Avid year listers got the month off to a good start on the 1st with an adult Iceland Gull and a Red Crested Pochard at Paglesham Lagoon with a Pale Bellied Brent and Barnacle Goose on the nearby Roach. A good count of 4 Barn Owls was made from Haven Point the same day. A flock of 40 Yellowhammer frequented the Hampton Barns area early in the month and a female Merlin dashed through at Paglesham Lagoon on the 2nd. 6 Stonechat were present on Two Tree Island including a pale male initially thought to be a possible Siberian Stonechat but later proved not to be. Several records of Bullfinch at Hadleigh Downs this month were pleasing with a peak of 4 on the 3rd. Woodcock were also recorded here with 1 on the 9th and 2 on the 31st. The Harriers maintained their presence from last month with at least 3 Hen Harrier still around the Fleet Head area along with the 2 Marsh Harrier, another of which took up residence at Wat Tyler from the 4th and had occasional exchanges with a Peregrine for airspace. Goldeneye numbers peaked at 21 on the 5th on the River Roach. Seawatching from Canvey Point was very slow although a drake Velvet Scoter close inshore on the 11th was an excellent find. Southend Pier provided some interest mid month with 13 Mediterranean Gulls, a Razorbill and a Red-throated Diver on the 13th and 26 Kittiwake and a Little Gull on the 14th. The Ring-billed Gull was again present at Westcliff in the latter half of the month but was curiously absent for the first two weeks. The wintering Firecrest was recorded again mid month at Friars Park. 2 wary Barnacle Geese were located in field at Fleet Head on the 16th remaining to the 24th giving reason to believe they were of wild origin. 50 Avocet could be found roosting in the creeks around the Fleet Head area throughout. A walk around Hockley Woods on the 22nd revealed 3 Nuthatch and 3 Treecreepers. After an absence of two and a half years it was a delight to find 5 Mandarin at Southchurch Hall Park on the 28th most of which remained through to the end of February and were shamelessly twitched by more than a few! The 28th also saw peak numbers of Greylag Geese at Wat Tyler with 88.
Gale force winds and high seas on the 1st resulted in what was presumably the Westcliff Ring-billed Gull taking shelter on flooded fields at Gunners Park before returning to its usual haunt outside Rossi’s on the 2nd were it remained throughout the month. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were located early in the month largely due to being more vocal at this time, with 1 in Belfairs N.R. and a pair in Hockley Woods. A small influx of Siskin took place between the 3rd and 15th with birds recorded from several sites around Leigh and Rayleigh with the maximum count being 12 on the 3rd with a further 11 on the 5th. A probable Goshawk was seen on the 4th and 16th in Belfairs Woods. Time spent searching for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Hockley Woods on the 5th was rewarded with sightings of a pair, plus 6 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 5 Nuthatch. The star bird of the period was a drake Green-winged Teal found late on the 8th on the scrape at Wat Tyler. A first for the recording area and perhaps somewhat overdue it was a forerunner of a small nationwide arrival that weekend. Sadly for most it had moved on by the following day and was possibly the bird that later took up residence at Northward Hill RSPB across the water in Kent. Mid month a Guillemot was seen from Canvey Seafront on the 13th with probably the same bird seen from the Pier on the 15th. Woodcock continued their presence with 2 on Hadleigh Downs again on the 16th. The high ground at Wakering Tip gave views of 29 Little Egret coming to roost on the 16th and 65 Avocet in the surrounding creeks. Canada Geese numbers reached 109 at Wat Tyler on the 20th, the same day that the female Peregrine and male Marsh Harrier could again be seen disputing hunting rights and jostling for airspace.
A passage flock of Ruff made Barling Pits their home between the 1st March and 1st April peaking at 25 on the 2nd. Wildfowl numbers increased at Paglesham Lagoon early in the month with 102 Shoveler and 80 Tufted Duck being noteworthy on the 2nd. Great Crested Grebe reached a most impressive 91 off the coast between Shoebury and Southend on the 3rd including 67 together at East Beach. 4 Guillemot were counted off the Pier on the 3rd. There was a report of a Spoonbill on Bridgemarsh Island late on the 3rd repeating a similar report from October 2001. The area of Bridgemarsh on the 4th yielded a Great Northern Diver, a Slavonian Grebe and a ringtail Hen Harrier. The Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers continued to reveal their presence this month with birds at Hockley Woods on the 4th, Hadleigh C.P. on the 12th and Belfairs on the 15th. Mid month saw a passage of Woodcock with singles recorded between the 6th and 26th from a number of locations including suburban gardens. In Belfairs on the 12th a Coal Tit could be heard singing and on the 15th a large movement of Redwings saw 100 in Belfairs Woods with many singing. The Ring-billed Gull at Westcliff was last seen on the 14th departing 10 days earlier than last year. From the 15th onwards there was another small passage of Siskin with 2 at Belfairs peaking at 20 nearby in Leigh on the 31st. Avocets were back in residence on the lagoon at Two Tree Island from the 15th when 37 could be counted before subsequently pairing up and nest building later in the month. Another Bullfinch was seen at Hadleigh Downs on the 16th. Wakering Stairs was a good place to be on the 16th with a Black-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver offshore followed later that day by a 2nd winter Glaucous Gull. Summer passage got under way slowly on the 17th with the first Wheatear which was typically in Gunners Park on the same day that the Marsh Harrier and Peregrine continued their aerial acrobatics at Wat Tyler. White Wagtails were found in Gunners Park on the 19th and 25th. Corn Bunting numbers rose to a respectable 120 at Barling on the 19th the same day that Red-breasted Merganser numbers peaked at 18 on the nearby Roach. Evidence of wader passage was provided by 4 Spotted Redshank and a Common Sandpiper at Vange Marsh on the 20th and 85 Black-tailed Godwit in Benfleet Creek on the 24th. A Guillemot remained in the Thames on the 20th and 21st seen from Gunners Park seawall and Southend Pier. The first Sand Martins were 2 flying over Southend Airport on the 27th.
2 Tree Pipits were an excellent find in Gunners Park on the 1st with another there on the 16th, a very difficult bird to see in this area. The first Swallow was reported at Hadleigh Downs on the 3rd, the same day the first Yellow Wagtail appeared at Barling Pits. A House Martin was reported over Gunners Park on the 5th. A Cetti’s Warbler loudly announced his presence at Great Wakering from the 6th onwards with another 2 birds singing at Wat Tyler on the 9th continuing this species revival. Another Guillemot was reported from the Pier on the 6th. The first Common Tern was in Benfleet Creek on the 7th when 5 Sparrowhawks counted at Hadleigh Downs may have been indicative of passage. Bullfinch continued to be seen with luck through the month with 1 - 2 at Belfairs N.R. and Hadleigh Downs. A Black Redstart was present in Gunners Park from the 7th to the 11th with a further 2 found unusually at an inland brickwork’s near Rochford on the 11th where one remained on the 12th. 2 Black Necked Grebes at Vange Marsh on the 8th were another very good find allowing several people to add them to their local list as they stayed to the 13th, the summer plumaged bird being particularly appreciated. The first Little Ringed Plover were also seen here on the 8th with 2, before a broader arrival from the 20th to the 27th at a number of sites. The last Siskins were 2 on the 9th again at Belfairs N.R. where the last Fieldfare was also seen on the 12th, the same date that the last Redwing departed from Gunners Park. The final Two Tree Island Short-eared Owl was last seen on the 13th when it flew across to Canvey with another seen at Wakering Stairs on the 21st. A fine drake Garganey was at Vange Marsh on the 13th. Passage Brambling were reported at an Ashingdon garden on the 13th and 14th with another in Belfairs Woods on the 16th. The first Cuckoo were at Fleet Head and Canvey on the 17th, the same day that the first Whimbrel arrived at Two Tree Island and Yellow Wagtails at Fleet Head reached 35. The 19th saw a spring peak of 10 Spotted Redshank at Fleet Head where the last Hen Harrier was logged the next day. Passage continued apace on the 21st with the first Turtle Dove at Fleet Head, 4 Sandwich Tern offshore from Gunners Park, a near summer plumage Little Gull at Vange Marsh and a singing Nightingale in Belfairs N.R. The following morning a Wood Warbler was found singing at Belfairs Golf Course and the Nightingale continued to be heard through to the 23rd. An escaped Saker spent the night of the 23rd in a hanger at Southend Airport before being returned to captivity on the 24th. 3 Brent Geese were lingering off Southend Seafront on the 23rd. Bearded Tit sightings have been few this year however one was seen at Wat Tyler on the 24th and again on the 28th. The ubiquitous Ruddy Duck more than doubled its previous high count with 32 at Vange Marsh on the 24th where 8 Little Gulls were present that evening. On the 25th the first Swift was reported over Two Tree Island. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling at Wakering Stairs on the 27th and continued to be heard through to the 6th May and was possibly last years bird returning as it frequented the same patch of scrub. The 28th saw the first Whinchat at Hadleigh Downs.
2 Little Tern were on the lagoon at Two Tree Island on the 2nd with 2 still there on the 11th. Hobby arrived on the 3rd with birds at Vange and Friars Park shortly followed by numerous sightings on a daily basis from across the area continuing this species resurgence. A Peregrine was at Two Tree Island on the 4th evidence of yet another raptor whose fortunes are improving. 1 - 2 Marsh Harriers continued to be reported from the Fleet Head area early on in the month. A Cetti’s Warbler was heard singing again at Wat Tyler on the 5th. A Little Gull was at Vange Marsh again on the 10th with another reported in Benfleet Creek on the 25th. Mid month saw a light seabird passage with small numbers of Little, Sandwich, and Common Tern in the Thames and 39 Gannets flying upriver past Canvey on the 10th, and perhaps not unsurprisingly 9 flying back out down the river on the 11th. A drake Garganey was reported from Wat Tyler on the 14th. Last months Nightingale at Belfairs N.R. was joined by another on the 12th and both remained in song until the 21st often accompanied by 1 -2 singing Garden Warbler and a pair of Bullfinch on the 20th. Up to 5 Spotted Flycatchers could be seen in Priory Park from mid month onwards. Another Bearded Tit was seen at Wat Tyler on the 22nd with a Water Rail present here on the 27th.
The Nightingale at Belfairs N.R. was last heard singing on the 2nd and the Garden Warbler continued to sing here through to the 17th. A cracking adult male Montagu’s Harrier was seen hunting over Fleet Head on the 4th before moving over to Barling G.P’s in the afternoon, returning again to Fleet Head on the 7th. A Short-eared Owl was hunting around Potton Island on the 8th and again on the 17th bringing hope that it may return to its former county status as a breeding bird. Two Gannets passed by the Pier on the 9th and two male Mandarins were seen in Southchurch Hall Park the same day. The resident Cetti’s Warbler was heard again at Great Wakering on the 14th. Five Spoonbill reported at Two Tree Island on the evening of the 16th were frustratingly brief with presumably the same group reported from Minsmere next morning. Herring Gull was proved to breed successfully in central Southend, as was Kingfisher at a previously undiscovered location in the area. A report of two Great Black-backed Gull chicks being hatched at Shoebury would be the first breeding record for Essex in over 150 years if confirmed. Up to three Marsh Harriers summered in the Fleet Head area and up to 3 Reedlings were at Wat Tyler throughout the month.
A lone Siskin was at Belfairs N.R. on the 4th, the same day that a Treecreeper was by the golfcourse there and again on the 6th. Little Ringed Plovers were very scarce this autumn with four at Vange Marsh on the 7th being the best count. Little Owls were regularly reported throughout the month from both Fleet Head and central Southend. Hobby reportedly reared 3 young at Wat Tyler this month where reports of a Peregrine throughout the month from the 5th onwards repeated last years run of sightings. Two Brent Geese at Wakering Stairs on the 14th were more likely over-summering birds as opposed to returning individuals, 81 Greenshank also there on the run-in was an impressive count. Spotted Flycatchers successfully raised three young in Priory Park, it’s sad to reflect on this being the only location where any have been reported from during the last few summers. The Little Egret roost visible from Wakering Tip reached 42 this month on the 17th, and three Marsh Harriers continued their stay in the Fleet Head area. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker had joined up with a roving tit flock in Belfairs N.R. on the 18th where contact calls from the summering Nightingale were heard on the 20th. A female Mandarin was reported from the former favoured site at Friars Park on the 19th where they have been absent from since summer 1999. A male Bullfinch was reported at Magnolia N.R. in Ashingdon on the 21st, this being the only summer record in the area of this much declined species. The peak autumn count of Common Sandpiper was made at Vange Marsh on the 22nd with 32, the same evening that two Tawny Owls were heard on Hadleigh Downs. Early signs of return passage were evidenced by the first Whinchat on the 27th at Barling followed by another Montagu’s Harrier on the 28th, this time at Hullbridge. There was a good late summer count of 480 Sanderling and the first Wood Sandpiper was at Wakering Stairs on the 30th.
A Hooded Merganser found at Vange Marsh on the 2nd which remained to the 19th was a first for the local Escape List, the Canada Goose flock peaked here at 97 on the 3rd when Greenshank numbers for the year also peaked at 107 at Wakering Stairs the same day, with a further 73 roosting on the lagoon at Two Tree Island on the 15th. A Wood Sandpiper was at Wakering Stairs again on the 5th with three at Lion Creek on the 7th. The two Little Egret roosts recorded their highest counts of the year during this month with 67 viewed from Wakering Tip on the 3rd, and 43 along Thameside on the 15th. Gannets were exceptionally scarce this autumn with six past Wakering Stairs on the 4th being not only the sole record of the month but also the highest count of the autumn. Equally scarce this autumn were Curlew Sandpipers with three at Two Tree Island on the 11th and 12th being the best count. Yellow-legged Gulls were noted between the 2nd and 14th, with five in Benfleet Creek on the 10th being the best count, the same day that 40 Eider were off Wakering Stairs. Numbers of Ruff reached 31 at Fleet Head on the 17th. Following a run of records in April, three Black-necked Grebes including a juvenile were found again at Vange Marsh on the 18th remaining to the 24th when four were present, surely indicative of local breeding. Small numbers of Crossbill started arriving from the 5th, all unfortunately just fly-overs, with 35 over Hullbridge on the 26th by far the highest count. Two Garganey were reported at Vange Marsh on the 22nd. Passage picked up on the 24th with a stunning Red Kite over Barling, a Little Stint and the last Wood Sandpiper of the year at Fleet Head, a Siskin and two Pied Flycatchers at Gunners Park, the peak count of six Whinchat at Oxenham Farm, and an adult Ring-billed Gull on the mud off Two Tree Island which may have been the returning Westcliff bird. A Tree Pipit was at Gunners Park on the 26th, the day the first Arctic Skuas started passing through with nine off Canvey followed by sixteen the next day with a Pomarine Skua. Two Fulmar passed the Pier on the 30th. The month closed with five passage Spotted Flycatchers, two Pied Flycatchers, and a Garden Warbler all in Gunners Park; an outstanding count of 250+ Sandwich Terns off Canvey and a Manx Shearwater close inshore with another Pomarine Skua there all on the 31st.
The record numbers of Sooty Shearwaters passing along the east coast provided Canvey watchers with four on the 1st along with a Great Skua and a Fulmar. 202 Sandwich Terns were still present off the Point. Mediterranean Gull numbers started to build from the end of August at the Pier culminating in 33 being counted on the 1st easily smashing the previous record count. A Pied Flycatcher remained in Gunners Park on the 1st and another two Fulmar passed Canvey on the 2nd along with a distant Manx Shearwater and a Pomarine Skua. The last Crossbill of the mini-influx was a single fly-over at Hadleigh C.P. on the 3rd. The WeBS count on the 6th gave 844 Sanderling at Shoebury and also located the Ring-billed Gull back in residence outside Rossi’s at Westcliff where it remained throughout the month. On the 7th, a Cetti’s Warbler was reportedly singing at Fleet Head and a Garganey was at Wat Tyler. An obliging juvenile Red-backed Shrike was found near Hole Haven Creek, Canvey on the 8th and was well twitched by many through to the 13th. A Redstart was in Gunners Park from the 8th to the 12th with Tree Pipits also there on the 8th and 15th. 110 Corn Buntings at Butts Hill N.R., Canewdon was a good autumnal count on the 8th, and three Porpoise off the Pier the same day were a reminder that the Thames can provide surprises from beneath the waves as well as above. Strong winds and driving rain on the 9th saw some good birds moving through the estuary with 25 Arctic Skua, ten Great Skua, four Manx Shearwater, and three Arctic Terns reported off Canvey followed by a Sooty Shearwater, six Great Skua, and a juvenile Long-tailed Skua past Gunners Park in the evening. Once the sun came out on the 10th, it shone on a few lucky seawatchers at Canvey when an Orange-billed Tern Sp. apparently flew past close inshore before heading towards Kent. With a very mobile Elegant Tern moving around the British Isles this could have been the mega of the millennium for the area had it settled and been positively identified. It was reportedly seen again two days later from Canvey. Eight Black Terns off Canvey also on the 10th were less exciting but represented the highest count in a poor passage. The last Swift was seen on the 11th at Gunners Park where two Pied Flycatchers were present on the 12th. The first of several Sabine’s Gull sightings was on the 11th when a juvenile flew upriver past Canvey and another Pomarine Skua was also logged there that afternoon. Seawatching on the evening of the 13th gave another Sooty Shearwater and two adult Long-tailed Skuas off Canvey whilst another Cetti’s Warbler was heard singing, this time at Wat Tyler. A full day at Canvey on the 14th saw some good birds recorded with the fourth and last Long-tailed Skua, a Razorbill, two Pomarine Skuas, 21 Common Scoter and a summer plumage Black-throated Diver, whilst another Wryneck at Gunners Park from the 14th to the 15th provided a welcome relief from staring at the Thames. Once again, Canvey stole the headlines on the 15th with a Sabine’s Gull reported and an autumn peak of 40+ Arctic Skua, and a Tree Pipit was logged at Gunners Park. Tawny Owls became more vocal this month with one calling from Rayleigh Mount mid-month, and two at Hadleigh Downs on the 20th. There was a small flurry of wader passage at months end with one to three Little Stints at Vange Marsh from the 24th to the 30th and another at Fleet Head on the 27th, and the only Curlew Sandpiper of the month was also at Vange Marsh from 24th to 26th. The Short-eared Owl at Fleet Head was logged again on the 27th when another Sabine’s Gull flew upriver past Gunners Park. A Tree Pipit flew over Wakering Stairs on the 29th and a female Ruddy Shelduck was reported from Paglesham Lagoon.
The trickle of Little Stints continued with one at Vange Marsh on the 1st and two on the 9th. A juvenile Sabine’s Gull was found off Canvey on the 6th and obligingly remained until the 10th, usually present over high tide. The Pier managed a final Pomarine Skua, a Great Skua, and a Guillemot on the 6th. Three Reedlings on the 7th in Benfleet Creek were probably dispersing birds from the nearby reedbeds of Wat Tyler. A considerable movement of Little Gulls was noted from Canvey on the 9th with 45+ with many still there on the 10th. Two Firecrests were found in Gunners Park on the 11th with one remaining on the 12th. An influx of thrushes took place mid-month, including a Ring Ouzel which arrived in Gunners Park on the 12th along with ten Redwing, followed by 12 Fieldfare there on the 13th and a pair of Ring Ouzel at Oxenham Farm on the 14th. Single Brambling were noted at Gunners Park on the 14th and Belfairs N.R. on the 15th with 20 Lesser Redpoll here on the 16th probably part of the same movement. The Ring-billed Gull at Westcliff became increasingly unreliable with just two sightings this month on the 19th and 21st. Also on the 19th was an incredibly late Whinchat at Wakering Stairs and a report of a Ring-necked Parakeet in Gunners Park. Winter visitors started arriving in the last week with four Goldeneye on Paglesham Lagoon and two Red-breasted Merganser on the nearby Roach on the 26th, the same day that the first Hen Harrier of the winter was recorded at Wakering Stairs. The customary fly-over suburban Woodcock remained true to form with one over Southend on the 31st.
A Woodcock flew over an Eastwood garden on the 1st. The 2nd brought a male Brambling to Butts Hill, Canewdon followed by a Peregrine there on the 3rd. The Ring-billed Gull at Westcliff was recorded on the 2nd and on four other dates in the month often in the company of up to 6 Mediterranean Gulls. Patient scrutiny of a Golden Plover flock in Potton Creek was rewarded with the first ever definite sighting of Dotterel in the recording area on the 3rd, unfortunately it only remained for thirty minutes. Also present in the creek were 2 Little Stints, which remained until the 23rd, a Short-eared Owl and a juvenile Hen Harrier were also seen here. Curiously there were numerous sightings of Swallows from across the area on the 3rd, however not a single bird was reported after this day. On the 4th, another Brambling was seen, this time in Priory Park, when 3 Siskins were found at Butts Hill, Canewdon. 3 Marsh Harriers were still present in the Fleet Head area throughout the month along with up to 3 Short-eared Owls, 4 Hen Harriers, and a Merlin. On the 9th, 281 Black-tailed Godwits were counted in Potton creek including two colour-ringed birds, and a Cetti’s Warbler was reported from Paglesham Lagoon. A wintering Firecrest was first found at Hadleigh Downs on the 10th along with 2 male Bullfinch at this their favoured site in the area. In Belfairs N.R. a Long-eared Owl was accidentally flushed on the 11th , whilst on the 13th a Tawny Owl was calling at Hadleigh Downs. A small influx of Shag arrived mid-month with the first one being found on the Pier on the 16th remaining to the 23rd, followed by another at Shoebury East Beach on the 23rd, and a confiding individual in the Roach near Paglesham on the 24th and 25th. A Spotted Redshank and an adult Yellow-legged Gull were found along the Roach at Barling on the 16th where 1-2 Lesser Redpoll were heard to fly over, and 898 Golden Plover were counted. Another suburban Woodcock was recorded in the evening of the 16th, this time at Southend. Purple Sandpiper were reported from their favoured haunt on the Pier on the 19th, 24th and 25th. Seawatching from Canvey on the 20th provided a few surprises with a Black-throated Diver, 72 Common Scoter, a Velvet Scoter, 7 Goosander, 3 Little Gulls and a Razorbill all recorded. The Thames continued to provide some good records over the next week with 2 Great Northern Divers and a Black-throated Diver from the Pier on the 23rd along with another 5 Little Gulls, two more of which were reported here again on the 24th. A very late Wheatear was reported on Two Tree Island on the 20th. The 23rd gave a Greenshank at Two Tree Island, a Woodcock on Hadleigh Downs, 19 Lesser Redpoll flying south over the Pier, and a leucistic Lapwing at Wallasea which remained throughout the winter. A smart adult Black Brant was found among the 2000 Brent Geese beside Paglesham Lagoon on the 24th proving the worth in searching the local Brent flocks. A Black-throated Diver was reported from Canvey on the 25th and it or another was seen from the Pier later that afternoon when a Great Northern Diver and 7 Red-throated Divers were also seen. A female Mandarin was present at Southchurch Hall Park on the 25th when 2 Cetti’s Warblers were at Paglesham Lagoon and again on the 30th. 2 Tawny Owls were heard calling from Rayleigh Mount on the 28th, when the 2 Short-eared Owls at Two Tree Island were seen. Dispersing Grey Wagtails were noted at several suburban sites on the 28th. The month closed with the wintering Firecrest on Hadleigh Downs seen again on the 30th and an excellent record of a Snow Bunting along the Roach at Barling. The wintering Avocet flock off Potton reached 150 on the 30th and on Two Tree Island at dusk, 36 Little Egrets came to roost and a Barn Owl was first seen hunting the east end of the island.
Divers were well represented on the 1st at Canvey with 11 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver along with 55 Kittiwake and a Guillemot. A flock of 3 Ring-necked Parakeets must have been a beautiful sight as they flew over Hadleigh Downs on the 3rd, and somewhat less colourful, a Black Redstart, which was reported in a garden near Southend Airport on the 4th. A female Velvet Scoter was close inshore off Shoebury East Beach on the 6th. Brisk north-east winds over the next few days brought some interesting birds into the estuary with the Pier producing 37 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great Northern Divers, a Slavonian Grebe, 4 Great Skua and 3 Little Gulls all on the 7th, whilst off Canvey on the 8th 2 Scaup, 52 Eider, a Long-tailed Duck and 5 Velvet Scoter could be found. Also present on the 8th was the first Pale-bellied Brent Goose of the winter with the Brent flock at Paglesham. A Bullfinch was seen again at Hadleigh Downs on the 10th and the Great Northern Diver was logged again from the Pier on the 12th. On the 14th 2 Snow Buntings were an excellent find at Wakering Stairs. The Ring-billed Gull at Westcliff was noted on five dates this month all between 17th and 28th. 12 Siskin by Prittlebrook in Leigh on 19th was the peak count of this attractive finch this winter. An early morning attempt on the 22nd at Hockley Woods for Hawfinch, which incidentally have not been recorded since March 2001, was unsuccessful but did reveal 2 wintering Firecrests. Nearby, Eastwood Sewage Works hosted the traditional wintering Jack Snipe again this year from the 22nd onwards with a Water Rail and a pair of Bullfinch also there. The ‘pale male’ Stonechat on Two Tree Island which caused some confusion last winter was seen again on the 22nd. Another Pale-bellied Brent was found at Fleet Head on the 24th with 3 there on the 27th. 42 Goldeneye were reported in the Paglesham Lagoon and Roach area on the 26th, which is the best count since January 1997. The ever increasing Cetti’s Warbler further increased its range with one singing on Two Tree Island from the 27th onwards. The year closed with another good local bird, a Red-necked Grebe which showed well on the Crouch at South Fambridge on the 29th and 30th.