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Suffolk Birds 1985 Published by the Suffolk Naturalists' Society

Contents Editorial Review of the Year Systematic List Earliest/Latest Migrant Dates Table Landguard Bird Observatory Report 1985 Recently notified Ringing Recoveries affecting Suffolk Descriptions of five 1985 Suffolk rarities Black-winged Pratincole at Minsmere Greater Yellowlegs at Minsmere Ring-billed Gull at Trimley Collared Flycatcher at Lowestoft Nutcracker at Westleton Notices List of Contributors

Cover illustration: Nutcracker


By Reg Snook

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3 5 6 64 65 69

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78 79 80 81 82 83 85



Barn Owl

Editor P. W. MURPHY and Recorder R. B. WARREN assisted by The County Ornithological Records Committee S. H. PIOTROWSKI (Chairman), H. R. BEECROFT, B. J. BROWN, J. H. GRANT, G. J. JOBSON, M. MARSH, D. R. MOORE, C. S. WALLER and M. WRIGHT


Hobby — a pair bred successfully, rearing three young.

Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society Aprii 1987 Printed by Healeys, Fore Street, Ipswich, Suffolk

Editorial Submission of Records.

It greatly assists the preparatory work that is required before the compilation of Suffolk Birds can commence if records are submitted on a monthly or quarterly basis. Records for the previous year received after 28th Feb. cannot be guaranteed inclusion in that year's report. Please send ail records to R. B. Warren, 37 Dellwood Avenue, Felixstowe, Suffolk IP11 9HW.


Observers are reminded that detailed descriptions are required for county rarities and the following is the current list of species in this category: Blackthroated and Great Northern Divers; Red-necked, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes; ail Shearwaters; Storm and Leach's Petrels; Shag; Purple Héron; White Stork; Bean Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Ruddy Duck, Honey Buzzard, Red Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Goshawk, Roughlegged Buzzard, Hobby, Peregrine, Quail, Spotted Crake, Corncrake, Kentish Plover, Dotterel, Temminck's Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Phalaropes, Pomarine and Long-tailed Skuas, Mediterranean, Sabine's and Iceland Gulls; Roseate Tern, Black Guillemot, Little Auk, Puffin, Hoopoe, Richard's and Tawny Pipits, Dipper, Bluethroat, Savi's, Aquatic, Hippolais, Barred and Yellowbrowed Warblers; Red-breasted Flycatcher, Golden Oriole, Raven, Serin, Scarlet Rosefinch, Ortolan, Cirl and Lapland Buntings plus any species of less than regular appearance, outside their normal season or habitat, and unusually large numbers of common birds.

Changes to the County Records Committee.

Becauseof thedramatic, and very welcome, recent increase in the number of active birdwatchers who submit records of bird sightings made in Suffolk, production of the annual report has become a very time-consuming exercise. The editor of Suffolk Birds 1985, Philip Murphy, has resigned following completion of the report because of the amount of time involved. His rôle has been taken on by Steve Piotrowski who is also chairman of the Records Committee and of the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group (S.O.G.). In an attempt to lighten the Editor's burden and publish the annual report in the following calendar year, ail of the Records Committee members will contribute towards the compilation of Suffolk Birds. Following a membership reshuffle, Ron Hoblyn, Mike Jeanes and Jeremy Sorensen have retired from the Records Committee — our thanks go to ail three for their contributions. In their place we welcome Brian Brown (former county B.T.O. représentative), Mike Marsh (Landguard Bird Observatory member), Rex Beecroft (Chairman, Landguard Bird Observatory), John Grant (S.O.G. Bulletin Editor) and Malcolm Wright (N.C.C. Breckland warden).


The Editor wishes to personally thank Bob Warren, our County Recorder, for his prodigious efforts in providing the initial information on which the Systematic List is based, and Derek Moore who compiled the Ringing Report (together with Ian Peters), summarised the original Rarities Committee submissions to form the basis of five rarity accounts and provided the Editor with a plentiful supply of helpful information. Spécial thanks go to Terry Palmer — Wildfowl, John Grant — Waders and Brian Brown — Skuas to Woodpeckers for compiling those sections of the Systematic List. Also many thanks to Reg Snook for the cover illustration, Craig Robson, Malcolm 3

Ausden, George Brown, Mike Parker, Nick Pike, John Grant and David Bakewell for additional illustrations and Roger Tidman, Eric Hosking, Roger Beecroft and Brian Brown for the photographs. Rex Beecroft and Alan Paine compiled the annual Landguard Bird Observatory report and kindly agreed to its publication in Suffolk Birds and the county B.T.O. representatives, Mick Wright and Ray Waters, summarised the results of their 1985 surveys for inclusión in this report. Finally many thanks are due to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Suffolk Ornithologists' Group and Landguard Bird Observatory for providing records from their logs and to all the individual observers whose combined reports form the basis of Suffolk Birds 1985.

National Rarities.

It greatly assists in the compilation of Suffolk Birds if descriptions of national standard rarities in Suffolk are submitted to the British Birds Rarities Committee via Bob Warren (County Recorder) as soon as possible after the observation and not left for several months.

Boundary Changes.

It has been decided by the Suffolk Naturalists' Society Council that the boundaries of Suffolk's biological recording area should follow those of the Watsonian Vice-counties; this reverses the decisión made in 1974 to use the boundaries created by local government re-organisation for bird recording. The differences between the Watsonian and administrative boundaries have been set out in the 1984 Suffolk Naturalists' Society Transactions and in the Summer 1986 S.O.G. Bulletin. In practical terms, the major alterations are on the Norfolk/ Suffolk boundary, principally in the Thetford Warren area and in the former district of Lothingland between Fritton Decoy and Breydon Water. The species total on the county list that has been published in recent issues of Suffolk Birds includes Allen's Gallinule, Ivory Gull and White-throated Sparrow, all of which were recorded within the new administrative boundary of Norfolk but were in Suffolk at the time of their occurrence. We can now retrospectively add two new species to the county list on the basis that they were both seen on the south side of Breydon Water and, as such, qualify as Suffolk birds, i.e. Greater Yellowlegs 8th to 13th Sept. 1975 and Greater Sand Plover 17th April 1981. We hope that observers will readily accept the decisión to alter our recording boundary and submit ornithological records from these revised areas to our Recorder.

Request for Articles, Photographs and Drawings.

We are aiways grateful for relevant articles, colour photographs and drawings for inclusión in Suffolk Birds. One of the reasons for the belated publication of this 1985 issue is that a lot of editorial time was spent in trying to find contributors who were prepared to submit work for publication; although we know that the talent exists within Suffolk, most of the published drawings and half of the photographs carne from ornithologists based outside the county. It is our aim to make Suffolk Birds a home-based publication and, as such, appeal to all Suffolk-based ornithological photographers, artists and authors not to be reluctant in submitting the results of their endeavours for inclusión in our annual report. It is hoped that the decisión by the Suffolk Naturalists' Society Council to publish colour photographs in Suffolk Birds will result in a plentiful supply of photographic work. Please submit contributions to the Editor, Mr. S. Piotrowski, 18 Cobham Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP3 9JD. 4

Review of the Year Conservation.

National and local conservation organisations have united in determined opposition to the proposal by the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company to extend their port complex up the Orwell estuary as far as Fagbury Point on the Trimley Marshes. These proposals by the F.D.R.C. will, if given Parliamentary consent, have far-reaching consequences for the waders that feed and roost on the lower Orwell estuary. The final outcome of the Parliamentary deliberations is awaited with concerned interest — all developments are detailed in S.O.G. Bulletins.

Breeding Season Summary.

Factors beyond our control seriously affected the breeding success of several species. One of the effects of the harsh weather during January and February was to drastically reduce the subsequent breeding populations of some of our resident species, notably Cetti's Warbler (almost completely eliminated), Kingfisher and Stonechat. The breeding populations of many of our common summer migrants, especially those of the Sand Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher, remained at a low ebb. Amongst the reasons for this failure to improve breeding numbers and success must surely be the continuing drought in the birds' wintering areas in the Sahel region of west Africa and Britain's cool, wet spring and summer. On a more optimistic note, the rarer breeding species produced some remarkable success stories; amongst the highlights were record totals of Marsh Harriers and Black Redstarts, about 100 "churring" Nightjars in the coastal region alone, 130 pairs of Little Terns, four successful pairs of Fulmars and the presence of Parrot Crossbills with fledged juveniles at the 1984 site. On the other side of the equation, there were only nine "booming" Bitterns, two successful pairs of Red-backed Shrikes and an absence of breeding Garganey. As a possible pointer to the future, a pair of Little Egrets were watched displaying at Minsmere on 28th May.

Rarer Species.

As well as the retrospective additions of Greater Sand Plover and Greater Yellowlegs (see Boundary Changes section in Editorial), species new to the county in 1985 were Collared Flycatcher (Lowestoft, May), Black-winged Pratincole (Minsmere, July), Ring-billed Gull (Trimley, September) and Water Pipit (recently granted full specific status by the B.O.U. Records Committee). A Blackheaded Wagtail at Landguard in late June is the first county record of this subspecies of Yellow Wagtail. Amongst the many other highlights during a vintage spring and summer for rarer species were Crane, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Caspian Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Roller, five Bluethroats and two Ortolan Buntings. The excitement for rarity seekers continued into the autumn and early winter with records of Great White Egret, White-tailed Eagle, nine Pectoral Sandpipers, two Dowitchers, a record total of Pomarine Skuas, Long-tailed Skua, Sabine's Gull, Richard's Pipit, Tawny Pipit, nine Yellow-browed Warblers, a remarkably confiding Nutcracker, Serin and Ortolan Bunting. At the end of 1985, the County List stood at 349 species.


1985 Systematic List The species sequence is that of the "British Birds" list of " T h e Birds of the Western Palearctic". Dashed entries in tabulated sets of monthly counts indicate that no information has been received from that particular site in that month. Red-throated Diver: Several observers commented on this species' relative scarcity during January-March when compared with recent years. Counts of 100 Benacre 1st Feb., 250 Easton Bavents 2nd Feb. and 318 Minsmere 3rd Feb., were by far the largest recorded totals — it seems likely that these all refer to the same flock. Spring passage off Landguard in April peaked at 11 on 24th. One at Minsmere 19th June was probably oversummering off our coast. The first bird of the autumn was off Landguard 6th Sept., but it was not until December that significant counts were reported; e.g. 243 Minsmere 8th and up to 100 Benacre 7th. One was found well inland at Lakenheath 22nd Jan. The bird first noted on Alton Water on 31st Dec. 1984 remained there until 2nd Feb. Black-throated Diver: Another excellent year with at least nine during JanuaryFebruary and seven during late autumn. These totals included one on Alton Water 10th Jan.-13th Feb., one or two in the Ipswich Docks area 10th-23rd Jan., one on a flooded field at Southwold 26th Jan. and many reports of at least one in the Benacre area 16th Nov.-15th Dec. One off Benacre 16th Sept. equals the county's earliest autumn record. Great Northern Diver: The only reports were of single birds off Minsmere 29th Nov. and Landguard 30th Dec. Little Grebe: Only 20 breeding pairs were located at 14 sites but there were no reports from favoured areas of the Little Ouse. An adult was feeding three downy juveniles on Benacre Pits as late as 6th Oct. The largest winter gatherings were of 30 Woodbridge 9th Jan., 25 Long Melford 14th Jan., 19 Ipswich Docks 20th Jan. and 15 Lake Lothing January-February. One was observed swimming under ice on the River Gipping at Bramford 16th Feb. Great Crested Grebe: Approximately 45 pairs were reported from 12 sites but no information was received from the Waveney Valley gravel pits; the major site was Alton Water with about 20 successful pairs. The harsh weather conditions during the first winter resulted in some impressive totals at the main wintering sites: Alton Water Orwell Stour

J 169 100 46

F 143 12 5

M — 7 8

A 105 32

S 99 6

O 96 7



N 112 5 14

D 77 10 25

There were coastal reports from eight sites, principally at Benacre with 14 on 3rd Nov. and 20 on 7th Dec.; a pair were displaying offshore at Felixstowe 25th Apr. Red-necked Grebe: There was a minor influx into the county during January-March with reports from Minsmere (four), Alton Water (two), Benacre, Ipswich Docks, 6

Pinmill, Lake Lothing, Lound and Ramsholt. None were reported during the second winter period. Slavonian Grebe: An above average year with site reports as follows — Alton Water: One from 1984 was joined by a second 12th Jan. both remaining to 12th Feb. and one to 17th Feb.; two 8th-17th Nov. and one remained to 24th Nov. River Orwell: Singles 8th-19th Jan., 10th Feb. and 29th Dec. Shingle Street: One 29th Jan. Minsmere: Singles 11th and 26th-27th Jan. and 10th Feb.; four 30th Nov. and two next day. Benacre: One 30th-31st Mar. In the autumn, singles 19th Oct. and 4th-29th Dec. Black-necked Grebe: The only first winter period report was of a single at Melton 16th Jan. but during the spring one stayed at Trimley Lake 29th Mar.-2nd Apr. and another, in full summer plumage, was at Livermere 15th May. An immature bird was on Benacre Broad 25th-26th July and the final report was of one on Alton Water 26th Nov. Fulmar: Up to 13 birds frequented the county's breeding site, first established in 1983, between 25th Mar. and 9th Aug.; five pairs attempted to breed, four of them successfully — the resulting four juveniles were all ringed. At least two other potential breeding sites were prospected, in one case by up to 12 birds. Offshore passage totals were very low; there were no reports during the period 8th Sept.-9th Nov. Unusual sightings were of one flying north over Holywells Park, Ipswich 23rd May and another heading inland over Oulton Broad 16th May.

Sooty Shearwater: Typically dated reports were of single birds, all in September, off Minsmere 1st and 29th and Benacre 4th. Manx Shearwater: In a generally disappointing year for sea birds, the only reports, all in September, were from Covehithe 2nd (two), Easton Bavents 29th, Minsmere 16th and Landguard 10th. One was released at Dunwich 7th Sept. after having been 7

captured well off course in Northampton. Storm Petrel: One flew north off Landguard 30th Oct. (MM) Petrel sp: Reports of single birds flying south off Lowestoft and Minsmere, both on 1st Sept., probably relate to one individual — considered almost certainly to have been a Storm Petrel by one observer. Gannet: Monthly totals were: J 1

F 1

M 2

A 15

M 32

J 13

J 13

A 23

S 68

O 7

N 7

D 3

When compared with 1984, these figures indicate a strong spring movement but a mediocre autumn passage. The actual spring totals were probably significantly greater than those above — fishermen reported " m a n y " about six miles off Lowestoft in April. The largest single autumn day total was 18 Minsmere 11th Sept. An exhausted juvenile beside the Little Ouse inland at Lakenheath 12th Sept. was found to be ringed; when released it flew off westwards — see Ringing Report. Cormorant: Peak monthly counts at the major sites were: F M A J S 47 50 11 34 Melton 185 — 21 9 105 63 Minsmere 67 83 158 30 69 Orwell — 84 106 43 125 Stour — 70 100 5 0 Alton Water — — — — 91 Aide/Ore — — — — 2 Sizewell

O 147 136 76 84 —

73 20

N 172 12 101 170 22 119 60

D 89 37 130 117 30 58 32

There were frequent reports from inland sites, principally from the Stour, Gipping and Lark river valleys; maximum counts were 40 Barham 12th Feb. and 26 Sudbury 27th Jan. Shag: Harsh weather conditions were presumably responsible for there being up to 20 in the Lowestoft Harbour area 9th-16th Jan. Elsewhere during the first winter there were singles at four coastal/estuarine sites including a much observed immature, at Ipswich Docks 8th Jan.-28th Feb. (joined by an adult 19th-20th Jan.) and one inland at Sudbury 12th Feb. Single disorientated birds picked up in two Ipswich suburban areas during 10th11th Jan. were subsequently released at Shingle Street when the weather relented (RSPCA). The first autumn bird was at Lowestoft 16th Sept. and two were reported from Landguard in October. A minor influx from mid-November resulted in reports during the month of at least 25 at 10 coastal/estuarine sites and one inland at Needham Market; coastal site totals included six Lowestoft, six Felixstowe and four Benacre. Single birds were at four coastal sites in December and three at Lowestoft • remained there into 1986. Bittern: Birds were located at three sites during the summer with a maximum of nine males. At a site where there were five males, seven females were also present. Booming was heard from 8th Mar. During the harsh weather conditions that prevailed during the first winter, single birds were at North Cove throughout January, Flatford 21st-28th Jan., Cornard8

Long Melford area 22nd Jan.-28th Feb., Thorpeness 6th Mar. and Lackford 11th Mar. Little Egret: Despite many coastal sightings it seems likely that they relate to two or possibly three individuals. The first report was the most spectacular — two displaying on Minsmere Scrape 28th May (MBa, BC). Subsequent sightings of a single bird were at Havergate Island 29th May, Felixstowe Ferry 1st June, Minsmere 19th and 24th-25th June, Orfordness 30th June and the Shingle Street-Havergate Island area 18th July-5th Sept. (many observers). Great White Egret: An adult at Minsmere 6th-20th Oct. and also at Walberswick on 20th is the county's second record (RF, GJJ, AL et al). Heron: The B.T.O. Heronry Census revealed 169-187 occupied nests at 13 sites (please see separate article). Peak estuary counts occurred in October, principally on the Aide-Ore (56), Stour (52) and Orwell (21). Coastal migrants were recorded at Landguard in January (one), March (one), April (two), June (two), July (one), September (three) and October (two). Spoonbill: Single adults were at Minsmere 15th-17th May, 27th May-9th June and 5th-27th July. One flew south over Benacre 4th June. An immature was recorded at both Benacre and Minsmere 13th Oct. What is considered to have been a different immature was in the Aide-Deben area from 15th Dec. onwards. Mute Swan: Maximum monthly totals were: Falkenham Woodbridge Stour Aide/Ore/ Butley Orwell

J 98 —

132 —


F 153 —

112 —


M 122 —

131 —


92 144

O 13 35 186

N 60 22 142

D 93 2 135

40 34

62 27

93 37

81 67

S —

The main feature of these counts is the continuing drift away from traditional wintering grounds (e.g. Ipswich Docks and the upper reaches of the Stour estuary) to coastal wheat fields. This was particularly evident at Falkenham on the River Deben and at Sudbourne on the Aide. The largest gathering in Ipswich Docks, 41 on 20th Jan., was only 10% of the site's maximum of 400 recorded in 1971. A possible explanation is that due to more sophisticated offloading equipment there has been a significant decrease in grain spillage coinciding with a new food source, winter wheat, being available at coastal localities. Other counts included 90 Woodbridge 16th June, 71 Lakenheath 21st Jan. and 56 Havergate 6th Apr. A total of 19 breeding pairs was reported from 16 sites, mainly coastal; all 1987 breeding records would be gratefully received. Two were found, dead, frozen into the ice on the River Deben near Wilford Bridge in February. Bewick's Swan: Widespread reports, particularly from the coast during the first winter period; monthly maxima at the principal sites were:


Minsmere Aldeburgh Sudbourne/Iken Boyton/Gedgrave Lack ford/Cavenham

J 21 55 86 69 77

F 35 105 100 37 4

M 42 114

N 23 1

— —

54 26

D 18 40 50 9 8

Additional notable totals were of 101 Eyke 17th Feb. and 70 Covehithe 19th Jan. Weather movements were widely noted in early January, the largest being 80 over Brantham 8th, 60 over West Stow 6th and 34 in from over the sea at Landguard 6th. Emigrants were reported from several sites in early March; particularly noteworthy were the flock of 110 flying north-east over Gunton 5th and an increase in the Aldeburgh flock up to 114 on 9th. There were no reports between 31st Mar. (60, Aldeburgh) and 22nd Oct. (Minsmere). Direct immigration was recorded in November at Benacre 3rd (11) and Southwold 12th (eight). Whooper Swan: There was a distinct arrival in January, presumably related to the harsh weather conditions; during that month there were sightings at nine coastal and three inland sites including 15 Sudbourne 12th, 13 Deben estuary 22nd, 10 Minsmere from 27th and one in Ipswich Docks 20th. In addition, birds flew west over Trimley 3rd (two), Landguard 4th (two) and Minsmere 18th (two). Most of the birds reported in January had moved on elsewhere before the month's end. In February there were 11 Walberswick 16th and regular sightings at Minsmere peaked at 13 on 12th. On 9th Mar. there were nine Boyton and three Aldeburgh; the final report of the winter was of two flying east out to sea at Minsmere 31st Mar. In November four flew west over Walberswick 3rd and seven were on Havergate 10th; the only December sightings were at Sudbourne 1st (three) and Benacre 2nd (eight). Bean Goose: As with the Whooper Swan, the majority of first winter reports occurred in January when there were up to seven at seven coastal sites between Harkstead and Benacre. In addition there were 21 South Cove 19th and at Aldeburgh sightings commenced with 12 on 27th increasing to 22 next day and up to 24 in early February. The only February reports were of two Covehithe 16th and the Aldeburgh flock, which remained to the month's end peaking at 30 on 16th. The flock at Aldeburgh 28th Jan. contained at least two birds of the Russian race rossicus. The only second winter reports were of one flying south Benacre 4th Nov., 10 Minsmere 18th-28th Nov. and six Sudbourne 29th Dec. Pink-footed Goose: The harsh first winter weather failed to induce any major influx of this goose into Suffolk. Coastal reports were of only two Reydon 19th Jan., one Benacre 21st Feb. and four in the Minsmere area 24th Feb.-24th Mar. Inland one frequented the Livermere-Lackford-Ixworth area during January-March. Migrants recorded in late autumn were 12 north over Lowestoft 30th Nov., 46 west along the River Lark valley at Barton Mills 9th Dec. and nine south over Sizewell 27th Dec. One accompanied the Canada Geese at Livermere 15th Dec. This species remains the rarest regularly overwintering grey goose in the county despite the presence of up to 15,000 in north Norfolk in recent winters.


White-fronted Goose: Peak monthly counts at the main coastal feeding sites were: J 180 36 200

Minsmere Aldeburgh Sudbourne

F 100 60 19

M 77 — —

N 14 34 16

D 38 40 106

Overall there were reports from 13 coastal sites during the first winter period; totals in addition to those in the table included 100 flying west Southwold 26th Jan., 60 over Walberswick 3rd Feb. and c.60 with the Brent Goose flock on Trimley Marshes 19th-21st Jan. The only evidence of emigration was the flock of 77 that arrived at Minsmere on 9th Mar., one of which was identified as being of the Greenland sub-species flavirostris; 25 remained at Minsmere until 23rd Mar. Single injured or escaped birds were at Minsmere 2nd May, Benacre from 17th Aug. onwards into September and Bradfield Combust 7th Sept. The first autumn arrivals were at Minsmere 10th Oct. (one) and Sudbourne 13th Oct. (six). Late autumn movements included 16 south Easton Bavents 26th Nov., 35 north Alton Water 8th Dec. and 11 in from over the sea Minsmere 28th Dec. Greylag Goose: Maximum monthly totals were: Alton Water Benacre Minsmere

J 40

F 40

s 67 102 176



O 68 —


N 75 —


D 58 —


These figures show further increases in the county's feral population but the only breeding records were from Livermere (two pairs), Reydon and Freston. The only observations that might have referred to genuine immigrants rather than birds of feral origins were 13 south off Southwold 13th Oct. and 3 high up in from over the sea Dunwich 27th Dec. Snow Goose: Blue-phase birds of assumed feral origin were reported during the year at Benacre (two), Minsmere (two), Lackford/Livermere (two), Ixworth and Long Mel ford. Likewise, white-phase birds were noted at Livermere, Minsmere, Ixworth and Benacre. Canada Goose: Dedicated goose counters provided the information for the following table: Livermere Lackford Benacre Havergate Alton Water Long Melford Minsmere

M J F 800 450 111 918 449 213 400 146 —

— 200 250 217


J J 144 270 81 — — — 389 — 180 9 10 — 100 100 — — 136 115 300

A — —

M 80 32

o N A S 700 1000 68 847 241 900 600 856 300 800 600 800 327 332 254 — 50 203 170 209 — — 280 280 150 100 160 200

D 714 350 600 —

313 320 262

Amongst many breeding reports, 20 pairs raised 51 juveniles in the Long Melford area. An unusual sight was of c.600 on the sea in calm weather conditions about a mile off Benacre 26th Sept. 11

Barnacle Goose: An interesting series of observations in the Benacre-Southwold area early in the year was considered to refer to wild birds; up to 17 first recorded at Benacre in late December 1984 remained there throughout January — only five remained on 5th Feb. In addition, 21 flew south-west over Benacre 22nd Jan. and what was probably the same flock of 17 was at Benacre 17th Feb. and South wold 19th Feb. Feral birds were recorded at 16 sites; at most localities only one or two birds were noted but at the three main sites there were the following counts: J Benacre Minsmere Livermere/Lackford

1 8

F 7 6

M 5

A 6

M 2

J 10 3

J 2 3

A 2 3 6

S 2 2 5

O 1 2 —

N 2 2 4

D —

3 1

Brent Goose: Maximum monthly estuary totals were:

Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 1200 500 1520 424

F 300 1000 1362 543

M — — 1300 674


O 9 3 36 137

N 58 — 500 1002

D 358 1500 1500 583

Outside the normal migration periods, offshore movements continued at Landguard during the winter months. Until recently it was considered that these sightings referred to localised movements between the Deben and Orwell/Stour estuaries; however, it has been established that there is a direct overland route between the estuaries and, as such, the Landguard reports probably refer to longer range inter-county movements. 4000 south off Landguard 4th Jan. was the largest coastal movement in response to the onset of harsh weather. Unusual reports during the harsh January weather were of two inland near Icklingham 19th and nine grazing on the grass runway of Ipswich Airport 25th. A variety of bird scaring devices were used with some success to disperse birds from their newly found, and preferred, food source of such young crops as wheat, barley and oilseed rape. An increase in the number of special shooting licences issued by M.A.F.F. in areas where crop damage is proven has probably resulted in more birds being injured and thus unable to migrate. Summer sightings this year were of four Felixstowe 25th May, five Havergate 22nd June and then one in the Boyton/Orfordness area through to September, one Minsmere 17th July and two south off Benacre 26th July. The first returning birds of the autumn were 32 on the Stour 15th Sept.; coastal passage extended from 26th Sept. through to mid-December. The peak southerly movements in October were on 6th when counts were of 560 Sizewell, 460 Southwold and 120 Walberswick; during October, 4685 were recorded off Landguard which is well below average for recent years. In November the largest passage totals occurred during 14th-20th, e.g. 500 Southwold 18th, 400 Dunwich 14th and 350 Southwold 14th — some counts in recent years have been more than 10 times these figures. An immature bird frequented the Sudbury area 5th-10th Nov. Birds of the pale-bellied race hrota were noted at Boyton 14th Jan. (six), Sudbourne 23rd Jan. (two), Lowestoft 26th Jan. (two) and the Trimley/Falkenham area 27th Jan.-18th Feb. (three) and 22nd Dec. (two).



Egyptian Goose: SuccessfuI breeding was recorded at Ixworth, Lound and Livermere. The principal sites for this species are Livermere and Benacre with the following monthly counts: Livermere Benacre

J 7 —

F — —

M 8 —

M 10

A 6 2

J 11 5

J 13 5

A 13


S —



N 11 —

D 13 4

One or two were recorded during the year at Somerleyton, Kessingland, Holbrook, Trimley, Minsmere, Southwold, Gunton and Thorpeness; five were at Fakenham Magna 24th May. Ruddy Shelduck: Single birds were at Holbrook September-December, Sudbury 30th Aug. and Benacre 8th Sept.; two were at Benacre Ist Dec. — all of these records are assumed to refer to escapees. Shelduck: Minsmere Orwell Aide Stour Deben

J 252 1836 —

1196 2000

F 66 826 —

1100 800

M 88 1089 400 1768 —

S —

276 282 238 —

O 16 80 301 270 —

N 140 414 543 620 —

D 45 748 1085 1036 —

The maximum count at the principal inland site, Livermere, was of 105 adults 7th May, but breeding success was very poor at this locality because of the wet summer; additional inland breeding pairs were at Culford (three), Bury B.F. Pits (two), Lackford (two-three), Cavenham, Knettishall and Holton St. Peter airfield. The largest counts of juveniles on the estuaries were of 100 Levington 29th July and 120 Martlesham Creek Ist Aug. Southerly autumn passage totals were well below average; the largest count was of 73 Landguard 6th Oct. Mandarín: A record year for this category C species. An eclipse male was at Benacre 14th-27th Oct. and a female at Livermere 29th Dec. During 25th-27th Sept, up to four — adult maie and female and two eclipse or immature maies — were on Framlingham Mere. Wigeon: The massive influx during the harsh first winter weather clearly showed the importance of our coastal and estuarine marshes to immigrant wildfowl. Peak monthly counts were: Minsmere Alde/Butley Deben Orwell Stour Lakenheath

J 2700 10000 3000 2400 1468 375

F 1880 1000 1000 184 1776 120

M 530 205 —

123 928 400

S 105 348 —

40 702 —

O 250 1493 —

250 1129 —

N 600 2468 —

532 1440 —

D 600 5082 —

764 1301 —

The 10000 at Gedgrave in January were in an emaciated condition — waste grain was provided for them. Landguard recorded the largest southerly coastal movements in January with 3238 during the month which included a maximum of 2000 on 7th. 13

In early June up to four were at Minsmere and single males at Felixstowe and on the Blyth estuary. Two pairs frequented Benacre in June and a pair were at Lakenheath July-August — there was no proof of breeding. 11 birds were at Benacre from 7th July onwards into August. Coastal autumn passage from 10th Aug. was not spectacular; peak days were — 6th Oct.: 138 Landguard; 18th Nov.: 392 Southwold, 332 Landguard; 1st Dec.: 420 Easton Bavents. Gadwall: Successful breeding was recorded at Benacre, Nacton, Shottisham, Alton Water, Minsmere, Easton Broad and Barton Mills — undoubtedly many successful pairs went unrecorded, especially in the Breckland region. J Minsmere Lackford Lakenheath Alton Water

40 30 7

F 110 63 95 20

M 45 18 40 —

O 133

S 10 4

N 75 18

A 260



An unusual mid-summer coastal movement was of two south off Landguard 23rd June; additional passage records from this site were on 26th Sept. (four) and 15th Nov. (two). Teal: Described as being a common breeding species at Minsmere but no reports of nesting from any other sites. Coastal autumn passage movements from 14th Aug. peaked on 26th Sept. when 198 flew south off Landguard and 18th Nov. with counts of 104 Southwold and 180 Landguard. Monthly counts at the principal sites were: Benacre Minsmere Alde/Butley Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford Lakenheath

J 10 465 —

500 255 160 19 56 180

F —


M —


153 16 16 64 80

18 52 2 34 135

S 150 15 348 —

180 108 15 32 —

O 500 200 426 —

255 81 21 80 —

N 170 250 848 —

164 237 60 —

D 195 410 440 —

300 536 43 36

Green-winged Teal: An adult male of the Nearctic sub-species carolinensis was at Minsmere 7th July (TDC et al). Eighth county record. Mallard: Benacre Minsmere Alde/Butley Orwell Stour Alton Water




J 220 550



929 1414 355

547 1131 160

262 642 —

S — —

170 293 340 241

O —

151 163 581 918 337

N 409 500 402 557 1407 500

D 240 420 875 839 1706 419

Many hundreds of captive bred birds were released for shooting purposes at Livermere in August. A late breeding record was of an adult female accompanied by 12 three-day-old juveniles at Hadleigh lOth-llth Nov. Pintail: There were no confïrmed breeding records although two were at Minsmere during June/July and a female at Benacre in July/August. Principal coastal and estuarine counts were: Minsmere Alde/Butley Deben Orwell Stour

J 37 —

211 309 63

F 77

M 30

O 4 52

75 108

111 71

72 86

142 93

27 17

S 6

94 400

N 8 137

D 2 58

The only count of the coastal autumn passage to reach double figures was of 45 off Landguard 15th Nov. Inland sightings of this species are scarce; reports this year were of five Lakenheath 30th Jan., three Lackford 14th Mar., two Livermere 12th Dec. and one Sudbury 23rd-24th Jan. Garganey: Breeding was not proven although at a coastal site there were sightings of a female 18th June, maie 30th June and up to three birds in July. One or two spring passage birds were noted at five coastal sites during 5th Apr.-26th May and a maie inland at Lackford 19th May. Autumn passage birds were recorded at Benacre and Minsmere from 2nd Aug.; two were at Benacre 31st Aug.-3rd Sept, and a late individual at Minsmere 6th Oct.

Garganey Shoveler: Breeding season reports were from Lackford, Livermere, Benacre, Shottisham, Orfordness, Reydon, Lakenheath and Minsmere but successful pairs were located at only the latter two sites. Autumn and winter monthly totals were: 15

J Minsmere Alde/Butley Lakenheath Alton Water

F 66

M 31

26 18

36 8

30 5

S 63

O 87 64

N 50 65

D 36 65




As an example of how this species is decreasing as a winter visitor to the south-east of the county, 113 were counted in Alton Water as recently as December 1983. Five flew south off Landguard 15th Nov. Red-crested Pochard: Single males were at Melton 19th Jan., Alton Water 20th Mar., Walberswick 30th June and Minsmere 17th Nov. Pochard: Maximum monthly counts were: J Benacre Orwell Alton Water Thorington Street Lackford

200 217 41 139

F 100 89 600 —


M —

S 37





O —

12 100 60 29

N 38 44 400 125 198

D 300 70 533 55 186

In addition, there were 150 Lowestoft Harbour 15th Jan., 123 Stour estuary 23rd Feb. and 150 Cavenham 27th Dec. The 200 on the Orwell in January were part of a marvellous wildfowl spectacle in the Ipswich Wet Dock. Successful breeding pairs were located at Livermere (three), Minsmere (two), Benacre and Trimlev. 40 were noted on autumn passage off Landguard during 14th Oct.-20th Nov. including 35 on 15th Nov. Ferruginous Duck: Apart from in 1982, this species has now been recorded annually in the county since 1978. The first sighting of the year was of a female at Ipswich Docks 28th Jan.-15th Feb. and what was probably the same bird at Alton Water 16th-17th Feb. During late autumn a male was at Minsmere 6th Nov. and two at Lackford G.P. 13th Dec. Tufted Duck: Successful breeding was reported from 15 widely scattered sites; Trimley Lake remains the principal site with 10 broods totalling 57 juveniles 17th July. Harsh first winter weather resulted in large counts on unfrozen waters: Benacre Ipswich Docks Alton Water Lackford

J 270 1150 118 215

F 30 450 700 251

M —

70 —


S — —

107 —



166 74

176 140

D 365 —

464 461

The 1150 in Ipswich Wet Dock 30th Jan. is a site record, more than doubling the 1978/79 winter figures. Aythya Hybrid: Regular watching of Aythya flocks resulted in reports of five hybrids; male Tufted Duck types at Ipswich Docks 17th Jan. and Alton Water 8th Dec., male Pochard type Alton Water 24th Nov.-8th Dec., male Scaup type Minsmere 17th Oct. and a female type Ipswich Docks 13th Feb. 16

Piale 1: This immature male Long-tailed Duck remained in the Oulton Broad area until June.

P h o t o Brian Brown

Plate 3: Three wate Red-spotted

Bluethroats were found on the coast in May. P h o t o Roger Beecroft

Plate 4: Sixteen pairs of Redstarts bred at Minsmere.


P h o t o Roger Beecroft

Scaup: One of the highlights of the first winter was an influx of this species; the largest feeding flocks were: Lowestoft/Pakefield Benacre Ipswich Docks Alton Water

J 140 73 36 2

F 80 80 8 52

M 84 2 11

Careful recording indicated that there was considerable movement between the Lowestoft and Benacre flocks. The maximum Orwell estuary total, including Ipswich Docks, was 45 on 30th Jan. Sea-watchers recorded northerly movements off Minsmere 16th Jan. (64) and 18th (28) and Slaughden 16th Jan. (18) and 13th Feb. (30). A female at Sudbury 18th Jan. and a male at the same site 12th Feb. were the only inland records. The only summer sighting was of a male off Landguard 28th July. There were reports from five coastal sites during the late autumn but only at Benacre and Alton Water were there regular sightings; maximum counts were 13 Benacre 25th Dec. and five Alton Water 15th Dec. One or two females were inland at Lackford G.P. 11th Nov.-16th Dec. Eider: Widely reported, especially during the early months and autumn. The largest feeding flocks during January-March were as follows: Lowestoft Minsmere Shingle Street Orwell

J 29 73 28 20

F 9 5 60 6

M 11


Extensive coastal movement was recorded during the third week of January — 16th: nine south Landguard 18th: 18 south Landguard, 29 north Lowestoft 19th: northerly movements off Shingle Street (21), Aldeburgh (18), Southwold (27) and Covehithe (16) 20th: 13 south Landguard There were mid-summer reports from Slaughden (three), Walberswick (two), Easton Bavents (two) and Bawdsey (two). An excellent autumn passage was recorded, especially at Landguard — September: 26 Landguard 14th October: 23 Landguard 3rd, 40 Landguard 15th November: 48 Landguard 15th, 13 Benacre 16th, 16 Southwold 18th, 28 Landguard 20th December: 25 Benacre 1st, 30 Minsmere, 1st Relatively few feeding flocks were located during the autumn; the largest was of 24 Minsmere 14th Sept. Long-tailed Duck: First winter records were of males off Minsmere 27th Jan. and Landguard 19th Feb.; what was probably the same immature male remained in the Lake Lothing/Oulton Broad area from 9th Jan. onwards into June by which time it had become quite tame — it would take food from the hand and chase away Mallards, (see Plate 1). 19

An additional mid-summer record was of a female on Benacre Broad 7th-9th July. Düring an excellent late autumn for the species, site records were — Benacre: immature in Broad/Pits area from 23rd Nov. onwards; singles flying north 3rd Nov. and 3rd Dec. Covehithe Broad: adult female Ist Dec. Southwold: one flying north 6th Nov. Minsmere: 2nd Nov. (one), 20th Nov. (two) Orwell: adult male mid-November; up to three immatures by mid-December Alton Water: immature 24th Nov. Common Scoter: Maximum coastal counts during the year were: J 41 50

Minsmere/Walberswick Landguard

F 80 —

M A M J J A 15 23 50 150 250 40 1 19 20 7 40 90

S O N D 70 150 200 200 3 55 15 10

Additional totals included 300 Kessingland 2nd Mar., 139 Southwold and 100 Shingle Street 25th June. An unexpected summer record was of an adult male in Ipswich Docks Southerly autumn movements peaked during mid-November, e.g. Felixstowe 14th, 60 Dunwich 17th and 46 Southwold 18th. Single males were found inland at Tuddenham (West) 19th Jan. and 29th Aug.

10th Mar. 24th July. 118 south Livermere

Velvet Scoter: An impressive year for this sea duck; totals at the two main sites can be tabulated as follows: J 6 4

Benacre/Kessingland Dunwich/Minsmere

F — 20

M 6 —

N 15 1

D 1 1

Additional first winter records up to early March were from Lowestoft (four), Orwell estuary (two), Landguard and Havergate. During spring passage, eight were off Kessingland 2nd Apr. and up to three off Minsmere in mid-May. The only summer report was of a male off Landguard 20th July. Two off Minsmere 16th Oct. were the first autumn birds. Southerly movements in November peaked off Benacre on 10th (10) and 16th (nine); additional reports during 16th-18th were from Covehithe (four), Southwold (four), Landguard (three), Minsmere and Lowestoft. Goldeneye: The effects of the cold weather early on in the year can be clearly seen in the following table: Benacre Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

J 15 88 166 28 18 11

F 15 41 200 59 25 10

M 22 2 40 4 6 16


N 9

3 6 16 6

3 10 6

D 20 7 28 5 15 7

The 200 on the Orwell in February were all together in one flock off the Shotley Marshes 28th; up to 40 were in Ipswich Docks in January.


In addition to the Lackford sightings, inland reports during the early months were from the Sudbury area (up to 10), Lakenheath (four), Icklingham (four), Thorington Street (four), Livermere (three), Needham Market (three) and Cavenham. Up to five remained at Benacre until 10th June and two immature males were present there 6th-20th July; a male was on the Deben at Martlesham 9th July. The largest count during an otherwise very light coastal autumn passage was of 18 south off Thorpeness 17th Nov. Smew: An influx that probably exceeded 100 of these immaculate "sawbills" was the highlight of the first winter period for many observers; these birds are likely to have originated from The Netherlands where the wintering population exceeds 20000. Overall, there were reports from 25 sites of which the majority were in the coastal region. The general pattern was of the largest totals being recorded in late January followed by a gradual decline throughout February. At many sites up to three were noted; the larger gatherings were as follows — Alton Water: 33 (14 adult males) 26th-27th Jan. is the largest gathering in Suffolk since the 41 at Shingle Street in January 1979; up to six in February until 26th Slaughden: 25 flew in from over the sea 16th Jan. Benacre: Up to 20 (three adult males) in January, 13 in February and 11 in March; last "redhead" on 25th Mar. Blythburgh: 11 (three adult males) 20th Jan. Ipswich Docks: up to 10 (four adult males) in mid-January Trimley Lake: nine (seven adult males) 16th Feb. Lowestoft: seven (one adult male) 15th Jan. Inland reports were from Lackford (four), Sudbury area (three), Lakenheath (two) and Livermere. Singles flew south off Landguard 18th and 22nd Jan. The only late autumn reports were all of "redheads" — one at Southwold boating lake 23rd Nov. and four Benacre 2nd-4th Dec.

Smew Red-breasted Merganser: The cold first winter weather had an equally dramatic effect upon this species; the maximum monthly counts were: Benacre Orwell Alton Water

J 8 36 10

F 9 30 5

M 7 10

N 2 7

D 1 14

The deeper waters of the Orwell are traditionally this species' principal Suffolk haunt; these first winter totals are double those of the previous winter and included up to 24 in Ipswich Docks in late January; reports from nearby Alton Water had been very scarce until this winter. Additional notable first winter reports were of 16 Shingle Street 13th Jan. and 14 flying north Landguard 18th Jan.; there were no inland reports. Passage birds in May were noted at Havergate 3rd (five) and 4th (four), Minsmere 8th (four), Benacre 8th (four) and Covehithe 15th. June sightings were of singles flying south Benacre 15th and Landguard 30th, and an eclipse male Benacre Broad 30th. The first autumn migrants were two south off Benacre 26th Sept. Coastal passage was very light; the largest single day total was six south off Landguard 15th Nov. Very few feeding birds were located away f r o m the Orwell in November/December; a iemale was inland at Cavenham 27th Dee. Goosander: The cold first winter weather resulted in sightings at 23 localities of which 18 were in the coastal région; monthly totals at the main sites during this period were: Lackford Minsmere Alton Water

J 39 36 21

F 31 5 11

M 27 —


The Lackford figures are new site record totals; a resplendent gathering of at least 50, including 20 adult males, off Sizewell 16th Jan. is the county's largest recorded flock. Additional groups included 18 Long Melford 19th Jan., 10 Livermere late January and nine Blythburgh 20th Jan. 24 migrants were recorded off Landguard during 2nd-25th Jan. including 16 flying west on 18th, which were later seen on the Orwell off Trimley Marshes. Belated migrants were noted in May at Benacre 4th (male) and up to 6th (female) and Covehithe 12th. One had returned to Lackford 29th Nov. and by late December up to 20 were present at this locality. The first coastal migrant was on 3rd Nov.; highlights of a meagre passage were four off Landguard 15th Nov. and one south off Minsmere with Common Scoters 17th Nov.; up to four were at five coastal sites during late November-early December. Ruddy Duck: Fewer records than in 1984. The only reported breeding took place at Livermere where birds were present during late March-early September. This species is notoriously elusive during the breeding season; two pairs probably bred at Livermere rearing a total of at least two and possibly three broods. At nearby Lackford G.P., a female continuously present from January up until 17th Apr., was courted by a male in early March; this latter bird soon moved on and could well have been one of the Livermere breeding males. On the coast one or two males were at Minsmere during February-April and one in Ipswich Docks 9th Jan. Honey Buzzard: One at a potential breeding site 23rd June did not remain in the area. Red Kite: Reports of a single bird in the coastal région between Minsmere and Martlesham during the period 1 Ith Mar.-15th Apr. seem likely to refer to just one 22



wandering individual (RSPB, SJB, SHP). In the autumn one was at Walberswick 7th Nov. (RSH) and another in the Benacre-Frostenden-South Cove area 6th-16th Dec. (TDC, RSH et al). White-tailed Eagle: For the third time in four years the coastal region was favoured by the presence of one of these gargantuan raptors. A second year bird was at Benacre Broad 12th Nov. (JCE) and in the Walberswick-Dunwich area 13th-16th Nov. (PJH, RSH). There were no further sightings until what is assumed to have been the same bird was relocated at Benacre Broad 29th Nov. where it remained until at least 18th Dec. (many observers). As is the habit of the larger raptors, it would spend many hours of inactivity sitting in the trees around the Broad before providing spectacular aerial displays. What it fed on is unknown but it was seen pursuing ducks on the Broad on at least one occasion. Marsh Harrier: The most successful year in modern times for this species resulted in 44 juveniles being reared from 13 nests; the outcome of two additional nests is unknown. Throughout the summer and early autumn there were many reports from the general vicinity of the breeding areas. Spring passage reports included one coming in from over the sea at Covehithe 24th Mar. and singles inland at Livermere 5th May and Eriswell 16th May. One was watched eating a Cuckoo at a coastal site 9th July. Interesting sightings during autumn passage were of two heading out over the sea at Benacre 18th Aug., singles inland at Eriswell 13th Aug., and, possibly the same bird, Barton Mills 20th Aug. and one at Landguard 28th Sept. At least seven were present during both winters.


Hen Harrier: At least 11 roosts were used during the first winter but not all simultaneously — deep snow prevented the use of some sites during the worst weather. The peak month was January when the roosting total was about 40. There were reports from 12 sites in April generally up to mid-month. The last spring sightings were of possibly the same adult male at Minsmere 15th May and Walberswick 22nd May. The first autumn reports were from the Brecks 14th Oct. and Landguard 19th Oct. when a female flew in from over the sea. By late December about 30 had been located at seven roost sites. Montagu's Harrier: The only confirmed report was of one in the Blythburgh area in early May. Unidentified "ringtail" harriers in a coastal area 28th June and at a central site 2nd July were probably of this species. Goshawk: Breeding probably took place at two sites and a juvenile female was in a third area 17th Sept. Reports were received from only two sites during the winter months. Sparrowhawk: Birds were located at 24 sites during the summer months; at least four pairs definitely bred, one of them rearing five juveniles. During both winter periods there were sightings at about 40 localities. One specialised in obtaining its food from amongst the occupants of a bird table in Felixstowe during January-February. Single coastal migrants were at Landguard 20th Apr., 6th July, 25th Sept. and 13th and 17th Oct. Buzzard: Up to 10 were reported during the first winter although there may have been some duplication between the sightings — all were in the coastal region. There was evidence of spring passage at one Breckland and five coastal sites, including up to seven at Minsmere during 24th Mar.-15th Apr. One was at Benacre 6th Apr.-12th June and an exceptionally pale individual remained there from 24th June until at least 3rd Dec. Additional summer reports were of singles at Hollesley 27th May and Haverhill 20th July. At least eight occurred in the autumn. Reports included two at Brandon 25th Aug., one over Bures 15th Oct. and two sparring in flight at Walberswick 26th Nov. Rough-legged Buzzard: The only first winter reports related to at least two in the coastal region between Minsmere and North Cove up to 3rd Mar. One at Covehithe 20th Oct. was the first autumn bird. There were many reports during November and December — these relate to two in the Brecks and up to four on the coast between Boyton and Benacre. Osprey: A moderate spring passage with the following site records: Minsmere: 27th-28th Apr. and 8th-9th June Havergate: 29th Apr. — possibly the first Minsmere bird Benacre: 8th June — possibly the second Minsmere bird Little Cornard: 18th May Nacton/Trimley area: two 29th-30th Apr. and one remained to 6th May; this latter bird was colour ringed (blue and orange) — investigations indicate that it was probably of Finnish rather than Scottish origin (per R. H. Dennis) The only autumn record was of a two year old female found injured under power lines at Somerleyton 24th Oct.; despite being cared for, it died on 3rd Nov.


Kestrel: Only 13 breeding pairs were reported which must surely be a gross underestimate — is this species such a common sight nowadays that we just take it for granted? All breeding reports would be greatly welcomed. In early April single birds were observed pursuing and catching bats at West Stow and at Timworth where the bat species was probably Noctule. At least 11 coastal migrants were recorded at Felixstowe during 1st Sept.-11th Oct. and seven at Slaughden 3rd Sept. Singles flew in from over the sea at Benacre 2nd Nov. and Felixstowe 7th Dec. Merlin: An excellent year. During the first winter reports were of up to 10 in the Brecks and 13 on the coast up to 28th Apr. A pair were observed hunting together at Covehithe 19th Jan. The first autumn bird was at Minsmere 19th Sept. but it was not until late October that a more general arrival was noted on the coast and in the Brecks. By the year's end there were up to 11 on the coast and five in the Brecks. Hobby: A pair bred successfully at the 1984 site, rearing three young. There was no reported evidence of breeding elsewhere although single birds were at two other sites in late June. The only spring passage birds were noted in May at Covehithe 12th, Minsmere 20th and Ipswich 28th. Autumn passage was the best ever recorded and took place between 2nd Aug. and 13th Oct. There were reports from Benacre (up to three in August and two 13th Oct.), Bramford (two), Lound, Covehithe, Minsmere, Sizewell, Thorpeness, Lawshall and Landguard. This latter bird, an immature female, was present 23rd28th Sept.; although it was seen to capture dragonflies, it was evidently sick and died on the latter date.

Hobby pursuing

Swift CK

Peregrine: This species is slowly increasing as a winter visitor probably because of improved breeding success on the Continent and in Britain. There were reports from — Boyton: female, 13th Jan. Bramford: adult, 18th Feb. Cavenham: 17th Mar. Minsmere: at least two 3rd-28th Apr. Walberswick: one caught a Redshank, 12th May


Red-legged Partridge: The largest reported covey was of 60 at Risby 25th Dec. Large scale releases of captive bred Chukars have resulted in that species outnumbering Red-legged Partridges by a ratio of 9:1 in some areas of south Essex. Any reports of Chukars in Suffolk and of their status relative to that of the Redlegged Partridge would be greatly welcomed. Grey Partridge: There would appear to be considĂŠrable interest in the fortunes of this game bird, with reports from 30 coastal, six central and 16 western areas. One observer considered that it was slightly increasing in north-east Suffolk although it is stili generally scarce; at Southwold two or three pairs were located where none had been present in 1984. The largest reported coveys were of 72 Thorpeness 17th Nov., 45 Cavenham 7th Jan. and 30 Sudbourne throughout January. Quail: Single birds were located at Lavenham and Raydon in late May and one or two at each of two coastal localities in July; there was no confirmed breeding. Pheasant: Formerly a common breeding species at Minsmere, numbers are now declining on the reserve probably because of an increasing Fox population. Golden Pheasant: Very few observations from the traditional Breckland sites (maximum five Brandon 31st Dec.) but in the coastal rĂŠgion there were reports from Rendlesham 6th Apr. (three), Sotherton 28th Apr. and Minsmere 2nd May; this latter sighting, first for the reserve, was considered to have been an escaped bird. The Rendlesham Forest report suggests that a small population is becoming established on the coast in habitat similar to that of the King's Forest, one of the species' strongholds in West Suffolk. Water Rail: The majority of reports were during the winter months from 21 coastal, four central and 10 western sites. Maximum totals were 10 Minsmere 13th Jan., up to six at West Stow throughout January and five Easton Broad 27th Oct. One at Landguard 13th Nov. is only the second site record. Successful breeding took place at Minsmere but the number of pairs is unknown. The only other mid-summer reports were from Walberswick but breeding must surely occur elsewhere. Spotted Crake: One was calling at a coastal site in late June. The only autumn migrants were at Minsmere where one 2nd-29th Sept, was joined by a second on 19th.

Spotted 26


Moorhen: During the hard weather conditions in January up to 120 were in the Glemsford/Long Melford area; during the same month up to 14 were observed foraging in an unfrozen pool in the middle of West End Road in Ipswich (at least three were killed). Late autumn totals included 100 Alton Water 21st Oct., 80 on the Orwell marshes 17th Nov. and 66 Long Melford 10th Dec. Coot: Harsh weather during January-February was responsible for reduced totals at Livermere and Lackford and increased figures at the main coastal sites: Orwell Alton Water Livermere Lackford

J 761 969 25 —

F 864 605 80 46

O 73 345

N 70 33


D 108 589 —


Other winter totals included 166 Redgrave Lake 3rd Jan. and 220 Boyton 24th Feb. An unusual sight was of one at Ness Point, Lowestoft 12th-20th Jan. Notable summer counts were of 120 Livermere 25th June and 300 Trimley Lake 26th Aug. Crane: An adult was in the Minsmere area 16th-25th May (TDC, JHG, BSt et al). Oystercatcher: Orford Ness continues to be the main breeding stronghold and c.90 pairs were estimated to be present on this unique wilderness where numbers of this species have steadily increased in recent years. Elsewhere, thinly scattered reports of breeding included 10 pairs at seven River Stour estuary sites and four or five pairs in the Felixstowe Ferry-King's Fleet area. Winter monthly maxima on the two main estuaries were: Orwell Stour

J 1111 326

F 980 591

M 1246 269

S 923 324

O 758 363

N 1200 426

D 1100 106

Inland, one or two were noted at Cavenham, Lackford and Lakenheath during late March-early May and two were at the latter site 12th July. Avocet: This popular Suffolk speciality which has become the elegant symbol of successful conservation work was present in impressive numbers, both as a breeding and wintering species. Havergate reflected this healthy position with 132 pairs successfully rearing 122 young, the highest total since 1970 and the sixth best since breeding commenced at this site in 1947. Minsmere fared less well with 42 pairs raising a maximum of 26 young. Encouragingly, breeding also took place at three other sites where a total of at least 13 young was seen. Records of spring and autumn migrants away from the breeding and wintering localities were somewhat scarce but three visited Southwold boating lake on 3rd Apr.; more unusually, two were inland at Lakenheath on 23rd Sept. A party of 12 flew north off Landguard on 29th Oct. Major counts in the first winter period were of up to c.60 at Iken in January, 65 in Butley Creek in February and 153 on Havergate in March, although at least some of the latter might well have been breeding birds. Counts in autumn and winter were as follows: 27

S 268


O 210

N 212

D 270

The 270 counted at Havergate 28th Dec. is a new record county wintering total. Stone Curlew: Between 30 and 40 pairs were estimated to be present in Suffolk's Breckland, where returning birds were noted from 18th Mar. Our Brecks have great national importance for the species and numbers there were impressive, but sadly the picture was not nearly so bright on the coast where only the most tenuous foothold is retained; two were seen at Minsmere 22nd May and a pair reared one juvenile elsewhere. Impressive post-breeding gatherings at three Breckland sites in September peaked at 31, 23 and 17 respectively. October totals at two of these sites included 16 on 3rd and 12 on 8th. Black-winged Pratincole: One at Minsmere 5th July (LGRE, MJP et al). The assembled multitude gathered during the afternoon and evening of this red letter day in the hope of seeing the celebrated Greater Yellowlegs, could scarcely believe their luck when this élégant addition to the county list flew onto The Scrape.. It rested a while and then soared gracefully off over Dunwich Heath. Long-faced latecomers were left with vivid descriptions from their colleagues of this longdistance overshooter from southern Russia. Please see article on page 78. Little Ringed Piover: Arrivai at suitable breeding territory was noted from 3rd Apr. A rather blurred picture of breeding numbers emerges from records received but c. 10 pairs at six sites is the most likely conclusion to be drawn. Autumn passage through coastal localities was light and appears to have commenced on 29th June with an immature at Minsmere, thought to have been unrelated tù the pair noted on The Scrape on 5th June. Minsmere was the main migration stop-over point and recorded parties of nine on lst Aug. and up to seven for the rest of the month. Ringed Piover: At least 82 pairs were reported as breeding or attempting to breed at 22 sites, with the stronghold of Orford Ness accounting for about half of this total. Major estuary counts were as follows: Orwell Stour Alde/Ore/Butley

J 383 67

F 167 86

M 170 33

A 319 — —

S 442 94 264

O 291 304 180

N 782 112 57

D 448 503 56

Waders are being studied more thoroughly than ever before and an increased awareness of their races is being shown by many observers. The smaller, darker race of the Ringed Piover known as c.h. tundrae can be identified in the field and some pass through Suffolk on their journeys to and from northern Scandinavia and Greenland. Records of this race were received from Minsmere, with small numbers from 3rd June and two were at Ness Point, Lowestoft on 9th Sept., but this is probably far from being a complete picture. Kentish Piover: This diminutive and delightful species continues to be a very scarce visitor to Suffolk. Only three were recorded; they were a iemale at Havergate on 13th May (GNM), one at Minsmere on 14th June (RSPB) and another at Minsmere on 17th July (EWP).

Dotterel: One at Southwold on 11th May (CRN) seen to fly off to the north was the only report for the year. Golden Plover: There were few reports of large flocks in January and February, the highest totals being 221 Livermere, 200 Mutford and 150 Shotley. Spring passage assemblies in March and April involved higher numbers; the largest gatherings were of 2000-3000 in the Sudbury area, 1000 Bradfield Combust, 400 Old Newton, 266 Cavenham/Risby and 150 Haughley. Many of these spring birds were of the northern race altifrons. The only May record was of one at Landguard 14th. A mid-summer report referred to one at Benacre Pits 27th-29th June, but this was probably a sick or injured individual. Autumn movements commenced on the coast on 23rd July and in the Brecks on 29th July. Coastal passage in August included 10 Landguard and 20 Minsmere both on 14th and 53 Havergate 22nd. The largest flocks during the autumn and second winter period were 500 St. Michael South Elmham, 400 Gt. Waldingfield, 300 Old Newton, 250 Stonham Aspal, 250 Felixstowe Ferry, 200 Laxfield and 200 Cavenham/Risby. Hard weather immigration of Continental birds was noted on 29th Dec. when flocks of up to 25 were noted coming in off the sea in the Aldeburgh area. Grey Plover: Hard weather movements in January involved 78 flying north off Minsmere 16th and 25 south off Landguard 17th. Very few spring migrants were reported, although 44 were on Havergate Island 8th Mar. and single birds were noted inland over Mildenhall Warren 21st Mar. and Barton Mills 20th May. Over-summering birds in late June were reported from Shingle Street 21st (seven), Landguard 23rd (three) and Deben estuary 15th. Autumn passage was predictably more marked. A total of 88 flew south past Landguard in August, the maximum daily count being 39 on 14th. This movement continued through September when Landguard observers counted a total of 21 passing south. A further marked passage was noted in October. Included in this was the rather unusual inland sight of 10 flying west over Eriswell with 10 Knots and eight Bartailed God wits on the 9th. Main estuary counts were: Orwell Stour Alde/Ore/Butley

J 278 783

F 87 688

M 206 394

S 19 368 9

O 58 417 22

N 187 197 136

D 180 1005 73

Lapwing: Severe conditions in early January induced a strong south and southwesterly movement, which included c.1000 south over Barnby on 1st Jan., as birds sought milder climes. Breckland observers noted an absence from 8th to 22nd Jan. and "normal numbers" from 29th Jan. Spring gatherings included 1000 Bradfield Combust 20th Mar. Again, breeding records received were too sketchy to provide an accurate assessment of Suffolk's true population. The annual westward and southward movement in mid-late summer appeared to be rather light but included c.100 south over Alton Water on 25th June, c.400 at Glemsford on 4th Aug. and c.800 at Lakenheath on 27th Aug. 29

A strong southerly movement was also noted late in the year when c.85 came in off the sea at Felixstowe on 29th-30th Dec. and flocks of up to 170 arrived from the north-east at Sudbourne, Aldeburgh and Minsmere on 29th Dec.; inland, 800 were at Livermere 30th Dec. Main estuary counts were: Orwell Stour Alde/Ore/Butley

J 71 52 —

F 696 221 —

M 127 491 —

S 135 49 —

O 220 218 670

N 113 143 273

D 1242 518 2694

Knot: 835 flew north off Minsmere 16th Jan. and perhaps it was the bitterly cold weather which provoked some unusual behaviour in the species at Lowestoft in January; three were foraging on tarmac at the Bird's Eye factory on the 25th and two roosted with gulls on a factory roof on the 27th. The species is a scarce visitor to inland localities so two at Lakenheath on 22nd and 30th Jan., and one flying south-east at Bradfield Combust on 5th Feb. were noteworthy. More usual is the light coastal spring passage, probably involving central Siberian breeders heading north from west Africa rather than the Greenland and north-east Canadian populations which winter on our estuaries. Whereas this movement was far less marked than in many previous years, the return autumn passage, from mid-July, was particularly strong, especially during August. A total of about 150 passed through Minsmere during the month and an impressive 143 on 29th Aug. was Havergate's peak number. Landguard observers counted a total of 70 passing through during the month. Possibly an overspill from this strong autumnal movement on the coast was the inland party of 10 flying west over Eriswell on 9th Oct. (see Grey Plover). Major estuary counts were: Orwell Stour

J 1046 1371

F 749 1289

M 563 159

O 63 —

N 515 47

D 700 54

The effects of the cold early period weather can be clearly seen in these figures; counts on the Orwell and Stour in December 1984 were 717 and 677 respectively. Sanderling: Numbers at Lowestoft, usually the species' most favoured locality, were remarkably low in both winter periods. The peak count for the year was 19 at the Denes on 8th Feb. Other counts from the Lowestoft area included 10 feeding on a lawn near the pier on 21st Jan. and the second winter period produced even smaller counts, the highest being a mere three in the Ness area on 26th Dec. Winter counts from elsewhere were also much lower than in previous years. The River Orwell could only muster a peak of eight at Fagbury on 17th Nov., Benacre weighed in with a maximum of 10 on 12th Jan., up to four were at Minsmere in January and four flew south at Landguard on 9th Dec. Of the few spring migrants recorded the most noteworthy were an inland wanderer at Lackford Pits on 14th May and a party of 10 at Benacre on 22nd May. Six were at Minsmere in July, eight were there in August and 10 in September. The largest autumn party was one of 12 at Walberswick on 30th Sept. Little Stint: The first spring passage bird was at Minsmere from 10th-12th May. There followed a light movement through the county, involving about 10 individuals up to 4th June including one inland at West Stow 14th May. Three belated birds 30

were present on 19th June at Minsmere where the first autumn bird was noted on 12th July. The recent pattern of protracted autumn passages was continued with records up to 19th Oct. Minsmere recorded the largest totals with up to 20 in September and 17 on 5th Oct. Elsewhere there were eight at Southwold 16th Sept. and another inland record from West Stow 7th Sept. Temminck's Stint: This species' status as only a scarce spring and autumn visitor was maintained with at most just five birds reported. The first was at Minsmere on 6th May but it was a long-stayer and was last reported on 24th May. One at Benacre on 29th May completed the spring duo. One was at Minsmere from 26th-27th July and another at Felixstowe Ferry on 30th July was chased off by a Dunlin. The final report was of one at Minsmere on 22nd Aug. Pectoral Sandpiper: Two patterns are emerging in the Suffolk records of this Eastern Palearctic/Nearctic wader. One is of autumn spates in which it is difficult to accurately assess the numbers involved and the other is a trend towards individuals staying on later into the year. Most of the action as far as this species was concerned was at Minsmere where the first was present on 24th July and was reported as a probable adult. An adult was reported from the same site between 3rd and 17th Aug. A juvenile there 31st Aug.-9th Sept. was joined by a second juvenile 3rd-8th Sept. and two adults on 2nd Sept. Records from other sites referred to singles and were as follows: Havergate, 2nd6th Aug.; Walberswick, 7th Sept. and a tardy individual at Covehithe, 6th-27th Oct. Curlew Sandpiper: Spring passage was remarkably light; singles at Minsmere on 10th May and Benacre on 23rd May were the only records. In stark contrast, autumn passage was the heaviest since 1969. A noticeable feature of this movement was the diversity of coastal, inland and estuarine localities from which records came. Adult males vacate their breeding grounds in advance of females and juveniles and they probably accounted for parties of up to four at Minsmere in the last week of July. The biggest parties at Minsmere during the peak late August-early September period were 29 on 31st Aug. and 11 on 4th Sept. A party of 34 at Walberswick on 7th Sept. is one of the largest groups recorded in Suffolk in recent years and on the same day there were 11 at Southwold. Inland records came from Lackford Pits where one was present 7th-8th Aug. and from Bury Sugar Beet Factory where there was an impressive sequence during September which peaked at six on 7th and 9th. Estuarine records came from Iken, where there were 15 on 8th Sept., Holbrook Bay, where there were 11 on 9th Sept. and a later run of records from the Melton and Woodbridge areas of the River Deben ended with four on 6th Oct. Purple Sandpiper: A second year bird ringed at Nidingen, Sweden on 2nd May 1984 was present at Landguard during 17th Feb.-21st Mar.; this was established not by trapping the bird but by reading its ring number with the aid of a telescope. Single birds noted at Minsmere on 8th June and 9th July were the county's third records for those months; another singleton was at Lowestoft 26th July. Lowestoft maintained its domination as the species' winter stronghold with up to 24 during January-March and up to 33 in December. Singles were also noted during

the winter months at Benacre, Slaughden, Southwold, Walberswick and Minsmere; up to three were at Landguard during early March-12th May.



Dunlin: The immense importance of our south-eastern estuaries is clearly illustrated in the following table of monthly counts: Orwell Stour Alde/Ore/Butley Havergate

F J 17014 5683 20854 11429 200 150 '

M 1131 4318 — —

O 462 4701 362 1000

N 4354 15466 801 1745

D 5900 10982 2179 960

A strong southerly autumn passage commenced off Landguard on 20th July; monthly totals were August 439, September 318, October 282 and November 323. Reports of passage and winter birds from inland sites included 12 Lakenheath 26th Nov., 10 Cavenham 22nd Mar. and 10 Lackford 5th Aug. One was observed in full song and display flight at Minsmere 26th May. Intensive wader ringing activities at Trimley Marshes on the Orwell resulted in some interesting recoveries — please see Ringing Report. Broad-billed Sandpiper: A single, only Suffolk's l l t h record, was observed at Walberswick 24th May (DRM, CSW). It was a typical date for this wader which breeds in Fenno-Scandinavia and probably northern Siberia. 32



Stilt Sandpiper: One of the spring's major highlights, a full summer plumage adult of this Nearctic species caused much excitement during its visit to Minsmere during 4th-10th May (GWF et al). This is Suffolk's second record, the first having been at Minsmere during 27th29th July 1969. Our second represented the 16th record for Britain and only the third ever in spring. Ruff: First winter records were more numerous and widespread than usuai; during January-February birds were noted at Minsmere (nine), Ixworth (eight), Kessingland, Gt. Cornard, Benacre Broad and Lackford — at this latter site one was observed pecking at goose faeces on the ice amongst roosting Canada Geese 13th Jan. The only December records were of singles at Falkenham 22nd and Minsmere 3 lst. A moderate spring passage from late March peaked on 27th Apr. with 36 at Minsmere and 16 at Southwold; up to 18 were at Minsmere in May. Breeding was not proven in the county but lekking was observed at two sites in May. Return movements from mid-July were most prominent in August; maximum totals were 21 Minsmere lst and 10 Southwold 27th. Inland records of one or two were from Bury B.F. Pits, Long Melford, Lakenheath and Livermere, mainly in August. Jack Snipe: In the first winter period surprisingly few were reported and records involved only single birds from 10 sites. Even the regular wintering site in Ipswich, where parties are often noted, could only muster one. However, a single at Landguard on 16th Jan. was the site's first record. A bird at Havergate on 6th Apr. was the only potential spring migrant to be reported, and the first autumn bird was at Minsmere 14th Sept. Only slightly higher numbers were reported in the second winter period and the Ipswich site only held up to two. The highest number reported from any one locality 33

was at least six at Minsmere in November. Ones and twos were noted at seven other sites. Snipe: For a species so dependent on our sadly disappearing wet meadows the low number of birds reported from potential breeding sites was rather gloomy. There were only 11 such sites mentioned in observers' notes, but it could have been worse. At least there was not a decrease from the 1984 figure which was precisely the same. Numbers of pairs involved were difficult to assess but there were at least 13 drumming birds and other reports referred to "several" and " a few" in relation to breeding or possibly breeding birds. The largest flock early in the year was one of at least 110 at Sudbury on 27th Mar. At least some of these were probably passage birds rather than winterers as were some of the 105 reported from Lakenheath on 12th Mar. Flocks which were undoubtedly wintering included 43 at Long Melford on 2nd Jan., all of which had left by 19th Apr. and 60 at Ixworth on 4th Feb. A distinct movement was noted mid- to late-November and included nine flying north and four east over Henley on 19th. The highest number reported for the year was at least 200 at Minsmere on 15th Dec. but this number had declined to 40 on 31st. An interesting report was of 40 in a sugar beet field at Barton Mills 27th Dec.; additional sizeable flocks during the autumn and winter were 55 Lakenheath 17th Oct. and 50 Southwold 21st Dec. Dowitcher sp: Two were discovered in late autumn. The first, which remained at Alton Water from 20th Oct. until at least 14th Dec. (JMC, FEE et al), proved to be highly controversial; most observers considered that it was an immature Long-billed but others claimed to have noted features indicative of Short-billed. While the Alton bird was being carefully scrutinised, an adult visited Minsmere 30th Oct. (TDC et al) and was unanimously agreed to be Long-billed. We await the decision of the British Birds Rarities Committee concerning both birds. Woodcock: Roding birds were reported from 14 sites, approximately the same number as reported in 1984 but once again this is surely not a comprehensive reflection of true breeding status. Reports of this species visiting gardens, particularly during cold weather, are increasing and involved up to three at Felixstowe in January and one in February, one at Snape on four dates in January, two at Bramford Tye 18th-24th Feb., one at Lowestoft in January and March and one at Hadleigh 4th-6th Nov. Maximum numbers reported in January and February were up to 10 at Minsmere and Easton Woods. No such groups were noted during the second winter but it seems likely that this species is under-recorded as much in the winter as it is as a breeding species. Single migrants were at Landguard 3rd, 10th and 13th Mar., 29th Oct. and 1st Nov. Black-tailed Godwit: This splendid wader bred at only one site but with good results — two pairs each raised three young and a third pair possibly nested. Monthly maxima on the three main estuaries for the species were: Stour Orwell Deben 34

J 945 82 6

F 705 50 2

M 137 — 41

S c200 5

O 655 —

N 295 — 43

D 1 cl50 61

Spring passage from early March peaked in April with counts of 130 at Methersgate (River Deben) 21st and 128 Minsmere 14th. The only inland report was of one at Livermere 19th-20th Apr.; 35 flew north off Landguard 9th May. Autumn movement was very light with Havergate's peak for the year, 74 on 8th Sept., being the largest reported autumn group away from the estuaries. Bar-tailed Godwit: More January records than usual were received and they included small coastal movements early in the month. A marked movement took place on 16th when 44 flew north at Minsmere and 29 headed the same way over Slaughden in an hour. The only significant first winter estuary count was of 41 on the Orwell at Walton Ferry 18th Jan. Parties of 42 at Havergate on 8th Mar. and 16 at Martlesham Creek on 30th Mar. heralded a spring passage in which the highest numbers were 71 at Havergate on 24th Apr. and 45 there on 5th May and 40 at Minsmere 26th Apr. Numbers built up again from mid-June. 14 were on Havergate on 16th June and they had built up to 24 on the 29th. Visible migration counts included a total of 89 passing south at Landguard during August, with a peak of 52 on the 14th, and 53 flew south there on 14th Sept. Counts from the more prolific sites during the autumn and second winter were: Minsmere Havergate Alde/Ore/Butley

J 7 25

A 44 24



S 4 40 47

O —

21 64

N 1 10 9

D 1 13 7

The only inland spring records were singles at Barton Mills 3rd May and Lackford 14th May while in the autumn eight flew west accompanied by 10 Knots and 10 Grey Plovers over Eriswell 9th Oct. Whimbrel: Two flying south off Landguard on 14th Apr. were the first to be reported for the year. Small parties made their way along the coast throughout the rest of April and one occurred inland at Livermere 23rd-24th. Spring passage was strongest in the first half of May, especially on the 10th when 150+ were reported from Havergate and six were at Livermere. Minsmere reported a "fairly good passage" in May with "almost daily" records up to the 24th; maximum numbers there were nine on the 7th and 11 on 13th. Autumn passage commenced with a single flying south at Landguard on 23rd June but generally small numbers were subsequently reported on the coast. Inland records however, were more numerous than they were during spring with singles over Eriswell 20th July, Livermere 12th Aug. and Lakenheath 27th Aug. and four over Eriswell 31st Aug. By far the largest coastal party recorded was one of 148 at Havergate 1st Aug. and other parties included 13 at Benacre 25th July, 10 over Snape 18th Aug., 21 passing south at Thorpeness 29th Aug. and 19 at Aldeburgh 23rd July. The latest reports were of three on both the Rivers Aide and Orwell 13th Oct. Curlew: A probably incomplete picture of the species' breeding status has emerged, with only seven pairs reported from three Breckland sites. Hard weather probably accounted for the visit paid by one to a Felixstowe garden from 13th-15th Jan., and for the 52 flying north at Minsmere on 16th Jan. A light coastal spring passage was noted during April, peaking at 54 on Havergate on 8th. The expected June/July passage featured prominently in reports received and included 201 moving south off Landguard between 21st-30th June and about 175 35

moving south there during July when the peak was 94 on 16th. Havergate also featured strongly at this time and about 300 were gathered there on 2Ist July. This movement tailed off during August with only 76 reported moving south at Landguard and smaller numbers were reported as passage birds moving along the coast later in the year. The major estuary counts were: J 656 335

Orwell Stour Alde/Ore/Butley


F 100 659

A 253


O 450 57 650

S 44 176 474

N 524 498 232

D 16 497 475

Spotted Redshank: The presence of small numbers at a few coastal and estuarine localities during both winter periods has come to be expected. Less expected however was the timing of the county's peak numbers for the year which occurred somewhat later than normal. The highest number reported was 78 at Minsmere in October, a month which is usually overshadowed by earlier peak gatherings. Minsmere produced the bulk of the records and its monthly maxima were: J 1


M 3

A 2

M 10+

J 6

J 15


A 45

S 73

O 78

N 15

D 1

It is interesting to note the sharp rise in numbers in July. This is considered to be accounted for by the females which leave their breeding grounds far in advance of maies and immatures. At no other site did numbers break into double figures, although there were nine at Covehithe on 26th Aug. The species is only rarely encountered inland so a single at Bury Sugar Beet Factory on 7th and 1 Ith Sept. is of note. Redshank: The species clearly suffered heavy losses during the harsh conditions of January and February. For example one hearing a Dutch ring was found dead in a Bramford garden during this period and was thought to have starved. 15 corpses were found between Nacton and the Orwell Bridge on 23rd Feb. to underline the high mortality rates. On a brighter note records indicate a breeding population which could be about 100 pairs, although the imprecise nature of some records received makes it difficult to be confident of this. What appears to be a healthier situation than in previous years may again be attributable to observers being more aware of the need to submit breeding season records rather than an actual increase from the minimum of 42 pairs reported in 1984. Major winter counts were: Orwell Stour Alde/Ore/Butley

J 2625 1961 —

F 1093 2100 500

M 1005 1190 —

S 856 1282 454

O 1268 1027 738

N 1070 1984 757

D c750 1591 1089

Extensive ringing activities; at Fagbury on the Orwell estuary resulted in some interesting recoveries — please see Ringing Report. Greenshank: Despite the harsh weather there were reports from the Stour estuary of three on 20th Jan. and two on 23rd Feb.; in addition, single birds were in the traditional Fagbury/Trimley wintering area during January-March and at Minsmere 3rd Feb. and 3rd Mar. 36

Spring passage from 6th Apr.-30th May was on a very small scale; six at Minsmere 4th May was the largest total. The first autumn birds were four Minsmere 5th July. Two totals dominated autumn passage reports — 51 were on Havergate 17th Aug. and 78 in the Aide/Ore/ Butley estuary complex 15th Sept. The only other double figure totals were 14 Levington 19th Aug., 11 Holbrook Bay 26th Aug., 10 Minsmere 26th Aug. and 10 Martlesham Creek 23rd Aug. Regular reports from the traditional inland wader sites peaked at five Livermere 18th Aug. and five West Stow 29th Aug. Several coastal sites had October sightings including eight Havergate 7th, but the only November reports were singles at Minsmere 3rd and Melton 17th; none could be found in the traditional wintering areas in December. One was seen to alight on the roof of the Birds Eye factory at Lowestoft 14th Aug. Greater Yellowlegs: Many hundreds of "life-lists" were boosted by an example of this Nearctic vagrant that occurred, discontinuously, at Minsmere during 4th July14th Aug. (IB, TDC et al). Second county record — please see article on page 79 and Editorial. Green Sandpiper: Records from both winter periods referred to a wintering population which appears to have remained stable in recent years. An estimated 16 were present at 15 sites in the first winter period and about 14 from 12 sites were reported in the second winter period. As is usual with this species there was only a light sprinkling of spring passage birds and the numbers reported for this period were far outweighed by the return movement. In the latter migration numbers peaked around the fourth week of August when the county's highest total of the year, a party of nine at Minsmere on 25th, occurred; other groups included eight at West Stow on 22nd and five were in Martlesham Creek on 21st. Wood Sandpiper: The recent trend towards April arrival dates was maintained with the presence of a single at Minsmere on 27th. Records of singles at the same site on six dates from 10th May perhaps referred to two birds and one was also present there on 3rd June. Elsewhere, one was noted at Walberswick on 1st May and an interesting run of records came from Southwold with three on 11th May, two of which were seen in display, one on 21st May and another on 13th June. Autumn passage included inland records from Long Melford, where one was seen on 13th-16th Aug., and Bury St. Edmunds Sugar Beet Factory where there were singles from 30th Aug. into early September and two on 7th Sept. Coastal numbers were highest at Minsmere where there were up to five during August and Havergate where there was a maximum of four on 6th Aug. The latest report for the year was of one at Minsmere on 4th Oct. Common Sandpiper: Ipswich Docks continued its sequence of wintering records with a single reported on several dates in January and on 24th Feb. Another was in Martlesham Creek on 1st and 5th Jan. Spring passage through April and May consisted of small parties and singles with the maximum counts being eight at Kessingland on 11th May and five at Lackford on 24th May. The latter site produced a most entertaining and curious record for the species when one attempted to land on the back of a resting Canada Goose on 30th Apr. 37

Return passage built up from late July and was notable for some of the highest counts ever recorded in the county. The top totals were 40 at Havergate on 17th Aug., 33 at Benacre Broad on 18th Aug., 21 at Walberswick on 16th Aug., 20 at Minsmere on 31st Aug., 14 at Levington Creek on 4th Aug. and, claiming pride of place, 69 on the Alde/Ore/Butley during a co-ordinated estuary count on 15th Sept. The Ipswich Docks wintering sequence may have been broken for the only second winter period record received from this site was of a single at Princes Street bridge on 6th Nov. The only other November records were of single birds at Alton Water 9th and Melton 17th; this latter bird was probably the same individual noted in the Melton area 29th Dec. Turnstone: The River Orwell estuary is a favoured locality for the species and coordinated BTO counts produced an impressive build up of numbers in the second winter period as can be seen from the table of monthly maxima: Orwell Stour

J 239 290

F 147 300

M 116 408

A 176 85

S 203 67

O 413 413

N 425 354

D 535 271

There was little evidence of spring migration although the few records received included interesting overland movements of four at Livermere on 15th May, one there on 16th May and one at Lackford on 26th May. 30 summer plumage birds were at Ipswich Docks 1st May. A more marked autumn passage took place. For example 72 flew south off Landguard during July, peaking at 26 on 30th, and 57 flew south off the same site in August, peaking at 21 on 9th. Red-necked Phalarope: A female at Minsmere from 28th June-4th July was the only report which was accompanied by full details. Grey Phalarope: As with the previous species, Minsmere produced the only record supported by full descriptive detail; it concerned a single on 7th Nov. (IR et al). Pomarine Skua: An adult on the Scrape at Minsmere 14th May is only the fifth county spring record and the first since 1980. Sightings during early/mid-autumn of singles off Benacre 23rd Aug., Walberswick 13th Oct. and Landguard 23rd Oct. were typical of recent years but in November and December the county's largest ever totals were recorded. Suffolk's share of an influx that affected the complete length of the British east coast was up to 50 in November and 15-20 in December. The largest site totals were nine Lowestoft 26th Dec. and eight Minsmere 18th Nov. Most sightings were from the MinsmereLowestoft region but at least four occurred off Felixstowe and one penetrated the Orwell estuary up to Levington 29th Dec. A macabre incident at Benacre Broad 17th Nov. involved an immature that was seen to catch, kill and eat an adult Kittiwake; on the same date one was pursuing Common Scoters off Minsmere. Arctic Skua: One flew north off Southwold 10th Feb. — this species is very rare off Suffolk in mid-winter. The spring produced seven records of singletons along the coast between 6th May and 6th June. The autumn passage between 5th July and 22nd Nov. was very light with maximum numbers during the last week of September, the largest count being seven south off Landguard on 29th. Long-tailed Skua: One found in a moribund condition between Sizewell and 38



Thorpeness 14th Sept. was taken to Minsmere Reserve where it died. Twelfth county record. Great Skua: Winter records of single birds flying north off Minsmere on 18th Jan. and south off Lowestoft on 26th Dec. Nine reports of singletons offshore between 27th Aug. and 30th Nov. Mediterranean Gull: At least one adult (different to the December 1984 bird) at Lowestoft up to 27th Jan., a sub-adult there on 26th Jan., a second summer on 13th and 14th Apr. and a first summer on 17th May. A ringed second summer was seen at Oulton Broad on 2nd Mar. An adult at Benacre during January was possibly one of the Lowestoft birds. An adult was noted at Sizewell up to 24th Feb. and was probably the same bird that visited Minsmere on 13th Feb. Another adult was seen at Minsmere on 7th Apr., and a first summer on 17th, 19th and 20th Apr. and 10th May. One was found dead at Landguard on 14th Feb. An adult was present between Benacre and East on Bavents from 5th Oct. to the end of the year. A first winter appeared sporadically at Minsmere between 11th Sept. and 15th Oct. and an adult at Sizewell from 27th Nov. onwards. An adult was noted on the South Pier at Lowestoft on 29th Aug. and a juvenile on 12th Sept. An adult and a second winter flew south off Lowestoft on 18th Nov. and an adult was seen there on the following day. A first winter was noted at Landguard on 14th and 29th Sept. and an adult 24th Sept. to 7th Oct. 39

Little Gull: Seen in all months except March. Singletons at Benacre, Wherstead (River Orwell), Alton Water and Minsmere during January, and Harkstead, Alton Water and Walberswick in February. Birds were noted at Minsmere throughout the year with the exception of February, March and December, with a maximum of four or five in April and July. Fair numbers were reported along the coast from midAugust to October and a few in November. 13 flew north at Benacre on 12th Oct. and small movements were noted on 1st, 2nd and 17th to 24th Nov. Singles were seen at Sizewell and Southwold on 31st Dec. The only inland record was of two adults at Bury B.F. on 19th Apr. Sabine's Gull: A juvenile at Benacre on 22nd Oct. (SA). Black-headed Gull: Breeding reports included 630 pairs on the Deben estuary saltings between Hemley and Felixstowe Ferry, 140 pairs at Minsmere and 45 pairs on the Stour saltings at Erwarton. Ring-billed Gull: A second winter bird at Trimley Lake beside the River Orwell 28th Sept. is the first county record of this Nearctic species (JRA). Please see article on page 80. Common Gull: About 20 pairs bred with unknown results at the well established Orford Ness colony. At least 2000 were at Minsmere in February. Lesser Black-backed/Herring Gull: The breeding colony at Orford Ness was estimated to contain 6000 to 10,000 pairs of which probably two thirds were Lesser Black-backs. Lesser Black-backed Gull: Estuary counts carried out on 15th Dec. produced unprecedented wintering totals of 43 on the Stour and 178 in the Alde/Ore/Butley area. Herring Gull: A bird showing characteristics of one of the yellow-legged races, (considered by the observer to have been michahellis) at Woodbridge 26th Oct. (MCr). Iceland Gull: Not as many as in 1984, but still a good year. Lowestoft: An adult 6th Jan. to 2nd Feb. (two there on 20th Jan.) and one again on 1st Mar. A first winter on 26th Jan. and 6th Feb. Felixstowe/Landguard: One in second winter turning to second summer plumage regularly seen throughout January and first half of February and again from 17th Mar. onwards until 9th May. This bird was also seen at Bawdsey 20th Jan. Adults at Minsmere on 11th Jan. and 9th Feb., and at Benacre on 20th Jan. are likely to have been from Lowestoft. The latter winter period produced a third winter bird at Felixstowe from 7th Nov. onwards and one flying south off Covehithe on 22nd Nov. Lowestoft drew a blank at this time. Glaucous Gull: Reports from the main wintering sites as follows: Lowestoft: An adult and two first winters during January with one adult staying to the end of February. A first winter 19th and 21st Nov. Benacre: An adult and a first winter during January and an adult on 7th Apr. Minsmere: A first winter very sporadically January to end of March and on 18th Apr. An adult 6th Mar. and a second winter 16th Apr. A first winter 27th Nov. to 1st Dec., and another (different bird) 4th Dec. Felixstowe/Landguard: A first winter at Landguard 7th Jan. and Felixstowe Ferry 40

18th Apr. A sub-adult at Landguard 7th and 12th May. One or two first or second winters from 22nd Nov. onwards. During both winter periods birds were reported at various additional coastal localities — these almost certainly refer to birds wandering from the above mentioned areas. It is likely that the Lowestoft and Benacre records involved the same birds. Great Black-backed Gull: One pair probably bred at a site in the county. The largest wintering totals were in the Alde/Ore/Butley area with 413 on 17th Nov. and 506 on 15th Dec. One was seen to catch and eat a Little Auk at Benacre 3rd Nov. Kittiwake: 76 pairs raised 90 young at Lowestoft as follows: South Pier South Pier South Pier South Pier Totals

East Ledge North Windows North Ledge Roof

Nests 25 13 26 12 76

Successful 21 10 20 8 59

Young 31 15 31 13 90

An oiled first winter bird was noted inland at Sudbury 13th Feb. Maximum winter counts were 150 off Slaughden 27th Nov. and 100 flying south Felixstowe 8th Nov. Caspian Tern: One off Minsmere 8th June is the 20th county record (SY). Sandwich Tern: Despite the presence of 320 at Minsmere 28th Apr. only one pair remained to breed and their nest was predated. 373 had assembled on Havergate Island by 25th Apr. but none bred although 119 were present there on 25th June. Overland migrants were noted in May at Lackford on 19th (three) and 23rd and in August at Bradfield Combust on 27th. Roseate Tern: Singles at Minsmere on 5th May and 8th Sept. Common Tern: Another very poor breeding season; the only known successful pairs were reported from the Stour estuary (12) and Walberswick (one). There were regular reports during both passages from West Suffolk's lakes and gravel pits; maximum totals were at Livermere with eight 23rd May and nine 1st Sept. 50 were at Alton Water 3rd Sept. Southerly autumn passage peaked on 30th Aug. when there were counts of 167 Landguard, 142 Lowestoft and up to 150 per hour off Thorpeness and Bawdsey. One was hawking insects with Black-headed Gulls over Holbrook 17th Sept. Arctic Tern: Spring passage from 1st May went almost unnoticed on the coast but inland four were at Lackford 1st May and 11 flew east over Framsden 5th May. There were regular autumn sightings of ones and twos on the coast from 21st July onwards into September; eight at Minsmere 21st Aug. was the largest gathering. October reports up to 22nd were received from three sites but the final sighting was of an immature off Minsmere 17th Nov. (CAEK). "Commie" Tern: A late bird off Minsmere and Sizewell 10th Nov. was possibly the same bird as that identified specifically as Arctic at the former site 17th Nov. Little Tern: Although one or two areas had a poor season others reported the species as "doing well" and at least 130 pairs bred. In one area 30 pairs probably fledged 40 to 50 young. 41

It is ironic to report that this species, at one time reckoned to be the most threatened of the terns, is doing far better in the county than its close relatives. The only inland record was of one with Common Terns at West Stow 14th May. Black Tern: About 25 were recorded during a light spring passage between 14th May and 20th June; 10 were noted inland including four Lackford 17th May and three Livermere 20th May. The highlights of an otherwise dull autumn passage were 24 flying south off Minsmere 30th-31st Aug., 14 on Havergate Island 14th Aug. and 11 south off Lowestoft 30th Aug. The only inland autumn sighting was of two at Livermere 10th Sept. White-winged Black Tern: One in confusing plumage at Minsmere 31st May and 3rd4th June was probably a first year bird but some observers considered it to be an adult with retained winter plumage (TDC, JHG, AT et al). 16th county record. Guillemot: Beached bird survey totals of dead birds on the whole length of coastline between Felixstowe and Lowestoft, apart from Orford Ness, were 30 in January and 60 in February. The few sightings of live birds during the first winter period included two in Ipswich Docks from 1984 up to 24th Jan. and singles on the Deben at Falkenham 13th Jan. and Waldringfield 19th Jan. One off Orford Ness 23rd July was the only summer record and the first autumn bird was off Landguard 19th Sept. Impressive northerly movements off Benacre of 207 on 2nd Nov. and 250 next day were probably of birds returning to feeding areas after southerly displacement by strong northerly winds in late October/early November. Feeding groups later on included 50 Benacre 23rd Nov. and 30 Slaughden 27th Nov. — these latter birds were pursuing a sprat shoal. At least two were on the Orwell from mid-November onwards and one on the Stour at Brantham 18th Nov. Razorbill: Very few noted when compared with the Guillemot totals. Reports during January-March were of three live and 16 dead birds, all on the coast. The first autumn bird was off Landguard 23rd Aug.; subsequent reports were of 16 live birds including five off Walberswick 22nd Oct. and three off Covehithe 8th Dec. Little Auk: The only first winter period records were of one north off Benacre 2nd Jan., two dead on tideline Sizewell 16th Jan. and single oiled birds on 24th Feb. at Bawdsey and Benacre. Singles off Landguard 20th Oct. and at Boyton 27th Oct. were the precursors of a much larger movement which commenced on 29th Oct. when 30 flew north off Lowestoft in less than two hours. Subsequent counts included 16 off Benacre 2nd Nov. and 22 north off Minsmere 3rd Nov., after which up to three were recorded at nine coastal sites up to 1st Dec. Puffin: The only acceptable record is of one off Minsmere 20th Feb. Stock Dove: The largest gatherings during February's harsh weather were 60 Freston 17th and 60 Boyton 24th. Ten pairs bred in the Corton-Gunton Woods area and the species was classified as being a common breeder at Minsmere. Wood Pigeon: Infrequently reported by observers but 2500 were at Thorington Street 23rd Nov. 42


Collared Dove: 170 were at Felixstowe Ferry 23rd Oct., but no more than 120 could be found in the Ipswich Docks area during the winter periods. Southerly movements at Landguard included 14 on 26th May and 11 on 1st Nov. Turtle Dove: A group of 50 on Hollesley Common 11th May were apparently feeding on heather; other gatherings included 50 Long Melford 6th-13th Aug., 44 Bawdsey 9th June and 40 Bradfield Combust 4th Sept. At least 30 pairs were located in the Sutton Heath-Methersgate area in late June. Ring-necked Parakeet: A pair probably bred at the traditional Aldham site. Elsewhere, there were two Minsmere 2nd Feb. and one Bradfield St. George 17th June. Cuckoo: The first arrivals were at Sudbury 5th Apr. and Landguard 13th Apr.; subsequent reports were from at least 50 sites, mainly in the coastal region and Brecks. Several observers reported an apparent decrease at coastal sites. Birds were still calling in July at Foxhall 10th and in a Lakenheath wood 7th where at least 20 had been present in mid-June. There was a wide scatter of coastal migrants from early August onwards up to 20th Sept.; five were still present inland at Lakenheath 12th Sept. Barn Owl: Recorded at 146 localities making it by far the most widely reported owl in the county. One made four or five mock attacks on a dog at Shottisham 17th Nov. Little Owl: Reported from 72 localities throughout the county (62 in 1984); an increase was evident in the north-east region. Tawny Owl: This species is very much under-recorded with reports from only 53 sites.


THE COUNTY OF SUFFOLK (Vice-Counties 2 5 , East Suffolk and 2 6 , West Suffolk)

Coastal Heath or Breckland


Breydon Water

Gt. Y a r m o u t h

Fritton Lake









Tiarket Aldeburgh

Woodbridge Orfordness Ipswich H a v e r g a t e Island





45 I

Long-eared Owl: The reported Breckland breeding total of five pairs at three sites is considered to be only a small fraction of the actual population in that area. Five pairs were located at four sites in the coastal region. No communal roosts were reported. Single migrants were at Landguard on 20th and 28th Apr., 15th Oct. and 28th Dec. Short-eared Owl: Widespread in the coastal region in both winter periods; the largest gatherings were of 14 in the Sudbourne/Gedgrave area 15th Dec., eight Kessingland 7th Dec. and six Shotley 4th Feb. During the winter months inland reports were of up to four at Stradishall and singles at Lakenheath, Cavenham, Sudbury and Risby. Wintering and passage birds were generally recorded up to early May and from late August. Reports of autumn migrants included five coming in from over the sea at Benacre 4th Dec. and singles at Landguard 13th and 26th Oct. During the summer up to five pairs were located on the coast but no proof of breeding was forthcoming. Nightjar: A thorough survey of the coastal region produced a total of at least 100 churring males which compares very favourably with the 1981 census figure of 34 in the same region. The Suffolk Breckland population must be at least equal to that in the coastal region but only 20-25 males were reported. Two or three churring males were still present on the Ipswich fringe heaths despite looming development. Swift: April birds were noted at Alton Water 21st, Livermere 26th and Minsmere 29th; a general arrival was noted from 16th May. Mid-summer "weather" movements included 3500 Easton Bavents and 1150 Landguard both on 6th July and 550 Felixstowe Ferry 24th June. At the commencement of autumn passage, 5000 were estimated to be feeding over Covehithe 5th Aug. 4995 flew south over Landguard during August with maximum 1150 on 20th. September reports were mostly concentrated in the Felixstowe area — 105 were recorded at Landguard up to 19th. Belated individuals were at Landguard 18th Oct. and Kessingland 9th Nov. Kingfisher: Reported from 61 localities during the year. Birds were noted at 19 sites in the summer months but at only four was breeding proven. Four were at Ipswich Docks 20th Jan. and four in the Minsmere area throughout October. Roller: One at Westwood Marshes, Walberswick 28th May (BMW). 9th county record this century. Hoopoe: A typical spring report is of one at Herringfleet 19th May. One in the Sudbury area 8th-l 1th Dec. is the county's latest ever record. (NT). Wryneck: A very poor year. There were early arrivals in April at Walberswick 5th and Gunton 12th; May reports were of singles at Minsmere llth-13th, Landguard 12th, Gunton 12th-13th and Lowestoft 15th. During a very light autumn movement there were up to two at Landguard 20th21st Sept. and singles at Woolverstone 23rd Aug., Benacre 19th-22nd Aug. and Gunton 1st Oct. Green Woodpecker: Reported from 87 localities. Five were seen together at Hinton 25th Dec.; five pairs bred at Minsmere. 46

Singles were at Landguard 10th Aug., 3rd and 6th Sept. and Havergate 18th Oct. An immature bird was killed when it flew into a window at Great Whelnetham 5th Aug. Great Spotted Woodpecker: Reported from 106 localities. 11 pairs bred at Minsmere. Four were recorded at Landguard during the period 7th Sept.-28th Oct. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Reported from 89 localities. Five pairs bred at Minsmere. One at Landguard 14th Oct. is only the third site record for the species. Single birds were noted foraging in reedbeds at Melton 16th Jan. and Livermere 1st Sept. Woodlark: The first birds were back on the breeding sites 4th-6th Mar., but insufficient information was received to make any meaningful comparison with 1984. About 15 pairs were reported from the coast but only five in the Brecks. At the coastal site where up to 26 had been present in December 1984, numbers declined to 12 throughout January; there was an increase to about 50 on 15th Feb., shortly after which they all departed. Up to 25 were again present at this site in December. Two autumn groups were located in West Suffolk; 12 were at a Breck site 2nd Oct. and up to seven at Haverhill 2nd-10th Nov. The only coastal migrant was one at Covehithe 4th Mar. Skylark: The largest reported flocks during January's cold spell were up to 400 at Ellough and 350 at Walton. 61 flew south at Landguard in January. A mediocre autumn passage at Landguard peaked at 167 on 13th Oct. 100 flew in from over the sea Benacre 13th Nov. Shore Lark: This species retained its scarcity of recent winters. The only first winter period reports were from Walberswick with one in January and three in February. During late autumn, three were at Slaughden 13th Oct. and up to six there from 10th Dec. onwards.

Shore Lark


Sand Martin: The disastrously low totals reported in 1984 were repeated this year. There were no March records and comparatively few in April. The only spring sightings at Landguard were singles 21st Apr. and 17th May. Only 11 pairs bred at Minsmere and former colonies at Bawdsey, Great Bealings and Kirton were unoccupied. On a brighter note, about 200 pairs bred at Great Blakenham and no decrease was noted at the Covehithe cliffs colony. All status reports in 1987 would be greatly welcomed. During a very poor autumn passage only c.400 were recorded at Landguard 20th July-19th Oct. Six were noted in October up to 28th and a very late bird was at Benacre 16th Nov. Swallow: Observers' comments were that breeding totals were generally lower than in 1984, which itself was considered to have been a below average year. Monthly autumn passage totals at Landguard were: August 1440, September 11000, October 800; peak day counts in September were on 23rd (2000), 6th (1350) and 10th (1300). At least 150 were noted in November including 25 Dunwich 3rd, 18 Felixstowe 9th and 16 Landguard 7th. A belated individual was at Herringfleet 10th Dec. An albino was at Ouiton Broad in September. House Martin: Reductions in the breeding population were reported from Walpole and Holbrook but numbers were generally at the 1984 level. Coastal autumn passage totals were lower than in 1984. The highest single day counts were 2000 Landguard 22nd Sept. and 1500 Benacre 15th Sept. About 60 were reported in November up to 17th including birds still feeding young in a nest at Wangford (East) on 10th. Richard's Pipit: One in the Benacre Pits area lst-5th Nov. (SA, TDC et al). 16th county record and the first since 1980. Tawny Pipit: This species was reported for the fourth consecutive year; an adult at Benacre 30th Aug. (CRN) takes the number of county records up to 22. Tree Pipit: There were early arrivals at both Minsmere and Mildenhall 1st Apr. 12 were recorded on passage at Landguard 12th Apr.-19th May. The reported breeding total of about 55 pairs is only half the 1984 total but this is solely due to a lack of information from the principal sites. 11 pairs bred at Minsmere. Only 23 were noted on autumn passage at Landguard 10th Aug.-5th Oct. (52 in 1984). Meadow Pipit: The majority of reports related to passage movements. During early April there was a steady westwards movement in the Lark valley 1st, 60 Eriswell 8th and 40 Landguard 4th. The largest autumn totals were in September — 237 Landguard 16th, 150 Sizewell 27th and 120 Eriswell 20th. 10 pairs bred at Boyton. Very few breeding pairs could be found in the Brecks. Rock Pipit: Comparitively few were reported during the first winter. Most reports were from the south-east estuaries and included 13 at Methersgate (Deben) 20th Jan. and 12 at Slaughden 30th Jan. There was a small spring passage in late March-early April when up to five were at Minsmere. Many more were reported in the autumn, from 28th Sept. Passage birds were evident in October — 40 Aide estuary 13th, 11 at Landguard and singles inland at 48

Cavenham 1st, Thetford Heath 14th and Lakenheath 17th. By mid-November there were up to 25 on the Aide and 11 on the Orwell. Water Pipit: One or two were at five coastal sites between Slaughden and Benacre up to 7th Apr. Inland, up to three were at Lakenheath in February and singles in March at Cavenham 7th and Lackford 25th. In late autumn, one was at Lakenheath from 17th Oct. onwards and three at Alton Water 30th Dec. Coastal sightings were at six sites between Minsmere and Benacre with maximum four at Walberswick 10th Nov. This species has recently been granted full specific status by the B.O.U. Yellow Wagtail: Birds were located during the summer at about 25 sites. Six pairs were in the Bures-Long Melford area but only one at Minsmere. Spring passage from 3rd Apr. peaked at Alton Water on 7th Apr. (30) and 30th Apr. (20). Late August witnessed the largest coastal autumn totals — 23 Havergate 28th, 21 Benacre 31st and 20 Landguard 26th. These totals were eclipsed by 85 Alton Water 10th Sept. and 175 roosting in a Holbrook reed bed 21st Sept. There were five October records to 15th and a late bird at Long Melford 8th Nov. Blue-headed Wagtail: The first was at Minsmere 14th-17th Apr.; further records from this site were of at least four in May and singles in June and on 25th Aug. Elsewhere, single males were at Boyton 16th Apr., Covehithe 27th Apr., Landguard 13th May and Bramford 29th May. Grey-headed Wagtail: Male with 30 Yellow Wagtails, Alton Water 7th Apr. (IP). Black-headed Wagtail: The county's first record of this south-east European race of the Yellow Wagtail was provided by a male at Landguard 30th June (TH, MM, SHP et al). It was considered to have been a first summer male. Grey Wagtail: Birds were present at 10 potential breeding areas, all in West Suffolk, during the summer — six pairs were successful. There were reports from only 13 sites during hard weather conditions JanuaryMarch. On spring passage singles were at Landguard 26th Apr. and Minsmere 5th Apr.; in the autumn, six were noted at Landguard 10th Sept.-17th Oct. and three at Minsmere 5th Sept.-7th Nov. Birds were found at only eight wintering sites from mid-November onwards. During the period 11th-18th Jan. one was found roosting high up in the silos at Sproughton sugar beet factory throughout daylight hours; it made use of the site's extensive night-time illumination to feed on insects attracted to the sugar beet juices. Pied Wagtail: The largest roosts were 100 Lackford in October, 150 Long Melford 5th-9th Nov. and 100 Thurston in December. 90 flew south at Landguard in October with maximum 21 on 10th. One accompanied the Grey Wagtail at Sproughton sugar beet factory in January. White Wagtail: About 20 were reported from the coastal region during 31st Mar.-late May; maximum totals were six at Easton Bavents 25th-29th Apr. and three at Lound 28th Apr. Inland two were at Sudbury S.F. 13th Apr. and one at Icklingham 26th May. During the autumn, one was at Long Melford 3rd Sept. and two at Minsmere 26th Sept. 49

Waxwing: This year's total of 18 is the highest since 1975. Düring the first winter there were six Cockfield lst-7th Jan., seven Haverhill 6th Jan. and one Mildenhall mid-February. Late autumn reports were of two Haverhill 28th Nov. and singles at Ipswich 25th26th Nov. and Walberswick 14th Dec.

Wren: The harsh first winter weather does not appear to have reduced population levels as much as had been feared. A roost of 50 was found at Minsmere 15th Jan. One fed on hibernating Small Tortoiseshell butterflies in a Walpole farmhouse in February. Dunnock: The only autumn passage report was of five flying south at Landguard 25th Sept. Robin: A very light autumn passage at Landguard peaked at only 10 on 23rd Sept. One was observed feeding under artificial lighting conditions at Sproughton sugar beet factory 0330 hrs., 13th Jan. An unusual report was of a juvenile chasing and begging food from an adult Spotted Flycatcher at Hardwick 2nd Sept. Nightingale: The reported total of 140 singing males included 49 at Minsmere and indicates a reasonably stable population at the present time. Six were noted on spring passage at Landguard — one there on 6th Apr. equals the county's earliest recorded date. The only coastal autumn migrants were singles at Landguard 27th Aug., Benacre 2nd Sept. and Minsmere 2nd Sept. Bluethroat: Another good year for this species. The first report was also the most unexpected — a male of the white-spotted race inland at Barton Mills 16th Mar., the county's earliest recorded date (GAH). Düring May, single males of the red-spotted race were at Southwold 1 Ith (CRN) and Minsmere 14th-15th and 22nd-23rd (RSPB). A female at Minsmere 17th May (RSPB) was presumably also of the red-spotted race. 50

There were no autumn sightings. Black Redstart: A record total of about 32 pairs was located; figures from traditional sites were Felixstowe — 10, Ipswich — eight, Lowestoft — seven and Sizewell — two. Elsewhere, two pairs were in the Waveney Valley and thfee pairs in West Suffolk. Singles were at Ipswich 8th Jan. and Minsmere 19th Jan. Reports from both Minsmere and Lowestoft on 1st Mar. are considered to refer to early migrants. Peak monthly passage counts at Landguard were March — four, April — 1 1 , May — nine, September — 10 and October — nine. One inland at Eriswell 14th Nov. was the last autumn passage bird. The only December sighting was one at Easton Bavents 14th.

Black Redstart Redstart: There was a decrease in the reported breeding population; only 25 pairs were located in the coastal belt of which 16 were at Minsmere. Only one report was received from the Brecks. Up to 25 occurred at Landguard on spring passage 8th Apr.-8th June. A mediocre autumn movement peaked at 10 Landguard 25th Sept. There were five October records at Landguard to 13th and a late male at Lowestoft 26th. Whinchat: There was a further increase in the Breckland population; the total from four sites was 20 pairs, which included 15 in one area. A successful pair on the same heath as in 1983-84 was the only coastal breeding record. Coastal spring passage from 23rd Apr.-22nd May was light; up to three were at Landguard during the first fortnight in May and three on Orfordness 6th May. Autumn passage commenced on 15th Aug. Totals were well below those of 1984 with maxima of only 12 Minsmere 26th Sept. and nine Sizewell 1st Sept. October reports to 23rd included five Minsmere 5th. A late bird was at Minsmeie 7th Nov. 51

Stonechat: This species was a casualty of the harsh first winter conditions. There were no reports during 12th Jan.-25th Feb. and the subsequent breeding population that returned was low; only 10 pairs were found on the coast, all in the AldeburghSouthwold area and one pair in the Brecks. Autumn movements went almost unnoticed; up to six were at Landguard 31st Aug.-9th Sept. and there was a scatter of ones and twos at coastal sites up to early November. By the year's end only about 10 were present in the coastal region and none in the Brecks. Wheatear: Only 11 pairs were reported from the Brecks and seven pairs in the well watched coastal region. Any information relating to the 1987 breeding population would be welcomed. Spring passage first peaked in early April with maximum 43 Landguard 3rd — principal May totals at this site occurred on 5th (17), 14th (24) and 21st (15). A widespread autumn movement commenced in late July and peaked during 20th Aug.-1st Sept.; totals during this period included 28 Landguard, 20 Felixstowe Ferry, 17 Thorpeness and 12 Benacre. The last double figure total was 13 at Landguard 25th Sept. Ring Ouzel: There were 32 spring records during 2nd Apr.-20th May from 15 sites. Six occurred on 14th May including four at Landguard; three were at Thorpeness 6th May. Inland reports were from Bramford 4th Apr., Battisford 28th Apr., Eriswell 26th Apr. and May 13th and Thetford Heath 29th Apr. Only eight were found during the autumn; all were on the coast during 24th Sept.-3rd Nov. Blackbird: The largest autumn totals at Landguard were 60 on 16th Oct. and 60 on 13th Nov. Immigration continued to the year's end with 60 Minsmere early December and 150 Sudbourne 31st Dec. Fieldfare: January reports included 300 Livermere 28th, 200 Bury St. Edmunds 21st and 100 in from over the sea Slaughden 16th; totals decreased sharply during February's arctic conditions. Pre-emigration gatherings became noticeable from mid-March; the largest flocks were 300 Long Melford 14th and 200 Ickworth 27th. Few were noted after midApril; 14 were found at five coastal sites up to 21st May. Summer reports were of singles at Rendham 4th June and Gunton 1st June and 13th July. The first autumn birds were two Holbrook 29th Sept. but it was not until late October that large totals occurred, e.g. 200 Butley 30th, 150 Falkenham 31st. Few were noted in November but in December 300 were roosting at Walberswick by 14th and flocks of 200 were noted at Great Bealings, Gunton and Lakenheath. Song Thrush: Landguard's largest total was 120 on 31st Mar. Birds showing characteristic plumage features of the continental race were at Lowestoft 23rd Sept. (15) and Minsmere on several dates in December. Redwing: Very few were recorded during the January-February cold spell — most birds probably departed for milder areas to the south and west; numbers started to increase from mid-March. During late March there was a heavy coastal movement peaking at 4400 Landguard 31st. Very few were noted in April, and in May the only sightings were at Lound 6th and Lowestoft 14th (two). 52

The first returning birds occurred on 21st Sept. Immigration peaked during the latter half of October with totals of 100 Landguard 15th and 100 Long Melford 20th. Very few were reported in either November or December. Mistle Thrush: Monthly migrant totals at Landguard were January — one, September — 12, October — 10 and November — two. Up to 100 were present on a fruit farm at Bradfield Combust 4th-18th Sept.; other notable flocks were 54 Icklingham in July and 50 Worlingham 7th Sept. Cetti's Warbler: Weather conditions during the first winter almost completely eliminated the breeding population that had been steadily increasing over the last few years. After a record 31 males in 1984, the only reports this vear were of birds singing at Minsmere (two) and Carlton Marshes (one). Grasshopper Warbler: At least 30 "reeling" males were located at 17 sites including 12 at Minsmere. Inland localities included Great Thurlow, Hepworth, Hessett and Sudbury. One at Landguard 18th Sept, is the site's second autumn record and only the third overall. Savi's Warbler: A male sang at Minsmere 24th May-28th June and a pair are assumed to have bred there. The only Walberswick report was of a singing male 16th June and at a third site a male was present 4th May-lst July. Sedge Warbler: There were conflicting breeding season reports; déclinés were noted at Shotley and Orfordness but at Long Melford there was an increase to 25 pairs (20 in 1984). A pair were stili feeding juveniles at Benacre 24th Sept. The first migrant was at Minsmere 4th Apr. 12 passage migrants were recorded at Landguard during 30th Apr.-23rd May. During a very light autumn passage only nine were noted at Landguard 8th Aug.-4th Sept. One was at Alton Water 5th Oct., but this was easily surpassed by a remarkably late individuai at Lakenheath 8th Dee.; this is Suffolk's and probably Britain's, latest ever recorded date for the species (ORM). Reed Warbler: No dramatic change was recorded in the breeding population; totals of breeding pairs included 30 Shotley, 15 Long Melford and 10 Reydon. During a prolonged autumn passage up to 25 were recorded at Landguard 3rd Aug.-23rd Oct. Icterine Warbler: Four autumn migrants were reported: singles at Landguard 20th Aug., 27th Aug. and 21st Sept. (LBO) and Minsmere 24th Aug. (RSPB). Lesser Whitethroat: Breeding reports were of 10 pairs at Minsmere and generally improved numbers in the north-east région. About 14 occurred on spring passage at Landguard 27th Apr.-18th May. Autumn migrants were noted from lOth Aug. The largest totals occurred in late August when there were 10 Minsmere 28th, eight Thorpeness 29th and four Landguard 31st. September figures included 10 Minsmere 4th and five there 22nd. The only October record was one at Minsmere l l t h . Whitethroat: Generally improved totals of breeding pairs included 11 Long Melford, nine Minsmere and up to 20 beside the Woodbridge-Alderton road. Landguard recorded its first known breeding pair. Spring passage birds were noted at Landguard on 15 dates in May and included six on 21st. 53

Eight at Landguard 31st Aug. was the largest total in an undistinguished autumn movement. One at Felixstowe 9th-llth was the only October record. Garden Warbler: The only April records were singles at Minsmere 22nd and Barnham 29th. Spring passage at Landguard 5th-28th May included six on 19th. A migrant on Orfordness 6th May was watched foraging on the shingle beach. Eight pairs bred at Belstead Woods (13 in 1984). Coastal autumn movements from 3rd Aug. were mainly confined to Landguard; the largest site totals were 10 on 26th Sept., nine 31st Aug. and seven 20th Sept. There were sightings of one or two on 26 dates in October at Landguard and very late singles there on 1st and 9th Nov. — this equals Suffolk's latest ever recorded date. Blackcap: During January-February there were birds at Ipswich (three), Felixstowe (two), Benhall, Brantham, Martlesham and Oulton Broad. One at Minsmere 17th Mar. was considered to be a wintering bird but males at both Ipswich and Gunton 31st Mar. were probably spring migrants. There was a general arrival of migrants from 3rd Apr. The overall impression was of a good breeding season; 15 pairs were at Long Mel ford (10 in 1984) but a decrease was noted at Belstead Woods. Autumn movements from 31st Aug. were mainly recorded at Landguard where the maximum totals were 10 on 18th and 25th Sept.; up to five were noted there on 28 dates in October. In November there were singles at Benhall 1st, Lowestoft 1st and Thorpeness 8th and one-four at Landguard on 10 dates up to 18th; the final passage bird was at Minsmere 20th Nov. The only December records were singles at bird tables in Ipswich 22nd and 27th and Woodbridge 31st. Yellow-browed Warbler: One of the year's ornithological highlights was a nationwide influx of this Siberian warbler, of which Suffolk's share was at least nine; they more than doubled the overall county total up to 17. They arrived in two distinct phases; the first involved singles at Landguard 26th28th Sept. and Walberswick 1st Oct. while during 14th-21st Oct. there were reports from Lowestoft (two), Landguard (two), Minsmere (two) and Corton.

X Yellow-browed


Wood Warbler: During the period 1st May-2nd June single singing males were located at Minsmere, Eriswell, Walberswick and Sutton, but all of them soon moved on elsewhere; in addition passage birds were at Landguard 10th and 19th May and 54

central Felixstowe 14th and 15th May. Autumn migrants were recorded in August at Landguard 6th, 19th and 22nd (two). Minsmere 17th and Dunwich 19th. The county's latest ever recorded date was provided by one at Minsmere 10th Sept. Chiffchaff: Wintering birds were noted up to mid-March at Dunwich, Eastbridge, Felixstowe, Lakenheath, Southwold and Sproughton. The first migrants were at Landguard 24th Mar. and spring passage continued there until 9th June. Six pairs bred at Long Melford (10 in 1984). Autumn migration peaked at Landguard on 17th Sept. (15). One was singing at Orford 8th Oct. There were no November records; wintering birds were noted from mid-December at Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Lakenheath and Minsmere (two). Willow Warbler: The bird first located at Oulton Marshes 31st Dec. 1984 remained there until at least 24th Feb. when it was heard singing (DPi). The county's earliest ever recorded migrant was provided by one seen and heard singing at Worlington 16th Mar. (PJ). There was a general arrival from 3rd Apr.; spring passage at Landguard to 10th June peaked at 24 on 16th Apr., 16 on 30th Apr. and 40 on 10th May. A bird of the northern race acredula was at Landguard 22nd May. Notable breeding concentrations were 46 pairs at Barnham and 27 pairs at Long Melford. The first autumn birds were on 24th July at Landguard where passage totals peaked spectacularly in August on 16th (100), 22nd (200) and 27th (200). Relatively few were noted in September and only six in October to 20th. Goldcrest: Autumn movements peaked during 15th-21st Oct. when there were up to 20 at Landguard. A pair bred in a rose hedge at Haverhill. Firecrest: None could be found in the breeding season at five of the 1984 sites where a total of eight pairs had been present. However, reports from recently discovered sites were of up to four singing males, a pair nest building, an unsuccessful pair and a female paired to male Goldcrest; at a traditional site only one singing male was located. A passage male displayed to a female Goldcrest at Minsmere 30th Apr. Single birds were at one Breck and two coastal sites during the first winter. Up to 30 were recorded on spring passage 30th Mar.-27th May of which 13 occurred at Landguard; five were at Sparrowe's Nest, Lowestoft 16th May. The main coastal autumn passage occurred during 20th Oct.-17th Nov. with maximum four at Landguard 23rd. One was found inland at Hardwick Heath 30th Sept. Spotted Flycatcher: Breeding totals were slightly improved when compared with 1984. Six pairs were located within a distance of 250 yards at Walpole and there was a post-breeding count of 20 birds in Holywells Park, Ipswich 8th Aug. Spring passage was recorded at Landguard 22nd May-9th June with maximum nine on the former date. The largest autumn passage total was only 12 at Benacre 2nd Sept.; there were seven October records to 11th.


Collared Flycatcher: A male at Lowestoft 13th-14th May was the highlight of an excellent spring for rarities and the county's first record of this east European species (BJB, AE, JCE et al). Please see article on page 81 and Plate 5. Pied Flycatcher: 17 spring migrants were reported during 26th Apr.-18th May; these included eight at Landguard, two at Sudbury lst-2nd May, two in Wolves Wood 27th-28th Apr. and one at Lakenheath 2nd May. There were sightings at 12 localities during 31st July-26th Sept. Overall, about 75 were reported from Landguard with peaks of 30 on 27th Aug. and 14 on 30th Aug. Elsewhere there were four Benacre 22nd Aug., four Shingle Street 30th Aug. and singles inland at West Stow 17th Aug. and Bramford 15th Aug.

Pied Flycatcher

Bearded Tit: Only 20 pairs bred at Minsmere and breeding numbers were considered below average at Walberswick. Breeding also took place at Benacre and Easton Broads, but none bred at Carlton Marshes for the first time in four years. Away from the breeding sites there were first winter reports from Blythburgh (12), Bromeswell (12), Flatford (three) and West Stow (two). Likewise, during the autumn birds were found at Flatford (28), Thorpeness (seven), Butley (five) and Cornard Mere. Long-tailed Tit: The largest groups were 40 Thorpeness 22nd Nov., 36 Ipswich 25th Mar. and 30 Dunwich 27th Dec. 56

Marsh Tit: Reported from 32 sites mostly in the coasta! rĂŠgion, Brecks and Stour Valley. Up to 15 were at Minsmere during August-December. Willow Tit: Reports were received from 17 sites, most of them in the coastal belt. A group of six were at West Stow 12th Apr. Coal Tit: One or two were at Landguard on eight dates during lOth Sept.-15th Oct. The only other evidence of coastal migration was of two in Minsmere Sluice bushes, 5th Oct. Blue Tit: A nesting box at Great Glemham held 17 young in June, probably as a resuit of two females laying in the same nest. Autumn movements at Landguard peaked at 20 on 18th Oct. Great Tit: The only autumn migrant was one flying south at Landguard lst Oct. Nuthatch: Only reported from 51 sites (71 in 1984) but there can be little doubt that this attractive species remains a widespread resident in ail suitable areas of woodland. Treecreeper: Reported from 54 sites (48 in 1984). Two dead juveniles were found in a bat box at Rendlesham Forest 18th Aug. and a pair nested in a shed on Aldeburgh golf course. Golden Oriole: Up to eight maies were present at an established site; four juveniles were located there on 30th July. Reports from two other sites in June were of a singing maie and a pair. The only passage migrants were two at Minsmere 26th May. Red-backed Shrike: There is an understandable reluctance on the behalf of observers to impart information concerning this species; only two successful breeding pairs were reported and birds were present at three additional sites. Passage birds in May were at Minsmere 18th (three), 19th and 25th, Landguard 19th and 26th and Ellough 30th. The only autumn records were of immatures in August at Beccles 5th-6th and Thorpeness 26th. Great Grey Shrike: This species' recent scarcity failed to improve. There were no first winter reports; during the late autumn single birds were at Hinton 13th Oct., Higham (West) l l t h Nov., Thorpeness 29th Dec., Cavenham Heath from 27th Nov. onwards and in the Lakenheath/Eriswell area from 8th Oct. onwards. Jay: Four occurred at Landguard in May. 23 flew south over Walberswick 16th Nov. Magpie: Further increases noted in several areas. The largest gatherings wre 30 Long Melford January and 20 Aldeburgh 24th Mar. Single birds were at Landguard llth Apr. and 27th May. Nutcracker: One at Westleton 2nd Nov.-7th Dec. when found dead (TDC, KM, DMo et al). First in the county since 1973. Please see article on page 82 and Plate 6. Jackdaw: The largest pre-roosting flocks were 600 Snape 30th Nov. and 820 Eastbridge 22nd Dec. 130 flew in from over the sea Landguard 21st Oct. Rook: 2000 Great Bealings 28th Jan. was the largest reported pre-roosting flock. 57

Carrion Crow: Counts at the Wherstead Strand roost were of 400 on 27th Sept. and 200 in November. Elsewhere, 200 were on Havergate Island 8th Sept. and 75 at Baylham 16th Nov. The only autumn passage report at Landguard was of 10 flying north 23rd Oct. Hooded Crow: Another poor year with reports only from the coastal region. During the early months there were two Easton Bavents February-March and singles at Southwold 28th Mar. and Minsmere 24th Apr. During October there were sightings at Havergate 13th (two), Benacre 19th and 31st and Landguard 30th. In December there were two Henham 31st and one Shingle Street 18th. Starling: The largest roost counts were 30000 Easton Broad reedbed OctoberDecember and 10000 at Creeting October-November. Direct emigration was noted at Felixstowe 8th Mar., while diurnal immigration reached its peak in mid-November with counts of 1000 Benacre 13th and 500 Landguard 15th. House Sparrow: The only southerly movements in the autumn at Landguard were of 14 on 25th Sept. and 25 on 11th Oct. Tree Sparrow: During January-February there were 200 at Sudbourne and flocks of 50 at Aldeburgh, Walberswick and Wherstead. Only about 75 autumn migrants were noted at Landguard (475 in autumn 1984). Chaffinch: Counts of winter flocks included 400 Thorpeness 29th Dec., 280 Icklingham 19th Mar., 200 Freston 17th Feb. and 200 Shottisham 1st Jan. During an exceptionally quiet autumn passage at Landguard only about 90 were recorded during 18th Sept.-7th Nov. Brambling: During January-May there were reports from 32 widely scattered sites. The largest flock was 100 in Bourne Park, Ipswich 5th Jan. Single birds were seen in May at Lakenheath 3rd, Carlton Marshes 6th and Eastbridge 16th. The first autumn birds were four at Landguard 29th Sept., but the main immigration was from mid-October-mid-November. A flock at Benacre increased from 20 on 21st Oct. up to 350 on 26th Oct. and then dropped to only seven on 6th Nov. In the Brecks a roost at Lakenheath held 300 on 4th Nov. and 105 on 13th Dec. Overall, birds were noted at 26 sites, mostly in the Brecks and on the coast. Serin: Male at Benacre 30th Aug. (CRN). Eighth county record. Greenfinch: 250 flew south at Landguard 30th Sept. and 920 during 5th-14th Oct., but the autumn total of c. 1250 at this site is only 17 per cent of the 1984 figure. The largest winter flocks were 400 Alton Water 30th Nov. and 350 Ellough 13th Sept. Goldfinch: The largest first winter flocks were 75 Livermere 17th Feb. and 45 West Stow 7th Jan. Spring movements were almost non-existent and during a light autumn passage only c.2200 were recorded at Landguard during 18th Sept.-7th Nov. with maximum 440 on 11th Oct. The largest October flocks elsewhere were 200 Covehithe 28th and 150 Blythburgh 6th. Siskin: Only reported from 20 sites during January-April but there were some notable flocks including 100 Brandon 17th Apr., 80 Barton Mills 21st Mar., 75

Minsmere 16th Mar. and 75 Bromeswell 2nd Jan.; the April and late March flocks probably relate to pre-emigration gatherings. There were no confirmed breeding records but birds were noted during the summer at three Breck and two coastal sites. During July there were unseasonal reports of Siskins at several British east coast localities; these early movements probably explain the presence of up to 100 in Rendlesham Forest in July. An above average autumn passage commenced at Landguard as early as 7th Sept. and by 7th Nov. c.140 had been recorded there with maximum 26 on 23rd Sept. Feeding flocks in November included 80 Minsmere, 75 West Stow and 40 Bourne Park, Ipswich and in December, 60 West Stow and 53 Holywells Park, Ipswich. Linnet: The totals recorded at Landguard on southerly passage SeptemberNovember typified how generally mediocre were the finch movements this autumn; during 7th Sept.-7th Nov. c.2350 were counted which is only 40 per cent of the 1984 figure; 1625 occurred in October with maximum 825 on 11th. Twite: First winter reports up to 21st Mar. were received from the Orwell, Deben and Blyth estuaries, Minsmere and Walberswick. Noteworthy totals were 85 Walberswick 23rd Jan., 70 Trimley Marshes 17th Jan. and 33 Waldringfield 2nd Feb. Inland, one was at Long Melford 10th Feb. By 5th Oct. the first autumn birds had returned to Minsmere. Landguard recorded only four autumn migrants but elsewhere the wintering population was high. The largest flock, peaking at 250 on 13th Dec., was on the Orwell saltings at Levington while up to 100 were regularly recorded in the Dunwich-Walberswick area from midOctober onwards. Other gatherings included 60 Felixstowe Ferry 17th Nov., 40 Slaughden 30th Dec. and 35 Benacre 25th Dec. Redpoll: Although breeding was reported from only 15 sites, the populations at both Minsmere and Benacre were described as being high. About 325 autumn migrants were recorded at Landguard during the period 13th Sept.-2nd Nov. (only 26 in 1984). Mealy Redpolls were noted at Rendlesham 12th Apr. (two), Landguard 13th Oct. and Southwold 18th Dec. Crossbill: There was widespread evidence of an influx during the summer months. The first indications, in June, were 25 Chelmondiston 1st, 17 Minsmere 8th, 15 Covehithe 14th and 50 Rendlesham 28th; these were followed in July by counts of 30 Minsmere 2nd-19th, 70 Lakenheath/Eriswell 3rd and 75 Tunstall 15th. Additional sightings away from the traditional areas were of two Christchurch Park, Ipswich 9th Feb. and singles at Landguard 11th Oct. and East Bergholt 22nd Oct. Very little information was received concerning the breeding population. Parrot Crossbill: At the 1984 site, a pair were present together with two juveniles 4th-21st Apr.; the adult male was still present in the area 12th May; breeding probably took place within the site's immediate vicinity (TDC, FKC, GJJ et al). Bullfinch: General comments received indicated that this species is widespread throughout the county. The largest gatherings were 30 Long Melford throughout January, 13 Aldringham 29th Dec. and 12 Woolverstone 27th Oct. Landguard's only reports were singles 7th Sept. and 12th Nov. Ten pairs were located in the Long Melford area in June. 59

Hawfinch: Reported from five Breck, three central and seven coastal localities, at most of which this species probably bred. There were no reports of winter gatherings or suspected coastal migrants. Lapland Bunting: First winter reports were of a female trapped and ringed at Shotley 19th Jan., male Walberswick 16th Feb. and two Minsmere 26th-27th Feb. In May, single summer plumage males were found at Felixstowe Ferry 10th and Sizewell 17th. An excellent autumn for this species commenced with one at Minsmere 17th-22nd Sept. October sightings were one Minsmere 21st and two Easton Bavents 27th. In November, one was at Landguard 22nd and in the Easton Broad area there were up to four during 3rd-l 1th and again on 26th. The late autumn's largest gathering was of six Sudbourne 15th Dec.; other sightings during that month were of up to four Easton Bavents 8th-23rd, three Benacre 29th and singles at Minsmere 8th and 20th. Snow Bunting: Reported during the first winter period up to 5th Apr. at 14 coastal sites. The wintering population was low with maximum totals of 20 Felixstowe Ferry 22nd Jan., 12 Southwold 18th Jan. and 11 Shingle Street 13th Jan. Four were present at Ipswich Docks 10th Feb. An excellent late autumn for this species commenced with one at Dunwich 20th Oct. Overall there were reports from 15 coastal sites. As in 1983, Orfordness played host to the largest flock with 170 on 30th Dec. During November totals included 60 Easton Bavents, 46 Benacre, 40 Corton, 40 Pakefield and 20 Felixstowe Ferry. December figures were significantly lower — a gathering of up to 90 at Slaughden during the month was probably associated with the Orfordness flock. For the second successive year, there was a sighting in West Suffolk when on 27th Nov. one was found in a stubble field with Golden Plovers at Risby. 60

Yellowhammer: Notable gatherings were of 70 Icklingham 19th Mar., 60 Aldeburgh 24th Mar., 50 Long Melford late January and 50 Hadleigh early February. 20 were feeding with House Sparrows on spilt grain at Ipswich Docks 20th Jan. The only Landguard report was of one on Sept. 30th. Ortolan Bunting: On spring passage, single adult males were noted in May at Sizewell 5th and Landguard 11th-12th. A first winter bird was trapped at Landguard 18th Sept. These three records make 1985 the best year for this species in Suffolk since 1965.



Reed Bunting: Two fed at a bird table in an Ipswich garden on three occasions during harsh weather in mid-February. 13 flew south at Landguard during 10th-26th Oct. No flocks were reported. Corn Bunting: The wintering population was particularly high during January when counts of feeding or roosting flocks were 140 Sudbourne, 30 Trimley Marshes, 27 Lakenheath and 16 Falkenham. There was a feeding flock of 50 at Bures during September-October and 40 roosted nearby at Cornard Mere from late November onwards; 30 were at Sudbourne in December. The south-east region of the county south of the River Aide remains the principal breeding area for this species with at least 25 singing males, 12 of which were in the Sutton Heath area. North of the River Blyth singing males were at Southwold, Easton Bavents and Corton and in the north-west region at Livermere (three), Lakenheath and Cavenham. The only breeding report from the Sudbury area was of a pair at Assington. Southerly coastal movements were noted in December at Shingle Street 8th (nine) and Minsmere 4th (three). The only Landguard record was of one on 30th Sept.


APPENDIX I — CATEGORY D SPECIES Wood Duck: Single birds at Thorpeness 31st Mar.-7th Apr. and Layham 27th Dec. APPENDIX II — ESCAPED ZOOLOGICAL SPECIMENS Flamingo sp: One in the Havergate/Boyton area 19th Jan.-8th Mar. Black Swan: Reported from Wattisham (two), Southwold (two), Ipswich (two), Benacre/Covehithe (two), Felixstowe Ferry and Lackford. Lesser White-fronted Goose: Reports of assumed escapees were from Trimley 3rd Jan., Long Melford 24th Jan.-15th Feb., Reydon 4th Mar., Minsmere 10th-llth Mar., 3rd May and 22nd May-5th June (two), Barham 12th May and the Livermere/Lackford area July-September; analysis of the dates shows that probably no more than two birds were responsible for all these sightings. Emperor Goose: One at Benacre 25th July and 16th Dec. Chiloe Wigeon: Single birds at Lackford 12th Jan. and Minsmere 9th-18th July (male) and 17th Dec. (female). Black East Indian Duck: Two at Long Melford 21st-22nd Jan. Reeve's Pheasant: Very tame individual, Holton St. Peter, 26th Mar. Parakeet sp: Singles at Bradfield St. George 16th Jan. and Landguard 9th-l 1th Sept. Blue and Yellow Macaw: Two at Bury St. Edmunds 14th June. Scarlet Macaw: One near Ufford 5th Dec. Cockatiel: One at Gunton 7th Sept. Barbary Dove: One at Ipswich 9th July. Weaver sp: One at Landguard 12th Oct. Also several reports of Bar-headed Geese, Budgerigars and Canaries. Escaped wildfowl in the Ixworth area included African Yellowbill, Abyssinian Blue-winged Goose, Blue-winged Teal (two) and Chiloe Wigeon. APPENDIX III — ADDITION TO 1975 REPORT White Pelican: One at Minsmere 2nd May (JRH). APPENDIX IV — ADDITION TO 1977 REPORT Laughing Gull: The record of an adult at Wherstead Strand 13th Nov. and Felixstowe 29th Nov.-2nd Dec. (AB, ARJP) was published in "British Birds" (Brit. Birds 71:506) but inadvertently omitted from the county report. First county record of this Nearctic gull. APPENDIX V — ADDITIONS TO 1982 REPORT Black-necked Grebe: One at Wherstead Strand, River Orwell, 21st Feb. Ruddy Duck: Female at Alton Water 6th Feb. White-tailed Eagle: One at Martlesham 1st Feb. (MCr) is assumed to have been the bird that had been present in the Sizewell area 21st-30th Jan. Western Sandpiper or Semipalmated Sandpiper: A controversial species of stint Calidris was present in the Felixstowe Ferry area from 30th Oct. 1982 until at least 62

14th Apr. 1983. After much discussion it was submitted to the British Birds Rarities Committee as being a Western Sandpiper (MM et al); this identification was supported by the vast majority of the hundreds of observers who saw the bird. However, after consultation with American and Swedish wader identification specialists, BBRC accepted, and published, the record as being Semipalmated Sandpiper (Brit. Birds 79:545). The reasons for this decision were given in a subsequent article in the "British Birds" journal (Brit. Birds 79:617-621). The Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee considers that an element of doubt still exists concerning the identification of this bird and that the case, as set out in "British Birds", is inconclusive either way. As such, our decision is that the record should be published in the Suffolk Bird Report as being either Western Sandpiper or Semipalmated Sandpiper. Lapland Bunting: One at Sudbourne 21st Jan. APPENDIX VI — ADDITION TO 1983 REPORT Grey Phalarope: One on sea off Landguard 23rd Oct. (LBO). APPENDIX VII — ADDITIONS TO 1984 REPORT Little Egret: One at Minsmere 30th May-4th June (P. Carr, DEH, JH). Caspian Tern: One at Benacre 8th July (JMi, CSW et al). Kingfisher: Pair bred successfully at Haverhill. APPENDIX VIII — CORRECTION TO 1984 REPORT White-rumped Sandpiper: The individual at Minsmere 12th-18th Sept. was found by B. D. Gee and not as originally stated.


EARLIEST AND LATEST DATES OF SUMMER MIGRANTS SPECIES Garganey Hobby Stone Curlew Little Ringed Plover Curlew Sandpiper Whimbrel Greenshank* Wood Sandpiper C o m m o n Sandpiper* Sandwich Tern C o m m o n Tern Arctic Tern Little Tern Black Tern Turtle Dove Cuckoo Nightjar Swift Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit Yellow Wagtail Blue-headed Wagtail Nightingale* Black Redstart • * Redstart Whinchat Wheatear Ring Ouzel Grasshopper Warbler Savi's Warbler Sedge Warbler Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler Blackcap* W o o d Warbler Chiffchaff* Willow W a r b l e r + * Spotted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Red-backed Shrike * + • * §


Dale 5th Apr. 20th Apr. 18th Mar. 3rd Apr. 10th May 14th Apr. 6th Apr. 27th Apr. 14th Apr. 30th Mar. 1st Apr. Ist May 18th Apr. 14th May 17th Apr. 5th Apr. 11th May 21st Apr. 2nd Apr. 27th Mar. 1st Apr. 1st Apr. 3rd Apr. 14th Apr. 6th Apr. 1st Mar. 4th Apr. 23rd Apr. 25th Mar. 2nd Apr. 12th Apr. 4th May 4th Apr. 15th Apr. 20th Apr. 1 Ith Apr. 22nd Apr. 31st Mar. 1st May 24th Mar. 16th Mar. 11th May 26th Apr. 18th May

ARRIVALS Locality Falkenham "Breckland" "Breckland" Sproughton Minsmere Landguard Landguard Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Sizewell Minsmere; Lackford Minsmere; Felixstowe Alton Water Bury St. Edmunds Sudbury Minsmere Alton Water Minsmere; Needham Market Minsmere Long Melford Minsmere; Mildenhall Minsmere Minsmere Landguard Minsmere; Lowestoft Cornard Landguard Landguard; Foxhall Lowestoft Minsmere "Coast" Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Livermere Minsmere lpswich;Gunton Minsmere Landguard Worlington Sudbourne Landguard Minsmere

See Systematic List for details of overwintering birds. Earliest evt. recorded spring migrant date in Suffolk. Equals earliest ever recorded spring migrant date in Suffolk. Latest ever recorded date in Suffolk. Equals latest ever recorded date in Suffolk.

Date 6th Oct. 13th Oct. 17th Oct. 19th Sept. 13th Oct. 13th Oct. 17th Nov. 4th Oct. 9th Nov. 17th Oct. 14th Oct. 17th Nov. 20th Sept. 1st Oct. 23rd Oct. 20th Sept. 18th Sept. 9th Nov. 16th Nov. 10th Dec. 17th Nov. 5th Oct. 8th Nov. 25th Aug. 2nd Sept. 14th Nov. 26th Oct. 7th Nov. 27th Oct. 3rd Nov. 18th Sept. —

8th Dec. 23rd Oct. 11th Oct. 11th Oct. 9th Nov. 20th Nov. 10th Sept. 31st Oct. 20th Oct. 11th Oct. 26th Sept. 26th Aug.

DEPARTURES Locality Minsmere Benacre "Breckland" Bury St. E d m u n d s Minsmere Sudbourne; R. Orwell Melton Minsmere Alton Water Landguard Woodbridge Minsmere Thorpeness Benacre Felixstowe Thorpeness "Breckland" Kessingland Benacre Herringfleet Leiston Landguard Long Melford Minsmere Minsmere; Benacre Eriswell Lowestoft Minsmere Minsmere Landguard Landguard —

Lakenheath * Landguard Minsmere Felixstowe Landguard§ Minsmere Minsmere* Landguard Minsmere Felixstowe Landguard; Lowestoft Aldeburgh; Lowestoft

Landguard Bird Observatory 1985

by H. R. Beecroft and A. R. J. Paine Another excellent year with the following three species and one race being added to the Observatory list: Little Grebe, Smew, Yellow-browed Warbler and Blackheaded Wagtail. This increased the total to 223 species of which 176 were recorded in 1985. The number of birds ringed, 3918, was fewer than in 1984 due largely to the cold spring. Ringing at additional sites by observatory members was extended this year to increase habitat experience for trainee ringers. This included work at Fagbury Point on the Trimley Marshes in the study of wader and wildfowl use of this area. DĂŠtails of interesting controls and recoveries from these activities are included in the Ringing Report. JANUARY: Southerly wildfowl movements in response to the onset of harsh weather peaked during 2nd-7th with maximum totals of 4000 Brent Geese 4th and 2000 Wigeon 7th. Other winter visitors during an active month included Whooper and Bewick's Swans, a group of 16 Goosander, male and "red h e a d " Smew, Jack Snipe, Glaucous Gull, Short-eared Owl and eight Snow Buntings. FEBRUARY: A resumption of cold weather on 8th lasting through to 20th resulted in large scale gull movements; c.1250 moved south on 9th and c.2300 were in the Landguard area on 12th. The highest species count was of 1250 Common Gulls on 15th. 65


• Wader species moving south during 15th-17th included Knot, Grey Piover, Sanderling and Purple Sandpiper. One of the latter that arrived on 17th bore a Swedish ring and remained in the Landguard area until at least 21st March. A male Long-tailed Duck flew north on 19th and eight Snow Buntings were present on 4th. MARCH: Summer visitors were quick to respond to the cessation of cold weather on 20th with Black Redstart 20th, Chiffchaff 24th, Wheatear from 25th, two Firecrests 30th-31st and two White Wagtails 31st. A notable thrush movement overnight 30th-31st involved Redwings and Song Thrushes. At dawn on 3Ist c.400 Redwings were present and an additional 4000 moved south in the period up to 0900 hrs. APRIL: Migrant numbers were generally low apart from counts of 43 Wheatears on 3rd and 25 Willow Warbiers on 16th. Notable species included Sparrowhawk 20th, Long-eared Owl 20th and 28th, White Wagtail 6th and Ring Ouzel 7th, 25th and 27th. Although not a notable spring for early arrivals, Nightingale on 6th, Common Tern l l t h and Cuckoo 13th are Landguard's earliest recorded dates for those species; the Nightingale equals the county's earliest recorded date. MAY: As has come to be expected, an exciting month for rarer species, the most outstanding of which were Wood Warbier lOth and 19th, Ortolan Bunting llth12th, Wryneck 12th and male Red-backed Shrike 19th and 26th. Single Firecrests were present on 5th, 22nd and 27th and Ring Ouzels 4th and 14th. While many birds were still moving north, the first returning Lapwings were noted on 24th (two), 25th (two) and 26th. JUNE: Highlight of this cool, wet, unsettled month was a splendid male Blackheaded Wagtail on 30th, the first county record of this race of the Yellow Wagtail. Out of season reports were of two Gadwall 23rd, Red-breasted Merganser 30th and Stonechat 28th-29th. Southerly wader passage commenced on 22nd and by the month's end, Grey Piover, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank and Spotted Redshank had been noted. JULY: A typically quiet month. Southerly movements of Swifts were recorded on 16 dates with a maximum of c.1150 on 6th. An unusual mid-summer sight was of a male Scaup flying south with 29 Common Scoter on 28th; an immature Coot on 24th was only the third site record. The Observatory's first warbler breeding record was provided by a pair of Whitethroats seen carrying food. AUGUST: An exceptional total of c.5000 Swifts moved south during the month peaking at 1150 on 20th; in addition, 700 flew in from over the sea on 5th. Passerine highlights were Icterine Warbiers on 20th, 27th and 29th, Wood Warbiers on 6th, 19th and 22nd (two) and an excellent Willow Warbler passage which peaked at c.200 on 22nd and 27th; 326 Willow Warbiers were ringed during the course of the month as were 28 Pied Flycatchers. Out at sea, three Arctic and one Great Skua were noted on 27th and an early Razorbill on 23rd. SEPTEMBER: 118 species were noted during the month, the highlight being the first site record of Yellow-browed Warbler 26th-28th. Amongst a steady stream of interesting species were Manx Shearwater lOth, Marsh 66

Harrier 28th, Sparrowhawk 25th, Wryneck 20th and 21st (two), Ring Ouzel 24th25th, Icterine Warbler 21st, Grasshopper Warbler 18th and Ortolan Bunting 18th. A Hobby present in the Fort/Observatory area 22nd-28th put on superb displays of dragonfly-catching for a large number of visitors; unfortunately the bird was obviously not in good condition and it died on the latter date. Sea-watching throughout the month produced a total of 23 Arctic Skuas and 17 wader species. Hirundine movements produced totals of 270 Sand Martins, 11000 Swallows and 6300 House Martins. OCTOBER: Another excellent month with 116 species including the site's first Storm Petrel record on 30th. Arrivais of Yellow-browed Warblers continued with our second bird during 14th-17th being joined by another on 16th. Other noteworthy species this month included four Bewick's Swans 23rd, "ringtail" Hen Harrier high up in from over the sea 19th, single Sparrowhawks 13th and 17th, 12 Avocets north 29th, Little Auk in off sea 20th, Long-eared Owl 15th, Short-eared Owls 13th and 26th, Hooded Crow 30th, Mealy Redpoll 13th and Crossbill 11 th. A late Swift was seen on 18th and a flock of 130 Jackdaws came in from over the sea 21st. Firecrests were noted on eight dates peaking at four on 23rd and 109 Goldcrests were ringed during the course of the month. Thrush movements were much in evidence especially from 13th when 11 Bramblings were present. NOVEMBER: Generally a quiet month with 94 species recorded. Four Little Grebes 26th constituted the first site record of this species and a Water Rail on 13th is only the second. Belated summer migrants included Swallow 25th, Black Redstarts to 13th, Ring Ouzel 3rd, Garden Warbler 9th (equals county's latest recorded date) and Blackcaps to 18th. Other sightings of interest were Little Auk 5th, Little Owl 6th, Firecrest lst and Lapland Bunting 22nd. Two Snow Buntings flew south 22nd and seven flew in from over the sea 25th. DECEMBER: The main event this month was the increase in gull numbers in the last week; overall totals were 750 Black-headed, 550 Common, 200 Herring and 200 Great Black-backed Gulls. A Fulmar flew north 26th and a Long-eared Owl was present on 28th.




Species Teal Kestrel Hobby Ringed Piover Black-headed Gull Wood Pigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Cuckoo Long-eared Owl Swift Wryneck Great Spotted Woodpecker Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Skylark Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit Meadow Pipit Yellow Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Nightingale Black Redstart Redstart Whinchat Wheatear Ring Ouzel Blackbird Fieldfare Song Thrush

Total Grand Total 1985 1978-1985 1 3 1 3 2 7 4 1 1 1 1 1

1 6 1 43 7 14 7 8 7 4 2 4



1 2 2 139 8 5 17 1 30 95 57 3 49 23 2 5 2 343 3 164

1 14 6 578 206 18 77 1 125 589 344 21 129 86 15 32 7 1245 13 598

Species Redwing Mistle Thrush Grasshopper Warbier Sedge Warbier Reed Warbier Icterine Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler Blackcap Yellow-browed Warbler Wood Warbler Chiffchaff Willow Warbler Goldcrest Firecrest Spotted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Coal Tit Blue Tit Great Tit Starling House Sparrow Tree Sparrow Chaffinch Brambling Greenfinch Goldfinch Siskin Linnet Redpoll Yellowhammer Ortolan Bunting

Total Grand Total 1985 1978-1985 51 1 1 14 15 1 26 25 71 97

125 4 1 51 117 5 94 110 241 391

3 4 83 483 122 12 28 45 5 78 53 130 3 4 29 30 888 144 1 479 6 1 2

3 7 200 946 446 49 105 165 12 533 227 436 60 33 194 38 1821 572 4 1650 19 3 2

1985 total — 3918 birds of 66 species ringed.

Overall, during the eight years 1978-1985 inclusive a total of 13083 birds of 91 species have been ringed at Landguard.


Recently Notified Ringing Recoveries Affecting Suffolk by D. R. Moore & I. Peters 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 = maie, F - female. Manner of recovery — v Caught or trapped — released with ring. + Shot or killed by man. x Found dead or dying. 0 Caught or trapped alive — not released, or released without ring. xL Found long dead. xB Breeding where recaptured. w Sight record of identifiable colour ring(s).

Gannet 1 23.07.85 Andoy, Nordland, Norway. v 08.09.85 Lakenheath. 2025km. An inland Gannet is uncommon enough let alone a foreign reared juvenile. Cormorant 00.06.85 1 22.09.85 w

St. Margaret's Island, Dyfed. Melton.

Bewick's Swan 28.12.79 Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. 2F 24.01.82 Westleton. w Canada Goose 12.07.80 Beauly Firth, Highland. 4 14.01.85 Sizewell. 700km. + 12.07.80 Beauly Firth, Highland. 4 01.10.81 Walberswick. 690km. x Yet more evidence of the interchange between birds from southern England and the moulting flock in the Beauly Firth. Shelduck 6M 03.04.80 Marquenterre, Somme, France, x 15.04.85 Stratton Hall, Ipswich. 187km. This represents only the second recovery in UK of a Shelduck from France. The 69

bird had been dead for some time and probably succumbed to the hard weather the previous February. Marsh Harrier 1 20.06.82 Groitzsch, Leipzig, East Germany. x 11.05.84 Reydon. 760km. Although the conservation effort in this country has increased our nesting population there can be no doubt that some colonisation by birds from the Continent has taken place. Avocet 3 18.07.70 Butley Creek. x (21.06.77) Near Barreiro, Lisbon, Portugal. 1 18.05.79 Lillo, Antwerpen, Belgium. v 04.09.79 Butley Creek. 212km. 1 15.07.78 Heist, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. v 03.10.79 Butley Creek. 146km. 3 18.09.79 Butley Creek. x 30.10.79 Oudalle, Seine-Maritime, France. 301km. The controlled recoveries add to the increasing amount of evidence that at least some, if not ail, of our wintering birds originate from the BĂŠnĂŠlux countries. Stone Curlew 1 14.06.85 + 17.11.85

The Brecks. El Rubio, Sevilla, Spain. 1720km.

Lapwing 1 02.06.81 + 25.01.85 3 11.10.74 + 14.01.85

Shotley. Cherboug, Manche, France. 328km. Butley. Zumaia, Guipuzcoa, Spain. 1017km.

Purple Sandpiper 5 02.05.84 Nidingen, Halland, Sweden, vv 17.02.85 Landguard Point. 905km. vv 21.03.85 Landguard Point. This is the first recovery of this species to or from Sweden; the reading of the ring involved much patient observation through a telescope. Dunlin 4 08.08.79 27.01.85 v 4 25.07.83 02.02.85 V 24.01.81 5 15.02.85 V 23.01.82 6 30.03.85 X 3M 11.10.74 25.05.85 V 30.07.84 6 70

Hallig Suderoog, Nordfriesische Inseln, West Germany. Fagbury Point. 557km. Ujscie Redy, Gdansk, Poland. Fagbury Point. 1180km. Axe Estuary, Weston-super-Mare, Avon. Fagbury Point. 305km. Ramsholt. Insel Norderoog, West Germany. 550km. Butley. Norderheverkoog, West Germany. 550km. Ottenby, Oland, Sweden.

Plate 5: Suffolk's first record of Collared Flycatcher was provided by this male at Lowestoft

in mid-May.

P h o t o Brian Brown

Plate 6: "Bird of the year" for many observers, this Nutcracker was at Westleton 2nd Nov.

to 7th Dec.

P h o t o Roger T i d m a n

Plate 7: 350 BrambUngs were at Benacre in late October.

Photo Roger Tidman

r «M


" » "f" * ^



¡ s M J U L y


»"Sr-.-i T i p ^ Ä ' i W f e ' S l f c l

... .täk:-

Plate 8: Parrot Crossbills were again present in the county and probably


.«.«a&iä*® „nÜI


Photo.Roger Tidman

v 11.12.85 Ramsholt. 1078km. The third bird changed wintering sites within UK. Black-tailed Godwit 3 14.09.78 Butley. x 15.05.85 Alfsstadir, Skeid, Arness, Iceland. 1843km. 3 31.08.82 Butley. x


L'Aiguilion-sur-Mer, Vendee, France. 672km.

Redshank 6 17.04.81 Findhorn Bay, Grampian, v 24.10.85 Brantham. 701km. 6 24.03.85 Fagbury. x 31.05.85 Swordly, Bettyhill, Highland. 809km. These two reports are probably of Icelandic breeding birds. In addition there were six short range recoveries of locally ringed birds during the exceptionally cold weather in January-February that clearly illustrate how vulnerable this species is to severe conditions. Great Skua 1 10.07.83 Foula, Shetland, x 03.11.85 Aldeburgh. 915km. An interesting recovery for Suffolk where this species is scarce inshore. Black-headed Gull 28.01.78 Ipswich. 5 14.08.84 Near Lomonosov, Leningrad, USSR. 1966km. + 25.06.83 Maaninka, Kuopio, Finland. 1 V 10.02.85 Ipswich. 1975km. 08.06.77 Nagli, Latvia, USSR. 1 V 11.02.85 Ipswich. 1745km. 10.02.85 Ipswich. 5 24.05.85 Schleswig-Holstein, West Germany. 571km.. X 6 16.02.85 Ipswich. 27.05.85 Altfriedland, Frankfurt, West Germany. 888km. + 4 22.11.81 Ipswich. 10.06.85 Salthamn, Vishy, Gotland, Sweden. 1265km. + 06.01.85 Ipswich. 6 30.06.85 Aetsa, Kilkka, Turku-Pori, Finland. 1665km. X 19.12.81 Ipswich. 3 X 22.06.85 Kosko, Vaasa, Finland. 1730km. In addition, there were several recoveries within England and two on the Dutch coast of locally ringed birds. Common Gull 1 04.04.77 x 15.02.78

Schleswig-Holstein, West Germany, Henstead. 530km.

Kittiwake 3J 24.07.77 x 15.03.81

Kharlov Island, Murmansk, USSR, Ramsholt. 2676km. 73

Sand Martin 4F 24.08.84 v 31.05.85

Rochester, Kent, Playford.

Swallow 3F 15.09.85 v 17.09.85

Bourne Park, Ipswich, Chillesford.

This recovery shows how this species can change roosts when on migration. Robin 3 13.10.85 Schiermonnikoog, The Netherlands, v 02.11.85 Hollesley. 358km. Blackbird 3F 21.10.84 Landguard Point, x 16.01.85 Reigate, Surrey. 131km. 3F 28.10.84 Landguard Point, x 20.02.85 Chillenden, Eastry, Kent. 78km. 6M 14.01.85 Benhall, x 02.06.85 Kristianstad, Sweden. The first two entries show birds passing through East Anglia on their way to winter in southern England, and the last shows their assumed origins. Song Thrush 3 21.09.84 Landguard Point. v 14.02.85 Plenee-Jugon, Cotes-Du-Nord, France. 477km. 3 16.10.84 Landguard Point, x 25.01.85 Fermanville, Manche, France. 317km. 3 27.09.84 Falsterbo, Malmohus, Sweden, x 18.02.85 Ingham. 865km. The first entry refers to a bird that was cared for by a French vet. for two weeks before being released. Redwing 6 10.10.82 x 20.02.85 3 24.10.82

Dragsfjard, Turku-Pori, Finland, Lowestoft. Hollesley.


Margaux, Gironde, France. 793km.


Sedge Warbler 3 25.08.85 Walberswick. v 30.08.85 Steart, Somerset. 345km. This report represents some quick movement. Reed Warbler 3 14.09.82 Zulte, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium, v 27.07.85 Cornard Mere. Blackcap 3M 24.09.83 x 15.06.85 74

Landguard Point, Coton, Cambridgeshire. 90km.

3M 01.10.83 Landguard Point, v 18.10.83 Molen, Vestfold, Norway. 946km. 3JM 17.07.84 Waterend, Wheathampstead, Herts. v 06.05.85 Kesgrave. 106km. 3F 17.09.83 Hollesley. ? 17.10.85 Cabra, Cordoba, Spain. 1685km. The second entry reveals an interesting but not unprecedented north-easterly movement in autumn. Willow Warbler 3F 13.08.84 v 28.04.85 3 06.07.85 v 23.08.85

Benhall, Kenfig, Gwent. Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire, Landguard Point. 146km.

Firecrest 6F 05.05.85 Landguard Point, v 06.05.85 Little Waltham, Essex. 60km. An impressive movement of 60 kilometres in a day. Spotted Flycatcher 6F 27.07.84 Benhall, x 29.05.85 Benhall. Pied Flycatcher 3 27.08.85 Landguard Point. v 03.09.85 lie d'Ouessant, Finistere, France. 596km. Another quick passage but this time a distance of almost 600 kilometres. Bearded Tit 4M 10.07.83 v 02.01.85

High Halstow, Kent, Bromeswell.

Blue Tit 1 06.06.85 v 12.10.85

Great Glemham. Cantley, Norfolk.

Starling 31.05.84 IF 13.01.85 V 6M 08.01.84 22.02.85 X 3M 24.08.83 16.03.85 V 5M 01.01.83 15.04.85 X 4M 03.11.84 23.04.85 X 3M 29.12.82 23.05.85 X 4M 17.11.72

Kaliska Forest, Koszalin, Poland. Ipswich. 1067km. Ipswich. Schwerin, East Germany. 692km. Nidingen, Halland, Sweden. Ipswich. 901km. Ipswich. Zarzew, Konin, Poland. 1158km. Shotley. Kowale Oleckie, Suwalki, Poland. 1433km. Ipswich. Bergen, Hordaland, Norway. 981km. Ipswich. 75

X 30.05.85 Near Babayevo, Vologda, USSR. 2315km. 5M 26.02.83 Ipswich. + 02.10.85 Templin, Ukermark, Neubrandenburg, East Germany. 840km. A typical crop of recoveries but note especially the bird found 13 years after ringing 2315 kilometres away in Russia. In addition there were six recoveries of birds to or from The Netherlands. Greenfinch 5F 16.04.83 Hollesley. X 17.04.85 Exeter, Devon. 374km. 02.01.84 Staverton, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 5F V 18.05.85 Landguard Point. 236km. 15.04.84 Landguard Point. 5F X 13.03.85 St. Audries, West Quantoxhead, Somerset. 331km. 6M 19.03.85 Landguard Point. V 08.04.85 Out Skerries, Shetland. 951km. Conventional results except for the last entry. This movement of 950 kilometres in just 20 days is interesting enough but two previous recoveries of this species in south-west Scotland in spring and six from Norway suggest that this bird could have been heading for Scandinavian breeding grounds. Goldfinch 5F 07.05.85 Near Hollesley. + (03.12.85) Mosta, Malta. 2070km. There is no precedent for this bird although two earlier British recoveries were at compatible latitudes in Morocco, much further west. N.B. — The majority of the recoveries published are from 1985 but we have included some earlier unpublished items which we considered were of major significance.

Woodtark 76

The B.T.O. in Suffolk 1985 by R. J. Waters and M. T. Wright In March 1985 we were appointed as the joint representatives for the British Trust for Ornithology (B.T.O.) in Suffolk. It was decided to use the quarterly bulletins of the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group (S.O.G.) to ask for volunteers to assist with survey work and to publish the results of the surveys. With this active support by S.O.G. most of the county's keen birdwatchers are kept fully aware of B.T.O. activities. Assistance with our surveys is welcomed from all birdwatchers whether or not they are B.T.O. members. The following breeding surveys were carried out in 1985: 1) Ringed Plover The total of 183 pairs located in the county this year is 20% less than found during the course of the 1979 survey. There was little change recorded in the species' preferred nesting habitat since 1979 apart from more pairs nesting in fields in 1985. The main breeding concentrations are at Orford Ness, Walberswick and Benacre; a 30% decrease in the totals breeding at these three principal localities accounts almost exclusively for the overall decline in the county population. Increasing public pressure on our beaches and continued expansion of the Orford Ness gullery are considered to be the main reasons for the decline. A more detailed account of the survey results is given in the Summer 1985 S.O.G. Bulletin. 2) Heron The Heronries census is not only the longest standing single species survey carried out by the B.T.O. but is also one of the most important since Herons can provide a useful index to the health of our environment. National surveys have been carried out at regular intervals since 1920. The 1985 census revealed 13 Heronries in Suffolk containing 169-187 occupied nests as follows: Number of occupied n< 5 3 13-14 29-39 20 9-11 14-16 21 15 5-8 9 20 6

Site Herringfieet North Cove Henham Blackheath Methersgate Ramsholt Woolverstone Stutton Stoke-by-Nayland West Stow Euston Brandon Worlingham Total


Further details, including a comparison with census results from previous years, can be found in the Winter 1986 S.O.G. Bulletin. 77

Descriptions of five rarities in Suffolk 1985



Black-winged Pratincole at Minsmere 5th July by T. D. Charlton At 3.03pm a white-rumped wading bird was seen by many observers flying over the 'Scrape' at Minsmere. It passed the crowded North Hide, full of birdwatchers who had eight minutes earlier watched the departure of the initial attraction, a Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca. The bird was initially mistaken for the returning Greater Yellowlegs but within seconds was identified as a pratincole Glareola sp., and following a close flypast of North Hide it was positively identified as Blackwinged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni. Unfortunately I was 100m away from the hide on my bike on the bird's arrivai, but I was listening in to the activities in the hide over my C.B. radio, and managed to 78

get there in time to watch it for one minute or so before it landed out of sight. It was well watched by many people during its stay. On a couple of occasions a flock of c30 Starlings Sturnus vulgaris mobbed the bird in flight — perhaps they thought it was a predator? Description: During observation, this text-book example did not urge me to make a feather by feather description but the following is taken from my notebook: Smallish thin-winged falcon-like wader, with a smooth wheeling flight, making sorties out over the 'Scrape'. Upperparts — Very dark dun-brown mantle and wing coverts, contrasting with much darker, perhaps black primaries and secondaries — positively no white tips to the latter. Crown and nape same or perhaps slightly paler than mantle. Rump white, tail short and black having a deep ' U ' shaped cleft. Underparts — Throat pale creamy-white with complete narrow black necklace surround. Breast and flanks warm buffy-brown merging into white belly and vent. Tail black from below. Underwing coverts and axillaries sooty black with hardly any contrast with paler or browner primaries and secondaries. Bare Parts — Bill looked extremely dark in flight, but a red hint at base noted when close. Legs were dark. Eye fairly prominent and dark.

Adult Greater Yellowlegs at Minsmere 4 t h July to 14th August by T. D. Charlton At 1935 hrs. on 4th July a wader resembling a Greenshank Tringa nebularia but with orange-yellow legs was located on the West Scrape. I first saw the bird at 2100 hrs. and was able to confirm the initial impressions that it was a Greater Yellowlegs T.melanoleuca; the news of its presence was put out on the "grapevine" later that evening. During the course of its prolonged visit to the reserve it delighted many hundreds of visitors. However, its presence could not be guaranteed and amongst its absences was one of nine days (8th-16th July). Although it most closely resembled a Greenshank, it associated more readily with Spotted Redshanks T.erythropus. Description: Bare Parts — Bill not as deep-based as in Greenshank nor as long; bill black except for a small amount of yellow at extreme base and very slightly upturned near tip. Eyes black with pale orbital ring. Legs prominently orange-yellow. Head and Neck — Supercilium unstreaked pale buff forward of eye but slightly streaked greyish-brown behind. Brownish buff base to crown with dark brown streaks and arrows. Chin and throat greyish white faintly streaked brownish-grey. Cheeks and neck streaked greyish-brown — streaking heaviest on lower neck. Underparts — Heavy brown streaking on upper breast fading quickly to white between lower breast and undertail coverts. Brown vertical barring on flanks. Upperparts — Dark greyish brown mantle with white fringes forming white spots. Scapulars, median coverts and lesser coverts brownish-grey with whitish spots and streaks on margins producing spangled appearance. Brownish-grey greater covens with whitish spots on fringes bordered by dark brown. Pale brown secondaries with dark brown bars. Tertials brownish-grey with dark notches separated by dark brown 79

spots on fringes. Blackish primaries with outer two showing white shafts in flight — primary projection equal in length to tip of tail. Tail — Upper and lower surfaces with six dark brown bars on greyish base. Flight features — Structurally similar to Greenshank but with legs trailing a little further beyond tail. Rump Square and white. Lower back feathering barred brown on white base. Upperparts a " c o n f u s i o n " of pale spots and streaks. Call — Harsh phrase of 3-5 Greenshank-like notes.

Second-winter Ring-billed Gull at Trimley Lake 2 8 t h September by J. R. Askins The bird was first located in a small flock of Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus bathing in the lake. The bill was very obvious and a closer approach showed the pale mantle and eye of the bird, all features which suggested Ring-billed Gull L.delawarensis. It was bathing vigorously and observed through a telescope throughout this time before the whole flock took off and the bird in question was soon lost to sight. Persistent searching later that day and on subsequent days failed to locate the bird again. Size and Structure — Larger and bulkier than Black-headed Gull and slightly bigger than Common Gull L.canus with a proportionally larger head and longer wings — the latter projected well beyond the tail. Bare Parts — The bill was bright yellow with a clean black band and a pale, perhaps ivory or off-white tip. Common Gulls examined immediately afterwards showed dark bands on the bill but in all cases they were less sharply defined and seemed set further back on the bill. The bill's depth and bulk were more reminiscent of Herring Gull L.argentatus than Common Gull. The eye was pale, seeming almost white or grey with a dark pupil producing a distinctive 'stare' compared to other gull species seen. Head — This was quite heavily streaked and 'blotchier' than Common Gull. There was also a fine dark ring around the eye and a slight 'browed' effect, much less pronounced and shorter than Herring Gull. Upperparts — The streaking continued on the hind neck becoming much darker and particularly marked along the line of the mantle — these markings appeared brownish rather than grey. The mantle, scapulars and coverts were an even pale grey similar to the mantle cover of Black-headed Gull. There was no distinct pale area between the mantle and dark primaries which was noticeable on other species present. Some dark flecking was present on the pale feathers towards the trailing edge of the wing. The activity of the bird made determining which feathers were so marked impossible with any certainty. The folded primaries showed black with no pale edges (as with Common Gull) and no 'windows'. As the bird took off a single white crescent was noted on one wing tip. Underparts — Little was seen of this area and the legs were not noted at ali. Generally the underparts were white with greyish-brown smudging around the area immediately in front of and below the folded wing. Tail — This was not seen while the wings were folded and was in fact underwater during much of its active bathing. There was at least one and possibly two or three dark (black?) lines on the tail — these appeared to be short narrow lines on the length of the tail d o s e to but not reaching the tip. 80

Observation of this bird was very difficult because much of the time it was bathing so energetically but the combination of the clearly ringed bill (heavier and more hooked on the upper mandible tip than Common Gull), the pale eye, all dark primaries (apart from the small white crescent seen on take-off) and pale mantle not separated by a paler band from the primaries clearly identified it as being a Ringbilled Gull. Examination of a number of both Common and Herring Gulls immediately afterwards ruled out confusion with an aberrant form of either species in size, structure or plumage.

Collared Flycatcher at Lowestoft 1 3th and 14th May by B. J. Brown

Collared Flycatcher At about 6.15pm on 13th May I was informed by John Eaton that his son had found a male Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis in the Sparrows Nest Gardens, Lowestoft. We both went to the site and quickly located the bird. There was no doubt about the identification as the bird was similar to a male Pied Flycatcher F.hypoleuca, with a broad white collar similar to a male Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus. Other more subtle differences were â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a slightly larger white patch on the forehead, the white wing-patch was larger than in Pied, and the rump was ashygrey. We aged the bird as first summer male from the brownness of the primaries and their coverts, greyness of the rump (rather than white) and the fact that the white patch at the base of the primaries was reduced to a narrow crescent. The bird was frequently watched on the two bowling greens and the rockery gardens around them. When bowlers were in action it moved off to the gardens of houses which adjoined the park. It was still in these gardens when we left at 8.30pm. There are plenty of trees in the park and gardens, but the bird seemed to favour feeding on the ground, only perching in bushes and trees occasionally. The bird was not seen after 1.30pm on the 14th. Description: Upperparts â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Head black except for white forehead, chin and throat; nape white forming a broad collar with the sides of the neck; mantle and lower back black; 81

rump ashy-grey, palest in centre becoming darker and merging with black at edges; upper-tail coverts black. Underparts — Ail white from chin to under-tail coverts, with a very slightly greyish wash. Wings — Primaries brownish-black with a small white crescent at the base when the wings closed; secondaries black; primary coverts brownish-black; rest of coverts black (primaries and their coverts were noticeably browner than secondaries and rest of coverts). Parts of scapulars, tertials and inner coverts white forming a large wingpatch when wing closed; this wing-patch was larger than on Pied, but probably not as large as on adult Collared Flycatcher. Tail black with some white at sides, but cannot say accurately how much. Bare Parts — Eyes, bill and legs black.

Nutcracker at Westleton 2nd November to 7th December by T. D. Charlton On 2nd November at 2pm my wife and I received a téléphoné cali from Kate Mares asking if we could confirm the identification of a bird which she thought was a Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes in her garden. She had seen the bird twice that day, firstly at 1 lam then again briefly at lpm. We arrived to find that the bird had gone. Kate's description was a good one, and was strengthened further on the production of some battered eating apples. At 2.45pm the Nutcracker flew in and began to feed on a flimsy apple tree only 10 métrés away. It flew off five minutes later and was not seen again that day. I made it clear to Kate that this was an extremely rare bird in Britain and that it would cause considérable interest amongst the country's birdwatchers. I considered that she could expect to see more than 1,000 birders there the next day should we tell anyone and advised her to consult her neighbours before deciding. This she did and thankfully they were ail in favour; Kate even opened one of her fields as a carpark. There were 400 birders there next day at 7am and they were rewarded by the bird's appearance at 7.37am. It fed at a range of 30 feet in the apple tree for eight minutes before departing. It returned regularly during the day although nobody was sure where it went to in between visits. There were rumours that the bird was seen twice in Westleton village but this was not confirmed. From the apple damage examined on 2nd November it seems possible that the bird had been present since at least the day before. Sadly the bird was found dead on 7th December. No detailed description was taken, the bird being a textbook example. There are many photographs available, e.g. see Plate 6, to prove identification. D. R. Moore confirmed that this individuai belonged to the slender-billed race macrorhynchus which erupts from the East when an abundant cone crop of its food the Arolla Pine Pinus cembro is followed by a poor crop in the following year; DRM has experience of both races in the field.


Notices Landguard Bird Observatory Landguard is now the principal site in Suffolk for bird ringing, mainly of passerine migrants. Although the site has been fully operational as a ringing site run on an observatory* basis only since 1983, it has already made a significant contribution to our knowledge of bird migration on the Suffolk coast. Birdwatchers who wish to support the work of the observatory are invited to become "Friends of Landguard". In return for an annual subscription of £5, "Friends" receive a quarterly bulletin containing details of recent sightings and ringing totals, and an invitation to the annual open day that is held each autumn. To apply for membership, please contact: Rex Beecroft (Observatory chairman) "Alcedo", Hall Lane Witnesham Ipswich Suffolk IP6 9HN * Landguard is not yet officially recognized as an observatory by the Ringing of The British Trust for Ornithology.


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 Birds are available from Howard Mendel at Ipswich Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH — Ipswich 213761. How to obtain Suffolk Birds Suffolk Birds is free to all members of the Suffolk Naturalists' Society, which publishes the report; S.N.S. membership details are available from the Hon. Secretary, Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c / o Ipswich Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH. Non-members of S.N.S. can obtain copies of Suffolk Birds price £3 each, including postage and packaging, from Ipswich Museum.


Joint Suffolk Naturalists' Society/Suffolk Ornithologists' Group membership Joint membership of S.N.S. and S.O.G. is recommended to all ornithologists with a particular interest in Suffolk's birds. For an annual subscription of ÂŁ10, joint membership entitles you to receive the quarterly S.O.G. bulletins, the S.N.S. Transactions and the annual publication Suffolk Birds as well as the opportunity to attend the lectures and field meetings run by the two organizations. For membership details please contact: Hon. Secretary Suffolk Naturalists' Society c / o Ipswich Museum High Street Ipswich Suffolk IP1 3QH Tel: 213761

A. M. Gregory Esq. S.O.G. Hon. Secretary 1 Holly Road Ipswich Suffolk IP1 3QN Tel: 53816










Suffolk Birds 1985  

Volume 35

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