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Suffolk Birds 1981

PublĂŹshed by the Suffolk Naturalists' Society


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SUFFOLK BIRDS 1981

Kingfisher

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


Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society

November 1982 Printed by The Ancient House Press, Ipswich, Suffolk, England


Editorial R e c o r d s f o r 1 9 8 2 . It has become apparent that to publish 'Suffolk Birds' earlier it will be necessary for observers to send in their notes more frequently. In fact the Editor/Recorder would welcome notes from observers on a monthly basis. This would enable him to produce this publication more efficiently and earlier in the year. It would also assist if observers would send in their records in checklist order rather than in diary form. Records should be sent to D. R. Moore, Crosslands, Cage Lane, Boxted, Colchester, Essex, C 0 4 5RE. 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; Red-necked, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes; All 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, Ciri and Lapland Buntings plus any species of less than regular appearance, outside their normal season or habitat, or unusually large numbers of uncommon birds. In addition the following species will be considered at county level from January 1st 1983: Cory's Shearwater, Purple Heron, White Stork, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Richard's Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Savi's Warbler, Aquatic Warbler, Serin and Scarlet Rosefinch.

Changes to the County Records Committee. After serving 17 years as County Recorder and Editor of this Report and several additional years as a committee member W. H. "Bill" Payn retired, as he was leaving his native Suffolk to live on Alderney in the Channel Islands. To mark his outstanding service to Suffolk natural history he has been made an Honorary Life Member of the Suffolk Naturalist's Society and in addition members of the County Record's Committee past and present gave him a painting of a Black Stork by Suffolk artist Edward Keeble. The Black Stork is one of the species that still eludes Bill despite his very considerable travels. Incidentally, Bill has contributed an article on breeding birds in his garden over the last forty years and this can be found on page 55. I am sure that all Suffolk ornithologists will join me in saying thank you to Bill for all he has done, and wish him well for the future. To fill this vacancy was quite a task but we are fortunate in acquiring the services of the well known bird artist Peter Hayman who now lives in West Suffolk. 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 Suffolk Ornithologist's Group, The Dingle Bird Club and the Lowestoft Field Club have provided detailed notes from their logs. Notes were also received from the Stour Estuary Bird Group. The Editor would like to personally thank Philip Murphy for his enthusiastic efforts in collating records and preparing the first draft 3


of the Systematic List. Special thanks are due to Philip again, Brian Brown and Bill Payn for their various contributions. I am also indebted again to Don Revett (Wildfowl Trust) and Ian Peters for access to ringing data. Thanks are also due to Trevor Charlton, Edward Keeble and Mike Parker for the vignettes and to John Bakewell and Paul Nixon (East Anglian Daily Times) for the photographs. Finally, as usuai I would like to express my sincere thanks to all contributors without whom this publication would not have been possible.

Review of the W i n t e r B i r d s . DĂźring the early part of the year the undoubted highlight was the sudden appearance of flocks of Barnacle Geese in late February. These possibly originated from Holland as did the influx of Bean Geese in the latter part of the year. Local farmers seemed to be rather concerned about the wildfowl, especially geese and swans feeding on the ever-increasing crops of winter wheat which have replaced the wet meadows in some of our coastal areas. It should be mentioned that in normal conditons this grazing actually encourages the wheat to yield a better crop. Indeed some years ago farmers often used to graze sheep on their winter wheat for this very purpose. The one problem is that when the weather is wet the wildfowl tend to " p u d d l e " , and this often leads to the individuai plants being accidentally removed from the soil. Some winter visitors occurred in uncommonly large numbers and included counts of 75 Rock Pipits, cl ,000 Common Scoters and clO.OOO Wigeon. The latter were noted during the extremely severe freezing conditions just before Christmas. Despite these cold conditions at least 6 Blackcaps were present throughout the winter.

B r e e d i n g B i r d s . It is sad to report that the decline of the Red-backed Shrike has not been halt ed. Although roughly the same number of birds were located as in 1980, only one pair was proved to have bred. Some observers also reported a noticeable decrease in the numbers of breeding Redpolls. On a brighter note 8 Marsh Harrier nests produced 18 young and 2 pairs of Hobbies may have bred. Seventeen booming Bitterns were located and 176 pairs of Avocets reared 122 young. The latter had their best year for some time. Two pairs each of Wigeon and Garganey nested and 5 calling Quail were reported and may have represented breeding pairs. With a great deal of human assistance nearly 100 pairs of Little Terns bred on our beaches. Golden Orioles maintained their numbers and at last Cetti's Warbiers seem to be increasing and spreading. The British Trust for Ornithology Nightjar Survey revealed 123 churring maies, a staggering figure in view of the sparse records received in recent years. Bearded Tits were apparent in good numbers at their regulär sites, and small numbers of Wood Warbiers and Firecrests also nested. Another increasing species is the Woodlark, taking advantage of the clear feil areas in the forestry plantations. Finally a new colony of c20 pairs of Hawfinches was reported and poses the question of how many other undiscovered populations of this species exist. 4


V a g r a n t s a n d o t h e r M i g r a n t s . 1981 will probably be remembered by many for the great variety of rarities which occurred in Suffolk. Oddly the two most interesting species cannot regrettably be added to the County List. Firstly on 19th June an Asiatic Fork-tailed Swift was brought by helicopter to Ellough airfield, having been picked up exhausted on a drilling platform off the Norfolk coast. Although the identification of this bird has been accepted, the record will almost certainly be published as a 'North Sea' record. For convenience we have included this record in this report. Secondly a Lark Sparrow from North America was discovered in late June at Landguard Point. The British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee, whilst accepting the identification of this bird, were not satisfied that its origin was sufficiently explained to afford it Category A status, thus this record is placed under Category D. Other rarities noted and accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee were: Purple HĂŠron, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis (2), Black Kite, Red-footed Falcon, Marsh Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, Greenish Warbier, Pallas's Warbler (3) and Bonelli's Warbler. As usuai a crop of other scarce migrants were observed throughout the year and amongst the more interesting were: Spoonbill (12), Ruddy Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck (3), Mandarin (8), Honey Buzzard (4), Red Kite (2), Montagu's Harrier (3), Osprey (12), Peregrine (3), Spotted Crake (2), Kentish Piover (3), Dotterei (7), Temminck's Stint (4), Pectoral Sandpiper (2), Red-necked Phalarope (5), Grey Phalarope (3), Pomarine Skua (4), Sabines Gull (2), Iceland Gull (2), Roseate Tern, Little Auk, Hoopoe (3), Wryneck (6 spring, 30 autumn), Grey-headed Wagtail (3), Waxwing (4), Dipper, Bluethroat, Icterine Warbler (4), Barred Warbler (4), Yellow-browed Warbler and Ortolan Bunting. The rarest bird of all fooled many observers for some time and remained at Alton Water from late February until the end of the year. It was eventually considered to be a hybrid Coot x Moorhen. There are only two previously documented records in the World and none in the British Isles. T h e C o u n t y List. Up to and including 1981 the County List stands at 335 species.


Systematic List

Red-backed

Shrike

The order used is that of the British Birds list of the Birds of the Western Palearctic. Red-throated Diver: The offshore wintering flock peaked at 115 off Benacre 17th Jan. This group had reduced to about fifty by mid-Feb. The last record received for the period was of a single off Minsmere 5th April. The first autumn arrivals were seen from 1st Oct., but no significant numbers had occurred by the year end. The largest gathering reported was 12 at Easton 28th Dec. Black-throated Diver: With an increase in observer coverage this species seems to be more frequent than was formerly supposed. Accordingly the following were reported: the Ipswich Docks bird from 1980 stayed until 8th Jan., singles Alton Water 8th Jan., Havergate 11th April and 21st Oct., River Orwell llth-22nd Nov., and Minsmere 1st & 26th Dec. Great Northern Diver: Singles at Bawdsey 1st Feb. (MM), Landguard 21st Feb. (ARJP), and again 1st Nov. (WAL, ARJP, MTW), and Walberswick 22nd Nov. (DGB). Little Grebe: Thirty breeding pairs were reported from 16 sites, but this data is far from complete. Several non-breeding flocks were observed, the largest were: 38 Alton Water 13th Dec., 36 Flatford 12th Dec., and 35 Alton Water 8th April. Great Crested Grebe: Records were received of 65 breeding pairs from 12 localities which was the same total as 1980. This information is probably incomplete as the large Alton Water colony increased from 20 pairs in 1980 to 34 pairs. Also at this site a very early nest had been completed by 29th Jan. (SHP). Numbers were generally low in the first winter period which was unusually mild, but in the latter part of the year there were 49 River Stour 18th Oct., and 84 there on 15th Nov. Significantly after freezing conditions only eight could be seen on the Stour on 13th Dec., but even so 49 were on the Orwell on 18th Dec. At Alton Water numbers remained constant at c50/60 from Aug. until the end of the year. Red-necked Grebe: An above average year with records as follows: The bird first noted on the Orwell in 1980 remained there until 15th Feb., one Alton Water 1 lth-20th Jan., one Minsmere 25th Jan. and again 19th-21st Feb., one Easton 1st Feb., one in full summer plumage Trimley Lake 16th-20th April, one Minsmere 13th- 22nd Sep. and two there 21st Sep., one Thorpeness 29th Nov. and finally one Benacre 19th Dec. until the end of the year. 6


Slavonian Grebe: A poor year with none until the autumn when singles were noted at Minsmere 16th Sep., Benacre 23rd Oct., Alton Water 1st Nov., Benacre 19th Dec. and presumably the same bird found dead there 30th Dec. Black-necked Grebe: Even compared with the poor showing of the previous species the Black-necked is still the rarest grebe in Suffolk. The only two records were singles at Minsmere 14th Oct. and Alton Water 10th Dec. (SHP et al). Fulmar: Small numbers were offshore in most months but the most recorded were c50 between Covehithe and Landguard in the second week of Aug. Once again a cliff site was prospected by 5 pairs between April and July, but sadly no nesting took place. Amongst a count of 18 flying north off Landguard on 17th Oct. was a blue-phase bird which represents only the second record of this form in Suffolk (MM). Sooty Shearwater: One flying north off Sizewell on 19th Sep. was the only record (ID). Manx Shearwater: The poorest year for some time with only one off Benacre 23rd Aug. (AMG). Gannet: After strong northerly winds on 27th April two were seen flying south-west over Bury St. Edmunds one of which later landed on a roundabout on the A45 (CGRB). This was part of a national 'wreck' when many seabirds were reported far from the coast. More normally small numbers were observed far offshore the most interesting being 12 flying north off Covehithe 10th Sep. and 24 flying north off Easton 17th Oct. Cormorant: As usual present in all months with peak counts as follows: 87 Alton Water in Oct., I l l River Stour 15th Nov., and 100 River Orwell 22nd Nov. An interesting tree roost was of 10 at Glemsford some miles inland in late Dec. In view of the recent tree-nesting of this species at Abberton Reservoir, Essex it would seem desirable to check any tree roosts in the county. Shag: A below average year and noted as follows: 2 offshore Minsmere 4th Jan., 2 Benacre 11th Jan., an imm. Lowestoft 21st May, one Benacre 29th July, and Benacre 15th Sep., single Lowestoft 7th Oct., 2 Landguard 7th Oct., one Landguard 21st Nov., singles Lowestoft 12th-15th Dec., Alton Water 17th Dec., and finally Wherstead Strand 28th Dec. Bittern: In the breeding season booming males were heard at Minsmere (8), Walberswick (7/8) and a single elsewhere. Away from regular sites wintering birds were noted at Sudbourne 25th Oct., Butley and Thorpeness 22nd Nov., Flatford 23rd Dec., and Alton Water/Holbrook 24-28th Dec. Little Egret: One at Henham 16th May (NRJ, JRS). Grey Heron: Breeding counts were: Minsmere — 5 nests produced 15 young. Benacre — 1 nest. Euston — 15 nests. Easton Broad — 1 nest. Henham — 12 nests produced 19 young. Ramsholt — 3+ nests. Somerleyton — 3 nests. El veden — 7 nests. Brandon — 19 nests. A total of 66 nests. No counts were received from Stoke-by-Nayland, Stutton, Barnby, Blackheath or Methersgate. Six flying south at Landguard 28th Sep. may have been immigrants. Pellets ejected by this species and collected at Benacre when analysed contained almost totally the remains of Dytiscus marginalis — The Large Diving Beetle. 7


Purple Heron: Singles at Minsmere 12th April (AB), Walberswick 12th-21st April (many obs.), Minsmere again 16th May, 27th-31st May, 20th June and Walberswick once more 18th May. These probably all relate to the same bird. Glossy Ibis: Two together Minsmere 8th-9th May and one on 29th May (PVH, M H , GJJ). These may have been the two birds which have frequented North Kent for the last few years and which were definitely missing from that area on May 8th.

Spoonbills Spoonbill: The normal spate of summer records: Benacre — 2 27th Aug., 3 29th Aug., 4 30th Aug., 3 1st Sep., 4 3rd Sep., 2 5th-8th Sep. Minsmere — one 18th-29th May, 2 30th May-26th June, one 5th July-23rd Aug., 3 24th Aug., 4 25th-27th Aug., 2 28th Aug. Felixstowe — 2 flying south 2nd July. Mute Swan: Said by most observers to be decreasing particularly in the southern half of the county. Despite this the River Stour still attracted large flocks as follows: 222 18th Jan., 165 22nd Feb., 195 18th Oct., 174 15th Nov., and 191 13th Dec. Bewick's Swan: There were reports from 15 sites up to 5th Mar. The largest flock was of 65 over Alton Water 7th Jan., and then 44 feeding there 9th-18th Jan. The only other groups exceeding 30 were 39 at Boyton 31 st Jan. and 36 at Lowestoft 23rd Jan. In the Brecks 7 were at West Stow 31st Jan. and 2 Cavenham 23rd Jan. The first autumn bird was at Minsmere 27th Oct. after which there were sightings at 13 localities. 60 were seen at Boyton 26th-28th Dec. and other notable groups were 56 Minsmere 1st Dec., 56 Aldeburgh 28th Dec., and 34 Bawdsey 24th-25th Dec. At West Stow there were 11 29th Nov. and 16 6th Dec. Whooper Swan: The only report early in the year was of 4 adults and 3 juvs. at Kessingland between 14th Feb.-8th Mar. The number of autumn sightings was the highest for at least 5 years. In Nov. 4 adults and 2 juvs. flew south at Covehithe on the 8th and there were 2 on the Stour on 15th. In Dec. 11 flew over Walberswick on the 6th and 2 were there from 22nd, 2 juvs. at Minsmere 20th onwards, 2 Benacre/Kessingland 23rd-30th and 2 adults and 2 juvs. on the Deben 27th-28th. Bean Goose: Records in the last year or two have become more frequent suggesting overlapping of birds normally wintering in Holland. In the first winter period there were up to 2 at Minsmere 11th Jan.-14th Feb., and 5 in over the sea at Lowestoft 1st Feb. By 13th Oct. 4 had returned to Minsmere and there were up to 10 at Aldeburgh from 28th Oct. onwards. There was a very noticeable hard weather movement (recalling 8


the events of Jan.-Mar. 1979) into Suffolk from 19th Dec. on which date there were counts from Ramsholt (27), Boyton (19), Covehithe (16) and Minsmere (14). From then on the majority of records were from the area between the Rivers Aide and Deben with the largest count of 69 at Shingle Street 29th Dee. These birds were often disturbed which probably explains records of 36 at Bawdsey 24th-25th Dee., and 47 Boyton, 27 Sudbourne and 27 Havergate ali on 31st Dee. Pink-footed Goose: The only records early in the year were 2 Ramsholt 8th Feb.-13th Mar. and singles at Sudbourne l l t h Jan. and Minsmere 14th-17th Jan. and again 16th Feb. Cold weather from mid-Dec. onwards produced the following: Minsmere 15 19th Dee., 5 20th Dee.; Shingle Street one 26th-31st Dee.; Sudbourne 15 30th Dee.; Benacre 6 30th Dee.; and 35 flying north Covehithe 31st Dee. Inland there was a very wary bird at Sudbury on 14th Dee. White-fronted Goose: The majority of records during Jan.-Mar. were at two coastal sites. At Minsmere there were only 6 until 16th Jan. when there was an increase to 126, these birds having moved on by 19th Jan. At the other site where there had been 60 in Dee. 1980 clOO were present in early Jan. then reducing to 30 on 20th Jan. and 15 on 24th Feb. Five at Kessingland on 8th Mar. were the last spring birds. The only inland record was one at Higham (River Stour) on 4th Jan. The first autumn arrivai was at Minsmere 6th Oct., but the majority of records occured from 19th Dee. in three distinct areas. On the Minsmere levels there were 25 on 27th Dee. increasing to 120 on 30/31 st. In the Covehithe/Kessingland area 35 were present on 19th Dee. and at least 100 on the 30th. The biggest flock was located between the Rivers Aide and Deben where 120 observed on 20th Dee. had increased to 205 by the 30th. Greylag Goose: The only confirmed breeding reports were from Minsmere where 2 pairs bred, and one pair at Holbrook. A pair was also present at Spexhall in May. Ali records of feral breeding pairs would be welcomed. Notable flocks were 50 at Minsmere in late Dee., 19 Carlton marshes 19th Dee., and 18 flew north at Leavenheath 26th Mar. Snow Goose: 'Blue phase' birds of apparent feral origin were reported as follows: Minsmere — Up to 3 in Jan., 2 Feb.-May, and one from l l t h Sep. onwards. Aldeburgh — 2 31st Jan. and one 14th Nov. Boyton — One 28th Feb. Homersfield — Singles 15th Jan. and 8th Oct. Benacre — One 24th Aug.-early Sep. Barham — One 6th Nov. Canada Goose: This species continues to flourish as a breeding species in Suffolk with increased numbers almost everywhere. Flocks of at least 100 were recorded at 12 sites altogether and included 630 Livermere 18th Oct., 500 Benacre 27th Aug.-l lth Sep., 330 Homersfield 8th Oct. and 300 Minsmere 14th Sep. Barnacle Goose: The highlight of the first winter period was the largest ever influx of this species into Suffolk. This occured at a time when most of the Dutch wintering population would be leaving to move north; on this occasion strong northerly winds were prédominant and probably caused this sudden arrivai to take place. From 18th Feb.-2nd Mar. along the coast south from Minsmere the following were located: Landguard — 74 flying south 21st Feb. Minsmere — 18 18th Feb., 21 20th-27th Feb., and 29 lst-2nd Mar. Boyton — Up to 150 20th-28th Feb. and 41 remaining until 2nd Mar. Sudbourne — 10 24th Feb. Shotley — 23 lst Mar. The only other record of considered wild birds was 7 at Boyton 20th-28th Dee. Birds 9


of assumed feral origins were more widespread than ever. Reports were received from Minsmere (5), Holbrook Bay (5), Aldeburgh (4), Cattawade (2), Higham (River Stour) (2), Kessingland (2), Livermere (2), Sudbourne (2), Glemsford (2), Lakenheath, Ramsholt, Homersfield, Havergate, Barham and West Stow. At the latter two sites hybridization between this species and Canada Goose was recorded. Brent Goose: The highest estuarine totals during the first winter period were on the Stour and were 686 18th Jan., 607 22nd Feb. and 564 22nd Mar. Elsewhere there were 500 Levington 9th Jan. and 240 Kirton 8th Feb. In May one remained at Levington for most of the month and another occured at Shingle Street on 14th/15th. More surprisingly three were at Felixstowe Ferry on 5th June, one was at Minsmere 22nd June and 2 remained at Havergate for most of that month. The first autumn birds were off Landguard on 18th Sep., but passage numbers were well below those of the previous year. Landguard provided large totals with 750 17th Oct. and 500 8th Nov. The only coastal weather movements were 145 at Minsmere and 80 Felixstowe both on 17th Dec. 700 had gathered at Levington by 30th Dec. and 558 were on the Stour 13th Dec. A flock of 160 in the Orford area contained 6 pale-bellied birds of the race Branta bermela hrota on 24th Dec. Egyptian Goose: Thorpeness/Aldeburgh remains the stronghold of this introduced species. There were 8 there in Jan. and 7 in Feb. Also three broods observed in this area totalled 7 juveniles. In the Breck a pair reared 2 young successfully at Livermere and elsewhere during the breeding season there were pairs at Gunton, Havergate and Lound. Away from nesting areas 4 were at Benacre 18th Oct., 2 Minsmere 8th Feb. and 18th Oct. and 2 Butley 6th Sep. Ruddy Shelduck: One at Havergate Island 13th-14th April (RSPB). A paper will shortly appear in "British Birds" discussing the origins of birds of this species occuring in Britain in recent years. Shelduck: The largest wintering flocks were counted on the Stour as follows: 2053 18th Jan., 1805 22nd Feb., 1161 15th Nov. and 1265 13th Dec. There were 500 + on the Blyth 16th Feb., and 700+ on the Ipswich Docks — Wherstead Strand stretch of the Orwell on 8th Mar. and 20th Dec. Livermere remains the principal site away from the coast; 42 had assembled there on 7th May, but only two broods totalling 11 juveniles were recorded. Amongst other inland records there were 13 Lakenheath 7th May, 2 Boxford April-June, 2 Little Fakenham 8th June and a pair with 7 juveniles at West Stow 6th July. At Minsmere 40 pairs reared 20 juveniles. There were also records of 150 flying south off Landguard on 8th Mar. and 17th Dec. (See Brent Goose). Mandarin: The spectacle of a female and four males at Livermere 8th Nov. (TB), and a female with two males at Wherstead Strand 9th Dec. (SHP) were two of the more unexpected events of the latter part of the year. This exotic introduced species has established no known colony in East Anglia, and the origins of these birds are open to speculation. Wigeon: Breeding was proved at Minsmere for the first time with 2 pairs raising 5 young. The only significant totals in the first winter period were counted on the Stour with 2850 18th Jan. and 1225 22nd Feb. A very distinctive leucistic bird was at Boyton 25th-28th Feb. Inland 20 were seen at Lakenheath 22nd Mar. and one lingered there until 7th May. Other interesting records were 4 Orfordness 4th May, male Walberswick 19th May and male at Alton Water 8th July. Return birds were noted from the second week of Aug., and by 18th Oct. there were 1525 on the Stour. Some of the largest congregations recorded in Suffolk for almost 20 years were located on coastal marshes during the cold spell from early Dec. onwards. The most impressive of these was in the Boyton area where the peak count of 10,000 occured on 26th Dec. (SHP). Other 10


large totals were 2,000 Shingle Street 29thDec., 2,000 the Stour 13th Dec. and 1,000 Minsmere 18th-20th Dec. Gadwall: 50 pairs were located in the breeding season of which 30 reared 40 young at Minsmere. A female with 8 juveniles at Alton Water 25th June was the first proven nesting of this species at this site. An assembly of 68 birds at Lakenheath 7th May suggests that the total of 50 pairs is considerably less than the actual breeding population. The most significant non-breeding flocks were 120 Minsmere throughout Aug., 89 Havergate 14th Aug., 82 Minsmere 14th Feb., 77 Havergate 18th Jan., and 60 Benacre 15th Feb. Numbers during the cold speli in the second winter period were much lower. Teal: The only breeding record received was from Minsmere where 25 pairs reared 20 young. Obviously this does not reflect the true breeding population and observers are requested in future to note nesting records of this species. The only significant counts in the mild first winter period were 470 Minsmere 25th Jan., 375 the Stour 18th Jan. and 150 Alton Water 29th Jan. A noticeable increase was apparent from late Aug., and by 19th Sep. there were 500+ in the Benacre area. At Minsmere there were 370 18th Oct., increasing to 500 by 14th Nov.; however on 12th Dec., after the onset of very cold weather only 200 remained there. The south-eastern area of Suffolk contained the largest flocks during the hard weather with 900 Havergate 15th Dec., 500 Shingle Street 29th Dec. and 200 Shotley 30th Dec. Mallard: Counts on the Stour revealed 1460 18th Jan., 1190 22nd Feb., 1900 15th Nov. and 1915 13th Dec. Numbers at Livermere were lower than in previous years, the highest total being 920 26th Aug. Pintail: No proof of breeding was found in the county but up to 3 were present at Minsmere in mid-May and again in mid-June with an increase to 8 4th July. The only other July records were of single birds at Benacre 26th and Alton Water 27th. A flock of 215 were on the Stour on 18th Jan. and 157 on 22nd Feb. The only other large group during this period was 100 Freston 16th Jan. Nacton Decoy attracted the most impressive numbers in early autumn; 50 had arrived by 31st Aug., rapidly increasing to 300 on 16th Sep., after which there was an equally dramatic decrease. Fifty birds were trapped and ringed at this site. During the cold speli in Dec. numbers reduced slightly, the Orwell flock from 100 to 70 and on the Stour from 160 to 80. Garganey: At Minsmere a pair raised 8 young, and breeding was suspected at a second location. Spring passage commenced on 15th Mar., and peaked at Minsmere 28th-29th Mar. when 3 pairs were present. A pair at Blythburgh 20th Aprii and at Walberswick 9th May could refer to the same birds. The first autumn record was at Havergate 28th July. Subsequently birds were observed at Alton Water 26th-28th Aug. and 26th-29th Sep., Southwold 12th Sep. and Minsmere where there were up to 3 in Aug. Away from the usual coastal areas one at Livermere 26th Aug. was of great interest.

Garganey 11


Shoveler: The only breeding record received was from Minsmere where 24 pairs reared 20 young; there was evidence of at least another 7 pairs elsewhere on the coast but many more must have gone unreported. Inland paired birds were noted in April-June at Lakenheath (3), West Stow (3), Euston and Livermere. The largest first winter count was 150 Minsmere 14th Feb. Autumn passage birds were very evident at Alton Water from late Aug.-early Oct.; totals included 115 28th Aug., 158 8th Sep. and 155 5th Oct., but decreasing to 20 31st Oct. During the cold spell in Dec. 129 were at Havergate on the 23rd. Red-crested Pochard: A male at West Stow 29th Nov. (JAW). Pochard: Four pairs bred in the Euston/Benacre area and at Minsmere the first suspected nesting on the reserve since 1940 was of 6 pairs that spent the summer there. In the Breck there were no reports of breeding, but during May at least 4 pairs were seen at Livermere and one at Mildenhall. In Feb. flocks of 320 and 270 were at Benacre Broad and Alton Water respectively. At the latter site there was a noticeable increase from late Aug. as follows: 195 28th Aug., 350 late Sep.-late Nov., 500 10th Dec. and 630 28th Dec. Other large groups included 300 Lake Lothing 29th Dec. and 120 Lackford 6th Dec. Aythya Hybrids: An example of a bird showing the characteristics of 'Paget's Pochard' (Pochard x Ferruginous Duck) was at Benacre Broad 16th Feb. and a similar bird was at Alton Water 2nd May. Another bird considered to be Pochard x Tufted Duck of the 'Lesser Scaup' type was seen at Benacre 11th July, and another example of hybridization between these species was present at Alton Water 19th-23rd Sep. and 18th Oct. Ferruginous Duck: A female was at Havergate 7th Feb. and 2nd Mar. (RSPB). At Alton Water adult males were observed on 28th Mar. (DNB, DRM), and 10th-15th Dec. (SHP et al). Tufted Duck: At least 60 pairs were located during the summer and from areas where the species was absent during the survey of the previous year, 14 additional pairs were reported from 5 sites suggesting a continued increase. Two pairs bred and reared 4 young at Minsmere and were the first breeding record for the reserve. In the autumn at Alton Water there was an autumn peak followed by a decrease, and then a marked influx during cold weather: 280 28th Aug., 400 5th Oct., 260 25th Nov., 300 13th Dec. and 500 28th Dec. In Ipswich Docks 14 16th Dec. built up to 200 by 29th. Scaup: Reports were received in the first winter period from 5 coastal sites up to 12th April. These included 20 off Dunwich 1st Jan., up to 12 at Benacre in Jan. and 5 AltonWater 7th-18th Feb. and 15th Mar.-5th April. There were no summer records. The first autumn birds occured on 19th Sep. at Alton Water (2) and Benacre (4). Although observed at 10 coastal sites up to the end of Dec., there was no influx during the cold spell, the largest group being 4 Benacre Broad 20th Dec. Eider: Numbers were very low early in the year, 4 on the Orwell Jan. being the only significant group. At Lowestoft one in Feb. increased to 10 by 5th May and 8 remained throughout the summer. Summering birds were also observed at Bawdsey (3) and the Orwell (1). Considerably more were noted in autumn. 35 flew south past Dunwich 17th Sep., and at Landguard there were 12 20th Oct. and 20 on the 24th of the same month. On 7th Nov. 15 were off Minsmere and 43 including 22 adult males flew north past Benacre. By the end of the year there were 5 on the Orwell and 10 offshore at Benacre. Long-tailed Duck: The female which was at Alton Water at the end of 1980 remained there until 5th April; what was assumed to be the same bird was seen at Wherstead Strand on 1st Jan. when it could not be found on the reservoir. The only other bird early in the year was one off Benacre 22nd Mar. In the latter part of the year singles


were recorded on the Scrape, Minsmere 7th Nov., Benacre Broad 15th Nov., Walberswick/Dunwich 15th-21st Nov. and Woolverstone 13th Dec. onwards. Common Scoter: This species was regularly noted offshore between Walberswick and Minsmere throughout the year as follows: 100 Jan./Feb., 250 April, 400 May, 500 June, 250 July, 60 Oct., 1,000 Nov. and 600 Dec. For comments on the 1,000 see "Suffolk Birds 1980". On the Orwell a male was in Ipswich Docks 25th Feb., and 2 were seen in the Woolverstone area from 11th Nov. onwards. Away from the coast 6 were at Alton Water 2nd April and 2 Thorington Street 5th April. Velvet Scoter: Most records were of birds in the Common Scoter flock off Walberswick/Minsmere. Max. numbers were 6 11th Jan., 7 19th May, 6 2nd Oct. and 12+ 21st Nov. At least two oversummered in the same area. There were also several reports from Benacre with a max. of 5 on 8th Nov. On the Stour one was watched in Holbrook Bay 4th Nov. and 2 males were located at Cattawade 21st Dec. One at Alton Water 7th April was the first record for the reservoir. Goldeneye: In Jan./Feb. there were max. counts on the Stour of 105, 50 on the Deben and 50 on the Orwell. The last record of the spring was 3 Alton Water 29th April. The only summer bird was one at Benacre 25th July. Although the first birds of the autumn were at Alton Water by 16th Sep., it was not until the last two weeks of Dec. that any significant numbers were reported; these included 56 on the Orwell, 75 on the Stour and 30 flying south off Benacre 22nd Dec. Smew: Fewer records were received than in recent years, the only reports were: Benacre — Up to 4 until 15th Feb. and 5 from 15th Dec. until the end of the year. These were all redheads. Minsmere — A redhead 18th Dec. Ipswich Docks — A redhead 26th Dec. until the year end. Needham Market — A redhead 30th Dec. Cavenham — A male 1st Mar. Red-breasted Merganser: The only significant counts during both winters occurred on the Orwell. Up to 21 were present in Jan./Feb. but these had decreased to 6 in late Mar. In spring 20 were back on the river prior to migration. In May one was on the Orwell on the 17th and also at Minsmere on the 20th. Even later were 2 at Trimley on 28th June. The first arrivals of the autumn were 2 off Minsmere 16th Sep., but as with Goldeneye it was not until late Dec. that most birds arrived when 41 were found at 3 sites including c30 on the Orwell. Goosander: In the first winter period 3 redheads and a male at Benacre in Jan. were the only coastal birds reported. Away from the coast 11 were noted from 4 sites 1st Jan.-12th Mar. the most significant locality being Lackford where up to 7 occured in this period. The first bird of the winter was at Benacre on 7th Nov. As with species already mentioned numbers increased in the latter half of Dec. with 17 birds from 7 sites. Ruddy Duck: A male at Minsmere 6th-7th May (RSPB). Honey Buzzard: A single bird was present at one site in early July but breeding was not suspected. One over Hadleigh 24th May was the only spring passage record (TDC). In the autumn four records were received all within a fortnight in Sep. as follows: One Covehithe 5th (DWO). One in off the sea at Sizewell 13th (DWO). One being mobbed by Marsh Harriers at Walberswick 15th (CSW) and the same bird at Easton Broad 19th (CRN). Black Kite: One Eastbridge 7th June (JCE, PMi, MO) is the third county record. Red Kite: Singles at South Cove 10th Jan. (PM SHP), and Lound 30th April (EJ). Marsh Harrier: Pairs held territory at 5 sites but successful nesting only occured at 3 of these. In all 18 young were reared from 8 nests. As usual records were received 13


Honey

Buzzard

in the winter months from Minsmere, Walberswick and the Benacre area. There were several reports of passage birds heading north in May and these included what was possibly the same bird at Landguard Point and Alton Water on 15th. Autumn passage was noted from early Aug. and included 7 in from sea at Sizewell 13th Sep. (DWO). At Minsmere on 22nd Aug. an immature killed a juvenile Avocet that had a broken wing by drowning it in shallow water (GJJ). Hen Harrier: In the first winter period 3 coastal roosts and one in the Breck were located. At these a min. total of 15 adult males and 17 ringtails were counted. Most of these had left the county by the third week of Mar., but one lingerd on the coast until 22nd Aprii. The first return migrant was recorded at Hessett on 18th Oct. By the end of the year 5 coastal roosts were discovered as well as one in the Breck. These areas revealed at least 33 birds of which 15 were adult males. For the second year running the ratio of adult males was much higher than usuai. The recently discovered winter roosts in Suffolk have always been either in reedbeds or long heather but one found at Chelmondiston was in a field of kale. Montagu's Harrier: Although breeding was not proved 2 juveniles were observed at one site 13th Aug., a pair were recorded at another locality in July and a single bird was present in another area 12th-30th July. Passage birds were a male in the Breck 20th Aprii (RH), a male Walberswick 6th May (CBA) and a female in the Breck 6th June (AJL). Goshawk: Although summer records were received from three separate sites there was no evidence of successful breeding. In Jan./Mar. there were regular sightings at one site and one at another 18th Mar. In addition reports were received of singles at three sites in Nov. Sparrowhawk: There was no apparent increase in the breeding pairs but 15 at 13 sites provides optimism for the future. During the period Jan./Mar. 40 birds were reported of which 10 were in the Breck and more interestingly 5 in the underwatched centrai region of Suffolk. During the first 2 weeks of Aprii there was notable coastal passage with records from 12 sites. These included 2 flying out to sea at Bawdsey 9th Aprii, and singles coming in at Minsmere 4th Aprii and Landguard 14th Aprii. Landguard was the only place where autumn passage was noted with 5 birds between 2nd Sep. and 18th Oct. In Nov./Dee again up to 40 were reported the most interesting record being 6 Sutton Heath 13th Dee. Buzzard: During the mild first winter months the only birds were 2 in the Fritton area and one at Walberswick. Spring passage was light in contrast to previous years with only 6 records between 5th Aprii and 17th May. One bird remained to spend 14


the summer on the coast. By contrast this species was much more evident in autumn and 13 individuals were noted at 8 sites between 2nd Sep. and 18th Oct. Only 3 birds were reported in the second winter period and strangely only one of these was in the Breck. Rough-legged Buzzard: For the second successive year numbers of this species were low with the following being all records received: Singles at Lound 18th Jan., Minsmere 23rd Sep. (an early date). Sutton Heath 21st Oct.-1st Nov., Minsmere/ Walberswick/Blythburgh 7th-22nd Nov., Butley 1st Nov. and a different bird 5th Dec., Wolves Wood 7th Nov., Orfordness 14th Nov., and Havergate 23rd Dec. Very unusually no records were received from the Breck in 1981. Osprey: An excellent year with at least 10 birds involved. Spring passage commenced in April with reports from Ipswich Docks 14th, Walberswick 18th and Thorpeness on the 29th. In May at least one was in the Felixstowe area 8th-31st, and also singles between Minsmere and the Blyth llth-17th and inland at West Stow 23rd. One in the Minsmere area 23rd June was presumably a non-breeding bird. The first autumn bird was at Livermere 1st Aug. and what may have been the same at Wordwell the next day. At Livermere it was seen to catch 2 fish. Another was observed at Brandon 22nd Sep., but the most appreciated bird remained at Minsmere 22nd Sep.-18th Oct. Kestrel: One was watched pursuing a large bat at Saxmundham 12th Mar., and another took a slow-worm at Kelsale later in the same month. Red-footed Falcon: A female at Westleton 2nd June (PG, PL) is the 15th county record. Merlin: In the first winter period 11 birds were recorded from 9 coastal sites up to 2nd April. Autumn migrants were noted from 11th Oct. and by the end of the year 11 birds had been reported from 10 localities including two in the Breck. Hobby: No proof of breeding was established but singles were located at up to four suitable sites in June/July. An early spring record was one at Lowestoft 19th April (SHP et ai) and in May singles were at Cavenham on the 7th and Ipswich on the 27th. In autumn singles were noted at Benacre 10th Aug., Havergate 13th Aug., Minsmere 3rd-16th Sep., Barrow 21st Sep., and Alton Water 26th Sep. In addition 2 were watched catching flying insects with Black-headed Gulls at Ipswich 13th Aug., and 2 were at Covehithe 15th Aug. Peregrine: Still a scarce species in Suffolk with only 3 records: Havergate 25th Jan. (RSPB), Minsmere 23rd-29th Sep. (RSPB), and a male at Minsmere 15th Nov. (WKR). Grey Partridge: The largest covey reported was 40 at Mutford 24th Oct. Quail: Certainly the best year for this species since the irruption of 1964. One was heard in the Breck at West Row 31st May — 22nd June, one Aldeburgh 12th June and one Dunwich beach 28th June. At another site near Ipswich one was heard on 5th July and 2 males were calling near Leiston 22nd July-mid Aug. Golden Pheasant: Brandon Country Park and the King's Forest were the most favoured sites in the Breck and max. counts at these sites were 12 10th Mar. and 20 5th Dec. respectively. Water Rail: The only sites to report breeding were Minsmere and Walberswick with 30 and 70 pairs estimated respectively. At least 6 skulked in the Alton Water reedbeds until they were flooded in Jan./Feb. The only other significant record received was 12+ at Thorpeness 5th Dec. Spotted Crake: One was calling at Minsmere 5th-9th May (RSPB), and another was observed at Covehithe 30th Aug. (DAR). Moorhen: The peak count at Alton Water was 130 28th Aug. During cold weather on 19th Dec. one was watched eating berries on an ornamental tree at Walsham-leWillows. 15


Coot: Winter counts at Alton Water were: 650 Feb., 910 Oct., 1080 Nov., and 1150 Dec. At Trimley Lake there were 750 Jan., 600 Sep. and 900 Nov. The unusually mild weather in the first winter period had induced a pair to commence nesting at Alton Water by 29th Jan. A hybrid between this species and Moorhen discovered at Alton Water on 27th Feb. created plenty of interest and controversy before its identification was eventually established (see page 57). It was still present at the end of the year. Oystercatcher: At least 30 pairs bred at 4 sites. The largest flocks on the Stour were 250 Jan., 410 Nov. and 330 Dec. Counts at the Levington roost revealed 210 April, 190 May, 200 Aug. and 220 Oct. In May there were inland sightings at Lakenheath (2) 7th, Brandon (4) 8th, Grundisburgh 26th and Livermere 29th. Avocet: At Minsmere 58 pairs raised 54 young a decrease of 20 young on the previous year. At Havergate breeding was more successful with 115 pairs rearing 68 young. At a third site 3 pairs were present and one hatched eggs but it is not known if the young fledged successfully. Birds presumably from Minsmere were seen at Walberswick and Blythburgh regularly with max. counts of 8 7th May and 20 4th May respectively. Levington provided most passage records and birds were observed as follows as follows: one 10th April, 2 14th April, 4 9th-10th May, one 23rd May, 4 10th July, 5 5th Aug. and one 3rd-7th Sep. Elsewhere one was at Benacre 9th April, one Easton Broad 22nd April and 2 18th July, and one Holbrook Bay 26th April. This species is now wintering more frequently in Suffolk and those birds that do leave are stretching their migration season considerably. At Minsmere birds were present between 23rd Feb. and 2nd Oct., and at Havergate up to 100 were present in that area Jan./Feb. and again in late Dec. One observer commented how strange it seemed to see 17 Avocets flying past at the same time as 7 Barnacle Geese on a cold winters day. Stone Curlew: As usual very few records were received of breeding birds. Singles were noted at 4 coastal sites and at least 14 pairs were located in the Breck. In late summer/early autumn groups of 10 and 13 were on two Breckland heaths. Little Ringed Plover: There was a noticeable decline in breeding pairs, only 8 at 5 sites compared with 21 sites in 1980. Only 2 birds were noted in spring on passage at Minsmere and Walberswick both 8th May. Autumn passage was predictably better with Bury BF ponds producing a max. of 24 16th July. Elsewhere up to 3 were noted at coastal sites until 24th Sep. Ringed Plover: Away from normal coastal breeding sites 10 pairs were located at 5 sites 2 of which were in the Breck. At Levington counts were made as follows: 65 Jan., 75 May, 60 July, 280 Aug., 330 Sep. and 260 Oct. The max. count on the Stour was 165 on 22nd Feb. Interesting breeding records from the coast were of a pair that bred in the yard at Lowestoft Gas Works, and of 14 pairs which held territory at Landguard, 7 successfully reared 12-14 young. Kentish Plover: Singles at Havergate 14th May, and Minsmere 15th-16th May and again 29th May (RSPB). Dotterel: Two at Sizewell 20th April were the earliest ever for Suffolk (WEC). In the autumn 3 were at Minsmere 4th Sep. (RSPB) and 2 at Benacre 7th Sep. (DGB). Golden Plover: During Jan./Feb. the largest congregations were c1,000 Kenton, c500 Bacton, c400 Stonham Aspal and c300 Great Barton. A few passage birds lingered on the coast up to 13th May, and at Minsmere 3 were seen 8th June and one on the 22nd of the same month. The first return migrants were noticed at Havergate by midJuly, but it was not until late Sep. that the main influx began. Numbers were lower than earlier in the year with 560 River Stour 13th Dec., c300 Ixworth 21st Oct., c300 Stonham Aspal 5th Dec., c250 Livermere 25th Sep. and c250 Felixstowe 25th Oct. 16


Grey Plover: Counts on the Stour were: 485 Jan., 355 Feb., 190 Mar., 540 Oct. and 400 Dec. At Levington 110 18th Jan. was the highest Orwell count. A small scale spring passage was noted up to 13th May and included one in the Breck at Livermere 7th May. Three birds spent the summer at Havergate although 2 at Minsmere 8th July were probably early autumn migrants. Lapwing: In Jan. cl,000 were at Aldeburgh on the 1st, and c2,000 flew south at Felixstowe on the 13th. Immigration was observed from 4th June and by 18th Aug. c3,000 had assembled at Thurston. During the severe weather in Dec. it became apparent that most of the winter population had left the county only to return when milder conditions prevailed after Christmas. Before this exodus c3,000 were present at Minsmere 14th Dec. Knot: Counts at the Stour roost in the first winter period were 270 18th Jan., 915 22nd Feb. and 52 22nd Mar. The max. Orwell count was 75 1st Jan. On spring passage 23 were at Minsmere 3rd April, 10 Walberswick 8th May and 20 Minsmere 17th May. In June up to 11 were recorded at Minsmere until 22nd. Autumn passage began from 10th July but wintering birds in the second period were low. In Dec. counts on the Stour and Orwell could only muster 50 and 65 respectively. Sanderling: As usual the most significant reports came from Lowestoft. In Jan./Feb. 16 were present and these had increased to 40 by 22nd Mar. A small scale spring passage was noted with 7 Lowestoft 8th May and 5 Easton Broad 16th May. Return birds were reported from 25th July. The max. autumn count was 15 Landguard 6th Oct., and away from the coast one was at Bury BF ponds on 16th Sep. Only 5 had gathered at Lowestoft in Nov./Dec. Little Stint: Only 2 were present in spring, these were found at Walberswick 7th-10th May. Autumn passage was obvious from 18th July but numbers were not significant until early Sep. At Minsmere 32 were counted 11th Sep. decreasing to 10 by the 4th Oct. At Benacre at least 20 were observed 15th-20th Sep. and 10 were present at Covehithe 15th Sep. Also at this time up to 3 were reported at Bawdsey, Landguard, Levington and Lowestoft. In Nov. up to 2 were at Minsmere until the 4th, and one was at Lowestoft on the 5th. Temminck's Stint: The only spring record was one at Minsmere 8th-12th May (RSPB). Autumn migrants were found at Easton Broad 2nd-7th Aug. (CRN), and 2 at Minsmere 23rd Aug. (RSPB). Pectoral Sandpiper: One at Minsmere 30th-31st May was only the third spring record for Suffolk (RSPB). Another bird was located at nearby Walberswick 6th Sep. (CSW). Curlew Sandpiper: One at Minsmere 8th May and 2 there 16th-17th May were the only spring records. The majority of autumn sightings were also at Minsmere where the peak counts were 10 29th July, 12 30th Aug. and 38 13th Sep. At Benacre 6 were present 20th Sep. and at Levington the last bird of the autumn was seen 3rd Oct. Purple Sandpiper: In the early part of the year up to 30 at Lowestoft in Feb. and 23 at the same location in Mar. The last bird of that period was also at Lowestoft on 13th May. Two had returned there 4th Aug. increasing to 6 by 23rd Aug. There were more Aug. records than usual with another 5 being located at 4 sites. In the second winter period 26 were at Lowestoft 24th Nov. and a further 12 were reported from 7 sites from 14th Oct. These included singles at Holbrook Bay 10th Dec. and Ipswich Docks 27th Dec. Dunlin: Counts on the Stour were: c9,400 Jan., c8,150 Feb. cl,500 Mar., cll,600 Oct., cl3,300 Nov. and c6,500 Dec. On the Upper Orwell cl2,500 were counted in Jan., and up to c4,000 were on the Deben Jan./Feb. The sudden decrease on the Stour in Dec. was also apparent on the Orwell with only c3,000 being present. Also in Dec. was a flock of cl,600 at Havergate. Regular seawatching at Landguard 17


produced many records of this species moving south from late Sep.-late Oct. The largest counts were cl,250 2nd Oct. and c950 19th Oct. Away from the coast singles were at Ixworth 17th May, Bury BF ponds 26th July and 20th Sep., and Sudbury 23rd-24th Dec. Ruff: A lek of c20 birds was reported from one coastal site where breeding has been suspected for the last two summers. During Jan./Mar. 11 were at Minsmere and the same number at Ramsholt 1st Feb. Spring passage started in mid Mar. through to early May. Notable records were 40 Minsmere 21st Mar. and 38 on arable at Shotley 8th April. Return passage was obvious from 24th June with most records again from Minsmere. The peak total at this site was 45 30th July-7th Aug. and birds remained until 15th Nov. Smaller numbers were present at several other coastal sites mainly in early Aug., and away from the coast up to 3 were at Bury BF ponds, Lakenheath and Livermere 11th July-20th Sep. During the freezing conditions of late Dec. 6 were noted near the coast including one on a roadside verge at Pakefield on 26th. Jack Snipe: In Jan./Feb. up to 3 were at Alton Water, Ipswich, Minsmere and Sizewell. In spring 6 were at Sproughton 7th-20th Mar. and up to 2 were at Carlton Marshes and Minsmere up to 5th May. The first autumn arrival was on 12th Oct. and during the second winter period records were received from 12 sites. Snipe: The BTO Wet Meadow Survey revealed 6 pairs at 3 coastal sites, and 18 pairs at 12 inland locations. This is surely not the total county breeding population? The largest winter flock was 250 at Minsmere 24th Jan. Numbers were very low during the Dec. freeze-up but on 30th after a thaw 500 were on Shotley marshes. In mid-Dec. hungry Snipe were observed foraging amongst hay put out for horses at Walshamle-Willows. Woodcock: Fourteen roding birds were found at 7 coastal sites, and 27 from Breck and central areas. In Nov. immigration was noted at Thorpeness 7th, Lowestoft 9th, Landguard 10th and Walberswick 15th. At least 70 were flushed during a shoot at Shotley 30th Dec. Black-tailed Godwit: Two pairs bred at one site. Max. counts on the Stour were: 210 18th Jan., 700 22nd Feb., 3508th Mar., 540 25th Aug., 260 18th Oct., 810 15th Nov., and 940 29th Dec. Elsewhere the biggest numbers were: Blythburgh — 110 9th April, 130 12th April, 100 26th April and 45 26th July. Havergate — 43 28th July and 70 11th Aug. Minsmere — 50 in Mar., 81 12th April and 80 23rd July. Deben — 36 8th Feb., 38 15th April, 55 22nd Aug. and 52 in Sep. Inland one was at Lakenheath 7th May. Bar-tailed Godwit: Thirty-two flew south off Landguard 19th Mar. but the main spring passage commenced on 10th April through to late May. The largest coastal groups were 61 Minsmere 26th April, 25 Walberswick 10th May and 23 Walton Ferry 26th April. Away from the coast 25 were at Livermere 7th May which is the biggest inland flock recorded since 1962. Small scale autumn passage was noted from 10th July, the most significant record being 17 Havergate 10th Aug. In Dec. 13 were at Havergate, and a bird still in summer plumage was seen on the Aide on 30th. Whimbrel: One at Blythburgh 17th Jan was the first ever for that month in Suffolk (CSW). Spring birds were noted from the 11th April and peaked in mid May when 18 were at Minsmere and 17 Walberswick. Rather unusual were 8 Minsmere and one Orford on 13th June. Return migration was observed from 4th July-24th Sep. and numbers were generally low but did include 35 Havergate 2nd Aug. Inland one was at Bury St. Edmunds 19th July, 2 West Stow 2nd Aug. and one Livermere 11th Sep. Curlew: In the Breck where first noted 7th Feb. 8 pairs were discovered at 2 suitable breeding sites. Counts on the Stour were: 615 Jan., 410 Feb., 555 Mar., 920 Oct.,


640 Nov. and 630 Dec. In the Levington/Shotley area of the Orwell there were 600 11th Jan., 200 5th Aug., 500 25th Oct. and 400 30th Dec. Spotted Redshank: Up to 11 were regularly seen in the Walberswick/Minsmere area in Jan./Feb. and on spring passage birds were noted at 3 coastal sites up to 16th May. This species was much more numerous on autumn passage especially at Minsmere. Monthly counts at this site were: 45 23rd July, 60 15th Aug. and 54 14th Sep. Elsewhere 36 were at Benacre 31st Aug., up to 28 Walberswick in late Aug., and 22 Covehithe 19th Sep. Up to 8 remained at Benacre and 4 Minsmere until midNov., and smaller numbers stayed at 4 sites into Dec. In addition 8 were at Blythburgh 2nd Dec. Redshank: No significant breeding records were received. Max. counts on the Stour were: 2,240 Jan., 990 Feb., 1,275 Mar., 3,450 Oct., 3,365 Nov. and 1,600 Dec. On the Orwell 1,250 were at Wherstead 9th Jan. and 1,000 at Levington 18th Oct. Unusually one was seen at the pond in Christchurch Park, Ipswich 29th Dec. Marsh Sandpiper: An adult at Minsmere 14th-23rd July is the fifth county record (ZB, FKC, GJJ). Greenshank: The regular wintering bird was at Levington in Jan./Feb. and another was at Brantham 11th Jan. Spring passage was poor 5 Levington 4th May and 4 Lakenheath 7th May were the only records of note. In autumn numbers were lower than the previous year and occured in two distinct peaks. The first was 28th July-16th Aug., when the largest flocks were 24 Holbrook, 20 Minsmere, 16 Havergate and 13 Levington. The second was 8th-13th Sep. when notable groups were 25 Havergate, 20 Minsmere, 17 Sizewell and 12 Benacre. None remained throughout Nov./Dec. but 5 were present at 3 sites 9th Nov. Green Sandpiper: In Jan./Feb. 14 were recorded at 11 sites which included 4 Bourne Park, Ipswich 1st Feb. Spring passage was noted mid-Mar.-11th May, 5 Sproughton 10th April being the only gathering of note and belated individuals were at Minsmere 22nd May and Benacre 26th May. Return passage began 21st June and reached a peak in early Aug. when 12 were at Alton Water, 11 Sproughton and 9 Minsmere. Thereafter numbers declined but 9 were at Bury BF ponds 12th Sep. In Nov. 13 were reported from 9 sites but the only record after the freezing Dec. period was of 2 Carlton Marshes 19th Dec. Wood Sandpiper: In spring only seen at Minsmere where singles were recorded on 5 dates 7th-22nd May. In autumn numbers were well down on the previous year with up to 4 being seen at each of 7 sites between 4th July-23rd Sep. Away from the coast up to 2 were at Bury BF ponds 29th Aug.-6th Sep. Terek Sandpiper: One at Minsmere 1st Aug. is the third county record (GJJ et at).

Terek

Sandpiper 19


Common Sandpiper: The wintering individuals at Ipswich and Brantham at the end of 1980 remained during Jan./Feb. The first spring arrival was reported from Sudbury 12th April and numbers built up to reach a peak in the middle of May which included 13 Minsmere on the 15th. In the autumn max. numbers reported were: 35 Minsmere 7th Aug., 18 Minsmere 26th July, 18 Shingle Street 12th Aug., 15 Havergate 3rd-10th Aug., 15 Alton Water 8th Aug., 30 Minsmere 11th Sep. and 15 at Benacre on the same date. Inland 16 were at Bury BF ponds 23rd Aug. and 6 at Glemsford on the rather late date of 16th Oct. What were assumed to be late migrants occured at Trimley 6th Nov. and Alton Water 12th Nov., and again one wintered at Ipswich from 25th Nov. until the end of the year. Turnstone: Counts on the Stour were: 430 18th Jan., 500 18th Oct. and 420 15th Nov. In spring 80 were at Ipswich Docks 5th May and one or two were seen at 3 sites in June. In early autumn the largest group reported was 180 Levington 19th Sep. Red-necked Phalarope: An excellent year with singles Minsmere 22nd Aug. and 7th Sep. (RSPB), Havergate 27th-29th July and 5th-10th Aug. (RSPB) and Easton Broad 25th July (CRN). The latter bird was identified as an adult female. Grey Phalarope: A momentous autumn movement brought three figure flocks to some sites on the British west coast and although this was not apparent in Suffolk three records occured. These were singles at Wherstead Strand 10th Oct. (RBW), Bawdsey 16th Oct. (B&SS-D) and Walberswick 21st Oct. (PQ). Pomarine Skua: The most surprising sight was a pale phase adult with complete tail projection feeding on fish offal amongst beach fishermen at Landguard 24th Oct. (MM et al). More typical records were of singles off Lowestoft 24th Aug. (JRR), Minsmere 26th Aug. (RSPB) and between Benacre and Walberswick 15th-20th Nov. (Many obs.). Arctic Skua: There were no spring reports, the first of the year was seen on 25th July. Below average numbers occured in the last two weeks of Aug. but things improved thereafter and 40 were counted at Landguard 26th Sep.-17th Oct. The individual day counts of note were 8 26th Sep., 10 27th Sep. and 13 4th Oct. A very late bird was off Minsmere 13th Dec. On 1st Aug. one was watched mobbing a Marsh Harrier at Benacre (CRN). Great Skua: One seen off Minsmere 29th April was the first record for that month in Suffolk since 1965. Autumn birds were reported as follows: Minsmere — One 25th July, 3 28th Aug. and one 18th Sep. Benacre — Singles 23rd Aug. and 5th Sep. Landguard — 2 26th Sep. Mediterranean Gull: Another good year reflecting the increased competence in identifying this species by the evergrowing band of observers. Benacre area — one to two adults from the beginning of the year to early Mar., an adult 3rd Aug. and up to 2 regularly from late Oct. Sizewell —Adult from Jan. until 18th Mar. and again from 24th Nov. onwards Minsmere — Adult 8th and 26th Mar. considered to be the Sizewell bird. A first summer individual 12th May and up to 2 adults 5th-6th June and again 14th Dec. Havergate — One 2nd Sep. Little Gull: In the first winter period singles were seen at Lowestoft 26th Feb. and Sizewell 8th-12th Mar. In spring, passage occured between 9th April — late May with up to 4 birds noted at 7 coastal sites. Up to 3 remained at Minsmere throughout June. Autumn migrants were apparent from the second week in July and c90 were found between then and late Oct. The largest groups were 15 Sizewell 16th Oct., and 9 20


Lowestoft 20th Aug. Inland one was at Livermere 13th Aug. In Nov. 12 were located and these included 8 at Benacre on the 7th. In Dec. singles were at Alton Water 10th-31st, Covehithe 22nd and Benacre and Minsmere on the 30th. Black-headed Gull: The largest roosts reported were c6,000 River Blyth in Dec., c3,000 Havergate 9th April and c2,700 Minsmere 9th Dec. At Minsmere 401 pairs held territory but only 48 young were reared. A partial albino was at Wherstead 6th Dec., this bird had pure white wings except for black tips to the primaries of the underwing; the head was pure white and the bill red with no black tip (MM). Sabine's Gull: An adult in almost summer plumage was at Ness Point, Lowestoft 22nd Feb. and was the first county record for that month (RSB). More typical was one at Havergate 3rd Sep. (RSPB). Common Gull: About 10 pairs were present and assumed to have bred in the same area as the previous year. Lesser Black-backed Gull: Away from the breeding colony the largest group reported was 250 Easton Broad 15th Nov. Herring Gull: An individual of one of the yellow-legged races was at Ness Point, Lowestoft 16th July and 8th Aug. (BJB). Orfordness Gull Colony: The combined Herring/Lesser Black-backed Gull colony was estimated at c6,000 pairs which represents a further increase. The ratio was 2:1 in favour of Lesser Black-backed Gull. Iceland Gull: An adult Benacre 4th Jan. (DWB), a first year Lowestoft 25th Jan.-1st April and 5th-9th May (BJB; British Birds 74:238 Plate 140) and a fourth summer Lowestoft 23rd May (SHP). Glaucous Gull: At least one adult and 2 immatures were regularly reported between Lowestoft and Aldeburgh up to 4th Mar. In spring an imm. was at Easton Broad 28th Mar., an adult Lowestoft 5th May and an imm. again at Easton Broad 8th May. Up to 3 adults were recorded at Lowestoft/Benacre between 1st Nov. and the end of the year. At Sizewell a first winter bird was present 19th Dec. Kittiwake: At Lowestoft 82 pairs nested of which 46 were successful, raising 72 young. This is the third highest total of young ever at this site. South Pier, East ledge 35 nests 22 successful 32 young. South Pier, North windows 19 nests 10 successful 15 young. South Pier, North ledge 16 nests 10 successful 19 young. Buildings north of bridge 12 nests 4 successful 6 young. (Contributed by BJB). Northerly movements off Benacre were 100 17th Oct. and 125 7th Nov. An adult at Alton Water 28th Dec. was the first seen alive there. Caspian Tern: This species rarely stays at any one site for more than a few hours, so the individual that remained at Minsmere 18th June-13th July attracted many observers (GJJ, JS et al). Sandwich Tern: There was a further reduction in the colony at Havergate where only 74 pairs raised 46 young; 1,000 had assembled there 27th April (RSPB). Roseate Tern: An early record was one Kirton Creek, River Deben 21st April (TG). (The statement in the Spring 1982 issue of "Birds" that 2 pairs bred at Havergate in 1981 was incorrect-JP) 'Commie Tern': Evidence of overland migration was provided by the count of up to 30 moving north over Debenham 20th-21st April (SB). A "portlandica" phase bird was at Sizewell/Minsmere 23rd May into July. Common Tern: First noted at Minsmere 28th Mar. where 70 pairs nested but failed to raise any young. At Havergate 40 pairs reared 41 young, 5 juveniles fled from 11 nests on the Blyth and 18 pairs nested with unknown success on the Stour. These 21


latter birds probably explain the many counts of 10-14 at Alton Water during May/Aug. Inland sightings were recorded at Barham (8), Lackford (6), Needham Market (3) and Livermere (2) 8th-llth May. The last birds of the autumn were at Landguard 30th Oct. and Aldeburgh 8th Nov. Arctic Tern: At Havergate 3 pairs reared one young. Most spring records were from the Minsmere area and the first on 12th April was the earliest ever for Suffolk. The first autumn arrivals were observed in the last week of July and up to mid-Sep. a total of c35 had been collated from Lowestoft, Benacre, Covehithe, Minsmere, Sizewell and Landguard. At the last site 8 25th Aug. was the biggest group reported. An immature that remained at Sizewell until 31st Oct. was the latest ever recorded in the county. Little Tern: An estimated 96 pairs reared 46 young on the Suffolk beaches. This total might not have been so good but for the very considerable tolerance of the general public who respected the fenced off areas at Minsmere and Landguard. On migration one was inland at Livermere 7th May, and 220 flew south off Landguard 12th July during a 5 hour seawatch. Black Tern: The main spring passage occured between 7th-llth May when at least 30 birds were located at one inland and 4 coastal sites. The peak movement was 8th May when there were 10 Livermere, 9 at Minsmere and 7 off Lowestoft. Singles were also present at Minsmere on the 8th and 19th June. In autumn up to 35 were reported from 5 sites which included 18 Minsmere 7th Aug. Guillemot: Counts of dead and/or oiled birds along the entire coastline were 50 7th Jan. and 60 in late Dec. The only notable record of live birds was 30 off Shingle Street 5th Jan. Razorbill: Thirteen were found dead between Dunwich and Aldeburgh 4th Mar. One or two live birds were reported off Sizewell and Benacre Jan./Feb. and again Oct./Dec. and 20 were seen with Guillemots off Shingle Street 5th Jan. Little Auk: One Benacre 15th Jan. (PC). Wood Pigeon: A flock of 1,300 was counted in a field of rape at Akenham in the middle of Dec. Collared Dove: It has become apparent that this species is suffering something of a decline in numbers, and it would be helpful to receive observers comments and observations in future on this trend. Turtle Dove: The first arrival of the year was at Landguard 12th April, but the main influx was from 28th of that month. The largest post breeding flock reported was 200 at West Row 2nd Aug. Obvious migrants were 29 at Landguard as late as 5th Oct. Cuckoo: One at Bentley 28th Mar. was the earliest ever for Suffolk (JDB). The main arrival was from mid-April and later reports suggested that breeding numbers were below average. Barn Owl: Reported from 58 parishes which is a slight increase on the previous year Little Owl: Based on the previous year's assessment there was a notable decrease in numbers. Records were received from 49 sites in all. A pair which nested at Minsmere were the first for 12 years, and one at Landguard in Oct./Nov. was the first recorded there since 1976. Long-eared Owl: Six pairs bred at 5 Breck sites rearing at least 7 young and additionally 3 pairs were found at 3 coastal locations. These figures are considered to be a gross underestimation of this species' true status in Suffolk. Migrants were noted at Landguard 16th Mar., 10th April and 6th Nov. No winter roosts were noted but one or two birds were seen in Jan. at each of three sites. 22


Short-eared Owl: In the period Jan. to early Mar. up to 20 were estimated, all were on the coast and included 5 at Shotlev 6th Feb. What were considered spring passage birds were noted at 11 sites up to 6th May. Autumn migrants were observed from 10th Sep. until mid-Nov. with at least 24 recorded all in coastal areas. These included 3 flying in from sea at Benacre 7th Nov. and one over the Whitton Estate, Ipswich 10th Nov. About 20 were wintering on coastal marshes by Dec. Nightjar: The BTO census of this species revealed much hitherto unknown data. First of all 89 churring males were located in the Breck, and 34 in the coastal belt. These figures are far beyond any recent estimate and show how the breeding population of a specialist and retiring species can be misrepresented without a thorough census. An interesting record was of a bird still sitting on eggs in early Sep. in the King's Forest. An obvious migrant was flushed at Landguard 7th Oct. Swift: There were fewer Sep. records than in recent years but at least 22 in Oct. In November singles were seen at Sizewell on the 1st (RVAM), and 11th (WEC).

Asiatic Fork-tailed

Swift

Asiatic Fork-tailed Swift: The first record for the British Isles and indeed for the Western Palearctic was one captured on a gas rig off Bacton, Norfolk and released unharmed at Ellough airfield, near Beccles 19th June. It was seen again with Swifts at nearby Shadingfield on 20th June (MP, CSW). This record may not be acceptable for Suffolk but will probably be published under the heading 'North Sea'. Kingfisher: Reports were received from 64 sites, a slight reduction on 1980. In the breeding season records were collected from 14 areas and these included 3 pairs which definitely bred. One visited a bird table at Redgrave during the hard weather in Dec. Observers are requested to report all sightings of this species particularly in the breeding season so that the population can be monitored after the severe weather of Dec. 1981. Hoopoe: In spring singles were seen at Oulton Broad 29th April — 1st May (RSB et al), and Benacre/Easton lst-2nd May (DRM et al). The latter bird was being mobbed by crows at Easton on the 2nd. In the autumn there were also two records, one at Metfield in the third week of Aug. (per PM), and following a period of easterly winds another was captured in a garage at Bramford on the late date of 12th Nov. This bird was subsequently ringed and released at Shotley next day (DRM, IP). What was assumed to be the same bird was noted in the Nacton area up to the 6th Dec. (See page 58) This represents the latest ever date for Suffolk (GG, MN, SHP). Wryneck: At least 6 were located on spring passage, the first at East Barton on the early date of 12th April. The others were 2 Landguard 8th May, and one there 9th-10th May, one Walberswick 8th-12th May, one killed by a car at Cowlinge 10th May and 23


one Corion 12th May. Up to 30 were reported in autumn, the first at Benacre 4th Aug. and the last at Landguard 6th Oct. Most of these occured in the first two weeks of Sep. when up to 5 were at Minsmere. Also in this total were singles at Cavenham 24th Aug., Lakenheath 1st Sep., Alton Water 3rd, 4th and 29th Sep., Shelley 5th-10th Sep., Badingham 13th Sep. and Bentley 21st-22nd Sep. Green Woodpecker: Reported from c90 sites including Havergate where it is described as an occasional visitor. Seven pairs bred at Minsmere and this species was noted in 3 Ipswich Parks. One flew over the Orwell Haven and alighted at Landguard 30th July. Great Spotted Woodpecker: Records were received from c75 sites, this indicated a slight increase in reports but the bulk of observations are from the Breck and the coast. Sightings from central and south Suffolk would be welcome in 1982. At Minsmere 12 pairs bred and the species was found in 4 Ipswich Parks. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Still the rarest resident woodpecker in Suffolk but records were received from c65 localities. Seven pairs were at Minsmere and 3-4 pairs at Glemsford, Holbrook, Ipswich and Shotley. Woodlark: In all 20 pairs were reported but as only 3 were from the Breck it is anticipated that this only represents a part of the total population. Birds were present from 31st Jan.-5th Nov., Where do they go in the middle of winter? Skylark: Several large flocks were counted during the severe Dec. weather the biggest being 1,500 Brantham 21st Dec. Shore Lark: One was at Southwold 19th Mar. and up to 7 at Minsmere in Jan. and 12 there in Feb. Four remained at the latter site until 25th April by which time they were assuming summer plumage with pink rumps and sides to the breast. The only autumn records were one Walberswick 31st Oct. and 2 there 6th Dec., one Minsmere 8th-l 1th Nov. and 18 Slaughden 14th Nov. Sand Martin: Two at Thorpeness 14th Mar. were the earliest ever for Suffolk. At Minsmere counts were: 35,000 July, 20,000 Aug., 4,000 Sep. and 130 Oct. In Nov. there were 4 Alton Water 1st and 3 Minsmere 13th. Swallow: Counts at coastal reedbed roosts revealed cl2,000 Minsmere 27th Aug., c8,000 Benacre 16th Sep. and c2,000 Walberswick as late as 4th Oct. Autumn migration was apparently more pronounced than for many years. At Landguard it was estimated that c65,000 moved south between late Aug. and the end of Oct. including cl0,000 23rd Sep. A few birds remained into Nov. and the last recorded were singles at Southwold 21st Nov., Minsmere 22nd-23rd Nov. and Sizewell 24th Nov. It seems possible that all these records refer to the same individual. House Martin: March records for this species are rare in Suffolk so singles at Halesworth 26th Mar. and Alton Water 29th Mar., and 3 at Trimley Lake 28th Mar. 24


were of particular interest. The largest concentration of nests reported was of 80 on a building at Glemsford. As with the previous species some impressive numbers were counted on autumn migration. At Landguard movement was noted from early Sep. and by the end of Oct. at least 23,000 had been counted including c4,000 13th Sep. On 15th Nov. 4 were still visiting nests at Dunwich, and 5 were seen at Walberswick. Other late Nov. records were one Southwold 21st, 3 Covehithe 22nd, 5 Lowestoft 21st, one there 28th and 2 on 29th. Tree Pipit: Up to 45 pairs were reported in the breeding season of which at least 25 were in the Breck where one observer considered that numbers were increasing. Few were noted on passage, the last coastal records being singles at Landguard 3rd Sep., Havergate 8th Sep. and Minsmere 16th Sep. Meadow Pipit: The largest groups located in spring were 400 Alton Water 15th Mar. and 100 Cavenham 18th Mar. Larger autumn movements included 550 at Landguard 16th Sep. and 750 at the same site 12th Oct. Rock Pipit: Late spring records were singles at Lowestoft 6th May and Minsmere 19th May. The first return migrant was noted at Landguard 16th Sep. and several records occured in early Oct. The largest total ever reported in Suffolk was 75 in the Slaughden/Orfordness area on 14th Nov. Other notable counts were 20 Boyton 26th Nov. and up to 5 away from the coast at Alton Water in Dec. Individuals showing the characteristics of the Scandinavian race were recorded at Alton Water 1st Mar. and Lowestoft 19th Oct. Water Pipit: At Minsmere 2 were regularly seen up to 12th April and up to 3 from 6th Nov. onwards. Elsewhere there were singles at Benacre lst-13th Feb., Alton Water 15th Feb., Ipswich 27th Feb., Alton Water 11th April, Trimley 26th Mar.-12th April and 2 Lowestoft 25th April. In autumn singles were at Walberswick 12th Nov. and Benacre 15th Nov. Yellow Wagtail: The first spring arrivals were noted at Landguard and Boyton on 29th Mar. Alton Water recorded the largest spring and autumn flocks with 36 12th April and 100 2nd Sep. Blue-headed Wagtail: Adult males showing the characteristics of the nominate race were reported from 7 coastal areas between 17th April and 20th May. These included 'several' Carlton marshes 29th April, 3 Minsmere 3rd May and 3 Falkenham marshes 20th April. There was no evidence of summering as in 1980. Grey-headed Wagtail: Adult males showing the characteristics of the race thunbergii were at Easton Broad 11th April (CRN), Lowestoft 10th May (BJB) and Minsmere 10th-13th May (RSPB). Grey Wagtail: Ten pairs were discovered in the breeding season of which 3 were in central Suffolk. Wintering occured mainly along the rivers Gipping, Lark and Stour and included 4 Sudbury 24th Dec. Passage birds were noted at Shingle Street 13th Aug., Minsmere 8th-13th Mar. and 2nd Sep. and Landguard 11th April and again 3rd Oct. Pied Wagtail: One at Glemsford 13th Jan.-4th Mar. was completely melanistic except for the outer tail feathers (BAP). A reedbed roost at Redgrave held up to 500 in late Sep. White Wagtail: One at Sudbury 23rd Mar. was the first spring record, followed by at least 25 observed on the coast during a noticeable influx 25th Mar.-7th April. These included up to 5 at Lowestoft 28th Mar., Landguard 30th Mar. and Minsmere 1st April. Waxwing: Singles at Methersgate 15th Nov. (JRM), Ipswich 22nd Nov. (AB) and again 22nd Dec. (CGDC) and Lowestoft 25th-27th Dec. (SOG). 25

m

J


Dipper: One showing the characteristics of one of the rufous bellied races was at Glemsford in the last week of Oct. (BAP). Wren: Evidence of some recovery after the disastrous winter of 1979 was of c250 pairs at Minsmere. This compares favourably with 69 pairs in 1979 and 130 pairs 1980. Dunnock: Only comparatively recently has this species been recognized as a passage migrant in any numbers. At Landguard southerly movement was recorded on 8 days in Oct. The max. day total was 21 10th Oct. with an additional 40 in the Fort/Reserve area. Robin: An aberrant individual was reported from Whepstead in Oct./Nov. This bird had dark grey upperparts and white underparts apart from a small patch of red on the flanks; as such it closely resembled a Red-flanked Bluetail. Robins showing similar plumage details are described in British Birds 72.231 & 73,107. Nightingale: Although there was no full census in 1981, it was another good year with at least 150 singing birds being located including 43 at Minsmere and 18 Wolves Wood. Passage birds were noted at Havergate 8th April, Felixstowe Ferry 29th April and at Landguard where up to 2 were seen on 7 dates between llth-30th Aug. Bluethroat: A male of the Scandinavian red-spotted form was at Landguard 12th-13th May (GJC et al). At this time many records were received of this species on the British east coast including clOO in the Shetland Isles. Black Redstart: The first spring arrival was noted 11th Mar. followed by impressive numbers at Landguard with 15 29th Mar., 19 30th Mar., 23 31st Mar., 17 1st April, 11 2nd April and 12 3rd April. The only inland record at this time was at Wattisham 7th April. In the breeding season 7 pairs were found at Lowestoft/Oulton Broad and 4 pairs Felixstowe. No nesting evidence was reported from Ipswich or Sizewell. Autumn passage extended from late Aug. until 8th Nov. and included 14 Landguard 10th Sep. From late Nov. there was an unexpected influx with records as follows: One Felixstowe Ferry 23rd Nov.-9th Dec. (2 present 25th Nov.), singles Covehithe 21st-22nd Nov., Slaughden 6th Dec., Great Blakenham 12th Dec., Weston 13th Dec., Ipswich 14th-24th Dec. and Foxhall 28th Dec. Redstart: Only 30 pairs were reported in summer from 6 coastal and 2 Breck sites. Autumn passage was extremely light with 12 Landguard 6th Sep. being the only significant record. Whinchat: At least 4 pairs bred successfully in the west of the county where 11 fledged juveniles were present 25th July. No other breeding records were received but a male did frequent Landguard 4th-l 1th July. Spring passage was light, the only record of note was 7 Landguard 10th May. Autumn birds began to appear from 7th Aug. but numbers were at their greatest late in that month and the early part of Sep. These included 22 Landguard 31st Aug., 17 Minsmere area 6th Sep., 20 Walberswick 7th Sep. and 20 Landguard 11th Sep. A belated bird was found at Sizewell 1st Nov. (RVAM) but an even more exceptional record was of one which was seen at Felixstowe Ferry 23rd Nov.-8th Dec. (SP et al). This latter bird was the latest ever in Suffolk. Stonechat: Seventeen breeding pairs were located all of them on the coastal belt between Easton Broad and Aldeburgh. The only Breck reports were of singles at Cavenham and Brandon in the first winter months. Wheatear: Reports of breeding pairs were less in 1981 with only 14 pairs from the Breck and 3 pairs in the coastal belt. At Stowmarket an 8' long, 8" diameter steel pipe, deliberately laid out as an artificial nest site was prospected by a pair for 2 weeks in May. In spring up to 20 were at Landguard 30th Mar.-2nd April and from the second week of May daily totals at this site were 40 9th, 70 10th and 60 on the 11th. Of the 70 on the 10th at least 20 were considered to be of the Greenland race. In autumn passage commenced on 5th Aug. and the max. totals reported were 41 26


Landguard 9th Sep., 33 Sizewell 11th Sep., 32 Landguard 31st Aug. and 20 Lowestoft 2nd Sep. Ring Ouzel: An exceptional spring passage; in the period 30th Mar.-22nd April 10 were discovered at 6 coastal sites, and one was inland at West Row 18th-23rd April. The main influx was 26th April-13th May during which time at least 34 were located on the coast and singles at Clopton, Great Blakenham, Grundisburgh and Stowmarket. Included in the coastal records were 7 Oulton Broad 30th April and up to 5 Lound 30th April-5th May. On the last date a male was heard singing at the latter site. In direct contrast only 5 were observed in autumn: Landguard 16th Sep. and 18th-20th Oct., 2 Covehithe 12th Oct. and Eastbridge 11th Oct. Fieldfare: The only first winter record of note was 250 Hasketon 8th Jan. Spring passage was widespread in May and included 120 Lound 1st, 100 Foxhall 3rd, 50 Spexhall 2nd and singles at Lakenheath 26th and Walberswick 30-31st. The first return migrant was at Landguard 31st Aug. and the main influx was noted from 12th Oct. During the severe Dec. weather nearly all the wintering population disappeared. Redwing: The last spring records were singles at Thorpeness 2nd May and Eastbridge 10th May. In autumn the first reported was at Landguard 14th Sep. and as with the previous species the main arrivals were from 12th Oct. Cetti's Warbler: At last this species seems to be spreading in Suffolk and increasing its numbers. Fourteen singing birds were recorded from 8 sites, including 5 at Walberswick. The only definite evidence of breeding was of 2 pairs at the latter site. The very small population in the Waveney valley is obviously spreading and one was located as far west as Redgrave. Grasshopper Warbler: Up to 30 singing birds were reported in the coastal area including 9 Minsmere and 6 Walberswick. This species is probably under-recorded inland, reelers were reported from Ickworth, Lakenheath (5) and Redgrave where it was considered to be common on all the fens in the area. Savi's Warbler: First noted at Minsmere on the early date of 15th April; 2 pairs were present at this site until 25th Aug. At Walberswick where one pair bred the first reeling was heard 22nd April. Sedge Warbler: Spring migrants were noted in Mar. at Ramsholt 27th and Minsmere 29th. The Ramsholt bird was the earliest recorded in Suffolk since 1890. At Minsmere it was estimated that 60 pairs bred and at Glemsford a count was made of 20 pairs. Reed Warbler: Fifty pairs were located at Minsmere where there were 80 pairs in 1980. Icterine Warbler: Recorded only at Landguard where up to 4 occured between midAug. and mid-Sep. on the following dates: 13th-18th Aug., 23rd-24th Aug., 5th-9th Sep. and 15th Sep. (Many obs.). Barred Warbler: A juvenile trapped at Landguard 30th Aug. remained until 7th Sep., and a second was found there 1 lth-12th Sep. (Many obs.). Singles were also recorded at Walberswick 1st Sep. (CSW) and Minsmere 3rd-7th Sep. (RSPB). Lesser Whitethroat: This species is considerably under-recorded and all breeding season records would be welcome in future. Only 5 pairs were found at Minsmere where there were 15 pairs in 1980. Whitethroat: The largest number seen on spring passage was 20 at Landguard 12th May. Very few observers commented on the breeding population but 10 pairs were counted in 10 hectares at Clopton, and only 4 pairs were reported from Minsmere. A very late autumn migrant was at Benacre 15th Nov. (GB). Garden Warbler: The highest breeding concentration reported was at Wolves Wood where 21 pairs were present. Passage totals at Landguard were 10 12th May and 8 2nd Sep. 27


Blackcap: Wolves Wood also produced the highest breeding count for this species with 24 pairs being located. In the first winter period singles were reported from Ipswich and Woodbridge in Feb. Most autumn migrants had passed through by the end of Oct. but 3 were regularly at Landguard until mid-Nov. the last being a female there on the 21st. Also in Nov. a male was trapped and ringed at Newbourn 7th and a female was at Lowestoft 16th. In Dec. single birds were at Hadleigh a female 5th, Ipswich a male 6th, Wickham Market a male 13th, Beccles 23rd and finally a male at Felixstowe on the 29th. Greenish Warbler: One seen and heard singing at Minsmere 1st Sep. is the first record of this species in Suffolk. (CB, FKC, MT).

MM P/Itjtce Pallas's

Warbler

Pallas's Warbler: Suffolk's previous records of this diminutive Siberian warbler was doubled within five weeks in late autumn. The first on the early date of 15th-16th Oct. was in the same bushes at Landguard as one in 1977 (PM et al). Another was discovered at Benacre on the 15th Nov. (JCE, PMi, DAR et al). Where it was joined by a second on the 18th (FKC, GJJ, NW), both birds remaining until the 19th Nov. Yellow-Browed Warbler: One in Kensington Gardens, Lowestoft 20th-23rd Oct. is the fifth record for Suffolk and the first since 1968 (BJB, ACE). Bonelli's Warbler: One at Landguard 13th Sept. is the third county record and the first in autumn (WAL, MTW et al). Wood Warbler: An excellent year with a brood of 6 young being reared at Benacre, and pairs apparently bred at Minsmere (2) and Sutton Heath. Another pair built a nest but failed at Nacton. Elsewhere singing males were reported in spring at Halesworth, Walberswick, West Stow and Wolves Wood. One at Landguard 12th-14th May was the first passage record for the site in spring, and autumn records there were on 4th-5th Aug. and again 21st-26th Aug. The only other autumn bird reported was at Ipswich 4th Aug. Chiffchaff: Singles all originally located in Dec. 1980 remained at Melton, Minsmere and Southwold until at least mid-Feb. However on 13th Jan. up to 3 were present at Minsmere. Elsewhere singles were at Leiston 13th Jan., Holywells Park, Ipswich 1 lth-13th Feb. and Holbrook Bay from early Jan.-late Feb. In the second winter period 3 were seen accompanying a tit flock at Thorpeness 5th Dec. and one was at Purdis Heath 21st Nov.-13th Dec. The only breeding season numbers reported were 20 pairs at Minsmere. Willow Warbler: Breeding estimates were 150 pairs at Minsmere and 25 pairs at Glemsford. 28


Goldcrest: Ten pairs bred at Minsmere which was the only such count received. Counts or estimates of the breeding population in 1982 would be welcome especially after the arctic-type weather of the 1981/82 winter. In late Oct./early Nov. counts were submitted of c60 at Thorpeness and 45 Purdis Heath. Firecrest: A total of 4 sineine males were present at 3 sites during the breeding season (c.f. 'Suffolk Birds 1980'). In the early part of the year singles were at Alton Water 22nd Feb. and Little Blakenham 26th Feb. and up to 2 were at each of 3 coastal sites. There was a well-marked spring passage between 19th Mar.-6th May. At Landguard it was estimated that as many as 25 passed through during that period and also a late bird on 30th May. Peak counts were 8 26th Mar., 6 29th Mar. and 4 5th April. Elsewhere up to 11 were reported from 8 sites including singles at Holbrook 29th Mar. and 11th April, Ipswich 30th Mar. and 28th April, and Wolves Wood 13th-20th April. Autumn migration was very poor and the worst since 1978. One was at Landguard 2nd Sep. and 2 there 16th-23rd Oct. The only other records were of a single at Rendlesham 6th Sep. and up to 6 Walberswick 31st Oct.-2nd Nov. Singles noted at Bawdsey 21st Nov. and Minsmere 25th Nov. were presumably intending to winter there. Pied Flycatcher: There was a very good spring passage with 13 being located as follows: Walberswick 18th April, Landguard 26th April, Southwold 26th-27th April, Landguard 7th May increasing to 3 on the 9th and one there until 17th May, 3 Alderton 10th May, Walberswick 12th May, Minsmere 12th-16th May, Havergate 13th May and Lowestoft 13th-14th May. Of great interest was one singing in a wood for 3 weeks in early summer especially as a small colony has become established recently in Norfolk. At least 65 were recorded in autumn between 5th Aug. and 7th Oct. The main influx occured in the second week of Sep. when there were up to 10 at Landguard, 6 Eastbridge and 5 Christchurch Park, Ipswich. Inland singles were at West Row 6th-10th Sep. and Glemsford 14th Sep.

Pied Flycatcher Bearded Tit: The only breeding report was of 60 pairs at Minsmere. There were several groups of up to 5 at small reedbeds in the coastal region outside the breeding season. More worthy of specific mention were up to 11 Alton Water Jan./Feb., 3 Shingle Street 29th July and 6 in a weed field at Walberswick 15th Nov. Inland there were 15 at Redgrave Fen from 30th Oct. until just before the freezing conditions in early Dec. Marsh Tit: At least 15 pairs bred at Minsmere.


Willow Tit: Reported as being plentiful in the Brandon area. Also noted at Carlton marshes, Covehithe, Culford, Glemsford, Great Waldingfield, Groton, Minsmere, Redgrave, Sudbury, West Stow and Weybread. Blue Tit: Southerly movements were noted at Landguard on 10 days in Oct., the max. count being 26 on the 5th. Nuthatch: Reported from 40 parishes in all. In Ipswich pairs were to be found in Christchurch (2), Holywells (2) and Chantry parks. Golden Oriole: At the main site 12-14 pairs held territory and probably nested. In late July/early Aug. 3-4 family parties totalling 13 juveniles were located. On a cautionary note, it is disturbing to report that there was considerable trampling of undergrowth in 2-3 of the occupied territories. We therefore appeal most strongly to all people who know and visit this site to keep to the main tracks and paths in this area. The only reports of passage birds were of singles at Westleton 10th May (SJB) and Dunwich 4th June (per SHP). Red-Backed Shrike: Sadly the decline of this species has not halted. Eighteen pairs were located but breeding was only proved at one site. An early migrant was at Minsmere 25th July-2nd Aug., and others at Bury BFponds 10th Sep., Walberswick 15th-20th Sep., Holbrook 27th Sep., Minsmere again lst-4th Oct., Boyton 14th Oct. and Landguard 8th-9th Oct. and 24th Oct. A continued tendency to later dates. Great Grey Shrike: During Jan./Mar. records were received of singles at 5 inland and 8 coastal sites. Included amongst the inland sites was Groton Wood. One at Covehithe 10th Jan. was seen carrying a Robin in its feet. All had gone after 22nd Mar. The first autumn arrival was at Walberswick 24th Oct. Subsequently 3-4 were located elsewhere but only one was in the Breck. Jay: Evidence of coastal movement or perhaps immigration was one Landguard 25th Oct. (the first for that area), and one found dead on the tideline at Minsmere on the same day. Magpie: The largest reported group was 21 at Felixstowe Ferry 23rd Nov. Observers report that this species has increased significantly in the Walberswick/Westleton area. Hooded Crow: In the first part of the year singles were at Minsmere 18th Mar., Havergate 12th April and 6th May, and finally at Landguard 15th May. In the late autumn 10 were reported from 9 coastal sites. The first autumn arrival was at Covehithe 18th Oct. Carrion Crow: The regular pre-roost gathering at Wherstead Strand numbered 160 on 18th Jan. Starling: By late Nov. it was estimated that up to 200,000 including an almost pure white individual were roosting in the reedbeds at Walberswick. Tree Sparrow: In the winter months there were cl,000 Aldeburgh in Jan./Feb. and 500 Walberswick 22nd Dec. Southerly coastal migration was noted at a peak in Oct. and included 1,100 passing over Landguard on the 12th. Chaffinch: A winter flock of 500 was reported from Aldeburgh in Jan./Feb. Brambling: In the first winter period there were 150 North Stow 4th Jan., 140 Ipswich Jan./Feb., 80 Coddenham 22nd Jan. and 75 Sudbourne 4th Mar. Late spring migrants were noted in May up to the 5th and included 15 at Lound on the 4th. Autumn migrants were quite scarce and the only sizeable flocks in the latter part of the year were 60 Walberswick, 30 Lowestoft and 25 Hollesley all 23rd-26th Dec. Greenfinch: Autumn passage was well documented at Landguard. Between 27th Sep. and 26th Nov. but mainly in Oct. at least 10,500 were counted flying south. This passage reached its peak on 10th Oct. when 3,500 were recorded. 30


rtuHL frnuojL. Goldfinch Goldfinch: This was the most abundant species of this genus involved in autumn coastal movements recorded at Landguard. During late Sep.-late Oct. 21,100 were recorded of which 7,500 occured 10th Oct. Siskin: The most significant record received in the first winter period was of at least 1,000 in the Brandon area in Jan./Feb. Smaller flocks observed were 50 Pinmill 12th Feb. and 80 Dunwich 4th April. Very little information was received of possible breeding pairs. Observers are requested to report all mid-summer records. At least 3 pairs were present in the Breck in summer, and this species was said to have bred in the Rendlesham area. The first return migrants were at Landguard 16th Sep. and by Nov./Dec. groups of at least 25 were noted at 11 sites. These included 100 Minsmere, 60 Thorpeness 31st Dec. and 60 Purdis Heath 21st Nov. Linnet: A spring passage flock of 500 was counted at Felixstowe Ferry Golf Course 27th April. The largest autumn movement reported was 1,150 flying south at Landguard 5th Oct. and by 22nd Dec. 1,000 had assembled at Walberswick. Twite: The largest flock reported in the first winter period was c60 at Walberswick 10th Jan. and this reflected much lower numbers than usual. A significant autumn passage was recorded from 6th Oct. and included cl20 Minsmere 12th Oct. and clOO at Landguard on the same day. Inland one was discovered at Glemsford on 27th Oct. (BAP). In Nov./Dec. the wintering population consisted of at least 300 at 8 coastal sites. Redpoll: Several groups were reported in both winters, the largest was 50 on the Orwell Bridge site at Wherstead 4th Jan. Whilst still being widespread throughout the county in summer, there were some reports of declining numbers. Accordingly 1982 breeding season records and comments would be especially welcome. The only significant autumn counts were at Landguard where out of an Oct. total of 500 at least 250 flew south on the 12th. Mealy Redpoll: Single birds showing characteristics of the nominate race were noted at Woodbridge 28th Jan., Alton Water 1st Feb., Sutton 22nd Feb. and Brandon 17th April. Crossbill: Records were received from one central, 10 Breck and 12 coastal sites. Breeding probably occured at most of these although it is still impossible to gauge the true population. Away from known nesting areas singles were at Alton Water 29th Mar., Creeting St. Mary 14th Aug. and flying south Landguard 2nd Oct. Bullfinch: The largest flock reported was 30 Alton Water 28th Dec.


Hawfinch: Recorded from 12 coastal, 4 central and 2 Breck localities. Most notable was the discovery of 20 pairs nesting at a coastal site; breeding also occured at Benacre, Bentley, Henham and Wolves Wood. The only wintering flock found was 16 Staverton in Jan. Lapland Bunting: A poor year with singles only at Minsmere 28th Oct. and 13th Dec. Snow Bunting: In the first winter period reported up to 30th Mar. at 7 coastal localities. The largest groups were 40 Covehithe 29th Jan., 34 Lowestoft 7th Feb. and 16 Bawdsey in Feb. The colder weather at the end of the year produced records from 13 sites. These included 30 Easton Broad 15th Nov., 30 Felixstowe Ferry 20th-27th Nov. and 50 Covehithe 12th Dec. Also of interest were 2 Alton Water 7th Dec. Yellowhammer: The largest gathering in the early months was 130 Capei St. Mary 1st Jan. During the severe weather in Dec. there were 160 Alton Water 12th, 150 Sudbourne 20th and 80 Lowestoft 23rd. Ortolan Bunting: An adult male at Landguard 10th-12th May was the fourth for Suffolk in spring (GJC et al). Reed Bunting: At Minsmere 30 pairs were judged to have bred, whereas 8 pairs were reported from Glemsford. One hundred were feeding in a mixed finch flock at Aldeburgh in Jan./Feb., and at least 70 flew south at Landguard during Oct. with 29 6th being the max. Corn Bunting: The main stations for this species are the Shotley Peninsula and Ipswich/Felixstowe area where breeding was confirmed. Nesting was reported from Alton Water, Bentley, Levington, Martlesham, Shotley, Tattingstone, Walton, Wherstead, Aldham, Livermere, Bures, Acton, Assington, Great Waldingfield, Lound, Carlton Colville and Sutton. The largest winter flock found was 40 Felixstowe Ferry in Jan., and one visited a bird table at Stonham Parva in Dec. The following species not mentioned in the Systematic List were also recorded in 1980 (breeding species in italics); Pheasant, Great Black-backed Gull, Stock Dove, Tawny Owl, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Treecreeper, Jackdaw, Rook, and House Sparrow.

APPENDIX I — CATEGORY D SPECIES Wood Duck: Males were seen at Flatford 24th May, Ixworth 27th May and in the Glemsford/Sudbury area from 7th Nov. until the end of the year. Ring-necked Parakeet: The only reports were of singles at Minsmere 8th Feb. and 13th July. Red-headed Bunting: Male at Sutton Hoo 25th May (JJ). Lark Sparrow: An example of this North American species previously unrecorded in the Western Palearctic was at Landguard between 30th June and 7th July. The B.O.U. Records Committee whilst accepting the identification felt unable to afford this species Category A status (LC, TDC et aI) APPENDIX II — ADDITION TO THE 1972 REPORT Purple Heron: An immature at Minsmere 2nd Aug. (RAB). APPENDIX ID — ADDITION TO THE 1976 REPORT. Red-breasted Flycatcher: One trapped and ringed at Hollesley 10th Oct. (PC). 32


PLATE 1 — Hoopoe — this bird is pictured in the Bramford garage in which it was found. photo Paul Nixon, East Anglian

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APPENDIX IV — ADDITION TO THE 1979 REPORT Brambling: cl50 at Snape Makings 25th Dec. APPENDIX V — ADDITIONS/CORRECTIONS TO THE 1980 REPORT Black-throated Diver: One Benacre 24th Mar. (MB). Cory's Shearwater: For 19th July read 29th July. Grey Heron: For Easton read Euston. Purple Heron: One Little Cornard 2nd-6th Sep. (IG, J FT). Scaup: The 2 noted off Benacre 27th July were males not females as previously stated. Mediterranean Gull: The adult at Denes High School, Lowestoft was present between 9th and 14th Mar. and not May as stated. Gull-billed Tern: One Walberswick 5th May (MM, PM, SHP). Roller: This bird was not seen on 1st Oct. as previously stated. Woodchat: The bird at Little Heath was present 8th-16th June. Cockatiel: One Lakenheath 28th May. APPENDIX VI — ESCAPED ZOOLOGICAL SPECIMENS Sacred Ibis: The long staying individual was again present in the Minsmere/Aldeburgh area throughout the year. Flamingo: Examples of the Chilean race noted as follows: Minsmere — lst-4th Jan. and 13th-21st July. Havergate — 18th-24th Aug. Livermere — 23rd-25th Sep. Easton Bavents — One flew north 13th Sep. Blythburgh 2 26th April and 29th May-3rd June. Cackling Goose: One Minsmere 27th Feb. Bar-headed Goose: Noted as follows: singles at Stratford St. Andrew 12th Mar., Benacre 10th Aug., Brantham 30th Aug., Homersfield Sep. and Oct.and Minsmere 27th Aug. until the end of the year. Australian Shelduck: One Benacre 27th Sep. (MM, SHP). Australian Wood Duck or Maned Goose: One at Ixworth 27th May (SHP). Chiloe Wigeon: Male at Alton Water/Holbrook Mill throughout the year. This bird has been present since 1978. Falcated Teal: Male at Ixworth 27th May (SHP). Andean Sharp-winged Teal: One Livermere 25th Sep. (PM). Sarus Crane: One Benacre 12th June. (CRN). African Grey Parrot: One Landseer Park, Ipswich 31st Aug. 33


Cockatiel: Single at Minsmere 2nd Sep. White-throated Laughing Thrash: One Lowestoft 31st May until the middle of Aug. (BJB et at). Canary: One Landguard 3rd May. Budgerigar: Singles at Lowestoft 29th April and Landguard 5th Sep. Yellow-crowned Bishop: One Minsmere 4th Sep. Napoleon's Weaver: One at Bawdsey 9th Sep. (B&SS-D). Zebra Finch: Female at a site in Lowestoft 5th July where a male was seen in 1977.

EARLIEST AND LATEST DATES OF SUMMER MIGRANTS. SPECIES Garganey Stone Curlew Little Ringed Plover Curlew Sandpiper •Whimbrel *Greenshank W o o d Sandpiper C o m m o n Sandpiper Sandwich Tern C o m m o n Tern Little Tern Black Tern Turtle Dove fCuckoo Nightjar Swift •fSand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit Yellow Wagtail Nightingale Black Redstart Redstart Whinchat Wheatear Ring Ouzel Grasshopper Warbler Savi's Warbler = Sedge Warbler Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat G a r d e n Warbler Blackcap W o o d Warbler Chiffchaff Willow Warbler Spotted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Red-backed Shrike * f x =

34

ARRIVALS Locality Minsmere Breck Needham Mkt. Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Sudbury Minsmere Minsmere Landgaurd Minsmere Landguard Bentley Minsmere Alton Water Thorpeness Trimley Halesworth Brandon Landguard/Boyton Havergate Landguard Shingle Street Felixstowe Felixstowe/Shingle Street Landguard Minsmere Minsmere Ramsholt Minsmere Walberswick Holbrook Minsmere Middleton/Sproughton West Stow Ipswich Sudbury/Aldham/ Minsmere 8th May M i n s m e r e / L a n d g u a r d 18th April Walberswick 5th May " C o a s t "

Date 15th Mar. 6th April 6th April 8th May 11th April 19th April 7th May 12th April 14th Mar. 28th Mar. 12th April 7th May 12th April 28th Mar. 15th May 2nd May 14th Mar. 5th April 26th Mar. 9th April 29th Mar. 8th April 11th Mar. 9th April 18th April 15th Mar. 30th Mar. 12th April 15th April 27th M a r . 10th April 18th April 12th April 10th April 29th M a r . 27th April 10th Mar. 28th Mar.

See Systematic List for details of overwintering birds, Earliest ever recorded in Suffolk, Latest ever recorded in S u f f o l k . Equals earliest ever recorded in Suffolk.

Date 29th Sep. 25th Sep. 24th Sep. 3rd Oct. 24th Sep. 10th Nov. 23rd Sep. 12th Nov. 12th Oct. 8th Nov. 4th Oct. 9th Oct. 27th Oct. 17th Sep. 7th Oct. 11th Nov. 13th Nov. 24th Nov. 29th Nov. 16th Sep. 5th Oct. 30th Aug.

DEPARTURES Locality Alton Water Breck Minsmere Levington Minsmere/Havergate Minsmere Minsmere Alton Water Landguard Aldeburgh Landguard Minsmere Landguard Minsmere Landguard Sizewell Minsmere Sizewell Lowestoft Minsmere Landguard Landguard

8th Oct. 8th Dec. 12th Nov. 20th Oct. 5th Sep. 25th Aug. 25th Oct. 26th Oct. 1st Oct. 15th Nov. 7th Oct. 21st Nov. 26th Aug. 8th Nov. 15th Oct.

Landguard Felixstowe x Corton Landguard Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Walberswick Minsmere Benacre Landguard Landguard Landguard Easton Bavents Landguard

11th Oct. 7th Oct. 24th Oct.

Landguard Minsmere Landguard


Early & Late dates for Summer & Passage Migrants in Suffolk 1950-1980 by P . W . M u r p h y . Several publications, notably the 1950-80 Suffolk Bird Reports and the 1973-1980 Suffolk Ornithologists' Group Bulletins contain a wealth of information relating to the first and last recorded dates for the various summer and passage migrants that visit our county. For each species the relevant data has been collated thus enabling the average and extreme dates that form the basis of this article to be derived. The information given for each species is a table of the average first and last recorded dates for each of the last three decades together with the overall average and extreme dates for the same period. This is followed by any overwintering and exceptional pre-1950 dates, and comments. In view of the large amount of literature that was searched, it is too much to hope that this report is without imperfections. I would be pleased to hear of any published records that have been overlooked, and also of any that have not appeared in print. The order of species used is the "British Birds" list of the Birds of the Western Palearctic. GARGANEY 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Mar. 26th Mar. 22nd Mar. 25th Mar. 24th Sep. Ist Sep. lOth Sep. 20th Sep lOth Earliest: February 28th 1973, Walberswick. Latest: October 6th 1980, Nacton. Despite the dramatic rĂŠduction in the British breeding population of this species, its initial arrivai has remained remarkably consistent, with the overall and three decade averages ali being in the last week of March. With increasing coverage of sites such as Alton Water it is considered that the trend towards later autumn dates will be maintained. October Garganey were also recorded in 1959, 77 and 79. 35


MONTAGU'S HARRIER. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 2nd May 3rd May lOth May 6th Sep. 20th Sep. 2nd Sep. 4th Sep. lOth Earliest April 15th 1951, Walberswick. Latest: November 4th, 1956, Redgrave. Although the Redgrave bird was Suffolk's latest by almost four weeks, it still does not qualify for inclusion among Britain's fifteen latest dates. The earliest and latest birds were both adult males. OSPREY. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 4th May 2nd April 23rd April 29th Sep. 28th Sep. 25th Sep. 20th Sep 24th Earliest: March 30th 1970, Minsmere. Latest: October 30th 1976, Mildenhall. Ticehurst traced 2 later dates: November 14th 1888 and November 30th 1874. Departure dates vary greatly from year to year but have on average been getting earlier. However, if events similar to those of autumn 1981 recur in subsequent years, then this average trend will be quickly reversed. The only other March record occured in 1978 (3Ist, Melton). HOBBY. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 8th May 2Ist May 5th May 1 Ith Sep. 6th Sep. 1 Ith Sep. 29th Sep. 17th Earliest: April 1 Ith 1954, Reydon. Latest: November 1 Ith 1978, Newbourn. This falcon has recently established itself as an East Anglian breeding species and this might help to explain the earlier spring and later autumn dates in the 1970's. April sightings were recorded in eight of the years 1950-80, but there has been only one other November record (2nd 1974, Minsmere). STONE CURLEW. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Mar. 20th Mar. 15th Mar. 22nd Mar. 19th Oct. 27th Oct. 12th Oct. 2Ist Oct. 20th Earliest: February 1 Ith 1972, Levington. Latest: November 16th 1972, Brandeston. February Stone Curlews were also recorded in 1960 (20th), 1961 (28th), and 1967 (24th). The early years of this Century produced three apparent overwintering individuals; December 1900/January 1901, Euston; January 23rd 1904, Sizewell; and December 29th 1904, Walsham-le-Willows. Since 1950 there have been four more winter records: December 3Ist 1953 Tuddenham (Breck); December 1960 Elveden; December 1966 Westleton; and December 18th 1968, Orford. There must still be isolated areas in Breckland where a Stone Curlew could overwinter unobserved. LITTLE RINGED PLOVER 1950-59 1960-69 April 26th April 14th Aug. 24th Sep. 9th 36

1970-80 April Ist Oct. 4th

1950-80 April lOth Sep. 14th


Earliest: March 26th 1977. Latest: October 16th 1977. This species has nested in Suffolk regularly only since 1972; since then this wader has arrived earlier (usually on the breeding sites) and departed later. KENTISH PLOVER 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 April 30th April 29th April 25th April 28th Aug. 23rd Sep. 13th Sep. 3rd Sep 3rd Earliest: March 29th 1974, Minsmere. Latest: October 1st 1960, Havergate. Ticehurst's latest date was November 27th (no year or locality traced). The same author published overwintering dates of January 1834 and February 1836, both of which he doubted; if these records were incorrect, then Suffolk's only overwintering bird was observed at Lowestoft on January 22nd 1979 at the height of the coldest winter since 1962/63. DOTTEREL 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 12th May 24th May 14th May 15th Sep. 11th Sep. 6th Sep. 20th Sep. 12th Earliest: May 5th 1957, Lakenheath. Latest: October 10th 1972, Minsmere. Ticehurst gave several April dates, the earliest of which was April 21st 1835 in the Brecks; his latest date was October 12th 1923 at Southwold. TEMMINCK'S STINT 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 23rd May 21st May 13th May 18th Oct. 6th Sep. 16th Sep. 1st Sep. 16th Earliest: May 4th 1970, Minsmere. Latest: October 26th 1958, Havergate. One at Minsmere on February 12th-14th 1971 is thought to have overwintered, an event not without precedent in the British Isles. Ticehurst's first and last dates were May 2nd and November 23rd. There has been a marked change in the status of this tiny wader since the 1950s; birds are now far more regular on spring passage and also earlier, whilst in autumn they are rather scarce after the second week of September. When will there be an April record? WHIMBREL 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 April 7th April 15th April 12th April 11th Oct. 1st Oct. 5th Oct. 17th Oct. 8th Earliest: March 2nd 1958, Orford. Latest: November 18th 1972, Leiston. Records from Havergate December 1st 1962, Minsmere February 12th 1979, and Brantham December 9th 1980 probably refer to overwintering birds. The only other March record was in 1980 (24th Minsmere) and November birds were noted in 1962, 74 and 80. 37


WOOD SANDPIPER 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 13th April 29th May 9th May 8th Sep. 23rd Sep. 21st Sep. 24th Sep. 23rd Earliest: April 15th 1968, Minsmere. Latest: November 9th 1975. Despite the April 29th average arrival date in the 1960's records of this wader in April since that decade have been rare, and this species remains very much a May bird in Suffolk. October records were noted in five of the years 1950-80. RED-NECKED PHALAROPE 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 29th May 21st May 20th May 22nd Sep. 26th Sep. 25th Sep. 1st Sep. 16th Earliest: March 28th 1977, Havergate. Latest: December 4th, 1966, Aldeburgh. A comparison between the average and extreme dates clearly illustrates how remarkably early and late are the latter figures; Britains's earliest ever up to the end of 1972 was April 12th. Similarly, up to the end of the same year there were only nine records of this species in December which included not only the Aldeburgh bird but also one at Acton in early December 1881. SANDWICH TERN. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 April 7th Mar. 21st Mar. 23rd Mar. 28th Oct. 5th Oct. 15th Oct. 14th Oct. 11th Earliest: March 6th 1969, Minsmere. Latest: November 3rd 1968, Minsmere. With recent December records in both Norfolk and Essex, and with this species being regularly reported from as far north as Scotland in mid winter, it must surely be only a matter of time before the latest date is exceeded. ROSEATE TERN. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 18th May 19th May 21st May 19th Aug. 13th Sep. 3rd Sep. 4th Sep. 1st Earliest: April 14th 1960, Havergate. Latest: September 25th 1965, Havergate. The 1960 individual and singles on April 21st 1958 and April 22nd 1975 are early even by national standards, in fact the 1960 record was the earliest for England when reported. COMMON TERN. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 April 22nd April 9th April 9th April 12th Oct. 26th Oct. 24th Oct. 21st Oct. 23rd Earliest: March 26th 1980, Sizewell. Latest: November 16th 1977, Lowestoft. Overwintering records refer to a well observed bird that spent the mild winter of 1974/75 in the Sizewell/Minsmere area, and one found dead at Thetford Warren in January 1906. Including the 1977 record, there were November birds in eight of the 38


years 1950-80, but the only other March records were in 1965 (28th Shotley) and 1975 (27th Minsmere). ARCTIC TERN. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 5th May 29th April 29th May 9th Sep. 2nd Oct. 8th Oct. 4th Sep. 26th Earliest: April 15th 1951, Havergate. Latest: October 21st 1961, Lowestoft. With a larger number of competent observers we can expect April and October records of this species more regularly. Because of their more extreme range Arctic Terns tend to arrive later and leave earlier than Common Terns. 'COMMIC TERNS'. Unidentified terns of probably the last two species were seen on November 15th 1969, Boyton and December 13th 1964, Minsmere (two offshore with gulls). LITTLE TERN. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 April 18th April 17th April 20th April 19th Sep. 23rd Sep. 25th Oct. 6th Sep. 29th Earliest: April 11th 1955, Havergate. Latest: November 18th 1973, Lowestoft. The trend towards regular October (or even November) recofds began in 1973. November 16th is the latest date quoted in B.T.O. Guide 15 so the Lowestoft bird could be Britain's latest ever. The only other Suffolk November record was in 1967 (3rd Oulton Broad). BLACK TERN. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 5th April 23rd May 1st April 30th Sep. 14th Oct. 5th Oct. 6th Sep. 28th Earliest: April 7th 1967. Latest: November 6th 1962, Havergate. The presence of the offshore rigs at Sizewell and the creation of Alton Water will probably ensure that the trend towards later autumn records is maintained. The April 7th record was well within Britain's fifteen earliest ever, but the Havergate bird was almost a week short for inclusion amongst the fifteen latest. TURTLE DOVE 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 April 20th April 23rd April 18th April 20th Sep. 30th Oct. 17th Oct. 15th Oct. 11th Earliest: April 2nd 1955, Flatford. Latest: November 25th 1968, Southwold. Ticehurst's latest date was November 28th 1873 at Leiston. In recent years this species has increasingly overwintered in Britain, several of these birds associating with nonmigratory Collard Doves. Such birds in Suffolk are: January 1st 1975 Benacre, January 25th to early April 1975 Ipswich, January 13th-22nd 1977 Ipswich, January 18th 1977 Brantham, and February 3rd 1978 Brantham. Despite the ever increasing band of observers on the Suffolk coast in late autumn, there has not been a November record since 1968; other sightings in that month occured in 1958, 64 and 67. 39


CUCKOO. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 April 13th April 10th April 10th Sep. 22nd Sep. 13th Sep. 23rd Earliest: March 31st 1966, Minsmere. Latest: October 15th 1979 Sizewell. October records were reported in seven of the thirty one years of them in the last decade.

1950-80 April 11th Sep. 19th

under review, four

NIGHTJAR. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 9th May 8th May 8th May 8th Oct. 6th Sep. 16th Sep. 11th Sep. 21st Earliest: April 29th 1971, Foxhall. Latest: November 1st 1957, Worlingham. Two exceptionally early birds were seen at Blaxhall during the last century â&#x20AC;&#x201D; April 16th 1865 and April 8th 1876. In the 1950's besides the Worlingham sighting there were late birds in 1950 (October 1st), 1952 (October 1st) and 1956 (October 30th). April 30th 1977 (Minsmere) is the only other April record during 1950-80. SWIFT. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 April 28th April 24th April 27th April 26th Oct. 6th Oct. 15th Oct. 21st Oct. 14th Earliest: April 16th 1971, Minsmere. Latest: December 9th 1974, Ipswich. One of Briain's few March records refers to a single on the 26th in 1897 over Lowestoft. The 1974 Ipswich bird remained in the Holywells Park area almost continuously from the last week of October until December 9th; it could not be found after snow showers on the latter date. Including this bird November Swifts were recorded in five of the years 1950-80. HOOPOE. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 April 21st April 28th April 10th April 18th Sep. 10th Oct. 6th Oct. 5th Sep. 28th Earliest: March 19th 1972, Tuddenham (East). Latest: November 18th 1974, Thorpeness. April 18th and September 28th are the averages of twenty three and fourteen dates respectively. This species is an early spring visitor to our shores (March records are not unusual), and there are also several mid-winter records including one at Thetford Warren in early December 1846. November Hoopoes were also recorded in 1964 and 80, and March birds in 1968, 70 and 73. WRYNECK. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 April 18th April 21st May 1st Sep. 8th Sep. 22nd Sep. 26th Earliest: April 2nd 1953, Ipswich. Latest: October 25th 1976, Thorpeness. When a Suffolk breeding bird this species was one of the earliest 40

1950-80 April 24th Sep 20th

spring arrivals. The


earliest recorded in Suffolk was at Great Bealings on March 5th 1868. Currently most Wrynecks seen in the county are most likely of the Scandinavian breeding population thus reflecting the later spring dates. This and more observer coverage undoubtably contribute towards the later autumn dates. SAND MARTIN. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Mar. 30th Mar. 30th Mar 29th Mar. 30th Oct. 24th Oct. 19th Oct. 29th Oct. 24th Earliest: March 15th 1977, Minsmere and 1978 Alton Water. Latest: December 9th 1951, Pakefield. Unlike the Swallow and House Martin this species is unusual in November, having been noted in that month in only seven of the thirty-one years under review. At the time of publication of B.T.O. Guide 15, the Pakefield bird constituted Britain's third latest date (excluding the few January records). SWALLOW. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Aprii lst Aprii 4th Aprii 4th Aprii 3rd Nov. 26th Nov. 24th Nov. 27th Nov 26th Earliest: March 25th 1955, Havergate and 1977 Minsmere. Latest: December 16th 1956, Nacton. When the dramatic increase in the number of observers is taken into considĂŠration, it is remarkable that Ticehurst's earliest and latest dates of March 6th and December 24th are stili the extreme dates for this species in Suffolk. Although being regularly noted in November this species is not as numerous in that month as the House Martin. HOUSE MARTIN. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Aprii 7th Aprii 11 th Aprii 9th Aprii 9th Nov. 17th Nov. 23rd Dec. 2nd Nov. 24th Earliest: March 15th 1972, Woodbridge. Latest: December 17th 1971, Kessingland. Suffolk's latest Record for this species is now rather historiĂŠ, having occured on December 22nd 1848. During the period under review March birds were recorded in only three years, thus fitting in with the general pattern of being on average the last of the hirundines to arrive. The House Martin is usually more numerous in November than the Swallow with groups of eighty or more having been recorded in the early part of that month in recent years. In comparison with only three March records, there were eight years with December observations in the review period. TREE PIPIT. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Aprii 14th Aprii 7th Aprii 15th Aprii 12th Sep. 20th Sep. 22nd Sep. 18th Sep. 20th Earliest: March 21st 1968, Walberswick. Latest: October 16th 1965, Walberswick. The first spring birds are almost invariably singing birds at breeding sites, but in autumn acquaintance with this species' flight cali note is usually necessary to establish identity. The 1968 record is the only March observation of this species in Suffolk. 41


YELLOW WAGTAIL. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 April 6th April 5th April 7th April 6th Oct. 9th Oct. 14th Oct. lOth Oct. 1 Ith Earliest: March 25th 1968, Shotley. Latest: December 8th 1967, Minsmere. Suffolk's earliest ever was near Woodbridge on February 27th 1942. This species is remarkably consistent in its arrivai, and there were only four years in the review period with March observations. The 1967 bird referred to an example of the Eastern Blueheaded Wagtail (Motacilla flava simillima) from eastern Siberia which remained at Minsmere between November 16th and December 8th. NIGHTINGALE. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 April 12th April 1 Ith April 16th Aprii 13th Sep. 25th Aug. 29th Sep. 5th Sep. lOth Earliest: Aprii 6th 1967 Snape and 1961 Walberswick. Latest: December 12th 1958, Long Melford. The Long Melford date is Britain's latest ever and consitutes one of only two December records. Other exceptionally late observations in Suffolk refer to singles at Bures on November 12th 1873 and Minsmere on October 1 Ith 1955. BLUETHROAT 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; April 1 Ith May 9th Aprii 25th Sep. 14th Sep. 25th Sep. 15th Sep. 19th Earliest: March 21st 1969, Aldeburgh. Latest: November 8th 1962, Orfordness. April 25th and September 19th are the average of six and fifteen dates respectively. The extreme dates are included amongst Britain's earliest and latest ever sightings. Another early date from Suffolk is of one on the Shipwash Light Vessel on March 22nd 1909. Single birds of the central/south European white-spotted form were definitely identified in 1960, 72 and 77. BLACK REDSTART 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Mar. 24th Mar. 19th Mar. 15th Mar. 20th Oct. 29th Oct. 22nd Nov. 6th Oct. 30th Earliest: March Ist 1978, Landguard. Latest: November 17th 1957, Easton Broad. Records of this species in late November/December are not uncommon but are considered to refer to potential overwintering birds rather than belated summer migrants; possibly as with Blackcap, these late records refer to birds from north European populations arriving in Britain for the winter. One or two sometimes stay the winter months in Suffolk, but this has never been proved at Landguard thus suggesting that the 1978 bird was a genuine spring arrivai. Several of the early November records are from known breeding sites, and it was on this basis that ali records up to about the middle of that month have been classified as relating to summer visitors or autumn passage migrants. 42


REDSTART 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Mar. 28th Aprii 2nd Aprii 8th Aprii 3rd Oct. 7th Oct. 25th Oct. 26th Oct. 20th Earliest: March 19th 1956, Pakefield. Latest: November 22nd 1975, Rendlesham. In eleven of the twenty years 1950-69 there were March records (several in the Pakefield/Lowestoft area), but in the 1970-80 period only two were noted. It is possible that March birds in the fifties/sixties were wrongly identified in some cases and did in fact refer to imm. male or female Black Redstarts which began to nest in that area during the Second World War. Although Redstarts in the last week of October are now expected, November records are rare, with only five since 1960. The Rendlesham date is quite exceptional even by national standards. WHINCHAT. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Aprii 19th Aprii 15th Aprii 15th Aprii 16th Oct. 3rd Oct. 7th Oct. 20th Oct. lOth Earliest: March 20th 1964, Orford. Latest: November 6th 1977, Minsmere. The latest date that Ticehurst could trace was November 14th 1880 at "the mouth of the Deben"; this site takes on special interest with regard to this species after the events of November/December 1981. As well as the 1964 bird, there were March records in 1979 and 1980. Despite these early dates, the majority of spring birds arrive in Suffolk in May. WHEATEAR. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Mar. 15th Mar. 18th Mar. 18th Mar. 17th Oct. 31st Oct. 25th Nov. 4th Oct. 31st Earliest: February 28th 1957, Hollesley. Latest: November 25th 1977, Landguard. The only other published Suffolk February record is the 28th 1912. Breckland observers are just as likely to record the first Wheatear of spring as are the more numerous coastal watchers. In the autumn the situation is quite diffĂŠrent â&#x20AC;&#x201D; it is unusual to see a Wheatear on the Breck after mid October, whilst on the coast they can now be expected into November. In fact fourteen records were obtained in that month from 1950-80. RING OUZEL. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Aprii 20th Aprii 10th Aprii 6th Aprii 12th Oct. 29th Oct. 25th Oct. 30th Oct. 28th Earliest: March 18th 1979, Methersgate. Latest: November 25th 1960, Minsmere. When one considers that Norfolk has had at least one January and three February records this century, it is perhaps surprising that Suffolk's earliest is only March 18th. The only other March records are 1951 (31st) and 1980 (20th). November records are regular, and localities in that month in recent years have included Huntingfield and Whepstead, as well as the more expected coastal sites. 43


On the basis that singing Chiffchaffs within the first fortnight of March are of regular occurrence in Suffolk, all records within that month have been classified as being summer visitors. Overwintering records are increasing, and this might explain the trend towards later dates in the autumn. There were November records in only six of the years 1950-80; the reasoning behind the inclusion of late November records for this species is the same as for Blackcap. WILLOW WARBLER. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 Mar. 29th April 2nd Apirl 5th April 2nd Oct. 6th Oct. 4th Oct. 3rd Oct. 4th Earliest: March 22nd 1952. Latest: November 6th 1964, Lowestoft. March 18th is the earliest ever date in Suffolk (Ticehurst). One found dead at Reydon on January 25th 1978 constitutes the only Suffolk wintering record for this species. There were March records in eight of the years 1950-59, but since then, and particularly in the 1970's, with a trend towards colder springs, it is usually the first week of April before the initial arrivals are noted. The autumn passage of this species usually peaks in mid-August with a steady decline in numbers throughout September. Early October records are now of annual occurrence, but are rare after mid-October, and the 1964 bird represents the only Suffolk November record. SPOTTED FLYCATCHER. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 5th May 7th May 2nd May 5th Sep. 28th Sep. 30th Oct. 6th Oct. 2nd Earliest: April 18th 1976 Badingham and 1980 Lound. Latest: October 26th 1977, Landguard. The only other April records in Suffolk were in 1955 (26th Shotley) and 1969 (27th Great Glemham). Along with several other passerine species, concerted daily autumn coverage of prominent coastal sites has led to this species being recorded regularly into October. The 1977 Landguard individual is the latest for Suffolk by fifteen days. PIED FLYCATCHER. 1950-59 1960-69 1970-80 1950-80 May 1st April 30th April 26th April 29th Oct. 5th Sep. 29th Oct. 5th Oct. 3rd Earliest: April 4th 1958, Havergate; 1977. Latest: October 26th 1958, Lowestoft. Suffolk's earliest record was on April 1st 1883 at Tostock (Ticehurst); both this and the April 4th birds are well within the fifteen earliest ever dates for this species in Britain. Pied Flycatchers are now occuring in Suffolk on spring passage in increasing numbers and, although the majority of these birds arrive in May, reports in late April are regular. Autumn birds are far more numerous, and are increasingly being noticed into the first week of October or even later. The Lowestoft bird is the latest for Suffolk by eight days. RED-BACKED SHRIKE. 1950-59 1960-69 May 7th May 7th Sep. 14th Sep. 19th 46

1970-80 May 16th Oct. 1st

1950-80 May 10th Sep. 22nd


Eartiest: Aprii 27th 1956, Reydon. Latest: October 30th 1978, Walberswick. Ticehurst's earliest date was Aprii 17th and his latest in 1883 at Somerleyton on November 8th and what was presumably the same bird at Oulton Broad on November 12th. With the recent dramatic decline in the British breeding population it is perhaps not surprising that spring arrivais are now much later. Autumn birds have also been reported much later in the year. In the review period the five latest dates were ali in the 1970's and ali at coastal sites. If this trend continues then there could soon be a second November record for Suffolk. These late autumn birds are probably of Scandinavian origin.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. I am grateful for the assistance given in the prĂŠparation of this report by Alan Paine in permitting me frequent use of his ornithological library, to John Partridge who readily supplied additional informatioin relating to migrant dates on Havergate Island and Derek Mocre for constructive criticism of an initial draft. My thanks also go to the ornithologists who supplied the originai incentive to prepare this report and to the manufacturers of the calculator that carried out the many computations necessary in the compilation of this article. REFERENCES. HUDSON, R. 1973; Early and Late Dates for Summer Migrants. B.T.O. Guide 15. PAYN, W. H. 1962; The Birds of Suffolk. London. PAYN, W. H. 1978; The Birds of Suffolk. Ipswich. SUFFOLK ORNITHOLOGIST'S GROUP. 1973-80; Bi-monthly Bulletins. SUFFOLK NATURALISTA SOCIETY. 1950-80; Annual Bird Reports TICEHURST, C. B. 1932; A History of the Birds of Suffolk. London.

47


Ringing Report In response to my appeal of last year more data has been submitted for this feature. The coverage is not yet comprehensive and I would still welcome information from both ringers and people finding ringed birds who have not submitted détails todate. Older recoveries have been discovered by Consulting the Annual Ringing Report of The British Trust for Ornithology. — Editor. Codes —1 Pullus (nestling or chick). 2 Full grown, year of hatching unknown. 3 Hatched during calendar year of ringing. 4 Hatched before calendar year of ringing — exact year unknown. 5 Hatched during previous calendar year. 6 Hatched before previous calendar year — exact year unknown. Sex — M is male, F is female. Manner of recovery — V + X CR 0

Caught or trapped, released with ring. Shot or killed by man. Found dead or dying. Wearing coloured ring. Caught or trapped alive and not released, or released but with ring removed.

Great Crested Grebe 4 31.3.79 Blunham, Bedford. X 7.8.80 Alton Water. Shelduck 3 1.8.72 X 26.1.80

Rostock, East Germany 54°05'N 12°06'E. Holbrook Bay.

Wigeon 3F 1.10.74 + 24.9.78 3F 28.9.76 + 1.9.78 4M 4.9.73 26.10.80 + 3F 8.9.73 6.10.80 + 21.9.77 3M 5.6.80 + 3M 17.10.79 + 15.5.80 3F 1.11.73 17.10.81 + 3M 11.9.75 + 19.10.81 3M 28.9.80 + 24.5.81

Nacton. 52°1'N 1°5'E. Solvychegodsk, Archangel, USSR. 61°20'N 46°55'E. Nacton. Shaytanka, Khanty-Mansi, USSR. 63°46'N 64°46'E. Nacton. Waldringfield. Nacton. Ringkobing Fjord, Jylland, Denmark. 56°0'N 8°15'E. Nacton. Tazovskoye, Yamal-Nenets, USSR. 67°27'N 78°43'E. Nacton. Nyaksmivol, Khanty-Manzi, USSR. 62°24'N 60°52'E. Nacton. Manea, Cambridgeshire. Nacton. Brightlingsea, Essex. Nacton. Intsy, Archangel, USSR. 65°58'N 40°44'E.

48


Gadwall 3M 8.10.80 + 27.10.80 1 18.7.81 + 19.12.81 Teal 3M 14.12.77 + 15.10.80 3F + 3M + 3M + 4M + 3F + 3M +

23.10.75 20.8.81 10.9.79 6.5.81 4.11.80 7.9.81 10.11.80 1.10.81 11.12.80 3.1.81 18.12.80 22.8.81

Mallard 4M 4.12.73 + 14.11.80 3M 6.9.79 + 3.12.80 3M 16.9.80 + 16.12.80 3M 16.9.80 + 10.11.80 3F 13.9.72 X 11.2.81 3M 25.9.72 + 29.1.81 3F 4.12.73 + 19.9.81 3F 30.9.77 + 9.9.81 3M 23.9.79 + 10.9.81 3M 16.9.80 + 26.10.81 3M 14.11.80 X 16.10.81 4M 6.12.80 + 15.11.81 4M 14.9.80 V 26.8.81

Nacton 52°01'N 1°15'E. Bawdsey. Hollesley 52°3'N 1°26'E. Soulac, Medoc, Gironde, France. 45°30'N 1 ° 6 ' W .

Nacton. 5 2 ° 1 ' E 1°15'E. Rantum, Nordfriesische Inseln, West Germany. 54°50'N 8°18'E. Nacton. Kitkajarvi, Lappi, Finland. 6 6 ° 1 0 ' N 28°40'E. Nacton. Shakitsy, Leningrad, USSR. 5 9 ° 0 2 ' N 28°38'E. Nacton. Ballymacoda, Co. Cork, Eire. 5 1 ° 5 4 ' N 7°54' W. Nacton. Hagested, Sjaelland, Denmark. 55°45'N 11°38'E. Nacton. Dereham, Norfolk. Nacton. Jokiokunta, Vusimaa, Finland. 60°27'N 8 ° 1 8 ' E .

Nacton. 52°01'N 1°15'E. Stavning, Jylland, Denmark. 55°58'N 8°23'E. Nacton. Sheppey, Kent. Nacton. Meppen, Weser-Ems, West Germany. 52°41'N 7 ° 1 8 ' E . Nacton. Marquise, Pas-de-Calais, France. 50°28'N 1°42'E. Nacton. Felixstowe Nacton. Sandwich, Kent. Nacton. Hallsjon, Vastmanland, Sweden. 60°04'N 17°01'E. Nacton. Trutkobben, Vusimaa, Finland. 59°50'N 2 3 ° 3 4 ' E . Nacton. Cloppenburg, Weser-Ems, West Germany. 5 2 ° 5 2 ' N 8 ° 0 2 ' E . Nacton. Voorhout, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands. 52°13'N 4 ° 2 9 ' E . Nacton. Hofmansplaat, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. 51°43'N 4 ° 5 0 ' E . Nacton. Pitgam, Nord, France. 50°56'N 2 ° 2 0 ' E . Nacton. Sonderho, North Frisian Islands, Denmark. 55°23'N 8 ° 2 7 ' E . 49


4M + 3F + 3M X 4M + 4M + 5F +

17.10.80 15.10.81 30.10.80 28.1.81 5.11.80 24.10.81 30.11.80 1.10.81 4.12.80 20.1.81 7.1.81 5.9.81

Nacton. Haddenham, Cambridgeshire. Nacton. Benfleet, Essex. Nacton. Oudesluis, Noord-Holland, Netherlands. 52°50'N 4°47'E. Nacton. Kuierndrup, Fyn, Denmark. 55°10'N 10°32'E. Nacton. Pitgam, Bourbourg, France. 50°56'N 2°20'E. Nacton. Dorsum, Weser-Ems, West Germany. 52°58'N 7°16'E.

Pintail 3M 25.9.70 X 22.2.80 3m 9.9.75 + 1.11.80 3F 4.11.77 + 6.12.80 3F 9.10.70 + 4.3.81 3M 26.8.76 X 4.1.81 3M 29.9.78 + 20.2.81 3M 9.10.79 X 23.7.81 4F 31.8.80 + 20.2.81 3M 3.9.80 X 10.2.81 3F 4.9.80 + 12.5.81 3F 4.9.80 + 18.9.81 3M 11.9.80 + 26.10.81 4M 21.9.80 + 4.10.81 4M 4.10.80 X 17.1.81

Nacton. 52°01'N 1°15'E. Belozem, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. 42°11'N 25°05'E. Nacton. Hamford Water, Essex. Nacton. Valle Grassabo, Venice, Italy. 45°32'N 12°38'E. Nacton. Lake Logmo, Karelia, USSR. 61°50'N 34°20'E. Nacton. Maldon, Essex. Nacton. Gropello Cairoli, Pavia, Italy. 45°11'N 9 ° 0 ' E . Nacton. Lelystad, Ijsselmeerpolders, Netherlands. 52°30'N 5°28'E. Nacton. Maulde, Nord, France. 50°30'N 3°26'E. Nacton. Absdale, Zeeland, Netherlands. 51°17'N 4 ° 0 ' E . Nacton. Vidlitsa, Karelia, USSR. 61°12'N 32°21'E. Nacton. Eskildso, Sjuelland, Denmark. 55°44'N 12°05'E. Nacton. Athlone, Co. Westmeath, Eire. 53°22'N 7°54'E. Nacton. Wirrai, Cheshire. Nacton. Little Oakley, Essex.

This species produces some interesting recoveries, namely the ten year old bird finally succumbing in Bulgaria, and the two apparently preferring to spend the winter months in Italy.

Tufted Duck 1 22.7.79 + 20.10.79 50

Hollesley. 52°3'N 1°26'E. Blaxton, South Yorkshire. 229km north-west.


Marsh Harrier 1 6.7.79 "Suffolk Coast". X 3.9.79 Isle of Sheppey, Kent. Evidence which shows that our native bred birds may be just as much at risk in the British Isles as abroad. Hen Harrier 1 14.6.78 Ameland, Netherlands 53° 2 7 ' N 5°44'E. X 8.1.79 Woodbridge. 332km west south-west. This recovery could explain the origins of some of the birds wintering in Suffolk. Avocet 3 18.9.79 Butley River. 52°5'N 1°30'E. X 30.10.79 Oudalle, (Seine-Maritime), France. 49°30'N 0° 18'E. 1 15.7.78 Heist, Belgium. 51°21'N 3°15'E. V 3.10.79 Butley River. 1 18.5.79 Lillo, Belgium. 51°18'N 4°18'E. V 4.9.79 Butley River. Maybe some of the birds that are now spending the winter in Suffolk are not locally bred. Stone Curlew 1 19.6.76 + c.16.12.79 1 1.6.80 0 23.9.80 1 15.6.80

Breck. Balerma, Spain 36°44'N 2°52'W. Breck. Upminster, Greater London. Breck.

X

Bretignoles-sur-Mer, France 46°38'N 1°51'W.

13.11.80

Lapwing 4 25.9.73 X 18.1.81 4 10.10.77

Butley. 52°5'N 1°30'E. Vendee, France. 46°28'N 1°02'W. Butley.

+

Touques, Deauville, Calvados, France. 49°22'N 0 ° 6 ' E .

18.12.81

Knot 3 25.9.73 + 7.10.79

Butley. 52°5'N 1°30'E. Pointe Noire, Congo-Brazzaville. 4°46'S 11°53'E; 6391km south. At the time this was only the third British ringed Knot to be recovered south of the Equator. Dunlin 4 17.2.74 Boyton. 52°4'N 1°29'E. V 27.8.81 Langehwerder, Insel Poel, Rostock, East Germany. 54°2'N 11°30'E. 4 21.8.78 Wolferton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk. 52°50'N 0°26'E. V 25.10.81 Ramsholt. 52°2'N 1°23'E. 6 6.8.79 Ottenby, Oland, Sweden. 56°12'N 16°24'E. V 8.11.81 Ramsholt. 5 17.2.80 Boyton. + 30.8.80 Lynbotin, USSR, 50°01'N 36°03'E. 51


6 V

23.7.80 8.11.81

Ostenby, Oland, Sweden. Ramsholt.

Snipe 2 31.8.76 V 15.2.81

Kvismaren, Norrbyas, Orebro, Sweden. 5 9 0 l l ' N 15°24'E. Shotley. 51°58'N 1°15'E.

Woodcock 3 25.11.78 + 20.12.80

Heligoland. Little Glemham.

Redshank 2 9.8.77 V 21.8.79

Getteron, Sweden. 57°08'N 12°13'E. Boyton.

Robin 3 8.9.79 X 9.1.81 3 3.9.80 X 10.1.81

Hollesley. 5 2 ° 3 ' N 1°26'E. Werico-Sud, Comines, Nord, France. 50°46'N 3 ° 3 ' E . Den-haag, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands. Felixstowe.

Fieldfare 6F 4.2.79 X 6.5.81 Redwing 5 24.2.81 X 27.11.81 Reed Warbler 3 2.10.79 V 28.6.81

Waldringfield. 5 2 ° 3 ' N 1°30'E. Skinnskatteberg, Vastmanland, Sweden. 5 9 ° 5 1 ' N 15°44'E. Bromeswell. Prosgrunn, near Oslo, Norway. St. Margaret's Dover, Kent. 5 1 ° 8 ' N 1°22'E. Shotley. 5 1 ° 5 8 ' N 1°26'E.

Garden Warbler 3 25.8.79 Hollesley. 5 2 ° 3 ' N 1°26'E. X 24.9.79 Trewennack, Cornwall. 512km west south-west. 3 15.9.79 Hollesley. V 22.9.79 Guernsey, Channel Islands. 408km south-west The second bird moved pretty quickly! Goldcrest 3F 20.10.80 X 13.11.80

Portland Bill, Dorset. Polstead.

Bearded Tit 2 28.8.77 V 24.11.79 2M 27.9.80 V 6.12.81 3M 23.7.80 V 31.10.81 3F 6.7.80 V 6.12.81 3F 6.7.80

Walberswick. Chew Valley, Avon. Walberswick. Rye Meads, Herts. Walberswick. Rye Meads, Herts. Walberswick. Rye Meads, Herts. Walberswick.

52


V 3M X

9.7.81 Ousefleet, Humberside. 23.7.80 Walberswick. 29.9.81 Hythe, Kent. The two ringed on 6th July apparently dispersed in almost opposite directions.

Long-Tailed Tit 2 14.10.78 V 3.2.79 2 14.10.78 V 9.11.80 Great Tit 5 1.3.78 X 11.3.79

Felixstowe. Winterswijk, Netherlands. 51°58'N 6°49'E.

Rook 1 13.5.79 X 1.4.80

Stro, Denmark 55°54'N 12°10'E. Newmarket.

Walberswick. Wanstead, London. Walberswick. Wanstead, Greater London.

Report on Ringing at Landguard 1981 J. O. Brinkley & B. G. Thompson In the next few months it is hoped that ringing activities at Landguard will be stepped up with the formation of an organized group. It is envisaged that it may even be possible to strive for and obtain full Observatory status at some time in the future. If this is going to be possible then much will depend on the knowledge and efforts already made at this site by John Brinkley and Brian Thompson. As an appetizer for what we hope will be forthcoming in the future we are pleased to publish the following note and table prepared by these two gentlemen. — Editor. Ten visits were paid to the Landguard Nature Reserve in 1981 to catch birds for ringing. During May and in the autumn a total of 335 new birds were ringed, and several previously ringed birds were retrapped. Two such birds had first been ringed during the autumn of 1978, when JOB commenced ringing at Landguard; a Black Redstart (summer visitor) and a Blue Tit (probably resident).' The most interesting retrapping was of a first year Reed Warbler, which had been ringed on the 6th September, 1981 (when it weighed 10.6 grams). It was retrapped on the 18th September when its weight had increased to 18.0 grams. (It has become apparent, through ringing studies, that this species, and others, do "fuel u p " before commencing migratory journeys. However, it is uncertain whether it was present at Landguard between the two trapping dates, and was very unlikely to have been a locally reared bird). Of the different species ringed during 1981, the most exciting was the Barred Warbler, a first year bird, ringed on the 30th August, and which stayed on to be seen by many bird-watchers until the 3rd September. The other species ringed were a good selection of resident and migrant Landguard passerines. We must close by including our thanks to the Suffolk Trust for Nature Conservation for being able to continue operating on the Landguard Reserve. As will be seen by the species list, a grand total of 919 birds have now been ringed there, either as mistnetting captures or as nestlings. 53


Bird-Ringing Totals at Landguard, 1978-1981. (P = pulii (nestlings); F = full grown) Year:— 1978 1979 1980 1981 F F Species:— PF P-F — — — — Ringed Piover 9 20 — — — Little Tern 2 10 — Kingfisher 1 — Wryneck 1 — — — — Skylark 3 6 — — — Swallow 25 37 — — House Martin 1 3 Tree Pipit 1 Meadow Pipit — — — — — 5 Pied Wagtail — 1 Wren — — — 15 5 5 — Dunnock 2 44 3 12 64 — — — Robin 6 1 9 — — — — — Nightingale 1 — Black Redstart 2 15 4 2 2 — — — Redstart 5 6 — — — — Stonechat 1 — Blackbird 12 5 2 2 21 — — — Song Thrush 4 2 14 Sedge Warbler 1 — — — — Reed Warbler 3 4 Barred Warbler 1 — — — — — Lesser Whitethroat 1 — — — Whitethroat 2 1 2 — — — — Garden Warbler 1 7 — — — Blackcap 2 1 3 — — — Chiffchaff 9 1 4 — — — Willow Warbler 14 4 3 — — — Goldcrest 2 1 1 — Firecrest 1 — — — — Pied Flycatcher 2 3 — Coal Tit 1 — — — Blue Tit 27 3 45 — — — — Great Tit 11 16 Starling — 8 — — — 4 — — — 15 1 House Sparrow 6 — Tree Sparrow 8 — — Chaffinch 2 1 1 4 — — Greenfinch 42 3 8 26 — — — Goldfinch 38 4 11 — — 101 Linnet 28 1 30 — — — 2 1 Redpoll 1 Reed Bunting 5 — Totals:— Annual Grand Totals:— 54

18

426 444

53 53

47

40 87

335 335

Total F P29 12 1 1 — 9 62 4 1 — 5 1 — 25 2 123 16 — 1 6 19 11 1 2 40 — 20 — 1 — 7 1 — 1 5 8 — 6 — 14 — 21 — 4 1 — 5 1 — 75 — 27 — 12 — 22 8 — 8 — 79 — 53 — 160 — 4 5 65

854 919


The Breeding Birds of a Suffolk Garden 1941-1981 W . H. Payn Being about to départ from the Suffolk home which has been the centre of my life for close on seventy years, gives me the opportunity to look back on the birdlife of the place and its immediate surroundings as I knew it up to say 1941, and to compare it with the breeding population of the same area today (1981). The house, a typical Suffolk farmhouse, stands in some three acres of garden, embracing lawns, shrubberies, a vegetable garden, an old orchard, three ponds and a variety of trees. In 1941 it was entirely surrounded by small arable fields and meadows with high hedges and hedgerow trees, ali providing the varied habitat so typical of the Suffolk scene of those days. The garden has altered little since then, though it is now, when I leave it, considerably less well maintained and part of the kitchen garden was planted up to twenty years ago with Norway spruce. Indeed, such changes as have taken place within the garden itself have been of benefit from a bird's point of view, while outside the reverse is most sadly the case. Here the scene has been changed out of ali récognition by intensive farming opérations. Gone are the five old pastures with their high hedges, gone the five or six small fields of the 1930's, their place taken by three vast arable fields, a wasteland of stark plough or unrelieved corn crops throughout most of the year, with little to support or attract birds. These physical changes in its immediate vicinity have resulted in a most catastrophic decline in the numbers of species and of individuai birds now to be found breeding in or near the garden. Up to about 1941 49 species nested there regularly; by 1981 the number had fallen to 33, with a very marked decline in numbers of most of those that remain. Let us examine more closely these losses and decreases. For brevity it is convenient to tabulate the species which previously bred and those which stili do so under headings in which "formerly" means up to 1940/41 and " n o w " means 1980/81. FORMERLY BRED ANNUALLY. — (One or more pairs) but not within the past 10/15 years; Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Little Owl, Green Woodpecker, Swift, Pied Wagtail, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Mistle Thrush, Linnet and Jackdaw. Most of these losses are the result of habitat destruction. The owls, Jackdaw and Green Woodpecker have had their nesting trees destroyed. Bulldozing of hedges and rough areas has dispossessed the Whitethroats and Blackcaps. A pair of Sedge Warblers bred regularly in a marshy ditch just outside the garden until that too was swept away. A strong colony of Swifts (10-15 pairs) bred under the eaves of some old cottages up to about 1945. The cottages were then renovated and the Swifts ceased to nest. A pair of Mistle Thrushes bred unfailingly up to about 1960 but not since. Their loss is believed to be due to prédation by Tawny Owls. The Cuckoo's decline has been particularly marked and sad. Up to 1941 it could be heard calling ali day in summer, with as many as six in the air at once during courtship. One, often two young were hatched by Pied Wagtails or Dunnocks in the garden almost annually. Now the Cuckoo is seldom heard and no young have been reared for the past twenty 55


years. The failure of the Pied Wagtail and Linnet to breed during the past 10 years is hard to account for; they may yet return. FORMERLY BRED. — (One pair) but only for a limited period in the 1930's: Red-backed Shrike, Nightingale and Hawfinch. A pair of Red-Backed Shrikes nested for a number of years in a rough meadow just outside the kitchen garden. None seen after 1939/40. A pair of Nightingales bred in the shrubbery and sang just outside our windows up to the late 1930's but none since. Hawfinches were seen frequently in summer and certainly nested nearby. One nest was found in 1936 but none seen since. FORMERLY BRED. — (4/5 pairs minimum) and stili do so but now in much reduced numbers: Red-legged Partridge, Grey Partridge, Pheasant, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Turtle Dove, Skylark, House Martin, Swallow, Dunnock, Willow Warbler, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow and Starling. The Grey Partridge now down from 10 pairs to one or two at the most, the Stock Dove, Skylark, Yellowhammer and Goldfinch ail reduced from 5-6 pairs to one show the most marked decrease. The House Martin colony breeding on the house and adjoining cottage has declined from c25 pairs to just five pairs, while the Swallow population of cl5 pairs had dropped by 1981 to only 3 pairs, the females of two of which were taken off their nests by Tawny Owls. LITTLE CHANGE IN STATUS during the period was shown by: Moorhen, Tawny Owl, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher and Rook. Except following severe winters 2-3 pairs of Moorhens and one pair of Goldcrests have bred regularly. Usually one pair of Spotted Flycatchers, though occasionally two have nested unfailingly in the garden throughout my lifetime. One pair of Tawny Owls nested regularly in a hollow lime tree, and up to 5 pairs of Rooks bred frequently but not annually in the garden. There were five nests of the latter species in 1981. INCREASE. — The Mallard has shown considérable increase during the past 20 years with ferai stock encouraged or released for sporting purposes. The Collared Dove has now colonized the area and two pairs were present in 1981. INDETERMINATE. — Three species which were only known to breed or to attempt to breed rather irregularly and whose breeding status is consequently hard to assess, have been omitted from the foregoing lists. The Chiffchaff and Tree Creeper were present in summer from time to time but nesting was seldom recorded and Magpies which tried to breed rather sporadically were rigorously controlied in the interests of game préservation. SUMMARY. — At the start of the period under review (1941-81) 49 species were breeding within a Suffolk garden of three acres or in its immediate vicinity. By 1981 only 33 species were doing so and most of them were showing a very marked decrease. It is clear that much of the decrease is the direct resuit of destruction of habitat, with conséquent loss of nesting and feeding sites, further compounded by the increasing use in agriculture of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals and widespread stubble burning which further reduces birds' food supplies. Sadly, for the naturalist and future générations, this state of affairs seems unlikely now to be reversed. Unfortunately it can only get worse.

56


Short Notes HYBRID COOT x MOORHEN AT ALTON WATER D. R. Moore & S. H. Piotrowski. On 27th February a small bird superficially resembling a Moorhen (Gallínula chloropus) but possessing a few obvious characters of a Coot (Fúlica atra) was discovered with a raft of the latter species at Alton Water. Being fully aware of the occurence at that time of an American Coot (Fúlica americanus) in Eire the question was raised as to whether this bird was an immature of the same species. This bird was about the same size as a Moorhen but with an obviously Coot shaped bill and frontal shield. When swimming it was similar to a Coot but the tail was held high out of the water and the under surface pattern was very like a Moorhen but with less extensive white. The end of the undertail coverts formed the shape of an inverted horseshoe. On land the bird looked more similar to a Moorhen, walking in sedate manner and constantly flicking the tail. What was also striking at this time was the fact that it had lobed toes in the manner of a Coot. After much deliberation the conclusion was reached that this bird was not an American Coot because the frontal shield was yellowish and not white with a reddish band, and there was no white trailing edge to the secondaries. After discovering that hybrids had occured between American Coot x Florida Gallinule (G.chloropus cachinnans) in the United States and Coot x Moorhen in Europe it was concluded that this bird was also a hybrid between a Coot and a Moorhen. A more detailed account and description will appear in a future issue of 'British Birds*.

WATER RAIL KILLING AND EATING A TREE SPARROW P. T. Loudon At Flatford on 12th Dec. during very cold weather a Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) was observed feeding on an open area of exposed mud at about 15 metres distance. Also present was a Robin (Erithacus rubecula) and a Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus). Quite suddenly and without provocation the Water Rail struck the Tree Sparrow on the back of its head and dragged it into the water where it continued to batter the unfortunate victim. When the Tree Sparrow was dead it was dragged back onto the mud where its intestines were subsequently eaten.

B.T.O. NIGHTJAR SURVEY 1981 B. J. Brown The results of the BTO Nightjar Survey in 1981 show that the Breckland area of Norfolk and Suffolk is one of the most important breeding areas for the species in Britain. It is not so heartening to report that this situation is not reflected on the Suffolk coast where there has been a decline over the years. The main problem here seems to have been habitat destruction, whereas many new areas suited to the species 57


have been "created" by tree felling and replanting by the Forestry Commission in the Brecks. Nationally, although the survey was a success, the picture seems to be one of steady decline and it is estimated that the British population was less than 2000 churring maies in 1981. This is dramatically less than the estimate of between 3000 and 6000 pairs quoted in the Atlas (1976). The Suffolk totals were:— Breckland 89 churring maies Coastal Belt 34 churring maies There were no records for the southern half (except Hollesley and Sutton), or central areas of the county. Only eight 10 km squres produced records:— TM 34 20, TL 77 15, TM 47 5, TL 78 37, TM 46 9, TL 87 13, In the east. TL 88 23, TL 98 1 In the west My thanks, and those of the BTO, are due to all who took part in the survey, particularly Bernard Pleasance who organised the survey for the whole of Breckland, and relieved me of a great amount of work. Reference SHARROCK, J.T.R. 1976. The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland.

THE TRAVELS OF A HOOPOE S. H. Piotrowski Great excitement gripped several villages in south-east Suffolk by the arrivai of a Hoopoe (Upupa epops) last autumn. It was initially discovered on 12th November totally disorientated in a garage in Bramford (see plate 1). It was caught and kept overnight to recuperate and released at Shotley early next day. The bird was examined by Derek Moore and Ian Peters and a ring was placed on its left leg prior to its release. Both observers watched as the bird circled briefly as if to fix its bearings, alight on a roadside fence, before taking off and flying to the south, convincing its onlookers that it was now on its way to its tropical African wintering grounds; little did they know. Many will have read "Bill Oddie's Little Black Bird Book" and will no doubt recali this amusing extract: " I t is common knowledge that Hoopoes are only ever seen on vicars' lawns. You may well see shabby-looking gentlemen peeping through knot-holes in parsonage fences. They are not ecclesiastical peeping-toms, nor are they engaged in out-door confessional — they are birders looking for Hoopoes". To those of us who regard the mockery of this work as sacrilege, it came as no surprise that this bird resisted its necessity to migrate, due to its urge to find a vicar's lawn. Sure enough the very next day it appeared in the garden of the Reverend Geoffrey Grant at Nacton Rectory. The bird made regulär visits to the gardens of other villagers during its long stay, as well as to the adjoining village of Foxhall and on at least one occasion to the outskirts of Ipswich. Its presence caused much discussion and an account appeared in the Bucklesham, Nacton and Levington Parish Magazine. An interesting extract from this reads as follows: "The Hoopoe is a bird of mythology and of the 14th Century 58


mystics who say it appears on its way from earth to heaven. We are also informed by the Latin master Christopher Wilson of Orwell Park that the Hoopoe is one of the birds that appears in Aristophane's play 'The Birds'. Our particular Hoopoe had a ringed left foot and stayed to enjoy the lovely autumn weather in Nacton while on its way from Scandinavia? to South Africa? Perhaps it wished to tell us that we should follow to avoid one of the worst possible winters on record". Although the writer, Reverend Grant was not quite correct with the bird's migration route, the weather conditions during December were severe to say the least, the signs were well interpreted. Also the reference made to the bird's left leg bearing a ring, confirmed that it was certainly the same bird as was released at Shotley, and as this was noted by most observers in the area, we can safely rule out the possibility of a fall of Hoopoes ail with rings on their left legs. The bird was seen by many boys in the grounds of Orwell Park School and a description was written by Paul Oatley and published in the 'Orwellian', their school magazine. It reads as follows: "At about 9.15 a.m. a Hoopoe came into the courtyard. As we watched, it picked its way along the edge looking for ants outside the corridor, its hammer-like head with the crest and bill darting up and down looking for ants and having a great time. It had a black and white striped back and brownish head. When Hoopoes display their crests they look like fans sideways on, (or a claw hammer). As the bird moved towards us it poked about with its sword-like curved bill for more ants. We could see the black and white stripes, not very clearly on its back, but after five minutes it flew away and we saw them very clearly indeed. Hoopoes are very rare in this part of the world and we were very lucky indeed to have seen one". This sums up the tremendous interest shown in this bird, which stayed in the area to at least 6th December. This record constitutes the latest ever for Suffolk by nearly a month. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank the many observers from Nacton, Foxhall and Ipswich who submitted their notes and sightings, and the Reverend Geoffrey Grant for forwarding copies of the 'Orwellian' and his parish magazine. REFERENCES GRANT, Rev. G. L. Autumn 1981. A message from the gods? Bucklesham, Nacton and Levington Parish Magazine. 3. HUDSON, R, 1973. Early and Late dates for Summer Migrants. B.T.O. Guide No. 15. NIXON, P. Nov. 13th 1981. Rare Bird Finds Parking Space. East Anglian Daily Times. OATLEY, P. 1981. The Hoopoe. Orweliian â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Orwell Park School Magazine. ODDIE, W. E. 1980. Bill Oddie's Little Black Bird Book. London. PIOTROWSKI, S. H. Spring 1982. The Hoopoe â&#x20AC;&#x201D; almost the full story. Bucklesham, Nacton and Levington Parish Magazine.5.

59


Descriptions of Unusual Species Since requesting descriptions for unusual species (see page 3) there has been an encouraging response, but it does seem apparent that some observers are not sure of the format that should be followed, or the degree of détail expected. Accordingly the Suffolk Records Committee have decided to publish the following description by Brian Brown as an example and guideline of the standard that is desirable. It is hoped to publish such descriptions of rarer species annually in future. — Editor.

Yellow-browed

Warbler

YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER AT LOWESTOFT, 20 to 23/10/81 On 20th Oct. 1981 I was searching through the trees in Kensington Gardens at Lowestoft hopeful of finding something unusual as there had been quite a good fall of Goldcrests (Regulus regulus) in the area. One tree in particular was good and I was concentrating my efforts there when I noticed a small Phylloscopus type warbler with a prominent supercilium. I only saw the bird head on for an instant and before I could make an identification it disappeared behind leaves. It was obviously not a Willow Warbler (P. trochilus) or Chiffchaff (P. collybita) as neither have such a pronounced eye-stripe. I had seen the crown and ruled out Pallas's (P. proregulus) as there was no median stripe. I therefore had a choice between Arctic (P. borealis), Greenish (P. trochiloides) and Yellow-browed (P. inornatus). I leaned towards the latter for four main reasons — eye-stripe seemed a bit short for Arctic or Greenish; small size; late date fitted Yellow-browed better than other two; the Yellow-browed is by far the more common and therefore more likely to occur. A few minutes later I found the bird again and had clear views on and off over the next half hour. I was then able to confirm that it was a Yellow-browed as, in addition to the eye-stripe, it had two wing-bars. The upper of these was very indistinct and only visible at certain 60


angles in good light, but the lower was quite prominent. During the next hour or so I had extremely good views of it as it moved from the original tree to a less leafy one, although at one time it disappeared completely into a fully leaved poplar (Pupulus sp.). It also came down to a puddle on a rough track for a few seconds to drink, about twenty feet from where I was standing. I was unable to find the bird on the 21st and 22nd, but relocated it in the same tree as before on the 23rd. Extensive searching during the next few days failed to produce any further sightings.

DESCRIPTION Size Appeared to be smaller than Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, but neither were present for comparison. However it was seen close to Goldcrests and was only slightly larger. Colour The upper-parts were slightly greener than Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, and the under-parts whiter. The central crown area was very slightly paler, but this was only obvious at certain angles in good light. The legs were pale brownish. Markings The eye-stripe was creamy white, longer and broader than in Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, but not so long as Arctic which I had seen in the Isles of Scilly only a few days before. The upper wing-bar was indistinct and almost invisible at some angles; the lower bar was very distinct and sharply defined, very pale creamy white. As mentioned under colour there was a hint of a médian crown-stripe, but this was very indistinct and not obvious at ail angles. By no means as prominent as I ha ve seen on previous specimens. Voice Only heard to cali once, and this was at a distance, so difficult to describe; best rendered as "weet", shorter and shriller than Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Behaviour Very active and quicker moving than Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, bui not so fast as Pallas's in my experience; constantly flicking wings and tail as it moved through végétation only pausing here and there to pick food daintily from leaves and twigs. Other observers Andrew Easton on 20th; Mrs L. F. Kellow on 23rd. B. J. Brown

61


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 holm 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 warden Michael Wright, telephone Ipswich 710032. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

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 Margaret Biggs, 137 Belvedere Road, Ipswich, IP4 4AH. Tel: Ipswich 76611.

Joint Suffolk Naturalist's Society/Suffolk Ornithologist's Group Membership We are pleased to announce that a joint membership is available from 1st January 1983 of the Suffolk Naturalist's Society and the Suffolk Ornithologist's Group. The cost is £5.50 a saving of £1.00. Current members of both societies who are especially interested in ornithology will benefit by receiving the bulletins of the S.O.G., the 62


Transactions of the Suffolk Naturalisas Society and the annual publication 'Suffolk Birds'. This move will also enable members of both groups to join each other at lectures, field meetings etc. To apply contact: Miss. M. Biggs, Hon.Sec., Suffolk Nats.Soc., 137 Belvedere Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 4AH. Tel: 76611

A. M. Gregory Esq., Hon.Sec., S.O.G., 1 Holly Road, Ipswich, Suffolk. Tel: 53816

Request for Articles etc. The Editor would be pleased to receive short notes, articles and black and white photographs relevant to Suffolk ornithology for future éditions of 'Suffolk Birds'.

L&L OPTICAL SPECIALISTS IN BINOCULAR AND TELESCOPE REPAIRS AND SALES

2 0 4 High Street, Barnet Hertfordshire EN5 5SZ

Telephone: 0 1 - 4 4 9 - 1 4 4 5 63


List of Contributors ABBOTT S. A L D O U S J. R. T. A L L E N C. B. ALLPORT G. A N T R A M F. B. S. ASKEW S.

G R A H A M E I. G R A N T G. G R A N T J. GREEN D. B. GREGORY A. M.

BABBS S. BAKEWELL D. N. BAKEWELL J. D. BAMBER T. BARRETT R. A. BEAMISH D. G. BELL C. BELL M. J. B H A T T I A Z. BLOOMFIELD L. T. B O N D G. BOTWRIGHT A. B O W D E N C. G. R. BO W E N G. S. BRIGGS R. S. BRINKLEY J. O. BROWN B. J. BULL A. BURNELL S. J. BURNS D. W. BURNSIDE M. BUSTON S.

HARTLEY P. H. T. H A Y M A N P. V. H E A T H P. J. HEFFORN M. HITCHCOK R. H Y D E E. M.

C A R E Y G. J. C A R M I C H A E L H. CARR P. C A T C H P O L E P. CATTERMOLE W. E. C H A R L T O N L. C H A R L T O N T. D. COBB A. E. COBB F. K. CURTIS C. G. D. D E L G A D O I. DINGLE BIRD CLUB DORLING D. A. D O U G L A S O. G. E A S T O N A. C. E A T O N J. C. FARMER M. R. FARMER R. J. FISHER C. F L A X M A N C. G. FRENCH F. J. GARRITY P. G O O D W I N T.

64

JEANES M. J. F. JOBSON G. J. JONES E. JONES J. JONES N. R. KEEBLE E. F. KELLOW L. F. KING D. K I R T L A N D C. A. E. KNIPE P. G. LAST A. J. LAST W. A. LEE H. J. L E O N A R D P. LING S. L O N G H U R S T J. L O U D O N P. T. MARSH M. M A R S H A L L R. V. A . M A Y B U R Y G. W. MILFORD P. (PMi) MOORE D. R. M O U N T A I N J. R. M U R P H Y P. W. N A U N T O N C. R. N E W T O N M. NORTH SUFFOLK WILDFOWLERS ASS. OCKLETON D. W. O ' C O N N O R F. ODELL D. J. O ' S U L L I V A N J. M. OTTLEY M. P A C K A R D M. P AINE A. R. J. PARKER M. P A R T R I D G E J.

PATRICK E. W. P A Y N W. H. PEARSON B. A. PEMBERTON J. E. L. PETERS I. PIOTROWSKI S. H. Q U I N N P. RAINCOCK J. L. READ J. R. R I C H M O N D W. K. RILEY D. A. ROBERTSON J. J. ROBINSON T. ROGERS N. R. SEAGO J. R. SEARS E. W. SKINNER J. R. SORENSON J. STEELE-DREW B. STEELE-DREW S. STEGGALL P. STILL R STOUR ESTUARY BIRD GROUP SUFFOLK ORNITHOLOGIST'S GROUP SUFFOLK TRUST FOR N A T U R E CONSERVATION TAYLOR D. R. TAYLOR M. T H O M P S O N B. T O D H U N T E R J. F. TRUBRIDGE M. U . E . A . BIRD SOCIETY U R B A N O W I C Z T. V A N E J. VINE A. E. WALLER C. S. W A L T O N R. W A R R E N R. B. WATERS R. J. WESTCOTT A. WHALEY M. WHITE J. A. WHITING E. WILLIAMS N. W O O L N O U G H R. J. W R I G H T M. T.


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Suffolk Birds 1981  

Volume 31

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