Holland Haven Birding

Official Site Of The Holland Haven Birding Group ©

Passerines  (v4 September 2011).





Three records involving 3 birds

29th October 1996. Seen briefly on the short grassy area in front of the scrape. Shortly after being detected it promptly flew off!

4th November 2006. Passing overhead calling.

26th October 2008. Passing over the sluice calling.

The last few days of October and the first few of November would appear to be the prime time to listen out for this Essex rarity passing overhead.


Breeds in small numbers, passage migrant and winter visitor.

Predominantly a passage migrant in autumn and early winter where calling birds regularly noted passing overhead in off the sea. A particularly heavy passage was noted on the 28th/29th September 1989 with around 1000-1500 noted passing overhead. In more recent times 200+ were recorded on the 1st October 2009.  Regular wintering flocks of around 50-100 occur with 225 noted in early December 2010 during a period of hard weather. A number of pairs breed on the grazing marsh, although as with Meadow Pipit success is severely compromised by high levels of disturbance during the summer months.


Seven records involving 12 individuals. All records quoted

14th October 1962

7th and 8th October 1979

2 on 9th November 1986

31st October 1988

26th October 1990

2 on 17th January 1995

4 on 2nd November 1996

With the exception of a single mid winter record in January 1995 all have occurred in a one month period between 7th October and 9th November. With none seen since 1996 this species must surely be long overdue for another late autumn appearance, especially in view of the regularity with which it has appeared locally in recent years (i.e. Languard, Walton-on-the-Naze, Colne Point and Mersea Island)

Sand Martin

Passage migrant, summer visitor, formerly bred.

Bred until at least the 1960’s in an area of sandy cliff immediately north of the sluice. This area has since been landscaped (and ultimately concreted) as part of the modern day sea defences, however in 1983 several pairs nested again utilising a vertical stretch of sandy cliff exposed by an earlier storm. Recorded from early March to October with notable passage in both spring and late summer/early autumn. 220+ passing through on the 24th July 2009, 200+ on the 10th July 2005 and again on the 19th July 2008 are the recent maximum movement compared with c150 recorded prior to 1988.


Passage migrant and summer visitor.

Each year a number of pairs utilise several concrete pill boxes present on the site as well as the barns at Great Holland Hall. Recorded from the last week of March to early November with noticeable passage in spring and particularly autumn. Other than ‘’several thousand’’ reported moving through on the 12th September 2010 and ‘’000’s of hirundines (of which the vast majority were considered to be this species) pouring in to the reed beds before dusk’ in early September 2009, other known maximum day counts recorded appear a little modest. (800 ‘on passage’ on the 10th September 2007 and 400+ noted on the 23 September 1989, with 300+ noted on both 17th September 1988 and 1st September 1996 also noteworthy.  In spring 250+ recorded on 5th May 2005 is the highest day count. A hybrid Swallow/House Martin was trapped 31st August 1992.

Red Rumped Swallow

Single record.

30th April 2004.

John Sawyer retains this species as a Haven ‘blocker’ having glimpsed an individual passing north over the scrape with Swallows.

House Martin

Passage migrant and summer visitor.

Recorded from 30th March (2008) to early/mid November with noticeable passage in both spring and particularly autumn. Odd pairs breed in the Church Lane area. Maximum movements of 1000+ noted on both the 30th August 1986 and 7th September 1997 with more recently around 360 passing south on the morning of the 22nd September 2009. In spring 80+ were present on the 30th May 2005.

Richards Pipit

Four records

On the 25th September 1988 Pete Davis found the first Haven record flying low over the southern end of the greensward during a big fall of Meadow Pipits. Initially located by call it remained faithful to this area until last seen on the 1st October 1988.

On the 1st October 1992 the late Tariq Watson and Pete Loud found the second record in the grassy field immediately north west of the access road. It remained until the 2nd October 1992.

On the 15th April 2001 Clive Atkins found the sole spring record; an individual that was watched for less than a couple of minutes before being lost to view in the long grass immediately west of the pill box north of the sluice. Despite searching it was not subsequently relocated.

On the 17th September 2008 Paul Brayshaw found an individual of indeterminate age on rough ground between the seawall and golf course. Unfortunately it did not linger, flying off inland calling minutes after its discovery.

Tree Pipit

Passage migrant, these days less than annual.

Prior to 1988 appeared more frequently on passage when up to 5 recorded in a single year, predominantly in autumn. 2 on 21st September 1996 is the only known recent record of more than one on a single day. Extreme dates are 4th May 1996 and 27th September 1980. Most are noted passing overhead calling however occasional birds are found in variable habitat or perched on fences and overhead wires.

Meadow Pipit

Passage migrant, winter visitor and breeds in small numbers.

Around 350 passing overhead south on the 22nd September 2009 and 339 recorded moving south west on 11th October 1987 are the largest single day counts. Around 220+ recorded on 26th September 2008 is also noteworthy. Otherwise the small breeding population is swollen in autumn and early winter through individuals and small flocks that can regularly be heard and seen coming in off the sea and/or found on the grazing marsh or nearby rough ground adjacent to the seawall.

Rock Pipit

Occasional winter visitor, passage migrant, possibly declining.

Predominantly a passage migrant with a bias towards autumn, with odd birds seen most years in mid winter perhaps involving wanderers from nearby Walton-on-the-Naze. Favouring the sea wall and nearby rocks, can bee seen from mid September to March or rarely, early April. Being of the Scandinavian race ‘littoralis’ some individuals seen in spring can show some characteristics of Water Pipit. Maximum day count involves 6 present on the 12th November 2007.

Water Pipit

Recent occasional spring passage migrant. Multiple records involving minimum of 17 birds.

14th April 1996

17th-18th April 1997

2 on 18th April 2000

3 on 14th April 2001

7th April 2002

3 on 18th April 2003, 1 still 19th/20th with 2 again 21st April

17th April 2006

2 on 17th April 2008, 1 on 19th and 20th April 2008 and another 14th May 2008

10th April 2010, another 17th April 2010

All records have come from the scrape. With well over half of the records falling between the 17th and 19th April this two day period is clearly the prime time to look for this cracking pipit. The 14th May 2008 record is the only occurrence in that month and is the latest by over 3 weeks.

Yellow Wagtail

Declining passage migrant and summer visitor.

Appears from early April and (very occasionally) late March (i.e.28th March 2010), with the first juveniles from late June and stragglers most years through to the second week of October. Breed in ever reducing numbers on the arable until 2009. Frequent on passage although in much reduced numbers in recent years. Prior to the mid 1990’s around 50-100 seen regularly on passage in spring with a maximum of 120 recorded on the 29th April 1992.  (By comparison the maximum day count in spring between 2008 and 2010 has ranged between 4 to 12+ individuals). Variable numbers on passage in autumn with 26+ on the 29th August 2008 and 20+ on the 9th August 2009 noteworthy with no double figure day counts received for the same period in 2010. ‘’Channel’’ and (to a lesser extent) Blue Headed types are regularly seen in the spring with odd birds discernable in the autumn.

Two records of Grey Headed or Ashy Headed* (refer British Birds Oct 2013 Vol.106 pages 623/624)

Single records of males on

28th to 30th April 2001

26th April 2008.

Three records of Grey Headed

22 September 1988

27th April 2001  Associated with a small fall of c20 ‘Yellow’ wagtails one of which showed characteristics of a flava/Citrine hybrid.

10th to 11th May 2008, also possibly since 9th May.

A thorough search for the Grey Headed Wagtail on the 28th April 2001 failed to locate the bird in the immediate area of the scrape. However on widening the search to nearby grazing marsh an example of the equally as stunning, but somewhat rarer, Ashy Headed Wagtail was found! Unlike the first record, the Ashy Headed found by Gary Gardner in 2008 did not linger and could only be appreciated by those present in the hide at the time.

Citrine Wagtail

Single record

A female initially detected on the scrape by Simon Cox on the 7th May 2006 and formally identified as ‘Citrine’ by Clive Johnson when heard to call, was still present the following day. At the time of its discovery the near full hide were enjoying the spectacle of 3 Temmincks Stints which had arrived earlier in the morning.

Grey Wagtail

Passage migrant and occasional winter visitor, probably increasing.

Small numbers recorded most years’ however a minimum of 28 recorded in 2010, 44 recorded during 2009 and 30+ during 2008 may represent a genuine recent increase in numbers on passage as opposed to greater observer coverage. Occasionally seen in mid winter and early spring however few if any have occurred in summer. Most occur in autumn over a protracted period from early September to mid/late November. Most are detected as they pass overhead calling however individuals occasionally linger around the sewage farm, sea walls and weed covered rocks. 6+ noted on the 19th September 2009, 4 present on the 19th September 2008 and 4 passing over on 3rd October 2003 represent the maximum day counts.  

Pied Wagtail

Resident, one or two pairs breed.

In recent years up to 30+ have been seen pre-roost on the greensward in autumn. This may be a relatively modern occurrence as prior to 1988 an average of only 1 to 10 were recorded on any one day across the site. The species is omnipresent favouring amongst other areas the scrape, seawalls and Great Holland Hall where (in terms of the latter two sites) a pair regularly nests. White Wagtails occur annually on passage in varying numbers during April and again in autumn between August and early November with 5 together on 21st April 2001the highest count on a single day.


14 records involving 84 birds as follows, virtually annual since 2005;

1 on 24th November 1992

15 on 3rd February 1996 (flying over)

1 on 20th November 2005

1 on 26th December 2007 (per Essex Bird Report)

1 on 4th November 2008

6 on 13th January 2009

29 on 25th October 2010, 4 on 30th October 2010, 5 on 12th November 2010, 12 on 11th December 2010, 4 on 12th December 2010 and 5 on 15th December 2010

The remarkable series of records from late 2010 involved a total of 59 birds which, (with the exception on the 25th October, of a flock of 9 that paused briefly on overhead wires before continuing inland) all passed overhead, (some having been seen to arrive in off the sea), without stopping. Similarly, all other records (including we assume the 2007 record for which no details are known) involved birds that have made only the briefest of appearances at the Haven. The 1992 bird was seen perched briefly on a television areal, the one seen in 2005 was found feeding on the hawthorns around the Gunfleet Sailing Club boat park (and stayed no more than 10 minutes) whilst the 2008 bird showed briefly twice in the sewage farm area before disappearing! Initially found perched atop the trees next the ticket machine, the January 2009 flock, after the briefest of visits to a nearby hawthorn, departed within minutes in the general direction of Holland-on-Sea. Accordingly if you want this species on your Haven list you will probably need to find it yourself!


Breeding resident with possibly some passage/immigration.

Numbers difficult to assess however c5-10 pairs thought to reside across the entire site. With 19 trapped over a lengthy period during 2009 there is a suggestion of some (local) limited immigration. In contrast only 12 were trapped during the whole of 2010 suggesting perhaps a significant reduction in breeding pairs/breeding success.


Breeding resident with some immigration likely.

Resident breeding pairs difficult to assess however 10-15 pairs are thought to occur across the site. A total of 38 were trapped and rung between June and November 1987, 37 during a similar period in 2009 and 36 during the whole of 2010 perhaps suggesting a remarkable (if not coincidental!) long term stability in terms of breeding population/success. A ‘noticeable arrival’’ was reported on the 28th September 2010 however whilst immigration, probably even continental immigration, surely occurs this is yet to be substantiated as significant through either qualification of actual numbers of birds present and/or any abnormally large numbers caught on given days during autumn.


Breeding resident with immigration in most autumns.

Around 10-15 pairs are across the site. 30+ on the 25th September 2008 and ‘’plenty of Robins arriving in the rain’’ on the 28th September 2010 (see Dunnock above) is suggestive of autumn immigration from the Continent. 26 were trapped during 2010 compared with 20 in 2009.


Five, probably six records including successful breeding of one pair during 2010;

29th August 1990

9th August 1995

17th August 1996 (juvenile)

30th April-1st May 2006 (access road, in song)

21st April 2010 (opposite access road entrance, in song), 26th April to 12th June (initially male in song in thick cover behind Gunfleet Sailing Club boat compound, trapped 1st May, second un-ringed bird, presumed female thereafter with juvenile being fed by parent 28th May)

With only 4 previous records, and none since 2006, the presence of a breeding pair in 2010 came as a bit of a surprise and enabled all Haven regulars to add this species to their patch list. It is entirely possible that the male heard and briefly seen opposite the entrance road on the 21st April 2010 and the male heard again behind the boat compound 5 days later were, in reality, different individuals. The early autumn individuals may well indicate dispersal from the nearby Great Holland Pits breeding population.


Single record.

On 27th April 2002 Pete Davis and Clive Johnson located a singing male at the apex of the reedy ditch and feeder stream to Holland Brook directly in front of the hide. As the bird showed and sang for no more than 10 minutes before disappearing only the lucky finders currently have this species on their Haven list. As this individual showed absolutely no sign of any white on the throat (even when stretching), it is possible that it constitutes an example of the variant found in north west Iberia.

Black Redstart

Passage migrant and single mid winter record.

Before 1988 1 or 2 regularly reported in both spring and autumn in most years. More recently numbers have varied somewhat as illustrated by just a single bird recorded in 2007, 4/5 (including 2 together on 8th April) birds seen in 2008, a total of 3 during 2009 and then a minimum of 7 in 2010 (all but 2 occurring in late autumn.)  Other than a single mid winter bird on 13th January 1990, extreme dates are (for spring) 3rd March 2003 and 4th May 1996 and in autumn 5th August 1990 and 25th November 1989 and 2010. 3 present on the 28th March 1998 is the highest number occurring on a single day.


Annual passage migrant in autumn, rare in spring with a single mid-summer record.

In spring has occurred from mid April to early May. Other than an isolated July record, autumn passage is somewhat protracted with individuals occurring from the second week of August (15th August 2010) through to mid October (16th October 2010). Maximum day record of 7 on the 15th September 2008 with 6 on 5th September 1996 also noteworthy. Up to 5 also seen on a single day in autumn in a number of years prior to 1988. A juvenile seen on the extremely early date of 6th July 1994 may have been evidence of relative local breeding. Individuals showing characteristics of intergrades with ‘’Ehrenbergs Redstart’’ have been noted on 13th October 2001 and 14th/15th September 2008 (trapped on the latter date).


Passage migrant, predominantly in autumn.

These days less than annual in spring (latter half April to mid May) when compared to pre 1988 when 1-5 recorded regularly. Relatively common in early autumn from late July (i.e. 2 on 31st July 2010) through September and occasionally in to October. (Latest recorded date 14th October 2010). Double figure numbers often encountered with singles or even small groups found on the many fence lines bisecting the grazing marsh. Maximum day total 30 on 8th September 1987 with 20+ on 21st August 2005 also noteworthy.


Passage migrant and winter visitor.

Odd birds are occasionally seen on passage in spring (as opposed to lingering over wintering individuals). In autumn present from mid September with some lingering to end March. Numbers fluctuate from year to year with up to 8 present from late autumn 2007 rising to a maximum of 16+ on the 12th December 2007 with the following year 14 also present on several dates between end September and end December 2008. By contrast the highest day count for 2010 involved a rather modest 3 birds present on the 18th October. Where notable autumn influxes occur, numbers tend to reduce gradually during late winter probably due to combination of predation and hard weather dispersal. Generally found singularly, in pairs or small groups along the area bordering the sea wall. Prior to 1988 only 1-3 were recorded annually. Suggestion of relative local breeding is a record of 2 recently fledged juveniles on 26th June 1993.

Siberian Stonechat

On 14th October 1984 Pete Loud found a female/immature along the rough ground below the sea wall towards Frinton golf course.

Also, a very distinctive male Stonechat first seen near the car park on the 31st March 1996, and studied closely by the finders over the next few days (by which time it had taken up residence by the sluice) was after much consideration thought to be an example of a nearby continental race which resembles Siberian Stonechat. Although never ascribed or submitted as a ‘Sibe’ by the finders, a record for Siberian Stonechat submitted by person or persons unknown, was nonetheless circulated and without any reference back to the finders, rejected (albeit correctly) by BBRC.


Passage migrant. Rare in mid-summer although has bred (single pair in 1986 and again in 2001).

Double digit day counts in spring and counts of 20-35 in autumn occur most years with maximum of 40+ recorded in September 1987 and more recently on the 29th August 2008. Earliest spring record 6th March 1997 with passage normally over by end May. In autumn first birds are returning from late July with the latest record being of a single bird on the 10th November 2002. In addition to the 1986 and 2001 breeding records a juvenile on the 28th June 1985 was not thought to have fledged far away. ‘Greenland’ Wheatears are regularly recorded in both late spring and autumn.

Ring Ouzel

Barely annual (i.e. no records in 2009) passage migrant in varying numbers with majority in autumn.

Usually recorded as singles with 12 reported on the 6th October 1998 being the maximum day count. Between 8 and 10 present on the 18th September 1996 is also noteworthy. A total of 5 on 26th April 1987 is the highest day count for spring. The earliest spring record by two weeks involved a female seen in the Church Lane paddocks on the 30th March 2008 with the latest being 2 present on both the 1st and 2nd June 1991. In autumn generally recorded between mid September and mid October with an extraordinary early bird seen on the 10th August 1995 and a late individual seen on 1st November 1989.


Breeding resident and passage migrant with noticeable autumn and early winter immigration.

100+ noted on several occasions in autumn with maximum day count 200+ on the 22nd October 2001. Otherwise local breeding population augmented by wintering birds with some return passage in spring.


Passage migrant and winter visitor in varying numbers.

Occurs generally from October to mid/end April (i.e. singles on the 16th April 2009 and 27th April 2010). Outside of this core period a particularly early autumn bird was present on the 31st August 1983. The highest day count recorded is 1500 in off the sea on 24th January 1984. Around c100+ maximum in a day have been noted on passage in both spring and autumn. In mid winter small numbers can be regularly found in and around the paddocks at Great Holland Hall or occasionally on the golf course and adjacent arable.

Song Thrush

Breeding resident and passage migrant.

One or two pairs breed across the site with some immigration during spring and, more usually, autumn with maximum of 30+ recorded on 6th October 1998.


Passage migrant and winter visitor in varying numbers.

Generally recorded from late September (26th September 2010) with odd birds seen up until the end of April in some years. Maximum of c250 in off the sea on 24th January 1984 with 200+ recorded on 9th April 1996 the highest total recorded in either passage periods. A total of 84 passing over south west on the 27th October 2009 is also noteworthy as is a 112 recorded in the Great Holland Hall area on the 20th February 2008.

Mistle Thrush

Breeding resident and passage migrant.

Up to 5 pairs are resident favouring the golf course and Church Lane/Great Holland Hall area (A total of 12+ noted on the 4th June 2009 may have included some juveniles). Some limited spring and autumn immigration may occur as illustrated by 4 passing overhead calling on the 12th November 2009. A pair nested in the porch of the doorway at Sluice Cottages in April 1995 laying 3 eggs, the fate of which is unknown.

Cetti’s Warbler

Multiple records involving 6 to 9+ birds from first in late 2005 up until 2010 during which year (i) breeding confirmed, (ii) up to three adults present on various date and (iii) four birds trapped and rung.

Reports of single birds heard and seen on the 3rd November 2005, heard only on the 12th November 2005 and seen on the 11th December 2005 probably relate to a single individual.

One seen and heard on 4th November 2006

One seen briefly by the sluice on 27th September 2008

Reports of single birds heard on the 29th October 2008, 2nd November 2008 and seen on the 4th November 2008 along the access road and immediately across the B1032 almost certainly relate to one individual.

2009. Between 2 to 5 birds. One singing on the 21st March 2009, possibly another intermittently from 11th April to 24th June 2009. This or another bird was present 26th and 28th June at a totally different part of the site. Another 28th September (on which date it evaded capture in a mist net), presumed same heard 14th October with possibly another at a separate location intermittently from 10th October to 15th November. 

2010. Multiple records, (minimum of 7 birds including young) including confirmed breeding and 4 birds trapped and rung. After one isolated report on the 3rd January, recorded virtually daily between 5th April and early June with 2 birds noted on odd days and 3 on the 24th April. On the 28th June 4 young were seen being fed by an adult. Thereafter infrequently reported until September but then regularly noted until mid October, including 3 present on both the 18th and 28th September. Following one heard on the 16th November the last record of the year involved one trapped and rung on the 27th November. 

At the time of writing (August 2011) it would appear that colonisation was short lived, presumably due to the severe and extended cold snap during the winter of 2010/2011. In fact no further reports have been received since the bird trapped in late November 2010. 

Grasshopper Warbler

Six records involving 6 birds

12th to 13th September 1990 (trapped)

25th August 1991 (trapped)

4th August 1993, 25th September 1993

30th April 2001 in song approx 100m north of the hide

6th September 2003 seen briefly in the depression just west of Clacton sailing club.

Certain Haven regulars banking on the (re) commencement of regular ringing activity to deliver this species on to their site list to date, remain disappointed!

Sedge Warbler

Summer visitor and passage migrant

Arrives from mid April (11th April 2009) with the latest record a single bird seen on the 22nd October 2008 (although rarely seen after early September). Four to five pairs breed most years with total of 16 rung in autumn 1987 suggests this population is either much reduced or significantly augmented by passage migrants. A total of 10 seen on the 29th April 2009 and 10+ again on both the 25th April and 1st May 2010, suggesting some birds pass through on spring passage.

Reed Warbler

Summer visitor and passage migrant.

Arrives from mid April (12th April 2009) with stragglers recorded through to early October (5th October 2009) with an ‘interesting looking acro’ seen on the 22nd October 2010 possibly also being this species. It is estimated that in excess of 30 pairs breed in the reeds which fringe Holland Brook and the various connecting channels and ditches (30+ singing males 28th May 2009). 44 were trapped and rung during 2010.

Icterine Warbler

Four records of four birds

21st to 22nd October 1980

31st August 1985

22nd September 1986

10th September 2009

In addition, either this species or Melodious Warbler was heard signing, initially at the car park end of the access road, (thereafter the main car park bushes), but seen only poorly, on two occasions on the 13th May 2009. Also, on the 28th July 2002, an unidentified Hippolais warbler seen briefly along the hedge bordering the car park showed several features consistent with Olivaceous Warbler.)

After 23 years, Icterine Warbler at last appeared again in 2009! Located by Pete Loud around 1600 hours it performed well for many Haven regulars (but not all!) in the car park bushes for around 90 minutes during which time record photographs were taken. It subsequently became somewhat elusive well before dusk and despite searching, could not be located the following day.

Dartford Warbler

Minimum of three records involving minimum of three birds.

6th to 18th March 2005, favouring the east/west ditch running c100m north of the hide (Esturine Moth sanctuary).

On the early morning of 15th November 2007, Gary Gardiner found the second record in brambles adjacent to the rough ground sandwiched between the sea wall and Frinton-on-Sea golf course.

On the afternoon of the 13th October 2009 a first winter bird was found by Roland Power in the brambles beside the coastal path south of the golf course. What is assumed to have been the same bird remained undetected for nearly a month until seen in the same area from the 10th to the 12th November (with possibly 2 birds present on the 11th) after which it disappeared again until relocated on the 1st December a few hundred yards to the north in the general area of the golf course dump. It remained in this area until last seen on the 14th December 2009. It is entirely possible that 2; or even 3 different birds were involved in the above series of sightings.

Desert Warbler

Single record

20-21st November 1975.

Disgracefully suppressed by the finder(s) and a handful of invited cronies, this individual ‘’favoured a 180m stretch of seawall, where it moved about amongst vegetation and grasses growing between the concrete blocks’’ (Wood, The Birds of Essex). Not an autumn passes by when, on walking this stretch of seawall, Haven regulars long for lightning to strike twice. In recent years some consolation has come from the recognition by the wider birding community of Holland Haven as ‘a place that turns up good birds’ as opposed to the all too frequent refrain in earlier years of, ‘that’s the place that suppressed the Desert Warbler’.

Barred Warbler

Nine records involving nine individuals.

20th to 21st September 1980

24th August 1986,  27th September to 4th October 1986

24th August 1987

27th August to 1st September 1990, 8th to 11th September 1990

1st September 1996

21st to 22nd Sept 2001

2nd October 2010*

*With over 9 years having elapsed since the last record, many handily placed modern day Haven regulars were pleased to hear of one found by Terry Palmer and Pete Newton hanging in a mist net!

Lesser Whitethroat

Summer visitor and passage migrant.

Appears from mid April (14th April 2009) with stragglers seen up until 2nd week of October. Around 3-6 pairs breed annually favouring the hawthorns along the access road and the north west corner of the car park. Evidence of passage, particularly in autumn with 20+ noted on 22nd August 2009 and 31st August 1996 with 15+ on both the 29th August and 12th September 2008. In contrast the highest day total in spring 2009 involved 8+ present on the 22nd April and in 2010 a maximum of 10+ were noted on both the 25th April and 1st May.


Summer visitor and passage migrant

Appears from mid April (13th April 2009) with odd birds recorded up until early October (6th October 2009). Up to around 10 pairs are thought to breed across the recording area from the car park through to arable below Great Holland Hall. Evidence of passage, particularly in autumn with 31 rung during the autumn of 2009 and 24 in a similar period of 1987. (Total of 46 trapped and rung during 2010). Day counts of 20+ noted on 29th April 2009 and also on 31st August 1996.

Garden Warbler

Passage migrant.

Numbers vary from year to year with 8 present on the 14th May 2009 and during the last week of August 1990 being the largest concentrations noted. Occurs from early May (2 on 5th May 2010) to early June (9th June 2008) and from mid July (10th July 2008) to mid September. Minimum of 10 recorded in 2008 and 11 in 2009 compared with minimum of only 5 birds in 2010. Pronounced seasonal variation in most years (an exception being 2009) with numbers occurring in autumn significantly higher than in spring.


Summer visitor, passage migrant. Has wintered.

Appears from late March with very late birds seen through to the end of November. Up to 4 pairs breed along the access road or in the bushes found in the north west corner of the car park. Passage migrant, normally in relatively modest numbers with bias towards autumn (generally from late August) rather than spring where passage is normally light and somewhat difficult to determine from local breeding birds. Maximum of 50+ on 6th September 2009 is by far the largest concentration noted (i.e. next highest count 15+ 1st October 1994). Occasional birds have been noted in mid winter. A total of 31 were trapped and rung during 2010.

Pallas Warbler

Five records of five birds.

28th October 1987 (Garden of what was Little Holland Hall), another 25th November 1987

20th-23rd October 1994

23rd-24th October 1996

22nd to 26th October 2007 (in hedge either side of the dipping pool by the car park barrier. Not present 21st as incorrectly stated 2007 Essex Bird Report).

With 4 of the 5 records falling in a 7 day period between 22nd and 28th October special attention should be paid to the areas of sallow across the site should these dates coincide with a light easterly!

Yellow Browed Warbler

Five or Six records involving nine or ten birds.

27th to 30th September 1986 (4 ranging between Little Holland Hall and hedge bordering car park 27th and 28th with 3 on the 30th)

2nd October 1988

2 on 12th October 1991

24th October 2001

21st – 22nd October 2007 (in same sallow clump as Pallas on later date!) with same or another reported on 26th October 2007 (contrary to EBR 2007 no substantiated reports exist for 23rd to 25th October 2007).

In the ‘’Birds of Essex’’ Wood acknowledges 11 records for the Haven however this may merely be the sum of unverified data taken from Essex Bird Reports which may, (as has occurred with other species), in our view include a number of erroneous records as opposed to any genuine omissions from the above list of records.

It is somewhat difficult to see any pattern of occurrence for this species which frustratingly turns up far more frequently 3 to 4 miles away at Walton-on-the-Naze.

Wood Warbler

All records quoted

31st August – 1st September 1985

16th May 1987, 12th-14th August 1987, 7th September 1987

9th May 1988, 1988 up to 3, 22nd August, 5th Sept and 2nd October.

21st to 22nd May 1990

4th May 1997 (access road, in song).

4th May 2009 (car park bushes, in song)

After a 12 year absence to the day, the 2009 bird proved somewhat quiet and elusive within 90 minutes of being found and was subsequently missed by a number of Haven regulars. As such this now, in terms of Britain, scarce and declining summer migrant remains high up on many a Haven patch workers wanted list!


Passage migrant and summer visitor. Has been recorded in mid-winter.

First arrivals noted as early as second week of March with stragglers noted through to third week of November. One or two pairs usually breed most summers favouring the small wooded area along the access road and/or bushes in north west corner of the car park. Passage most noted in autumn when double figure numbers are regularly recorded to a maximum of 80+ present on the early morning of the 13th September 2008. Winter records are generally unusual involving odd birds often noted associating with roving tit flocks. (Recent examples include 2 on the 13th December 2009, 1 during second half of January 2010 and on two dates in December 2010).  A total of 23 were caught and rung during the autumn of 2009 compared with just 12 in 2010.

Iberian Chiffchaff

Single Record

On the early afternoon of the 5th May 2006 Pete Davis located a ‘Willow/Chiff’ with a strange ‘mixed’ song along the hedge line bordering the access road some 50 metres from the entrance to the car park. Identification as ‘’Iberian Chiffchaff’’ was later confirmed that day both by other observers and by reference to a pre recorded CD of typical song. Regrettably, the bird eluded capture by mist net and as no sonogram was obtained the record, whilst undisputed in terms of admission to the ‘Holland Haven’ species list, cannot currently be accessed by BBRC.  Some suggestion however, has been made that the criteria by which such records will be accessed in the future (as well as retrospectively) is currently under review, thereby offering a possibility that at some time this occurrence will perhaps take its’ rightful place as the first county record.

Willow Warbler

Passage migrant and summer visitor.

Can occur as early as late March with few records after end September. Irregular breeding bird with one or rarely two pairs, present in bushes in north west corner of car park. Far higher numbers seen on passage particularly in early autumn with single day maximum of 30+ recorded on both the 24th August 1986 and 13th August 1987 and more recently the 12th September 2010 with 23+ present on 21st August 2008 also noteworthy. A total of 46 rung in the autumn of 1987 compared with 23 in 2009 and just 15 in 2010, suggests far fewer move through than a generation ago. 8+ noted on the 17th April 2006 and again on the 16th April 2008 represents maximum day counts for recent spring passage periods.


Passage migrant and occasional winter visitor. Rarely seen in summer although may have bred.

Up to 20+ regularly recorded on autumn passage with a maximum of 54 recorded on 25th October 1990 and, more recently, 50+ noted on the 12th October 2010. By contrast hardly any were noted during autumn 2009, (generally considered to have been the worst ever autumn for this species). Spring passage from early March involves more modest numbers with single figure counts the norm (10+ noted on the 7th March 2009). A single bird seen on 1st July 2000 was an unusual mid-summer record as was and adult with 1+ young on the 18th August 2009. Odd birds can be found occasionally throughout the winter months with 5+ noted on the 7th January 2009. 18 were trapped and rung during late autumn 2010.


Passage migrant. Has occurred mid winter.

Due to the regularity with which this species can be found in early spring (March/April) and late autumn (September/October), the Firecrest is the bird most immediately associated with Holland Haven. As such it has duly been adopted as the logo of hollandhavenbirding.com.

Day counts of 1-5 regularly recorded in both passage periods with exceptionally 15+ (mainly in the small wooded area along the access road) noted on the 18th September 1996. (This influx was associated with the arrival of good numbers off Ring Ouzels). Extreme dates are (earliest) 1st March 2009 (2) and (latest) on the 27th November 2010 although in the last couple of years it has become difficult to separate true migrants from over wintering or wandering individuals seen between late December and late February.

Spotted Flycatcher

Passage migrant.

In more recent times barely annual in spring occurring from early May (9th May 2009) to early June. Significantly more occur in autumn from early August (2nd August 2009) to the last week September (2 on 30th September 2010). An amazing 20 present on the 9th May 1988 is by far the highest single day count and totally out of character for that time in year even for 20 years ago when the species appeared to have occurred somewhat more frequently. Twelve reported on the 19th May 1990 is also noteworthy and more than the highest day count in autumn which was 10 on 31st August 1985. These days a day count of three or four in autumn is considered exceptional with 6 noted on the 12th September 2010 and 5 on the 14th September 2008 being the recent maxima recorded.

Red Breasted Flycatcher

Two records. Both October.

19th October 1986

2nd October 1989

Another eastern European summer visitor which regularly appear in Britain in good numbers most autumns that is long overdue in making another appearance at the Haven!

Pied Flycatcher

Passage migrant in autumn, rare in spring.

Very few spring records. Those that have occurred, range from 11th April (1994) to 11th May (1991). Annual in autumn though declining as demonstrated by the maximum day count of 14 on 18th August 1985 compared to a possible total of only 3 birds seen in the whole of 2008, just one in 2009 and 4 or 5 in 2010. In recent years no more than one bird has been recorded on any given day. Records in autumn range from 9th August (1995) to 28th September (2008 and 2010).

Bearded Tit

Seven records involving thirteen birds prior to 2010. Estimated 60+ recorded between mid October and mid November 2010.

19th October 1980 (in reeds bordering golf course)

28th March 1992 (male)

2 on 20th January 2004 (pair)

5th November 2006

3 on 21st October 2007 (reeds between golf course and seawall).

3 on 21st October 2008 with 2 still present following day 22nd October.

Pair on 13th October 2009, again 16th, assumed same 22nd and female type remaining 25th October seen intermittently to 18th December prior to arrival of heavy snow fall. 

2010. Between 13th October (9 birds present) and 16th November (2 birds present) an unprecedented influx involving an estimated 60+ individuals. Highest day count totalling 19 thought to be present in fragmented groups across, or passing through, the site on the 22nd October. Of 3 trapped one was a control originating from Suffolk earlier in the autumn.

Although almost annual since 2004 the massive influx during the 5 week period in 2010 came as a real surprise to Haven locals anticipating the usual difficulty in getting this species on their personal patch year lists! After it all was over the various patches of reeds dotted around the site once more became eerily quiet without the distinctive twanging of small flocks of Bearded Tits bombing up and down! In addition to being found on the same date the trio in 2008 were in exactly the same place as the three seen exactly 12 months earlier leading to some perhaps fanciful speculation that the same pair (plus surviving single offspring of that year) may be involved!

Long Tailed Tit

Breeding resident.

Difficult to assess local population numbers however between 2-4 pairs thought to breed along the access road or in woodland/gardens bordering the site. What constitutes these local breeders plus their surviving offspring congregate in mobile flocks from late summer and along with other tit species present can attract more interesting species such as Yellow Browed and Pallas Warbler. Max flock size of 27 seen on 4th September 2005 with 25+ noted on the 2nd November 2008 and around 30+ roaming around in several groups during January 2009. A total of 41 were trapped and rung during (the autumn) of 2009 with 29 (predominantly in autumn) rung during 2010.

Coal Tit

Former resident now recorded less than annually. All recent records quoted below.

Up until 1984 (after which date the trees were felled) bred in the conifers behind the sewage works, subsequently, what are assumed to be local wanderers or birds of the continental race ater, have occurred as follows

15th July 1989, 10th November 1989

16th October 1990

8 on 19th September 1996 (with 5 on the 21st September).

31st March 1997

2 on 3rd April 2008 (Church Lane, considered to be ‘britannicus’).

22nd February 2009, 29th March 2009, 22nd April 2009.

The September 1996 records formed part of an unprecedented influx of around 44 birds reported in Essex of what are assumed to be the continental race ‘’ater’. Of the three 2009 reports/individuals two at least, (those in March and April) were considered to be of the continental race ‘’ater’’.

Blue Tit

Breeding resident

Approx 10-15 pairs are estimated to breed favouring the small wooded area along access road, bushes in north west corner of car park and the wooded area immediately to the north of Great Holland Hall. Post breeding tit flocks including up to 20 individuals can be encountered from late summer onwards.

Great Tit

Breeding resident

Approx 5-10 pairs breed in habitat as per Blue Tit. Up to 10 individuals can be found in post breeding mixed tit flocks from late summer onwards.


Formerly infrequent winter visitor. Nowadays a great rarity.

Prior to 1988 was considered ‘’occasional’’ in winter with individuals perhaps wandering from either Great Holland Pits or the woodland immediately to the north of Great Holland Hall. As neither of these populations seem to exist in modern times (if the latter ever did) this may explain the current status of this predominantly sedentary species. Since 1988 records have been few. Following one seen on the 20th July 1991 the last known record involved one trapped and rung on the 23rd August 1998 until......

24th to 30th October 2010, same or another 21st November.

Being the first for 12 years, and despite at times being incredibly difficult to find (or in the case of the author, impossible to find!) most Haven regulars were thankful to Ian Minton for locating this individual in the car park bushes. It remained faithful to this area until the 30th suggesting the individual glimpsed by Mick Rodwell along the access road in November could well have been a different individual.

Red Backed Shrike

Eight records involving up to ten birds. One spring record.

23rd August 1986

13th September 1988, 2 or 3 on16th to 28th September 1988

23rd September 1989

27th August to 20th September 1995

male 13th May 1997, 16th – 30th August 1997

7th October 1998

The individual in 1995 stayed for 25 days, an Essex record in terms of a migrant Red Backed Shrike. After a gap of twelve years and despite the demise of this species as a British breeding bird, we must surely be due for another record soon.

Great Grey Shrike

Four records involving four birds.

17th October 1974

24th to 26th September 1986

12th January 1988

2nd to 4th October 2007

The 2007 bird found by John Sawyer and Karen Aldous was appreciated by local Haven patch workers as well as visitors from further afar. It remained faithful to the rough grazing immediately north west of the car park offering excellent views during its three day stay.

Woodchat Shrike

Single record

On the 11th June 1992 the late Tariq Watson found a female Woodchat in the hedge line that separates Frinton Golf course from the adjacent arable to the north west. It was last seen on the 13th June.


Breeding resident

One to two pairs present favouring the access road and car park with another one or two pairs in the Church Lane area. Prior to 1997 only occasionally recorded with exceptionally 6 on 11th October 1983 representing the Haven’s share of what was a major influx of Jays in to the UK that month from Europe. Jay was the first species to be recorded at the feeding station established during 2008 adjacent to the sewage farm compound with 2 subsequently trapped and rung during both 2009 and 2010!


Breeding resident

A number of pairs are scattered in and around the wider site with post breeding groups up to 20 encountered from late summer onwards with maximum day count of 30+ recorded on 5th October 1986. Five were trapped and rung during 2010.


Breeding resident, possibly increasing.

Present all year with around 10-15 pairs breeding at Great Holland Church and surrounding area. Formerly bred at what was Little Holland Hall (now a residential care home opposite entrance road). Groups ranging from 20-30 are generally about with up to 100 birds regularly recorded on and around the grazing marsh often in company of Rooks. Maximum count of 250+ noted on the 24th July 2009.


Resident. Has bred.

In 2007 at least 4 nests were built in trees along access road which was the first confirmed breeding for many years. Although not repeated in 2008, (and following successful appeals to the local council to spare the trees from the axe), a maximum of 15 nests were in evidence by the 8th April 2009 and again in late March 2010. Young birds are about from the middle of April. In addition a rookery has traditional been used across the B1032 in trees bordering Holland Marsh. Prior to 1988 flocks numbering over 250+ have been recorded feeding on the grazing marsh in late summer. In more recent times, 300+ noted around the grazing marsh on the 1st February 2009.

Carrion Crow

Breeding resident.

Probably around 4-8 pairs breed in or near the recording area. Small groups are often found loitering around the seawall and grazing marsh with 30+ reported on the 19th January 2008.

Hooded Crow

Four records involving four birds as follows;

6th February 1992 on grazing marsh south west of the B1032

1st April 1996

22nd April 2006 on grazing marsh from hide

21st October 2010

A real rarity absent from most regular’s site lists, with the much anticipated ‘fourth record’ in October 2010 seen only briefly early morning atop a chimney pot on the roof of the house immediately south of Clacton Sailing Club before departing off over Frinton-on-Sea!


Breeding resident.

Flocks in excess of 1000 regular in autumn and early winter feeding on grazing marsh. Large flocks numbering many hundreds if not thousands appear in off the sea during late autumn. Large roosts in hawthorns along access road noted in both autumn 1985 and particularly 1991 when around 100,000 birds were thought to be present on the 20th October. Strangely this species rarely if ever visits the feeding station

House Sparrow

Resident although much declined.

This formerly abundant resident whilst ranging widely over the site is more often found in one of the two small communities that persist (i) towards the residential area south east of the car park and (ii) Great Holland Hall. Probably no more than 20 pairs (down from an estimate of 25 pairs in 2008) are involved in total with the later community possibly down to single figures. One or two pairs may nest in the car park bushes. Flocks reaching three figures recorded regularly prior to 1988. This is another species that strangely rarely, if ever, visits the feeding station.

Tree Sparrow

Passage migrant and formerly occasional winter visitor, much declined.

These days relegated to less than annual in autumn (two records in 2009 and just one in 2010) with odd birds being the norm although 12 seen together on the 23rd August 2008 is the largest flock seen for some considerable time. Prior to 1988 considered as ‘’irregular’’ with some passage in autumn and early winter with odd pair occasionally present in summer. By comparison, over 50 years ago, on 25th October 1959, ‘’200 per hour’’ were recorded moving south west!


Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor.

A few pairs breed within or close by the recording area with numbers swollen, particularly in autumn by migrants. 200 an hour passing through south west noted on 25th October 1959 is the largest movement recorded. These days far more modest numbers are noted on autumn passage with max of 100+ noted on the 25th October 2010, <50 noted on the 27th October 2008 and 27 on the same day in 2009 representing the highest day count for the last three years. A total of 63 were trapped and rung during 2010 compared with just 14 in 2009. Some evidence of direct immigration (as opposed to general coasting movements) in autumn is supported by a report of 30+ birds seen to arrive directly from out to sea on the 7th November 2010.


Passage migrant formerly wintered.

Small numbers, up to around 20-35 (although only 7 recorded in 2008 and up to 9 in 2009) seen most autumns from early October to mid/late November, normally passing overhead. Day maximum of 24 noted on the 2nd October 2007. Rarely occasionally birds remain for short periods to feed. Rare in spring (one on 7th April 2009 the last record).


Single record

On the 1st September 1987 Pete Newton and Pete Loud found an immature or female in the hedge bordering the sewage farm. After the initial sighting the bird promptly disappeared.


Breeding resident, passage migrant and probable winter visitor.

Around 5 to10 pairs are thought to breed across the site. In addition some passage noted particularly in autumn up until end of November, involving what was thought to be relatively small numbers. However, with a 143 birds trapped and rung during 2010, clearly either the breeding population is significantly larger than our previous estimates, or steady, if not significant, numbers pass through most years, or a combination of the two!  Flocks of 50-100 recorded occasionally prior to 1988. More recently 80+ were present on 16th August 1994 and 73 recorded passing south on the 10th October 2008.


Passage migrant although odd pair may have bred.

Occasional in winter.

Other than the odd ‘resident’ pairs along Church Lane, these days predominantly a light passage migrant in spring with far larger numbers in autumn from early August up until the end of November when, in addition to any roaming feeding flocks, significant numbers pass overhead. A massive 1500+ recorded moving south west between first light and 1045 hours on the 22nd October 2010 is the highest know count. Prior to this, 750 passing through south west on 11th October 1987 and (more recently) around 500 passing through on both the 11th and 17th October 2009 were the largest movements recorded with c400 passing south in two hours on the morning of the 16th October 2008 also noteworthy. Along with Linnet, virtually disappears by mid/end November with few moving early December and thereafter only occasionally reported before March. Despite a strong autumn passage in 2010 (of which the colossal 1500 on the 22nd October was the peak) only one Goldfinch was trapped and rung


Passage migrant and occasional recorded in winter.

Spring passage variably light from early March to late April with far larger numbers, sometimes totalling hundreds, moving through most autumns from September with the vast majority passing overhead. In 2007 and again in both 2009 and 2010, passage extended to the early winter period with birds noted passing over up until mid December. 200+ moving through on the 21st September 1996 and 250 estimated passing over the following day the 22nd September 1996 represent the highest day count. Siskin numbers passing through, particularly in autumn appear to have significantly increased in recent years as prior to 1988 only up to a day maximum of 10 reported in most years. A single bird flying south on the 26th June 2008 was an unusual mid-summer record.


Declining breeding resident, passage migrant and occasional winter visitor.

Odd pairs still breed however predominantly a passage migrant in variable numbers more pronounced in autumn to early winter when movement can still be detected up until mid December. Occasional seen in small numbers most winters (77 present at Great Holland Hall on the 20th February 2008 the largest recorded in recent years) however as with Goldfinch virtually disappears from the coastal strip between November and March. Prior to 1988 heavy passage in autumn a regular event evidenced by a record of approx 1,850 passing through south west on 11th October 1987. Up until this time feeding flocks in excess of 100 birds were also a regular occurrence. More recently highest day counts have struggled to exceed 100 birds in autumn with c40 the maximum recorded in 2008 and 35 in 2009, however on the 22nd October 2010 a total of 200 were noted passing south, part of a movement which also saw a record count of Goldfinch.


Formerly regular passage migrant and winter visitor, now rare.

A flock of 12 feeding on rough ground below the seawall on the 21st October 2008 was the first record since 12 were reported during the early morning of the 12th September 2001. Regrettably they were flushed shortly after discovery and disappeared south.

Prior to the late eighties small numbers could be regularly encountered on passage and/or during winter between early October and mid March. Records began to dry up during the early to mid nineties when reports became less than annual with last notable record for that period being 30+ seen on the 1st December 1996. An exceptionally large flock of 160 were recorded briefly on rough ground by the seawall, albeit for only a few minutes, on 22nd October 1986.

Lesser Redpoll

Passage migrant.

Very rare in spring with virtually all records relating to birds passing overhead from mid to late autumn (end September) to occasionally early winter (1st week December). Prior to 2008 up to a maximum of 30 recorded in a single day however in what was to be an excellent autumn for this species a new day record of 194 passing south overhead was set on the 16th October 2008. As with Siskin, the numbers of Redpoll moving through, particularly in autumn may have significantly increased in recent years, as prior to 1988 only around 1-5 on any given day were reported on passage.

As virtually no Redpolls are seen perched, a confirmed Common (Mealy) Redpoll still remains conspicuously absent from the Haven list, however three birds passing low overhead on the 16th November 2010 were so strikingly pale that whilst Lesser Redpoll could be confidently eliminated, ironically, Arctic Redpoll could not! Equally frustrating, the establishment of a feeding station and (since 2008) the resumption of ringing activity, has failed to provide any Redpolls, of any species or form, for closer scrutiny!


Two records

On the 26th May 1996 Pete Davis and Pete Newton found a female/first year male type feeding with a small group of Linnets near one of the picnic tables adjacent to the hedge bordering the car park. After a few minutes the bird went up in to the hedge with the Linnets never to be seen again.

On the 2nd November 2008 Pete Davis and Adrian Doling found a female/immature calling from the very top of the (now felled) single tree in front of the toilet block. After no more than a couple of minutes, reminiscent of the 1996 record, the bird, for no apparent reason flew off high inland until lost to view.


Formerly breeding resident now relegated to barely annual visitor.

Odd pairs certainly bred in on or near the recording area until 1996 as up until this time a maximum of 5 individuals could be seen on any given day along the access road or around the bushes in the north west corner of the car park. Nowadays still recorded just about annually with odd individuals seen infrequently/ periodically throughout the year. (Just one record involving one bird on one date in 2010). It is likely that the majority of such recent sightings originate from a nearby relict population which persists nearby at Great Holland Pits.


Single record.

On 14th April 1989 the late Tariq Watson found a single bird perched in trees bordering the car park. This is the sole acceptable record as a single bird reported in the 1993 EBR passing overhead ‘’high’’ on 8th November 1993 must surely be subject to question.


Passage migrant

Recorded barely annually in recent years (no records in 2010) with majority involving birds passing over between late June and mid September with one recent record outside of this period involving 3 passing overhead on the 26th October 2007. These infrequent occurrences tend to coincide with general influxes in to the UK associated with this irruptive species. Of note are a series of such records over several dates during September 1990 including 14 on the 8th September and a series of records from 2008 totalling a minimum of 37 birds including a single flock of 14 perched in the trees by the pay machine on the 25th June with another 14 passing overhead on the 21st August.

Lapland Bunting

Passage migrant and formerly winter visitor in significant numbers.

A phenomenon from 1985 to 1992 was the regular appearance of wintering flocks of Lapland Buntings favouring the grazing marsh and nearby rough ground immediately below the seawall. Largest flock being 70 recorded on 27th November 1985 of which around 55 over wintered until mid March. Following around 50 present during the 86/87 winter and 40 during the 87/88 winter numbers reduced significantly in the years 1989-1991. Following 8 on the 14th March 1992 the species returned to its pre 1985 rarity status. During this time the earliest record in autumn was (1 on) the 29th October 1989. An individual seen on the 7th April 1988 is assumed to have been a spring passage migrant as opposed to a lingering over wintering bird. All records post 14th March 1992 are quoted below including a remarkable influx of 14+ birds recorded from early September to early December 2010.

24 on 29th September 1993.

Singles seen on 10th November, 14th and 28th December 1996 may all refer to the same bird.

2 on 20th January 2004 flying inland and appeared to land at the back of the grazing marsh but could not subsequently be relocated.

23rd November 2007 flying over calling.

2 on 17th November 2008 flying over calling.

24th to 26th November 2009

2010. Minimum of 14 individuals recorded as follows; 4th September, 12th September, 13th September (6+), 16th September, 10th November (2), 28th November, 2nd December and 3rd to 7th December.

Associating with a small group of Snobs on the seaward end of the bridle path across the golf course, the obliging 2009 individual found its way on to most keen patch workers lists! The series of records in 2010 reflects a massive ‘irruption’ of Lapland Buntings in to the UK (and beyond) over a protracted autumn/early winter period. Of the 8 records in that year only the last (again favouring the bridle path across the golf course) stayed long enough to be enjoyed by anyone else other than the finders.

Snow Bunting

Late autumn migrant and occasional winter visitor. Formerly over wintered.

Recorded annually from second week of October (one near the raised tee 9th to 11th October 2010) ranging from singletons to flocks of up to a maximum of 45+ (in one flock recorded on the 27th November 1983). Usually found feeding along, or just inside the seawall or passing through on passage in late autumn (maximum passage day count of 62 on 19th November 2005 including dispersed flock of c36 in off the sea). Occasionally odd birds linger for many weeks and are typically approachable. Prior to 1988 up to 30 regularly wintered.


Formerly bred and wintered in significant numbers. Since 2000 has become somewhat of a rarity.

Prior to 1988 the overspill from grain hoppers located on the grazing marsh sustained diverse flocks of seed eaters including flocks of Yellowhammers frequently in excess of 50+. In even earlier times up to a 100 passing over south west on the 27th October 1957 and 50 an hour recorded passing south west on 25th October 1959 were reported. Nowadays relegated to the status of real rarity with one seen and heard flying over inland on the 29th October 2009 and 2 records in 2010 (both fly over’s 9th August and 21st October) being the first records since a single bird seen on the 26th March 2002. This is despite an all be it small population(s), persisting at nearby Great Holland Pits and along Sladbury’s Lane, both of which are (almost) viewable from the extreme south west site boundary!

Little Bunting

Single record

On 12th October 1989 Simon Cox and the late Tariq Watson found a 1st winter hanging in a mist net erected in the old sewage farm ringing site. After release, and despite searching, the bird was never seen again.

Reed Bunting

Breeding resident in small numbers, passage migrant and probably winter visitor.

Very few are present in winter months with birds returning to the reed beds in early spring where up to 5 to 10 pairs probably breed. Numbers increase in autumn and early winter through some immigration, however nothing like twenty years ago when prior to 1988, autumn/winter roosts of between 50 and 100 birds were recorded regularly. More recently day counts rarely exceed single figures at any time of year with 28 noted passing through on the 12th October 2007 being exceptional.  

Corn Bunting

Breeding resident in very small numbers. Formerly wintered in large numbers.

After a period of decline, breeding numbers may be stabilising with 4 or 5 pairs present from 2008 at least, being an increase (albeit modest) on the 3 pairs found in the favoured arable area up towards Great Holland Hall during 2007. Formerly far more common with flocks of 50-70 regularly encountered at pre roost near the golf course in the winter periods prior to 1988 with a maximum count of 100 roosting in reeds on the 17th September 1983. In recent years tends to disappear post breeding from mid/late summer although one or two are very occasionally seen at varying times of year on and around the rough ground below the sea wall and nearby grazing marsh. During the autumn of 2009 some passage was noted, the first for some years, with a number of reports from late August to the end of October including a flock of 14 on the 13th October 2009. Notwithstanding this apparent influx and despite the possible stabilisation of the breeding population, it is still feared that as with Yellowhammer and (probably) Grey Partridge this species is in terminal decline as a breeding bird and is destined ultimately to becoming a great rarity for future generations of Haven patch workers.