For many years before the current band of regulars started visiting the site, "Holland Gap" was long regarded as a 'good place to see birds'. Although until relatively recent times, most potential visitors, local or otherwise, tended to be seduced into opting for a day at nearby Colne Point or Walton-on-the-Naze - both of which sites - from reputation held greater promise of seeing a 'good bird'. "Holland Gap" first came to national prominence during November 1975 with the discovery of a Desert Warbler which spent two days around rank vegetation growing along the seawall bordering Frinton Golf Course.
BIRDING THE HAVEN: Good Birds can and do turn up anywhere and Holland Haven Country Park is no different. This aside, most of the 'hot spots' which have held good birds in the past, can be accessed from the large car park located at the end of a short access road (Approach Road) that is signposted from the B1032 immediately on leaving Holland-on-Sea. NB: Visitors using the Haven Carpark, please be aware that this is a Pay & Display Carpark that is checked regularly by Parking Wardens. If you are a Tendring Resident with the current 'TDC Free Parking' discs for after 11am THESE DO NOT COVER YOU at either Holland Haven nor The Naze carparks. Tendring residents' permits are available for/covering both respective places (£20 as at 08-02-2018 for any 'twelve month period') and can be applied for, paid and be instantly in use via the Tendring District Council website. You will need your council tax reference to log in/register.
The site itself allows viewing across a medium sized scrape along with a pond area - to the right - served by a large elevated 'container hide'. This can be found by walking approx 500 yards North East of the carpark, via the sluice. The scrape can provide good birding "year round" although Spring and Autumn are best for scarce waders such as Temminck's Stint and Pectoral Sandpiper. There is also a chance of outstanding local rarities, such as Lesser Yellow-legs and Marsh Sandpiper both of which have been recorded over the years. Cattle Egret, Citrine Wagtail and Marbled Duck have also been seen across here and the surrounding fields and grazing marsh in recent years. In earlier years, this same vicinity has hosted Pacific Golden Plover, Long Billed Dowitcher, Red Rumped Swallow, Red Footed Falcon, Bluethroat and Purple Heron.
A second hide is located further along the route towards the Golf Course where the likes of Grasshopper and Dartford Warblers as well as Bearded Tits have been known to seclude themselves within the various surrounding reedbeds.
The small wooded area adjacent to the access road and nearby tree and hedge lines extending to bushes at the North East corner of the car park, are well worth a look in Spring and especially Autumn. Early morning is best, especially in August when large numbers of holidaymakers, can in addition to the 'resident' dog walkers, be distracting. Over the years, these areas have held Barred Warblers, Wrynecks, Yellow Browed, Icterine and Pallas Warblers, as well as commoner migrants such as Redstarts and Pied Fly. In May 2006, a singing Iberian Chiffchaff spent one afternoon in willows and bushes along the access road!
A small platform near to the 'Memorials' area is ideal for surveying across the small 'pools' beyond the brook and hedgerows. Frequented by Waders, Gulls and Ducks, these pools are just as likely to hold that 'something special' as elsewhere on the site. This platform can be accessed via walking part way up the Service Road (from the carpark) towards the Cottages/Sewage Farm and then turn left down the grass slope between the two woodland areas and effectively looking towards the main road across the marshes.
For the more adventurous, the c2 mile round trip from the sluice along the seawall and back, offers views over Frinton Golf Course which has also held the only site records for Woodchat Shrike, Lapland Bunting and Shorelark and whilst not all have been recorded in our most recent years, they have all occurred regularly in the past. The long-staying juvenile 'Haven' Rough-legged Buzzard, had since October 2015 through to April 2016, been seen mostly in areas near to, on or just beyond the Golf Course when it wasn't in flight across the site. Remember that it is also well worth keeping an eye out to sea, as the close inshore 'fly by' of a Gull Billed Tern in May 07 testifies!
Whether opting for a short stroll to spend perhaps an odd hour viewing the scrape, checking the car park area for migrants or electing for a lengthier visit to bird the wider site - which may even include the walk up to and the return from Great Holland Hall Farm (on public pathways ONLY please), we wish all visitors an enjoyable experience and appreciate your continued support in recognising this important area of local ornithological interest.