Twitchers love East Tilbury’s Coalhouse Fort

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EAST Tilbury’s Coalhouse Fort has topped a countywide birdwatching survey for the most bird species recorded out of more than 100 different wildlife sites in Essex.

The Essex Birdwatching Society presented Thurrock Council’s Coalhouse Fort rangers team and park conservation volunteers with an award certificate after members of the public submitted sightings of 89 bird species during its Big County Birdwatch. The event was organised to mark the society’s 70th anniversary in September 2019.

Bird species seen at the historic riverside fort and surrounding area during the four-day birdwatch included the first record of autumn returning dark-bellied brent geese (totalling c150), avocet and a calling little owl; and two sightings of a kestrel and marsh harrier. Another highlight recorded by one observer was an arctic skua, curlew sandpiper and peregrine falcon.

Other Thurrock sites that scored highly in the local birdwatching survey were Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve with 82 species and Essex Wildlife Trust Thurrock Thameside Nature Park with 72 species.

Last month, Coalhouse Fort also welcomed the installation of five new interpretation panels and two car park signs to replace old and worn signage and provide the public with more information on the significance of the site. The project, funded by the Government’s Coastal Revival Fund, took eight months from the initial research stage to production and covers 2,000 years of history from the Roman invasion of Britain to World War Two, the role of the fort itself, its fortifications and early history.

The panels further detail the ecological importance of the parkland and foreshore, some of which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Various wildlife species are also depicted on three panels.

For more information about Coalhouse Fort, visit

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