54 birds in 2010 perhaps reflects the recent increase in time spent sea watching by some site regulars!   

Long Tailed Duck

6 records involving 7 birds.

4th April 1979 (on flooded meadows.)

28th November 1981

16th November 1985. (Two birds landed close inshore from the golf course for a few minutes before continuing north.)

29th October 1995. (adult male passing offshore)

28th December 1995. (adult male passing offshore)

30th November 2008 (distant female/immature south west at 1215)

Unsurprisingly late autumn appears the best bet in securing this valuable site tick! With only 6 records in more than 30 years you will need to be prepared to put some time in sea watching if you want to add this enigmatic sea duck to your Haven list!

Common Scoter

Regularly seen passing offshore.

Recorded in all months with the greatest numbers seen from July to December passing offshore. A massive 520 passed south west between 0735-1025 hours on the 17th August 2008 is the highest day count which in itself accounted for over half of the total of 921 birds reported over the whole of that year! Bucking the national trend this species may now occur as, or possibly even more frequently than prior to 1988 when 1 to 20 were seen regularly offshore. Of around 175 seen passing south on 4th November 2007 a single flock was made up off c150 birds, the largest number seen to date in one ‘’string’’. (Most records still involve between 1-20 birds passing offshore). Day totals of approx 200 flying south during the 16th November 1990 and 200+ on the 23rd August 2010 are noteworthy. Very occasionally the odd bird(s) are reported on the sea close inshore with a flock of 20 just offshore from the sluice on the 15th July 2009 being a somewhat unusual occurrence.

Velvet Scoter

All records quoted refer to singletons unless stated otherwise.

25th November 1984

12th November 1988

10th December 2006

11th November 2007 (‘’south’’ per EBR)

2nd September 2008 (flock of 4), 17th November 2008 (total of 7, a 4 and a 3, with Common Scoter), 30th November 2008 (3, comprising 2 drakes and a duck).

1st November 2009 (flock of 4 comprising 2 drakes and 2 ducks), 30th November (5), 1st December (duck with small flock of Brent Geese), 3rd December (pair), 5th December (3 comprising 2 drakes and a duck type).

26th September 2010 (2)

With 9 reports comprising a total of 31 birds during the last three years (compared to just 4 previous records) this species is either occurring far more frequently than in earlier years or, the recent increase of sea watching from the site is being rewarded. All records refer to birds passing offshore. With the exception of the 4 seen passing by on the 2nd September 2008 and the two reported on the 26th September 2010, all records have occurred in the 40 day period between 1st November and the 10th December. Clearly any Haven regulars still requiring this species for their patch list should keep one or more eyes focussed out to sea during this time!


Infrequent passage migrant and winter visitor.

Generally no more than single figure totals are reported in any year with the 12 birds seen passing offshore between 8th November and 5th December 2009 possible due to increased sea watching activity as opposed to any genuine increase in occurrence. Of the 9 seen passing on the 2nd December (2009), 6 were in one flock. Prior to this 4 singles on the 11th November 2007 was considered unusual although prior to 1988 odd birds seen regularly passing offshore and on occasion, even noted on Holland Brook! More recently a female was present on the scrape from 1st to 5th January 1997 however this was very much an isolated occurrence as all other recent records concern birds passing offshore in late autumn to mid winter.


Two records.

On the 20th December 1981 Pete Loud and Clive Atkins located a fine ‘White Nun’ on the stretch of Holland Brook immediately behind the sewage farm

16th January 1985 (reported flying south west offshore).

Red Breasted Merganser

Infrequent passage migrant and winter visitor mainly recorded between early October and late March.

Prior to 1988 this species may have been more frequently encountered with between 1 to 10 birds seen regularly passing offshore. Since then the maximum single group recorded was the 6 seen passing offshore on 25th March 1989 until a flock of 8 were seen passing south west on the 2nd December 2009. Normally a handful of singles or pairs passing offshore per year is about the norm, however a recent increase in records has occurred, perhaps indicative of increased levels of sea watching, i.e. total of 14 birds seen on 4 dates between 22nd October and 9th November 2008 and 8 records involving 21 birds during the combined winter periods of 2009. However, with just 2 records involving a total of 5 birds, 2010 proved to be a quieter year for this species. As the vast majority of records involve birds passing offshore, a pair seen flying over the car park on the 22nd October 2008 was an unusual record!


Only ten records (although annual since 2007) involving 45 individuals including a single flock of 30.

20th November 1991 (female north offshore.)

28th December 1996 (30 south offshore.)

2nd December 2007 (3 north west inland comprising a drake and 2 females).

7th October 2008 (pair south west early evening), 17th November 2008 (‘one south’)

2nd July 2009 (female north east close inshore), 2nd December (flock of 4 comprising a drake and 3 female types south west)

13th November 2010 (female south west late morning), 22nd November 2010 (female north east late morning), 4th December 2010 (drake)

The unseasonal July record may be unique for Essex in terms of what appeared to be a healthy bird flying past just a few yards out to sea! The female seen on the 13th November 2010 was first noticed as it flew over the ringing compound whereupon reaching the sea it switched its course and continued south west parallel to the coast until lost to view! We still await our first ‘’twitchable’’ Goosander that offers any hope to those local patch workers who share an intense dislike of sea watching!  

Ruddy Duck

Two records

The first record was a female found on the scrape on the 27th September 2004. It was still present the following day the 28th.

The second record, also a female on the scrape was found on 28th October 2006. It was still present the following day the 29th.

Due to recent widespread (and possibly ill-judged) attempted extermination of this species in the UK it may be some time before another Ruddy Duck becomes available to those Haven patch workers who were unfortunate enough to have missed the above two records!












































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Non-Passerines (PAGE 2) v4 September 2011