Bird Species in Essex

Essex is home to a variety of bird species. In total, hundreds of species can be observed in the county but many are unfortunately quite difficult to spot. Essex is one of the best places in the UK to observe the following bird species:

(Eurasian) Bittern (Botaurus stellaris). This wading bird from the heron family Ardeidae prefers Phragmites reedbeds walking or standing still above water and waiting for prey such as fish, invertebrates and amphibians. If it feels threatened, it often freezes with its bill pointing upwards to blend perfectly with its surroundings. As a result, it is quite challenging to spot.

Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis). Water bird from the grebe family is found in all continents with the exception of Australia and Antarctica. It can be recognised by black head and neck, peaked crown and up-turned bill. Black-necked Grebe breeds on shallow lakes in April and May, and winters at large lakes or sea.

Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus). Just like black-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe is a member of the grebe family of water birds and looks very similar to black-necked Grebe. It can be distinguished from the latter by absence of black neck and up-turned bill. Slavonian Grebe breeds in lakes and lochs in April and May, and winters at sea.

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena). This water bird from the grebe family looks similar to the Great Crested Grebe but it is much smaller. It has a distinct red neck and black crown extending below the eyes. Red-necked Grebe breeds in freshwater lakes and other inland water bodies. It is migratory and winters mainly at sea.

Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina). Diving duck from the Anatidae family can be recognised by imposing red head, white flanks, brown back and black tail (males). Females are less imposing and are mainly brown. Red-crested Pochard breeds and winters at lakes.

Smew (Mergellus albellus). Smew females are more colourful than males which is unusual for ducks. Males are entirely black-and-white. Females, on the other hand, have reddish brown head and grey bodies. Smew breeds in trees near lakes.

Twite (Carduelis flavirostris). The small bird from the finch family resembles Linner but it can be recognised by the absence of red head patch and breast. It prefers to breed on moorland.

Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes). It is a passerine bird from the finch family and is notorious for being difficult to find because it flies away as soon as it spots humans. Birdwatchers who are looking for hawfinch mainly rely on their ticking sounds. It breeds in broad-leaved forests but it can also be sometimes found in parks.

Bearded Tit (Panurus biarmicus). Small passerine bird can be recognised by long tail, grey head and long black moustaches (males). Bearded Tit is also known for a lively character which makes them a pleasure to observe. The species breeds and winters in reedbeds at lakes or swamps.