Take part in an Essex coastal wildlife survey this summer

Common seal in surf - Photo: Peter Cairns/2020VISION

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

As the population of Essex grows, we must all ensure we are sharing our shores with all coastal wildlife. Essex Wildlife Trust are monitoring the populations and habitats of a variety of costal species, alongside working with the public to raise awareness of how we can all allow our coastal wildlife to thrive.

If you head to the coast this summer, you can help by recording where you see five key coastal species in Essex as well as noting any evidence of potential pressures on the wildlife you may have observed. The data gathered on the key coastal species will feed into current conservation projects at the Trust, helping them to build up a better picture of the key species and how Essex residents are using the coastline during summer.

There is no limit to the number of surveys you can submit, so your sightings are welcome if you are a regular to the Essex coast this summer, or even if you don’t spot any of the key species during your visit.

The 5 species the local conservation charity needs your help recording are as follows:

Little tern - Photo: Adam Jones

Little tern - Photo: Adam Jones

Little tern

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.

Ringed Plover

Photo: Tom Marshall

Ringed plover

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.


Photo: Elliott Neap


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

Common Seals

Photo: Emily McParland

Common seal

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

Harbour porpoise

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 they have no beak.

The coastal wildlife survey will help us to monitor where the five key coastal species are located. It will also help us to determine some of the challenges and obstacles these species might face along our coastline which is important as we learn to share our shores with wildlife. We need as many submissions as possible to give us the best chance at helping these animals thrive on our coast this summer, so please get involved!

Please visit www.essexwt.org.uk/coastal-wildlife-survey to find out more and record your coastal wildlife sightings.