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Suffolk Birds 1980

Published by the Suffolk Naturalists' Society


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SUFFOLK BIRDS 1980

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


This Roller attracted many birdwatchers to an Ilketshall St Lawrence lane. — Photo by John Miller

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


Editorial R e c o r d s f o r 1 9 8 1 . These should be sent to D. R. Moore, Crosslands, Cage Lane, Boxted, Colchester, Essex C 0 4 5RE before the end of January 1982. Tel: Boxted 594. Please note that any records arriving later than this date cannot be guaranteed inclusion in the 1981 Report. D e s c r i p t i o n s : Observers are reminded that detailed descriptions are required for county rarities and the following is the current list of species considered by the County Records Committee: Black-throated and Great Northern Divers; Rednecked Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes; Ail shearwaters; Storm and Leach's Petrels; Shag; Bean Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Ruddy Duck, Honey Buzzard, Red Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Goshawk, Rough-legged Buzzard, Hobby, Peregrine, Quail, Spotted Crake, Corncrake, Kentish Plover, Dotterel, Temminck's Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper, Phalaropes, Pomarine and Long-tailed Skuas, Mediterranean, Sabine's and Iceland Gulls; Roseate Tern, Black Guillemot, Little Auk, Puffin, Hoopoe, Dipper, Bluethroat, Hippolais, Barred and Yellow-browed Warblers; Red-breasted Flycatcher, Golden Oriole, Raven, Ortolan and Lapland Buntings, plus any species of less than regular appearance, outside their normal season or habitat, or unusually large numbers of uncommon birds. C h a n g e s t o the R e c o r d s C o m m i t t e e . After giving splendid service over a number of years 'Curly' Curtis decided to resign and the vacancy was filled by Steve Piotrowski. On behalf of all Suffolk Ornithologists I would like to thank Mr Curtis for all the work and assistance he has given the Committee. Philip Murphy was coopted to act as Assistant Editor in view of the mounting volume of records received. 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 Ornithologist's Group have provided records from their logs. The Editors of 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. Special thanks are also due to Brian Brown for contributing the article on Nightingales, and to Philip Murphy for valuable assistance in collating records in the construction of this Report. I am also indebted to Don Revett of Nacton Decoy for access to Wildfowl Trust Ringing data, and Ian Peters for collecting the details of other recoveries. Thanks are also due to David Bakewell, Brian Brown, Edward Keeble and Mike Parker for the excellent line drawings and to John Miller for the photograph in this report. Finally I would like to express my sincere thanks to all contributors without whom this report would not have been possible.

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Review of the Year In 1980 the winter months at no time produced the long severely cold conditions of 1979 and accordingly the numbers of 'hard weather fowl' were not spectacular, only Smew occurred in above average numbers. In fact because of the comparative mildness species were observed which are normally associated with the warmer months. Amongst the waders two Little Stints, over 30 Ruff, two Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers and c. 50 Avocets were reported in the winter months. Also no less than seven each of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were located. The latter showed a distinct preference for sewerage filter beds during this period. No doubt these provide adequate insect food. The Raven from 1979 lingered until early March and wandered a little further afield. Numbers of Shorelarks were generally low and Rough-legged Buzzards were totally absent in the second winter period of the year. Undoubtedly the highlight of the winter was a Black Guillemot discovered at Walberswick in January which was the first in Suffolk for sixty-eight years. B r e e d i n g Birds. After the terrible winter of 1979 it is heartening to report that breeding numbers of Bitterns did not reduce drastically in 1980, and also that the population of Great Crested Grebes is increasing. Kingfishers and Wrens showed signs of recovering their former numbers as did Bearded Tits with an estimated 200 pairs of the latter species. Garganey as always so secretive were difficult to find but at least two pairs were thought to have nested. Nine Marsh Harrier nests produced sixteen young and Hobbies continued to be suspected of nesting. A Quail singing in July could have been part of a breeding pair. Avocets maintained their numbers with 148 pairs rearing 101 young, but only 15 pairs of Stone Curlews were located. Ruffs were suspected of nesting, three pairs of Black-tailed Godwits reared 6 young, and 12 pairs of Curlews bred in the Breck. The Lowestoft Kittiwakes continued their success with 74 pairs raising young despite the understandable efforts of some shopkeepers to remove them from their premises. Sandwich Terns flourished only at Havergate where three pairs of Arctic Terns also bred. Little Terns had a good year and there are probably c. 100 pairs in the county. Eleven pairs of Long-eared Owls were located and five pairs of Short-eared Owls. Nightjars were obviously under-recorded with only an estimated 25 pairs discovered. Woodlarks, Siskins and Crossbills continue to thrive and Grey Wagtails slightly increased their numbers. Five pairs of Cetti's Warblers and two of Savi's Warblers were present in the breeding season and at least 8 singing male Firecrests were counted. Whinchats were very scarce but Redstarts increased and 13 pairs of Black Redstarts were reported. The Golden Oriole colony continued to thrive despite the threat to some of the habitat with at least 9 territories established. Sadly Red-backed Shrikes continue to crash and only 17 pairs could be found. Finally a survey conducted by S.O.G. revealed 250 pairs of Tufted Ducks whilst the B.T.O. Nightingale census produced at least 367 singing birds.

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V a g r a n t s and o t h e r M i g r a n t s . True migration was noted from early March and included the usuai Firecrests, Wheatears and Sandwich Terns but also one or two surprises. Towards the end of March Greenshank, Whimbrel, Common Tern and Whinchat had ali been observed. Firecrests continued to be noticed moving through in Aprii and a Black-necked Grebe, Kentish Piover and Hoopoe were also reported. This month also produced an exceptionally early Reed Warbler on the 5th and likewise two Wood Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher. May is generally regarded as 'the' month in spring and 1980 was well up to most expectations. There was a Constant stream of rarer migrants which included: Purple Heron, Spoonbill, American Green-winged Teal, Montagu's Harrier, 5 Ospreys, Red-footed Falcon, 4 Dotterei, 3 Temminck's Stints, 3 Pomarine Skuas, Roseate Tern, at least 40 Black Terns, White-winged Black Tern, 5 Hoopoes, 3 Wrynecks, 2 Grey-headed Wagtails, 6 Pied Flycatchers and a Golden Oriole. This trend continued into June with yet another Spoonbill, 3 Roseate Terns, an additional Golden Oriole and no less than 3 Woodchat Shrikes. July is normally a quiet month but perhaps because of large congregations of Cory's Shearwaters off south-western England it was no surprise to see one off our coast. Furthermore the first of 3 Ruddy Shelducks were to appear, followed by Montagu's Harrier, 2 Red-necked Phalaropes, and an off-course Great Skua in the Breck. Sea-birds were the feature of August/September with another Cory's Shearwater, 3 Sooty Shearwaters, and 9 Manx Shearwaters. The latter included at least 2 which turned up exhausted of which one was found in the Breck. Up to 5 Spoonbills were also located and two more Ruddy Shelducks were noted. The origins of the latter are somewhat suspect. A female Red-crested Pochard seen at Alton Water was thought to be a genuine migrant. Of the raptors a Honey Buzzard, 2 Montagu's Harriers and an Osprey were observed. Wader passage was better than the previous year and included impressive numbers of Greenshanks and Wood Sandpipers. Of the rarer species there were 2 Dotterei, 4 Temminck's Stints, a Longbilled Dowitcher and a Wilson's Phalarope. Skuas were more noticeable than usuai and included at least 42 Arctic, 2 Pomarine and 12 Great. Black Terns were only reported at a trickle but a group of 40 moving south off Sizewell must have been worth watching. A Hoopoe caused some excitement amongst locai birdwatchers but not as much as the Roller which frequented a country lane in North Suffolk. Other interesting migrants noted in this period were 14 Wrynecks, a Tawny Pipit, 6 Icterine Warblers, 4 Barred Warblers and 2 Red-backed Shrikes. Seabirds continued to be of interest in October with a further 13 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Leach's Petrels and another Pomarine Skua being recorded. A further Hoopoe was noted, a Richard's Pipit and 6 Lapland Buntings. A Little Tern on 3lst and a Red-backed Shrike on 29th were both very late dates. November is normally associated with the first winter visitors but a Spotted Crake, 6 Cranes, c. 50 Little Gulls and 6 Sandwich Terns were also observed. Species considered summer visitors are getting very late in this month and so it was surprising to receive records of Whimbrel, Hoopoe, Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler and Serin. More usuai was the appearance of 4 Little Auks and the very scarce Puffin.

T h e C o u n t y List. Up to and including 1980 the County List stands at 334 species.

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Systematic List

Black Redstart The order used is that of the British Birds list of the Birds of the Western Palaearctic. Red-throated Diver: It is now apparent that there exists an itinerant feeding flock off our coast in most winters. To illustrate this on 10th Feb. c. 120 were counted in the Benacre-Easton area, and 125 were off Minsmere. These could of course relate to the same birds. Similarly numbers built up from early Dec. reaching a peak of over 100 at Minsmere on the 16th. One individual lingered in spring on the Deben until 6th May, and another at Lowestoft until 15th May. The first autumn arrival appeared off Sizewell on 11th Sept., and one flying west over Ipswich on 14th Nov. was unusual. Black-throated Diver: An exceptional year with one Alton Water 23rd-26th Jan., up to three between Benacre and Sizewell 10th Jan.-1st Feb. In the latter half of the year noted as follows: Covehithe/Easton 15th Nov., 2 there 6th Dec. and one again 14th Dec., Melton 4th-6th Dec., and Freston 6th Dec. What was possibly the same bird was at Alton Water 21st-27th Dec., and Ipswich Docks 28th Dec. Great Northern Diver: Singles at Benacre 17th Jan. (JG), Wherstead Strand 7th Nov. (AB), and Benacre again 23rd Nov. (JRR). The latter still showed signs of summer plumage. Little Grebe: The S.O.G. Tufted Duck Survey incidentally revealed c. 50 breeding pairs in the county, and one wonders what percentage of the total county breeding population this represents. Autumn/winter congregations included several parties of up to 30 from widely scattered coastal localities. Great Crested Grebe: This species has increased its breeding numbers to c. 65 pairs. This indicates an increase of almost 100% on 1977 figures when a full census was taken. A significant factor in this increase is the emergence of Alton Water which supported 20 pairs. This however was before the first main infill early in 1981 and it will be interesting to see what effect this has on the colony. The largest winter flock was c. 50 on the Orwell on 6th Dec. Red-necked Grebe: After the spectacular totals of 1979 it was back to normality with records as follows:— The bird on the Orwell from 1979 was joined by a second on 1st Jan., and one was still there on 2nd Jan. A juvenile was at Cattawade 5th-8th Sept., and singles were on the upper Orwell again 9th Nov., and 27th Nov. until the end of the year. One seen on 7th Dec. was considered to be a different bird to the latter. 6


Slavonian Grebe: The 1979 bird at Holbrook Bay lingered until 18th Jan., but 2 were there together on 7th Jan. Singles were also located at Freston 6th-13th Jan., Benacre 21st Feb., and 9th Nov., and Pakefield 12th Dec. Finally three were seen together on the sea off Dunwich 24th Dec. Black-necked Grebe: One in full summer plumage at Trimley Lake 5th April (MM), another at Benacre 23rd Nov. (JRR) and finally 1 Alton Water 30th Nov.-7th Dec. (Many obs.) Fulmar: As usual small numbers were observed offshore in most months but more regularly from Mar. to Sept. Evidence of larger numbers at sea was revealed in a count of 12 four miles off Aldeburgh 20th Dec. The cliff site first prospected in 1979 was visited again from mid-April until early July by 3 pairs but breeding did not take place. One was found long dead on the south bank of the Ouse near Lakenheath 14th May. Cory's Shearwater: In a year when exceptional numbers of this species were present in the south-west approaches of the British Isles it is perhaps not surprising that singles were noted flying south off Benacre/Covehithe on 19th July (DR) and going north at the same site on 14th Sept. (BJB). These represent the 2nd and 3rd records for the county. Sooty Shearwater:This species continues to be reported regularly with singles at Benacre 25th Aug. (DR), flying north off Lowestoft 15th Sept. (ACE), and Minsmere 20th Sept. (RSPB). Manx Shearwater: An exceptional year and sightings were: 2 flying north off Southwold 22nd Aug. (TWG), 2 flying north off Lowestoft 15/16th Sept. (ACE), singles at Minsmere 4th Aug., and 21st Sept., and 2 there 7th Nov., and 13 were off Benacre 16th Oct. (AMG). The latter is the largest total seen together in Suffolk. It is quite evident that a minor 'wreck' took place in Sept. Disorientated birds were reported from neighbouring Norfolk and Essex and in Suffolk one was found alive on Cavenham Heath in the Breck on 14th Sept. and subsequently released (MT-M). Another was discovered long dead at Seafield Bay 2nd Nov. (EFK), and finally one was rescued from Felixstowe Docks on 21st Sept. (see page 45). Leach's Petrel: One brought ashore from a ship on 10th Oct. having been picked up on board when at anchor 3 miles off Felixstowe. This bird was taken to the Blue Cross and subsequently released on 14th Oct. (pp ARJP). A second bird flew south off Sizewell on 26th Oct. (MM). Gannet: Regularly noted offshore in small numbers throughout the year, but a noticeable increase was reported from late Aug. until mid Oct. This included birds all heading north as follows: 34 Benacre 23rd Aug., 42 Easton 24th Aug., 15 Benacre 25th Aug., and 15 again at Benacre 16th Oct. On the latter date which was a day of easterly gales and heavy rain one was observed flying north-east over Hollesley Heath some 2 miles inland (SJB). Cormorant: Recorded in all months of the year but the most significant sightings were of roosting congregations, three of which were quite large. On the Orwell on 22nd Jan. 110 were counted flying downstream to roost on a derelict barge at Parkeston on the Essex side of the Stour. At Melton the roost peaked at c. 130 in late Sept. and birds were noted flying south at first light over Martlesham Heath and it is assumed that these were heading for the Orwell. On the offshore Sizewell rigs assemblies of c. 50 were reported in Mar. and Oct. Also regularly noted flying inland up river valleys to feed, and accordingly 25 were in the Gipping valley in Jan./Feb. and 15 in Bures in late Oct. 7


Shag: Reported most regularly from Lowestoft and Ipswich which have always been favoured haunts of this species. At Lowestoft there were 3 10th Jan., then 5 immatures from early Mar. until 4th April and one again from 3rd Oct. followed by 7 on 30th Nov. Two were at nearby Oulton Broad on 15th April. In the Ipswich area an adult and an immature were present until 22nd Jan., and a juvenile appeared first at Sproughton B.F. ponds on 12th Oct. and 26th Nov. A single was at Benacre on 29th Nov. and 7 immatures were there on 22nd Dec. Finally one was at Minsmere on 3rd Dec. Bittern: Wintering birds were noted at: Benacre 30th Jan. (AAB), Reydon 20th Feb. (DWO). In the breeding season 9 booming birds were at Minsmere, 7 at Walberswick and 1 pair elsewhere. Grey Heron: Breeding counts were: Minsmere — 4 nests produced 8 young. Easton — 18 nests in oak, 2 in scots pine. There may have been 24 nests in all. West Stow — 1 nest but considered unused. Lackford Pits — 5 nests but probably not used. Brandon Fen — 14 nests. Henham — at least 10 nests. Ramsholt — at least 4 nests. No counts were received from Barnby, Benacre, Blackheath, Stoke-by-Nayland, Stutton and Methersgate. A juvenile landed exhausted on Sizewell beach on 13th Sept. (DWO). Purple Heron: One at Minsmere 19th-26th May (HCL, ADJ et al.). Spoonbill: Reported as follows: Minsmere — 1 to 3 3rd Aug. to 23rd, 5 20th Aug., 2 till 19th Sept. (RSPB). Eastbridge — 1 28th June (RSPB). Walberswick — 1 16th-18th May (BJB, CRN). Blythburgh — 2 2nd Sept. (JRR). As usual there may be some duplication of individuals. Mute Swan: The only significant flock reported was c. 450 in Lowestoft harbour in both winters. Cygnets of the 'Polish' form were noted at Sproughton and Weybread. Bewick's Swan: Reported from 22 localities up until 22nd Mar., the largest groups being 83 Southwold 18th Feb., c. 70 Boyton 6th Feb., 60 West Stow 6th Jan., 50 Aldeburgh area 20th Jan. and 14th Feb. In autumn were first noted from late Oct. and subsequently located at 28 sites. Numbers were noticeably lower than earlier in the year but included 44 Lowestoft 7th Dec., and 58 at Minsmere on the same day. Whooper Swan: This species continues to be rather scarce and was reported as follows: Minsmere — 1 20th-22nd Jan., 2 30th Jan., 2 9th Nov., and one 16th Dec. (RSPB). Shotley 13 11th Mar. (MP), Sudbourne 1 17th Feb. (DWO), and finally one found dead at Walberswick 17th Dec. (WEB, DNB). Bean Goose: Up to 5 at one coastal site and 9 at another throughout Jan. (AEC, FKC, GJJ). Pink-footed Goose: Recorded from: Kessingland Level — 5 19th Jan. Minsmere — 5 19th Jan. (same as above?) and 9 flying south 29th Dec. Central coastal site — 10 1st Jan., 20 20th Jan., 8 27th Jan. Aldeburgh — 1 8th Dec. 8


White-fronted Goose: Peak counts at the main sites were: Minsmere — 51 Jan., 48 Feb., 34 Mar., 1 Nov., 47 Dec. Central coastal site — 150 Jan., 46 Feb., 60 Dec. Also reported from Southwold 14 3rd Jan., Havergate 60 29th Jan., and 10 flying south over Ipswich 31st Mar. Greylag Goose: It would be most useful to receive all records of feral breeding birds. They seem to be gaining a foothold and it would seem desirable to monitor their progress. An unusually large flock of c. 50 was reported from Barnby on 29th Dec. and could be of wild origin. Snow Goose: The usual records were received of 'blue phase' birds of undoubted feral origin from Livermere 2 on 8th Sept. and 3rd Dec., 1 Lackford Pits 4th Dec., and 1 at Minsmere from 3rd Nov. onwards. Canada Goose: The largest assemblies reported were: Benacre/Kessingland c. 250-300 throughout the year, Livermere/Lackford c. 350 during the year, Minsmere c. 350 30th Jan., Homersfield 150 7th July, Aldeburgh 152 17th Aug., and Barham 125 20th July. Barnacle Goose: Birds suspected as escapes from wildfowl collections were recorded throughout the year at Benacre, Livermere, Needham Market, Barham, Helmingham, Kirton (2), Blythburgh (2), Lackford and Minsmere (5). However 11 at Southwold on 13th Jan. were very probably wild birds (DV). Brent Goose: The south-eastern estuaries held the largest feeding flocks during the early part of the year. Maximum counts were: Stour — 800 Holbrook Bay 27th Feb. Orwell — 400 Trimley 14th Feb. Deben — 450 Falkenham 1st Feb. Aide — 300 Sudbourne 27th Jan. Belated birds were observed in May at Minsmere on 9th (15) and 15th (3). The first autumn birds were seen off Minsmere 19th Sept., but the heaviest passage occurred in late Oct. and included a combined coastal count of 2030 on the 26th, and on the 31st 2250 flew south off Landguard Point in 3'A hours. The main estuatine flocks in Nov./Dec. were 500 Holbrook Bay and 800 at Trimley. Individuals of the pale-bellied race were at Shingle Street 16th Jan. and off Covehithe with 7 of the dark-bellied race on 21st Sept. Egyptian Goose: This introduced species appeared to be slightly on the increase although the only confirmed breeding was at Gunton where a pair raised 6 young. Pairs were also reported in the summer from Thorpeness/Aldeburgh (3), Reydon, Livermere and Flixton (2). Outside the breeding season noted at Oulton Broad 4 26th Jan., Claydon 27th Jan., Cattawade 2 Mar./April, Homersfield 2 1st Oct., and Minsmere 2 11th Sept. Ruddy Shelduck: A minor invasion of this species occurred in south-east England in late summer and early autumn, probably involving birds from a recently discovered Dutch feral colony. Singles noted at Livermere 26th July and 15th Aug. (RVAM, RW), Minsmere 3rd Aug. (RSPB), and Sizewell/Aldeburgh 5th-8th Sept. (BJB, SP et al.) were assumed to be part of this influx. Shelduck: The largest wintering flocks counted were on the Stour as follows: 2248 20th Jan., 2514 17th Feb., 1399 16th Mar., and 1850 21st Dec. Once again coastal breeding numbers remained stable and the Livermere colony continued to thrive. A flock of 50 was seen at the latter site on 27th April. 9


Wigeon: Adult birds oversummered at Minsmere (5), Seafield Bay (2), Levington, Havergate (2) and Walberswick. There was no proof of breeding at these sites but near Glemsford a female was seen with young in mid-June. The possibility of the latter being of ferai origin cannot be completely ignored. The largest wintering flocks counted were: Stour — 2099 20th Jan. 1732 17th Feb., 603 16th Mar., 1535 21st Dec. At Minsmere the maximum number recorded was 760 12th Jan., and likewise at Havergate 657 were there on 26th Jan. At Higham c. 1,000 were feeding on 7th Jan. One interesting record is of 850 at Alton Water on 28th Sept. which is high for that site and probably the resuit of shooting on one of the adjoining estuaries. Gadwall: Reports were received of 62 breeding pairs at 14 sites. From the data submitted these included birds from both coast and the Breck with 36 pairs at Minsmere being the highest concentration. The highest winter flocks noted were 84 at Minsmere 20th Feb., and 79 Alton Water 30th Dec. Teal: Very few breeding records were received, the most significant being c. 30 pairs at Minsmere. The largest winter flocks were 524 Minsmere 6th Jan., 500 Methersgate 30th Jan., and 570 Havergate 22nd Dec. Away from the coast c. 60 were observed at Long Melford during Nov./Dec. A southerly movement of 110 was noted off Landguard Point on Ist Nov.

American Green-winged

Teal

Green-winged Teal: A drake of the North American race carolinensis and what was possibly a duck of the same race at Alton Water 29th May (SP et at). Mallard: The largest counts received were: Stour 1202 20th Jan., 1258 17th Feb., 708 16th Mar., 1977 21st Dec., and at Ampton/Livermere 1750 3rd Aug. Pintail: Summering individuate were reported from Seafield Bay in June/July and from Brandon 26th July. Migrants were noted from early Aug. and by 4th Sept. 200 had congregated at Nacton Decoy. The largest winter gatherings were: The Stour 250 20th Jan., 141 17th Feb., 229 21st Dec., 350 late Dec., Havergate 145 22nd Dec., and 210 Methersgate 25th Jan. Garganey: There was evidence of two possible breeding pairs at two coastal localities. On Havergate Island 10 were noted 18th-23rd May which is a trifle late for spring migrants and may suggest further breeding birds. Autumn migrants were recorded at Havergate 4 1 Ith Aug., Alton Water 3 25th Aug., up t o 2 12th Sept.-2nd Oct., Seafield Bay 31st Aug.-17th Sept., another 29th Sept., and a pair Nacton 6th Oct. Shoveler: It is assumed that many observers do not report breeding birds of this species and it would seem desirable to receive such data. The only significant nesting record was of c. 20 pairs at Minsmere. The largest winter gatherings were 137 Havergate 3rd Mar., and 125 Alton Water 5th Oct. 10


Red-crested Pochard: A female at Alton Water 11th Sept. (SP). Pochard: No breeding records were reported from inland gravel pits and Benacre 18th Jan., c. 300 there 30th Alton Water 30th Dec. At the latter some recent autumns.

received at all. As is usual large groups were coastal broads. The most significant were 310 Nov., 375 at the same site 30th Dec., and 375 site numbers were considerably lower than in

Ferruginous Duck: Four sightings all of possibly the same drake at Weybread Pits 13th Jan. (AL), Boyton 24th Feb. (RJW), Minsmere 11th Sept. (RSPB), and Oulton Broad 7th Dec. (JRR). Tufted Duck: A minimum of 250 successful breeding pairs were located by the S.O.G. census which greatly exceeds any previous estimates and it would be useful with the increasing available habitat to repeat such a project say every five years. From these results it is perhaps not surprising that considerable numbers are recorded in winter, although resident flocks are augmented by continental immigrants. The largest single flock was 358 at Alton Water in Jan. Scaup: In the first winter period many coastal reports were received including 8 Ipswich Docks Jan./Feb., and most notably c. 60 flying north off Minsmere 17th Jan. A drake was present at Alton Water on 4th May, and most interestingly 2 females were seen on the sea off Benacre on 27th July while a drake was at Shingle Street 1 lth-13th July and this was later joined by another on 31st July. In the latter part of the year up to 8 were at Benacre and 4 at Trimley. Eider: Small numbers were present offshore throughout the year, females and immature males predominating. The largest group located was 10 females off Southwold on 7th Aug. Long-tailed Duck: A female frequented the Benacre/Easton area from 1st Jan.-29th Mar., another female was present in Ipswich docks on 25th Jan. A female was at Easton from 13th-16th Oct. and again lst-30th Nov., one was seen off Ness Point 15th Nov.-11th Dec., and another female was at Alton Water from 16th Dec. until the end of the year. Two together were reported from Minsmere on 13th Dec., and 4 were off Walberswick on 17th Dec. Common Scoter: Offshore for most of the year with the main concentrations between Walberswick and Minsmere. This group averaged around 200 but an estimate of c. 1,000 was made on 10th Nov. This is quite unusual of late and is more in keeping with numbers recorded 20 years ago. Reports were also received of maximum counts at Landguard 40, Corton 50, Bawsey 50. At Orfordness c. 100 flew south 20th Dec. Away from the coast one was seen on the Waveney at Barnby on 5th Aug., and 3 were at Woolverstone 8th Nov. Velvet Scoter: Regularly noted offshore in small numbers except in July/Aug. The most notable records were 5 off Minsmere 1st May, 11 flying north off Corton 30th Nov., and 10 flying south off Walberswick 17th Dec. A female was up the Orwell at Woolverstone on 8th Nov. Goldeneye: In Jan./Feb. a maximum of 78 were on the Orwell, 66 on the Deben and 67 on the Stour. Most had departed by April but one was still in Seafield Bay on 24th May. At Benacre one was present from 11th July until the 22nd. The first autumn arrivals were noted from mid-Oct. although one was at Alton Water on 1st Sept. In Nov./Dec. maximum totals were: Alton Water 15, Benacre 20, Deben 25, Orwell 60, and Stour 73. Inland up to 2 were seen at Sproughton, Barking, Barham, Tuddenham, Icklingham and West Stow during this period. 11


Smew: An above average year and reported from the following sites: Benacre — maximum of 5 males and 3 redheads 1st Jan.-24th Mar. Then a redhead on the early date of 30th Oct. and thereafter 3 redheads from 15th Dec. until the end of the year. Alton Water — up to 3 redheads Jan./Feb. Barham Pits — redhead 20th Jan. Melton — redhead 24th Feb. Flatford — adult male 12th Jan. was probably the same as seen at Thorington Street later th^t day. Lackford Pits — female 20th Jan. Cavenham — redhead 22nd Nov. Havergate — 1 11th Feb. Red-breasted Merganser: In the first winter period the major site was the Orwell with up to 30 present during Jan./Feb. Up to 10 were in the Trimley area until 13th April, and 3 lingered there until 3rd May. Elsewhere a male was seen at Walberswick on 5th May, 8 flew south off Havergate 10th May, and 3 were at Minsmere 27th May. Oversummering birds were 2 at Benacre from 11th July. The main passage was noted in late Oct. with groups heading south off Sizewell and Landguard. The only significant records after that period was 12 at Minsmere 1st Nov., and 2 Alton Water 25th Dec. Goosander: Small numbers were present at the usual coastal localities in both winters. Inland records were: 2 males and a redhead Weybread 24th Jan., a male and 2 redheads Homersfield 30th Mar., redhead Lackford 13th-20th Jan., and again 21st Dec., and 2 redheads Barham Pits 31st Dec. Ruddy Duck: Male Benacre Broad 4th Nov. (AEC, FKC). Honey Buzzard: Present at 2 sites in midsummer but nesting not suspected. One migrant noted at Alton Water 31st Aug. (EFK, PM). Marsh Harrier: Nine nests were located but breeding was only proved in 5 cases these producing 16 young. Single birds were present as usual at these and other coastal sites throughout the year including the winter months. Migrants were a regular feature in April and early May and again in Sept./Oct. One of the more unusual observations was of a juvenile sitting in long grass at Landguard Point after torrential rain on 20th Sept.

Hen Harrier 12


Hen Harrier: Since the discovery of traditional communal roost sites it has been reasonably easy to assess the current wintering populations. Accordingly from Jan.-Mar. a maximum of 21 adult males and 20 ring-tails were counted, and in Nov.-Dec. 24 adult males and 25 ring-tails were located. These figures represent a higher ratio of adult males than has been usual in Suffolk in the past. Late spring birds were noted at Aldringham 1st May, Orfordness 3rd May, and Oulton Broad 5th May. More unusually a ring-tail frequented the Benacre/Easton area from 2nd17th Aug. At Mutford on 3rd Jan. an adult male watched in very heavy rain appeared almost black, nothing like its normal colour. Montagu's Harrier: Only 4 records all single ring tails: Oulton Broad 28th May (RSB), Minsmere 13th/14th July (RSPB), Trimley 17th Aug. (PM), and Westleton Heath 23rd Aug. (AM). Goshawk: This species continues to be reported from several parts of the county particularly in winter. A clue to the origins of some of these birds could be one wearing jesses at Minsmere 31st Dec. Sparrowhawk: It is pleasing to report that this species is recovering as a Suffolk breeding bird. Fourteen pairs were reported which hopefully only represents a portion of the true population. Numbers were augmented as usual by wintering and passage birds. The most favoured localities were the coastal and Breckland forests. Buzzard: Wintering birds were seen from Jan.-Mar. and after passage movement in Sept. thereon mostly in the Breck and coastal belt. It is often apparent that a marked spring passage takes place from late Mar. through to early April and 1980 was no exception. There were several sightings of singles in this period but 5 were noted together at Covehithe on 29th Mar. Rough-legged Buzzard: A poor year for this species with singles recorded between Jan. and April at Walberswick/Minsmere, Barnby, and Rendlesham Forest. Two were present in the Breck in the Lakenheath area during the same period. One was reported from Minsmere on 19th May and what was presumably the same bird was seen at Easton on 27th May. More unusual was one seen at Walberswick on 13th Aug. (CSW). After that no more were reported in the year, the first barren autumn for some time. Osprey: Singles reported as follows: Lound 1st May (EJ), Minsmere 9th-19th May (RSPB), Snape 19th May (ARJP), Alton Water/Holbrook 20th May (SP), Blythburgh 24th May (DGB,MW) and Felixstowe Dock/Kirton Creek 21st Sept. (pp FJF). The latter bird was disturbed from a vessel at night and flew off in the glare of the dock floodlights. Kestrel: Evidence of autumn immigration was noted with singles in from sea at Minsmere 13th Sept. and Landguard Point 14th Sept. One was seen feeding on a dead coypu at Iken on 31st Dec. Red-footed Falcon: A female at Walberswick 29th May (WF, Mrs FHT). Merlin: Twelve birds from 7 sites were located from Jan.-April with 1 lingering at Minsmere until 9th May. In the second winter 10 birds were found at 7 sites. Hobby: Two pairs were reported during the summer at 2 sites but no proof of breeding was obtained. Furthermore, birds were present in June/Juiy at a further 5 locations. Migrants were noted as follows: Walberswick 10th-30th May, Henstead 13th May, Henham 8th Aug., Alderton 24th Aug., Alton Water (2) late Aug., and Levington 4th Sept. 13


Peregrine: Three reports of what may have been the same adult female at Walberswick 15th Mar. (EWP, SP), there again 13th April (ARJP) and Minsmere also 13th April (RSPB). Red-legged Partridge: An albino was seen at Butley on 26th May, and a leucistic specimen was at Hollesley 2nd Oct. (SOG). Partridge: A pair raised 5 young at Landguard which was the first recent record for this site. Quail: One calling in the Brandon area 26th July (PM, SP). Golden Pheasant: Still plentiful in the King's Forest and Brandon area, notably Brandon Country Park. Lady Amherst's Pheasant: One at Hessett on 16th April (ES). Could there be a small feral population in Suffolk? Water Rail: At Minsmere c. 30 pairs bred, and at Walberswick it is considered that the population could be as high as 60 pairs. Spotted Crake: One at Sproughton 20th Nov. (WEB). Coot: The largest wintering flocks counted were: Alton Water 577 Jan., 529 Nov., and 590 Dec., Trimley Lake 650 20th Dec. Crane: Six together over North Stow 2nd Nov. (CJH). Oystercatcher: Successful breeding was reported at Orfordness (11 pairs), Covehithe, Blythburgh, Dunwich, Walberswick, Southwold and also an abortive attempt at Alton Water. The largest non-breeding flocks reported were 300 Trimley 2nd Feb., 250 Levington 31st Mar. the same number there until early May, and then 230 17th Aug., Erwarton 300 8th Sept., 500 Walton Ferry 26th Dec. A partial albino occured at Seafield Bay 17th Sept. Avocet: At Havergate 90 pairs raised 23 young and at Minsmere 58 pairs reared 78 young. Elsewhere birds were present in 3 localities during the summer months but there was no evidence of breeding. Passage birds were observed at Covehithe 13th April, Levington 25th May, Benacre (3) 31st July-5th Aug., Levington 26th Oct. and Benacre again on the late date of 4th Nov. Wintering birds are now a regular feature and up to 50 stayed in the Havergate/Butley area during both winters. What may have been the same individual was noted at East on and Southwold on 20th Jan. Stone Curlew: As usual the number of breeding records received is obviously incomplete. Three pairs were submitted from the coastal belt and 12 pairs from the Breck. Indications of a larger population is shown by the autumn gatherings of 15 at one Breck site in mid-Sept., 20 at another site 28th Sept. and 29 also there on 9th Oct. Little Ringed Plover: Breeding pairs were reported from 21 sites all of which were gravel workings. Spring passage was reported from 3rd April and in autumn quite sizeable groups were noted. In the first week of Aug. there were 28 at Bury B.F. Ponds and 13 at Benacre. Ringed Plover: Away from its normal coastal breeding sites a total of 19 pairs were found nesting at 4 inland freshwater sites including 2 locations in the Breck. The largest passage/wintering flocks were counted at Levington and were 260 17th Aug., 250 2nd Sept. and 250 12th Oct. Kentish Plover: One Havergate 14th April (RSPB). Dotterel: Four Hollesley Heath 11th May (AW),and 2 Holbrook 10th Aug. (AE, JR, TU). 14


Grey Plover: Large numbers were regularly seen in both winters on the Orwell and Stour and included c. 300 Harkstead 7th Jan. and 100 Levington 16th Feb. and 22nd Nov. On spring passage c. 50 were at Blythburgh 10th May and 40 Havergate 15th May. In autumn maximum numbers located were c. 400 at Shotley Point 7th Sept. and 200 Erwarton 8th Sept. Five birds were located from 3 sites in June, and away from the coast 2 flew over Elveden on 20th Jan. Golden Plover: Numbers were generally low until late Mar. when quite an influx was recorded and included c. 350 Ixworth 21st Mar., c. 150 Carlton Marshes 22nd Mar., c. 100 Wrentham and c. 100 Little Cornard 23rd Mar., c. 100 Ellough 31st Mar., c. 150 Hessett 9th April, c. 250 Bradfield St. George 12th April and c. 480 Earl Soham 13th April. Odd birds lingered until mid-May and the first sign of return passage was one at Minsmere on 4th July. Subsequent autumn arrivals were 85 Livermere 25th Aug., 60 Havergate, 4th Sept., and c. 100 Ellough 17th Sept. From then on numbers increased substantially and included c. 130 Southolt and c. 150 Westhall 16th Nov., c. 200 Felixstowe 29th Nov., c. 150 Ellough 21st Dec., and finally c. 1,000 Kenton 28th Dec. Lapwing: Immigration was noted from early June and included c. 800 at Wattisham 24th July. Influxes continued into winter and 1800 were counted at Minsmere 25th Nov., and 1,500 there 24th Dec. Knot: Wintering numbers were the most noticeable with c. 200 Freston 5th Jan., c. 300 the Stour 7th Jan. and 575 there from 30th Nov. onwards. On spring passage the biggest flock reported was c. 40 at Havergate 13th May with smaller numbers elsewhere along the coast. Return migrants were present from 14th July and reached a peak of c. 60 at Havergate 10th Sept. Sanderling: Lowestoft was the favoured area in winter with a regular flock of c. 20 from Jan. to early spring. A most noticeable passage took place in May/June and involved 30 Easton 11th May, 34 Minsmere 25th May, and 23 Benacre 7th June. Return passage was noted from 12th July and up to 20 were seen at Walberswick on 17th Dec. Little Stint: Spring passage was generally light with one or two birds seen in May at Minsmere, Havergate and Great Blakenham. However at Benacre after a similar small showing 20 flew in on 15th May, and 6 were still there on 7th June. In autumn reports were received from early Aug. until 14th Oct. the most significant records being at Benacre where 13 were noted on 7th Aug. and 12 on 7th Sept. Away from the coast 1 was present at Bury B.F. Ponds 23rd-25th Aug. After north east winds and during mild weather 2 were to be seen at Alton Water from 11th Nov.-7th Dec. (SP et al).

Temminck's

Stint 15


Temminck's Stint: An excellent year with 7 birds located as follows: Minsmere 6th9th May (RSPB, JG), Alton Water 15th-18th May (SP et at), Levington 24th May (PM), Covehithe Broad lst-5th Aug. (CRN et al), Levington 17th-19th Aug. (PM), (SEE RINGING REPORT)., Levington 3rd Sept. (ARJP), and finally Benacre 2nd Sept. (MS). Curlew Sandpiper: Spring passage was above average with 8 birds from 3 sites. Four observed at Seafield Bay 9th June included 2 involved in display fight (EFK). Return migrants were apparent from early July and were particularly noticeable at Minsmere where 16 occurred on 31st July and 22 8th Aug. Smaller numbers were present elsewhere along the coast. Purple Sandpiper: Lowestoft continues to be the best site for this species and up to 20 were regularly present in Jan.-Mar., with 2 staying until 24th April. Similarly 17 were noted on 22nd Nov. until the end of the year. There were slightly more records from other sites as follows: Landguard — 2 Jan.-7th May and one until 8th May. 5 19th Aug., and 2 early Sept. followed by one 20th-23rd Oct. A further 2 were there 16th Nov. Minsmere — 1 on the early date of 10th Aug. Boyton — 1 24th Aug. Felixstowe Ferry — 1 3rd Sept. Benacre — 1 12th Aug., and 6th Oct., then 2 9th Nov. and 1 6th Dec. Shingle Street — 1 25th Oct. South wold — 1 26th Dec. Dunlin: Peak counts on estuaries were: Stour — c. 13,000 20th Jan., c. 3,750 17th Feb., c. 5,000 16th Mar., c. 9,000 21st Dec. Orwell — c. 3,500 9th Jan., c. 2,000 15th Feb., c. 5,000 22nd Nov., c. 2,000 23rd Dec. Deben — c. 1,400 1st Jan., c. 1,000 22nd Dec. Evidence of migration was noted at Sizewell on 26th Oct. when c. 900 flew south. Away from the coast c. 20 were reported feeding on a small flooded field at Edwardstone on 1st Mar. Ruff: Breeding was suspected at two sites within the county. Spring passage was comparatively light but as expected autumn numbers were more noticeable particularly at Minsmere where 35 occurred on 28th Aug. In recent years there has been a greater emphasis on winter observations and again Minsmere/Eastbridge was the favoured area. Counts at this locality included up to 30 in Feb. Other records of note were 1 at Benacre 11th Jan., 3 at Reydon 20th Feb., and 1 Cattawade 27th Dec. Jack Snipe: In both winters records of singles at 12 sites were reported. A marked spring passage was evident with birds being reported from 9 sites between 10th Mar. and 4th May. On the latter date 2 were at Alton Water and one lingered there until 15th May. Snipe: Breeding records received were obviously incomplete but 16 pairs were located in the coastal belt, and a further 6 pairs in the Breck. Some large winter gatherings were located and included 275 Minsmere 9th Jan., c. 200 at the same site 23rd Nov., and 250 in the Shotley area in Dec. Evidence of winter immigration was 13 flying in from sea at Lowestoft on 7th Dec. Long-billed Dowitcher: One Havergate Island 22nd Sept. (JP). Woodcock: Roding was reported from only 13 sites which must be a gross misrepresentation. Considerable numbers were noted in both winters and on passage 16


and significantly some of the more interesting records were provided by shooting parties. These included: 40 Rendlesham 24th Sept., c. 30 flushed at most shoots Ickworth/Tuddenham and 20 Kessingland 16th Dec. Black-tailed God wit: Three pairs reared 6 young at one site and birds summered at one other. Counts made at regular haunts were: Stour — 1,065 20th Jan., 650 12th Oct., c. 500 2nd Nov. Blythburgh — 56 8th April, 120 10th April, 85 14th April, 40 10th May. Havergate — 75 Mar., 90 27th July, 51 21st Aug. Minsmere — 93 10th April, 54 16th July. Deben — 70 13th Mar., 75 27th July, 100 early Dec. A female in full summer plumage was found injured at Long Melford on 10th Aug. and later died. The skin is now in the collection of W.H. Payn. Bar-tailed Godwit: Wintering numbers were rather low but 15 flew south off Benacre 19th Jan. A good spring passage was evident with 74 flying north-east over Felixstowe 26th April, 34 Minsmere, 38 Levington and 41 Slaughden all on 3rd May, and 40 at Easton and Walberswick on 11th May. The latter record may well refer to the same birds. There were no significant sightings in what was a very lean autumn passage. Whimbrel: Spring arrivals were noted from Minsmere from 24th Mar. and by midApril the migration was well under way and included several inland records notably 7 Livermere 13th April. The main arrival was in early May with 26 Slaughden 3rd May and 36 Minsmere 4th May being the most significant counts. Return migrants were noted from 2nd July until as late as 13th Nov. when one was at Shingle Street. The biggest autumn assemblies were 73 flying south off Southwold 6th Aug., and 25 at Minsmere 24th Aug. Evidence of overwintering was shown by one bird at Seafield Bay 9th Dec. (DNB). Curlew: Twelve pairs were located during the breeding season from 5 Breckland sites. Of our estuaries the Stour held the largest numbers and counts were: 510 20th Jan., 862 17th Feb., 320 16th Mar., 588 21st Dec. On the Aide 625 were gathered by 15th July. Spotted Redshank: Minsmere maintains its reputation as the main site for this species. The highest groups noted were 45 4th Aug., 46 9th Aug., and c. 70 on 8th and 13th Sept. At Walberswick 24 were present on 17th Aug. Elsewhere smaller numbers were noted at coastal sites predominately in July and Aug. Wintering records came from Benacre 1st Jan., 2 at Walberswick 12th Jan., and up to 5 at Minsmere in both winters. Redshank: Very few breeding records were submitted but hopefully a fuller picture will emerge in 1981 from the coverage of the BTO Wet Meadow Survey. Stour counts included c. 2,500 20th Jan., c. 2,000 17th Feb., c. 1,500 16th Mar., c. 2,100 21st Dec. Elsewhere there were 1,325 Levington 27th Sept. and c. 300 Blythburgh 26th Dec. One with a noticeably downcurved bill momentarily confused the observer at Orfordness on 27th July. Greenshank: The regular wintering bird of the last 3 years was at Levington from Jan.-Mar., and Nov.-Dec. One was also present at Minsmere on 7th Dec. Spring passage was mostly light and noted from 30th Mar. Amongst these were 15 Melton 6th May, 16 Slaughden 7th May. The autumn migration was noted from early July and it became apparent that above average numbers were moving through by the end of that month and indeed throughout Aug. The most interesting counts were: 17


Minsmere — 55 30th July. Seafield Bay — 22 27th July. Covehithe — 20 7th Aug., 15 10th Aug., 23 24th Aug. Walberswick — 10 2nd Aug. Benacre — 18 23rd Aug. Havergate — 12 7th July, 38 30th July, 15 1st Aug. Orfordness — 20 27th July. Alton Water — 22 13th Sept. Levington — 15 20th Sept. Away from the coast 6 were at Bury B.F. Ponds 25th-31st Aug., and 7 were at Livermere 10th Aug. One was observed in song flight at Alton Water on 24th July. Green Sandpiper: Wintering birds are now a regular feature and 18 birds were reported from 12 sites from Jan.-Mar., and 11 from 11 sites Nov.-Dec. A most interesting record was of 2 flying in from sea at Benacre on 17th Feb. Spring passage was rather poor with 5 at Sproughton 3rd April being the only sighting of note. Return migrants were noted from 15th June and were widespread by July and Aug. The largest parties seen were 13 Lound 7th Aug., 11 Minsmere 8th Aug., and 10 Alton Water 12th Aug. Wood Sandpiper: In spring the first arrival was found at Walberswick on 10th May. Subsequently up to 3 were at Alton Water and 2 at Minsmere llth-29th May, and then singles at both sites 17th-22nd June. In autumn numbers were well above average in parallel with Greenshanks. These included 15 Minsmere 2nd Aug., 12 Benacre 30th July-8th Aug., 4 Alton Water 5th-8th Aug., and 3 Levington 24th Aug. Inland singles were at Lackford 3rd Aug., and Livermere 10th Aug. Common Sandpiper: Two wintering birds were discovered, 1 at Ipswich 12th Nov. onwards and likewise at Cattawade 27th Dec. Both were present into 1981. The first spring arrivals were reported from 10th April with the peak being in mid-May and including 18 Alton Water 12th May, and 7 Livermere 15th May. A very heavy autumn passage peaked in late July/early Aug. with the following selected counts: 19 Minsmere 31st July, c. 40 Walberswick 2nd Aug., c. 20 Covehithe/Benacre 7th-8th Aug., 30 Gedgrave 7th Aug., 32 Alton Water 8th Aug., 33 Boyton 9th Aug., and 30 Benacre 15th Aug. Away from the coast 30 were at Bury B.F. Ponds on 3rd Aug. Turnstone: Most prolific in winter on the Stour where there were 214 20th Jan., 354 17th Feb., 283 16th Mar., and 345 21st Dec. Elsewhere passage migrants were noted in spring with 105 Ipswich Docks 6th May being the most impressive count. In autumn at Levington 125 were counted 31st Aug., and 120 were there on 14th Sept. Wilson's Phalarope: One juvenile at Levington 31st Aug.-2nd Sept. (MM, PM). This coftstitutes the fourth county record and the first for autumn. Red-necked Phalarope: Two adult females at Walberswick on the unusual date of 4th July (PT et al.). Grey Phalarope: One at Lowestoft 6th-7th Dec. (BJB, GJJ). On one occasion it was seen swimming and feeding in a puddle on the South Pier picking up lugworms discarded by fishermen. The bird was watched at very close range and the lobed feet were clearly visible. Pomarine Skua: Unusually a dark phase individual was discovered at Benacre on 12th Jan. (JCE). Spring migrants are even more unusual in Suffolk and one flying north off Orfordness 3rd May (EWP, SP) and 2 going in the same direction off Walberswick 5th May (MM, PM, SP) constitute the county's second, third and fourth spring records. In autumn there were 4 sightings all of singles: Flying south 18


Pomarine

Skua

Covehithe 17th Aug. (JRR), Alton Water 1st Sept. (SP), Minsmere offshore 19th Sept. (RSPB), and Ness Point on an indeterminate date in Oct. (RSB). These all represent a well above average year. Arctic Skua: At Minsmere this species was identified on 25th May (2) and 9th June. Spring records are quite unusual in Suffolk. In the autumn noted from 3rd July and the passage peaked in the last week of Aug. when 42 were reported from just 7 sites. Once again these numbers are above average. The last birds seen were 3 at Covehithe on 16th Oct. Great Skua: As with other skuas above average numbers were reported for this species. The first recorded for the year could not have been more unexpected, an obviously off course bird at Livermere 14th July (RW). Possibly this individual had reached the Breck by flying south into the Wash and carrying straight on. Further records by site were: Covehithe — 9th Aug. (SP). Minsmere — 10th Aug., 1st, 2nd, 19th and 28th Sept., with 2 20th Sept. and 3 on the 21st (RSPB). Felixstowe — 22nd Aug. and again on the 28th (RD, ARJP). Lowestoft — 28th Aug. (DWO). Benacre — 23rd Aug. Sizewell — 1st Nov. (DRM et al.). Alton Water — 31st Aug. This bird was seen to kill and partially devour 3 Coots before leaving (PM). Mediterranean Gull: The increase in records for this species is quite unprecedented. The following represent all observations submitted: Lowestoft — Sub-adult 2nd Feb., adult at Denes High School 9th-14th May, 1st winter 19th Dec. Sizewell — Adult 10th Feb., adult 26th Oct. until the year end. Benacre/Covehithe — Adult 17th-23rd Feb., 1st summer 8th & 15th May, adult 3rd Aug.-19th Aug., immature 28th Aug. Minsmere — Sub-adult 9th April-29th May apparently holding territory, 28th Dec. and not considered to be the Sizewell bird. Easton — 30th Nov. Bawdsey — 27th Dec. Alton Water — Adult 23rd Nov. Little Gull: No records were received for Jan./Feb. the first being observed at Sizewell 29th Mar. From then on groups of up to 3 were noticed particularly in the latter half of May from 5 coastal sites. The autumn migration was poor in comparison with recent years with low numbers in Aug./Sept. and only any significant increase in early Nov. In fact 1st Nov. was the peak day with 38 19


Minsmere, 9 Sizewell, and one Languard. In Dec. an immature was found dead at Felixstowe on the 2nd, and a live immature was at Aldeburgh on the 28th. Black-headed Gull: Breeding records received were Blyth 300 pairs, Minsmere 145 pairs, Bury B.F. Ponds 75 pairs, Falkenham 50 pairs, Iken 30 pairs and Sudbourne 10 pairs. The Tuddenham colony was deserted this year. Many were apparently killed on the Beccles-Henham road whilst feeding on caterpillars of amongst other species of the Oak Tortrix moth in early June. Outside the nesting period up to 3,000 were at Havergate 25th Sept., and c. 5,000 at Minsmere 30th Oct. Common Gull: Eight pairs were located at one site and definitely bred thus beginning the first county breeding colony. Lesser Black-backed Gull: One pair nested at Minsmere but no young were raised. Of c. 130 observed at Covehithe on 21st Sept. c. 20 showed the characteristics of the Scandanavian race Larus fuscus fuscus. Herring Gull: The largest non-breeding flocks were c. 700 Minsmere 19th July, and c. 1,000 Methersgate 30th June. Orfordness Gull Colony: It is estimated that c. 5,000 pairs of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls occupy this colony, but the former seems now to be the dominant species. There was no significant increase in the current year. Glaucous Gull: Records are much increased in recent years and 1980 was no exception. All sightings are listed: Lowestoft area — Adult 29th Jan., 21st Mar., and 2nd winter 27th Mar.: 1st winter 10th Jan.-1st Feb., adult 25th Nov. to the year end, and an immature also periodically during Nov. Benacre/Covehithe/Easton — 1st winter 11th Jan. and adult until 17th Jan., adult and 2 immatures 30th Nov. until the end of year. Southwold/Walberswick — Single 2nd Mar. and immature 24th Dec. Minsmere/Sizewell — Singles 6th Jan., and 3rd-31st Dec. Slaughden — Immature 28th Dec. There could of course be some duplication in these records. Great Black-backed Gull: A pair or two were seen at one site in summer and at least one pair nested. The only notable flocks reported were 89 Havergate 16th Jan., 94 Minsmere also 16th Jan., 125 Alton Water 28th Nov., and 60 Easton 7th Dec. Kittiwake: 74 pairs nested in Lowestoft, 53* being successful rearing 62-71 young. South Pier 33 nests 24 successful 34 young South Pier Lodge (north windows) 14 nests 10* successful 4-13 young.* South Pier Lodge (north ledge) 11 nests 8 successful 12 young. Hoardings 16 nests 11 successful 12 young. 74 53 62-71* *Ten nests on the windows hatched 19 young, 5 are known to have fallen off and perished, but 9 others disappeared when nearly fledged. How many of these flew or died is not known. (BJB). Sandwich Tern: At Havergate 148 pairs reared 115 young and this was the only colony in the county. At Minsmere 300 had assembled by 2nd-6th May. A group of 6 flying south off Sizewell on 1st Nov. is rather late for Suffolk. Roseate Tern: A excellent year with one Shingle Street 18th May (B&SS-D), up to 3 Minsmere 19th June-7th July (RSPB), and singles Southwold 22nd-25th June (BC, CSW). 20


Common Tern: Breeding records were: Benacre — 20 pairs were flooded out initially, subsequently 1 pair reared 2 young. Minsmere — 52 pairs reared 30 young. Havergate — 64 pairs reared only 15 young. Highest coastal counts were c. 200 Minsmere 17th May and c. 80 Sizewell 31st Aug. Some interesting inland records were 7 Livermere 3rd May, 9 Lakenheath 18th May, 3 Bures lOth July, 7 Weybread 12th July, 3 Long Melford 14th Aug., and a single at Lackford 25th Aug. Where do the midsummer inland birds come from? Arctic Tern: At Havergate 3 pairs reared just one chick. No spring records were received away from the latter site but in autumn sightings were as follows: Minsmere — 2-3 in July, one 22nd Aug. Ness Point — Adult 29th Aug., and 3 17th Sept. Blythburgh — one 6th Aug. Sizewell — 2 immatures 31st Aug., 7 13th Sept. and up to 2 until 7th Oct. Benacre — one 4th Aug. Southwold — 5 in the harbour during Aug. Little Tern: At Minsmere 35 pairs successfully raised 37 young in a fenced off area of the beach. This proved to be not only a resounding success for the birds but also a credit to the attitude of the general public who respected the requests of the Heritage Coast and RSPB and left the birds alone. The Stretch Benacre to Easton held 38 pairs and they fledged at least 10 young, at Landguard 5 pairs reared at least 4 young, whilst at Walberswick 7 pairs probably bred. Despite the ever increasing pressure it seems that there could be in excess of 100 breeding pairs in Suffolk. At Minsmere c. 200 had assembled on 1 Ith May, and one seen at Easton on 3Ist Oct. was extremely late. Black Tern: Spring migrants were noticed from 3rd May but did not attain the spectacular numbers of the previous year. The maximum noted were 17 at Livermere 13th May and a further 23 at 6 sites. Autumn passage was recorded from late July with 9 Havergate 15th Aug., 6 Alton Water 17th Aug., 15 Minsmere 19th Sept., and the unusually high total of c. 40 flying south at Sizewell 22nd Sept. White-winged Black Tern: An adult at Minsmere 19th-20th May (GJJ, JS). Guillemot: As well as the usual oiled and beached birds there were a few sightings of unprecedented numbers for our coast: 41 flying north off Benacre 8th Nov., 30 flying south Minsmere 20th Nov., c. 40 4 miles off Aldeburgh 20th Dec., and c. 50 4 miles off Orfordness in Dec. The last two records give some indication as to the winter population off the Suffolk coast. Razorbill: Eleven birds were reported from 8 sites throughout the year. Black Guillemot: A Ist winter bird was at Walberswick 9th-13th Jan. (PM et al.). This represents the fourth county record and the first since Oct. 1912.

Black

Guillemot 21


Little Auk: One at Southwold 6th Nov. (CSW), 2 there 7th Nov., and singles were seen at Benacre 8th Nov. (AB), and flying north off Lowestoft 29th Nov. (RM). Puffin: One swimming close inshore at Ness Point 30th Nov. was the only record of what is a rarity in Suffolk (ACE et al.). Auks sp: Eighteen flying north at Easton 18th Oct., and 56 going in the same direction off Benacre 8th Nov. Stock Dove: Plentiful as a breeding species in the Breck and coastal belt. Out of the nesting season 110 were at Easton on 21st Dec. Collared Dove: Nest building was noted at Gunton on 13th Feb. Turtle Dove: A wintering bird was seen at Debenham on 21st Feb. Spring migrants were noted from 14th April and mid-summer flocks were 125 Ramsholt 28th June and c. 100 Waldringfield 6th July. Cuckoo: Some observers considered that there was a slight increase during 1980. Barn Owl: Reported from 53 sites which compares favourably with 1979. Little Owl: 59 records were submitted which was just over double on the previous year. Whether this reflects an increase in the local population or just more observer coverage is open to speculation. Long-eared Owl: Breeding was recorded at 8 sites with an estimated 11 pairs. Only one was in the Breck and thus this total probably does not reflect the true county population. Migrants were noted at Bawdsey 4th April and Benacre 13th Oct. One winter roost contained 3 birds in Jan./Feb., and another wintering bird was found at Parham on 20th Dec. Short-eared Owl: At Havergate one pair reared 3 young which was the first breeding record there for four years. Elsewhere single pairs were present at 2 sites, and at another 2 pairs were located but only one appeared to have any success raising 2 young. The main spring passage was noted in Mar. especially at Shotley where on one occasion a single bird was watched eating a Lapwing on arable land. Autumn migrants were present from early Sept. although the main influx was in Oct. with lower than usual numbers. In Jan./Feb. 15 birds were reported from 11 sites and in Nov./Dec. 20 were found at 12 sites.

—

Nightjar: As in previous years this species was grossly under recorded, c. 20 pairs were located in the coastal belt from 6 sites, and 5 pairs from 3 Breckland localities. Hopefully the 1981 BTO Survey will reveal a more realistic situation. An interesting report was of an apparent migrant flushed by dogs at Bures on 5th Sept. (JFT). One was still churring at Walberswick on 19th Aug. Swift: It is always difficult to judge if large late summer flocks are true migrants or just feeding movements. Accordingly c. 6,000 few south at Minsmere on 30th July. Kingfisher: Some recovery in numbers was recorded with sightings from 75 sites. It was estimated that at least 15 pairs bred. Roller: Immature at Ilketshall St. Lawrence 28th Sept.-lst Oct. (AF, MAF). It was rumoured that this bird had been present for about two weeks. This is the fourth county record in the last 25 years. Hoopoe: A remarkable year with records as follows: Singles at Aldringham 13th14th April (per JG), Ilketshall St. Andrew 8th-9th May (BJB, GWM), Dunwich/Walberswick 9th May (per ARJP), Benacre 15th May (JRR), Cockfield 15th May (LG), Minsmere 22nd-31st May (RSPB), Aldeburgh 23rd Aug. (JRB), Falkenham 12th Oct. (SJB), being mobbed by Chaffinches, Holbrook, third week of Oct. (per DRM), and Ipswich 4th Nov. (MA). 22


Wryneck: Only three spring records were received Thorpeness 6th May, Snape 17th18th May, and Benacre 17th May. More noticeable in autumn with 14 birds.reported from 10 sites between 16th Aug.-21st Sept. These included one at Westerfield regularly feeding on ants 10th-20th Sept., and another at Sudbury 16th-21st Sept. Green Woodpecker: Recorded from c. 75 sites predominately from Breckland and the coastal belt. A pair returned to Shotley where this species was previousJy absent for many years. Great Spotted Woodpecker: Reported from c. 60 localities but favouring coniferous plantations. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: The most difficult of the woodpeckers to locate and this alone probably means that it is often overlooked. However it was reported from c. 50 sites.

Woodlark Woodlark: The data received is obviously incomplete as no records were submitted from the Breck. From 6 coastal sites a total of 10 pairs were found and two of these definitely produced young. Obvious migrants were one at Southwold 4th Oct., and at least 2 at Landguard 8th-14th Nov. Shorelark: A very poor year for this species which was reported from the following areas: Walberswick — 29th Jan., one 8th April, 20 8th Nov. and 6 22nd Nov. Minsmere — 4 12th Oct.-Dec. when 6 on 10th. Benacre/Easton — 8 1st Nov. then up to 6 22nd Nov.-30th. Landguard — One 4th-5th Oct. Sand Martin: At Easton Bavents c. 875 pairs bred, at Minsmere c. 250 pairs bred, and at a crag pit well within a deciduous wood at Ramsholt another 40 pairs nested (see Nuthatch). The most significant autumn roost was c. 2,500 Minsmere 7th Sept. A partial albino was seen at Minsmere 6th June. Swallow: At Minsmere c. 2,500 were counted at a roost 25th Aug. An albino was observed at Harkstead on 17th Aug., and 11th Oct. and a late nesting record was received from Felixstowe on 21st Oct. House Martin: The largest spring total was c. 1,000 at Alton Water on 8th May which is rather high for this period. An interesting nesting site was 8 pairs building in the porch of Stoke-by-Nayland church, and 78 nests were on the Blythburgh water tower. An albino spent the summer at Shotley and was last reported on 22nd Oct. 23


Richard's Pipit: One Landguard Point 20th-24th Oct. (EFK, ARJP, SP). Tawny Pipit: Adult at Landguard 21st Sept. (MM, SP). Tree Pipit: The breeding population is grossly under recorded and it is therefore difficult to interpret the status of this species. Would observers please attempt to assess numbers in their area in future years. Meadow Pipit: The only significant record was on 21st Sept. when hundreds were noted moving south at Lowestoft and Landguard. Rock Pipit: Apart from the normal coastal wintering and passage sightings there were some notable inland records, namely singles at Sproughton 6th Jan., Barham 9th-23rd Mar., and Needham Market 16th Mar. Water Pipit: At Minsmere this race was seen frequently between 18th Feb. when 5 were located and 12th April, and again from 3rd Nov. until the 23rd. Elsewhere singles were noted at Waldringfield 1st Jan., Holbrook 10th Feb., Seafield Bay 21 Mar. and Benacre 29th Nov. Yellow Wagtail: With the loss of so many wet meadows it is no wonder that breeding numbers are much reduced. However at Alton Water a good population exists and 16 pairs were counted. In the Stour valley an indication of breeding success was 35 adults and immatures between Bures and Sudbury on 10th July. On autumn •migration c. 60 were at Minsmere sluice on 6th Sept. Blue-headed Wagtail: Adult males showing the characteristics of this race were identified from 11 sites from 11th April-12th May. In addition to these records there were some which had stayed and even paired with females either of the race flavissima or indeed flava. Alton Water — One May/June paired with female. Shotley — One 18th-21st June paired with female. Wherstead Strand — Male singing 24th June-10th July. Minsmere — 2 5th June and one 19th July. Grey-headed Wagtail: Two males showing the characteristics of the race thunbergii at Minsmere 11th-12th May. Grey Wagtail: Reported as breeding from 10 sites which is a slight increase, on 1979. It is worth searching for this species in mid-summer especially where there is a mill race or weir. Many records were received from both coast and Breck of wintering and passage birds. Evidence of immigration was one flying in from sea at Lowestoft on 4th April and singles over Landguard on three dates in Oct. Pied Wagtail: A reedbed roost of c. 200 was counted at Ipswich on 3rd Oct. whilst c. 60 had assembled at Minsmere on 29th Oct. White Wagtail: A total of 20 showing the characteristics of the race alba were reported from 13 sites in spring. Wren: An estimated 130 breeding pairs at Minsmere illustrates that this hardy little bird is making a successful comeback after the severe winter of 1979 when only 69 pairs were located. Dunnock: This species is generally not regarded as a true migrant. However c. 40 at Minsmere on 8th Sept. and 45 at Landguard on 27th Sept. is surely evidence of autumn immigration. Nightingale: One at Landguard on 16th-17th Aug. was the only autumn migrant noted. See separate note for breeding census on page 35. 24


Black Redstart: Breeding records were: Lowestoft/Oulton Broad — 5 pairs. Landguard/Felixstowe — 5 pairs. Sizewell — 1-2 pairs. Orfordness — 1 pair. Migrants were noted on the coast from 20th Mar. but inland a female was noted at Tuddenham Pits on 23rd Mar., and another at Ellough on 26th Mar. The peak count at Landguard was 11 on 13th April. In autumn the peak at the same site was 12 in the third week of Oct. Single female/immatures were noted at Sudbury 6th Nov. and Felixstowe 23rd Dec. Redstart: This species would appear to be slightly increasing with 36 pairs located from 8 sites in the breeding season. In autumn the most interesting record was of 15 at Landguard on 20th Sept. Whinchat: Only 3 breeding pairs were found and these all in the Breck. Once again a very early migrant was discovered this time at North Cove on 22nd Mar. (GWM). In autumn the most noticeabe falls were 15 Sizewell/Minsmere 6th-8th Sept., 16 Butley 22nd Sept., and 20 at Landguard 20th Sept. Stonechat: In the coastal belt 16 pairs were located most of which bred successfully. One pair at Southwold reared 3 broods. In the Breck only one pair was reported. Wheatear: With much better coverage a total of 45 pairs were reported from the Breck, and a further 10 pairs from the coastal belt. Coincidentally as in 1979 the peak spring passage was noted on 8th May when c. 40 were at Landguard Point. In autumn the main concentrations were also at Landguard and included 36 31st Aug., 39 6th Sept., 44 20th Sept., and 35 28th Sept. Ring Ouzel: In spring 21 were reported between 20th Mar. (at Occold) and 9th May. Additionally a male was seen at Icklingham on the late date of 1st June. In autumn 13 were seen from 7th Sept.-31st Oct. On 10th Nov. one was at Landguard and another was watched feeding on apples at Whepstead. Blackbird: A pair was observed feeding young at Ipswich on 26th Feb. Fieldfare: A number of May flocks were noted: 50 Spexhall 4th May, 100 Hessett 5th May, 60 Livermere 6th May, and on the same date 60 at Somerleyton. Also a single was at Blythburgh on 19th May. The earliest autumn arrival was 4 at Sizewell 18th Aug. The biggest winter flocks were 600 Chedburgh 16th Feb., and 360 Hollesley 11th Dec. Redwing: A rather late bird was one at Lakenheath on 23rd May. The first autumn arrivals were c. 50 at Ipswich 3rd Oct. Cetti's Warbler: A possible 5 pairs nested but the only confirmed record was of one pair with 4 juveniles at one traditional site. One astonishing record was of a bird singing in a hawthorn bush in the middle of Lowestoft on 17th Dec . (JRR). Grasshopper Warbler: Approximately 50 singing birds were recorded from 18 sites both in the coastal belt and well inland. Savi's Warbler: One pair each at Minsmere and Walberswick and a singing bird at Oulton Broad on only two dates. Reed Warbler: An extremely early bird was at Walberswick on 5th April and was the earliest ever recorded in Suffolk (AC). Also a very late record of a juvenile at Landguard Point on 1st Nov. (DRM, SP et al.). Icterine Warbler: Autumn arrivals were singles at Landguard 14th Aug. (MM), Benacre 27th Aug. (DRM et al.), Lowestoft 19th Sept. (JRR), and 2 to 3 Landguard lst-21st Sept. (many obs.). 25


Barred Warbler: Immatures at: Landguard 31st Aug.-7th Sept. (ARJP et al.), Boyton 6th Sept. (JELP), and Covehithe 22nd Sept. (ST). Lesser Whitethroat: It is estimated that 15 pairs nested at Minsmere. Whitethroat: Most observers agree that this species continues to recover towards pre 1969 levels. Garden Warbler: The latest ever for Suffolk was found at Landguard on 9th Nov. (AB, ARJP). Blackcap: A male was noticed feeding on seaweed covered concrete at Landguard on 20th Sept. Wintering records were: Male Boxford feeding on a rotten apple 6th Jan., a male during Jan./Feb. at Mellis, a pair together Methersgate 28th Jan., female at Sudbury 2nd Feb. and presumably the same bird 11th Mar., female Ipswich 15th Feb. and a male at Ipswich 24th Dec. Wood Warbler: Two exceptionally early spring records were Sutton 15th April and Boxford 19th April. At Benacre one was singing 19th-20th May, and at Minsmere 2 pairs were thought to have bred. Possibly a pair also bred at Wolves Wood where 2 singing birds were heard from 11th May continuously until early June, and at Sutton Heath where 2 were seen 15th July. In autumn passage was good and included one Landguard 10th-14th Aug., one Holbrook 17th Aug., 2 Bawdsey 19th Aug., and one Minsmere sluice 8th Sept. Chiffchaff: Wintering birds were once again in evidence during a relatively mild spell and included one Bury St. Edmunds 13th Feb., one ,Ipswich 30th Nov., one Southwold 2nd Dec. and then 2 until the end of the year, one Minsmere 26th Dec., one Stowmarket 27th Dec., and one Melton 31st Dec. Three showing characteristics of one of the northern races were reported from Landguard between mid-Sept, and mid-Oct. Willow Warbler: On migration 33 were at Landguard on 8th May and 30 were there on 16th Aug. Quite surpassing this were c. 100 at Minsmere on 8th Sept. Goldcrest: More evidence of autumn immigration with c. 50 Leiston 1st Sept., c. 100 Minsmere 3rd Oct., and c. 100 Nacton by Nov. Firecrest: A possible 8 breeding pairs were reported from 5 sites. Landguard is the stronghold of this delightful bird on migration and the following are the significant counts from this site: Mar. — One 11th and at least 3 30th-31st. April — One from 12th and 2 14th-15th. May — 3 males and a female on the 8th. Aug. — An early bird 20th-21st. Sept. — One 14th-22nd but 2 on 21st. Oct. — Singles llth-22nd. Nov. — One 1st, 7 on 2nd, 4 on 8th-llth, 2 on 13th then one 16th. Two overwintered from 1979 at Walberswick and one was also at Minsmere during this period. Away from Landguard in the spring 10 migrants were reported from 5 sites between 16th Mar.-16th April. Likewise in autumn 10 were reported from 6 sites between 27th Sept.-19th Nov. Spotted Flycatcher: A remarkably early record was one at Lound 18th April which equalled the previous earliest for Suffolk. A partial albino was at Fornham-all-Saints during summer. Pied Flycatcher: Spring birds are generally uncommon and were noted as follows: Male Reydon 20th April, female Walberswick 10th May, male at Havergate 12th19th May, Minsmere 13th-22nd May, female Landguard 15th May, and female 26


Southwold 17th May. In the autumn numbers were appreciably higher and first noted from 11th Aug. In all it was estimated that at least 50 birds were involved all at coastal sites except one or two in Ipswich. Bearded Tit: It is considered that up to 200 pairs were at the two main sites Minsmere and Walberswick. In the winter months birds frequented Flatford (5) Alton Water (11) in both periods. Evidence of possible eruption was 12 flying south from Kessingland towards Benacre 5th Oct., and 4 at the rear of Staverton Thicks 30th Oct. Willow Tit: Reported from 26 sites within the county. At Landguard one moved through with a party of Blue Tits on 19th Sept., and was probably a migrant. Nuthatch: A pair was discovered nesting in a woodland Sand Martin Colony at Ramsholt. They had cemented the margins of the hole with mud in the sandy bank. Golden Oriole: At the traditional site a max. of 18 birds were calling in late May but only 9 territories were established. A pair was watched at the nest 25th May, and in late July 2-3 family parties were observed, indicating minimum success. Elsewhere 2 pairs were present at a further 2 sites but there was no proof of breeding. Migrants were reported as follows: An apparent male Bawdsey 9th May (MAH), and a female Sproughton 4th-9th June (WEB). Red-backed Shrike: The decline of this species continues. Only 17 pairs were located compared with 30 in 1979. Nine pairs were in the Breck and only 8 in the coastal belt. Migrants were present at Minsmere 23rd-26th Aug., and Landguard 5th-14th Sept. An extremely late individual was noted at one coastal site on 29th Oct. Great Grey Shrike: In the period Jan.-Mar. only 4 were located in the county. One at Sizewell on 15th April was probably preparing to leave, and another at Havergate on 2nd May was a very late stayer. The first autumn bird was seen at Benacre 8th Nov., and subsequently an additional 7 were found both in the Breck and on the coast. This included one 'singing' at Aldeburgh on 28th Dec. (HWD). Woodchat: Adult males were reported from Nacton 3rd June (MTW), Little Heath 8th June (CAEK, JAK, RW), and Sizewell 15th-18th June (TJU et al.). There is the possibility that the Nacton and Sizewell birds were the same. These represent the best ever year for this species in Suffolk. Magpie: Bred in Southwold for the first time for years. Hooded Crow: Not a particularly good year with 8 from 6 sites from Jan.-12th May. These were followed by the unusual sight of one flying over Ipswich 20th June (MM). In the autumn the first noted was at Reydon 27th Oct., and then 4 more frorr 3 sites all in Nov. Carrion Crow: One seen at Covehithe on 20th Sept. was marked with a white throat crescent similar to a Ring Ouzel. (CRN). Raven: The bird from 1979 was last seen at Minsmere 7th Mar. What was assumed to be the same bird was seen at Boyton 7th Jan. (RJW) and Methersgate 25th and 27th Jan. (SP). Starling: The peak count at the Minsmere reedbed roost was c. 7,000 29th Sept. Peculiar individuals were reported and included one with a decurved bill in Ipswich Jan./Mar. and one described as white or very pale grey in a flock at Sudbourne 19th Oct. House Sparrow: Amongst a group of 70 at Sproughton on 27th Aug. there was one described as mostly off-white with a prominent white bill, dark eye and yellow-buff suffusion on the back and upper wings (WEB). 27


Tree Sparrow: Southerly autumn passage was as usuai most noticeable particularly from mid-Oct. To illustrate this c. 1,000 were observed 25th Oct. in 2 hours and in 1 VA hours c. 500 were counted on 29th Oct. at Landguard. This pattern continued until 18th Nov. Several sizeable winter flocks were located but the most notable was a roost of c. 500 near Alton Water in Dec. Brambling: The most notable numbers reported early in the year were c. 100 Benacre 4th Jan., and c. 150 Bawdsey lOth Jan. Smaller numbers were seen elsewhere and some lingered until lOth May. The first autumn immigrants were seen on 4th Oct., and many reports of up to 20 were received thereafter.

Serin

Serin: A female at Landguard on 2nd Nov. (PM). This is the sixth county record and the latest date. Greenfinch: A very large flock of c. 2,000 was reported from the Breck on 6th Jan. These apparently attracted the attention of several raptorial species. ConsidĂŠrable autumn movement was noted at Landguard and peaked at 750 in 75 minutes on 29th Oct. Goldfinch: Much reduced as a breeding species. Autumn numbers were promising with c. 400 Minsmere Ist Oct., 200 Blythburgh 8th Oct., and 450south at Landguard 19th Oct. and similarly 350 there on 29th Oct. Siskin: Breeding behaviour was reported from 4 sites and included one definite nesting record. Wintering flocks were widespread but low in number and included 63 Minsmere 14th Feb., 90 Rendlesham mid-April, 50 Minsmere 13th Nov., 100 Newbourn 23rd Nov., 50 Foxhall 25th Dec. and 70 Bromeswell in Dec. Twite: Walberswick appears to be the favourite haunt of this species in the county and understandably the highest flock recorded was 150 there 9th-llth Jan. and 200 again in late Dec. About 20 were still there on 5th April. Elsewhere small numbers were seen regularly at several coastal sites during the winter months. In autumn the first arrivais were noted at Minsmere on 13th Oct. Redpoll: It seems that this species is declining as a breeding bird. After the dramatic increases of the late 1960's a considĂŠrable number were nesting in the county even on what could be loosely termed fringe habitat. In the last two years many observers have remarked on how they seem to be slowly disappearing from areas in which they have recently been common. The largest non-breeding flocks were 100 Walberswick Ist April, and 150 Layham 7th Dec. Unusual was 40/50 feeding for some weeks on fat-hen in a beet field at Edwardstone. 28


Mealy Redpoll: One at Ipswich 4th-11th Oct. (RBW). Crossbill: Reported from 12 suitable breeding sites in the Breck and coastal belt. Nesting was proved at 4 of these. Likely immigrants were one at Sizewell 9th April, and another over Ipswich 24th Oct. Bullfinch: The most interesting record was a flock of 30 at Alton Water 7th Jan. Hawfinch: Recorded in the breeding season from 15 sites and breeding was proved at 2 of these. This is quite possibly an understatement of the current status of this species in our county. Mountfort (The Hawfinch — Collins 1957) stated that this species was more numerous in Suffolk than in any other English County. Lapland Bunting: Reported from Covehithe a female 13th Jan. (LTB, CG). Sudbourne one 1st Jan., 3 20th Jan., and one 2nd Mar. (GJJ), 3 Landguard 19th Oct., and one 20th Oct. (ARJP), and finally 2 Minsmere 27th Oct. Snow Bunting: Recorded as follows: Benacre/Covehithe/Easton — 16 23rd Sept., then up to 50 16th Nov., then c. 20 until the end of the year. Lowestoft — c. 60 Jan./Feb. with 20 still there the first week of April and then 13 10th Nov. and 16 12th Nov. Walberswick — 14 Jan./Feb. and 6 31st Oct. Holbrook Bay — 3 4th Nov. Minsmere — a max. of 15 2nd Jan. Landguard — 20 flew south 13th Nov. Yellow hammer: The largest count submitted was c. 200 Baylham 16th Mar. Corn Bunting: Breeding records were very localised and reported from the following sites: Alton Water (3), Carlton Colvilie/Mutford (3), Chelmondiston, Falkenham, Foxhall, Lakenheath, Levington, Livermere, Reydon, Shotley, Southwold, Sproughton, Sudbourne (3), Sutton, Tuddenham, Walton, and Wherstead (3). The figures in brackets represent pairs. The most significant winter flock was 50 Shotley marshes 13th Jan. and presumed migrants were at Landguard 27th April, 12th Sept. and 2 16th Nov.

The following not mentioned in the Systematic List, were also recorded in 1980 (breeding species in italics): Pheasant, Moorhen, Wood Pigeon, Tawny Owl, Skylark, Robin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Sedge Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Treecreeper, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Chaffinch, Linnet and Reed Bunting.

APPENDIX I — CATEGORY D SPECIES Ring-necked Parakeet: Reported as follows: Gunton — 10th May (ACE). Reydon — Male 2nd Jan. (DWO). Aldham — 3 Jan./Feb., and again 16th Dec. (DWO). Benacre — 10th Feb. (CAEK). Felixstowe — 4th June (SP). APPENDIX II — ADDITION TO THE 1974 REPORT Spoonbill: Adult at Levington 7th Sept. (MM, PM). 29


APPENDIX HI — ADDITIONS/CORRECTIONS TO THE 1977 REPORT Osprey: One at Weybread in spring. (No exact date obtained). Sociable Plover: The Little Cornard bird was last seen on 21st Jan. APPENDIX IV — ADDITIONS/CORRECTIONS TO THE 1978 REPORT White-billed Diver: One off Felixstowe 5th Jan. (PJM). This is the second county record, the first being obtained near Lowestoft in the spring of 1852. Purple Heron: Minsmere 13th May and again 21st May (RAH et al.). White-rumped Sandpiper: The immature at Benacre was last seen on 9th Nov. not 5th as previously published. Mediterranean Gull: One Alton Water 28th Aug. (CM). Franklin's Gull: The Lowestoft bird was last seen at Carlton Colville on 30th Mar. not 27th as previously published. APPENDIX V — ADDITIONS/CORRECTIONS TO THE 1979 REPORT Barnacle Goose: 80 Southwold 24th Feb. (CRN). Hen Harrier: Adult male at Easton/Cove Bottom 22nd May (SW). Siberian Stonechat: The date should read 13th Oct. not 17th April. Ortolan Bunting: Landguard 2nd Sept. (PM). APPENDIX VI — ESCAPED ZOOLOGICAL SPECIMENS Sacred Ibis: The regular wanderer between Minsmere/Aldeburgh several times, during the year. Flamingo: Birds of the Chilean race at Benacre in Mar./April, and at Minsmere 10th April and 20th-27th Dec. Black Swan: One Melton/Woodbridge, June 6th — throughout the year. Bar-headed Goose: Singles at Barham 9th Mar., and 1st Aug., and Helmingham 22nd June (PM). Grey Teal: One found on the A12 at Kesgrave was released at Alton Water on 21st April and was still there in Aug. (SP). Bahama Pintail: One shot Kirton 2nd Jan., and another frequented Holbrook Bay 23rd Aug. and Alton Water 1st Sept. (PM, SP). Chiloe Wigeon: Two at Benacre 14th Sept. (BJB, GJJ), and a male for most of the year at Alton Water/Holbrook Mill where it was apparently paired with a Mallard. Red-fronted Parakeet: One at Sproughton 24th Sept. (PM). Budgerigar: One Wrentham 21st Dec. (PM). Parakeet sp.: One flying north off Shingle Street 18th Aug. Red-billed Quelea: One with House Sparrows at Landguard 28th Sept. (AMG, MM).

30


EARLIEST AND LATEST DATES OF SUMMER MIGRANTS SPECIES Gargeney Stene Curlew Little Ringed Plover

Date 15th April 30th Mar. 3rd April

ARRIVALS Locality Minsmere Minsmere Needham Market

Curlew Sandpiper Whimbrel Greenshank

11th May 24th Mar. 30th Mar.

Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere

Wood Sandpiper Common Sandpiper

10th May 10th April

Walberswick Levington

Sandwich Tern Common Tern Little Tern Black Tern Turtle Dove Cuckoo Nightjar Swift Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit Yellow Wagtail Nightingale

25th Mar. 26th Mar. 13th April 3rd May 14th April 10th April 15th May 28th April 28th Mar. 3rd April 5th April 6th April 4th April 13 th April

Black Redstart Redstart Whinchat Wheatear Ring Ouzel Grasshopper Warbler Savi's Warbler Sedge Warbler Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler Blackcap Wood Warbler Chiffchaff Willow Warbler Spotted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Red-backed Shrike

20th Mar. 12th April 22nd Mar. 15th Mar. 20th Mar. 12th April 27th April 6th April 5th April 25th April 10th April 14th April 22nd Mar. 15th April 25th Mar. 26th Mar. 18th April 20th April 15th May

Minsmere Sizewell Southwold/Minsmere Minsmere Lavenham Aldringham Breck Martlesham Eastbridge Martlesham Trimley Walberswick Alton Water Holbrook/Ramsholt/ Minsmere Landguard Hollesley North Cove Felixstowe Occold Minsmere Walberswick Walberswick Walberswick Melton Havergate Sizewell Minsmere Sutton Minsmere Ipswich Lound Reydon Breck

DEPARTURES Locality Nacton Breck Bury St Eds/ Minsmere 2nd Nov. Minsmere 13th Nov. Shingle Street 2nd Nov. Shingle Street/ Brantham 14th Sept. Minsmere 5th Oct. Alton Water/ Kessingland 1st Nov. Sizewell 4th Oct. Sizewell Easton Broad 31st Oct. 22nd Sept. Sizewell 12th Oct. Landguard 4th Oct. Sizewell 5th Sept. Bures 9th Oct. Corton 19th Oct. Minsmere Walberswick/Alderton 23rd Nov. 25th Nov. Dunwich 25th Sept. Minsmere 20th Oct. Landguard Landguard 17th Aug.

Date 6th Oct. 24th Oct. 28th Sept.

8th 17th 24th 11th 10th 25th

Nov. Oct. Oct. Nov. Nov. Sept.

30th Sept. 1st Nov. 21st Oct. 1st Oct 9th Nov. 13th Nov. 8th Sept. 10th Nov. 5th Oct. 11th Oct. 1st Oct. 29th Oct.

Sizewell Holbrook Landguard Landguard Landguard/Whepstead Walberswick Minsmere Landguard Landguard Walberswick Landguard Landguard Minsmere Landguard Minsmere Southwold Lowestoft 'Coast'

31


Selected Ringing Recoveries This is the first of what is hoped will become a regulär feature of this publication. To make future reports as comprehensive as possible I would welcome data from all ringers working in Suffolk — Editor. Codes — 1 2 3 4 5 6

Pullus (nestling or chick). Full grown, year of hatching unknown. Hatched during calendar year of ringing. Hatched before calendar year of ringing — exact year unknown. Hatched during previous calendar year. Hatched before previous calendar year — exact year unknown.

Sex M is male, F is female. Manner of recovery — V + X CR

Caught or trapped, released with ring. Shot or killed by man. Found dead or dying. Wearing coloured ring.

Wigeon 3M 4.11.70 2.6.80 + 3F 12.10. 73 + 23.8.80 3M 23.9.75 + 18.8.80 3M 3.10.77 + 3.1.80 11.9.78 3M 8.3.80 +

Nacton. 52 01'N 1 15'E. Zelenyy Yar, Yamal-Nenets, USSR. 66 27'N 67 10'E. Nacton. Lininka, Oulu, Finland. 64 41'N 25 21'E. Nacton. Lenvig, Jylland, Denmark. 56 35'N 8 18'E. Nacton. Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. Nacton. Lago di Massacciuccdi, Lucca & Pistoia, Italy. 43 50'N 10 20'E.

Teal 3M + 3F + 3M + 3M + 3M +

Nacton. 52 01'N 1 15'E. Southampton, Hampshire. Nacton. Belozersk, Vologda, USSR. 60 20'N 37 24'E. Nacton. Mooncoin, Kilkenny, Eire. 52 17'N 7 15'E. Nacton. Hamford Water, Essex. Nacton. Carnwath, Strathclyde, Scotland.

22.9.76 27.1.80 31.10.76 7.9.80 28.10.77 13.10.80 27.12.78 8.2.80 20.11.78 16.9.80

Mallard 3F 11.10.73 + 30.8.80 3M 23.9.74 + 8.9.80 32

Nacton. 5 2 0 1 ' N 1 15'E. Lake Barsjon, Kopparberg, Sweden. 60 10'N 16 30'E. Nacton. Horsey, Norfolk.


5M + 3F + 3F + 3M + 3M +

31.1.76 8.12.80 26.9.79 14.10.80 16.10.79 2.1.80 10.1.80. 25.10.80 16.9.80 22.10.80

Pintail 3M 5.10.71 + 27.2.80 3M 26.9.72 + 18.5.80 3M 22.9.74 + 5.1.80 3M 31.8.75 X 15.5.80 3M 23.9.75 + 20.1.80 3F 3.10.77 + 4.1.80

Nacton. Storaen, Fyn, Denmark. 55 31 'N 8 53'E Nacton. Wrabness, Essex. Nacton. Holbeach St. Johns, Lincolnshire. Nacton . Litcham, Norfolk. Nacton. Ashford, Kent.

Nacton 52 01'N 1 15'E. Le Crotoy, Somme, France. 50 13'N 1 37'E. Nacton. Archangel, USSR. 65 50'N 44 17'E. Nacton. Hamford Water, Essex. Nacton. Krasnyy Kholm, Kalinin, USSR. 58 5 ' N 37 7 ' E . Nacton. Merseyside. Nacton. Peterstone, Gwent, Wales.

Tufted Duck 18.12.74 Nacton. 52 01'N 1 15'E. 6 x 15.1.80 Weser-Ems, West Germany 53 21'N 8 28'E. 1 27.7.80 Hollesley. 52 3 ' N 1 26'E. X 13.9.80 Ankeveense Plassen, Netherlands. 52 16'N 5 5 ' E . 1 16.8.80 Hollesley. 27.11.80 Lough Neagh, County Antrim. 54 42'N 6 27'W. + Wildfowl have a high recovery rate obviously because many get shot by wildfowlers. Accordingly it is perhaps surprising that here we have examples of Wigeon (10 years), and Pintail (8'/i years) living so long. Temminck's Stint 1 1.7.80 Finse, Ulvik Kommune, Hordaland, Norway. 60 37'N 7 37'E. CR17-19.8.80 Levington, Suffolk. This represents only the 2nd recovery of a foreign bird of this species in Britain. Dunlin 4 22.7.76 7.1.78 V 17.2.80 V 20.9.76 3 25.5.80 V 16.10.75 3 10.2.80 V 7.11.76 3 15.3.80 V

Falsterbo, Sweden. 55 23'N 12 50'E. Boyton. 52 4 ' N 1 29'E. Boyton. Butley. 52 06'N 1 30'E. Schleswig Holstein, West Germany. 54 10'N 9 40'E. Butley. Poole Harbour, Dorset. 50 42'N 1 58'W. Vickerstown, Cumbria. 54 7 ' N 3 15'W. 33


Redshank 3 16.8.74 x 3.7.80

Boyton. 52 04'N 1 29'E. Hhjukur, Iceland. 65 28'N 20 20'W.

Black-headed Gull 1 25.5.68 Latvian USSR. x 13.1.80 Sutton Heath. 52 03'N 1 23'E. Blackbird 6F 13.1.80

Ufford.

x

Oldenburg, West Germany. 53 10'N 8 10'E.

4.3.80

Reed Warbier 4 3.7.71 Shotley. 51 58'N 1 15'E. v 16.6.79 West Branston, Staffs. 52 47'N 1 41 'W. v 8.6.80 West Branston. A very old and faithful bird. I wonder if it will return in 1981. Consider that this little passerine has made the long journey to Africa and back at least ten times. Blue Tit 3 29.9.80 Happisburgh, Norfolk. 52 50'N 1 33'E. v 19.10.80 Hollesley. 52 3 ' N 1 26'E. Starling 3 23.12.72 x 20.6.80

Shotley. 51 58'N 1 15'E. Nr Stantsiya, Sheksna, USSR. 59 16'N 38 35'E.

Greenfinch 3M 20.10.70 Dungeness, Kent. 50 55'N 0 59'E. v 13.4.80 Tangham. 52 05'N 1 26'E. 5M 22.4.79 Tangham. v 2.3.80 Egham, Surrey. Ten years is quite old for a small passerine. Hopefully it is still alive. Goldfinch 6F 3.5.80 x 28.5.80

Tangham. 52 5 ' N 1 26'E. Kempston, Bedfordshire. 52 7 ' N 0 30'W.

Siskin 5M 10.2.80 v 19.4.80

Colchester, Essex. 51 52'N 0 56'E. Tangham. 52 5 ' N 1 26'E.

Redpoll 3M 1.12.79 v 15.4.80

Kesgrave. 52 5 ' N 1 13'E. Souther Wood, Northants. 52 27'N 0 34'W.

34


The Nightingale in Suffolk - 1980 By B. J. Brown In 1980 the B.T.O. held a survey to ascertain the status of the Nightingale in Britain. The following is a brief record of the results for Suffolk. There also follows an attempt to compare these figures with historical and recent accounts of the species in the county. Results of the 1980 Survey No less than 367 singing males were reported in the county in 1980. This figure breaks down roughtly as follows: (1) Coastal Belt 144 = 39.24% of total. (2) Breckland & Fens 34 = 9.26% of total. (3) South & S. East (excluding 1) 162 = 44.14% of total. (4) Central 21 = 5.72% of total. (5) North & N. East (excluding 1) 6 = 1.64% of total. Allowing for birds overlooked and suitable areas not surveyed the actual total is probably well over 400. It can be seen from the above figures that by far the greater majority, over 80%, of birds were found to the south and east of the county. The biggest locai concentration was in the Walberswick, Dunwich, Minsmere, Westleton area with 76 (accounting for over a fifth of the total).

TGO

TL6 Map showing results, by lOKmsq., of the Nightingale Survey in Suffolk. lines show the areas used in 1 to 4 above.

The heavy 35


It is generally agreed that the year was exceptionally good for Nightingales so a deal of caution must be exercised when using the survey results in assessing current status. As we shall see in the next section the species has always been subject to fluctuation. Status Past and Present Babington (1884-86) stated that the Nightingale was 'common everywhere,' and similarly Ticehurst (1932) wrote that it 'is common throughout the county in suitable places,' but noted that 'numbers vary from year to year.' Payn (1962) found it diffĂŽcult to decide whether it had decreased to any extent during the previous few decades, and found evidence of increase in the coastal belt. In his second ĂŠdition (1978) however he elaborates on these comments and states that it was said to have increased for a time in the coastal belt in the 1930's, but soon started to decrease everywhere by the 1950's. His comment that it is scarce or largely absent from much of the south of the county is contradicted by the 1980 figures where almost half of the records were from this area! Allowing for the fact that this was an untypical year it is hard to believe that this part of the county has been repopulated to such an extent in the three years which have elapsed, when obviously suitable habitat has been available ali the time. In 'The Atlas of Breeding Birds' (1976) it is stated that the population has had a widespread marked decline since a peak in about 1950, and attributes this to habitat destruction. Whilst this latter statement is true it must be pointed out that the 1980 results show that a lot of suitable habitat is not used in average or poor years, otherwise there would be no room for an increase such as we have experienced. With a species like the Nightingale it is difficult to appraise the current situation in comparison with the past. The position is not helped by vague comments such as 'common everywhere' etc in early works. However, the Nightingale is a species which country people would listen for in the Spring almost to the same extent as the Cuckoo, and statements like 'we used to hear more when I was young,' or 'I haven't seen one for years,' do supply a real pointer to a substantial decline. We come then to the conclusion that numbers have decreased since the 1950's. To what extent is not clear but it is probably, on average, more than has been caused by habitat destruction and therefore dramatic. The big question is whether the decline continues. Annual fluctuation clouds the issue, but it does appear that the species may be holding its own at the moment. Acknowledgement I would like to thank ail who helped the survey, and especially Mr R. B. Warren for supplying copious notes from SOG files and then responding admirably to my request for additional information. References Babington, C. (1884-86) Catalogue of The Birds of Suffolk. Payn, W. H. (1962 & 1978) The Birds of Suffolk. Sharrock, J. T. R. (1976) The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. Ticehurst, C. B. (1932) The Birds of Suffolk.

36


Observations on the Ornithological, Topographical and other changes at Benacre/Covehithe 1968-1980 By D. R. Moore

For more than a decade I have watched the Benacre/Covehithe area and I have been stimulated by the complex changes that have taken place both physically and ornithologically. I have therefore tried to outline these changes using both my own observations and those of others. The area described is that to the northern edge of Kessingland Level, west to the A12 and south to Easton Broad.

The Changes in Topography and Habitat For many years the area has been subjected to constant érosion by the elements, notably the loss of substantial amounts of the sandstone cliffs at Covehithe. It is my estimate that at least twenty yards of cliff have fallen into the sea during the period under review. Consequently several landmarks have been lost. These include the Royal Observer Corps Post and the cottage and garden. The latter was a haven for drift migrants but it was dug up and the cottage demolished before they too fell into the sea. In parallel with this loss of cliff the dunes which fronted the trees on the south side of Benacre broad were completely washed away leaving n o obstacle for high tides. Thus the sea now often encroaches into these woodlands causing irreparable damage. The sea has also breached the shingle beach at Benacre on one or two occasions and in two instances, after a bulldozer had cut a Channel to let the salt-water out of the Broad, the latter almost completely drained. Thankfully it refilled within days but the salt-water had made inroads into the substantial phragmites beds, and the quality of the reeds has therefore deteriorated appreciably in the last few years. The situation has become so serious that the area of reed from the beach to the crosswall is now of very poor standard. Because of this there are almost no Acrocephalus Warblers, Reed Buntings, Bearded Tits and other reed loving species. Substantial quantifies of reeds have gone altogether leaving areas of exposed mud particularly in autumn. These have proved attractive to wading species and a considérable variety have been located here resting and feeding during their long migration. T o the north-east of the Broad the sériés of gravel pits have changed just as dramatically. The southern pit has now completely gone; the pit adjacent to it has been greatly reduced in size and its surrounds enlarged by considérable quantities of shingle. The north-west pit has changed little, being p r e d o m i n a n t i fresh water and 37


Benacre in

Autumn


fringed with phragmites and sallow bushes. The north-east pit, however, had a breach, the sea poured in and before repairs could be made most of the water drained out at low tide. Consequently, although there is now some water again, this pit is much shallower and does not attract the diving birds as formerly. The brackish pool known as Covehithe Broad has also changed a great deal. Originally it was a long narrow strip of open water which was often frequented by grebes, divers and wildfowl. After the Benacre Estate had installed a pumphouse at the inland end and started to drain the water for irrigation purposes the area altered dramatically. Phragmites encroached with speed and those areas in which it could not thrive became open muddy pools, thus attracting migrating waders. The portion of the Broad which fronts the beach still holds the most water but the area is too small to be significant for the species which formerly abounded. Occasionally water fills the whole area again and wildfowl arrive in numbers, but the condition is never permanent and the levels soon drop again. Further south what was Easton Broad has also all but disappeared. Only a thin strip of shallow brackish water remains just behind the sea wall and a few isolated pools which are now surrounded by rank grass and poor quality reedbed.

The Pressure of the Public and its Effects At the beginning of the period under review you could visit the area at any time of the year and probably see only a handful of people. How this has all changed. Benacre beach is very populär in winter with fishermen, and their numbers have grown tremendously over the last few years. Thankfully the Benacre Estate stopped the practice of taking cars on to the beach and this ensured that only the very determined continued to fish the area. To be fair the effects of the fishermen on this environment are now minimal. However, motor cyclists still gain access and often use the area as an unofficial scrambling course. Once a beach buggy was driven through nesting Little Terns, and a horse jumping course was erected on another site where Little Terns were breeding. What has the biggest effect is the growing number of people who just visit the area for their leisure. In the middle of summer when breeding birds are at their most vulnerable the beach is not unlike some parts of Great Yarmouth. People erect their tents in the woods, tearing growing branches from trees to use as firewood (Do they ever get it to light!), others bring canoÍs and dinghies to sail on the gravel pits and broads, some fly kites and a few, despite notices forbidding the practice, dig into the already unstable cliffs. Thankfully the great majority just sit on the beach, enjoy a paddle and hopefully the sun. Most naturalists will still curse the local council who have erected signs saying " T o the beach". To the north the Kessingland Holiday Camp keeps edging south like a sinister oil-slick. Hopefully the River Hundred will halt its advance. Even so the campers explore south and help swell the numbers already on the beach. I have heard it said that campers were encouraged to go out and pick wild flowers and then enter their drooping posies for prizes in a "Wild Flower CompÊtition". As well as people the wildlife has to contend with the growing number of dogs being exercised without proper control. Finally, it would not be fair to examine this problem without commenting on the ever increasing number of birdwatchers using the area. Since modem reference books recommended the site and more and more rarities were found the word soon got around that Benacre was " a must" when visiting Suffolk. In the sixties it would be a safe bet that anyone you met at Benacre would be someone that you already 39


knew, but introductions are now commonplace. This is not unique, of course; it is a national trend since the advent of better roads and a motor car to every family. The Benacre Estate has shown great tolerance and exercised admirable patience with all this extra activity, and very few incidents of a bad nature have come to light. It is hoped that the public, whatever their interest, will not take advantage of the good hospitality of the current landowners. Changes and the Current Status of the Breeding Birds Obviously with so many changes in habitat and disturbance birds either have to be very flexible or just disappear. Happily the changes in the bird population have not been as drastic as those physical ones already discussed. Of the rarer species Bitterns are once again present in summer and may breed, Bearded Tits are much reduced in numbers but sill cling on in the fresh water areas at the western end of the main marsh. Marsh Harriers breed sporadically and are present for most of the year. Despite the attentions of man Little Terns still nest successfully on the shingle where Ringed Plovers also breed and an occasional pair of Oystercatchers nests on the surrounding fields. The most drastic decreases have been in the numbers of Reed and Sedge Warblers and the almost total disappearance of Grasshopper Warblers around Benacre Broad. Stone Curlews have now gone altogether, but there is possibly still a pair of Stonechats. In the woodlands a pair or two of Redstarts can still be found, and Wood Warblers and Hawfinches have bred in recent years. A few pairs of Mallard, Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall nest in the marsh as do a pair or so of CaĂąada Geese. Nearer the Broad there is a small breeding group of Tufted Ducks with an occasional pair of Pochard. The success of the last two species is often affected by the interference of man and dogs in their nesting area. Strangely the water level is also considered crucial. Clive Naunton says the higher the level the more successful are Pochard, whereas Tufted Duck thrive when the level is lower. Four pairs of Herons and several pairs of Shelduck breed in the woods bordering the reedbeds and on the Kessingland Level a few pairs each of Lapwing, Redshanks and Snipe still nest in the wetter areas.

Benacre as a Migration Watch-point Benacre Ness is the second most easterly point in the British Isles and therefore very suitable for studying migration. With its variable habitats almost any migrant or vagrant could occur. Evidence of this can be gathered from the impressive checklist at the end of this review. The area around Beach Farm and the pits is probably the best for searching out passerine migrants, and after suitable weather conditions large numbers of the commoner drift migrants can be located. In autumn the area around the two broads is ideally suited for waders: several rarities have been discovered here in recent years. Sea-watching can be fruitful if the winds are favourable although Suffolk is not best known for spectacular sea passages. However Gannets, Fulmars, sea-duck, divers and gulls/terns are all quite regular offshore. Checklist of the Birds of Benacre/Covehithe 1968-1980 The number of different species seen in the study area over the period of review is both spectacular and diverse. In all 251 have been identified thus indicating what an important site this is, and how crucial that it should be preserved not only for its birds but also its plants, mammals and shore life etc. 40


Key to Symbols in the Checklist B (B) R PM V SV WV

— — — — — — —

Breed regularly Has bred Resident Passage migrant Vagrant Summer Visitor Winter Visitor

Where only one record exists the dates are given. Red-throated Diver — PM, WV. Black-throated Diver — PM, WV. Great Northern Diver — PM, WV. Little Grebe — B, R, WV. Great Crested Grebe— (B), PM, WV. Red-necked Grebe — PM, WV. Slavonian Grebe — PM, WV. Black-necked Grebe — PM, WV. Fulmar — PM. Cory's Shearwater — V. Sooty Shearwater — V. Manx Shearwater — PM. Storm Petrel — V. Gannet — PM. Cormorani — PM, WV. Shag — PM, WV. Bittern — (B), PM, WV. Little Egret — One on several dates in summer 1972. Grey Heron — B, R, PM. Purple Heron — V. Glossy Ibis — one 9.5.79. Spoonbill — PM. Mute Swan — B, R, WV. Bewick's Swan — WV. Whooper Swan — WV. Bean Goose — Rare WV. Pink-footed Goose — WV. White-fronted Goose — WV. Greylag Goose — WV. Canada Goose — B, R, WV. Barnacle Goose — Rare WV. Brent Goose — PM, WV. Egyptian Goose — Wanderers from ferai flocks. Ruddv Shelduck — A female 27.Ì0.71. Shelduck — B, R, PM.

Wigeon — PM, WV. American Wigeon — one 20.5.74. Gadwall — B, PM, WV. Teal — B, PM, WV, and a male of the North American race 3.6.78. Mallard — B, PM, WV. Pintail — PM, WV. Garganey — PM. Shoveler — B, PM, WV. Red-crested Pochard — A female 26.9.71 to 6.11.71. Pochard — B, R„ WV. Ferruginous Duck — A female 6.4.68. Tufted Duck — B, R, PM, WV. Scaup — WV. Eider — PM, WV, sometimes summers. Long-tailed Duck — PM, WV. Common Scoter — PM, WV, sometimes summers. Velvet Scoter — PM, WV. Goldeneye — PM, WV. Smew — WV, a red-head summered in 1979. Red-breasted Merganser — PM, WV. Goosander — PM, WV. Ruddy Duck — A male 4.11.80. Honey Buzzard — V. Black Kite — One on the edge of the area 20-22.5.79. Red Kite — PM, WV. Marsh Harrier — (B), PM, WV. Hen Harrier — PM, WV. Montagu's Harrier — one only, 11.5.68. Goshawk — PM, WV. Sparrowhawk — (B), PM, WV. Buzzard — PM, WV. 41


Rough-legged Buzzard — PM, WV. Osprey — PM. Kestrel — B, R, PM. Merlin — PM, WV. Hobby — PM. Peregrine — PM, WV. Red-legged Partridge — B, R. Partridge — B, R. Quai! — one wintered 17.1.70 to 23.3.70. Pheasant — B, R. Water Rail — B, PM, WV. Spotted Crake — one 19.7.76. Moorhen — B, R. Coot — B, R, WV. Crâne — One 15-16.4.79. Oystercatcher — (B), PM. Avocet — PM. Stone Curlew — (B), PM. Pratincole — One 22.8.75. Little Ringed Piover — PM. Ringed Piover — B, R, PM. Kentish Piover — PM. Dotterei — A iemale 18-20.5.78. Golden Piover — PM, WV. Grey Piover — PM. Lapwing — B, R, PM, WV. Knot — PM. Sanderling — PM, WV. Little Stint — PM. Temminck's Stint — PM. White-rumped Sandpiper — V. Baird's Sandpiper — One 7-18.9.77. Pectoral Sandpiper — One 9-11.9.75. Curlew Sandpiper — PM. Purple Sandpiper — PM, WV. Dunlin — PM, WV. Ruff — PM. Jack Snipe — WV. Snipe — B, R, PM, WV. Great Snipe — One 14.9.72. Dowitcher — One 22.9.69. Woodcock — B, R, PM, WV. Black-tailed Godwit — PM. Bar-tailed Godwit — PM. Whimbrel — PM. Curlew — PM. Spotted Redshank — PM, WV. Redshank — B, R, PM, WV. Marsh Sandpiper — One 14.9.77. Greenshank — PM. Green Sandpiper — PM, WV. 42

Wood Sandpiper — PM. Common Sandpiper — PM. Turn stone — PM, WV. Red-necked Phalarope — PM. Grey Phalarope — PM, WV. Pomarine Skua — PM. Arctic Skua — PM. Great Skua — PM. Mediterranean Gull — PM, WV, an adult has wintered in the area since 1964. Little Gull — PM, WV. Black-headed Gull — B, PM, WV. Common Gull — PM, WV. Lesser Black-backed Gull — PM, WV. Herring Gull — PM, WV. Iceland Gull — V. Glaucous Gull — WV. Great Black-backed Gull — PM, WV. Kittiwake — PM, WV. Gull-billed Tern — One 23.5.71. Caspian Tern — V. Sandwich Tern — SV, PM. Roseate Tern — One 26.8.78. Common Tern — B, SV, PM. Arctic Tern — PM. Little Tern — B, SV, PM. Black Tern — PM. Guillemot — PM, WV. Razorbill — PM, WV. Little Auk — V. Puffin — V. Stock Dove — B, R, WV. Woodpigeon — B, R, WV. Collared Dove — B, R. Turtle Dove — B, SV, PM. Cuckoo — B, SV, PM. Barn Owl — B, R. Little Owl — B, R. Tawny Owl — B, R. Long-eared Owl — B?, R, PM. Short-eared Owl — (B), PM, WV. Swift — B, SV, PM. Kingfisher — (B), R, PM. Hoopoe — V. Wryneck — PM. Green Woodpecker — B, R. Great Spotted Woodpecker — B, R, PM?. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker — B, R.


Woodlark — Three on 18.3.72. Skylark — B, R, PM, WV. Shore Lark — PM, WV. Sand Martin — B, SV, PM. Swallow — B, SV, PM. House Martin — B, SV, PM. Richard's Pipit — One 11-16.10.75. Tawny Pipit — V. Tree Pipit — PM. Meadow Pipit — B, R, PM. Rock Pipit — PM, WV. Yellow Wagtail — B, SV, PM. Grey Wagtail — PM, WV. Pied Wagtail — B, R, PM. Wren — B, R, PM. Dunnock — B, R, PM. Robin — B. R, PM. Nightingale — B, SV, PM. Bluethroat — V. Black Redstart — PM. Redstart — B, SV, PM. Whinchat — PM. Stonechat — (B), R, PM, WV, one of the Siberian Races 29.9.77 to 5.10.77. Wheatear — (B), SV, PM. Ring Ouzel — PM. Blackbird — B, R, PM, WV. Fieldfare — PM, WV. Song Thrush — B, R, PM. Redwing — PM, WV. Mistle Thrush — B, R. Cetti's Warbler — One 15.9.79. Grasshopper Warbler — B, SV, PM. Savi's Warbler — One 11.5.71. Aquatic Warbler — One 28.8.76. Sedge Warbler — B, SV, PM. Reed Warbler — B, SV, PM. Icterine Warbler — Rare PM. Barred Warbler — PM. Lesser Whitethroat — B, SV, PM. Whitethroat — B, SV, PM. Garden Warbler — B, SV, PM. Blackcap — B, SV, PM. Wood Warbler — (B), SV, PM. Chiffchaff — B, SV, PM. Willow Warbler — B, SV, PM.

Goldcrest — B, PM. Firecrest — PM. Spotted Flycatcher — B, SV, PM. Pied Flycatcher — PM. Bearded Tit — B, R, PM. Long-tailed Tit — B, R. Marsh Tit — B, R. Willow Tit — B, R, PM?. Coal Tit — B, R. Blue Tit — B, R, PM?. Great Tit — B, R. Nuthatch — B, R. Treecreeper — B, R. Golden Oriole — B?, PM. Isabelline Shrike — One 30.8.76. Red-backed Shrike — PM. Great Grey Shrike — PM, WV. Jay — B, R, PM?. Magpie — B, R, PM?. Nutcracker — Siberian race, one 4.9.68 and another or the same 24.8.68 until mid-Sept. Jackdaw — B, R, PM, WV. Rook — B, R, PM, WV. Carrion Crow — B, R, WV, Hooded Crow is PM, WV. Starling — B, R, PM, WV. House Sparrow — B, R. Tree Sparrow — B, R, PM. Chaffinch — B, R, PM, WV. Brambling — PM, WV. Serin — Male 4.9.76. Greenfinch — B, R, PM, WV. Goldfinch — B, R, PM. Siskin — PM, WV. Linnet — B, R, PM. Twite — PM, WV. Redpoll — B, R, PM. Crossbill — (B), PM, WV. Bullfinch — B, R, PM?. Hawfinch — (B), R. Lapland Bunting — PM, WV. Snow Bunting — PM, WV. Yellowhammer — B, R, PM. Reed Bunting — B, R, PM. Corn Bunting — (B), PM, WV.

Also it is perhaps worth mentioning that at Kessingland Wildlife Park which is only fractionally outside the study area a Red-footed Falcon occurred on 6.8.76, and an adult female Wilson's Phalarope on 2.6.76. Whilst on the subject of the Wildlife Park, escapes are frequently met with, possibly from this source. A Sacred Ibis is 43


often seen and Flamingoes of the Chilean race are also quite regulär on the broads. On one occasion two startled observers watched a Scarlet Macaw fly north along the beach. Finally I can only find records for nine additional species prior to the period under review. These are: Little Bittern — June 1854 and Ist May 1863. White Stork — 1957. White-tailed Sea Eagle — one shot 1840. Corncrake — Formerly bred. Broad-billed Sandpiper — August 1955. Nightjar — Formerly bred. Roller — May 1807 and 1811. Scarlet Rosefinch — 2.9.59. Ortolan Bunting — September 1965. Acknowledgements I would like to thank the Benacre Estâtes Ltd for kind permission to visit some private areas of the estate. I would particularly like to acknowledge the assistance given by the late Ted Fountain. I am sure that all ornithologists would also endorse thanks for their cheerful tolerance of us ail. My thanks are also due to Clive Naunton, a regulär Benacre observer, for his comments and assistance with this review.

Reference works consulted Babington, C. (1884-86) Catalogue of The Birds of Suffolk. Payn, W. H. (1962 & 1978) The Birds of Suffolk. Ticehurst, C. B. (1932) The Birds of Suffolk.

44


A Problem of Identification By D. R. Moore & S. Piotrowski

A Manx Shearwater Puffinus Puffinus picked up in Felixstowe Docks on 21st September caused considerable confusion to the finder and the writers. Initially when found it was thought to be a Balearic Shearwater P. Puffinus Mauretanicus (This is the west Mediterranean race of Manx) because of the dark sooty brown underparts. When found the bird was placed in the care of the Blue Cross Animal Hospital but they kindly agreed to hand over the bird in the hope that it could be restored to full health and released. The bird was then examined in detail but doubts were immediately expressed about P. Puffinus Mauretanicus because of the blackish tinge to the belly. Sooty Shearwater P. griseus was also ruled out because of the relatively smaller measurements. This problem of specific identity remained until the bird unfortunately succumbed on 24th September. When trying to clean some fish oil off the breast which had been spilt when feeding it was noticed that a dark stain was appearing on the cloth. Subsequent cleaning by a taxidermist revealed pure white underparts thus qualifying the specimen as an undoubted Manx P. puffinus. Opinion is that this bird had been swimming through a mixture of detergent and oil which had uniformly discoloured the plumage. One wonders what this bird would have been called had it just flown by some distance offshore. The specimen is now in Ipswich Museum .

45


Unusual Nest Adaptation by House Martins By Alan and Barbara Way

Our usuai House Martin's nest was built under the soffit of the roof on the west facing front of our bungalow. Young had been hatched and were at an early fledged stage when, on July Ist we experienced very heavy rain with gale force westerly winds. The nest was soaked with rain water, weakened and collapsed to the garden. Looking from the window my wife saw four inert, wet and very dead looking young Martins. They were brought into the house and found to be very cold, stiff and seemingly lifeless. However, cupped in warm hands, after some minutes all four showed signs of life and were transferred to a vivarium at 80°F. where we were at that time incubating four tortoise eggs, since successfully hatched and doing well! Something had to be done quickly about another nest and improvising I utilized an empty Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney pudding metal basin. A hole was drilled near the top rim to take a screw, an inch Square hole cut in the top side as an entrance, some dried grass put in and this structure hurriedly fixed on the site of the former nest. The young birds were then placed into this new nest, the whole operation taking about 20-30 minutes. The parent birds immediately took over and between feeding began reconstruction work with mud infilling. Their first act was to fili in the entrance I had so thoughtfully provided! Next they filled in the gap, about one inch, between the top of the basin and the soffit, leaving an opening of their choice as an entrance. Thereafter life proceeded normally and the young eventually matured and flew.

46


Notices Help for Landguard Landguard Nature Reserve is an important piece of mainland of some 40 acres. It consists of an unconsolidated shingle and sand beach, behind this is an area of compacted sand and shingle which is exceptionally rich in flora. The reserve is bordered on one side by sea and on the other by tamarisk and holme covered banks. It is within these tamarisk bushes that many migrating birds may be found and it is therefore important that these bushes remain as feeding, resting and sheltering places. The reserve has a small traditional colony of one of Britain's rarest breeding sea birds, the Little Tern. The protection and conservation of Landguard's habitat for migrating birds, its flora, and the Little Tern breeding colony is of paramount importance. The reserve is under increasing public pressure throughout the year and there is a great need to adequately warden the reserve especially during the summer. The reserve has a hide overlooking the sea and the Tern breeding area. We are sure that a combined day of birdwatching and wardening will prove eventful. Those interested and willing to give up some of their spare time whether it is for a half day, a whole day, week day or an evening please contact the Suffolk Trust's voluntary wardens Bill Last, telephone Ipswich 78443, or Michael Wright, telephone Ipswich 710032. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Winter Atlas This autumn the B.T.O. and Irish Wildbird Conservancy are launching the above project. Fieldwork will start in Mid November and continue until the end of February in each of the next three winters 1981/82 to 1983/84. The object is to produce for each species, a map of its distribution in Britain and Ireland during the winter. Full details of how to take part can be obtained from: B. J. Brown, 24 Clifton Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk. Tel: 67727. Request for Specimens Ipswich Museum are currently building up a collection of study skins and urgently require dead birds of any species found in good condition. They should be no longer than two days dead (if they smell, decomposition has started and therefore cannot be skinned). Any birds found should be reported to Howard Mendel (Ipswich 213761) who will arrange for collection if required. Also anyone who has skins in their possession and wishes to donate these to the Museum's collection should contact the same number. Untreated carcases can be kept by sealing the fresh bird in a polythene bag and placing in a deep freeze. Back Numbers Some back numbers of Suffolk Bird Report are available from: Howard Mendel at Ipswich Museum, High Street, Ipswich. — Ipswich 213761. How to get Suffolk Birds 'Suffolk Birds' is free to all members of 'The Suffolk Naturalists Society'. To join contact the Honorary Secretary, Miss A. Page, The Red House, 126 Bures Road, Great Cornard, Sudbury, Suffolk. — Tel. Sudbury 76334. 47


List of Observers ABBOT S. ANDREWS M.

GRANT J. GREGORY A. M.

BAKEWELL D. N. BANKS S. BEAMISH D. G. BEHARREL J. R. BELL M. J. BLAKE W. E. BLOOMFIELD L. T. BLOUNT T. A. BOTWRIGHT A. BOWEN G. S. BRIGGS R. S. BROWN B. J. BULL A. BURNELL S. J.

HALL M. A. HAMBLING P. J. HARRIS R. G. HUME R. A. HUMPAGE C. J. HYDE E. M. JACKSON E. JAGGER A. D. JEANES M. J. F. JOBSON G. J. JONES E.

KAY J. A. KEEBLE E. F. CAMBRIDGE BIRD CLUB KING M. N. KIRTLAND C. A. E. CAGE A. CANT M. LAIDLAW H. C. COBB A. E. LAST A. J. COBB F. K. LAST W. A. COBBOLD B. LEVERETT A. COLLIN P. N. LONGHURST J. COX Dr S. CREASY R. N. MACKLEY A. CURTIS C. G. D. MALONE A. MARSH M. DEAN S. M. MARSH P. J. DINGLE BIRD CLUB MARSHALL R. V. A. DIXON R. MAYBURY G. W. DOCKERILL H. W. McANULTY Dr P. A. DORLING D. A. MOORE D. R. MORGAN A. EASTON A. C. MORRIS C. EATON J. C. MURPHY P. W. ELLIS A. MURRAY R. FAIRCHILD A. J. NAUNTON C. R. FAIRCHILD M. A. FARMER M. R. NORTH SUFFOLK FARMER R. J. WILDFOWLERS ASS. FISHER C. FRENCH F. J. OCKELTON D. W. O'SULLIVAN J. M. GARDINER R. W. PACKARD M. GARNER R. W. M. PAINE A. R. J. GARNHAM C. PARTRIDGE J. GLADWIN T. W. PATRICK E. W. GOODWIN T. PAYN W. H. GOTTO L.

48

PEARSON B. A. PEMBERTON J. E. L. PERCIVAL S. PIOTROWSKI S. QUINN P. RAINCOCK J. L. READ J. R. RILEY D. RISEBOROUGH A. ROBSON J. ROGERS N. R. SEAGO A. M. SEAGO J. R. SEYMOUR E. SMITH M. SORENSEN J. STEELE-DREW B. STEELE-DREW S. STEGGALL P. STOUR ESTUARY BIRD GROUP SUFFOLK ORNITHOLOGISTS GROUP TATE P. THICKETT L. A. THOMPSON S. TODHUNTER J. F. TOZER R. B. TRUCKLE F. H. T. TRUCKLE W. F. TWYMAN-MUSGRAVE M. URBANOWICZ T. J. VAUGHAN D. VINE A. E. WALLER C. S. WALTON R. WARREN R. B. WATERS R. J. WATT K. R. WEBB S. WESTCOTT A. WHALEY M. WITHRINGTON D. K. J. WOOLNOUGH R. J. WRIGHT M. T.


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THE BIRDS OF SUFFOLK by W. H. Payn This 2nd Edition of the Birds of Suffolk has been entirely revised and rewritten to 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 on migration in Suffolk including an account of the "Great Fall" of 1965 which 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. 30% discount off the recommended price to ali purchasers of Suffolk Birds 1980 Ancient House Publishing Cobbold Street Ipswich Tel 57764

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Suffolk Birds 1980  

Volume 30

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