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Suffolk Birds 1979

Published by the Suffolk Naturalists' Society


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SUFFOLK BIRDS 1979

Red-backed

Shrike

Editor D. R. MOORE assisted by The County Records Committee C. G. D. CURTIS, M. F. J. JEANES, G. J. JOBSON, W. H. PAYN, J. SORENSEN, A. E. VINE and C. S. WALLER.


Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society Printed by The Ancient House Press, Ipswich, Suffolk, England


Editorial It will become immediately apparent to regular readers that for the first time for several years we have reverted to a separate Bird Report. We have also updated the appearance to fit modern day demands and endeavoured to make it more than just a list. R e c o r d s f o r 1 9 8 0 : These should be sent to D. R. Moore, Crosslands, Cage Lane, Boxted, Colchester, Essex C 0 4 5RE, before the end of January 1981. Tel. Boxted 594.

Descriptions: Observers are again reminded of the importance of sending in full descriptions of semi-rarities and of species out of their normal season. A c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s : Once again the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Dingle Bird Club, and The Suffolk Ornithologists Group have provided records from their logs. The Editors of the Norfolk Bird Report, The Essex Bird Report, The Cambridge Bird Club Report, and The Lowestoft Field Club Report have also passed on records. Notes were also received from the Stour Estuary Bird Group. We are most grateful to them all. Special thanks are also due to Brian Brown for producing the article on the Winter Period January-early April, to Alan Paine for providing so much of the background information for this item and to the Works Officer of the Waveney District Council for access to their Lowestoft weather records. I am also indebted to Philip Murphy and Steve Piotrowski for their respective contributions and to Mike Parker who has produced the excellent drawings in this report. Finally I would like to express my gratitude to the growing band of people who go out to watch birds at all hours, and in all weathers, admittedly for their own pleasure, but who take the trouble to put pen to paper and send in their notes. Without them this report would not exist.

Review of the The year will best be remembered by most for the inclement weather of January through to March. It was undoubtedly the worst period of hard weather since 1963. A full account of this period appears in this report.

Breedings Birds: Broadly speaking 1979 was a successful nesting season with Bitterns maintaining their numbers and recolonizing two former sites. Nine pairs of Marsh Harriers bred although all were not successful, and 143 pairs of Avocets raised 69 young. PrĂŠdation by gulls was prevalent at Havergate and adversely affected all ground nesting species. Possibly only because of better observer coverage, increased numbers of Stone Curlews, Red-backed Shrikes and Woodlarks were located, although the latter species is making a slight recovery in numbers. There was some reduction in the numbers of Bearded Tits but not drastically after the severe weather of the winter. 3


Cettis Warblers have now spread widely in neighbouring Norfolk but seem unable to repeat this process in Suffolk, despite the availability of suitable habitat. Savi's Warblers were present again and a colony of Firecrests was discovered for the first time. Golden Orioles continue to do well despite the threat to their habitat and Hobbies now seem to be gaining a foothold. Twelve pairs of Black Redstarts and at least twice as many Crossbills were also reported. Most observers also considered that Whitethroats were continuing to increase. Finally, the biggest disappointment was the presence of only two pairs of Garganey in the breeding season.

Vagrants and other migrants: The spring was as spectacular as the winter was severe. There was a noticeable passage of Firecrests in Aprii with at least 20 located. Aprii also produced two sightings of Crânes, a Hoopoe, a Grey-headed Wagtail and a Siberian Stonechat. The last two are of course only geographical races. As May arrived there began a period of steady passage containing a number of rarer migrants and more than the usuai sprinkling of vagrants. These included 2 Purple Hérons, Glossy Ibis, Black Kite, 4 Montagu's Harriers, 2 Black-winged Stilts, 7 Dotterei, 2 Temminck's Stints, c. 75 Black Terns, a White-winged Black Tern, Beeeater and 2 Wrynecks. This pattern continued into early June when 2 more Purple Hérons, Night Héron, Little Egret, 2 more Temminck's Stints and a Red-necked Phalarope were ail reported. Seabirds featured prominently from August onwards with a Leach's Petrel, 4 Sooty and 14 Manx Shearwaters being identified. A quite exceptional total for Suffolk. Amongst the Wildfowl a drake Ferruginous Duck was located, and also 2 différent Red-crested Pochards. Autumn raptors were a Honey Buzzard and a Peregrine. Two Spotted Crakes were reported and further records of Crânes, ail possibly involving the same bird with the exception of 2 at Minsmere on 14th September. There was no great quantity of waders during the autumn period. For example, numbers of both Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers were down significantly on recent years. However, there was certainly a good number of the unusual reported. Kentish Plovers were at Minsmere, Havergate and Benacre, whilst a Dotterei was also found, making a total of 8 for the year. Three nearctic wader species occurred, White-rumped and Pectoral Sandpiper, and a Long-billed Dowitcher. A second Red-necked Phalarope was at Minsmere in late August. Very few Arctic Skuas were noted, but 4 Great Skuas put in an appearance. Little Gulls were seen in very good numbers and included 86 moving south at Benacre in early September. Black Terns also figured prominently with c. 40 being recorded, as well as another White-winged Black Tern. A solitary Little Auk was watched briefly at Minsmere in early November. Only 3 Wrynecks were found, but at Sizewell where tern and gull watching had been so fruitful a Hoopoe and Tawny Pipit were discovered. Another Tawny Pipit was identified at Landguard Point. Further passerines of note were an Icterine Warbler, 2 Barred Warblers, 3 Wood Warblers, at least 12 Firecrests, and scattered records of Lapland Buntings. Finally, and most surprisingly, a Raven was found in late autumn and it remained in coastal areas until the end of the year. This is possibly the first acceptable record of this species in Suffolk this century. 4


Systematic List

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Hoopoe The order used is that of the British Birds list of the Western Palearctic 1979. Please note that the order has been revised since the 1978 Report. Records from the period January to early March have been largely omitted from this section as they have been reviewed elsewhere in this report. The species involved have been marked with an asterisk. *Red-throated Diver: Late winter individuals lingered at Alton Water, the rivers Gipping and Deben until April, and one was discovered dead at Butley on 19th May. In the autumn singles were noted on the Blyth 22nd Sep., and off Minsmere in Oct. and Nov. More significantly, c. 100 were counted between Lowestoft and Benacre on 27th Nov., and 33 off Minsmere 29th Dec. *Black-throated Diver: One at Benacre 22nd Dec. (PM). *Great Northern Diver: One off Minsmere 13th Dec. (RSPB). •Little Grebe: See Winter Review. *Great Crested Grebe: An estimated 40 breeding pairs in the county. *Red-necked Grebe: A juvenile at Minsmere on the early date of 28th Aug., and singles at Dunwich 16th-27th Oct., Benacre 20th Oct.-18th Nov., Thorington Street 24th Oct.-18th Nov., Flatford 23rd Dec., and finally Freston/Wherstead Strand 29th-31st Dec. 'Slavonian Grebe: One on the Orwell 15th-30th Dec., and another or the same at Holbrook Bay 22nd-26th Dec. A badly oiled bird was present at Walberswick 16th Dec. 5


*Black-necked Grebe: One in full summer plumage at Trimley 28th-30th April (MM), and one at Bury B.F. Ponds 9th-13th Sep. (RW). Fulmar: As usual birds of this species were seen regularly offshore, particularly in the summer months. The largest concentrations noted were up to 50 off Lowestoft and 23 off Covehithe/Easton on 26th Aug. This was a day of considerable seabird movement. There were also some interesting if not strange inland sightings as follows: One flying west up the Blyth 6th Feb., one flying over Sproughton 8th April, one over Woodbridge airfield 7th May and one flying west along the Orwell at Nacton 1st June. Fulmars were also reported prospecting cliffs at one site in May, 22 being the maximum number recorded. Hopefully they will ultimately manage to nest, thus becoming a welcome addition to the county breeding list. Sooty Shearwater: Singles all flying north as follows:—Benacre 27th Aug. (BJB, DRM, GWM), Lowestoft 16th Sep. (BJB), Easton 30th Sep. (CRN), and Ness Point Lowestoft 22nd Oct. (BJB). This is an unusually high number for Suffolk. Manx Shearwater: Birds flying north as follows:- Benacre 27th Aug. (GJJ), 3 Minsmere 15th Sep. (PM), Thorpeness and possibly the same bird off Felixstowe 22nd Sep. (PM, SP, SND), Easton 30th Sep. (CRN), and 7 Covehithe 22nd Oct. (DWO). There was also one flying south off Landguard Point 19th Sep. (PM). This represents above average sightings for the county. Shearwater sp: One off Pakefield 28th April (LFK), 5 flying north off Lowestoft 16th Sep. (BJB), and one off Landguard Point 23rd Oct. (CJMT). Leach's Petrel: One observed flying south close inshore at Minsmere 23rd Oct. (JCH, SP), and another off Felixstowe 7th Dec. (RGWC). Gannet: Small numbers were seen regularly offshore from Mar. to Dec. Larger concentrations were 30 going south off Corton 18th Aug. (SOG), 37 flying north off Ness Point 16th Sep. (BJB), 16 off Benacre 29th Sep. (CRN), and 28 off Easton 30th Sep. (CRN). One was found dead at Hessett, near Bury St. Edmunds on 5th April (ES). Cormorant: A high total of c. 150 was present on the Orwell in Jan. through to Mar., with smaller numbers elsewhere on the coast. At Shotley 15 were seen on 1st June. *Shag: A continued increase in records received with one Lowestoft Harbour 28th Aug., 7th Sep. and 4 there 17th Oct. (BJB, CRN), Walberswick 19th Aug. (RGWC), Minsmere 29th Sep. (RSPB), immature on the "kittiwake ledge", South Pier, Lowestoft 19th Oct. (BJB), Woodbridge 18th Nov. (MM), and finally an immature and an adult at Ipswich docks from 24th Nov. until the end of the year. •Bittern: Despite the declining national trend birds were heard booming at two additional localities in 1979. Overall c. 20 booming males were reported from four locations. An unusual record was of a bird flushed from bracken at Freston 22nd Dec. 6


Night Heron: A third-year bird was present at Iken Decoy from lst June until the 12th, and represents the sixth county record this century (HD, AH, PH). Little Egret: One was seen on the Blyth on June 7th (DM, JM). Grey Heron: A partial albino caused much excitement when seen on the Blyth from 29th Aug. until 27th Oct. This bird first occurred at about the same time as a Great White Heron at Hickling, Norfolk. Many a first glance raised false hopes. Breeding records were:— Benacre 4 nests. Minsmere 4 nests producing 10 fledged young. Brandon Fen 13 nests. Euston 15 nests. Barnby 7 nests. No count was received from Henham. 7


Purple Heron: Singles as follows:—Benacre 17th April (NW), adult Minsmere 16th28th May GRW et al.), immature Minsmere 16th-24th May (JBK, GRW et al.), adult Minsmere 11th June (GRW), and an adult Walberswick 11th June (MS). These represent a splendid year for this attractive bird despite the suggestion of the same individual being involved in the last two instances. Glossy Ibis: One flew up from the reedbed at Benacre on 9th May (MCP).

Glossy Ibis Spoonbill: Records which could involve some duplication were received as listed below :Minsmere — one 13th-14th April, 5 25th-28th May, 5 all of June, 3 during July, and 2 in Aug. Southwold — 4 flying south 22nd May, and again 6th July. Walberswick — 2 23rd June-1st July, and one on 7th July. River Aide — one 23rd Aug., 4 5th Sep., and 2 29th Sep. Henham — one 22nd May. *Mute Swan: A flock of c. 450 was present on Lake Lothing in Jan. The following ringing data were obtained:— One found dead Aldeburgh 28th Feb. carried a Danish ring. One found dead Aldeburgh 3rd April was ringed Mistley, Essex 21/7/64. One Ipswich Docks 11th Nov. carried a Dutch ring. The words Arnhem could clearly be read through binoculars. One found dead in Holbrook Bay on 24th Nov. was ringed at Abberton, Essex on 2/3/58 thus making this bird 21 years old. 8


•Bewick's Swan: After the good numbers early in the year, Nov. and Dec. were disappointing. The first birds of the autumn were 8 at Landguard Point and 10 at Minsmere on 25th Oct. building up to 20 at the latter site by the end of that month. Elsewhere a max. of 17 were at West Stow/Lackford/Icklingham from lst-22nd Dec., 11 Southwold 3rd Dec., 6 Boyton 16th Dec., c. 30 Benacre/Kessingland 22nd Dec., and 23 Walberswick 30th Dec. •Whooper Swan: Reported as follows: 4 Benacre 4th Nov. (PM), one Ipswich Docks 15th Nov. (PM), and 2 Minsmere 25th Nov. (MCM, TM). *Bean Goose: See Winter Review. *Pink-footed Goose: See Winter Review. •White-fronted Goose: One or two were at Minsmere in Dec., and 84 there on 21st Dec. were probably of this species. Five flew west at Flatford in Nov., and 8 were at Kessingland on 22nd Dec. •Greylag Goose: A pair raised seven young at Minsmere. Snow Goose: Blue phase individuals are now regularly seen in the county and are undoubtedly of captive origin. Such birds were at Minsmere regularly during the year, Benacre 26th June (LFK), Livermere 22nd Sep. (RVAM) and Walberswick 20th Dec. (CSW). Canada Goose: Interesting ringing recoveries of birds trapped at Holkham, Norfolk are tabulated below:— Ringed 11/7/76 — found dead at Ixworth 20/5/78. Ringed 11/7/76 — shot Southwold 13/11/78. Ringed 2/7/78 — shot Southwold 13/11/78. Ringed 11/7/76 — shot Benacre 3/11/78. Ringed 3/7/77 — shot Mendham 6/1/79. Ringed 2/7/78 — found dead Redgrave 4/12/78. Ringed 2/7/78 — shot Brandon 5/10/78. Ringed 3/7/77 — found dead Eastbridge 8/3/79. These all provide evidence of a south to south-east movement into Suffolk of distances of up to 100 km (GEJ). Large assemblies were noted as follows:—c. 250 Kessingland 7th Jan., c. 150 Iken 14th Jan., c. 300 Livermere 18th Feb., c. 160 Gipping Valley 24th Feb., 384 Minsmere during Aug., and 415 there in Sep., 550 Livermere 3rd Sep., c. 300 Kessingland 25th Nov., 580 Livermere 1st Dec., and 280 Walberswick 20th Dec. Twenty pairs reared 4 young at Minsmere, and 2 pairs nested at Havergate, the first time that this species has done so at this locality. •Barnacle Goose: A single bird at Minsmere 28th-30th Nov. was probably of feral origin. •Brent Goose: Birds reappeared in Sep. with 32 on the Stour on the 2nd, and 115 flying south off Easton on the 30th. This southerly movement continued throughout the early autumn, and peaked on 22nd Oct. when c. 2,000 were counted off Minsmere, and c. 2,400 at Landguard Point. Wintering flocks were reported thus: c. 400 Holbrook Bay 4th Nov., 113 Minsmere 15th Nov., 449 River Stour 2nd Dec., c. 40 Ipswich Docks 15th Dec., also c. 350 Pinmill on the same day, and finally c. 300 Trimley marshes 31st Dec. •Black Brant: An individual showing the characteristics of the race nigricans was at Levington on 14th Jan. This bird was an immature and therefore not the bird of previous years. (MM). Could it possibly have been the offspring of the adult of 1975-78 paired with a dark-bellied Brent? 9


Egyptian Goose: Breeding records were received from Lound and Lackford where single pairs raised 6 and 5 young respectively. They also probably nested at Thorpeness/Aldeburgh where up to 6 birds were observed throughout the year. This species was also reported from Bamham, Boyton, Cattawade, North Warren, Minsmere, Livermere and Icklingham. Ruddy Shelduck: One seen on the Waveney on 6th May may be of doubtful origin. (RSB). *Shelduck: There was little change in coastal breeding numbers but the colony at Livermere in the Breck continues to flourish. A marked movement was noticed in Dec. Subsequently c. 850 gathered on the Stour, and c. 500 on the Orwell. One found dead at Kerton on 3Ist Jan. had been ringed in Denmark in May 1978. Mandarin: A drake with a blue/purple plastic ring was seen near Beccles 19th and 20th Feb. (BJB, PAG), another at Livermere 6th May (RW), and a pair at Semer 27th Mar.-3rd April (PMB). These represent more records than ever before and the discovery of a pair suggests that this feral species may now next naturally in Suffolk. *Wigeon: Adult birds were present in midsummer at Walberswick, Havergate, Alton Water, Seafield Bay, and Minsmere but nesting was not proved. Numbers were well above average in Jan./Feb., but the highest flocks noted otherwise were c. 2,000 at Methersgate 24th Nov., and 1,342 on the Stour 2nd Dec. Gadwall: Breeding pairs were reported from the Breck and the coastal belt, with the highest proportion located at Minsmere where 30 pairs bred. *Teal: Very few data received on the breeding status of this species. The biggest flocks reported were c. 600 Walberswick during Aug., 450 Benacre 1 Ith Oct., c. 400 Methersgate 24th Nov., and 794 Havergate during Nov. *Mallard: Still Our commonest duck with numbers augmented by releases from wildfowlers. Over 1,000 were present at Livermere 27th Aug., and c. 1,500 there 19th Oct. *Pintail: This species may have bred at Minsmere where a pair summered, and 5 were seen in Aug. A single bird also spent the summer at Havergate. Autumn arrivais were reported from late Aug. onwards, and a small group of c. 30 was assembled on the Aide by Nov. Larger flocks noted were 235 on the Deben 24th Nov., 181 on the Stour 2nd Dec., and 49 on the Orwell 25th Dec. Garganey: No proven nesting but pairs probably succeeded at Minsmere and Walberswick. Spring records included pairs at Alton Water 17th Mar., Levington 8th April, and Shingle Street 5th May. A lone drake was at Covehithe on 7th May. In autumn up to 3 were seen at Alton Water between 25th Aug. and Ist Oct. Shoveler: Very few breeding records were received, but 20 pairs bred at Minsmere. The largest flock recorded was 92 at Livermere on 14th Dec. Red-crested Pochard: A male at Brandon on 5th Sep. was described as being very tarne (JLR), but a female seen at Minsmere on 3rd Oct. was probably a wild bird (AB). Pochard: Successful nesting was reported from Benacre and Livermere. Once again several large assemblies of predominately maies were reported. The most notable were at Alton Water where there were c. 400 during Sep., and c. 450 on Ist Oct. Ferruginous Duck: An adult male at Alton Water 15th July and 26/27th Aug. (PM), and again 12th Sep.-21st Oct. (EFK, SP et al.J. *Tufted Duck: It is estimated that at least 70 pairs now breed in Suffolk. A flock of 535 was counted at Alton Water on 24th Sep. 10


*Scaup: Records of small numbers in coastal areas from 22nd Oct. onwards. Away from the coast one was at Alton Water 1st Oct., and 6 in Ipswich Docks on 31st Dec. Aythya hybrid: One Lackford Pits 15th-22nd April (CAEK, SP). *Eider: After good numbers in the early part of the year a considerable number stayed throughout the summer months, including c. 20 in the Lowestoft area. *Long-tailed Duck: Two were at Alton Water on 13th April and an adult male stayed there until 26th April. Singles were also seen at Walberswick 27th Oct. and 24th Nov., and at Benacre/Easton on 28th Nov. and 22nd Dec. Finally, 8 flew north off Benacre on 17th Dec. •Common Scoter: Noted off our coast for most of the year, with the largest groups being 100 Bawdsey 20th Oct., 160 Minsmere 22nd Oct., and 100 at Walberswick 10th Nov. Inland a pair were at Needham Market 15th-17th Feb., and a female until 19th Feb., another female at Lindsey, near Hadleigh on a small mere 7th April, and a pair at Lackford Pits 8th April. *Velvet Scoter; Reported as follows:—3 on the sea off Minsmere 11th April, c. 10 off Walberswick and 2 flying south off Minsmere 10th Nov., 2 flying south off Thorpeness 25th Nov., and one Holbrook Bay 2nd Dec. *Goldeneye: A single bird was seen at Benacre on 6th July (SP). The first of the autumn was seen flying south off Minsmere on 20th Aug. Thereon small numbers were noted in the usual areas into the winter, with 51 on the Deben on 24th Nov. being the most notable record. *Smew: Surprisingly, a "redhead" spent the summer at Benacre Broad. It is possible that this bird was injured or sick, and it is probably the same individual that lingered at Sproughton until 16th May. Another, or the same, was at Minsmere until 18th May. A male joined the Benacre bird on 23rd Dec., and one was present in the Breck at Euston on 11th Nov. and 18th Dec. *Red-breasted Merganser: Autumn arrivals were seen from 27th Sep. with 19 being the largest flock and noted off Minsmere on 21st Oct. 'Goosander: Records were received of mostly singles from 2nd Oct., but 8 were seen off Lowestoft on 27th Oct. Ruddy Duck: Two females at Alton Water 21st-26th Feb. and 4th Mar. (SP et al.). Honey Buzzard: Singles at Easton 20th May (CSW), and Walberswick 24th Aug. (DBC). Black Kite: One Walberswick 12th May (TW), and what was undoubtedly the same bird at South Cove/Cove Bottom 20th-22nd May (GJJ, MCP et al.). Red Kite: Singles at Playford 10th Jan. (HL), near Martlesham 8th Feb. (Ipswich RSPB) and Minsmere 20th April (RSPB). Marsh Harrier: Nine pairs were present in suitable breeding areas but only 7 nests were successful producing 24 young. A young male was found dead on the edge of Minsmere Levels and was unquestionably poisoned. Analysis revealed that the oesophagus contents contained 96 ppm Mevinphos, and congestion of the bird's lungs and liver indicated that it died from Mevinphos poisoning. The rabbit bait was found to contain 5,800 micrograms of Mevinphos. This bird was discovered on 28th April, and is a very distressing incident. The matter has been followed up, and clearly indicates that we cannot assume that such disgraceful acts do not occur in Suffolk (JS). Birds wintered in 5 areas and one flew south over the sea at Benacre on 6th Jan. Singles were reported from many other sites during the summer and on passage. Unusually a male was seen calling and displaying on the rather late date of 11


1st July, also unusual was a juvenile seen feeding on a dead rabbit on a roadside on 5th Aug. (GJJ). *Hen Harrier: Birds were located from early Nov., and it was soon apparent that the roosts of the previous winter were still being used, albeit on a smaller scale. Up to 20 were counted at 2 sites. Montagu's Harrier: A truly splendid year for this species with spring birds as follows:—Male at Minsmere 7th May-10th June, and a female on 28th May only (RSPB), male Walberswick 19th May (BJB), female Alton Water 25th May (CJMT), and a male Aldringham 28/29th May (RHG). The Minsmere male established a territory in the reedbed, even reaching the stage of nest-building. What a pity that the lone female did not choose to stay longer than the one day. It must be said that two nationally known idiots (loosely called birdwatchers) were seen to enter the reedbeds at this time and walk out to the nest site to flush the male, obviously too selfish and lazy to wait for the bird to rise. Goshawk: More records have been received for this species than possibly ever before in the ornithological history of Suffolk. This is in parallel with a national spread of this exciting raptor. Regular winter sightings were reported from 2 sites, and other scattered records as follows:—female Livermere 1st Jan. (RW), immature Breck 27th Jan. (CAEK), Breck 13th Jan. (CBC), Aldeburgh 3rd Feb. (PR) (and what was presumably the same bird found dead there on 26th Feb. (RS)), and Lound 19th Nov. (EJ). It is a pity that we do not know how the Aldeburgh bird died. Was it poisoned? There was an apparent passage in April as birds were reported from Walton Ferry on the 11th flying in from sea, also flying inland at Felixstowe on the 13th, and what was possibly the same bird at Sizewell and Butley Mills on the 16th. Sparrowhawk: There are signs of a recovery with breeding behaviour reported from 8 sites. It is estimated that at least 30 wintered including 8 in the Breck. *Buzzard: It is estimated that a total of 31 birds were identified during the year with all but 4 being in the coastal belt. The exceptions were 3 over Cornard/Bures 13th April, and a single at Stansfield 6th May. By no means were the majority of records during the hard weather. There was some movement during April when birds were watched in small groups at Dunwich and Minsmere. *Rough-legged Buzzard: As with the latter species more birds than usual were present, and not just during the hard weather. A total of 25 were estimated in the county during the year, all but 5 on the coast. It is worth mentioning that of this number 7 were watched flying out to sea at Minsmere on 14th April (GJJ). Osprey: Most records coming from Minsmere where singles probably referring to one bird were noted on 12th, 16th and 19th May and 10th and 21st June (RSPB). Other records all singles were flying north-west at Lakenheath 1st April (CAEK), Butley/Havergate 14th April (CGDC), Lound 24th April (EJ), Walberswick 29th April (AW), Benacre 19th May (RF, CRN), and finally Holbrook Bay 6th June (JAL). Merlin: Eleven were present in Suffolk Jan. to April, and one female was seen at Walberswick on 21st May (DF). These numbers also include 2 flying out to sea and jostling each other at Benacre 6th Jan. The first autumn bird was noted on 22nd Sep. at Covèhithe and by the winter 10 birds were present at 6 sites. Hobby: A most encouraging year once again reflecting the national trend. One pair bred and another almost certainly nested although success is not known in either case, and birds were present at 5 other sites during June and July. One was seen to take a Swift and another a Sand Martin. Passage birds included a very early


individual at Walberswick 17th April (FJW), Holbrook/Alton Water 17th-28th May (JAL et al.), Easton 21st May (MS), Gunton 28th May (AE), Benacre 1st Aug. (DWO), Walberswick 2nd Aug. (DWO), Easton 18th Aug. (CRN), imm. chasing a Ringed Plover at Minsmere 20th Aug. (RSPB), imm. Covehithe 27th Aug. (BJB, DRM, GWM), Oulton Broad/Carlton Colville 28th Aug. (RSB), and Havergate 3rd Sep. (RSPB). Peregrine: A female wearing jesses at Benacre 10th Feb. (DRM), and singles at Shingle Street 18th Feb. (RS), Walberswick 25th Feb. (CSW), Woodbridge 27th Feb. (RS), Minsmere 28th Sep.-7th Oct. (RSPB), and Benacre 25th Oct. Red-legged Partridge: Unusual sightings included one on a bird table at Landguard and 47 in a garden at Great Barton gathered around a swimming pool and on top of an outhouse. It is perhaps worth mentioning that a considerable number of birds of the Red-leg/Chukor strain have been released at Walberswick. Quail: Two calling birds located at two different sites. Pheasant: Albinos seen near Sudbury 1st June, and throughout the year between Brandon and Santon Downham. A female shot at Wenhaston on 26th Dec. had well developed eggs inside. Golden Pheasant: Plentiful south of the B1107 at Santon Downham and also in the King's Forest. Away from the Breck one was seen at Yoxford on 6th May. Water Rail: Eighteen fed on sprats put out at Minsmere on 2nd Feb. where subsequently it is thought about 10 pairs bred. One was on waste land at Ipswich on 5th April (PM). Spotted Crake: One found dead under telegraph wires in May at Chevington (RC), and another very much alive at Minsmere 9th Sep. and 19th Sep. (RSPB). Corncrake: One heard calling at Eastbridge 8th July but no evidence of breeding (FKC). *Coot: See Winter Review. Crane: An exceptional year with singles as follows:—Barsham/Shipmeadow 5/6th April (PAG), Kessingland Level 15/16th April (GLJ, GWM), Reydon 19th Aug.-13th Sep. ( G J J , DRM et al.), and probably the same bird Walberswick/Dunwich 29th Aug.-9th Sep. (SA, BKA), and finally one flew over Minsmere and was joined by another calling as it came in high from the north on 14th Sep. (JS). Oystercatcher: No breeding numbers to hand, but large flocks were counted and included c. 450 Waldringfield 4th Mar., c. 650 Walton Ferry 21st Aug., and c. 400 Harkstead 31st Dec. Away from the coast 7 were at Great Blakenham on 14th Mar. Avocet: A max. of 46 pairs raised 63 young at Minsmere, but 95 pairs at Havergate only managed to rear 6 young. PrÊdation was rife at the latter site, particularly from the large colony of gulls breeding on nearby Orfordness. Small groups of Avocets were noted elsewhere on the coast in the summer months, and despite the atrocious weather 3 were at Minsmere on 28th Feb. and 32 spent the winter on the Butley River. Stone Curlew: A max. of 20 breeding pairs located in the county. Little Ringed Plover: Nine breeding pairs located. Passage birds reported from 28th Mar. until 8th Oct. with 21 at Bury B.F. Ponds on 18th Aug. being the largest group recorded. Ringed Plover: Flocks of over 100 were noted on the Stour in Jan./Feb., and 210 were counted at Levington on 25th Aug., and 260 and 300 were there on 8th Sep. and 13


10th Dec. respectively. Kentish Plover: Surprisingly, one was found in Lowestoft Harbour on 22nd Jan. (PA), also one Havergate in May and Aug./Sep. (RSPB), Minsmere 7th July (RSPB) and a juvenile at Benacre 10th Sep. (FKC).

T Black-winged Stilt

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Black-winged Stilt: Two flew west along the Blyth on 13th May (DAD). Dotterel: Five flew in from sea at Slaughden 7th May (SP), a pair were at Minsmere 19th-21st May (RSPB), one Eastern Bavents 2nd Sep. (SOG) and one Southwold 30th Sep. (CRN, DV, et al.). Golden Plover: Wintering and passage flocks were reported as follows:—c. 100 Carlton Colville, c. 60 Great Cornard, c. 300 Hargrave all on 18th Mar., c. 1,600 Long Melford/Lavenham 4th April, c. 20. Acton 12th April, c. 150 Waldringfield 22nd April, c. 70 Havergate in Aug., c. 200 Rushmere 16th Aug., 75 Livermere and c. 200 Cockfield both 27th Aug., 120 Elmsett 30th Aug., 175 Hepworth 10th Nov., c. 200 Westhall 17th Nov., and finally c. 200 Mutford from 31st Oct. until the end of the year. Grey Plover: c. 100 Trimley marshes 13th Jan., 135 Waldringfield 3rd Mar., and counts on the Stour were: 405 14th Jan., 684 18th Feb., 200 25th Aug., 899 2nd Dec., and c. 750 31st Dec. After inclement weather c. 50 appeared at Minsmere on 17th Aug. 14


Lapwing: Counts received were:—c. 1,500 Tuddenham 27th Oct., and c. 2,000 there in Nov./Dec., 1,030 Minsmere 4th Dec., 650 Livermere 14th Dec., and c. 1,000 Corton 23rd Dec. Knot: c. 2,000 were counted off Wherstead Strand 14th Jan., and on the Stour there were 1,050 on 21st Jan. and 350 on 2nd Dec. There was evidence of some movement offshore on 18th Feb. when 139 flew south at Minsmere, 120 south at Benacre, and 285 north in two hours off Covehithe, as well as 1,200 going in the same direction at Walberswick. Sanderling: Very few records received apart from singles at Alton Water 12th May and Minsmere 23rd June, and c. 30 Lowestoft in Nov./Dec. Little Stint: Basically it was a very poor year for this species. Four were at Minsmere on 4th June, and 5 from 21st July, 9 were present on 13th/14th Oct., and one lingered until 30th Oct. At Havergate 7 were seen on 7th July and one was there from 18th Aug. until 25th Aug., and 5 were there on 25th Oct. Elsewhere one was at Levington 31st July, 2 there 29th Aug., 5 Easton 2nd Sep., one on the Blyth 16th Sep., 2 Covehithe 23rd Sep., and again 30th Sep., and inland one Bury B.F. Ponds 8th Oct. Temminck's Stint: Singles at Minsmere 10th-21st May (RSPB), Sproughton 19th May (SMD, PM), Minsmere 2nd-4th June (RSPB), Easton 3rd June (CRN), and Minsmere 22nd-29th Aug. (RSPB). White-rumped Sandpiper: One at Minsmere 16th Aug. (FKC). Pectoral Sandpiper: One at Minsmere 12th-19th Sep. (RSPB). Curlew Sandpiper: One or two noted in May and June at Minsmere, and then the return migration observed from July onwards peaking in Sep. when c. 40 birds were reported mainly from Blythburgh, Minsmere and Havergate. Purple Sandpiper: From Lowestoft 12 on 23rd Feb. (EWP), and on 5th May some were singing and displaying (BJB). Birds were noticed here again in Oct. and 20 were there during Nov. An individual in summer plumage was present at Ipswich Docks on 5th May. (PM). Elsewhere, 2 Shingle Street 7th Jan., one Minsmere 5th April, 5 Landguard Point 20th April, Landguard again 8th-19th May, one Minsmere 31st Aug., one Benacre 29/30th Sep., and one Landguard 25th-28th Oct. Dunlin: Stour counts were:—c. 10,100 14th Jan., c. 11,200 18th Feb., and c. 14,300 2nd Dec. On the Orwell c. 2,000 were at Levington 10th Dec. A pair were observed performing display flight and song over the scrape at Minsmere on 23rd June (GJJ). Ruff: It is possible that a single pair bred in the county. One or two birds wintered in scattered localities, and the max. numbers recorded on passage were 22 Havergate 5th May, 20 males Southwold 15th May, 26 Minsmere in May, 21 there in July, and 36 also on 28th Sep. Jack Snipe: Small numbers reported until 29th April and again from 3rd Oct. Snipe: During the severe weather of J a n . / F e b . birds were often noted away from their normal habitat. For example one by the side of the road in a Beccles street, on 3rd Jan. At Minsmere 14U were counted on 11th Dec., and c. 90 at Aldeburgh on 18th Dec. Long-billed Dowitcher: One at Minsmere 28th Sep. until 10th Oct. (JS, GRW, HJW). Woodcock: Numerous during J a n / F e b . when some observers flushed up to 12 birds in a day. Breeding behaviour reported from 10 localities . 15


Black-tailed Godwit: At one site 3 pairs raised 2 young. The Stour flock was counted thus:—980 1st Jan., 936 14th Jan., 924 18th Feb., 320 29th Aug., c. 300 9/10th Sep., 550 4th Nov., and 44 2nd Dec. At Havergate c. 100 in April, 60 18th Aug., 21 24th Aug., 50 25th Aug., 86 26th Aug., and c. 100 4th Oct. At Minsmere 189 16th April, reducing to 15 by the end of the month and then 50 7th July. On the Deben there was 55 17th Mar., and 180 8th Dec. Bar-tailed Godwit: At Havergate there were c. 300 17th Aug., and 60 at Minsmere on the same day. Offshore 30 flew south at Lowestoft on 6th Jan., and 106 flew north off Minsmere 18th Feb. Whimbrel: One on the very early date of 12th Feb. at Minsmere (RSPB). At Orford 18 were present on 8th May, and on the return passage 21 were at Minsmere 16th Aug., and c. 30 Havergate 18th Aug. Curlew: Ten pairs bred in the Breck at three sites, c. 400 were at Levington 3rd Feb., c. 100 Minsmere 2nd July, and c. 250 Shotley 18th Nov. Spotted Redshank: Scattered records along the coast from Feb. to Nov. Apart from these 10 flew south at Aldeburgh 29th Jan., and at Minsmere there were 32 23rd June, 37 13th July, and 46 20th July. There were also 10 at Iken on 19th Aug. Redshank: At Minsmere 9 pairs reared 18 young, and at Havergate 10 pairs bred. Large counts made were:—60 feeding on the shore Benacre 1st Jan., c. 1,000 Orwell Jan./Feb., 500 Martlesham Creek Jan./Feb., and Havergate c. 600 17th Aug. On the Stour there were c. -3,000 14th Jan., c. 2,500 18th Feb., and c. 2,300 2nd Dec. Greenshank: Early migrants were noticed from 4th Mar. Covehithe and 31st at Minsmere. The peak of the autumn passage seems to have been around 17th Aug. when c. 100 were at Havergate, and 11 at Minsmere. Late birds lingered at Falkenham Creek 2nd Nov., and Martlesham 10th Nov., and there were more records of birds wintering than usual. These included one dead on Felixstowe Promenade 17th Feb., Cattawade 18th-20th Feb., and 3 on the Stour 2nd Dec. Green Sandpiper: About 10 birds were estimated to have wintered in the county. In spring very few were reported but 5 were seen at Bourne Bridge, Ipswich on 27th April. In the autumn the main passage took place in the second half of Aug. when 51 were recorded at 5 sites. Wood Sandpiper: Seen as follows:—Minsmere 6th-28th May, Covehithe 16th May, 2 Sproughton 19th May, singles at Minsmere 17th-30th June, in July, 7 there 4th19th Aug., Sproughton 11th Aug., Havergate in Sep. and, finally, Alton Water 1st Sep. Common Sandpiper: Amongst the spring arrivals 7 were seen inland at Livermere and, on the return passage, which peaked in Aug., c. 80 birds were reported from 3 areas. Turnstone: River Stour counts revealed 332 14th Jan., 241 18th Feb., and 250 2nd Dec. Red-necked Phalarope: Singles at Minsmere 28th-30th June and 27th Aug. (RSPB). Arctic Skua: Unusually, one was recorded in spring at Minsmere on 20th May. Returning birds were noted from 1st July onwards with most occurring in late Aug. into Sep. In this period 27 individuals were located from 8 sites. A straggler was seen at Landguard Point on 7th Nov. Great Skua: Singles as follows:—Minsmere 25th Aug. and also 30th Sep., Sizewell 9th Sep. (GJJ), and Walberswick 8th Oct. (KC, PH). 16


Mediterranean Gull: More records than usual. This is due to some extent with observers greater ability to identify immature birds of this species. The adult Benacre/Covehithe bird was again present in both winters, and immatures were also noted there on 9th and 16th Sep. (RVAM), and 14th Oct. (MM). Elsewhere there were two displaying at Minsmere on 11th April, and a first summer bird also there from 16th April until 21st May (RSPB). At Lowestoft an adult was reported from 20th Feb. until 2nd April when it was in full summer plumage (BJB). Another bird, a second year was seen in the same place on 15th Aug (JRR). A first winter bird was seen at Walton Ferry on 3rd Mar. (MM), an adult at Havergate 27th Mar. (JP), and finally, an immature on the Blyth 8th Sep. (DBC, GJJ). Little Gull: Wintering individuals were seen at Lowestoft 11th Jan., Walberswick 20th Jan., Lowestoft again 19th Feb., and at Sudbourne there were 9 on 27th Feb. (AC, FKC). The peak of the autumn passage was from late Aug. through to 9th Sep. The more interesting reports included 13 Sizewell 26th Aug., 15 Minsmere 29th Aug., 19 Minsmere 1st Sep., 15 Benacre 5th Sep., a really large movement on 9th Sep. when 86 (all juveniles) flew south at Benacre in two hours (AC, FKC), and 12 were watched at Ness Point on the same date. Black-headed Gull: Breeding records of colonies were:— Minsmere — 326 pairs reared 20 young (these were controlled). Havergate — c. 3,500 pairs raised c. 200 young (predation suffered from larger gulls). River Blyth — c. 500 pairs. Tuddenham — c. 30 pairs. Bury. B. F. Ponds — 55 pairs. Orfordness — 20 pairs. Slaughden — 17 pairs. One with chalky white wings above and below, apart from a few pale flecks, was seen at Ipswich Docks on 11th Feb. (MM). Another was observed catching a Sand Martin as it left its hole at Benacre on 12th July. It then carried its prey to the sea and attempted to drown it; the victim was finally left uneaten (DAR). Common Gull: It is possible that up to a dozen pairs may have bred at 2 coastal sites but no proof was received. Assemblies of c. 250 were at Havergate 14th Sep., and c. 500 Minsmere 22nd Oct. Lesser Black-backed Gull: The largest congregations located were c. 60 at Livermere 6th May, and c. 200 Easton 22nd Sep. Herring Gull: The north Scandinavian bird from 1978 was still at Lowestoft on 17th Feb. One with a yellow plastic ring on the left leg and a metal ring on the other was seen in the Lowestoft area on 31st Jan. Gull colony at Orfordness: An estimate was made of c. 5,000 pairs equally divided into Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls. As indicated already, these increasing numbers are having an adverse effect on the breeding birds of nearby Havergate Island. Iceland Gull: One Benacre 22nd-27th Jan. (JCE, MS et al.). Glaucous Gull: In the Lowestoft area an adult and an immature were present in Jan./Feb. and another bird was there on 15th and 22nd Nov. Between Kessingland and Easton one was noted on 5th Jan., and 18th Feb., and an adult and an immature were seen in the same area from 5th Nov. until the end of the year. At Minsmere 2 were seen frequently from late Mar. through April, one was at Havergate on 24th May, and an immature was reported from Thorpeness on 25th Nov. 17


Kittiwake: In the hard weather of Jan. none were noticed in the Lowestoft area. Unusual records came from the Ipswich area with an immature flying north there on 19th Mar., and birds in the Docks on 16th June and 6th Dec. Details of the Lowestoft breeding birds are tabulated below. South Pier ledge 36 nests 24 successful 17 young. South Pier — sills 10 nests 4 successful 8 young. Shops 40 nests 11 successful 45 young. Thus 86 pairs reared 70 young from 47 successful nests. No nests were built on the Yacht Club, and some old sites have since been demolished. Even so this was a record number of pairs and they would have arguably been more successful but for the cold, wet spring (BJB). Sandwich Tern: At Havergate 240 pairs raised about 150 young and this was the only breeding colony in the county in 1979. At Minsmere c. 200 were roosting on 22nd July but no nesting took place. Common Tern: Breedings as follows:—Minsmere — 50 pairs reared 12 young, Havergate — c. 60 pairs, Benacre 2 pairs. An immature was still present at Minsmere on 27th Oct. Arctic Tern: At Havergate 2 pairs raised a single chick. Recorded in spring from Trimley, Orford, Kessingland, Sizewell and inland at Sudbury. A number of birds were apparent in autumn with a max. of 15 at Sizewell in Oct. Birds of this species were noted here and at Minsmere from early Aug. onwards, and included a very dark adult on 26th Aug. Little Tern: Approximately 70 pairs nested in the county but their success is largely unknown. This species is continuing to maintain a foothold despite tremendous pressure from human intrusion into their breeding areas and continued loss of habitat. A beach buggy driving through a colony is just one example of the problems they face. Black Tern: Spring arrivals were seen from 8th May, but the 13th of that month produced 75 birds from just 4 sites. These included one at Framlingham Mere and up to 40 at Livermere. Autumn passage was above average and peaked in late Aug., with notably 18 at Minsmere 17th Aug., and 15 at Sizewell 21st-24th Aug. White-winged Black Tern: Singles as follows:—Walberswick 22nd May (JDB, JAL), Sizewell/Minsmere juvenile 15th-18th Sep. (MM, PM, et al.). Puffin: The rare sight in Suffolk of one flying close inshore from Orford beach on 25th Oct. (CSW). Guillemot: Singles seen offshore on several occasions but 49 were found dead and oiled along Suffolk beaches on 26th Feb. These included one of the bridled form. At about this time one was pursued by three policemen on Lowestoft beach but avoided arrest with ease. One was in Ipswich Docks 20th Jan. and another was seen sitting in a grass field at Shingle Street/Boyton on 10th Feb. Razorbill: Eighteen were discovered dead and oiled on the coast on 26th Feb., and live birds were at Seafield Bay 20th Jan. and Minsmere 19th Dec. Little Auk: One stayed briefly at Minsmere on 2nd Nov. (RSPB). Auks sp.: At Easton 124 flew south in one hour on 2nd Dec. (CRN). Woodpigeon: Counts of c. 1,000 at Walberswick 14th Jan., c. 2,500 Westley 16th Feb., and c. 1,000 Walton Ferry 25th Feb. 18


Collared Dove: A pair built a nest on the Ipswich Corn Exchange, and pairs with young were reported at Aldringham 13th Nov. (DN) and Lowestoft 17th Nov. (LFK). At Ipswich Docks there were 625 on 21st Feb. and c. 700 there on 23rd Nov. Turtle Dove: First recorded on 14th April, and by early May large groups were beginning to appear. These included 75 at Levington and 40 at Aldeburgh. At Barton Mills c. 30 were watched feeding in a belt of pines on spring beauty (Montia perfoliata). Cuckoo: The main arrival was from 15th April with immatures lingering in autumn until 15th Oct. Many observers reported good breeding numbers especially near the coast. Barn Owl: Breeding behaviour reported from 52 localities thus showing a continued increase. Little Owl: Reported from 29 scattered localities. *Long-eared Owl: Seven nesting pairs reported including three young fledged from one site in the Breck. Immigrants were recorded at Landguard Point (2) 22nd-25th Oct. and Alton Water 3rd Nov. There were 6 roosting at 2 sites from Nov. until the end of the year. 19


*Short-eared Owl: Five pairs were present in the summer, but nesting was suspected at only 3 sites. Autumn migrants were observed from 19th Sep. when 4 were at Havergate. A further 11 were located at various coastal sites until mid Nov. Nightjar: An estimated 20 pairs in the coastal belt including 7 females and 8 maies which reared 11 young at Minsmere. No records were received from the Breck. A Ione bird was seen at Lound on 19th Aug. Swift: A mutant with a pure white body, dark wings and tail, and a pale head was seen at Bury St. Edmunds on 17th July (JAW). Immigration was noticeable at Minsmere on 16th May when c. 500 were there, and at Havergate there were c. 1,000 feeding on 28th June but these were probably part of the local breeding population. Kingfisher: A marked rĂŠduction in breeding pairs after the severe winter. Sightings were made at only 10 localities. Bee-eater: What was undoubtedly the same bird at Walberswick on 15th May (TW), and Minsmere 16th May (GRW).

Bee-eater Mme Parker ÂŤo Hoopoe: One at Occold 2nd April (DH), and another at Sizewell 20th-28th Aug. (RSB, DRM, GRW et al.). Wryneck: Singles at Landguard Point 8th May (PM), Alton Water 14th May (PM) Minsmere 25th-27th Aug. (RSPB), Gunton 7th Sep. (LFK), and Sizewell 16th Sep. (JRR). Green Woodpecker: No change in current status but records would be appreciated to help gauge actual numbers of this species. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Over 20 pairs reported. Sand Martin: c. 230 pairs bred at Minsmere. A late bird at Benacre on 4th Nov. (CRN). Swallow: A roost of c. 1,000 at Havergate on 13th Sep. 20


House Martin: A cottage near Hadleigh had 88 nests, and one at Gedding had 13. A late bird was seen at Eastbridge on 9th Dec. (FKC). Shorelark: Reported from the following sites:— Walberswick — a max. of c. 30 mid Jan., and up to 4 there by 16th Dec. (many obs.). Landguard Point — A single from 1st Oct. until 22nd with 2 present on 12th Oct. (SP, ARJP et al.). Minsmere — 3 25th Feb., and 1 22nd Oct. (RSPB). Benacre/Covehithe — A max. of c. 40 3rd Feb. (SP), and 1 24th Nov. Alton Water — One 8th-18th April (EFK, SP). Southwold — 11 on 18th Feb. (DV). Whapload Road, Lowestoft — The strange sight of 2 on a pavement along a busy road 1st Jan. (AA). Woodlark: This species is hopefully making something of a comeback. At least 17 possible breeding pairs were located. Skylark: A large emigration was recorded at Minsmere on 22nd Oct. when c. 3,000 were involved. Tawny Pipit: Single at Sizewell 20th Aug.-10th Sep. (NJH, GJJ et al.), and Landguard Point 13th Oct. (AAB, MM, ARJO et at). Tree Pipit: Records were received of 32 singing males. Water Pipit: Ten individuals reported from 7 sites from 13th Jan. until 7th May, and again from 20th Oct. until 13th Dec. Blue-headed Wagtail: Fifteen males of this form reported between 14th April and 28th May. One showing the characteristics of the form known as Sykes Wagtail was at Southwold on 28th-30th April (BJB). Grey-headed Wagtail: A male showing characteristics of the Scandinavian race thunbergii at Sizewell 17th April (AAB). Yellow Wagtail: Once again very few records were received of breeding birds. A very marked passage took place from the middle of April with c. 100 at Minsmere 17th April, 16 Boyton 20th April, and 47 Trimley 21st-30th April. In the autumn c. 30 were at Benacre on 27th Aug. Grey Wagtail: It is possible that 6 pairs nested in the south and west of the county, otherwise singles were noted on passage and in the winter months in the Breck and on the coast. White Wagtail: Birds showing the characteristics of this continental form were seen from Mar. through to 19th May. In all 24 were reported. Pied Wagtail: There was a roost of over 200 at Minsmere in Oct. Red-backed Shrike: A total of 30 pairs were located. This does not represent a large increase as a previously undiscovered population of 8 pairs was revealed in 1979. This species is still in drastic decline, and will likely be lost not only from Suffolk but from the whole of the British Isles within the next decade. Migrants were at Minsmere and Landguard Point until late Sep. Great Grey Shrike: Seventeen were reported from 11 sites. Apart from the more usual places this species was seen at Carlton Colville 17th-21st Feb., and Flatford 26th Oct. Golden Oriole: The main colony had 10-11 pairs established in nesting territory. At another site a pair probably bred, and others were present throughout the summer at two more localities. Migrants were reported from Dunwich 24th May (EN, MELN), 21


and Bawdsey 29th May-3rd June (RS). Starling: The Minsmere roost had c. 10,000 on 2nd Mar., and c. 7,000 in July. One seen at Bury St. Edmunds on 26th Dec. was 80% white and 20% grey. Magpie: At Westerfield in late Jan. 14 were seen feeding together on grain put out for chickens. Observers reported an increase in numbers of this species in West Suffolk. Rook: Nest building was noted near Ipswich on 13th Dec. Carrion Crow: 125 were together on Wherstead Strand 17th Feb., and 160 at Minsmere 29th Oct. Hooded Crow: Very scarce in 1979 with singles at Benacre and Walberswick in Jan./Feb., Covehithe 1st April and 28th, flying north Corton 3rd May, and Minsmere 25th May being the only records. Raven: A single bird was discovered at Walberswick on 8th Nov. (CSW), and stayed in the coastal area as far south as Eastbridge until the end of the year. On 15th Nov. it was mobbed by 3 male Hen Harriers but ignored by a ring-tail. This is the first record published of this species in Suffolk since the latter part of the last century when it ceased to exist as a breeding bird. However it is worth mentioning that a Raven was reported from Walberswick on 14th Sep. 1954. The Editor of the Suffolk Bird Report for that period accepted that the bird was correctly identified but, because of the rarity of the species, placed the record in square brackets because of the possibility of it being an escape. Extensive enquiries were made of the 1979 bird and the Records Committee are satisfied that this was probably a wild bird. On this evidence it is possible that the 1954 individual was also genuine. *Waxwing: Fifteen were reported from 6 sites from 1st Jan. until the end of Feb. (many obs.). Wren: This species suffered more than most in the severe weather of Jan./Feb. At Hopton, near Diss, 37 roosted in a nestbox, and at Hartest 24 were discovered roosting in a hole in an outbuilding, but several were found dead thereafter. At Minsmere there was a drastic reduction in numbers, and those that did survive were the ones that sought refuge in the reedbeds. Cetti's Warbler: Four pairs probably bred at 3 sites. Despite suitable habitat this species still does not spread in our county as one might have expected. It has been resident in Kent since 1973, and a substantial population is now to be found in the Norfolk Broads. Singing birds were also reported at Benacre 15th Sep. (CRN), and Walberswick 24th Nov. (CJL). Savis Warbler: Two males were singing at Minsmere from 14th May until 20th July. At Walberswick there were possibly 2 males singing on 12th May, but it is thought that only one remained throughout the summer. Grasshopper Warbler: Scattered pairs reported from the coastal belt, and also said to be common in the Waveney Valley between Beccles and Oulton Broad. In the west birds were reported from Redgrave, Sudbury and Tuddenham. Sedge Warbler: It is estimated that c. 70 pairs bred at Minsmere. Reed Warbler: The spring passage of this species was later than usual with the first noted at Oulton Broad on 24th April. Unusually one was seen in an Ipswich garden on 27th May. At Minsmere c. 80 pairs bred. Icterine Warbler: One at Landguard Point 29th Sep. (PM, SP). Barred Warbler: One was trapped at Walberswick on 24th Aug. and was still there the next day (DBJ, GJJ). Another was present at Minsmere 9th-15th Sep. (RSPB). 22


Garden Warbler: A Minsmere 13 pairs were located, and over 20 singing birds were counted in a fenland wood on 13th May. Blackcap: Wintering birds were reported as follows: A male feeding on a turkey carcass at Oulton Broad 1st Jan. (JRR), two males at East Bergholt during Jan./Feb. (JL), a female at Leiston 29th Jan. (MJA), and a female at Ipswich 5th Dec. (RBW). Whitethroat: Records received indicate a continued recovery of numbers, but the population is still small compared with 15 years ago. Lesser Whitethroat: Fourteen pairs were located at Minsmere. One was observed flying in from sea at Lowestoft on 26th Aug., and just clearing the waves it eventually landed on the sea wall under the car door of the observer (BJB). Willow Warbler: At Minsmere 69 pairs were located which represents a population decrease of 50%. Chiffchaff: Wintering birds were noted as follows: One with Twite on saltings at Walberswick 27th Jan. (GJJ), one Methersgate 8th Dec. (PM, SP), and 2 Bawdsey cliffs 31st Dec. (SJB). Wood Warbler: Singles at Henham 13th May (RSB, JRR), Alton Water 18th Aug. (DRM), Ipswich 13th, 20th and 31st Aug. (SMD, PM), and Sizewell 21st Aug. (SOG, FKC). Goldcrest: Very few reports were received of breeding birds, and it seems that there was no noticeable autumn influx. Firecrest: There occurred an unprecedented spring influx from 21st Mar. throughout April. In all 34 birds were located from 26 sites. Perhaps not surprisingly after this 6 pairs were discovered breeding at one locality. In the autumn more records than usual were received and included 7 at Landguard Point between 29th Sep. and 28th Oct. Three apparently wintered at Methersgate and Walberswick (2). Pied Flycatcher: Spring migrants were seen at Foxhall 16th/17th April, Alton Water 18th April, and Dunwich 13th May. In autumn small numbers were recorded from late July until 13th Oct., and included 10 at Landguard and 7 at Havergate on 19th Aug. Spotted Flycatcher: The biggest congregation noted on migration was c. 30 at Benacre on 9th Sep. Whinchat: A very early male was seen at Capei St Andrew on 21st Mar. (SJB). Across the county 8 pairs were located during the breeding season. In autumn some impressive numbers were reported and included 13 Landguard 18th-28th Aug., 29 there 2nd Sep., down to 12 on 10th and 11th Sep., and finally at Minsmere 10 on 11th Sep. Sionechat: Fourteen pairs were reported from 8 sites. Siberian Stonechat: An example of this race, a female or immature was at Landguard Point on 17th April (MCM, PM, ARJP, et al.). Wheatear: Fifteen pairs were found at 7 sites during the breeding season. The spring passage apparently peaked on 8th May when 70 were at Landguard Point, 34 Orfordness, and 16 at Minsmere. In autumn counts were made at Landguard Point as follows:—29 on 23rd Aug., 15 on 28th Aug., 37 on 2nd Sep., 18 on 9th Sep., and 20 on 13th Sep. Greenland Wheatear: Examples showing the characteristics of this race were seen at North Warren 7th May, Landguard Point 8th May, Alton Water 13th-15th May, Bawdsey 2nd Oct., Glemsford and Landguard Point 26th Oct. 23


Black Redstart: Twelve breeding pairs were located in the county as follows: Lowestoft (6), Felixstowe (4), Oulton Broad (1), and Sizewell (1). Three singing males were also reported from Ipswich. Away from the more usual passage sites a male was seen at Lakenheath Warren on 13th April (RVAM), and what was possibly a wintering bird was reported from Benacre on 16th Dec. Redstart: Twenty-six breeding pairs were reported from 7 sites. Nightingale: A total of c. 60 singing birds were reported. This is almost certainly only a part of the county population. One was seen at Sproughton on 25th Aug., and also at Minsmere on 26th Aug. Fieldfare: A male of a pair was heard singing at Beccles on 23rd Mar. (BJB). At one site just one bird was seen on July 6th. In the winter months c. 500 were roosting at Minsmere by the end of Nov., and on 28th Nov. c. 2,000 were counted at Sudbury. Ring Ouzel: Fourteen were reported in spring from 18th Mar., until the end of April. In autumn 12 were located from 30th Sep. until 27th Oct. Redwing: Apart from reports of birds feeding with great tameness in gardens and streets in the harsh conditions of Jan./Feb. very few data were received. There were no records of lingering birds in summer. Mistle Thrush: In response to the request in the 1978 report, records suggest that this species is still relatively common in the coastal belt and the Breck. A group of c. 30 was at Great Blakenham on 29th June. Bearded Tit: It is difficult to assess the effects on this species of the bad weather experienced in the early part of the year, and 11 at Minsmere on 17th Feb. is the only significant record received for that period. It is possible that only 70 pairs were present during the nesting season. Away from their normal haunts one was found in Normanston Park, Lowestoft on 4th Mar., and a pair was present during the year at a site in the west of the county. Long-tailed Tit: Obviously another victim of the hard winter as observers reported that numbers were significantly down. Marsh Tit: About 10 pairs were found at Minsmere during the nesting season. Willow Tit: Reported from Minsmere, Walberswick, Benacre, Ipswich and Redgrave Fen. Brambling: Some quite large flocks were found during the cold period early in the year, the most significant being c. 100 Walberswick 6th Jan., 75 Seafield Bay during Jan., and 50 Sproughton 11th Feb. Later in the spring c. 90 were counted at Livermere and some lingered on into May, and included a singing male at one site on 31st. In the autumn small numbers were noticed from 30th Sep. when 25 were at Landguard Point, and 9 flew in from sea at Walberswick. The largest flock recorded after this date was c. 50 at Benacre on 29th Nov. A mutant was seen at Rendlesham on the 21st April and was described as being pure white, the rump and wing bars were brighter than the body feathers, and there was a greyish line on the back of the head (SP). Greenfinch: Large flocks were counted at Walberswick c. 250 6th Jan., Aldeburgh c. 500 13th Jan., Minsmere 225 20th Mar., Landguard Point c. 200 1st April, and Elveden c. 700 30th Dec. Siskin: Flocks of up to 40 were reported from several Breckland and coastal sites in both winters. During the breeding season reports of possible pairs were received from two locations. 24


Goldfinch: Some observers have suggested that this species is becoming scarcer, particularly as a nesting species in Suffolk. Twite: There were reported several flocks of 100 from the usual coastal localities during the winter months. Redpoll: From the information to hand there is some suggestion that this species has become scarcer as a breeding bird in the last year or two. The only flocks of note were c. 60 Tuddenham 4th Feb., and c. 100 there on 8th Mar., c. 40 Tangham 21st April, c. 60 Tuddenham 13th Oct., and c. 100 there 11th Nov. Mealy Redpoll: Singles at Barham 8th April (PM), and Minsmere 5th May (GJJ). Crossbill: Many records were received from the coastal belt and the Breck. These included an encouraging number of pairs in breeding habitat, and family parties on at least 6 occasions. An interesting record was of 15 at Landguard Point on 1st Nov. Bullfinch: There was the unusual sight of a pair feeding on ham bones and chicken carcasses at Hartest during Jan./Feb. (WHP). Hawfinch: Recorded from 17 localities with flocks at Staverton of up to 20 during Mar. Three were observed feeding on sloe stones at Saxmundham, and at Walberswick on 1st April one just eluded a pursuing Sparrowhawk. Corn Bunting: An estimated 30 pairs were thought to have bred in the county. Large groups were noted at Flatford (22) 2nd April, Cockfield (30), and Hemley (25) 2nd Nov. Yellowhantmer: A flock of c. 100 was present at Hadleigh during Jan/Feb., and 76 were attracted to grain at Minsmere on 22nd Feb. Reed Bunting: Reports were received of birds visiting bird tables in Lowestoft and central Ipswich during Jan./Feb., and one was seen feeding on bread at the latter town on 11th June. Lapland Bunting: Small numbers were reported from 6 coastal sites and included 4 at Sudbourne in Jan./Feb. (GJJ). Snow Bunting: Flocks of up to 80 were counted along the coast from Jan. through to the end of Feb. with stragglers still present until the end of April. In the autumn the first arrivals were noted from 13th Sep., but no sizeable gatherings were discovered before the end of the year. APPENDIX I — CATEGORY D SPECIES Ring-necked Parakeet: Pairs bred at two localities. A male was seen in an Ipswich garden on 8th Sep. and this species was reported as being seen regularly in the Eriswell area during Nov. APPENDIX II — ADDITIONS TO THE 1973 REPORT Buzzard: A pair summered in the Breck but there was no indication of breeding. Hobby: Immature at Minsmere 8th Sep. (EJ). Long-eared Owl: Eight additional pairs produced at least 9 young. Short-eared Owl: Two breeding pairs in the Breck. APPENDIX III — ADDITIONS TO THE 1974 REPORT Sparrowhawk: A breeding pair in the Breck. Long-eared Owl: Nine additional pairs bred rearing at least 11 young. Short-eared Owl: Eight breeding pairs from coastal sites reared at least 8 young. 25


APPENDIX IV — ADDITIONS TO THE 1975 REPORT Sparrowhawk: Five pairs were thought to have bred but apparently only 2 young were located. Long-eared Owl: Eight pairs reared at least 12 young. Short-eared Owl: Two pairs bred at a coastal site. APPENDIX V — ADDITIONS TO THE 1976 REPORT Sparrowhawk: A definite breeding pair. Hobby: A pair attempted to breed. Long-eared Owl: Six pairs raised at least 4 young. Short-eared Owl: Four to five pairs bred. Isabelline Shrike: Benacre, immature showing characters of LA. phoenicuroides Aug. (BJB, DRM, CSW). New to Suffolk.

30th

APPENDIX VI — ADDITIONS TO THE 1977 REPORT Little Egret: The Minsmere bird was also seen on 3rd May. (ARJP). Sparrowhawk: One pair bred. Hobby: One pair definitely bred and possibly another pair. Long-eared Owl: Twelve pairs reared at least 6 young. Short-eared Owl: Two pairs nested but success not known. APPENDIX VII — ADDITIONS/CORRECTIONS TO THE 1978 REPORT Purple Héron: The Minsmere bird was present from 13th May. Ring-necked Duck: The maie and 2 females at Alton Water were there until 15th Jan. Hobby: An additional pair almost certainly bred. White-rumped Sandpiper: The British Birds Rarities Committee have accepted the Benacre and Easton records as being two différent birds. Thus there was an adult at Easton Broad 22nd Oct. (CRN), and immature Benacre 23rd Oct-5th Nov. (BJB, GJJ, RJW et al.). Mediterranean Gull: Adult in full summer plumage at Ness Point 15th July (EWP, SP). Long-eared Owl: Seven pairs located in the breeding season but only 4 young seen. A juvenile found dead on 16th July was suffering from an infestation of acanthocephala (i.e. thorny-headed worms). These are acquired in an intermediate host, usually an anthropod. (CAEK). Alpine Swift: One Dingle Marshes, Walberswick lst June (SPR), and on the same date shortly afterwards at Westleton Heath (AJM). Serin: One at Walberswick 23rd Oct. (MS). APPENDIX VIII — ESCAPED ZOOLOGICAL SPECIMENS Pélican sp.: One Bury St Edmunds 2lst June (LC). Flamingo: One of the Chilean race at Benacre 22nd Aprii (DWO). Black Swan: Two flying north at Southwold 3lst July, and one on the sea off Sizewell 16th Sep. (DWO). 26


Bar-headed Goose: One in the Barham/Needham Market area in late Feb., and one at Livermere 3rd Sep. Chiloe Wigeon: The Alton Water male from 1978 was still to be found there throughout 1979. Budgerigar: One Alton Water 31st Oct. (SP). Parakeet sp.: One Walton 10th April (ARJP). Scarlet Macaw: One Fritton 4th April (PAG). See 1978 Report. Parrot sp.: One flew over Minsmere 21st Nov. (RSPB).

EARLIEST AND LATEST DATES OF SUMMER MIGRANTS SPECIES

Cuckoo Nightjar Swift Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit Yellow Wagtail Nightingale Black Redstart Redstart Whinchat Wheatear

ARRIVALS Locality Date 17th Mar. Alton Water 30th Mar. "Coast" 28th Mar. Breck 11th April Minsmere 31st Mar. Minsmere 11th April Minsmere 26th Mar. Minsmere 11th April Minsmere 17th April Minsmere 12th April Minsmere 8th May Minsmere 14th April Alton Water & Wherstead 15 th April Minsmere 15th May Minsmere 5th May Minsmere 6th April Kesgrave 2nd April Orford 11th April Holbrook Walberswick 10th April 5th April Minsmere 12th April Dunwich 16th Mar. Minsmere 5th April Minsmere 21st Mar. Capel St Andrew 20th Mar. Landguard

Ring Ouzel Grasshopper Warbler Savi's Warbler Sedge Warbler

18th 13th 23rd 11th

Mar. April April April

Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat ••Blackcap Garden Warbler Willow Warbler ••Chiffchaff Spotted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher § Red-backed Shrike

24th 18th 11th 6th 23rd 7th 23rd 1st 16th 18th

April April April April April April Mar. May April May

Garganey Stone Curlew Little Ringed Plover •Whimbrel ••Greenshank Common Sandpiper Sandwich Tern Common Tern Arctic Tern Little Tern Black Tern Turtle Dove

Methersgate Minsmere Walberswick Minsmere & Thorpeness Oulton Broad Tattingstone Southwold Bury St Eds Oulton Broad Alton Water Minsmere Benacre Foxhall Breck

Date Ist Oct. 21st Oct. 8th Oct. 22nd Sep. 10th Nov. 28th Oct. 4th Oct. 27th Oct. 15th Oct. 20th Oct. 30th Sep. 17th Oct. 15th 24th 19th 4th 8th 9th 5th 13th 26th

Oct. Aug. Oct. Nov. Nov. Dec. Oct. Oct. Aug.

26th Oct. 27th Oct. 28th Oct. 27th Oct. 30th Sep. 4th Oct. 20th 17th 13th 11th 27th 14th 31st 4th 13th 29th

Oct. Oct. Oct. Nov. Oct. Oct. Oct. Oct. Oct. Sep.

DEPARTURES Locality Alton Water Breck Bury St Eds. Levington Martlesham Lowestoft Havergate Minsmere Sizewell Methersgate Minsmere Landguard Sizewell Minsmere Minsmere Benacre Benacre Eastbridge Landguard Levington Minsmere Landguard Walberswick Lowestoft & Landguard Landguard Landguard Minsmere Minsmere Landguard Landguard Minsmere Landguard Minsmere Landguard Landguard Landguard Landguard

•Also one Minsmere 12th February. ••Details of wintering birds in the main text. §1978 addition — one coastal belt 30th Oct.

27


Comments on the Summer Migrant Table P. W. Murphy March witnessed the arrival of all the typically early species, although in most cases they were at least a week later than usual. However, two species (Whinchat and Ring Ouzel) were recorded on their earliest ever dates in Suffolk. New arrivals were few in the first week of April but a spell of warm weather from 9th-16th saw the first major arrival of summer migrants and included an early Pied Flycatcher. After 16th the weather turned colder again and migration was reduced to a mere trickle; this pattern continued until early May. Minsmere recorded the last Nightjars and Nightingales in late August but, with yet another settled autumn, the majority of the last dates were in October. Although the Sizewell/Minsmere area recorded several of the last sightings of the nonpasserine species, daily coverage at Landguard Point, Felixstowe, produced the majority of the last dates for the passerines. Notable last dates were Little Tern (20th Oct.), Swift (19th Oct.), Sand Martin (4th Nov.), and House Martin (9th Dec.). For a table such as this, it is probably true to say that although the spring dates do to some extent reflect the pattern and timing of migration, the autumn dates, usually referring to belated juveniles, definitely do not. Thus for the four species which recorded unusually late dates in the autumn, the majority of Little Terns had departed by September, Swifts by mid September, Sand Martins by early October, and House Martins by late October.

28


Ringed Plovers Breeding in Suffolk in 1979

Ringed Piover

Mm*.P«Ket »o

During 1979 Steve Piotrowski organisée! on behalf of The Suffolk Ornithologists Group a survey of Ringed Plovers nesting in Suffolk, and subsequently summarised the results. As a species the Ringed Piover has suffered immensely from human pressures especially on the shingle beaches now visited by more and more holiday-makers. Also, since the demise of the rabbit, many pairs have been lost from the Breckland and coastal heaths. The last time this species was censused was during a national survey in 1973/74. At this time 95 pairs were found to be breeding within our county. This represented 5% of the total breeding population of England and Wales. The results of the 1979 survey revealed a staggering total of 223 pairs. The largest c o n c e n t r a t i o n s were in t h e shingle areas of O r f o r d n e s s , Dunwich/Walberswick and Benacre/Covehithe/Easton. A total of 127 pairs were found in these areas. Surprisingly, birds were discovered nesting along the banks of our tidal rivers; 65 pairs were located on the Rivers Aide, Ore and Stour. Based on information from the 1973/74 census, Suffolk now has 3 sites of régional importance and one, Orfordness area (66 pairs), of national importance. The latter site is possibly the fourth biggest in England and Wales. A number of pairs were located in the increasing network of gravel workings, in fact in the Breck none were on heathland but the 3 pairs found were in pits. Some of the more unusual sites used were: the end of runways at Woodbridge Airfield, beside a railway track and on industriai hardcore. For those wishing to consult the complete results of this census it was published in the May/June 1980 bulletin of The Suffolk Ornithologists Group. 29


A Review of the Winter Period January to Early April 1979

Introduction The period under review will long be remembered for the severe cold and snow spells. It will further be remembered by ornithologists for the numbers of wildfowl which appeared and increased as the weather became colder. Grebes, wildfowl and other winter visitors built up to spectacular and in many cases unprecedented numbers. Continental Experience Probably one of the biggest factors involving the invasion of this country by what are normally termed "hard weather fowl" was the freezing over of the Baltic Sea during mid February. This would account for the unprecedented numbers of Red-necked Grebes and ducks. Winters on the Continent are traditionally colder than in Britain, and this year was no exception, causing greater movements from a north-easterly direction. The British Isles were enjoying large numbers of the rarer grebes and wildfowl, but Western Europe also gained some ornithological gems. We have, for instance, learnt that in Holland there were large numbers of Canada Geese and Pale-bellied Brent Geese, c. 108 Great Bustards on 6th Jan., the latter in flocks of up to 20. Also there were Sea Eagles, a Pallas's Sea Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle and a Daurian Jackdaw. Oh that they had moved a bit further. During mid January there took place a massive movement of Hen Harriers which resulted in high numbers as far south as Switzerland. Weather The following is a brief, layman's account of the weather conditions in the Lowestoft area during the period 1st Dec. 1978 to 28th Feb. 1979. Temperature is in C. Max. refers to the maximum recorded between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Min. is the minimum recorded during the night, and refers to the period between 6 p.m. on the previous day and 9 a.m. on the day on which taken. Wind direction is taken no finer than 8 points of the compass. The speed is given in knots. 29 to 30 knots is reckoned to be gale force. December 1978: The wind was predominately SE during the first half of the month with speeds of 24 knots on the 7th/8th, though for the rest of the time it remained 30


steady at between 5 and 9. The temperature was mild, the warmest day being the 9th with a max of 11.5° and a min of 6.4°. From the 17th/18th the temperature dropped to around freezing during the night and up to 4° or 5° during the day. There was no wind on the 18th and for the next few days it was light easterly. Conditions changed dramatically on the 30th/31st when a NE gale of up to 37 knots on the latter date brought heavy snow falls and a max temperature of - 2° and a min of - 2.4°. There had been some snow on the previous two days. January: The cold spell continued until the 6th, and although the wind eased to 13-24 knots from the west, the temperature dropped considerably during the night with - 6 . 6 ° being recorded. From the 7th-13th the wind remained westerly light to moderate, but gale force on the 10th. At this time the temperature varied between 3° and 6° max, and on or below 0° min. The second half of the month, up to the 23rd produced mainly easterly winds, moderate except for a gale on the 19th. The temperature remained at 2° to 4° max and 0° to - 2 . 5 ° min. From the 24th-31st the wind blew from the west with the exception of the 26th (east), 28th/29th (south). Wind speed stayed steady at 5 knots. It was during this period that the lowest temperatures were recorded, i.e. - . 6 ° on the 24th, and - 1 0 . 8 ° min on the 28th. Snow was falling on the lst-3rd, 11th, 18th, 19th (very heavy) and 26th. February: Apart from the 3rd/4th the wind remained in the NE to SE quarter until the 21st. Light at first it became moderate to strong from 10th-12th, and gale force at 37 knots on 14th/15th. The temperature was a little higher at 2.5° to 4.5° max, and 0° to - 1.5° min, with a sudden drop to - 4 ° on the 6th and - 2 . 5 ° to - 4 . 5 ° on 15th-18th. The last week brought light westerly winds with temperatures of up to 6° max to - 2 . 5 ° min. There was snow on the evening of the 12th, and gales on 14th/15th brought heavy continuous blizzard conditions which drifted snow to such an extent that roads were blocked, towns and villages cut off, industry came to a virtual standstill, and the author unable to get to work had to be content watching birds. Such hardship. SYSTEMATIC LIST OF BIRD SPECIES Red-throated Diver: Judging from records this seems to be one of the least affected species. As usual a high proportion of birds were found dead. One at Covehithe on 21st Jan. was the only record for that month, and it was not until 3rd Feb. that another was found dead at Walberswick. On the next day 6 were on the sea off Minsmere where they stayed until the 13th. One or two were at Oulton Broad and Benacre at this time, and dead birds were found at Shingle Street, in the grounds of an Ipswich school, and at Bradfield St Clare (the only inland record). None occurred between 18th Feb. and 4th Mar. when one was found dead at Trimley. Two were in Ipswich Docks from 5th-7th Mar., and another on Alton Water from 22nd Mar.-8th April. Finally one was at Lowestoft on 25th Mar. No more than average numbers, and considerably lower than " g o o d " years. Black-throated Diver: Above average numbers reported. The Lake Lothing/Oulton Broad records probably concern the same bird, as do the Somerleyton/Lound ones. An estimate of 8-10 seems reasonable. On 20th Jan. singles were at Lowestoft and Benacre, and another was at Southwold on 5th Feb. One flew south off Minsmere on 20th Feb. and on the 22nd one was in Ipswich Docks and another on Lake Lothing. The latter bird stayed until 24th when it moved to Oulton Broad and remained there until 10th Mar. Further south one was at Holbrook Bay on 24th Feb., and another was found dead at Thorpeness on the next day. One at Woolverstone 26th-28th Feb. could have been the Holbrook bird as conceivably could one at Ipswich 3rd Mar. 31


One at Somerleyton 4th Mar., was possibly the same bird which appeared at Lound on the 10th-18th. Overlapping this was one at Benacre 17th-18th Mar. Great Northern Diver: One which stayed on Lake Lothing from 10th Jan. until 2nd April was possibly the most watched diver in Suffolk for many years. This bird also wandered into Lowestoft Harbour during its stay. Two were on the Orwell from 2nd-27th Feb., one at Minsmere 19th-25th Feb., and 2 flew north off Benacre 24th Feb. These numbers are average for recent years. Diver SP.: Divers which were not specifically identified were seen inland at Lakenheath 11th Feb., and Aldham 22nd Feb. Little Grebe/Great Crested Grebe: Numbers of these two species appear not to have been affected to any great extent by the cold period. Estimates of c. 50 Little and c. 20 great Crested in the Lowestoft Harbour area, Lake Lothing and Oulton Broad were only slightly above average. Red-necked Grebe: The numbers of this species were one of the most remarkable features of the period under review. It is obvious that there were two main influxes; a small one during mid Jan. which produced 5 on the coast, and mid Feb. onwards when 36 occurred and probably several more, spread over a wider area with some reaching inland waters. Although Monday 12th Feb. has been stated as the date of the main influx it was not until the following weekend 17th/18th that this was reflected in observers notes. Of course most watching is done at weekends. It is likely from the weather that the 15th was the start of this invasion. The peak was reached on 24th/25th. Thus there was a gradual influx rather than a sudden " f a l l " . Estimating numbers is difficult, but 22 were reported on 25th, and 14 found dead between 19th-25th. Adding the small number seen in Jan., others in Mar. and April, and allowing for others overlooked it seems likely that between 40 and 50 occurred in the county. Lowestoft Harbour/Lake Lothing.—One 20th-28th Jan., with 2 on 27th; then no more until 20th Feb. when 3/4 until 24th, 2 up to 4th Mar. and 1 until 18th. Oulton Broad.—2 24th Feb. one remaining until 25th Mar. Lound.—One 19th Feb. increasing to 3 from 23rd until 16th Mar., one staying to 2nd April when it was in f.s.p. Two were displaying on 7th and 13th Mar. Benacre.—One 3rd/4th Feb. Up to 7 were present 18th-25th Feb., and 4 remained to 1st Mar., and one or two to the end of the month. 3 were still there on 2nd April and 2 on 7th/8th. Easton Broad.—one 5th and 31st Mar. may have come from Benacre. Southwold.—26th Feb., The Blyth.—4th Feb., and Walberswick.—25th Feb. could all refer to the same bird. Minsmere.—2 12th-19th Feb., and one offshore on 22nd. Aldeburgh.—23rd Feb. Shingle Street.—21st Jan. Bawdsey East Lane.—19th Feb.-3rd Mar. River Deben.—Melton to Woodbridge 18th Feb.-17th Mar., Kirton Creek 21st Feb., Waldringfield to Methersgate 3 25th Feb.-3rd Mar. Trimley Lake.—8th Mar. and another 1 st-16th April. River Orwell.—One from Dec. 1978 until 27th Jan. Present along Ipswich Docks, Wherstead, Freston, Pinmill and Woolverstone section from 17th Feb.-17th Mar. Singles recorded except for 3 17th Feb., 2 18th Feb., 19th Feb. and 24th, 4 on 25th Feb., 3 on 26th Feb. and 27th, and 2 on 3rd and 11th Mar. Alton Water.—3rd-10th Mar. Cattawade.—Singles 18th-22nd Jan., and 18th Feb.-4th Mar. Away from the coastal belt records were received from: Barham G.P.—lst29th"Mar. Culford.—18th Mar. Hunston.—one on farm pond 17th Feb. Shrubland Lake.—16th Mar. Sudbury.—16th Feb.-4th Mar. Birds were found dead as follows: Lowestoft Harbour.—25th Feb. Benacre.—25th Feb. Minsmere/Walberswick.— 24th Feb. Minsmere/Sizewell 4 on 28th Feb. Thorpeness/Minsmere 2 on 25th Feb., and 2 more 4th Mar. Shingle Street.—4 or 5 19th-23rd Feb. 32


Slavonian Grebe: The main influx was on or about 24th Jan., but it was not until 17th/18th Feb. that significant numbers were found, and these peaked a week later when at least 12 were located. Numbers remained steady into the first week of Mar., and some lingered through into April. There were only 2 inland records. It was estimated that 15-20 birds occurred. Lowestoft.—One 3rd Jan., 2 on 24th/25th and then one to 4th Feb. and then 2 again which stayed to 18th Mar. Oulton Broad.—2 23rd Feb., 3 on 24th and then one or two until 25th Mar. Benacre/Covehithe.—25th Jan.-17th Feb., 2 18th Feb.-31st Mar. and then one to 8th April. Southwold Boating Lake.—16th-24th Feb. Minsmere.—One on and off between 2nd Feb and 5th Mar. River Deben.—25th Feb.-3rd Mar. Bawdsey East Lane.—19th Feb. River Orwell.—18th Feb.-2nd Mar., with 2 24th Feb. and again on the 25th. Bromeswell.—one on a trout lake 4th Mar. Holbrook Bay.—llth-13th Feb. River Stour.—14th Jan. Inland records were: Sudbury.—on a flooded meadow 2nd/3rd Feb. Weybread Pits.—11th April. One dead bird was found Southwold/Kessingland 10th Jan. Black-necked Grebe: Records were spread over an extended period, and allowing for duplication it is possible that only 4 birds were involved. Benacre.—Singles 1st Feb., 18th Mar. (f.s.p.), 7th/8th April. Minsmere.—7th/8th Feb. Aldeburgh.—3rd-6th Feb. Shingle Street.—21st Jan. River Deben.—29th Jan. River Orwell.—6th-8th Jan., 2nd-25th Feb., and 17th Mar. Holbrook Creek.—11th Feb. Shag: The only report of any significance came from Lowestoft. On 28th Jan. there were 3 birds in the Harbour when a flock of 14 flew in from the NE to join them. Within half an hour the same observer located another 15 sitting on mud on Lake Lothing, bringing the total to 32. Seventeen were still in the Harbour the next day, as were a few on Lake Lothing. Numbers quickly dropped and only about 4 stayed in each area until mid Mar. Bittern: A few records were received of birds wandering in search of food. Only 2 dead birds were found — Boyton 10th Jan., and the River Brett 2nd Feb. One flew into the grounds of Sizewell Power Station on 3rd Feb., and others were seen at Eye on the 20th, and Boyton on the 21st. Two fed on sprats put out for that purpose at Minsmere. Mute Swan: The Lake Lothing herd reached a peak of c. 450 during Feb. It is impossible to say if this slight increase was related to the bad weather, but it seems reasonable to suppose that birds would move to salt water as fresh areas froze over. Some evidence of immigration from the Continent is indicated by a bird found dead on Aldeburgh marshes on 28th Feb. and bearing a Danish ring. Bewick's Swan: At the turn of the year movement was noted in the SE of the county. Herds of up to 50 or more were recorded in the coastal region during Jan./Feb., and maxima were: 49 Shingle Street 25th Jan. increasing to c. 70 on 6th Feb.; 48 Benacre 6th Jan., and 75 Kessingland Level on the 7th (same herd?). Most had departed by the end of the first week of Mar., and 2 at Aldham on the 15th were the last reported except for one at Ixworth 7th April. Whooper Swan: Although only a small number were located, this was still above average for recent years. Two were at Thorpeness 3rd Jan., one at Easton 7th Jan., 10 Iken 14th Jan., one flew west at Carlton Colville 28th Jan., another stayed on Minsmere Level 4th Feb.-18th Mar., 5 were at Ixworth 17th Feb., and finally one at Aldeburgh 3rd-6th Mar. Swan sp.: Nine were seen flying south far out to sea off Corton 6th Jan. 33


Bean Goose: W. H. Payn (1978) describes this species as " a scarce and irregulär winter visitor", and further states that it has only occurred with certainty on 11 occasions between 1946-70, and then enumerates 5 or so records since that period. Bearing this in mind the following notes can only be described as spectacular. At Walberswick c. 20 flew south on 30th Dee. 1978 and a further 6 were seen on the ground. Three were still there on 2nd Jan., 15 on the 27th and 5 on 1 Ith Mar. Benacre/Covehithe produced the most spectacular numbers with 21 14th-28th Jan., and 145 on lOth Feb. Seven were at nearby Kessingland on 30th Jan. Up to 20 were present at Minsmere during Feb., and one or two remained there throughout Mar. A marsh in a central coastal area produced a max. of 12 during the first half of Feb., and the last report there was 3rd Mar. Twenty-five were at Reydon lOth Feb., 4 Shotley 26th Feb., and 5 Southwold 14th Mar. Pink-footed Goose: Numbers were above average but not so many as the previous species. About 100 were at Iken 14th Jan. During late Jan. and early Feb. up to 28 were present in the Covehithe/Benacre/Kessingland area. In a central coastal area 15 on 4th Feb. had increased to 40 by mid month, with 20 remaining to 3rd Mar. Three flew inland with c. 40 Greylags at Minsmere on 25th Feb. Five at Southwold on lOth and 21st Mar. were probably the birds which were noted at Walberswick on the 12th. White-fronted Goose: There is no indication of a definite influx period as records were spread evenly throughout Jan./Feb. However in one coastal area c. 700 in early Feb. increased to c. 1,500 by 3rd Mar. This increase was not reflected in other areas. Perhaps those birds in the NE of the county during Jan. moved during Feb. thus accounting for the increase. There is evidence of a southerly movement on 21st Jan., and a northerly one on 3rd Mar. (see Benacre and Minsmere). Lowestoft.—28 flying north 31st Jan. Barnby.—38 flying east 2nd Feb. Kessingland.—20 7th Jan., 25 lOth Feb. Benacre.—18 Ist Jan., 25 6th Jan., 74 flying south 21st Jan., 35 I Ith Feb., and c. 100 flying north 3rd Mar. Covehithe.—18 18th Feb. Southwold.—4 Ist Jan., 6 27th Feb. Reydon.—3 7th Jan., 60 25th Feb. Minsmere.—60 30th Dee. 1978, 70 flying south 21st Jan., 42 28th Jan., 14 29th Jan., 140 flying north 3rd Mar. Eastbridge.—2 12th Jan., 22 13th Jan. Iken.—c. 200 14th Jan. Central Coastal Area.—c. 700 4th Feb. increasing to c. 1,250 by the 24th and c. 1,500 on 3rd Mar., after which a sharp decrease to 120 by 6th. As already stated birds were noted going north elsewhere on 3rd Mar. Bawdsey East Lane.—5 flying north 26th Feb. Kings Fleet.—31 4th Mar. Inland records were as follows: Livermere.—11 Ist Jan., 8 7th Mar. Ixworth.—4 lOth Feb., 10 4th April. Greylag Goose: There were several reports of flocks of up to 10, but these were probably of feral origin. The only record of any significance was c. 40 flying inland at Minsmere 25th Feb. Barnacle Goose: There were reports of singles at 7 sites during Jan./Feb., but these were almost certainly birds of feral origins. However wild birds did occur and built up to a peak on 24th/25th Feb. Kessingland.—6 24th/25th Feb. Reydon.—4 2nd Feb. Southwold.—c. 60 22nd Feb. to 24th, and 9 on 29th. Central Coastal Area.— 43 4th Feb. increasing to 66 by mid month, then 40 on 24th and 109 on 25th, and still 9 there on 3rd Mar. It is significant that there was a drop in numbers at Southwold on 25th Feb., the same day as the big increase in this area. Dark-bellied Brent Goose: Lowestoft.—43 flying around the North Denes area trying to land but eventually moving off to the north on 13th Feb. Southwold.—210 flying south Feb. (no date). Walberswick.—13 4th-7th Jan. (with Pale-bellied), 58 4th Feb., 90 25th Feb. Minsmere.—200 14th Feb. Central Coastal Area.—c. 150 34


24th Feb., 185 on 25th, 75 4th Mar. Felixstowe.—Many sightings of small groups flying around the area. Some of these appeared to be confused, repeatedly changing direction, probably looking for suitable feeding grounds. On 3rd Feb. 58 flew in from sea over the ferry and landed in the Kings Fleet/Falkenham area. Kings Fleet.—c. 300 4th Mar. River Orwell.—c. 600 14th Jan. increasing to 1,000 by 3rd Feb. Most had left by the end of the first week of Mar., but 40 remained at Trimley on 25th Mar., and there were 2 at Levington 14th April. An injured bird stayed at Shotley until 8th May. River Stour.—466 14th Jan., 401 18th Feb. Holbrook.—164 23rd Feb. Pale-bellied Brent Goose: Always scarce in Suffolk. A few were noted as follows: 14 Walberswick 4th-7th Jan. and 3 were there again on 25th Feb. One was at Levington on 14th Jan., and still there on 3rd Feb. when there were also 4 at Wherstead Strand. There were also reports during Jan./Feb. from Lowestoft (20), Benacre (1), Holbrook (1), Sudbourne (2), and Boyton (2). Black Brant: One was at Levington on 14th Jan. Dabbling Ducks Numbers were significantly up on normal years, and for the sake of brevity only peak numbers are given. Shelduck: River Deben.—c. 500 in the Hemley/Waldringfield area 4th Mar. River Orwell.—c. 1,800 on the upper reaches 18th Feb., and c. 2,500 on 4th Mar., c. 500 Nacton 17th Mar. River Stour.—c. 2,500 during Feb. Wigeon: Kessingland.—c. 800 13th Jan. 2-300 2nd Mar. Reydon.—c. 2,000 8th Jan. River Blyth.—c. 1,000 14th Jan. Minsmere.—c. 1,000 during Feb. Sudbourne.—c. 1,000 24th Feb. Boyton.—c. 2-3,000 21st Feb. Shingle Street.—c. 500 25th Jan. River Deben.—(Waldringfield/Hemley area) c. 400 15th Dec. 1978, c. 2,000 28th Jan., c. 215 4th Mar. River Orwell.—(Levington) c. 350 25th Feb. River Stour.—(Seafield Bay) c. 4,800 7th Jan., 416 24th Mar. Teal: Records incomplete: Shingle Street.—c. 200 25th J a n . River Deben.—(Waldringfield/Hemley/Kirton) c. 400 28th Jan., c. 200 4th Mar. River Orwell.—(Walton Ferry) c. 50 3rd-9th Jan., c. 75 12th Jan., (Levington) c. 200 25th Feb. Mallard: Iken.—c. 4,000 14th Jan. Pintail: A noticeable increase, but absent from all but SE of county. Butley.—c. 400 7th Jan. River Deben.—Apart from normal numbers at Waldringfield up to c. 70 were at Melton during Jan./Feb., at Methersgate 140 10th Jan. River Orwell.—(Woolverstone) 126 14th Jan. River Stour.—Up to 600 in Jan./Feb., dropping to 80 by 24th Mar. Diving Ducks Again numbers well above normal, and described as unprecedented in several areas. Pochard: Lowestoft.—(Inner Harbour) c. 1,000 20th Jan.-4th Feb. Decreasing to c. 600 by 16th Feb., and c. 300 on 24th with a few remaining in early Mar. Oulton Broad.—c. 100 12th Jan., c. 150 24th Feb. There was a great amount of movement between Lowestoft and Oulton Broad, and it was possible to see small flocks 35


commuting at any time of day. Benacre.—c. 600 21st Jan., c. 300 18th Feb., River Orwell.—210 Ipswich Docks 22nd Feb. is without precedent, 190 were still there on 2nd Mar. 211 were counted between the Docks and Levington on 4th Mar. Alton Water.—514 22nd Jan. River Stour.—(Seafield Bay) 423 14th Jan., c. 500 4th Mar. Homersfield.—c. 40 5th Feb., only 10 28th Feb. Tufted Duck: Lowestoft.—(Inner Harbour) c. 200 4th Feb., c. 100 16th Feb. Oulton Broad.—c. 200 24th Feb. (movement as Pochard). Benacre.—c. 300 21st Jan., c. 200 10th Feb. Homersfield.—c. 50 24th Jan., c. 60 18th Feb. and 40 on 28th. Weybread. —c. 50 24th Jan. River Orwell.—(Ipswich Docks) c. 500 18th Feb., c. 300 still there 5th Mar. Unprecedented numbers for this area. Alton Water.—512 22nd Jan. River Stour.—(Seafield Bay) 333 14th Jan., 325 4th Mar. Scaup: Lowestoft.—5th Jan. Benacre.—a max. of 8 in Jan./Feb., and 4 still there 7th April. Minsmere.—4 flying south 28th Jan. River Aide.—A pair 5th Jan. River Deben.—(Woodbridge) singles 26th Jan., and 25th Feb. (Waldringfield) one 28th Jan. and one or two in first half of Mar. Shingle Street. —4 6th Jan. Bawdsey East Lane.—Female 22nd Feb. and a male on the 25th. River Orwell.—(Ipswich Docks/Woolverstone) 7 2nd Jan. increasing to 48 on the 13th. Up to 35 were there up to 3rd Feb. then decreasing to 7 3rd Mar., and 2 on the 18th. Alton Water.—Female 4th Jan. and a male 11th Feb.-4th Mar. River Stour.—(Seafield Bay) 35 11th Feb., 4 on 17th and 7 on 4th Mar. (Stutton Mill) 7 24th Feb. Sea Ducks Some species in this group produced impressive numbers, but Common Scoters were extremely scarce. Eider: Lowestoft.—(Including Corton-Southwold as this is reckoned to be the same group). The flock reached a peak of c. 50 in early Jan., and numbers were sustained to mid Feb. This is well above average. Shingle Street.—One Dec. 1978 to 6th Jan., 2 on 7th and 4 25th Jan.-lOth Feb. Bawdsey East Lane.—3 6th Jan., one 25th Feb. River Deben.—2 25th Feb-4th Mar. and one 25th Mar. River Orwell.—17 3rd Jan. increased to 21 7th Jan., and 26 by 3rd Feb., 20 remained to 26th Feb., with 10 11th Mar., and up to 3 subsequently. The only adult male (rare in Suffolk) was a slightly oiled bird on the beach between Southwold and Easton 16th Jan. Long-tailed Duck: An estimate of 6-12 is well above average. These included 4 adult males which are rare off our coast. All birds are females or immatures unless otherwise stated. Benacre.—One from Dec. 1978 was seen intermittently in Jan./Feb. A male was also present 23rd-25th Feb. Minsmere.—One 21st Jan. could have been the Benacre bird. 3 offshore 4th Mar. River Orwell.—one 9th Dec. 1978-lst Jan., then 2 2nd Jan. to 27th. Alton Water.—2nd/3rd Jan., a male 4th Mar.-26th April being joined by another male on 13th April. Common Scoter: Very scarce. Benacre.—A dying male and 2 dead birds 28th Jan. Lowestoft Harbour.—3 were present 16th Feb.-4th Mar. Velvet Scoter: Lowestoft.—Up to 7 in the Harbour and offshore during mid Feb. Lound.—An imm. male 10th Feb. to 23rd. Kessingland.—One flying north 18th Feb. Benacre.—18th Feb., also 25th and 28th-3rd Mar. Minsmere.—28th Jan., 5th and 17th Feb., 16th Mar. River Deben.—One flying up river near Bawdsey Ferry 7th Jan., also 25th Feb.-4th Mar. River Orwell.—3rd-14th Jan., 2 18th-24th Feb., 3 25th/26th Feb. Also one was found on a runway at R.A.F. Woodbridge on 29th Jan. It is thought that the bird had mistaken the wet surface for water. This has happened in the past to Common Scoter and Great Crested Grebe at R.A.F. Wattisham. 36


Goldeneye: At the beginning of Jan. there was a build-up in coastal areas totalling c. 150 birds. After a period when these numbers dropped towards the end of Jan. there was another and more spectacular increase to c. 300 by mid Feb., and c. 4-500 during the first week of Mar., after which there was a sharp decline. Lowestoft.—(Inc. Lake Lothing) 22nd Jan.-23rd Feb., 2-3 24th Feb.-2nd Mar. Oulton Broad.—6 22nd Feb., 17 24th Feb., 10 on 25th and one by 9th Mar. Lound.—21st Feb., then 3 22nd-24th Feb., 7 25th Feb., 3 2nd Mar. Benacre.—40 3rd Jan., 10 6th Jan. increasing to 20 by mid Feb., and then 8 24th Feb.-mid Mar., 2 20th Mar., 4 7th April and one on 21st. Southwold.—2 2nd Mar. Minsmere.—20th Jan. to 28th, present throughout Feb. with a max. of 8 on 18th, and up to 7 20th Mar. Shingle Street.—31 6th Jan. 27 7th Jan., and one 28th Jan. and 25th Feb. Bawdsey East Lane.—2 plus 2 males flying south 25th Jan. River Deben.—(Waldringfield/Ramsholt) 60 25th Feb. increasing to 80 on 1st Mar., and 136 on 3rd dropping to 105 on the 4th. (Woodbridge) c. 35 17th Mar. River Orwell.—Up to c. 75 during Jan./Feb., decreasing to 50 on 10th Mar., 12 on 17th, and 2 on 25th Mar.-6th April. One stayed until 21st April. Trimley Lake.—14 4th Mar. River Stour. —(Seafield Bay) 177 18th Feb. increasing to 230 by 4th Mar. Alton Water.—Max. of 6 during Jan./Feb., 10 18th Mar., 11 on the 20th and 24 on the 24th, and one in late April. Inland records were: Gipping Valley.—16 24th Feb. Barking/Bosmere G.P.—4 1st Mar., and 3 on the 3rd. Sproughton.—3 11th Mar. Needham Market.—16th Mar. Sawbills Unprecedented numbers especially of the salt water loving Smew and Redbreasted Mergansers. Smew: A total of 50/60 is by far a record, and eclipses the yearly average by 7 or 8 times. The peak appears to have been 5th-7th Jan., but whereas the 40 or so at Shingle Street dispersed after this there was a gradual increase in other areas. The second peak around 3rd/4th Feb. was not so pronounced with no more than 30 reported. Flocks of several hundred are often seen in Holland, and it is thought that our birds originated from there. Lowestoft.—A male was on Leathes Ham 24th Feb., it flew off in the direction of Oulton Broad and was seen there later in the day. Oulton Broad.—2 14th Feb. Benacre.—9 1st Jan. and most of the month, increasing to 18 3rd Feb., with 15 on the 4th and up to 4 thereafter until 2nd Mar. Four males are included in the peak figures. Southwold.—17th Feb. Walberswick.—13th Jan. Minsmere.—4 21st Jan., and up to 3 7th-22nd Feb., and one 17th/18th May. Shingle Street.—41 5th Jan., 20 6th Jan., 14 7th Jan., 12 11th Jan., after which all had dispersed. River Deben.—(Ramsholt) 11th Feb. River Orwell.—Present from 2nd Jan.-4th Mar. with a peak of 7 7th/8th Jan. Alton Water.—Recorded intermittently between 2nd Jan.-10th Mar., the max. being 8 4th Feb.-to 26th. Holbrook Creek.—7th-14th Jan. Cattawade.—2 4th Feb. Shotley.—3 27th Jan. Several birds found their way inland:—Needham Market.—3 4th/5th Jan., 3 males 16th Feb., and one 17th Mar. Barham G.P.—21st Feb.-16th Mar. Sproughton.—25th Mar. right through to 16th May. River Lark.—(Barton Mills) 27th Jan., had been seen over Cavenham on the same day. Euston.—10th-18th Feb. Wissett.—Male 15th Feb. Lackford.—4th Feb. Red-breasted Merganser: The main influx was in the first half of Feb. and reached a max. of c. 110 in the middle of the month. A further increase occurred in Mar. especially on the Orwell where 169 appeared on the 4th. Lowestoft Harbour.—Pair 1st Jan., 3 11th Jan.-mid Feb., with 5 on the 24th. Oulton Broad/Lake Lothing.—Up to 12 in each area 10th-24th Feb. There was possibly some overlap. Lound.—Max. of 8 Jan./Feb. Benacre.—2 21st Jan.-mid Feb., then 4 18th Feb. and 37


one until the end of the month. Reydon.—5 21st Feb. Southwold.—9 16th Feb., 4 2nd Mar. Minsmere.—10 19th Feb. Shingle Street.—11 7th Jan. River Deben.—9 in the Waldringfield/Methersgate area 24th Feb.-3rd Mar. River Orwell.—Up to 10 during Jan./early Feb., but by mid Month this had increased to 85. Between 60 and 70 stayed until early Mar. when they increased to 169, c. 100 were stili there on lOth Mar., and 70 on the 17th. The last sighting of significance was 14 Ist April. This build-up was possibly due to birds moving up from the south prior to moving north to breeding areas. Inland records were: Homersfield.—2 31st Dee. 1978. Needham Market.—3 15th-19th Feb. Barham G.P.—3 19th Feb., one on 24th. Goosander: Numbers were more evenly spread than for the other species. There was a tendency for a shift in peak numbers from SE in early Jan. to NE from Mid Feb. onwards. The Earsham G.P. record has been included as it is virtually on the Norfolk/Suffolk border and the birds did actually cross over the boundary when put up by workmen. Oulton Broad/Lake Lothing.—One Lake Lothing 28th Jan.-mid Feb., and 18 Oulton Broad 24th Feb. Lound.—Max. of 14 21st-25th Feb., with up to 10 staying to mid Mar., and 2 finally on 20th Mar. Benacre.— Up to 9 during Jan., a pair 1 Ith Feb., and 2 "Redheads" 18th Aprii. Kessingland.—A male on the river near the A12 18th Feb. Southwold.—17th Feb. Minsmere.—Max. of 7 during Jan., and 6 during mid Feb., one 5th Mar., and 3 flying inland on the 12th. River Ore.—19th Aprii. Thorpeness Mere.—10 4th Mar., 8 7th Mar., and 7 9th Mar. Shingle Street.—12 3rd Jan., 3 on the 5th. River Orwell.—Max. 6 during Jan. One Nacton 4th Mar. Alton Water. —26 Ist Jan., then up to 8 during the rest of the month and 10 in Feb. The last recorded was on lOth Mar. River Stour.—4 Seafield Bay 17th Feb., and one Cattawade 20th Feb. There were several inland records: Homersfield.—5th Mar. (Only one is unusual here). Earsham G.P.—20 28th Feb. Weybread.—7 9th Jan., 26 20th Jan. Livermere.—2 lOth Feb., one 25th Mar. Needham Market.—21st Jan.-22nd Mar. Thorington Street.—4 12th Mar. Finborough.—22nd Feb. Barking.—(Bosmere G.P.) 2 3rd Mar., one 16th and 2 on 20th Hadleigh.—2 4th Feb. Selected Raptors The following 3 species warrant a special note as they occurred in exceptionally high numbers during the period. This was obviously due to severe conditions on the Continent, especially Scandinavia. Hen Harrier: Recorded in unprecedented numbers mainly at coastal roosts but also inland. The Suffolk Ornithologists Group estimated that c. 85 were roosting in Suffolk during Jan. It is difficult not to exaggerate numbers as birds may have not used the same roost each night. The main influx which peaked in mid Jan. coincided with a tremendous SW movement all over Europe. It was noticed even in Switzerland where very high numbers were present between llth-25th Jan., after an influx which began at Christmas. The max. counts at roosts were: Oulton Broad.—18 24th Jan. Benacre.—2 Jan./Feb., Walberswick.—19 13th Jan., Minsmere.—14 4th Jan., Sutton.—9 (no date), Tuddenham.—5 1 Ith Jan., and Lakenheath.—5 Jan./Mar. Buzzard: Never very abundant in Suffolk, a total of 10-12 warrants mention. Fritton area.—2 lOth Feb., 3 on 24th, 4 lOth Mar. (Possibly 5 birds involved here). Walberswick.—Singles Jan./Aprii and 2 16th Aprii. Minsmere/Eastbridge.—2 3rd Feb., then singles up to Aprii, and 2 16th Aprii. The latter could have been the Walberswick birds seen on the same day. Tangham.—4th Mar. Alderton.—23rd Mar. Sudbourne.—Ist Jan. 38


Rough-legged Buzzard: This species is always affected by weather conditions and food availability. An influx during this winter period was to be expected, but with an overall estimate of 13-20 and most during an April movement one may be justified in being disappointed. More so compared with the winters of 1974/75. The records fall into 3 main areas. (1) Fritton/Herringfleet/Somerleyton/Lound.—One Fritton 10th Feb. was still there in early Mar., when on the 4th 2 were seen at Somerleyton. There were no more records until one was at Lound 24th April. (2) Walberswick/Hinton/Minsmere/Sizewell.—One Walberswick area Jan./April, and sightings at Hinton, Minsmere during Feb. may well relate to the same bird. Two were at Sizewell 3rd Feb. Seven flew out to sea at Minsmere on 14th April, and 2 days later 2 were seen at Walberswick where a bird lingered until 12th May. (3) Sudbourne/Gedgrave/Boyton/Sutton Heath.—Singles noted on several dates from mid Jan.-early Feb. Three were reported at Boyton 14th April (same date as 7 Minsmere). Other records were: Lowestoft.—26th Feb. Lakenheath area.—2 24th/25th Mar. Elveden.—2 11th Feb. Other Selected Species Coot: Main concentrations in the county were: Lake Lothing.—c. 200 in Feb., Blyth Estuary.—64 11th Feb. (very unusual). Butley.—275 6th Jan. Ipswich Docks.—c. 350 26th Feb., c. 190 11th Mar. Alton Water.—c. 600 Jan./Feb. Thorington Street.—c. 120 27th Jan. Livermere.—105 8th Mar. Long-eared Owl: Four roosts totalling 28 birds in the county. W. H. Payn (1978) gives only one instance of a multiple Suffolk roost, (Up to 12 Sudbury 1975). Even allowing for previous under-recording 1979 was unique. The roost at Leathes Ham was exceptional in that it was easily observed from a public footpath, and being on a small island was undisturbed. Leathes Ham.—Up to 9 Jan./Mar. with one until early April. Oulton.—This roost came to light when schoolboys told their master that 10 were there. Upon investigation on 17th Mar. only 3 were seen but examination of dropping and pellets indicated that at least 7 had been present and possibly the 10 claimed by the boys. Sudbury.—4 at one roost. Central Suffolk.—a roost of 5 birds. The experience at Oulton raises the question of how many roosts were missed. This particular one was nearly lost as it was not in a good winter birdwatching area. Short-eared Owl: An estimate of c. 40 along the coast is well above average, and is in parallel with such species as Hen Harrier and Rough-legged Buzzard. Waxwing: Conditions appeared suitable for a full scale invasion, but expectations were unfounded. Oulton Broad.—2 9th Jan. until 24th. Walberswick.—2 1st Jan., one 13th/14th, and 3 on 16th. Charsfield.—3rd Feb. Melton.—10th Jan. Felixstowe.—2 19th Jan., and one 21st. Ipswich.—Singles 20th-22nd Jan., and 3rd Feb., and 3 elsewhere in the town during the third week of Feb.

39


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LIST OF OBSERVERS ABBOTT B. K. ABBOTT S. ALDRED R. ALLARD P. ALLEN M. J. ALLERTON A. ANTRAM F. B. S. AUSTIN M. BAKEWELL J. D. BANKS S. BEESON P. M. BLOOMFIELD L. T. BOTWRIGHT A. BOWEN G. S. BRIGGS R. S. BROWN B. J. BULL A. BURNELL S. J. BUTCHER A. A. CAMBRIDGE BIRD CLUB CANT R. G. W. CARLISLE K. CHADDER P. J. COBB A. C. COBB F. K. COLEBY R. COLSELL L. COX Dr. S. CURTIS C. G. D. DEAN S. M. DINGLE BIRD CLUB DORLING D. A. DUMAS H. EASTON A. C. EATON J. C. FARMER M. R. FARMER R. FISHER D. FOX R. GABRIEL A. GIBSON F. GILBERT S. A. GLOVER R. H.

GREGORY P. A. HAMLING P. HAMMOND A. HAMMOND P. HARDING B. HARDING N. J. HARRISON MATTHEWS L. HARRIS R. G. HARTLEY P. H. T. HATCH S. R. HAYMAN P. HILLMER J. C. HYDE E. M.

NESLING D. NIGHTINGALE T. NOBLES E. NOBLES M. E. L. OCKLETON D. W. PACKARD M. PAINE A. R. J. PARKER M. C. PARTRIDGE J. PATRICK E. W. PAYN W. H. PIOTROWSKI S.

JACKSON G. E. JOBSON G. J. JOHNSON G. L. JONES E.

RAINCOCK J. L. READ J. R. RICHMOND P. RIGDEN S. P.

KEEBLE E. F. KELLOW L. F. KEMP J. B. KERSHAW M. KIRTLAND C. A. E.

SEARS E. W. SMITH M. SNOOK R STOUR ESTUARY GROUP SUFFOLK ORNITHOLOGISTS GROUP

LAST A. J. LEE H. J. LONGHURST J. LOWE C. J. LOWE J. A. LITTEN P. LYNTON, M. R. MABEY R. MARSH M. MARSHALL R. V. A. MAYBURY G. W. McANULTY C. McANULTY Dr P. A. McMILLAN D. MOORE D. R. MORGAN Dr J. A. V. MORRIS A. J. MORRIS M. C. MORRIS T. MURPHY P. W. NAUNTON C. R.

TATEP. THORNTON C. J. M. VAUGHAN D. VINE A. E. WAKERLEY J. C. WALLER C. S. WALSH D. F. WALTON R. WARREN R. B. WASHINGTON D. WASHINGTON M. W. R. WATERS R. J. WATSON F. J. WEBB R. WELCH G. R. WELCH H. J. WESTCOTT A. WHEELER T. WHITE J. A. WOOLNOUGH J. H.


NOTES .0 OMI.KSM T '^>.'1*1 THOMM .1 «2 KM t ,3 .M «•..MBCM

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<1 «AMYAH • -> .t JHMÌHH •M - Î 3 t 2 Y H

•ä .0 HOKX.MI : .o urwam . ) .o *oe»"»o*.

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31 g TTOSSA ïtojMa * ammiA

.a .*! m>oa*ö 'S mt ¡MAH •A di-SUMWAH 1 (WOWOH .8 OHiCÄAH .K DMKISAH •J ÄW3HTTAM W8SJMAM .0 E «IS« AH • f.« .«! OUTUAH

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t .AÎHWtJM .0 .M • T.« . < «î nmsu.

42

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» M Jt3M*A1

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Derek Bromhall DEVIL BIRDS The Life of the European Swift This magnificently illustrated book follows, through two seasons, the life of a colony of swifts who built their nests in the roof of the tower of the University Museum at Oxford. Embryologist Derek Bromhall began filming the colony in the phenomenally hot summer of 1976 and finished in the cold, wet breeding season of 1977. In the course of his observations, he learned many new facts about the swift and charts with vividness and sympathy the life of this amazing bird. Hutchinson Cased £8.95 Paper £5.95

BASIL EDE'S BIRDS with text by Robert Dougall Basil Ede presents 70 of his best known works portraying some of the more familiar birds of the British Isles. Robert Dougall describes the species and includes observations made in the Suffolk countryside. Published by Severn House

£9.95

Both books obtainable from most Bookseilers or Tiptree Book Services Ltd. St. Lukes Chase, Tiptree, Colchester, Essex


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H O W T O O R D E R Please include: 1. Name and address. 2. Cat. No. of garment and quantity required. 3. Height, bust/chest measurements. 4. Choice of colour and neckline. 5. Enclose cheque/PO.

BURY STREET, STOWMARKET, SUFFOLK Tel: Stowmarket 4471/4

First and Foremost in T h e r m o - I n s u l a t e d C l o t h i n g

THE BIRDS OF SUFFOLK by W. H.

Payn

/

]

This 2nd Edition of the Birds of Suffolk has been entirely revised and rewritten t o bring it up to date as the standard work for the county. The Systematic List covers in detail the past and present status of more than 330 species of which 126 breed regularly in the county. There are chapters on changes in the avifauna and o n migration in Suffolk including an account of the "Great Fall" of 1965 w h i c h was largely centred on the Suffolk coast. A bird watcher's topographical guide and an analysis of the county list are also given. The illustrations include five colour plates and twenty-one in monochrome. Some extracts f r o m recent reviews of the book: " M o r e than 80 per cent of the book is taken up w i t h the usual most valuable Systematic List, but there are also excellent descriptions of the physical and topographical features of the county and a fascinating chapter comparing the birds and their habitats of 70 years ago w i t h those of t o d a y . " " — bird watchers living in or visiting Suffolk regularly should all welcome this revised edition." — British Birds " — a n excellent example of a county bird book, indespensible to anyone wishing t o keep abreast of matters ornithological in East Anglia's heartland."—Ibis "East Anglian ornithologists will need this book and it can be recommended also t o other birding visitors." — Bird Study Ancient House Publishing Cobbold Street Ipswich Tel 57764

Price £7.00

It

I 1


r

Breydon

I

Yarmouth


Suffolk Birds 1979  

Volume 29

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