Coastal Wildlife Survey

Coastal Wildlife Survey

Oystercatcher - Photo: James Rogerson

As the population of Essex grows, we must ensure we are sharing our shores with all coastal wildlife. Essex Wildlife Trust are monitoring species populations and habitats, alongside working with the public to raise awareness of how we can all allow our coastal wildlife to thrive. You can help by recording where you see these key species in Essex!

Essex Wildlife Trust needs your help to record sightings of five key species:

Little tern - Photo: Adam Jones

Little tern - Photo: Adam Jones

Silvery-grey above and white below, the little tern has a black cap, a black eye stripe, and a white forehead. It has a short tail, yellow-orange legs, and a yellow bill with a black tip.

Little ringed plover - Photo: Tom Marshall

Little ringed plover - Photo: Tom Marshall

Larger and chunkier than the little ringed plover, the ringed plover has an orange bill with a black tip, orange legs and no yellow ring around the eye. Sandy-brown above and white below, it has a black chest-band and black bridle markings on its head. When it flies, it displays a broad, white wing bar.

Oystercatcher - Photo: Vaughn Matthews

Oystercatcher - Photo: Vaughn Matthews

The oystercatcher has a black head, back and wings, and a white underside. It has a long, red bill and pinky-red legs.

Common seal - Photo: Derek Moore

Common seal - Photo: Derek Moore

The common seal can be distinguished from the grey seal by its smaller size and shorter head with a more concave forehead and V-shaped nostrils. They vary in colour, from blonde to black, but generally grey with dark spots.

Harbour porpoise - Photo: Niki Clear

Harbour porpoise - Photo: Niki Clear

Look out for a small, triangular dorsal fin breaking the surface. Harbour porpoise are small and stocky, with a dark grey back and lighter underbelly. Their faces are rounded and have no beak.

When you visit any part of the Essex coast this summer, keep your eyes open for these five species and note any evidence of potential pressures the wildlife is facing. When you are home, record your findings in the survey below.

There is no limit on how many surveys you can submit, so please enter your records after each visit to the coast, even if you did not see any of these species.

To help us get the most accurate species recordings, use this website to find the six-figure OS grid reference of your coastal visit.

What time was your visit?
What was the main reason for your visit?