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Watsonian vice-counties 25 (East Suffolk) and 26 (West Suffolk).

SUFFOLK BIRDS 1987 VOL. 3 6 (incorporating the Bird Report of 1 986)

Editor S. H . P I O T R O W S K I Graphic/Photographic Editor D. R. M O O R E Recorder R. B. W A R R E N Secretary P. W. M U R P H Y The County Ornithological Records Committee S. H. PIOTROWSKI (Chairman), H. R. BEECROFT, B. J. BROWN, J. H. G R A N T , G . J. JOBSON, M. M A R S H , D. R. M O O R E , P. W. M U R P H Y , R. B. W A R R E N , C. S. WAL.LER, M. W R I G H T

Lisi of Colour Illustrations Plate N o .

Facing Page


Black-necked Grebe. Roger Beecroft.



T h o r i n g t o n Street Reservoir. Derek M o o r e .



C a n a d a Geese and goslings. Steve Piotrowski.



L a c k f o r d Gravel Pits. Derek M o o r e .



C o r n a r d Mere. Derek M o o r e .


Honey Buzzard. Steve Piotrowski.

12 12


Red Kite. Roger Beecroft.



River Blyth at Walberswick. Peter Lawson.



Stone Curlew. Roger T i d m a n .



G r e e n s h a n k . Steve Piotrowski.



W o o d c o c k . Roger T i d m a n .



W o o d Sandpiper. Steve Piotrowski.



W o o d l a r k . Roger T i d m a n .



Marsh Tit. Steve Piotrowski.



Juvenile Marsh Harrier. Steve Piotrowski.



Black Redstart. Roger Beecroft.



Nest of Black Redstart. Roger Beecroft.



Long-eared Owl. Roger T i d m a n .



Little T e r n . Steve Piotrowski.



Purple Sandpiper. Steve Piotrowski.



L a n d g u a r d Bird Observatory. Rex Beecroft.



Firecrest. Roger Beecroft.



Yellow-browed Warbier. Muriel Beecroft.



Pied Flycatcher. Roger Beecroft.



Mist-netting at Bourne P a r k . Roger Beecroft.


The Copyright rernains that of the


© 1987 S. H. Piotrowski Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society December 1987 Printed by Healeys, Fore Street. Ipswich, Suffolk


Editorial Habitat destruction, drought and dreadful winters have added up to a fatal combination for some of our birds. Some populations have reached their lowest ebb for many years. The destruction of habitat in Suffolk is an ever-present problem but threats to our birds are not confined to county or national boundaries. When our summer migrants leave us they have, in recent years, faced the perils of the well-documented drought in the Sahel region of Africa. Sand Martins, one of the worst affected species, made a slight recovery from their population crash of 1984 but were well below their former abundance. Other trans-Saharan migrants such as the Sedge Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher and Whitethroat also remain below par. For those species which remain with us throughout the year there have also been climatic problems . . . a succession of arctic winters has been responsible for severe declines in a number of our resident species. The county's Cetti's Warblers were almost annihilated and Bearded Tit numbers have plummeted. National statistics showed drastic reductions in the populations of Wrens, Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits and this was reflected in Suffolk. Birds are resilient creatures however, and given time they should fully recover from these natural disasters. A similar drought in the Sahel zone occurred in 1968-69 with equally devastating effects and Payn (The Birds of Suffolk) reported that the severe winter of 1939-40 reduced the Bearded Tit population "almost to vanishing point". Both Sand Martin and Bearded Tit were subsequently seen to make a full recovery, but that harsh winter was to be the final nail in the coffin for the Dartford Warbler which was never to be seen again in Suffolk. Habitat destruction is the cause of a more permanent loss, however. Sadly, coastal Suffolk is now considered the boom-area of Britain and development is taking place at an alarming rate. Our prime sandling heaths are making way for housing, pushing out the Nightjars, Long-eared Owls and other more common species associated with heather and furze. The cloud of the Felixstowe Dock extension is still hanging over us and already the loss of estuarine mud, to development, is having an effect. Shorebirds, unable to build up adequate fat reserves, due to an exhausted food source, succumbed in their hundreds during the hard weather period. Shelduck and Redshank were the worst affected species and tidelines became littered with their corpses. These are hard times indeed for our birds and there is no doubt that the conservation of prime habitat is one of the keys to their future success. Preservation of land in the form of nature reserves is the best way of achieving this goal and during 1986 The Suffolk Trust for Nature Conservation (STNC) purchased two new reserves; a herb-rich meadow at Bromeswell and the ornithologically important Lackford Gravel Pits — soon to be known as Lackford Wildfowl Reserve. For the birdwatcher, 1986 will be remembered as the year of few rarities although, surprisingly, three species were added to the county list; Semipalmated Sandpiper, Marsh Warbler and Subalpine Warbler — the last two long overdue. Towards the end of the year a national 'grapevine' telephone service was set-up with the intention of providing up-to-the-minute information for the growing band of twitchers. Chasing rare birds is not practised by all ornithologists; many concentrate their efforts on study and recording, and for these people the pinnacle of the year came with the publication, by The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), of the superb "Winter Alias", concluding three winters of gruelling fieldwork. 3


The Editor is extremely grateful to the many contributors to this report who are acknowledged in the relevant sections. Special thanks are due to Philip Murphy and Reg Clarke who have provided such staunch support throughout the production of Suffolk Birds, 1987. Derek Moore organised the submission of photographs and line drawings which complĂŠment this report, and the source of the originai artwork is acknowledged alongside each plate/drawing.

Weather trends and their effect on the county's avifauna 1 9 8 6 by John Grant (based on the monthly reports by Ken Blowers, westher correspondent for the East Anglian Daily Times)

WINTER: January,



February's weather pattern showed high pressure over Scandinavia and later in a belt from Greenland to northern Europe. This gave mainly easterly winds over much of Britain. Depressions were steered into the Mediterranean and they gave easterly winds on their northern edge.

For the most part January was unsettled with alternating cold and mild spells and depressions, some of which were intense, dominating the weather charts. Late in the month however we received a foretaste of what was to come as cold north-east to easterly winds set in when an anticyclone developed over Scandinavia. This heralded the coldest February since 1947. The anticyclone moved across Scandinavia to the Norwegian Sea and then to Greenland, giving bitterly cold winds often originating in centrai Europe or western Russia. Throughout the month maximum day temperatures were below the longterm average of 7° C. 4

Plate 1: This Btack-necked Grebe was one of three birds that visited Thorington Street Reservoir, front May 9th to 19th. Photo Roger Beecroft

Plate 2: Thorington

Street Reservoir.

Photo Derek Moore

Plate 3: Canada Geese wilh goslings,


Photo Steve Piotrowski

Plate 4: The STNC's newly acquired nature reserve, Lackford be known as The Lackford Wildfowl Reserve.

Grave! Pits, soon to Photo Derek Moore

A cold speli of such duration inevitably took a toll on birdlife, and corpses of some species, especially Shelduck and Redshank, were often found. Chief prize in this morbid collection was an immature Night Heron which succumbed at Bawdsey. A mass exodus of other species including Golden Piover and Lapwing took place. Others, such as Snipe and Woodcock, sought refuge and food in gardens, and bird tables were visited by presumably desperate Red-legged Partridges, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Pied Wagtails, Mistle Thrushes, Long-tailed Tits, Bramblings, Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings. Severe cold was replaced by severe gales in March, mainly from the westerly quarter associated with depressions which controlied the m o n t h ' s weather pattern. Fluctuating temperatures and a high frequency of mist and fog made for a mediocre month for birds and observers.

SPRING: April,



Spring's arrival was virtually imperceptible and with Suffolk's coldest April for 50 years it was hardly surprising that many observers bemoaned the scarcity of returning summer migrants and feared for prospects of some of our common residents. High pressure centred to the north and north-west of Britain brought cold airstreams f r o m Scandinavia and snow fell on Apr. 3rd and l l t h . . . not exactly welcoming for the more hardy migrants which did bravely battle through to us. Atlantic depressions took control later in April and temperatures rose accordingly but it was hardly a heatwave and May's arrival continued a six-month pattern of unsettled weather. For most of the month there were active depressions centred initially over south-west Ireland and later moving to the north of Scotland and the result was some vigorous storm systems with gales from the north-west and southwest. Early June brought little improvement with cool temperatures often restricted to only 14° C. By contrast the month redeemed itself from June 13th and, after another brief cool spell, began to " f í a m e " with a blocking anticyclone over the North Sea bringing mainly easterly winds, long spells of cloudless skies . . . but little of special note for birdwatchers.


Ju/y, August,


July was warm, occasionally thundery, and produced a varied amount of rainfall but there was little ornithological activity which could be directly attributed to the weather. August however was in sharp contrast and in some areas it was the coldest and wettest for 30 years. 5

Late in the month there was persistent rain associateci with the dying remains of Hurricane Charley which had previously swept the eastern seaboard of the United States. Passage and vagrancy were enlivened as a result and included brisk seabird activity. Three species of shearwater, an inland Great Skua and peak numbers of Gannets and Arctic Skuas were involved, as well as gulls and terns, and among the passerines, a Barred Warbler. For non-birdwatchers it was the worst August weather for 30 years, but ornithologists were not complaining. Similarly it was the coldest September for 34 years but a vigorous depression and heavy rain in mid-month probably accounted for further seabird activity and notable falls of passerines. During the subsĂŠquent and persistent anticyclone which gave us our first taste of the year's Indian Summer, highlights included Subalpine, Greenish and several Yellow-browed Warblers which probably drifted in on winds from the easterly quarter.


October, November,


October's conlrasling weather patterns. Left: Persistent anticyclone of Oct. lst to 14th which often gave sunshine. Right: Atlantic depressions thaĂŻ took control of the weather from Oct. 18th resulting in the remainder of the month being unsettled.

The Indian Summer anticyclone, producing temperatures often more typical of mid-June, continued the drift movement of birds into October. Among the highlights were several more Yellow-browed Warblers, another Barred Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Little Bunting. Such species as Swallows and House Martins made hay while the sun shone, producing successful late broods. A major change to less settled weather was established on Oct. 14th as a shallow depression brought persistent rain and the rest of the month was predominantly cool and unsettled with active low pressure systems from the Atlantic giving rise to the dreaded, less productive, westerly and south-westerly winds. A mild and sunny November probably accounted for the presence of late migrants such as Whimbrel and Arctic Tern and the month's trend towards Atlantic depressions continued into December. Winter started to set from Dec. 20th when an anticyclone centred to the northwest of Britain resulted in a cold north to north-west airstream and the season's first frosts. Related to this was a large exodus of Lapwings and an immigration of species such as Whooper and Bewick's Swans and other waterfowl. The month ended in a notably mild way, lulling us into a false sense of security . . . the winter's worst was still to come after the year had turned.

Field Reports -

1 986

Introduction The systematic list of species has been written by the County Ornithological Records Committee, with each member acting as section editor for the species grouped below: Divers to Shag Herons to Geese Ducks Raptors to Crakes Oystercatchers to Plovers Sandpipers Skuas to Auks Doves to Woodpeckers Larks to Thrushes Warblers to Flycatchers Tits to Buntings

Mike Marsh Malcolm Wright Steve Piotrowski Cliff Waller Derek Moore John Grant Brian Brown Philip Murphy Rex Beecroft Gerald Jobson Philip Murphy

The species sequence is that of the "British Birds" list of "The Birds of the Western Palearctic". Ali records refer to a single bird unless otherwise stated. The tabulated sets of monthly counts are primarily based on the information derived from the Birds of Estuaries Enquiry (BOEE) in which many of the county's ornithologists are involved. Each figure represents the maximum count for that site in that particular month and a dashed entry indicates that no information has been received. Counts from the River Aide include the river complex of the Ore, Orford and Butley as well as Orfordness, Gedgrave Reservoir and Havergate Island; for the Orwell — Trimley Lake and Bourne Park Water Meadows and for the Stour — the Essex side of the estuary. Population fluctuation of passerines has been assessed on the results of a Common Bird Census carried out at Bromeswell and from a comprehensive survey conducted in the Stour Valley (Giemsford to Long Melford). This hardly complétés the picture and observers, particularly Wardens of nature reserves involved with CBC work, are requested to forward summaries to the County Recorder at the end of the breeding season. Likewise useful information is sought from ringers operating Constant effort sites. A number of descriptions have been considered by the County Ornithological Records Committee. Unfortunately, it has to be said that, although there has been some improvement of late, the overall standard of descriptions is stili poor. Consequently several records, which are probably authentic, have been omitted from this report. Useful hints on the format and standard required can be gleaned from the field descriptions on pages 62-69. Observers should note that although circumstantial evidence can be useful to those carrying out the assessment, the bulk of the report should concentrate on describing the bird in question. Beginners are advised to study the topography of birds in general. Uselul experience can be gained by noting the salient features of common birds viewed at close quarters, say in the garden, before venturing further afield to enact a similar exercise at greater distance, say of waders by the shore.


The list of species that warrant detailed descriptions has been reviewed by the Committee and the following changes will take effect from Jan. 1st, 1987. Due to an upsurge of occurrences, Ruddy Duck, Hobby, Mediterranean Gull, Little Auk and Golden Oriole have been withdrawn from this category along with Ruddy Shelduck which so often refer to escapees from wildfowl collections. Conversely, Pink-footed Goose, now the rarest of the County's grey geese which regularly overwinter, has been added to the list. The full revised list appears below and observers are requested to forward descriptions to the County Recorder without prompting to save both his time and pocket :Black-throated and Great Northern Divers; Red-necked, Slavonian and Blacknecked Grebes; all Shearwaters; Storm and Leach's Petrels; Shag; Purple Heron; White Stork; Bean and Pink-footed Geese; Red-crested Pochard; Ferruginous Duck; Honey Buzzard; Red Kite; Montagu's Harrier; Goshawk; Rough-legged Buzzard; Peregrine; Quail; Spotted Crake; Corncrake; Crane; Kentish Plover; Dotterel; Temminck's Stint; Pectoral Sandpiper; Buff-breasted Sandpiper; all Phalaropes; Pomarine and Long-tailed Skuas; Sabine's, Ring-billed and Iceland Gulls; Roseate Tern; Black Guillemot; Puffin; Hoopoe; Richard's and Tawny Pipits; Dipper; Bluethroat; Savi's, Aquatic, Marsh, Hippolais, Barred and Yellow-browed Warblers; Red-breasted Flycatcher; Raven; Serin; Scarlet Rosefinch; Ortolan, Ciri and Lapland Buntings plus any other species of less than regular occurrence outside their normal season or habitat, and unusually large numbers of common birds. It greatly assists the preparatory work that is required before the compilation of Suffolk Birds can commence if records are submitted on a monthly basis. Records for the previous year received after Jan. 31st cannot be guaranteed inclusion in that year's report. Please forward all records to R. B. Warren, The County Recorder, 37 Dellwood Avenue, Felixstowe, Suffolk IP 11 9HW. It would also be helpful if descriptions of National Rarities are channelled to the British Birds Rarities Committee via the County Recorder. Acknowledgements Suffolk ornithologists are once again indebted to Bob Warren, our County Recorder for his sterling work in initially processing the thousands of individual records which form the basis of the systematic list. Thanks are also due to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group (SOG), Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO) and the Dingle Bird Club for providing records from their logs, to the participants in the BOEE and to all the individual observers whose combined records make this report possible.

SYSTEMATIC LIST Red-throated Diver: Numbers during the first winter period were much lower compared with recent years. Apart from 55 unidentified divers flying north off Covehithe Jan. 26th, which were almost certainly of this species, the maximum number was only 15 off Minsmere in January. The last of the winter was noted off Sizewell Apr. 25th. Much larger numbers occurred in the second winter period commencing with exceptionally early records in August: three flying north off Covehithe, Aug. 18th (DC); and singles off Southwold and Minsmere, Aug. 31st (RSPB).


The main influx took place in mid-December and the 14th produced counts of 600 Minsmere, 400 Dunwich, 120 Orfordness and 60 Easton Bavents, although some duplication in numbers between localities probably occurred. Away f r o m the coast one or two were noted on the Orwell and Deben estuaries in January and February and birds were at Alton Water Jan. 27th to Feb. 9th (joined by a second Feb. 8th and 9th), Dec. 9th and 18th. Black-throated Diver: A good year but unlike the previous species the majority of records came f r o m the first winter period. Reports were: Benacre, Jan. 25th to Feb. 20th, Mar. 5th and 19th; Dunwich, Jan. 31st; Lake Lothing, Feb. 22nd to 24th and Mar. 16th; Lowestoft, J a n . 27th (dead); Minsmere, Mar. 12th; R. Orwell, Jan. 27th to Feb. 18th; R. Deben, Feb. 13th to 16th; Alton Water, Feb. 16th to 20th and Landguard, flying south Apr. 14th. The second winter period produced five further records: Covehithe, flying north, Nov. 2nd; Landguard, flying south, Nov. 11th and 26th; Lowestoft Harbour, Nov. 9th; and two off Minsmere, Dec. 14th. Great Northern Diver: Whereas records of the two previous species have increased in recent years this species remains very scarce in Suffolk. Four records were received, probably involving just three individuals. Details as follows: Alton Water — Feb. 15th to 20th ( W J P et al) (first record for the reservoir). Freston — Feb. 24th (JA) (probably the Alton Water bird). Falkenham — Feb. 16th (MM). Covehithe — Nov. 2nd (IRW) (flying north). Little Grebe: A minimum of 13 breeding pairs f r o m eight localities is hardly representative of the true county population. Largest winter gatherings noted were: 30 Woodbridge area of R. Deben, January; 22 Ipswich Docks, Feb. 9th and 20 Alton Water, Feb. 10th. Great Crested Grebe: At least 57 breeding pairs were noted at 14 localities but, as with Little Grebe, many appear to have gone unreported. Highest breeding concentrations occurred at Alton Water where at least 16 pairs nested and at Livermere where a count of 83 birds on July 6th included 49 juveniles. Out of the breeding season largest counts were: 120 upper Orwell, Mar. 2nd; 100 Alton Water, Dec. 29th and 71 R. Stour, Sept. 21st. The Orwell count mentioned is rather high for that area but probably included birds displaced from Alton Water which was totally frozen over at this time. Few birds were seen on the sea this year, but 35 off Minsmere, Dec. 14th is noteworthy. Red-necked Grebe: Early in the year birds were noted at: Covehithe Broad, Feb. 8th and 9th; Benacre area, Feb. 11th to 18th; Lake Lothing, Mar. 2nd; Minsmere, Mar. 2nd; and Freston, Mar. 11th. One at Minsmere, Sept. 25th to 28th was the first recorded in the second winter period and others were seen there Oct. 4th and Nov. 15th. Birds were also reported from: Benacre Pits, Oct. 26th to Nov. 17th; Dunwich, Dec. 7th; Alton Water, Nov. 16th and Ipswich Docks, Oct. 19th to 22nd. Slavonian Grebe: An excellent series of records early in the year, the most noteworthy of which involved a bird inland at Lackford Pits, Jan. 29th. A further seven records came from the coastal area, these being: Benacre Broad, Mar. 2nd to Apr. 13th; Falkenham, Jan. 16th to 20th; Levington, J a n . 26th; Southwold Boating Lake, Jan. 26th; Minsmere, Jan. 30th; Orfordness, Mar. 9th and Alton Water, Mar. 20th to Apr. 1st. The second winter period proved to be an anti-climax with no acceptable records. 9

Black-necked Grebe: A very good year for this scarce Suffolk species with seven records involving up to 12 individuals. Of particular interest were records in May from: Thorington Street Res., up to three May 9th to 19th and two, Livermere May 24th to 30th, which had possibly been present since May 16th. On two occasions a pair was seen displaying at the former locality and surely this delightful bird must be a potential breeding species in the county. Other interesting records involved an early autumn bird at Benacre Broad July 28th to Aug. 10th; three at Cavenham Pits Sept. 2nd and one found on the A12 at Martlesham, Feb. 14th which was later released on R. Deben at Waldringfield. More typical reports came f r o m : Alton Water, Mar. 16th and Easton Broad Nov. 22nd to Dec. 6th. Fulmar: Up to 14 adults seen at the regular breeding site, Mar. 16th to Sept. 5th, and at least five pairs nested rearing five young (the best year so far). A second site was prospected by up to four pairs in April. The majority of offshore records occurred between mid-March and midSeptember. Very few birds were reported outside this period, although 21 flying north off Minsmere, Feb. 23rd is exceptional. On Sept. 13th a large northerly movement was noted off the Slaughden to Easton Bavents area, including the high total of 68 in just 30 minutes off Southwold. Away from the coast one was seen flying north-eastwards over Eriswell, June 5th, a remarkable observation. Cory's Shearwater: Three off Southwold, Aug. 28th, constitute the fourth county record and the first since 1980 (RSH). Sooty Shearwater: Two typical records: Lowestoft — at least three flying north, Sept. 17th (BJB). Covehithe — two flying south, Aug. 27th (JMC). Manx Shearwater: No spring or summer records. All birds were flying north. Benacre — two Nov. 2nd. Covehithe — three Aug. 11th; three Oct. 12th; Nov. 9th. Southwold — Sept. 13th. Minsmere — Aug. 24th; two Sept. 13th. In addition to these, one which had been found 'wrecked' in Cambridgeshire was released at Shingle Street, Sept. 6th. Leach's Petrel: Three records. Aldeburgh — Oct. 30th (PE). Felixstowe Docks — One which collided with crane wires, Oct. 12th taken into care and released at Felixstowe beach the following day. Also worth a mention is one found exhausted on a North Sea gas platform and brought ashore at Ellough airfield Sept. 8th and released at Walberswick. Gannet: Monthly accumulative totals were as follows: J NIL

F 7

M 3

A 36

M 19

J 15

J 5


A S O 110 160

N 97

D 2

As usual most of the birds observed were flying north and maximum counts were: 36 Easton Bavents, Apr. 19th; 57 Benacre, Nov. 2nd and 63 Covehithe, Sept. 1st. These counts however, were eclipsed by a remarkable total of 142 in one hour off Covehithe, Oct. 12th which constitutes a record movement for the county.


Cormorant: In February the BTO Cormorant survey estimated the county's wintering population to be 460 birds (see page 70). The majority of these birds were concentrated on the estuaries and individual counts were as follows:

Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 68 38 73 67

F 91




104 145 72 138

120 96 55

67 113

O 77 74 119 151

N 37 83 127 113

D 50 76 135 131

Maximum counts made at roost sites were: Wilford Bridge, Melton, 138 Aug. 24th and 145 Dec. 26th; Minsmere, 104 Aug. 20th and Sizewell, 64 Jan. 19th. A number of inland records were received including an intriguing roost movement noted up the Stour in the Thorington Street area in April and May; numbers involved 40 Apr. 14th and 30 May 23rd presumably heading for the Long Melford/Sudbury area. The Long Melford roost was again occupied in both winters, the maximum number recorded being 23 Feb. 25th. Birds bearing uniquely coded yellow leg rings were noted at Minsmere, July 23rd and two amongst the Wilford Bridge roost, Aug. 24th (one of these then visited Minsmere the following day). Their origins have been traced to the Ijsselmeer breeding colony in Holland and the Minsmere bird constitutes the first British sighting since the start of the special ringing programme in 1983. The Ringing Report further indicates the various origins of the Suffolk wintering population. Shag: Early in the year an influx was apparent in February. All records for the first winter period are given below: Corton — Feb. 22nd (dead). Lowestoft/Lake Lothing — Regularly up to three J a n u a r y / M a r c h with eight reported Feb. 12th and six Feb. 23rd. Landguard — Feb. 11th and 12th and Mar. 21st. Ipswich Docks — Up to four J a n . 18th to Mar. 14th with nine Feb. 23rd. In addition to these there were two interesting records away from the coast: Long Melford, Mar. 2nd (in Cormorant roost); and one found dead in a chicken run in north Ipswich, mid January. Late spring records came f r o m : Lowestoft, two May 11th and Landguard, May 26th. The second winter period produced only three records: three Ipswich Docks, Nov. 30th; one flying south Landguard, Nov. 9th and one to two Lowestoft in November and December. Bittern: About 11 ' b o o m i n g " males were located at three coastal sites. It is very difficult to ascertain how many pairs actually bred but numbers appear to have been affected by recent cold winters. Records away from the breeding areas were: Botany Bay, Lakenheath, Jan. 26th; Long Melford, Feb. 14th to Mar. 12th; Iken, Mar. 2nd and Easton Broad in October. Night Heron: An immature found dead at Bawdsey, Feb. 14th (ARG, RS) is, surprisingly, only the seventh county record this century and the first since 1979. Little Egret: Noted at Orfordness, June 25th, in exactly the same lagoon frequented by the 1985 bird (CPSR, RCB), and then at Havergate Island, July 2nd to Aug. 22nd (KB, JP). This delightful little heron has now been recorded in Suffolk in five out of the last six summers. 15

Grey Héron: Breeding colonies counted in conjunction with the BTO annual census revealed 15 heronries containing 144-164 occupied nests as follows:

Site Herringfleet North Cove Wild Carr, Beccles Benacre Henham Black Heath Methersgate Ramsholt Woolverstone Stutton Stoke-by-Nayland Long Melford West Stow Brandon Fen Euston Total

Number of occupied nests 2 1 4-5 3 14-16 16-25 22 9-11 8-11 20 10-12 5 5-6 14 11 144-164

In comparison with the 1985 census, the heronry at Worlingham was not visited but two additional heronries, at Wild Carr, Beccles and Long Melford, were found. Even so there was a significant decrease in the overall numbers which was probably due to a high mortality rate during the particularly harsh winter. One individuai was seen roosting and feeding by the busy Copdock interchange of the A45/A12 during February and March. Blyth Aide Orwell Stour Alton Water

J 9 36 2 2 1

F 2 10 4 6 2

M 1 11 NIL 6 2

S 24 23 1 39 6



26 1 II 1

22 27 14 1

D 11 24 2 16 7

Additional high counts were from Livermere, 15 in July and Flixton, 18 Sept. 3rd.

Purple Heron: An adult at Minsmere, May 2nd (JMC) and a second summer bird at the same site, July 8th (DJC).

Purple Heron — George

Brown 12

Plate 5: Cornarci Mere.

Photo Derek Moore

Plate 6: Honey Buzzard: The only acceptable record involved an individual arriving from the sea al Covehiihe, Aug. 17th. Photo Steve Piotrowski

Piate 7: Red Kite: At least two birds passed through Su/folk

Piate 8: Ri ver Blyth at


during the Spring of Photo Roger Beecroft

Photo Peter Lawson


White Stork: Probably Suffolk's best year ever; recorded as follows: Theberton — May 17th to 19th (TDC). Minsmere/Sizewell — flying north May 24th (MJH et al). Hadleigh — in meadows and then flying to the east, July 7th (HB). Blythburgh/Walberswick — noted in July on the 10th, 14th and 16th (CSW). Flixton — two July 15th (per DRM). Bungay — flying over July 25th (AMar). Spoonbill: An excellent year for this species. A rare attempt by one individual to overwinter was thwarted by the sudden freeze in mid February. This bird stayed in the River Alde/Havergate area until Feb. 13th and was at Shingle Street, Feb. 21st but not seen subsequently. The First spring migrants were two at Southwold, Apr. 18th and another commuted between Walberswick and Minsmere in early May. Also at Minsmere, on the evening of May 12th, two adults were seen to fly in from the sea. These joined the bird already in residence and all three were present, intermittently, to May 18th. During the summer, birds were at Blythburgh, July 8th and at Minsmere on most days from July 27th to Aug. 15th. An immature, which vigorously explored the sediments of the upper reaches of the Deben estuary, was at Martlesham Creek, Oct. 11th to 13th and at Melton, Oct. 19th. On the latter occurrence the bird perched in a tree traditionally used by roosting Cormorants. Mute Swan: Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water

J 9 96 123 56 212 2

F NIL 103 86 66 123 10

M NIL 56 70 45 159 9

S NIL 67 70 65 210 18



80 39 28 156 19

140 72 50 251 1

D 2 148 98 48 354 26

In addition, herds of 38 and 84 were at Thorpeness, Sept. 20th and Lakenheath Washes, Dec. 21st respectively. The Deben estuary herd tended to congregate in the Felixstowe Ferry/Falkenham area. A total of 28 pairs nested at 22 sites, but undoubtedly many other breeding pairs went unreported. Bewick's Swan: Reported from 30 different sites between Jan. 1st and mid March, with a concentration along the coastal estuaries and reserves. The highest counts were: Sudbourne/Iken, 72 January, 95 Febtuary and 40 mid March; Blyth, 72 Jan. 12th; Barsham 60 Feb. 2nd; Minsmere, 132 Feb. 8th; Aldeburgh, 100 flying south Feb. 16th; Shipmeadow, 117 Jan. 28th. A flock of 350 at Cross Bank/Mildenhall Drain, Feb. 22nd and 316 flying south-west near Lakenheath, Feb. 23rd (same birds?) were probably departing f r o m the Ouse Washes. The first autumn records were six at Iken and two at Lackford G . P . , both Nov. 2nd. Thereafter, there were records from 21 localities up to the end of the year, with maxima of 51 at Minsmere, Dec. 22nd and 55 at Sudbourne, end of December. A noticeable westward movement was recorded on Dec. 21st and 22nd, with flocks of 10-54 flying over at seven scattered localities. Whooper Swan: Records were received from 11 sites, Jan. 1st to Mar. 15th, and involved 1-6 birds, all along the coastal belt. Most regularly reported f r o m Kessingland where 4-6 were present from late January to mid March. The first record


for the 1986/87 winter was four at Cavenham, Nov. 2nd (two adults and two immatures). Later reports were of two at Kessingland Levels, Dec. 22nd and 31st and two, Blythburgh Dec. 26th. Bean Goose: Recorded from six sites in the first winter period as follows: Sudbourne — Nine (four Anser fabalis fabalis), 16 Jan. 12th, eight Jan. 17th, nine Jan. 18th. Aldeburgh — Three (A. f fabalis), two Jan. 27th, three (A. f . rossicus), Feb. 24th. Covehithe — 18 Jan. 25th. Minsmere — Jan. 25th and Feb. 15th. Alton Water — 13 (A. f . fabalis), Feb. 18th. Benacre — 19 arrived at the Broad and then flew south Feb. 19th, one Mar. 8th and 13th. Only recorded from Sudbourne in the second winter period where there were two between Dec. 14th and 21st and seven (5 A. f . fabalis, 2 A. f . rossicus) Dec. 30th. Pink-footed Goose: Single birds recorded from a number of coastal sites and lakes, especially Benacre Broad, could all have been of feral origin. White-fronted Goose: A regular wintering flock in the Sudbourne/Aldeburgh area increased from 130 Jan. 1st, to 250 by the end of the month and peaked at 350 Feb. 18th; 250 Mar. 7th was the last count of the winter. 135 flying south at Covehithe and 115 flying south at Minsmere, Jan. 26th probably refer to the same flock and these may well have joined the Sudbourne birds. 10 flew south-east out at sea at Landguard, Jan. 1st, 18 were at Havergate Jan. 27th and 40 at Minsmere Mar. 11th. Otherwise records of 1-9 at six other sites between January and March. In the second winter period the first record was at Minsmere, Nov. 15th and 8-14 were between Dec. 14th and 27th. At Sudbourne 17 Dec. 21st increased to 23 by 30th. Two at Eastbridge Dec. 1st, two south at Southwold Dec. 7th and two at Benacre Dec. 7th and 10th were the only additional reports. Greylag Goose: Confirmed breeding records were received from: Alton Water — On nest Apr. 26th, nine juveniles June 25th. Long Melford — Pair with two young, June. Minsmere — Nine goslings on Scrape, June 23rd. Walberswick — Nine pairs reared at least 40 young. Livermere — Two pairs with 11 young, May. Glemsford — Pair with two young by River Stour, May 21 st. Flocks reported throughout the year from: Alton Water — Maximum of 71 on Aug. 16th. Minsmere area — Maximum up to 200 in September. Livermere — Maximum of 28 July 27th and Aug. 17th. Many other records of 1-20 birds from the coastal belt and inland lakes and gravel pits throughout the year. Virtually all records appear to originate from feral birds and the county population seems to be increasing quickly. Snow Goose: Single birds, both blue and white phases, reported from ten sites at dates scattered throughout the year. Two were at Walberswick Mar. 5th and two blue phase at Livermere July 27th. It is considered that all of the above were of feral origin. 14

Canada Goose: Counts from areas which held more than 200 at some time in the year were: J Benacre Minsmere Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Long Melford •Euston Livermere Blackbourn, Ixworth Lackford G. P. Cavenham Pits Totals * Not included in totals

F 600 250 202 185 49 26 80 180


A 42

A —

S 66

O 627

— 80 — 170 — 297 260 424 55 — — — 11 138 284 — — 29 — 52 — 237 148 350 23 _ 2 5 47 1 150 — 70 200 220 Up to 1,000 in both winter periods — — 600 1100 800 850 56 — _ — — 236 73 200 321 721 108 900 99 350 500 — 200 _ 200 300 — 2848 3629 1745 550 1134 1315 3380 —

150 163 600 105 59 350

N 350 —

182 288 3 135 310 140

D 400 192 588 254 78 190 4 220

814 384 152 354 1200 1150 _ 469 3574 4283

There were many reports of smaller flocks throughout the county. There is undoubtedly considerable interchange between areas which makes it very difficult to arrive at a total for the whole county, e.g. the 1,000 at Euston in the winter periods are largely the same as the Livermere birds. There are indications f r o m the above however, that the Suffolk wintering population now exceeds 3,000 birds. Breeding was reported from 17 areas with considerable success at some, e.g.: Glemsford/Long Melford — 16 pairs reared 48 young. Brantham area — 10 pairs, 42 young on June 24th. Barnacle Goose: Birds probably of feral origin were recorded f r o m 23 sites throughout the county, mostly ones and twos, but up to nine at some localities. Birds of possible wild origin were 11 flying south at Sudbourne, Jan. 10th and 12 on Benacre Broad, Nov. U t h with 13 present Nov. 14th. Brent Goose:

Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 1000 1500 1000 1220

F 1232 4000 1500 795

M 309 120 700 1170


S 1

_ —


2 100

O 3 4 201 578

N 100 200 352 668

D 89 691 500 864

In addition flocks of up to 1300 were present intermittently at Alton Water from Jan. 12th to Feb. 22nd. Amongst these a bird bearing a black neck-collar was noted which had been ringed at Insel Langenwerder, Rostrik, East Germany on Apr. 14th, 1985. Out of season records included three at Levington to June 15th, one on the sea at Landguard, June 7th and another flying north off Minsmere, June 23rd. Return passage was first noted at Minsmere, three flying south, Aug. 9th, but until the late autumn, numbers were generally lower than normal. The highest day count was only 1331 south off Landguard, Dec. 7th but this was exceeded by a northward movement, no doubt prompted by a north-easterly gale, of 2200 off Lowestoft, Nov. 2nd.


Pale-bellied birds were reported from Trimley Marshes, Jan. 5th; Alton Water, Jan. 27th; Falkenham, Mar. 2nd; Sudbourne, Mar. 10th and Falkenham, Dec. 14th. A bird with almost completely white wings, which appeared quite striking in flight, was seen at Felixstowe Ferry Feb. 16th and then re-appeared at Falkenham Marshes, f r o m Nov. 16th onwards, but was also noted at Levington on the River Orwell, Dec. 7th. Two interesting inland records concern two birds flying over Eriswell in the Brecks at 0100 hours, Oct. 13th and a flock of 26 which circled over Wherstead Strand and then flew north-west over Ipswich, Nov. 3rd. Red-breasted Goose: One on Gedgrave Marshes, Nov. 16th (JHG) was seen on Havergate Island, Nov. 17th (RSPB). It then moved down to Falkenham Marshes where it was present from Nov. 25th until the year's end (MM et al). The bird was aged as an adult and was in superb plumage but, due to its frequent association with Canada Geese and its subsequent oversummering, it is now considered to be an escapee. Egyptian Goose: This African escapee has steadily established itself to become a locally distributed breeding species throughout the county. Two pairs bred successfully at Livermere, raising broods of four and five, and another at Somerleyton. Non-breeding pairs frequented Lackford G. P., Benacre, Euston Lake and Lound. Other records were of pairs at Fakenham Magna (January); Boyton Marshes (January); Barham Pits (November) and with Cañadas at Micklemere (Ixworth) in December. Singles were noted at Wickham Market, flying west Apr. 18th; Aldeburgh North Marshes/Thorpeness Mere throughout the year; Mildenhall on River Lark Apr. 23rd and Haverhill on flood park June 23rd. There were three present at Needham Market Apr. 5th. Ruddy Shelduck: The bird which frequented Holbrook, on the River Stour, f r o m September to December 1985, was seen at several localities close-by up to May 3rd. What was presumably the same bird was also seen at Wherstead, on the River Orwell, in March and again (a male) at Martlesham Creek, June 1st. At Livermere at least two birds, a male and a female, were noted intermittently between July 16th and the turn of the year. Shelduck: It is considered that this species, along with several others, is suffering as a result of estuarine mud persistently being lost to development. During the arctic conditions early in the year the tidelines yet again became littered with corpses as starving birds succumbed in their hundreds. This was particularly evident on the Orwell where the well documented urbanisation in favour of port growth and the continuing spread of yachting marinas go unabated. The onset of this cold weather period heralded a southerly movement off Landguard, J a n . 9th, which involved an incredible 2800 birds.

Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 646 1109 1061 1190 2762

F 514 941 1071 1025 1344

M 340 434 — 677 888

A — 84 — — 1238

A — 200 — — —


S 47 210 141 12 136

O — 231 370 95 281

N — 364 674 252 451

D 185 145 594 359


A feature of the above table is the record January counts for both the Aide and the Stour estuaries. This conforms with national statistics which show a record January total of 75,000 birds. The low August to December totals may indicate that birds were reluctant to return f r o m their moulting grounds on the German section of the Waddensee until conditions became harsher and food became scarce. Mandarin: At long last this exotic escapee, a native of eastern USSR and the Orient, has been proved to breed, in the wild, in Suffolk. At Foxhall a duck was found sitting on a full clutch within a cavity in a mature beech tree. The nesting chamber was positioned in the trunk approximately five feet from ground level, at a site some distance from water. Both birds were seen attending the nest but although the eggs were known to have hatched, the ducklings were not subsequently seen (SP). Another pair nested at Wherstead and produced at least two young (JK). There was a considerable upsurge in records, during 1986, which could have come as a result of waters around their regular breeding haunts, in the Home Counties, freezing over f r o m the end of January to March. A male was seen on a small pond adjacent to R A F Bentwaters at Rendlesham, Jan. 26th and another at Benacre, May 31st. Females or immatures were at Framlingham Mere, Aug. 1st and near Haverhill, Nov. 10th. In addition a pair, including a displaying male, was at Benacre from Nov. 23rd to Dec. 14th. It should be noted that free flying birds frequent the wildfowl collection at Lamarsh, Essex, but it is doubtful that these would influence records on the coastal belt. Wigeon: Blyth Minsmere Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Livermere

J 970 4263 7072 1725 1271 2123 26 46

F 900 1600 7183 1731 887 2833 600 4

M 357 1200 1865

S NIL 120 465 32 110 1029

358 765 104 47

_ —



183 1354 292 294 1553 3 4

307 1990 466 228 1144 70 6

D 1220 330 1735 827 302 1581 21 12

At Kessingland a flock of 300 grazed the levels in February. Smaller flocks were also noted on the Breckland lakes of Lackford (max. 17 December), Ixworth (max. 52 February) and Cavenham (max. 20 December). There was no proof of breeding but oversummering birds were noted at Minsmere, where a pair frequented The Scrape until Apr. 26th and a male until June 1st. Similarly at Benacre, a pair until May 12th and then a male, intermittently between Covehithe and Benacre, f r o m May 23rd to Aug. 17th. Another male was seen at Trimley Lake f r o m June 5th to July 23rd. Gadwall: J Benacre Minsmere Aide Alton Water Livermere Lack ford G. P.

51 12 28 20 150

F 50 36 7 22 8 186


M 42 50



12 —


— —



O 50 75 15 29

N 26 —

26 21 13 103

D —

70 16 19 11 109

The last set of figures demonstrates the importance of the newly acquired STNC reserve which incorporâtes the disused gravel workings at Lackford. Set within the Gadwall's breeding stronghold it is likely to become even more important as the intention is to develop the site specifically for wildfowl. Confirmed or probable breeding was reported at: Minsmere, Benacre, Easton Broad, Walberswick, Gedgrave, Shingle Street, Shottisham Creek, King's Fleet, Staverton Park Lakes, Alton Water (two pairs), Erwarton, Higham, Trimley Lake, Lackford G. P. (six pairs), Cavenham Pits and Temple Bridge (Icklingham). An unusual movement was 71 flying north off Covehithe, Nov. 2nd and there were also nine on the sea off Landguard, Nov. lOth. Teal: Six pairs bred successfully at Walberswick but otherwise an extremely poor breeding season. J Blyth Benacre Minsmere Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford G. P. Cavenham Pits

1 —


1063 625 310 18 329 41 32 72

460 386 380 113 123 8 46 —

M 19


161 126

277 8

48 51 20 32 3


— — —

200 509 NIL 2 10 —


' ;


520 375 433 76 6 55 13

_ —

40 500 350 257 2 65 30 25 12

D 2 243 1116 199 24 561 17 36


Significant flocks, other than those above, were at Lakenheath Washes, 68 Mar. 23rd and 108 Nov. 23rd; Southwold Marshes, 25 January and February; Thorpeness Mere, 40 J a n . 18th; Sproughton B. F. Pits, 40 Dec. 24th and Bourne Park Water Meadows, 60 Feb. 9th. A flock of 100 was observed resting on the sea off Minsmere, Aug. 24th otherwise records were few. The largest movement involved only 33 birds moving south off Landguard, Nov. 3rd. Mallard: Wild stock continues to be infiltrated by domesticated birds of various colour forms and many of our breeding birds are of that ilk. A massive rear and release programme was again undertaken at Livermere and may well account for the large flocks noted, on the lake in late autumn, when the highest count was 925, Nov. 2nd.

J Benacre Blyth Minsmere Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford G. P. Cavenham Pits

76 500 1961 553 565 1557 367 144 158

F 700 279 162 1251 340 628 1650 327 50 —




90 123 256

279 765 240 93 80

S —

O 435




264 147



124 145 640 639 III 100

— —

_ —

III 270 659 1275 261 — —

184 245 579 1431 297 158 80

447 394 584 1228 244 226 102

During the cold weather period 135 sought refuge in Ipswich Docks Mar. 2nd. There were few breeding records but a flock of 63 at Lakenheath Washes June 1st is worthy of note. During the second winter period a high count of 108 was made at Chantry Park, Ipswich Dec. 4th. Pintail: There were no confirmed breeding records but lingering birds were seen at Minsmere to Apr. 26th and on the Stour to Apr. 13th. Two pairs at Benacre in July may have oversummered in that area.

Benacre Minsmere Aide Deben Orwell Stour



2 84 214 43 244 133

1 2 29 345 188 79

A 8 4 NIL

M —

9 24 -

40 32

S 50 1 15 —


— —

O 10 —

45 5 88 116

N 9 25 30 184 105 62

D —

2 37 142 82 194

Inland records for the first winter period include two males at Livermere, Jan. 1st to Feb. 2nd; another male at Lackford G. P . , Mar. 6th and possibly the same bird near Cavenham on River Lark, Mar. 8th. Towards the end of the year two immature males and a female stayed at Lackford G. P . , Nov. 2nd to Dec. 7th, one of the males staying on to Dec. 26th. A total of 24 flying south at Benacre, Jan. 10th corresponds to the pattern set by other wildfowl species in that period, but otherwise coastal movements were down to a trickle. The autumn peak occurred at Landguard during the first half of November and involved no more than 42 birds. Garganey: Although there was no confirmation of breeding, individuals of both sexes frequented f o u r coastal sites during June and July. Birds were seen on single dates only and it is likely that only two were involved. Spring passage was noted at Eastbridge, a drake, Apr. 9th to 11th and a pair at Sudbury, on River Stour Apr. 19th. By early May up to three birds were present on the coastal marshes of Boyton, Minsmere and Walberswick. Inland, a drake was noted at Lakenheath on May 3rd and a pair at Livermere May 6th. Autumn passage became evident from Aug. 3rd when an eclipse male was seen at Covehithe; and another visited Minsmere, Aug. 9th to Sept. 10th. At Lakenheath Washes another eclipse male was present Aug. 17th. Shoveler: J Minsmere 126 Aide 36 Alton Water 3 Thorington Street Res 29 Livermere 4 Lackford G. P. 12

F 75 39 6

M 17 11


3 38 9



S 6 33

4 7 51

64 12

38 56

D 30 89 33

61 11

A 11



A —






4 5

The Aide was the only estuary to produce a series of i.:ounts of any significance with mostly nil returns being received from the remainder. The exceptions were: Stour — Jan. (five), Apr. (six) and Oct. (six); Deben — Feb. (two) and Dee. (nine) and the Orwell — Mar. (six) and Nov. (one). These low counts reflect the continuing decrease in the wintering population in south-east Suffolk. Formerly the Orwell held a wintering population of national importance. 19

Shoveler — Malcolm


Proven or probable breeding occurred at Walberswick (six prs.), Reydon Marshes (two prs.), Minsmere (seven prs.), Sizewell, Darsham (three prs.), Redgrave, Boyton, Shottisham, Bawdsey, Felixstowe Ferry, Trimley Lake, Alton Water, Erwarton, Stoke-by-Nayland, Glemsford, Cavenham, Lackford G. P. (three prs.), Livermere (five prs.) and Lakenheath. The species' stronghold remains in the Breck and in north-east Suffolk. Four on the sea off Landguard Apr. 19th was an unusual spectacle. Pochard x Red-crested Pochard hybrid: A drake showing these unexpected characteristics was noted at Alton Water Jan. 19th (DC). Red-crested Pochard: A drake that frequented the River Stour between Nayland and Higham Apr. 4th to May 14th and probably the same bird at Thorington Street Res. from Nov. 27th until the end of the year, was very tame and considered almost certainly an escapee. A female which alternated between Lackford G. P. and Cavenham Pits however, between Aug. lOth and 30th is more likely to be a true vagrant. Pochard: An extremely good breeding season with ducks and broods noted at Walberswick (two), Benacre (two), Covehithe, Framlingham Mere (two), Trimley Lake, Lackford G. P. and Livermere (four).

Orwell Alton Water Thorington Street Res. Lackford G. P.

J 60 220 130 185

F 98 230 — —

M 70 415 12 —


S 4 4


O 20 80 50

— —

N 22 95 90 88

D 36 159 50 85

Since the mid 1970s the national trend has shown a continuing decrease in the wintering population but in Suffolk numbers have remained relatively constant. As the above table shows, the species is concentrated towards the southern half of the county and is no doubt influenced by the massive numbers of duck that frequent Abberton and, to a lesser extent, Ardleigh reservoirs in neighbouring Essex. The 415 at Alton Water in March is the highest count at this site since January 1982 when there were 476 present. Düring the arctic weather conditions in February a flock of 20 birds resided in Ipswich Wet Dock. 20

Tufted Duck: A total of 59 breeding pairs was reported from 16 sites. These were: Thorington Street Res. (five), Glemsford (five), Long Melford, Trimley Lake (13), Lackford G. P . , King's Fleet (four), Needham Market, Sproughton, Erwarton (four), Bosmere (three), Barking (ten), Baylham (three), Haverhill, Bardwell, Bradfield Combust and Alton Water (five). Although Trimley Lake still held the highest concentration of pairs, with a minimum of 82 ducklings being reared, the numbers are significantly down when compared with the breeding success at the turn of the decade. From 1978 to 1980, 20, 37 and 30 pairs raised 125, 175 and 154 ducklings respectively. This decline has been mirrored at Shotley Marshes on the opposite bank of the Orwell. A factor which has no doubt contributed to this decrease is the interference by local wildfowlers at the former site. A number of clutches, it has been said, have been deliberately destroyed because,







M 15 110

J Benacre Aide Deben Orwell Alton Water Thorington Street Res. Lackford G. P.


65 72 57 237 130 89

45 20 505 370 —



A —


552 475 40 230



— — —




32 30 51 62

6 21 55 69 50 177



own N 18 2 20 98 131 5 315

good D 100 —

25 56 194 50 302

The incredible number of 552 on the Orwell in March were congregated in Ipswich Docks throughout the harsh weather period. This conforms to the pattern set in 1979 when there was also a formidable presence. Scaup: For the second year in succession a significant influx occurred during the bleak first winter period.

Pakefield/Benacre Minsmere Orwell

J 20 1 2

M 35 1 30

F 52 9 36 21

O 4

N 3

D 4

Birds were seen at several localities on the Orwell estuary but the main flock tended to congregate off Freston. Other estuarine reports came f r o m Oulton Broad, a female Jan. 27th; Lake Lothing, three Feb. 16th to Mar. 9th; Falkenham, four Feb. 9th and Walberswick, three Feb. 28th. Inland sightings were a female on the River Gipping at Sproughton, Apr. 4th and a male at Cavenham Pits Jan. 30th to Feb. 2nd. Eight were still present at Benacre Apr. 20th where a female lingered until May 12th. An early return male arrived at the same site on July 9th with probably the same bird being at Covehithe, July 12th. Eider: Numbers during the first winter period were the lowest since 1981. Landguard was the only site to hold a regular offshore flock with up to 12 being seen on eight dates between Jan. 15th and Apr. 14th. Nine on the Orwell, Jan. 8th were probably the Landguard birds. Southerly movements were noted off Benacre on three dates in January and involved a total of 29 birds. The only other record was of three south off Slaughden, Apr. 11th. An oversummering female was off Landguard, July 5th and an apparently oiled bird (not sexed) stayed in the Pakefield/Benacre area f r o m July 22nd to Aug. 10th. A male at Minsmere, Aug. 11th could have been the Pakefield bird and an eclipse male remained in the Felixstowe area from early August until Sept. 26th. The species was far more plentiful in the second winter period with resting flocks frequenting Orfordness, 15 Sept. 21st ai)d Sizewell, 50 Oct. 10th. This sea-duck was most active however, during Oct. 22nd to Nov. 14th. A total of 53 birds was noted passing north at five sites although some duplication is likely. The largest single site count, during the autumn, was 32 south off Covehithe, Nov. 11th. This species now seems reluctant to use the Orwell and Stour estuaries as winter feeding grounds with just a single bird seen, Nov. 16th to 18th. December records were from Easton Bavents, Shingle Street and Southwold (seven). Long-tailed Duck: The female that frequented Benacre Pits from Nov. 23rd 1985 remained until J a n . 25th. Likewise, the three immatures noted on the Orwell in midDecember 1985 were still present Mar. 7th being briefly joined by an adult male, Jan. 26th. These birds were widely seen in the Levington/Wherstead stretch of the river and one lingered to Apr. 1st. An adult male was at Southwold Mar. 1st and two were found in the Scoter flock off Kessingland Apr. 1st. There were only two records of this species during the second winter period, a female again at Benacre f r o m Oct. 26th to Nov. 9th and one flying north off Aldeburgh Dec. 21st. The former bird regularly commuted between the broad and the pits and probably accounts for the sighting of one flying north Nov. 2nd. Common Scoter:


J 400

F 182

M 230

A 200

M 142

J 42

J 134

A 80

S 50

O —

N 87

D 115

The compact flocks, which traditionally oversummer, are a feature of the county's coastal avifauna. Their favoured haunt currently lies approximately 800 yards offshore in Sole Bay between Southwold and Sizewell but on occasions the flock ventures further afield. It is difficult to ascertain the numbers of birds involved and it is therefore assumed that there is just the one roving flock. The above set of figures are taken from the following sites: Kessingland, Benacre, Covehithe, Easton


Bavents, Southwold, Walberswick, Dunwich, Minsmere, Sizewell, Aldeburgh, Slaughden, Shingle Street, Felixstowe Ferry and Landguard. Inland records were from Bradfield Combust, Mar. 10th; Livermere an adult male Mar. 29th and an immature male Apr. 19th and Thorington Street Res., two Apr. 19th. Small flocks were noted moving south off Landguard from Aug. 15th but the largest movement was 51 south off Minsmere Sept. 25th. An immature was on the Orwell at Freston Nov. 9th. Velvet Scoter: U p to five birds, three females and two males, were regularly seen amongst the C o m m o n Scoter concentrations between Walberswick and Dunwich Jan. 1st to Feb. 28th. Two others were found in similar circumstances off Landguard Jan. 4th. Southerly movements were noted off Dunwich, two males, and at Benacre Jan. 18th and at Landguard Mar. 4th and Apr. 14th. Occurrences of birds flying north were at Landguard Mar. 12th and Dunwich, three Apr. 25th. The only estuarine bird was at Hemley on the River Deben, Mar. 22nd. There was no evidence of oversummering and the first return bird was noted with Common Scoters off Minsmere, Aug. 25th. Two north off Lowestoft, Oct. 24th and five south off Landguard Oct. 25th were the first significant movements. The species figured prominently with other sea-birds on the first two days of November; with the passage solely northerly, birds were noted as follows: Lowestoft seven, Benacre seven, Southwold four and Minsmere one. Winter records were a male off Minsmere, Dec. 6th and three Benacre, Dec. 7th. Goldeneye:

Benacre Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford G. P.

J 12 86 91 3 9 10

F 5 69 109 42 22 9

M 12 —

135 17 13 8

A 5

_ —

5 9 7

O 2 4 NIL 1 2 —

N 14 23 30 1 17 6

D 6 32 69 14 13 10

Compared with the corresponding first winter period of 1985 the numbers were generally down. The effects of the harsh weather conditions can be seen by the increased numbers in February and March and the 135 on the Orwell in the latter month had gathered at Freston. Inland records other than the above were from Thorington Street Res., Flatford, Hadleigh (on River Brett), Livermere, Tuddenham, Micklemere, Lakenheath (six) and Beccles (on small pond). There were no oversummering individuals but a belated migrant stayed at Alton Water until May 15th. Autumn passage was evident at Landguard where a total of 40 birds passed through between Oct. 24th and Dec. 7th. Smew: The record numbers set in 1985 were not surpassed but there was still a reasonable showing during the first winter period. Reports are summarised as follows: Benacre/Kessingland — up to eight, (two males and six 'red-heads') Jan. 10th to Mar. 21st. They frequented both the broad and the pits and on occasions were seen on the Hundred River as well as the dykes on Kessingland Levels. Minsmere — three records between Jan. 11th and Mar. 3rd involving a male and two


'red-heads'. Alton Water — up to four, a male and three 'red-heads' Feb. 10th to Mar. 11th. Little Ouse — three including a male at Lakenheath Feb. 23rd. River Stour — four 'red-heads' on estuary Feb. 23rd, a 'red-head' at Flatford Feb. 27th and a pair at Glemsford Mar. 7th and 8th. Orwell Estuary — two females Feb. 25th to Mar. 3rd. Deben — a male and a female Falkenham Feb. 2nd and a 'red-head' Melton Mar. 2nd. In stark contrast, there was not a single record during the latter half of the year. Red-breasted Merganser: The Orwell again proved to be the species' m a j o r wintering haunt with monthly maxima as follows: J 35

F 38

M 12

N 16

D 13

As conditions deteriorated birds retreated to the warmer waters of Ipswich Docks. From Feb. 27th to Mar. 9th up to five birds were regularly seen in the Wet Dock and one, an unfortunate female, had its bill tangled in plastic netting. Elsewhere few birds were recorded prior to the cold spell but thereafter up to six birds were noted at 14 coastal sites. An oiled female was found by the Beached Bird Survey team between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh in late February. A belated migrant was off Minsmere May 5th and oversummering individuals were noted near Ramsholt June 28th and Benacre July 12th. Early return birds were noted off Landguard, four south Aug. 15th but the main coastal movements did not occur until Nov. 2nd. Excepting the Orwell there were no other winter flocks in the latter half of the year. Lone females were noted on the Deben, Dec. 14th to 28th and on the Butley River Dec. 29th. Goosander: The flooded gravel workings of the Lark Valley remain as the principal wintering stronghold of this duck. Lackford G. P. Alton Water

J 12 1

F 31 8

M 7 12


D 10 NIL

Five at Cavenham Pits, Mar. 31st were no doubt part of the Lackford flock and a male was seen at Euston Lake, Mar. 20th. On the Stour, a female was at Higham Feb. 10th and three males, flying up river were noted on the BOEE count, Feb. 21st. From Feb. 14th there was a rapid dispersal from the Breckland sites as inland waters froze. A marked return was noted on Mar. 13th and it was during the intervening period that the majority of coastal records occurred. In addition to the above up to two birds were noted at Benacre, Havergate, Minsmere and Ipswich Docks, Jan. 25th to Apr. 6th. During the second winter period there was a small influx at the beginning of November which included a male and a female at Livermere. Otherwise, the main immigration was delayed until mid December and notable records include a female on a lake with Tufted Duck at Great Thurlow, Dec. 20th to 26th and a 'red-head' by Wilford Bridge, on River Deben, Dec. 28th. Ruddy Duck: Following the lean year of 1985, numbers of wintering and passage birds were back to their recent high numbers. There was just one successful breeding pair however, but several others oversummered in suitable breeding habitat. Two males in full breeding dress disputed territories at Livermere from Apr. 2nd and these were joined by another on the 13th. The first female was not seen until Apr.


25th and became extremely elusive thereafter. A pair with six ducklings was seen June 17th, four of which survived to fledge. Dispersal came soon after and the last at this site were four juveniles Aug. 4th. A male frequented Easton Broad, May 31st and probably the same bird was seen at Benacre to at least June 7th (DBB, CRN). At Haverhill Flood Park a female made a brief visit June 26th (DFS). With just the single record for the first winter period, Benacre Broad, Mar. 8th (RCS), it is pleasing to see a mini-influx towards the end of the year. A female was at Lackford G. P. from Sept. 13th to 20th and an immature moulting into male plumage was studied from Nov. 16th to Dec. 14th. At Alton Water an immature was reported Aug. 16th and a female stayed from Nov. 5th until the end of the year (PM, JMC). At Haverhill Flood Park a male was seen on Oct. 4th (DFS) and off Felixstowe, Nov. 11th, one was on the sea (JMC). The latter record is particularly interesting because although the species is known to favour estuarine environments during the winter months, we can find no reference other than past editions of Suffolk Birds that details occurrences of birds on the open sea. Honey Buzzard: The only acceptable record involved an individual arriving from the sea at Covehithe Aug. 17th. This species is surprisingly scarce in Suffolk but the bird in question was seen by a fortunate party on a Suffolk Ornithologists' Group field outing (BJB, MC, JG). Red Kite: Along the coast one frequented the Orford/Gedgrave area Mar. 13th and 15th (GR, RWHG) and possibly the same bird at Sutton Heath Mar. 23rd (JC). Inland one was widely seen in the Brandon area Mar. 22nd to 29th (DNB, LGRE). Marsh Harrier: At least two new sites were involved in the continued expansion due to recent breeding success. A total of 14 females are known to have nested, 11 of which were successful rearing a minimum of 35 young. A nestling ringed at Minsmere July 8th, 1985 was found dying at Muge near Ribatego, Portugal Apr. 15th. (See paper on page 77). Hen Harrier: Recorded from over 50 sites, the largest number noted being 10 at a Breckland roost site Jan. 12th; these included six grey males, a high male to female ratio. Minsmere also recorded a high number of grey birds with five out of a total of seven Feb. 16th. This latter site also had the latest spring sighting with a male May 5th, while the first bird of the autumn was at Walberswick Sept. 28th. Montagu's Harrier: A pair may have bred at an undisclosed site. A male was seen at Minsmere May 8th (AKG, GDM, LP, KJS). Goshawk: Two pairs attempted to breed but both failed sadly due to human persecution. The only record away from breeding areas was at Henham Dec. 14th. Sparrowhawk: Despite numerous records being submitted it is difficult to ascertain just how many breeding pairs we have in the county. Due to the species' extreme shyness during the breeding season proven or even potential breeding has not been determined in areas where the birds are known to be present. There is, however, an obvious continued recovery with birds being noted during the summer months at 23 suitable breeding sites. At least five passage birds were noted at Landguard during the autumn, of which two were trapped and ringed, and the usual influx occurred in winter along the coastal belt. Buzzard: Recorded at 17 sites between January and April and from November to the end of the year. A pair was seen at one site in May but no breeding was proven. If


not persecuted this species has great potential to return to Suffolk as a breeder from where it has been lost for over a century. Therefore any summer records are of special interest. Rough-legged Buzzard: Wintering numbers are still greatly reduced when compared with earlier years, probably due to the continuing decline of rabbits on the heaths. Records were received from 15 sites with the majority of these involving two birds between Orford and Aldeburgh and inland over the forest areas of Tunstall and Rendlesham between January and March. Another was on the coast between Minsmere and Benacre from January until April. Breckland could only produce one at two sites Jan. 1st to 19th.


Buzzard — George


Osprey: An extremely productive spring passage with records from: Tunstall Common Mar. 29th; Landguard Apr. 13th and 30th; Thorington Street Res. May 9th to 30th; Lackford G. P. June 26th; Easton Broad May 24th and Minsmere May 3rd and 25th and June 26th. The only autumn record was one at Minsmere Aug. 15th to 27th. Kestrel: Once again this widespread species was poorly recorded with few breeding reports being submitted. Interesting records included a pair nesting in the roof of Alderton Church despite re-roofing activities and another, at Coddenham, copulating on the late date of Nov. 13th. There was one wearing jesses at Benacre Aug. 17th and instances of birds feeding on earthworms were noted at Haverhill and Felixstowe during the second winter period. Merlin: Fewer than usual noted from only 11 sites during the early part of the year with two at Minsmere, on three occasions in January, and up to three at Walberswick on five occasions in January and February. The first of the autumn was at Sudbourne Aug. 23rd. (SJB). By the end of the year this falcon had been noted at 14 sites. Hobby: Far more sightings than in recent years with records from 21 sites. One pair is known to have bred whilst two others oversummered. Peregrine: The only records of this rare raptor were at Havergate Feb. 4th (RSPB) and at Easton Broad May 28th (CRN). The decreasing numbers in Suffolk of a species which is increasing nationally, seem to indicate that most East Anglian birds are from declining Continental populations.


Red-legged Partridge: The continued large scale rearing of Red-legged/Chukar crosses has made it almost impossible, in some cases, to find pure bred birds of either species. Illegal netting of partridges was reported from Haverhill and Southwold. Grey Partridge: A better response from observers with notes from about 50 sites. At Walberswick, where bracken clearance has allowed grasses to re-establish on the heaths, numbers of this species have increased from two to six pairs. Quail: One was heard on the Minsmere Levels between June 8th and 14th, another at a Breckland site Aug. 2nd and another in a bean field at a third site during two weeks in July. Golden Pheasant: A decline in numbers was reported from their Breckland stronghold with a maximum of seven in the King's Forest. The only other records were of very likely escapees in an Ipswich garden Apr. 24th and at Norman Gwatkin Reserve, Henham. Water Rail: The series of harsh winters has greatly reduced the numbers of this species in Suffolk and many birds were heard singing for mates which is unusual in this county. Indeed, so unusual that many experienced ornithologists were totally bemused at first, being so unfamiliar with the song. Spotted Crake: At Minsmere one was heard calling on numerous occasions between May 22nd and June 19th (RSPB). Moorhen: Apart from 130 noted in the Glemsford/Long Melford area at the onset of hard weather in January, the other largest congregations were at the end of the year following a successful breeding season with 111 on the Stour Nov. 16th and 105 on the Orwell Dec. 14th. Coot: Again the county's major flocks were at Alton Water with a maximum of 785 Feb. 24th while other notable counts included 300 Trimley Lake Nov. 10th and, inland, 174 at Lackford G. P. J a n . 1st. Oystercatcher: Scattered breeding pairs were reported on shingle and farmland along the coastline but, although no census was undertaken, Orfordness remains as the species' breeding stronghold. Inland passage birds were reported from Lakenheath, Bradfield Combust, Lackford, Thorington Street and Haverhill. Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour



2 26 185 1680 128

1 10 131 1585 177


M 45 248

— —


980 271

S NIL 7 159 555 317



10 176 943 463

6 221 407 633

D I 14 138 1000 828

The origins of the county's wintering population have been open to speculation for a number of years. It was widely believed that a significant proportion were Scandinavian, and the fact that most of the foreign-ringed birds controlled on The Wash originated from Norway provided some confirmation. This view was reinforced when one was captured on Butley River in 1984 bearing a Norwegian ring (R. West). Colour marking studies conducted by the LBO team however, in conjunction with the Felixstowe Dock enquiry, have provided some invaluable information. The first two foreign controls were from the Netherlands and


subsequent sightings of colour-dyed birds confirm that by far the greater proportion involve our own local breeding birds. Quite a different picture is emerging for the birds of the year; ringing recoveries of Suffolk birds indicate that some venture to the Channel area and others as far south as the Bordeaux coastal area of France. Avocet: At least 227 pairs were located at seven sites which produced a minimum of 102 young. There is an obvious spread from the main colonies at Havergate Island and Minsmere but successful breeding is limited unless protection can be given. Minsmere suffered with Fox prédation which severely limited fledging success. The tendency for this species to winter in Suffolk continued although the origins of these birds are still unclear. The Aide is the first site in Britain to attain levels of international importance due to the wintering population. Counts were as follows: J 268

F 334

M 104

a 426

s 454

o 464

N 411

D 307

Away from traditional sites this species was recorded at Kessingland Mar. 18th, Benacre Apr. 15th and Nov. 3rd, Felixstowe two Jan. 1st and Landguard two May 14th and 15th. Stone Curlew: The RSPB reported 62 pairs from Breckland but this total includes Norfolk and we have no breakdown of the Suffolk share. It is believed to be in the region of 30 pairs and in addition a lone pair survives on the coastal belt. Evidence of passage migration comes from two flying over Reydon Apr. 1st and birds heard at night near to Haverhill Oct. 1st. Little Ringed Plover: A total of 11 breeding pairs was reported from seven sites but this is considered lower than the true figure as many potential breeding habitats were not visited. Noted on migration from Mar. 23rd until Sept. 23rd. Autumn numbers were average with a maximum of 15 at Minsmere Aug. 7th and 8th, six Bury F. F. Pits Aug. 18th and seven Benacre Aug. 16th. Ringed Plover: No full survey was carried out for breeding birds so no complete figures are available. Away from normal coastal sites single pairs were located on gravel pits at Bramford, Great Blakenham, Cavenham and Lackford. At Sutton Common and Sutton Hoo up to four pairs were found nesting on arable fields. On migration up to 11 were recorded inland at Haverhill between Aug. 6th and Oct. 20th and up to five of the northern race lundrae were identified at Minsmere May 20th to June 1st.

Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 12 64 68 289 387

F 4 21 37 265 124

M 5 37



304 103

— —

S 118 64 196 273 294

O —

179 1 437 364

N —

1 43 292 150

D 69 25 158 225 387

Kentish Plover: The only record received of this former colonist was of a male at Minsmere May 26th (JAW). Dotterel: Two at Livermere May 29th (RAP) is the only record. Golden Plover: It is difficult to assess the total population in any given winter because so many spend this period on farmland not generally visited by


birdwatchers. It seems likely that a few thousand overwinter and the sites that held flocks in excess of 100 are listed as follows: Ellough (600); Chevington (c400); Bed field (c400); Wetheringset (124); Mickfield (235); Worlingworth (cl,000); Stonham Aspal (c250); Old Newton (c350); St Michael South Elmham (clOO); Walsham le Willows (526); Chelsworth (c350); Gedgrave (179); Sudbourne (100); Bucklesham (200); Deben Estuary (200); Aide Estuary (259); Orwell Estuary (200); Stour Estuary (285); Trimley St Martin (c250); Long Melford (c2,000); Little Cornard (c200); Bradfield Combust (c200) and Livermere (c520). Grey Plover: Widespread and much increasing as a winter visitor.

Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 92 96 119 234 1122

F 40 46 150 242 972


M 18 45


208 744


S 1 12 99 43 148


N —

1] 1 92 548

9 214 194 761

D 1 101 51 180 905

There were few significant coastal movements and autumn passage was almost non-existent. The highest count was 20 south off Landguard May 18th. Lapwing: As usual, immigrants were noted from mid to late summer with a significant build up in winter especially prior to extreme hard weather. Immediately afterwards there was a mass exodus as the ground became frozen and few remained in Suffolk during February. J Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

3 1532 658 1150 279

F 61 242 88 601 421


M 14 151



249 119

— —

S 200 1164 314 232 136



2033 460 NIL 471

3658 659 1604 1815

D 10 101 785 475 937

Sizeable flocks reported were cl,000 at Haverhill Dec. 20th and 21st, cl,000 at Kelsale Nov. 22nd and cl,000 Ixworth/Stanton Nov. 25th. This species is much reduced as a breeding bird predominately because of the loss of meadow habitat. Those birds which nest on arable have little fledging success if there is no food nearby. Unsprayed headlands would greatly enhance the chances of this species. A total of only 65 pairs was reported and it will be interesting to see what the future BTO breeding survey reveals. Knot: BOEE counts showed that the Stour and Orwell maintained their winter significance for the species with maxima as follows:

Orwell Stour

j 1708 330

F 2449 432

M 665 64

o NIL 200

N 20 176

D 363 938

Concentrations were c250 Wherstead Strand Mar. 13th; 190 Levington Mar. 23rd; 146 Harkstead Nov. 16th; 100 Levington Dec. 14th and 250 Holbrook Dec. 14th. In a very light spring passage double figures were only reached at Havergate Island with ten Apr. 28th. Thereafter 11 at Minsmere June 22nd were the heralds of another light return passage which peaked at 33 on Havergate Island Sept. 18th. Noteworthy 29

records were birds at Alton Water Mar. 16th, which was apparently only the third record for the site, and at Cavenham Pits Aug. 1st. Sanderling: A maximum of 12 at Lowestoft is a low January tally by the town's recent standards but, with perhaps the same birds at Southwold Feb. 15th, it was the highest number reported in the first winter period. Spring passage was very light but included an inland straggler at Cavenham Pits Apr. 27th. Autumn passage commenced during the second half of July. Eight were at Felixstowe Ferry July 26th, a date on which six were present at Covehithe. Lowestoft's winter dominance for the species' records was broken by the River Orwell where 22 were counted by BOEE recorders on Dec. 14th. Indeed, Lowestoft could only host a meagre two in December. Semipalmated Sandpiper: An adult moulting into winter plumage at Minsmere Aug. 6th to 15th (IPR, D J W , J H G ) posed few of the identification problems raised by the infamous Felixstowe Ferry 'peep' of 1982-83. The long-running controversy over the latter was still raging when this easier individual appeared, and will probably continue to do so for a long time yet. Following a review of previous records undertaken by the British Birds Rarities Committee, in which acceptance of a previous Minsmere record was withdrawn, the 1986 bird is the first non-contentious occurrence of the species in Suffolk. (See article on page 62). Little Stint: Spring passage included a notable record of one at Alton Water May 18th and three, one of which was said to be uttering a "trilling s o n g " , at Levington June 7th. Elsewhere, one to two were reported on six dates in May f r o m the 12th at Minsmere, where similar numbers were present June 11th to 21st. Autumn passage commenced in a big way on July 31st with the year's largest party of 12 on Havergate Island. At Minsmere passage peaked at ten Aug. 25th to 30th. The only inland record came from Livermere Aug. 16th. The species was noted on six days in October at Minsmere, up to 19th, and another late migrant was reported f r o m Brantham Oct. 15th. Temminck's Stint: A very good year for this normally scarce passage migrant. The first of the year was at Minsmere May 3rd followed by three there May 18th, increasing to four May 19th to 21st. In addition one was at Walberswick May 21st. Minsmere's sequence of autumn migrants began Aug. 8th to 9th, with perhaps a different individual there Aug. 14th and two Aug. 15th. Pectoral Sandpiper: Rather unusually, Minsmere held a monopoly of the year's records. From July 18th and during August there followed a succession of reports which renders it difficult to accurately assess how many birds were involved. Somewhat curiously there were no September records and two juveniles Oct. 8th to 13th were the year's only others. Curlew Sandpiper: The recent pattern of early spring arrivals continued at Minsmere Apr. 29th. Others there on June 10th and June 17th were either late spring or early autumn migrants. Return passage birds arrived at Minsmere July 18th and u p to three frequented the site to July 29th, after which there was an influx of nine July 30th to 31st. On the latter date Havergate also recorded its peak of 11. Minsmere held up to six on many dates throughout August with numbers gradually decreasing in September and the last bird reported on Oct. 1st. Elsewhere eight were on Havergate Island Sept. 6th and other reports were of two Holbrook Bay Aug. 11th, four Walberswick Aug. 31st and singles Covehithe Sept. 6th, Iken Sept. 10th and Benacre Broad Oct. 4th.


"'"iiiliiiiOií!!!!""^ OlllilllllililllllllilllMVIIKMlWMIIIllW ... i S Si i i-;if i*«l|lliliití:tlllllll||f!|ll¡

jf f ii iiiifiá:» if i i ÍSÍ ! r : f f S S «f Iis---V.-.

Pectoral Sandpiper — George


Purple Sandpiper: As usual Lowestoft's weed-covered sea-wall and groynes, obviously rich in marine invertebrates, proved to be an irresistible attraction for this species. In the first winter period up to 30 foraged there during January with numbers declining as winter turned to spring. A notable 14 were still there May 3rd. Lowestoft apart, the species was most regularly recorded at Landguard, particularly in March when a series of records included an oiled individual on 2nd and ten flying south on 28th. There was a final flourish of three May 16th. There has been a recent upsurge in July records and this pattern was continued with reports from Orfordness 13th and Lowestoft 18th. An early arrival back at Lowestoft Aug. 26th was followed by a build up through October and November to peak at 30 Nov. 17th but subsequently only 12 were to be found there. The first autumn passage birds to call in at Landguard were reported Sept. 7th and 30th; up to three frequented the site's jetty and beach during October to December. Elsewhere the species was recorded at South wold, Aug. 15th and Benacre (two) Nov. 6th. Dunlin: Blylh Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J F M 1634 1455 797 3834 2774 577 2295 2317 — 12065 12323 2923 13255 13447 4265

A — — — — 1420

A — 125 — — —

S 252 171 143 NIL 384

O N D — — 997 672 625 1203 59 1284 3229 723 6970 6075 6680 10732 12122

In addition to the above 2,000 were present on the Town Marshes at Southwold, Jan. 2nd. Many more inland records than is usually the case were received. They were widespread and scattered through spring, autumn and winter. Full song and display were noted at Minsmere on several dates in June and once again one joined (he elevated Ringed Plovers which used a woodshed roof at Lowestoft as a safe roosting site. Ruff: The signs of possible breeding were less encouraging than in recent years with no reports of lekking males and only the most tentative of hopes could be ascribed to the three to four which lingered at a potential breeding site during May. Spring


passage was generally poor with the highest counts being up to 11 Minsmere Mar. 6th and 13 there Apr. 17th. At least seven different males passed through there during June. Elsewhere the highest spring total was eight Walberswick May 2nd. Return passage was more marked and included overland migration evidenced by a series of records from Bury B. F. Pits from the end of July, peaking at 12 Aug. 8th, and Cavenham Pits which were visited by up to two in August and one Sept. 21st. In both winter periods the species remained scarce. In the first winter period singles were at four sites and in the second period up to three frequented the Gedgrave area. The only other report came from Minsmere Dec. 11th. Jack Snipe: The unusually small number of records received probably reflects more on this species' unobtrusive character than on a genuine lack of birds. Only 13 were reported in January and February, with maxima of three at Melton and Lackford G. P. The usual wintering stronghold in Ipswich only produced one at this time, although one was at Landguard, where the species in a rarity, Jan. 4th. Two at the Ipswich site in March could have been early passage birds. Another at Landguard Apr. 12th and one in a clear fell area of Thetford Forest near Brandon Apr. 19th clearly were passing through. A series of records from Minsmere commencing Mar. 29th and involving up to two in April probably also referred to passage birds. The first returning bird was on Havergate Island on the early date of Aug. 18th. A noteworthy report is of a single at Haverhill Oct. 25th but November and December records were few and far between. The maximum was three in a meadow near Holbrook Creek Dec. 14th and up to three frequented the Ipswich wintering site from Nov. 16th. Snipe: About 28 pairs at 18 sites represented a slight increase in reports but the rather sketchy nature of observers' details makes it difficult to be certain of the species' true breeding status. Winter counts were not high, the maxima in the first winter period being 120 on the Orwell estuary marshes Jan. 12th, 103 at Southwold in February and 60 at Woodbridge Jan. 11th. Counts were even lower in the second winter period; only 75 could be found on the Orwell estuary marshes Dec. 14th; 92 Flatford Dec. 26th and further gloomy reports came from Shotley Marshes where the year's maximum of only 100 was said to represent a marked decline. Woodcock: Observers may be responding to the hints in previous issues of Suffolk Birds . . . for the total of c38 roding birds was a marked increase over previous years' figures. Also increasing is the number of birds reported from gardens in the winter but the gathering of up to ten on a lawn at Minsmere would appear unprecedented. Coastal migrants were seen at Landguard Jan. 3rd to 4th and Nov. 2nd to 3rd, and in off the sea at Orfordness Oct. 26th. Black-tailed Godwit: Encouraging signs for the future breeding success of this beautiful wader emerged with four sites holding at least six apparently nesting pairs. J Aide Deben Orwell Stour

5 96 141 370

F NIL 97 6 1660

S 182 1 NIL 380

M 65 52 41

O 1 22 NIL 324

N NIL 26 11 81

D NIL 4 65 906

A generally light spring passage produced a peak of 175 in Martlesham Creek Apr. 10th. In contrast, return passage was more pronounced and widespread. The largest


Plate 9: Stone Curlew on nest: The RSPB reported 62 pairs from Breckland and at least one pair survives on the coast. Photo Roger Tidman

Plate 11: Woodcock: Harsh weather caused an unprecedented on a lawn at Minsmere.

Plate 12: Wood Sandpiper: passage.

A lively spring contrasted

gathering of up to ten Photo Roger Tidman

with a mediocre autumn Photo Steve Piotrowski

umbers reported in this period were 114 Minsmere July 7th; 57 Butley River July 15th; 135 Havergate Island July 20th; 184 River Aide Aug. 17th; 182 Havergate Island Aug. 19th and 132 there Sept. 23rd. r-tailed Godwit: The highest first winter period counts were 13 flying south during a two hour watch off Benacre, Jan. 10th; 15 Iken Jan. 19th and 19 River Aide, Feb. 9th. The first week of May saw the peak spring movement with 45 at Minsmere May 2nd; 25 Covehithe Broad May 2nd and 15 May 3rd and 15 Minsmere also May 3rd. 11 more were at Felixstowe Ferry May 5th and the year's only inland record involved two at Lackford G . P . May 4th. An unremarkable autumn passage from June 29th only produced small parties, the largest of which was 18 flying south off Landguard Aug. 2nd. A late gathering of note was 40 Levington Nov. 16th. Whimbrel: First noted at Havergate Island Apr. 8th. Spring passage was light and sporadic but included inland records from Earl Soham, May 4th; Lackford G. P., May 10th; a night migrant heard over Ipswich, May 12th and two in fields at Sutton Heath, May 14th. Late June saw the autumn movement commence and it was at its strongest during the first half of August. At this time 22 flew south at Benacre on the 6th and 15 flew south at Minsmere 9th. The year's maximum, c50, was noted on Havergate Island 15th. Also at this time inland records came from the Waveney Valley 3rd and Livermere 14th. There were two surprisingly late records; seven or eight flew north off Lowestoft Nov. 2nd, a date on which one was at Covehithe. Curlew: Breeding status in the 'Breck' was reported to be similar to that in 1985 when seven pairs were noted at three sites. J 24 511 271 226 574

Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

F 39 893 231 513 690

M 19 116 — 59 434


A — 258 — — —



N —

478 345 79 436

415 1295 343 830

345 621 380 339

D 28 642 734 263 698

Early autumn gatherings on Havergate Island totalled 244 July 26th and 235 Aug. 5th. An interesting record was of " m a n y " which landed on a school playing field in Bury St. Edmunds at dusk Sept. 19th. Spotted Redshank: January and February records revealed 15 wintering birds at four sites and the equivalent figures for November and December were 20 at three localities. For much of the year Minsmere's counts dominated the records and its monthly maxima were as follows: J NIL

F 2

M 3

A 3

M 6

J 75

J 70

A 70

S 33

O 17

Walberswick and Benacre were the most favoured of frequented. At the former 32 were counted July 18th and at rather late run of records from Aug. 27th and up to 28 were immature at Alton Water Sept. 6th was the only report away and was an unusual record for the reservoir.


N 8

D 1

the other localities the latter there was a there in October. An from estuary or coast

Redshank: Hard weather claimed the lives of seven which were found between Wherstead Strand and Woolverstone Feb. 24th; another was found dead at Waldringfield Feb. 28th and ten which succumbed on the Stour were found at Harkstead Mar. 9th. The highest concentration of bodies however, was on the Essex side of the Stour estuary with over 100 beached at Harwich, M a r . 6th (see Ringing Report). Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 549 978 1098 1443 2033

F 513 768 501 1407 1647

M 240 330 — 788 557

A — — — — 230

A .— 227 — — —

S 492 588 947 972 844

O — 635 2707 1271 732

N — 533 699 983 936

D 353 255 1779 937 725

In addition Havergate Island's autumn and winter maxima were 97 July; August; 273 September; 229 October; 165 November and 283 December. So references to breeding were contained in observers' notes that it is impossible to any clear indication of numbers or success rates but a " g o o d breeding season" reported at Walberswick.

239 few give was

Greenshank: Wintering records involved two on the River Stour Feb. 9th and one at Trimley Marshes on the same date. The former locality held 15 Apr. 13th and these were the first of the spring and by far the largest party. The only other group of note in this period was ten Havergate Island May 19th. One or two were present at Minsmere throughout June, a month which saw a scatter of return passage birds, including 11 at Cattawade on 30th. Numbers remained generally low throughout July, apart f r o m 19 in Holbrook Bay on 19th, and in August the m o n t h ' s maxima was 14 Havergate Island 20th. Double figure groups continued to appear in the following month with estuary counts on Sept. 21 st producing 20 on the River Deben and 16 on the River Stour. The biggest group recorded f r o m seven inland sites which figured in the records for this species was seven at Livermere Aug. 13th. A late migrant was at Minsmere Nov. 5th and one on the River Stour Nov. 16th may have been another tardy migrant or a wintering bird. Green Sandpiper: A population of about 18 from 14 sites in the first winter period was very similar to corresponding figures for recent years. Ali referred to single birds apart from four in a chalk pit at Little Blakenham and two in Martlesham Creek. Spring passage was virtually non-existent. The highest number was a lowly three in Kirton Creek Mar. 22nd. The paucity continued in May, a month in which there were only two reports — at Boyton, lOth and Minsmere, 25th. Autumn passage was more pronounced and widespread and commenced during the last week of June. The largest parties were six Bramford July 9th; u p to seven Minsmere during the same month; six Lackford G. P. Aug. 8th; up to seven Covehithe Aug. 12th and six Minsmere Aug. 28th. A much increased wintering population in the second winter period involved c34 birds at 24 sites, including four on the River Deben estuary count Dee. 14th. Wood Sandpiper: The first of the year arrived at Minsmere Apr. 27th, the same date as the first arrivai in 1985, and this bird was also reported Apr. 28th. A general surge of a variety of spring migrants at Minsmere May 3rd included two of these attractive waders on the 'scrape'. Thereafter, other reports f r o m Minsmere were on May 4th and one to two May 24th to 29th. One at Walberswick June 4th to 7th completed a lively spring for the species in Suffolk. 34

Return passage commenced in July with one to three at Minsmere from 9th, but the species was said to be very scarce at this locality in August with perhaps only two being recorded. Only singles were reported from other sites but these did include inland records from Bury St. Edmunds, where one fed on sticklebacks in the River Lark Sept. 2nd and Livermere Sept. 20th. Common Sandpiper: The trend of overwintering birds continued with one frequenting the Wilford Bridge-Bromeswell area of the River Deben at the beginning of the year. One at Thorington Street Res. Apr. 3rd signalled the start of a spring passage in which only one or two were noted at coastal and inland sites, apart f r o m three at Redgrave Lake May 2nd and four Woodbridge May 4th. Autumn passage got under way with a trickle of reports from July 4th with the minimum overall county totals building up to 54 July 28th to 31st, 72 Aug. 7th to 9th and 85 Aug. 16th to 18th. After the 47 which were noted Sept. 1st to 3rd numbers dwindled markedly and surprisingly there were no reports after Oct. 19th. Turnstone:

Orwell Stour

J 165 277

F 140 250

M 113 124

A — 359

S 362 210

O 412 287

N 184 339

D 91 474

In addition, the Felixstowe Dock-threatened Fagbury mudflats underlined their importance by holding 238 Aug. 28th. The year's only inland records referred to early migrants at Bradfield Combust, where the species is extremely scarce, Mar. 10th, and Cavenham Pits Mar. 15th. There were few April and May passage records, although six were at Minsmere May 8th. A few lingered through June on the Orwell estuary, the maximum being four on 21st. The first three returning birds were back on the Stour estuary July 6th and 15 flew south off Landguard July 29th to 31st. Passage continued to be noted in August when Havergate Island recorded its peak of 20 on 4th. A total of nine passed Landguard during the month and one to five were present at Minsmere on several dates. 30 at Waldringfield Aug. 31st completed the m o n t h ' s passage records and thereafter the estuaries began to dominate. Red-necked Phalarope: The only report of this spectacular wader concerned a male at Minsmere June 12th (RSPB). Grey Phalarope: As with the previous species, there was sadly a poor showing with again only one report; this referred to a single at Thorington Street Res. Oct. 29th (BDG). ''Âťmarine Skua: A very poor year with just four reports as follows: Benacre Sept. '8th; Covehithe two Oct. 5th; Orfordness Oct. 5th and Minsmere Nov. 2nd. Arctic Skua: There were no winter records and spring passage was virtually nonexistent with just a single record, off Landguard May 17th. Interestingly there were two summer records, both on June 22nd, involving a dark and a light-phase over Bawdsey Manor and another off Benacre. Autumn return passage was much more exciting, beginning July 31st, peaking around Aug. 25th to 27th, and easing through September. High counts were 15


Landguard Aug. 25th; 16 Minsmere Aug. 26th; 23 Benacre Aug. 26th and 11 Covehithe Aug. 27th. Late dates were at Landguard Oct. 24th; Benacre, Covehithe and Minsmere Nov. 2nd, and Minsmere Nov. 16th. Great Skua: As both winter and inland records are rare, the sighting, at Hadleigh Jan. 31st, of one flying from a roadside rabbit carcase is all the more incredible (GC). A total of around 17 reports at coastal sites between Aug. 15th and Nov. 3rd probably involved no more than 10-12 individuals, e.g. reports at Sizewell and Southwold Nov. 1st and Benacre, Covehithe and Minsmere Nov. 2nd were probably all of the same bird. A second bird occurred inland, at Ixworth Aug. 29th. Mediterranean Gull: Once again reported in ever increasing numbers in all months of the year. As many as 30 or more birds may have occurred in the county, but it is obvious that many records refer to the same individuals. It is considered that i n t e r c h a n g e p r o b a b l y t o o k p l a c e w i t h i n t h e t h r e e m a i n a r e a s at Landguard/Felixstowe, Sizewell/Minsmere and Covehithe/Benacre/Lowestoft, and probably between the areas themselves, but to what extent is impossible to say. The records are summarized as follows: Lowestoft, adult, late January, Mar. 2nd and again Sept. 20th. Benacre/Covehithe, adult, J a n . 19th, Feb. 11th, Sept. 12th and Dec. 22nd. Juvenile, Aug. 23rd. First winter, Oct. 28th and 29th and Nov. 15th. First summer, May 3rd and 17th, June 6th and Aug. 13th. Second winter, Nov. 1st and 28th. Walberswick, adult, July 20th. Minsmere, adult, on seven dates in January, Apr. 16th and 20th. First summer, Apr. 26th and June 17th. Second summer, Apr. 16th. Sizewell, adult, J a n . 1st to Feb. 17th and again Sept. 1st to Dec. 7th. First summer, May 25th. Havergate, a pair of adults attempted to nest but were driven away by Black-headed Gulls (JP). We have records of single birds summering, and holding territory, within gull colonies but this is the first occasion that breeding has been attempted in S u f f o l k . Felixstowe/Landguard, adult, J a n . 15th, Feb. 10th, June 5th to 16th, July 28th, Aug. 6th, Sept. 21st, Oct. 7th, Nov. 4th to 7th, Dec. 13th to 20th. First winter, Sept. 21st. First summer, May 28th and July 31st. Second summer, Apr. 11th, May 28th, Aug. 31st and Sept. 5th. Second winter, Aug. 4th, sporadically Oct. 2nd to the end of the year and two Dec. 21st. River Orwell, first winter, Wherstead Strand, Mar. 30th. First summer, Levington J u n e 8th and a different bird July 1st.

Little Gull: Reports during January were from Felixstowe, Slaughden, Landguard and Southwold. Seven moved north with Black-headed Gulls at Felixstowe Feb. 18th and three adults were there on Mar. 26th. Up to five were at Minsmere during May and June and six or seven in July and August. Mid-summer individuals were noted at Benacre, Havergate, Walberswick and Lowestoft. Autumn passage was rather poor with no more than six reported at any one locality. During the first half of November there was a notable influx however, with up to four birds at five localities. The last report of the year was of three at Sizewell Rigs Dec. 7th. There were three inland reports: at Livermere Sept. 17th; Cavenham Pits Sept. 22nd and Haverhill Nov. 13th. Black-headed Gull: The Sea-bird Colony Enquiry counts revealed a minimum of 1300 pairs in the county. This is a significant decrease on the numbers in the late seventies; in 1979 the Orfordness area alone held a total of 1335 pairs. This decline has been attributed to controlled culls at sites holding sensitive species that require this specialised protection, and prĂŠdation by Foxes at salt-marsh localities.

An albinistic bird was seen at Framlingham Mere Mar. 15th and an albino was at Landguard Aug. 2nd to 7th. A bird caught in fishing line at Alton Water Oct. 12th was bearing a Lithuanian ring. Common Gull: A total of 23 pairs nested at Orfordness which is a slight increase on last year. Southerly passage was noted at Landguard during the first half of January when a total of 5100 birds passed on five dates. Herring/Lesser Black-backed Gull: The Orfordness colony was estimated to comprise of some 10,000 pairs in total. Although no breakdown of species was given, there was a clear dominance of Lesser Black-backs. lesser Black-backed Gull: Reports during January show that a minimum of 112 birds, of both British and Scandinavian origins, attempted to overwinter. These include an impressive 57 noted on the River Aide estuary count. Due to intergradation in upperpart colour it is difficult to sub-specify the Scandinavian birds between the races of Larus fuscus fuscus and L.f. intermedius. Some attributable to L.f. fuscus however, were noted in a mixed flock at Fakenham, Mar. 24th and Southwold, Mar. 30th, whilst at Minsmere, Mar. 24th, more than 75% of a flock, consisting of 1570 birds, were considered L.f. intermedius. There was a considerable offshore movement during the first week of April and most of the birds involved were thought to be Scandinavian. A partial albino was noted at Benacre Broad, June 27th, and numbers were generally high throughout the summer months. Numbers were similarly high during the second winter period with 100 being present in the Alde/Orfordness area in December and up to four at 15 additional sites. Some of the race L.f. fuscus were seen at Easton Broad, four Dec. 1st and L.f. intermedius at Thorpeness, three Nov. 9th. Another of Scandinavian origin, but not sub-specifically identified, was at Felixstowe Ferry, Nov. 11th. Herring Gull: Individuals showing characteristics of the race Larus argentatus argentatus were noted at Aldeburgh and Gedgrave on the respective dates of Nov. 5th and 30th. Iceland Gull: In the first winter period a third winter bird frequented the Felixstowe area throughout January and almost daily to Apr. 29th. At Minsmere an adult was present Jan. 1st and a first winter bird Mar. 22nd. The only second winter record involved the faithful Felixstowe bird which duly returned, Nov. 5th, this time in brilliant adult plumage. This was much to the relief of those who had correctly diagnosed its age since its initial appearance, as a first winter, in 1983. Those who were mistaken consoled themselves by claiming the 'two, three or four bird theory'. Glaucous Gull: An extremely productive first winter period with perhaps as many as 12 birds overwintering. The assessment of the numbers involved is hampered however, by observers' apparent lack of ability in correctly ageing immature birds. It should be emphasised that eye-colour (dark for a first year, pale for a second year) is essential when ageing both immature Glaucous and Iceland Gulls, as plumage is not reliable on its own. Records are summarised as follows: felixstowe area, two first winters from beginning of January to mid March and one staying lo 'he late date of July 24th. There were also several reports of a second winter bird up to mid March (which was about the time that one of the first winter birds departed!) which would


indicale that three birds were present, but as no claims of three birds seen at any one time have been received it is felt that unless acceptable descriptions of three different birds are forthcoming it is better left as two, with the possibility of three. Minsmere, adult, Feb. U t h . First winter, three days in J a n u a r y and Feb. 2nd, May 22nd and 24th. Second winter, J a n . 26th (see above comincnis on ageing). Benacre, adult, Mar. 2nd. First winter, Feb. 15th, Mar. 2nd and 19th. A claim of a second winter on M a r . 2nd (when the first winter was reported) is subject to above comments. Lowestoft, first winter (with dark eye) J a n . 4th. A second winter claimed by a different observer on the same date is subject to above comments. River Aide area, first winter, a wide-ranging individual was noted at Gedgrave, Aldeburgh, Slaughden and Havergate, J a n . 11th to 19th. Sizewell, second winter, J a n . 27th. River Deben, birds variously described as first or second winter as far up-river as Methersgate and Ramsholt in January and February were thought to be the Felixstowe birds.

The attempt by one of the Felixstowe birds to oversummer is highly irregular being recorded in Suffolk on only one previous occasion — i.e. Ness Point July 19th, 1975 ( W H P in lit.). The only reports for the latter half of the year were a third year at Slaughden Sept. 13th, an adult Landguard Sept. 21st and another at Benacre Nov. 14th. Great Black-backed Gull: The highest count of the year was again on the BOEE Aide count and involved 462 birds Nov. 16th. Kittiwake: Ninety pairs bred at Lowestoft raising 121 young. A record number and the first time young have exceeded 100. Details are as follows: South South South South

Pier Pier Pier Pier

east ledge north windows north ledge roof

26 nests 22 successful 33 young 22 nests 21 successful 36 young 30 nests 24 successful 37 young 12 nests 9 successful 15 young 90 76 121

A strong northerly movement of between 3000 and 4000 off Lowestoft, Nov. 2nd on which date one was seen inland at Cavenham. Sandwich Tern: The first of the year was at Benacre Pits, Mar. 17th. Despite up to 76 being present at Minsmere from June to September only one pair attempted to nest. The sole breeding colony was at Havergate where 145 pairs nested. One was seen resting and preening with Black-headed Gulls in a ploughed field at Aldeburgh, Aug. 21st. The last of the year was at Minsmere, Oct. 4th. Common Tern: A total of 105 pairs was reported breeding in the county at Walberswick (14), Minsmere (one), Havergate (79) and the Stour Estuary (11). Although this is an increase on last year's 'all time low', it represents a drastic decline in comparison with former years. In the early seventies Minsmere and Havergate played host to 400 and 40 pairs respectively, and although Havergate seems to be holding its own, attempts at recolonisation at Minsmere have been disastrous. Minsmere held, in addition, some 60 pairs of Sandwich Tern and it is difficult to pinpoint the causes of this dramatic collapse although, over the years, prĂŠdation has undoubtedly taken its toll. In fact, it has been found that during some seasons, Kestrels, Rats and Foxes have been responsible for the total annihilation of offspring (see also Avocet). There was a particularly heavy overland migration during the first week of May with up to eight birds seen at Alton Water, Livermere, Thorington Street, Weybread


Pits, Redgrave Lake, Lackford G . P. and Bury B. F. Pits. Mid summer birds were seen inland at Glemsford, Haverhill, Lackford G. P. and Barham. Arctic Tern: Very few reported in spring and no evidence of breeding. One at Minsmere, June 22nd to 24th was in 'portlandica' plumage. The autumn movement was quite good with birds reported almost daily between mid July and early October. The highest concentration was at Sizewell Rigs where c20 juveniles were seen, Sept. 3rd. A very late bird, a juvenile, was noted at both Benacre and Sizewell, Nov. Ist (GJJ). Little Tern: A total of 220 pairs nested in the county at 14 sites. Success was mixed with one site being completely washed out and another, holding 20 pairs, fledging 23 young, but overall a good breeding season. It could well be that the series of cold and wet summers have actually helped the species by deterring bathing and other disturbing activities on the beaches. The special protection measures being undertaken at Benacre, Minsmere and Landguard have also been beneficial. Black Tern: A mediocre spring passage with records f r o m : Benacre, three May 4th; Livermere, two May 5th, one May 6th and another May 23rd; Trimley Lake, six May 17th and Lackford G. P . , four June 21st. Autumn passage was much more encouraging with small numbers being recorded along the coast from July 16th to Sept. 20th. The peak came during the first week of September when 11 were feeding around Sizewell Rigs, ten of which roosted on The Scrape at Minsmere. Inland, juveniles were at Alton Water, Aug. 3rd and 17th; Livermere, Aug. 11th; Lackford G. P . , Sept. 3rd to 7th and Cavenham, Sept. 5th. Guillemot: Following the notable influx during October/November 1985 several stayed to overwinter at coastal localities. There was a good showing on the Orwell with five well-scattered from the Wet Dock to Trimley Lake. Elsewhere ones and twos were at Lowestoft H a r b o u r , Benacre, Lake Lothing, Southwold, Minsmere, Sizewell, Thorpeness, Slaughden, Butley River, Felixstowe Ferry, Falkenham and Landguard. Oiled birds began to appear early in the year and in February 109 tideline corpses were located by the Beached Bird Survey team. A minimum of four north off Covehithe, June 7th, is an unusual occurrence but the first of the autumn were noted Sept. 9th. Coastal passage was generally light except for a northerly movement, Nov. 2nd, involving 14, 20, 54 and 35 birds at the respective sites of Lowestoft, Benacre, Covehithe and Minsmere. Razorbill: All records during the first winter period refer to dead or moribund individuals. The Beached Bird Survey team located 29, mostly oiled birds, from Hopton to Felixstowe. Live birds were seen off Fagbury Point, on the Orwell, Feb. 2nd and in Lowestoft Harbour Feb. 21st. From October, birds were noted moving north off Walberswick Oct. 11th, Minsmere Nov. 2nd and Dec. 4th and Covehithe Nov. 2nd. Utile Auk: Singles at Covehithe Jan. 26th and Feb. 9th and another found exhausted in a garden at Reydon, Feb. 18th were the only records of live birds early in the year. Three other oil-affected corpses were found by the Beached Bird Survey •earn at Easton Bavents, Corton and Shingle Street in January and February. A cold northerly airflow during the first three days of November resulted in a spectacular northerly movement on the 2nd, producing counts of 60 at Lowestoft, 42 at Benacre, 52 at Covehithe and 25 at Southwold. Smaller numbers were reported at other sites including one which surprised local fishermen on the River Blackbourne


at Fakenham Magna, West Suffolk. (WEL). A report of ten or more flying south off Minsmere was counter to the main movement. One or two were seen in the next few days, the last being Dec. 7th at Landguard. Puffin: Coinciding with the principal sea-bird passage of Nov. 2nd, this county rarity moved north off Benacre (four) and Minsmere. (JG, W J P , MJS, 1RW). Stock Dove: Amongst the few reports of this unassuming species were those relating to impressive gatherings of 183 Elveden Apr. 27th; 100 Cavenham Heath June 5th and 100 Sudbourne Dec. 21st. Only seven were recorded on passage at Landguard during Oct. 5th to Dec. 1st, including one which flew in f r o m over the sea Oct. 12th. Wood Pigeon: Flocks estimated to contain at least 1,000 birds were noted during the winter months at Haverhill, Sizewell and Trimley Marshes. 31 flew south at Landguard during the course of November. One was watched flying in from over the sea at Easton Bavents, Nov. 8th having been initially sighted at least a kilometre offshore. Collared Dove: The largest reported total f r o m the Ipswich Docks area was of 300, Jan. 20th. A roost at Haverhill S. F. contained up to 133 birds in December. Southerly movements in the spring were again recorded at Landguard where 35 were noted during Mar. 2nd to May 13th. One hybridized with an escaped 'Barbary Dove' at Ipswich. Turtle Dove: Widespread arrivals were recorded after the first at Minsmere, Apr. 21st. A gathering of 291 at Elveden, May 10th is exceptional for the time of year. Spring passage at Landguard continued to June 8th and included 30 flying south, May 24th. The breeding population was generally considered to have been above the average for recent years. A post-breeding flock at Melton peaked at 93 July 17th. Autumn passage totals were very low, the maximum being only eight at Landguard, Sept. 18th; one remained at Haverhill until Oct. 15th. Ring-necked Parakeet: A pair bred successfully at Aldham but the resulting juvenile disappeared soon after fledging. The adult birds regularly visited a nearby birdtable to feed on maize during the winter months. In addition there were reports from Minsmere, May 24th and 28th and Ipswich, Oct. 7th. Cuckoo: Several observers considered that there had been an improvement in numbers when compared with recent years and this was partly quantified by the increase in reported sites from 50 in 1985 up to 75 in 1986. Site totals included up to 10 at both Minsmere and Haverhill in May. A juvenile stunned itself against a window at Ipswich, July 7th. An unusual sight was of one flying north out at sea off Covehithe, June 7th, during a seabird passage. Barn Owl: An apparent reduction with reports from about 90 sites (146 in 1985) of which only ten were in West Suffolk. 20 dead birds were brought in to one observer at Martlesham during a four-week period in late autumn — the cause of death was considered to be that of starvation. A pair bred in the same tree as a pair of Kestrels at a site near Ipswich. A possible migrant was trapped at Landguard, Sept. 28th.


Little Owl: A relatively stable population at present with reports f r o m about 70 locations (72 in 1985). T h e distribution of records clearly illustrates that this is a relatively scarce species in the north-east region of the county — one at Walberswick on three dates in J u n e was considered to be a noteworthy occurrence. One was at L a n d g u a r d , N o v . 2nd, 4th and 17th and Dec. 7th. Tawny Owl: A welcome increase in the recording of this widespread owl with reports from 80 localities; proven breeding occurred at 15 sites. One came to a birdtable at Haverhill during the early m o n t h s and another at Great Bealings in July. Long-eared Owl: T h e only spring migrant was at L a n d g u a r d , A p r . 30th. Typically dated a u t u m n migrants were at L a n d g u a r d , Oct. 13th; Minsmere, Oct. 19th and Southwold, Nov. 2nd, but the most dramatic events of the year took place in midNovember when there was a widespread influx on the British east coast. L a n d g u a r d featured prominently; a f t e r f o u r , Nov. 14th the site held an unprecedented 20 next day of which nine were trapped and ringed — only one was present on the 16th and three on 17th. Elsewhere there were five at Aldeburgh, 18th and one at Minsmere, 13th. The only reported wintering roosts were b o t h in south S u f f o l k and involved only four birds. The Breckland breeding population was considered to be stable; there was evidence of at least seven nesting pairs in the coastal belt of which f o u r were successful. An interesting report was of one hunting in broad daylight in association with a Short-eared Owl at Boyton Marshes, Feb. 2nd (MCr). Short-eared Owl: This diurnal owl was widespread in the coastal region during the first winter period with reports f r o m at least 25 sites; the largest concentrations were 13 River Aide estuary, M a r . 9th; 11 River Orwell, J a n . 17th; 10 Kessingland Levels, Jan. 3rd and seven Hemley, Feb. 16th. There were sightings at only two inland localities but these did include u p to six at a site near Haverhill until early April. Coastal spring passage was recorded during the latter half of March with reports from Landguard 17th and 25th and three between Minsmere and Sizewell 30th. For the second year in succession the breeding season was considered to be p o o r . No proof of breeding was f o r t h c o m i n g but birds were at t w o coastal sites in late J u n e and another in early July. The first a u t u m n bird was at Minsmere, Sept. 28th; 13 were recorded passing through L a n d g u a r d between Oct. 11th and N o v . 13th with a m a x i m u m of f o u r Nov. 4th. One or t w o were subsequently present at about 20 coastal sites and inland at Tuddenham (west) Dec. 21st and Haverhill Dec. 23rd. Nightjar: No comprehensive surveys were undertaken but based u p o n the plentiful records received there has been n o dramatic decrease either on the coast or the Brecks; at least 20 males were located at Minsmere. Away f r o m the traditional breeding areas, a ' c h u r r i n g ' male was at Haverhill May •2th and a passage migrant at H o l b r o o k May 4th. s

wift: The only April records occurred at Minsmere 27th and Haverhill 29th (two). A general arrival took place during the first ten days of May. Totals at Alton Water increased rapidly f r o m 50 May 4th u p to 2,000 May 15th — 1,000 were still present on June 7th.


Breeding success was generally considered to have been above average; a pair bred in the wall of Framlingham Castle. Most of the breeding population had departed by mid August. 1,250 had gathered over Trimley Lake July 23rd and "large scale" southerly movements were recorded at Felixstowe, Saxmundham and Lowestoft during Aug. 7th and 8th. Landguard recorded the only significant September totals with 50 on 2nd and 76 next day. The sole October record occurred at Kesingland 31st. After the events of recent autumns, November records are no longer looked upon as being exceptionally scarce; this year one was in the Gunton/Lowestoft area 7th. Kingfisher: Although there were sightings at about 70 localities most of these occurred during the winter months and it is intriguing to speculate as to the origins of many of these birds. Breeding was confirmed at seven sites; a pair bred for the fourth successive year in a dry gravel pit in the Stour valley. Unusual sights were of one flying south along the tideline at Easton Bavents, Sept. 29th and another feeding on Common Newts at Great Bricett in September. Hoopoe: Three typically dated spring records at Walberswick May 1st to 3rd (CSW); Wissett, May 18th (GB, M A H ) and Darsham, June 8th (NG). Wryneck: The only spring passage records were at Minsmere and Southwold both on May 3rd. Autumn movements commenced in August with reports from Ipswich 12th and Benacre 13th. The main phase of passage occurred during the last week of August and first week of September with sightings at Benacre, Kessingland, Landguard and Bawdsey on the coast and at Ousden and Great Barton inland. Late September reports were from Gunton 22nd and Landguard 24th to 28th. The most unexpected sighting of the year occurred at Benacre on the exceptionally late dates of Nov. 6th to 8th — this is the county's latest ever recorded date. Green Woodpecker: When compared with recent years, this year's total of reports from 88 sites indicates a remarkably stable population. Nine were located at Dunwich Forest, Mar. 29th and up to eight at Benacre in July. Two spent the whole afternoon of Aug. 10th on the wooden telephone poles crossing Dunwich Heath. Havergate Island's sole record of the year occurred on Jan. 16th. Great Spotted Woodpecker: This species was well reported with sightings from up to 110 localities (106 in 1985). Indications of coastal autumn passage came from Landguard with reports on five dates between Sept. 21st and Oct. 9th, and Minsmere where one was seen flying along the beach Nov. 4th. Early drumming was heard at Needham Market, Jan. 1st. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Only reported from 60 sites (89 in 1985). Interesting sightings were of single birds feeding on dead nettle stems at Lackford Mar. 31st and dead thistle stems at Sproughton, Dec. 10th. A female accompanied a tit flock at West Stow, Dec. 14th. Woodlark: It is again pleasing to report that the increased breeding population of recent years was maintained with at least 50 singing males being reported (see page 69). With the increased availability of suitable habitat, at least in the short-term, it is to be hoped that this species will increase still further. A single coastal migrant was noted at Landguard, Sept. 30th and the only winter record was of six birds at Sutton Heath, Jan. 26th. 42

Skylark: Largest wintering flocks were 1,000, River Aide area, Feb. 9th; 350 Claydon, Feb. 5th and 200 at Bury St. E d m u n d s and Great Welnetham in February. Immigration was noted at a n u m b e r of coastal sites f r o m Oct. 2nd to Nov. 5th with main n u m b e r s recorded on N o v . 2nd including 137 in three hours at Benacre, 137 at Landguard and 60 at Aldeburgh. Shore Lark: Ten recorded at Felixstowe Ferry, Mar. 2nd is the largest county flock since 1981. Early year reports were f r o m S l a u g h d e n / A l d e b u r g h area, J a n . 1st, six Jan. 4th, five J a n . 16th and two with Skylarks at S u d b o u r n e Marshes, J a n . 15th. An obliging bird present at L a n d g u a r d , Oct. 6th to 14th satisfied many observers. Two were at Lowestoft Denes, Oct. 7th and 12th and Nov. 4th. Sand Martin: T h e population of this species has long been subject to peaks and troughs due to the frequent droughts in the Sahel region of Africa, the birds' wintering grounds. Mead C . (BTO News N o . 149) states " O v e r the last 20 years Sand Martin populations summering in Britain have d r o p p e d 90°/o-95% to j u d g e f r o m the records of experienced observers and active r i n g e r s " . It is therefore pleasing to see an apparent recovery, f r o m the 1984 population crash, with increased numbers at breeding colonies during 1986. In spite of a generally late spring for many migrants there were several March records: Benacre 21st; three Haverhill 28th; L a c k f o r d G . P . 28th; and three increasing to f o u r Thorpeness 28th t o 30th. April records were few until the last week when 70 were at Livermere, 28th and 100 Minsmere 30th. Breeding success was variable with increases over 1985 reported at Minsmere and Lackford G. P . ; a reduction noted at C o r t o n was probably due to cliff falls. Up to 900 nest holes were counted in the Benacre/Southwold area. Breeding was also reported f r o m a n u m b e r of other sites. It would be useful if observers could undertake to count their local breeding colonies and report progress during the next few years. Maximum n u m b e r s reported were c400 L a c k f o r d G . P . May 12th; 500 Southwold Aug. 9th and 600 Minsmere A u g . 17th. Main coastal movements were at L a n d g u a r d Sept. 2nd (175) a n d Sept. 6th (151). Latest recorded date was Oct. 29th Dunwich. Swallow: Although first recorded at Haverhill Mar. 30th and at Havergate A p r . 6th, arrivals in most of the county were late and did not appear until the last week of April. Again several observers reported a reduction in breeding numbers, although there is some evidence this may have been offset by higher success rates. Reedbed roosts included c2,500 at Minsmere Sept. 6th with up to 400 present f o r most of the m o n t h . Coastal passage peaked at Havergate with 3 0 0 + Sept. 8th and at Landguard with 850 Sept. 2nd, 990 Sept. 20th and 800 in October mostly in the first week. November reports totalled 28 birds from nine localities with final records from Benacre and Minsmere on Dec. 6th. Albino birds were recorded at Dunwich Sept. 9th and Kessingland Sept. 26th. House Martin: T h e only March record was of five Haverhill M a r . 30th. As with the other hirundines most arrival dates were late and a p a r t f r o m Minsmere and Livermere A p r . 20th and Trimley A p r . 21st, most sites had to wait until t h e last week of April or early M a y .

The breeding season appears to have been successful, with many observers reporting good numbers. At Walpole one pair built a " c u p - s h a p e d " nest on a window ledge similar to a Swallow's design — obviously had the wrong plans! Several observers reported accumulating flocks of 200-300 late A u g . / S e p t . at a number of sites, and main coastal movements were noted at Landguard with 2,800 south in September and peaks of 800 Sept. 6th and 410 Sept. 20th. November records totalled 160 (90 in 1985) and the last sighting was at Walberswick Dec. 6th. Tree Pipit: Continues to be well represented in both the Breck and coastal areas with numbers similar to 1985 although it is probable that this species is still underrecorded. First arrivals at breeding sites were Sutton Heath Apr. 21st and King's Forest Apr. 27th (three). Spring coastal passage was again sparse, but autumn movements at Landguard totalled 33 from Aug. 16th to Oct. 9th. Meadow Pipit: Recorded in all months at Landguard but few f r o m elsewhere of wintering or breeding birds. First spring migration was noted at Melton Mar. 14th and c40 West Stow Mar. 22nd. At Landguard 12 were seen coming in off the sea Apr. 1st. Main autumn movements were in September with peaks of 200 Sizewell 26th and 150+ Minsmere on 30th. At Landguard southerly movements totalling 265 birds were noted on eight dates from 9th with clOO present 26th. Increased numbers were also reported from Haverhill, U f f o r d , Felixstowe Ferry and Kessingland during the month. October records included southerly passage at Landguard on 10 dates with 43 in off the sea on 1st. Rock Pipit: More widespread during the first winter period when it was recorded from 22 coastal/estuarine sites. Most birds occurred in January when 40-50 were present, with at least 11 at Felixstowe Ferry 12th. Finally recorded at Martlesham Creek Mar. 27th. In the autumn present again from Sept. 21st with six in the River Aide/Ore area increasing to eight Oct. 19th and Nov. 16th. Also frequently recorded at Benacre from Oct. 7th when five were present and at Landguard from Sept. 22nd. Up to 12 were counted on the River Orwell Nov. 16th. There were no records from inland sites in the spring, but autumn reports were of single birds at Haverhill Oct. 14th; Livermere Nov. 2nd and Sproughton B. F. Pits Dec. 24th. Water Pipit: Single birds were at coastal sites from Benacre to Southwold on various dates during January to March. At Minsmere singles were also seen on a few dates to the end of February, but on Mar. 16th six were on site as were three Rock Pipits; a late bird was present Apr. 24th. In the south of the county the only record was of two at King's Fleet Mar. 9th. The first late autumn date was of two at Easton Broad from Nov. 8th and four dates of single birds at Benacre during November and December. Two were present at Walberswick and one at Minsmere throughout December. Yellow Wagtail: Following the first sighting on April 1st at Havergate there were only four records up to Apr. 16th, with a general increase occurring from Apr. 20th to early May. 44

Spring coastal passage was recorded from Minsmere and Landguard only, the former site having five in off the sea May 2nd. At Landguard 62 were recorded up to May 18th of which 60% were moving south. Spring records were received from 40 areas, of which 22 were during the breeding period including 11 definite breeding records. Although some numbers occurred in August with Havergate peaking at 18 Aug. 22nd and Landguard at 31 Aug. 30th, the main return movement was in September with a heavy passage noted at Shotley and a total of 145 moving south at Landguard over 23 dates, the highest recorded for the site. Single birds were also noted up to October 10th. A very late first-winter individual was present at Holbrook from Dec. 27th onwards into the new year (JLe). This is the first known instance of attempted overwintering in the County. The February 1942 bird could well have been an early summer migrant. Blue-headed Wagtail: Two birds were at Southwold Apr. 25th and two males at Easton Broad Apr. 26th. At Gunton one was on a playing field with Yellow Wagtails, Apr. 30th. May records included a male at King's Fleet 16th, and one at Bramford G. P. 25th. Grey Wagtail: There were five successful breeding records of which two were in East Suffolk. In addition, birds were present at a further six potential sites in West Suffolk during the breeding period. Sightings in the first winter period were reported from 15 locations including four in East Suffolk, but late autumn records show a far wider spread with 31 reports of which 14 were in the eastern part of the county. Some southerly movement was noted at Landguard during September with a total of ten birds over seven dates, and three singles in early October. Pied Wagtail: A roost of 150+ was found at Sutton Heath Jan. 5th and consistently large numbers were at Cornard Mere on several dates peaking at c300 Oct. 5th. The traditional roost at Bourne Park, Ipswich, peaked in October holding some 400 birds. Roosts were also reported from Minsmere, Haverhill and Thurston. Southerly passage at Landguard totalled 120 birds during September and October with a peak of 27 Oct. 6th. White Wagtail: There were 24 records at coastal sites from Mar. 17th Benacre (three) to May 8th Felixstowe; maximum was of four Easton Bavents Apr. 26th. Inland sightings totalling 13 reports were at Cornard Mere, Haverhill, Thorington Street, Long Melford and Alton Water, the latter site having five records in April. There were no autumn records. Waxwing: With a total of 27 this was easily the best year since 1975. During the first winter period the most reliable birds were three in the Oulton Broad/Lowestoft area from Feb. 18th to Mar. 9th. Most reports were within the sixweek period to mid-February. The only exception was one in Ipswich Mar. 14th. Largest flock was seven at Gunton Jan. 29th. In December four were at Santon Downham "just before Christmas" and five at Reydon from Dec. 23rd to 31st. One bird was found dead at Wenhaston Dec. 29th.


Wren: Although records for January confirmed reasonable numbers, virtually all observers reported drastic reductions by March following the severe frosts in February. Estimates of reductions varied from 50% at Thorington Street to 100% at Bradfield Combust, Woolverstone and Foxhall. Dunnock: Autumn passage of cl 10 was noted at Landguard from Sept. 19th to Oct. 17th with peaks of 20 Sept. 23rd and 25 Oct. 16th. Robin: Movements through Landguard occurred largely from Sept. 14th to Oct. 18th with up to 20 migrants present on several dates. Six in cliff-top bushes at Sizewell Oct. 5th were possible migrants. Nightingale: A good year with 150 singing males, and increases reported at Newbourne, Thorington Street and a slight increase in the Brecks. However Minsmere had a disappointing year with only c30 pairs. A small movement, involving five birds, was noted at Landguard f r o m Aug. 14th to Sept. 7th, and Minsmere recorded singles Aug. 28th and 31st. Black Redstart: A total of 40 territories was held with at least 22 pairs breeding. This compares favourably with 38 and 22 respectively in 1985. However, it has to be remembered that as the Watsonian County boundary was reintroduced this year for recording purposes, 1986 records include the Gorleston area which contained five territories and at least one breeding pair. There was overall therefore an apparent slight reduction compared with 1985. (See page 70). Main breeding areas were again at Ipswich, Felixstowe and Lowestoft with two pairs also successful at Haverhill. Recorded in all months, the first at Slaughden Jan. 1st and at the year's end there were at least three wintering at Felixstowe Docks during December. Coastal passage was noted at Landguard from Mar. 15th to early May with peaks of eight and nine on Apr. 15th and 18th respectively. Autumn movements were recorded at Landguard f r o m Sept. 11th with a maximum of ten Oct. 19th coinciding with a Lowestoft peak during mid-October. At Minsmere one bird was so keen to be recorded that it was found perching on the observer's cycle! Redstart: Unfortunately the trend continues in the reducing breeding numbers which now total only 25-30 pairs. Improved reporting from the Brecks this year involving c l 2 pairs has helped to offset the reduction to 2-3 pairs at Minsmere. Other coastal sites reported c l 3 pairs. One pair bred at Haverhill. First seen at Minsmere and Landguard Apr. 18th; five were singing at Staverton by Apr. 26th. Autumn movements from late August were reported from a number of coastal sites and at Landguard numbers passing through were at the highest level in recent years; a 'fall' Sept. 13th/14th resulted in 35 being on site. Whinchat: Only nine breeding pairs reported including eight from West Suffolk. This is less than half the 1985 figure and suggests that some Breck areas may have been overlooked. Spring coastal movements commenced with one at Minsmere Apr. 26th and a few filtered through generally to May 19th. Autumn passage commenced Aug. 10th at Minsmere followed by reports from 16 coastal sites to end of September mostly of one or two birds. Peaks were eight at


Boyton Aug. 24th; six at Landguard Sept. 14th; seven Benacre Sept. 20th and "many" passing through at Gunton Aug. 20th to 26th. Last seen Oct. 17th Lowestoft Denes.


— Malcolm


Stonechat: A slight improvement in the breeding population with 12 pairs reported; eight were in the coastal belt and four in the Brecks. Wintering reports totalled 18 birds from Kessingland to Felixstowe Ferry and three in the Brecks. Wheatear: The breeding population appears to be stable at about 19 pairs with nine in the coastal belt and ten in West Suffolk. One pair bred on Woodbridge Airfield so obviously noise is not a problem! First seen at Whitehouse, Ipswich Mar. 15th followed by 14 sightings during the rest of March of mainly single birds including six in West Suffolk. Spring movements at Landguard peaked at 17 Apr. 2nd and 20 Apr. 3rd. The return autumn passage commenced with singles at Landguard, Aug. 10th, increasing to ten by the month's end. Peak movements occurred during the period Sept. 14th to 21st when about 25 were present at Landguard and eight at Minsmere. The last record was of a single at Sudbourne Nov. 2nd. Ring Ouzel: Over 30 records in the spring from six sites, the first being at Eriswell Apr. 5th. Most birds arrived from late April to May 5th and none were recorded after the latter date. Only six were seen in the autumn with one arriving at Landguard Oct. 9th, and, unusually, staying until Nov. 2nd. Other sightings were at Ipswich and Walberswick and one was at Haverhill Oct. 25th and 26th. Latest date was one at Landguard Nov. 20th. Blackbird: Some immigration was recorded at four coastal sites in early February coinciding with a period of east and north easterly winds and the commencement of a period of severe frosts. Minsmere reported up to 100 Feb. 9th and increases were noted at Woolverstone Feb. 5th; Landguard Feb. 8th and Walberswick Feb. 12th and 15th. Some mortality was noted in the Long Melford area during the month. In March 'falls' occurred at Landguard on 12th (40); 15th (30); and 17th (30) all during foggy weather.


Autumn migration was more dramatic with heavy influxes on many dates from Oct. 12th to Nov. 30th. At Landguard a 'fall' of c200 was apparent Oct. 18th and a record 115 were ringed over the 18th/19th period. At the same locality on Nov. 2nd C200/300 were seen coming in off the sea which coincided with very large numbers heading inland at Lowestoft. At Landguard a resident female in partial albinistic plumage showed a Ring Ouzel's characteristic white gorget, in certain profiles, which confused a number of visitors. Fieldfare: Apart from a flock of c500 at Shingle Street Jan. 5th, low numbers were reported early in the year especially in West Suffolk. Largest spring records were of 370 Eriswell Mar. 9th and a passage of " h u n d r e d s " at Bradfield Combust Mar. 20th. Latest spring date was of one Landguard May 4th. In the autumn the first bird was recorded at Landguard Oct. 1st but notable numbers did not commence until Oct. 24th when immigration was noted at Lowestoft and Landguard. By early November large flocks were present with 820 moving west at Tuddenham (East) Nov. 2nd; 350 Cavenham Heath Nov. 5th and 500 Haverhill Nov. 18th. By the year's end the species was conspicuous by its absence in many areas. Song Thrush: Small spring movements noted at Woolverstone Feb. 5th and at Landguard Feb. 8th and 9th and again Mar. 17th to 20th. Most autumn passage occurred from Sept. 24th to Oct. 18th and small peaks were evident at Landguard on Sept. 25th, 30th, Oct. 1st, 6th and 18th. Overnight movement was recorded at Felixstowe Oct. 12th/13th. One bird was singing well in Ipswich Dec. 9th to 12th. Redwing: Although a number of observers reported very low numbers in January/ February especially in West Suffolk, large flocks were to be found at Shingle Street Jan. 5th where 500 were with Fieldfares; Holywells Park, Ipswich with 100 Jan. 20th and 100 Woolverstone Feb. 7th. The main spring return movement occurred between Mar. 17th and 31st. A large pasage at Bradfield Combust from Mar. 20th to 27th included one flock of 200. Other large numbers reported were 150+ Alton Water Mar. 22nd and 50 Mendlesham Mar. 19th. Two males were singing at a coastal site May 17th. The first returning autumn bird was at Landguard Sept. 24th although it was not until Oct. 7th that the first main passage occurred at Woodbridge. Overnight immigration was noted at Felixstowe Oct. 12th and 13th and 200 moved south at Landguard on the latter date. Largest flock recorded was c400 at Cavenham Heath Nov. 22nd, although many West Suffolk areas reported very small numbers in December. Mistle Thrush: Only a few records were received. Visits to bird tables were noted at Walpole and Felixstowe, no doubt encouraged by the onset of adverse weather conditions. A considerable increase in numbers occurred at Bradfield Combust from mid August and into September perhaps influenced by the availability of fruit supplies. Churchyards with berry-bearing trees and shrubs are a frequent haunt of this species; such localities held 25-30 at Aldringham Jan. 12th and 13 at Stutton Nov. 8th.


Plate 13: Woodlark: ÂĄggÂż

53-56 pairs were found

in Suffolk

during the B1U survey of Photo Roger Tidman

Plate 14: Marsh Tit at Picnic Site adjacent to Staverton Park,


P h o t o Steve Piotrowski

Piale 16: Adult male Black Redstart at Landguard. The county-wide survey revealed a total of 40 occupied territories. Photo Roger Beecroft

Plate 15: Juvenile Marsh Harrier just prior to fledging. Photo Steve Piotrowski

Plate 17: Nest and chicks of Black Redstart situated amongst the noisy machinery of Hall's gravel plant at Landguard. Photo Roger Beecroft

Ceiti's Warbler: The severe weather in February ensured that there was to be no quick recovery in numbers after the almost total decimation of the population in similar conditions in 1985; only four single maies could be found in the coastal région. In the autumn singles were recorded at Benacre (September), Reydon (October and November), and South Cove (November). This is disappointing after the population builcf up of the last few years with a marked spread in 1984, though, on a brighter note, this species has survived East Anglian cold winters in Norfolk's Broadland. If we were to have a cycle of mild winters, the species could spread back again in numbers to its former haunts. Grasshopper Warbler: Only a scattering of information was received for this species. The total of 15 reeling maies recorded from 11 sites is considered to be well down on the actual numbers presènt in the county. Recorded inland at Redgrave Fen, Lakenheath Fen and near Thetford. Savi's Warbler: One pair present at a coastal site from May to July bred successfully, rearing two juveniles. Recorded at another coastal site in the first week of May. This species is just holding on as a breeder on the north western limit of its European range. Sedge Warbler: The first arrivais were noted at Landguard Apr. l l t h and at Minsmere from Apr. 17th. An abundant breeding bird throughout the county in suitable habitat. A census in the Stour Valley, (Glemsford to Long Melford) recorded 35 pairs, as compared with 25 in 1985. The last recorded migrant was at Landguard Oct. 6th. Marsh Warbler: Addition to the county list. At Walberswick in song June Ist (AAKL, CSW). See note on page 64. Reed Warbler: First recorded at Holbrook Apr. 25th. An abundant breeding bird throu^Jiout the county in areas of suitable habitat. A census in the Stour Valley, (Glemsford to Long Melford) recorded 16 pairs as compared with 30 in 1983. Last recorded migrant was at Landguard Oct. 12th. Icterine Warbler: Only two autumn migrants were seen, one at Landguard Aug. 1 lth and 12th, and another there Aug. 23rd (LBO). One singing at Minsmere, June 24th, constitutes the county's third spring record (IPR, JS). Barred Warbler: At Landguard one Aug. 25th and a first year bird from Oct. 5th to 13th (LBO). Subalpine Warbler: Addition to the county list. At Landguard a maie trapped Sept. 25th stayed till Oct. 2nd. This bird showed the characteristics of the eastern race Sylvia cantillans albislriala (MJB, LBO). See note on page 63. '-esser Whitethroat: In the Stour valley between Glemsford and Long Melford there ere s j x p a j r s a s C O mpared with one pair in 1985. There was a good autumn passage from Aug. 12th (Levington), with a maximum °f 15 at Minsmere Sept. 20th and five at Benacre Sept. 21st. In October singles were ^ n at Thorpeness, Minsmere and Landguard (two Oct. l l t h ) and last recorded at •he latter site Oct. 19th. w



Warbler — Barry


Whitethroat: The first arrivals on the coast and inland were on Apr. 24th at Landguard and Rodbridge respectively. Observers' records indicate a welcome rise in the county population though on a small scale. In the north west of the county numbers appeared to be greatly increased compared with recent years. At Thorington Street numbers were up 50% whilst in the Stour valley (Glemsford to Long Melford) there were 13 pairs as compared with 11 pairs in 1985. At Moreton Hall, near Bury St. Edmunds there were four pairs present instead of the usual one or two pairs. There was a light autumn passage and October records were singles at Cornard Mere 5th and at Minsmere 6th. Garden Warbler: There were two April reports, Minsmere 28th and Foxhall 29th. It was considered to have been an excellent breeding season with an increase compared with 1985. There was a regular passage through Landguard and with continuous coverage of that site on an observatory basis, the following figures emerge; recorded on 19 days in August (commencing on 9th) with one to four present, 23 days in September with one to six present, eight days in October (up to the 14th) with one to two present. Finally the last one was ringed there on the late date of Nov. 6th. Blackcap: During the first winter period singles were at Woodbridge Jan. 1st; Capei St. Mary Feb. 9th; Ipswich Mar. 8th and Felixstowe from Feb. 17th through to Mar. 25th with two present Mar. 21st. At Shotley one overwintered from 1985. 27 pairs were located in the Stour valley (Glemsford to Long Melford) as compared with 15 pairs in 1985. In the autumn, recorded at Landguard on 28 days in October with a maximum of 12 on the 6th and 8th, and singles on six days in November with two on the 22nd.


Very late arrivals of probable wintering birds occurred at Landguard Dec. 20th, and at Felixstowe Dec. 27th and 28th.

Greenish Warbler: At Lowestoft one Sept. 20th to 22nd (BJB, TMB). This is the second county record, (see note on page 65). Yellow-browed Warbler: The increased occurrence of this species continued for the third successive autumn. Seven were recorded, all at Landguard, with up to three present during the period Sept. 25th to 28th, singles on Oct. 5th to 7th, 11th, 18th and 19th. Finally one was recorded on Nov. 13th (LBO) which is the county's latest record. Wood Warbler: There were no breeding records but up to four singing males were located in May and June. Autumn migrants were at Landguard Aug. 20th and Sept. 1st (LBO), and Reydon Sept. 7th (MSF). Chiffchaff: In November, passage birds were recorded at Landguard on 11 days up to 29th with two present 28th. In the second winter period all wintering records were for the month of December, from Walberswick, Dunwich, Minsmere, Thorpeness, Melton, Long Melford and Thurlow. Willow Warbler: The first were recorded Mar. 29th at Lackford and Haverhill. Peak days at Landguard in May were 13th (30), 14th (20) and 16th (20), and in August, 16th (30) and 24th (30). Last one at Landguard on Oct. 12th. Goldcrest: A common breeding bird in the county with no marked " f a l l s " this year 'n eithr spring or autumn. Peak numbers at Landguard were 30 Oct. 18th and 20 Nov. 2nd. 51

Firecrest: Spring migrants only totalled 14 between Apr. 10th and May 5th at Landguard, Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Minsmere, Benacre, Kessingland and Lowestoft. There were no breeding records nor any sight records at all during the summer. Autumn passage was from Aug. 7th (Reydon) to Nov. 30th (Benacre) mainly singles but up to three at Landguard in November. In the second winter period up to two wintering birds were at Minsmere in December. Spotted Flycatcher: Spring passage started May 2nd with no high numbers recorded. Breeding totals were much as in 1985 with perhaps a slight improvement. There were four pairs at Haverhill; 13 pairs Glemsford to Long Melford and seven pairs at Stradishall. Autumn passage commenced in August and the highest numbers were 15 at Claydon Aug. 31st; 15 at Eastbridge Sept. 2nd and five in Christchurch Park, Ipswich Sept. 22nd. Finally there were three at Landguard Oct. 6th.


Flycatcher — George Bro wn

Red-breasted Flycatcher: At Lowestoft one Oct. 18th (BJB). Pied Flycatcher: There were three spring records, males at Minsmere May 2nd and 3rd and Wetherden May 13th and a female at Woodbridge May 5th. Autumn passage was recorded from Aug. 11th at Gunton and consisted mainly of singles at 13 sites with highest numbers at Landguard where there were seven Sept. 17th and 15 Sept. 14th. The last one recorded was at the latter site Oct. 13th. Bearded Tit: Up to ten at Bromeswell, Flatford and Snape were the only first winter period reports away from the breeding areas. Based upon mid-summer observations, this species bred at Easton and Benacre Broads, Walberswick and Minsmere; the potential breeding population at this latter site was considered to be very low in April but by late August up to 100 were present on the reserve.


1 Eruptive behaviour was noted at Minsmere t h r o u g h o u t September but the intended destination of these birds was apparently outside S u f f o l k where the first arrivals back at the traditional wintering sites were not generally noted until November. There were reports f r o m 11 coastal region non-breeding sites including up to 30 at F l a t f o r d f r o m N o v . 22nd onwards and a r e m a r k a b l e record of one in a small patch of reeds in C h a n t r y P a r k , Ipswich Dec. 2nd to 4th. There were no reports f r o m West S u f f o l k this year. Long-tailed Tit: There were some conflicting breeding season reports; at T h o r i n g t o n Street and Bradfield C o m b u s t big decreases were recorded and blamed u p o n the harsh weather in February and the cool, wet spring, while at Bromeswell a C o m m o n Bird Census revealed that " g o o d numbers were m a i n t a i n e d " . The largest reported flocks were of 70 Minsmere Dec. 17th; 31 Dunwich Forest Feb. 15th and 30 Belstead J a n . 16th. The only sightings at L a n d g u a r d were on Oct. 8th (ten) and Nov. 2nd. Marsh Tit: Reports were received f r o m 32 sites (32 in 1985) but breeding pairs were only noted at Minsmere, G l e m s f o r d , Haverhill and Livermere. A mixed tit flock at Minsmere Dec. 28th totalled almost 80 birds but only two were of this species. Willow Tit: Noted at 16 widely scattered sites (17 in 1985). T h e only breeding pairs to be reported were at Minsmere and at Haverhill where five young were reared. Coal Tit: T h e highest counts were of at least 20 West Stow May 6th and 13 in the Minsmere tit flock Dec. 28th. Coastal migrants were at L a n d g u a r d A p r . 24th to 26th, Sept. 3rd and Sept. 20th. Blue Tit: A C o m m o n Bird Census at Bromeswell indicated a stable breeding population but at T h o r i n g t o n Street there was a decrease f r o m the usual six pairs down to two pairs. Coastal migration was recorded at L a n d g u a r d during Sept. 20th to Oct. 9th with maximum totals of 50 Sept. 26th, 40 Sept. 28th and 30 Oct. 9th. 47 were counted in the Minsmere tit flock Dec. 28th; the wintering population at Long Melford was considered to be much higher than in 1985. A flavistic bird was noted in a H o l b r o o k garden A p r . 16th and 17th. Great Tit: At T h o r i n g t o n Street only one pair bred in an area which usually has f o u r pairs and a m a r k e d decrease was recorded at Bromeswell. At Long Melford it was considered to be no longer as n u m e r o u s as the Blue Tit. The only a u t u m n coastal movemeni was of 20 Landguard Sept. 29th. A flock of 35 was on Hardwick H e a t h , Bury St. E d m u n d s Mar. 11th and the Minsmere tit flock on Dec. 28th held at least 17. A melanistic female, first noted at Long Melford in 1984, was still there in M a r c h . Nuthatch: Reported f r o m at least 50 sites (51 in 1985) of which six were in Ipswich. Ireecreeper: This species was possibly a victim of F e b r u a r y ' s harsh weather — reports were received f r o m only 40 sites (54 in 1985). O n e observer c o m m e n t e d that the species could not be f o u n d in several areas of suitable habitat t h r o u g h o u t the county. Seven accompanied a roving tit flock in woods at Darsham Oct. 4th. One was watched bathing in a puddle in a road at C a v e n h a m Dec. 9th; having bathed, it hopped across the asphalt surface before ascending a roadside tree. 53

Golden Oriole: The majority of reports from an established site referred to a minimum of three pairs but two nests were subject to disturbance from birdwatchers. Some foolhardy observers actually set up their tripods on a nearby railway line (see British Birds 79:458). A pair bred elsewhere and a singing male was located at a third site in early July. Passage migrants were at Minsmere May 2nd and 3rd and Haverhill May 11th. Red-backed Shrike: Another stage was reached in this species' relentless decline towards inevitable extinction as a British breeding bird when, for the first time, there was no known nesting success in our county; two pairs were located, one of which deserted after laying eggs, and the other bred with unknown success. A male frequented a former breeding site in early July. The only spring passage birds were at Carlton Colville June 7th and Bury St. Edmunds June 9th. Immature birds were noted on return passage at Landguard Aug. 8th to 12th; Benacre Aug. 17th and 18th and Minsmere Aug. 20th to 22nd, Sept. 13th and Sept. 23rd to 27th. Great Grey Shrike: The birds noted in late 1985 at Thorpeness, Cavenham and Lakenheath remained at those sites until Feb. 21st, Apr. 14th and Apr. 15th respectively. In addition there were sightings at Blythburgh Jan. 5th; Hessett Mar. 27th and 28th; Hinton Apr. 6th and Tunstall Jan. 27th to Apr. 13th. The only second winter period sighting was also the most interesting of the year; a bird trapped and ringed at Landguard Dec. 6th showed characteristics of the eastern racepallidirostris (MM) (See note on page 66); the only previous British records of this race occurred on Fair Isle, Shetland in September 1956 and October 1964. The Cavenham Heath bird was heard singing on Feb. 14th. Woodchat Shrike: There were two sightings of this south European species. The first, a male, occurred at Carlton Colville during June 1st to 11th and was seen by hundreds of observers; it was considered, by some observers, to show characteristics of the race badius which breeds on the islands in the western Mediterranean. (BJB, WM, MP et al). The second report was of a female discovered at Tunstall June 7th but which only remained there until the following day (LP, AM et al). Jay: The largest gatherings were 20 Tunstall Jan. 1st; 20 Minsmere Oct. 9th and 17 Dunwich Forest Oct. 4th. The species did not occur at Landguard this year and there was no direct evidence of coastal immigration or passage. Magpie: At least 25 pairs bred within three square miles of countryside at Long Melford where there were gatherings of 27 Mar. 17th and 18 Sept. 19th. Elsewhere the largest totals were 15 Gunton Jan. 11th; 15Flatford Mar. 9th and 15 Martlesham Mar. 22nd. On the coast there were sightings at Havergate, where the species is rare, May 11th and Landguard Oct. 10th. Jackdaw: Sightings of particular note were of one perched on a sheep's nose at Gazeley in late October (the sheep was unperturbed), and partial albinos at Cavenham Heath Feb. 23rd and Haverhill September to November. Rook: A pre-roosting flock at Culpho Oct. 12th contained at least 5,000 birds; the only other four figure gathering was of c 1,000 foraging in a stubble field at Nacton Aug. 28th. 54

Direct emigration was noted at Felixstowe Mar. 16th when 16 flew high eastwards out to sea. Immigration occurred during the first week of November at Benacre, Covehithe and Felixstowe but the largest total was of only 40 at the latter site on 4th. During the mild weather conditions that prevailed at the year's end, birds were seen back at nests in Halesworth Nov. 27th and Chelsworth Dec. 12th. Carrion Crow: The maximum total reported f r o m the Wherstead Strand roost site was only 86 Mar. 18th. Immigrants were observed coming in f r o m the sea at Aldeburgh Nov. 2nd (seven) and Benacre Nov. 4th (four). Hooded Crow: This nominate race is now something of a rarity in our county; the only confirmed reports were from Henham Jan. 26th (two) and Easton Bavents Dec. 1st. What was generally considered to have been either an aberrant Carrion Crow or a Carrion Crow x Hooded Crow hybrid caused much confusion in the OrfordRamsholt area during the first half of the year. Starling: The oniy reported count from a Suffolk roost was of c25,000 at the Minsmere reedbed in December, although a pre-roost gathering at Claydon on Feb. 2nd was considered to contain c40,000. From the direction of roost movements over East Bergholt, Felixstowe and the Ipswich area during the winter months it would appear that the birds' intended destination was a site in north-east Essex, possibly in the vicinity of Wrabness. Southerly autumn movements commenced at Landguard on Sept. 20th; peak October counts of passage birds were 3,500 Landguard 5th and 3,000 Havergate 18th. Diurnal immigration was recorded at several sites in early November and included 1,000 Benacre during 2nd and 3rd and 400 Aldeburgh 2nd. The holes created by a Woodcock foraging in a Felixstowe garden Feb. 18th were carefully inspected by a small enterprising group of Starlings presumably in the hope of finding some food overlooked by the wader. An albino was present in the Minsmere roosting flock in December. House Sparrow: The largest reported feeding flock was of c400 at Sproughton B. F. Pits Dec. 10th. 138 flew south at Landguard Sept. 27th but the site total for the whole of October was only 60. A leucistic bird frequented a Sudbourne garden in July. Tree Sparrow: Autumn passage was again very sparse at Landguard where only c90 were recorded between Sept. 6th and Nov. 2nd (75 in 1985; 475 in 1984; 4,675 in 1983). The only notable feeding flocks were 120 Lakenheath Dec. 21st and 70 Deben estuary Dec. 14th. At least three pairs bred in nestboxes at Great Waldingfield and a pair raised two broods from a nestbox at Worlingworth. Chaffinch: An exceptional autumn passage was recorded at Landguard principally in October when cl,550 were noted including peaks of 765 on 18th and 450 on 12th. The largest'feeding flocks were 100 Hinton Mar. 1st; 200 Thetford Forest Apr. 19th and 350 Sizewell Mar. 25th; these latter two reports probably refer to preemigration gatherings. 55

17 pairs were located in an area between Glemsford and Long Melford where only ten pairs had been recorded in 1985; however, a Common Bird Census carried out at Bromeswell recorded a marked decrease. A leucistic bird was at Eastbridge Apr. 20th. Brambling: This northern finch was very much in evidence during the early part of the year with reports f r o m 52 sites; although to some extent the distribution of reports reflects that of the more popular birdwatching areas, this species does appear to shun large tracts of central Suffolk. The largest flocks were 200 Cavenham Heath Feb. 14th and 200 Aldeburgh Feb. 20th and 28th. Landguard's only spring passage reports were two Mar. 19th and singles in April on 18th, 23rd and 25th. The only May sightings were singles at Tunstall 4th and Lakenheath 5th. Early autumn migrants were noted on Sept. 18th at Minsmere and Landguard; additional September reports included seven over Landguard 22nd and ten at Covehithe 25th. Coastal passage in October was mainly reported f r o m Landguard where the m o n t h ' s total was 105 with a peak of 40 on the 5th; elsewhere, 20 were at Benacre 4th. The largest feeding groups were located in December, principally in the Ipswich area; 60 were in Bourne Park 10th and 40 foraged beneath beech trees beside Clapgate Lane 28th while on Boxing Day there were up to 350 in the Chantry Park/Sproughton B. F. Pits area. The only other three figure count was of 110 at a Lakenheath roost, also on Boxing Day. Greenfinch: The total of 190 ringed at Landguard in February corroborates generalized reports of a large wintering population in the county during the early months; in addition there were 300 Ipswich Docks Feb. 12th to mid-March and 200 at a Hinton roost Mar. 1st. These high wintering totals were probably responsible for a record spring passage at Landguard f r o m mid-March to early May; monthly ringing totals at this site were: March — 312; April — 1,067 and May — 50. As in 1985, autumn passage totals were low; at Landguard only cl,250 were recorded between late August and late October with a peak day total of 455 Oct. 26th. Other reports during the late autumn were of up to 300 attracted to a field of sunflowers at Benacre during October; 250 Shotley Marshes Nov. 22nd and 340 roosting in a small reedbed in Chantry Park, Ipswich during December. Goldfinch: Wintering flocks are always scarce; the largest reported this year were 43 Cavenham Nov. 22nd; 30 Benacre Jan. 26th and 30 Lakenheath Dec. 21st. There were no reports of coastal spring passage. Nine breeding pairs were located between Glemsford and Long Melford in an area where 20 pairs had been present in 1985. Autumn movements at Landguard between Aug. 31st and Nov. 11th were on a very low scale; the overall figure was only 910 (2,200 in 1985; 24,275 in 1983) with a peak day total of 175 Oct. 23rd. Siskin: This species was abundant during the first winter period with reports from at least 55 sites. The largest of the many flocks were 210 Bromeswell Feb. 15th; 100 Hadleigh Jan. 18th; 100 West Stow Jan. 16th and 90 in Holywells Park, Ipswich in late January. Birds were noted feeding on peanuts contained in plastic mesh holders in gardens at Bury St. Edmunds, Felixstowe, Halesworth, Holbrook, Ipswich,


Southwold and Stowmarket. Between early February and late April, 189 were trapped and ringed in an Ipswich garden, (P. Newton). 18 spring passage migrants passed through Landguard during Apr. 5th to 27th. The only late spring and summer reports were from Sizewell May 25th and Long Melford July 6th; we would welcome any breeding season records from Breckland in 1987. The autumn passage total at Landguard was 140 between Sept. 16th and Nov. 27th. Despite this encouraging passage, second winter period totals were generally rather low. There were reports from about 25 sites and maximum totals of 50 Minsmere Dec. 17th and 25 Pinmill Dec. 10th. Linnet: Spring passage flocks were recorded in April and May both on the coast and inland; the largest gatherings were 250 Thetford Forest Apr. 19th; 200 Lowestoft Denes May 5th; 100 Barking May 4th and 100 Landguard May 26th. Decreased breeding populations were reported from Bradfield Combust and Long Melford. 300 were in a post-breeding flock at Levington Aug. 19th. Autumn passage at Landguard was again on a low scale; the season's total of 1,230 peaking at 350 Oct. 6th, is only just over lOVo of the 1983 figure of 11,650. Elsewhere, there were 400 at Bradfield Combust Sept. 30th and 200 Levington Oct. 15th. Twite: This rather inconspicuous finch is probably increasing as a winter visitor to our coast and estuaries. Notable first winter period gatherings were 278 River Aide estuary Feb. 9th; 180 Hemley Feb. 16th; 80 Levington Jan. 12th and 50 Walberswick Jan. 1st. About 50 were recorded on autumn passage at Landguard in October commencing on 8th. Coastal migrants elsewhere included 80 Walberswick Nov. 2nd; 60 Minsmere Oct. 31st and 50 Slaughden Oct. 16th. The Orwell saltings at Levington supported the largest feeding flock during the second winter period; site totals increased f r o m 200 Nov. 16th to 300 Dec. 7th then declined slightly to 250 Dec. 22nd. Elsewhere, there were 76 Sudbourne Dec. 5th and 40 Falkenham Nov. 16th. Redpoll: Breeding season reports were received f r o m at least 30 widespread sites (only 15 in 1985). The species was described as numerous in June at Martlesham and Tunstall; six pairs were located at Haverhill, five pairs at Moulton and Landguard recorded its first known breeding record. Notable wintering flocks included 150 Cavenham Dec. 21st; 120 West Stow Jan. 2nd; 110 Thetford Warren Apr. 19th; 100 Minsmere Dec. 14th and 100 Belstead during January and February. There were at least 20 Mealy Redpolls in the Thetford Warren flock; in addition, one or two birds of this nominate race were located during the first winter period at Alton Water, Long Melford and West Stow and one was trapped at Landguard Nov. 2nd. Only about 30 were recorded on autumn passage at Landguard between Sept. 21st and Nov. 30th (325 in 1985). Crossbill: As in 1985 there was evidence of mid-summer immigration particularly at Minsmere where there were 27 June 10th; 18 June 22nd; 13 July 9th and 20 July Hth; in addition, there were 12 on Hollesley Heath June 25th, and one flew north over Thorington Street June 30th. Reports during the early autumn away from the breeding areas were of five flying west over Oulton Broad Sept. 15th and one at Levington Aug. 31st.


Breeding site reports from the coast and Breckland indicated a stable population at present. A male was observed in song flight at Rendlesham Jan. 26th. Parrot Crossbill: Three, including one adult male were at a locality seven kilometres f r o m the 1984-85 site Mar. 8th (DC) and the male was seen again Mar. 17th (EWP). Bullfinch: In January there were flocks of 20 at Claydon and Long Melford. During harsh weather conditions, two were observed on the saltings at Felixstowe Ferry Feb. 10th. Reports f r o m Landguard that possibly indicate passage movement were of a male Apr. 2nd to 4th and three Nov. 4th. Hawfinch: This secretive species was reported from about 25 widespread localities but breeding was only proven at three sites. A female and three juveniles were watched feeding on cherry stones at a coastal site in late July. Lapland Bunting: 20 at Easton Bavents Jan. 5th constitute the county's largest ever recorded flock; only four could be located at the same site Jan. 12th. Elsewhere during January there were one or two at Minsmere and Sudbourne. The final sighting of the first winter period was of a female at Landguard Mar. 14th. One at Minsmere Sept. 9th equals the county's earliest recorded autumn date. The only October records were f r o m Sudbourne on 5th (three) and 17th (two). In November there were sightings at Easton Bavents 8th; Minsmere 19th and Walberswick 19th and up to six in the Sudbourne area 16th to 27th. Finally there were one or two at Minsmere Dec. 12th to 16th and singles on Dec. 14th at Landguard and the Deben estuary. Snow Bunting: The River Alde/Orfordness flock contained 121 Jan. 12th and 165 Feb. 9th; there were reports f r o m another nine coastal sites during the first winter period up to Mar. 21st with a maximum total of 62 Kessingland Feb. 13th. Autumn migrants were first noted on Sept. 13th but feeding flocks did not rapidly increase in size until November when there were counts of 120 Orfordness 24th; 75 Minsmere 2nd; 50 Kessingland 19th and 45 Easton Bavents 30th. Many of these birds remained into December with peak totals of 130 Sudbourne/Orfordness 20th; 70 Pakefield 14th; 60 Benacre 7th and 42 Minsmere 17th. Yellowhammer: Impressive totals were recorded during the cold weather in the first winter period; flocks totalling at least 700 were reported from the saltings and marshes bordering the Alde/Ore/Butley estuary complex Feb. 9th. Totals of 21 Feb. 21st; 20 Feb. 23rd and 40 Mar. 1st at Landguard are unprecedented for this site and 110 were at Lakenheath Feb. 9th. In late December there were 80 Lakenheath 21st and 80 Great Waldingfield 23rd. About 24 were noted on passage at Landguard Sept. 28th to Nov. 15th. Ortolan Bunting: During the autumn an immature was at Gunton Aug. 22nd (NCB). This is the fourth successive year that this species has occurred in the county. Little Bunting: A first year bird trapped and ringed at Landguard Oct. 10th is the first for the county since 1976 (MM, SHP). There have now been seven records for Suffolk totalling ten birds. (See page 68). Reed Bunting: The larges roosts were of 50 Cornard Mere Sept. 5th and 45 Lakenheath Dec. 21st. 58

17 pairs were located between Long Melford and Glemsford (12 in 1985). One was observed feeding a juvenile Cuckoo at Haverhill in mid-August. 36 passage migrants were recorded at Landguard during the period Sept. 19th to Nov. 17th. Corn Bunting: There were fewfcr breeding season reports than usual; away from the traditional south-east stronghold there were sightings at Cavenham, Haverhill, Lackford, Lakenheath and Theberton. The largest feeding flocks were at Sudbourne with 40 in January and 35 in late September. At the Cornard Mere roost 30 were present on Apr. 5th and 40 Dec. 14th; a late spring roost at Carlton Colville contained 28 May 7th. Direct evidence of coastal passage was restricted to seven flying south at Minsmere Feb. 5th probably in response to weather conditions. APPENDIX I — CATEGORY D SPECIES Wood Duck: Male at Kersey Dec. 12th. APPENDIX II — ESCAPEES Chilean Flamingo: Regularly reported at Benacre Broad from July 23rd onwards into September. Lesser White-fronted Goose: An adult in the Benacre area during the period Mar. 10th to June 23rd. Chiloe Wigeon: Male at Minsmere Apr. 3rd to 15th and again June 26th to 30th. Cape Teal: Present at Minsmere May 24th to June 16th. Ringed Teal: Noted at Livermere May 30th. Grey Parakeet: Reported from Minsmere Oct. 16th. Barbary Dove: Present with Collared Doves, Lowestoft Grain Silo, January and February. One hybridized with a Collared Dove at Ipswich. Cockatiel: Sightings at Landguard Aug. 13th and at Martlesham Heath Sept. 29th. Budgerigar: Amongst several observations were reports f r o m Landguard May 16th to 20th and July 20th. Indian Hill Mynah: Exotic visitor to the Southwold area in late March. Peach-faced Lovebird: Noted at Ferry Road, Felixstowe July 29th. Zebra Finch: Reported at Felixstowe Ferry July 22nd. In addition there were reports of Fulvous Whistling Duck, Black Swans, Barheaded Geese, Chinese Swan Goose, Emperor Geese and Peacocks. APPENDIX III — ADDITION TO 1982 REPORT Woodchat Shrike: One on Hollesley Common May 22nd and 23rd (AM, KS et al). APPENDIX IV — ADDITION TO 1985 REPORT Black Stork: One over Walberswick Sept. 6th (SJB, JT). Ninth county record. Long-billed Dowitcher: The dowitchers present at Alton Water Oct. 20th to Dec. 14th (JMC, FEE et al) and Minsmere Oct. 30th (TDC et al) have both been accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee as being Long-billed. On the assumption


that all previous dowitchers in S u f f o l k have been Long-billed, these t w o become the eighth and ninth county records. Claims of a Short-billed Dowitcher at Alton Water during late O c t o b e r and early November have not been accepted.



Garganey Hobby Stone Curlew Little Ringed Plover Whimbrel Wood Sandpiper Sandwich Tenn Common Tern Arctic Tern Little Tern Black Tern Turtle Dove Cuckoo Nightjar Swift Wryneck Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit M. flava Wagtail* Nightingale Redstart Whinchat Wheatear Ring Ouzel Grasshopper Warbler Savi's Warbler Sedge Warbler Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler Wood Warbler Willow Warbler Spotted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Red-backed Shrike

DEPARTURES Date Locality

ARRIVALS Date Locality

Apr. 9th May 7th Mar. 12th Mar. 23rd Apr. 8th Apr. 28th Mar. 17th Apr. 11th Apr. 16th Apr. 21st May 4th Apr. 21st Apr. 21st May 4th Apr. 27th May 3rd Mar. 21st Mar. 30th Mar. 30th Apr. 21st Apr. 1st Apr. 23rd Apr. 18th Apr. 26th Mar. 15th Apr. 5th Apr. 24th May 12th Apr. 16th Apr. 26th Apr. 23rd Apr. 24th Apr. 28th Apr. 20th Mar. 29th May 2nd May 2nd —

Hast bridge Thorington Street "Breckland" "Breckland" Havergate Minsmere Benacre Long Melford Minsmere Minsmere Benacre Minsmere Minsmere Holbrook Minsmere Minsmere; Southwold Benacre Haverhill Haverhill Sutton Havergate Aldeburgh Minsmere; Landguard Minsmere Ipswich Minsmere; Eriswell Minsmere "Coast" Landguard Minsmere Glemsford Landguard; Long Melford Minsmere Minsmere Haverhill; Lackford Bradfield; Cock field Minsmere —

* See Systematic List for details of overwintering bird. • Latest ever recorded date in Suffolk.


Sept. 28th Sept. 15th Sept. 28th Sept. 23rd Nov. 2nd Oct. 12th Oct. 12th Oct. 15th Nov. 1st Oct. 12th Sept. 20th Oct. 15th Oct. 2nd Aug. 16th Nov. 7th • Nov. 8th Oct. 29th Dec. 6th Dec. 6th Oct. 9th Oct. 10th Sept. 11th Oct. 28th Oct. 17th Nov. 2nd Nov. 20th

Minsmere Alton Water "Breckland" Minsmere Lowestoft; Covehithe Benacre Landguard Dunwich Sizewell Shotley Covehithe Haverhill Minsmere Rendlesham Lowestoft; Gunton Benacre Dunwich Benacre; Minsmere Walberswick Landguard Landguard Landguard Covehithe Lowestoft Sudbourne Landguard

Oct. 6th Oct. 12th Oct. 19th Oct. 6th Nov. 6th Sept. 7th Oct. 20th Oct. 6th Oct. 13th Sept. 27th

Landguard Landguard Landguard Minsmere Landguard Reydon Haverhill Landguard Landguard Minsmere

List of Contributors Abbot S., Allen C.B., Archer D.M., Arnold J., Ashton M.F., Askins J.R., Austin M. Baker D.B., Baker N . P . , Bakewell D.N., Balaam J., Bamber T.B., Banham N . J . , Baston W . Bedford J., Beecroft H . R . , Beecroft M . J . , Beecroft R.C., Beeson P . M . , Bell Rev. G., Bennett K., Biddle R., Bishop S., Blacker N.C., Bloomfield L.T., Botwright A., Bowden C.G.R., Bowen G.S., Boxali P., Briden H., British Trust for Ornithology, Brown B.J., Brown T.M., Bryers R . H . C . , Buckingham M., Buckton S.T., Bull A.L., Burneil S.J., Burnside M., Butcher H.Mck., Butcher I.G., Butterfield A., Buttle C.A. Carey G., Carter S., Cartwright C . G . , Cass M., Catchpole P., Cawston J.M., Charlton T.D., Chittleborough K.J., Clarke R.E., Coe E.M., Cornish C., Cornish W.R., Cotterill R., Crewe M., Croxson D., Curtis C . G . D . Dickson J.W., Dingle Bird Club, Dockerill H . W . , Dolton P . J . , Drake J., Dunnett G., Duval G.R. Easton A.C., Eaton J . C . , Edwards S., Ellis G.L., Elliston B.E., Elliston F.E., Evans L.G.R., Evans P. Fairhead R., F i n n e m o r e T . , Flint P.R., Forbes M.S., French F.J. Galton B.D., Garner H.K., Garner R . W . H . , Garrod J.D., Garrod K.W., Gee B.D., Gibbs D.J., Gibbs S.J., Gillard A.R., Gladwin Rev. T . W . , Glazebrook J . A . , Goddard W.A., Goldsmith T., Goodfellow A . P . , Goody A., Gowen P.R., Grant J . H . , Green L.A., Gregory A.M., Greco G., Grimwood N. Hall M.A., Hamilton S.G., Harper Dr. D.R., Harkness R.S., Harrington B., Harris S.P., Henshaw J., Hill A., Hill R.H., Hill W., Hoblyn R., Holmes M . J . , Holzer T., Hyde E.M. Ipswich Museum. Jackson P., Jakes C . J . , James M., Jeffrey H . G . , Jobson G . J . , Johnson D.P. Keer M.C., Kellow L.F., Kirtland C . A . E . , Knights G., Knights J., Krutysyce E. Lancaster A.A.K., Landguard Bird Observatory, Last A.J., Last W.A., Lawley J., Lawson P., LeggeÂť R.C., Lemmon W.C., Levene J., Liley D., Ling S., Longhurst J.B. Mackley A., Macklin R., MacLaughlin Z., Marginson S., Marsh M., Martin J . R . , Marvell A , Mason N., McKerness M., Mestjuita S., Miller A., Minihane J., Moore D.R., Moore J.L., Morley M . R . , Morris M.C., Murphy P.W., Mynott J., Mynott R. Nairn A.R., Naunton C.R., Newfort P., Newport P. Ockelton D.W. Packard M., Paine A . R . J . , Palmer T . W . , Parsons E., Partridge J., Patrick E.W., Patterson K., Payn W . H . , Pearson B.A., Peters I., Piotrowski S.H., Plumb W . J . , Pope A., Popplewell N., Porter R., Potter L.A., Powell D.R., Pritchard I. Raincock J., Ranner B., Ransome P . J . , Rayment N.W., Robertson K., Robertson M., Robinson I.P., Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Ruffell R.D., Ruffles C.P.S., Ruffles G. Seymour E., Simmonds Dr., M.J., Sims B., Smith D.F., Smith P . J . , Smith R.C., Smurthwaite R., Snook R., Sorensen J., Southerland P . J . , Spickett Dr. G . P . , Spickett S.A., Starling S., Steggall P., Stewart R., Stiff M.G., Stone W., Stones D., Stoper T., Suffolk Biological Records Centre, Suffolk Ornithologists' Group, Suffolk Trust for Nature Conservation, Sutherby J . C . , Swindin R. Taylor M.J.S., Taylor Dr. N.F., Taylor-Balls D.J., Terry D., Thomas M., Thompson B.G., Thomson W . E . , Tozer D.C., Tozer R.B., Turner J . A . , Turner M.N., Tuthill R., Tyler G.A. Varney T.F., Vine A.E. Waller C.S., Walsh D.F., Walsh I.R., Warren R.B., Warren Rev. R.G., Waters R.J., Weaver D.J., West R., Westcott A., Westcott D., White J . A . , Whitham P., Wood A., Wood Rev. J., Woodhouse B., Woolfries J., Woolnough J . H . , Worledge A., Wright M., Wright M.T. Youngs T.A.


Descriptions of county rarities 1986 Semipalmated Sandpiper — 'first' for Suffolk by D. J . W e a v e r On Aug. 6th at approximately 1900 hrs. I. P. Robinson showed m e a rough description he had taken of an unusual small wader briefly seen f r o m a 'Scrape' hide b e f o r e it flew out of sight with a flock of Dunlin and other species. Immediately we rushed to T h e Scrape (East Hide) joined by most of the voluntary wardens. After a quick search I noticed a small, dull looking 'stint' feeding a m o n g a loose flock of Dunlin beyond a distant island. IPR soon confirmed that this was the bird, and as it disappeared behind an island, I went to one of the adjacent public hides in hope of a better view. Due to the low sun it was just visible as a silhouette, but even then distinctly d i f f é r e n t , appearing slimmer a n d m o r e delicate than Little Stints feeding close by. T h e bill shape was also différent — straight, stubby and blunt-tipped — at once suggesting Semipalmated Sandpiper. By the time I had rejoined IPR it was showing much better and we soon came to the same conclusion. A brief joint description was taken. At a b o u t 0700 hrs. the following morning, I relocated the bird on arrivai at East Hide, and watched it in good light for over an hour d o w n to only 25-30 ft. A sketch and m o r e detailed description were p r o d u c e d , p h o t o s a t t e m p t e d , while a few more notes were a d d e d subsequently on occasionai sightings up to Aug. 15th. The bird stayed in the same general area providing good views to the many people w h o came to see it, often appearing even closer to the hide on occasions. A few observers who had seen the species in Sussex a few days earlier confirmed that this was a différent individual, showing a rather m o r e worn plumage than that bird. Description: Forehead/crown greyish/brown with centres to feathers showing as darkish streaks forming a distinct cap from base of bill to hindcrown. Supercilium whitish. Prominenl and broadening behind the eye, merging greyish into sides of nape. Lores blackish. Earcoverls greyish-buff. Although paler than the lores and crown, the ear-coverts formed the continuation of a distinct band through the eye, contrasting with the whitish supercilium and throat, and therefore obvious at some range. Chin/lhroal whitish. Nape pale greyish-buff and very finely streaked, merging into both the hind-crown and supercilia. Neck paler greyish-buff than nape but 'dirtier' than supercilia or throat. The paleness of the neck gave a distinct 'collared' effect, separating the nape from the mantle and emphasising the darker crown, ear coverts, and breast band. (The pencil sketch of the head shows this effect more clearly). Note In the morning sunlight on Aug. 7th to 8th rufous tinges were visible at close range on hindcrown, upper mantle and ear-coverts. Upper-breasl fine and dense greyish-buff streaking formed a distinct band across the breast, broadening on the shoulders and continuing along the foreflanks. Underparts white, some very fine streaking was just visible along the hind-flanks. Upperparts generally rather greyish. Since the bird was actually moulting out of breeding plumage, the feathers were rather untidy and indistinct, the majority being heavily abraded. The scapulars and tertials were particularly noticeable to this effect. Mande generally greyishbrown. Dark brownish centres formed heavy streaking particularly in the centre. Scapulars mostly blackish, or greyish-brown centred with pale-buff edges. Several were apparently being moulted out during the course of the birds stay. Terlials darkish-centred, pale worn fringes. Coverts greyish-brown centres, paler than scapulars. Rump dark centrai area, outer feathers distinctly whitish. Tail blackish. Soft parts black. The legs showed a slight greenish tinge in strong light, not thought to be the effect of wet mud.


Structure: This bird was often seen feeding together with several Little Stints throughout its stay, so direct comparisons could easily be made. At ail times it appeared slightly smaller, slimmer and more delicately built than any of these birds. The legs appeared to be thinner and slightly shorter. The différent bill-shape was probably one of the best distinctions, it was straight, deep based and blunt tipped, even appearing slightly upturned at some angles! Webbing between the toes was checked and visible at close range in good light on dry mud — palmations between inner/middle and outer/middle toes present. The primary tips appeared to project only very slightly beyond the tail tip. Behaviour: Feeding behaviour was similar to Little Stint though rather slower, but this may have been influenced by the appearance of one leg being injured causing a slight limp. This was particularly noticeable when feeding in soft mud, the bird tended to pick from the mud surface, rather than probe, with deliberate and slightly jerky movement, and a rather crouching gait. It covered the ground steadily and methodically and was never seen to run, preferring to forage thoroughly over a more limited area. When alarmed it would tend to crouch slightly, holding the head and body level while looking about. In flight or when disturbed it manoeuvred freely with the flock of Dunlin and Little Stints with which it associated throughout its stay. There appeared to be little or no aggression to it from other birds although on one occasion it was ushed away when close to a feeding Little Stint. I did not hear it call with certainty. Equally detailed descriptions were submitted by I. P. Robinson and J. H. Grant.

Subalpine Warbler — ' f i r s t ' for Suffolk by Muriel J . B e e c r o f t At cl 100 hrs. on Sept. 25th I noticed a Sylvia warbler moving through the tops of the bramble bushes on the ridge at L a n d g u a r d Bird Observatory. I was a b o u t 15 meters from the bird a n d with 1 0 x 50 binoculars was able to note the warm grey back, clear whitish moustachial stripe and brick red breast. Having seen this species in M a j o r c a and Southern Spain on a n u m b e r of occasions I immediately identified it as a male Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans. Unfortunately the bird then disappeared. This was somewhat disturbing as I was the only one to have seen it at this stage. However at c l 5 3 0 hrs, it reappeared feeding mainly in the brambles adjacent to the pond gun-emplacement and was then seen by H. R. Beecroft and D. Croxson. With the sun breaking through f r o m m i d - a f t e r n o o n it was then seen by many observers on a n u m b e r of occasions until d u s k . It stayed at L a n d g u a r d for eight days with the last sighting on Oct. 2nd. T h e bird was ringed on Sept. 26th. The following in the hand description was taken: Plumage: Crown, nape and ear-coverts blue grey; lores slightly darker; brick-red orbital eyering; orange-brown iris; white moustachial stripe; throat brick-red; mantle and back brownishgrey; breast brick-red with white edges; flanks pale orange-pink (paler than throat); belly white; under tail-coverts white, but brick-red near vent; under-feathering black. Wing: Primary coverts brown edged buff; alula dark brown faintly edged buff (darker than rest of wing); median coverts grey with brown centres; greater coverts brown edged buff tipped grey; primaries brown edged buff P.3-P.9 tipped pale grey; secondaries brown edged buff; tertials brown broadly edged buff; axillaries pinkish-white; under wing-coverts pale grey; overall condition of wing fresh. Rectrices: R.l (outer) white brown at base and inner edge; R.2 (2nd outer) broadly tipped white; R.3 tipped white (5mm); R.4 tipped white (2mm); central tail feathers dark brown. Soft parts: Upper mandible dark slate-grey; culmen pale grey; lower mandible pale grey at base, dark slate-grey at tip and slate-grey underside; cutting edges pale grey; gape flesh-pink; legs flesh-brown; soles dirty-flesh. Wing-formuta: Emarginated P.3/P.4/P.5 Wing-point P.3/P.4 2nd p. = P.5. Measurements: Wing (straightened) 64mm; bilí (from skull) 10mm; tarsus to toe 33mm; weight 15.5 gms.


It w a s n o t e d t h a t t h e L a n d g u a r d b i r d h a d b r o a d e r a n d m o r e p r o m i n e n t white m o u s t a c h i a l s t r i p e s a n d t h e t h r o a t f e a t h e r s w e r e t i p p e d w h i t e . In a d d i t i o n t h e r e was a clear d é m a r c a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e d a r k b r i c k - r e d t h r o a t a n d t h e whitish belly a n d there w a s little c o l o r a t i o n o n t h e f l a n k s . T h e s e f e a t u r e s c o n f o r m t o t h a t o f t h e eastern r a c e S. cantillans albis:riata ( R e f . W i l l i a m s o n K. 1976 Identification for Ringers) to w h i c h this b i r d is a t t r i b u t e d .

Marsh Warbler -

'first' for Suffolk

by A. A. K. L a n c a s t e r T h e b i r d w a s d e t e c t e d by s o n g s o m e 100 m é t r é s a w a y . A l t h o u g h f o l l o w e d f o r some c o n s i d é r a b l e t i m e d u r i n g t h e c o u r s e of t h e a f t e r n o o n , a c t u a l visual c o n t a c t was a l w a y s e x t r e m e l y m i n i m a l . T h e b i r d c o n f i n e d itself t o thick c o v e r , w h i c h w a s a large H a w t h o r n b u s h a n d tali u n d e r g r o w t h , c o n s i s t i n g of g r a s s e s , A n g e l i c a a n d Cow Parsley. Views a l w a y s b e i n g b r i e f , voice h o w e v e r w a s l o u d a n d f o r t h e m o s t part c o n t i n u o u s , o c c a s i o n a l l y g o i n g quiet w h e n f e e d i n g a m o n g s t g r o u n d c o v e r . Once, w h e n d i s t u r b e d , it flew s o m e 100 m e t r e s a n d d i s a p p e a r e d . It w a s , h o w e v e r , b a c k in t h e H a w t h o r n s o m e 25 m i n u t e s later. W h e n in t h e H a w t h o r n it w a s c o n t i n u a l l y on t h e m o v e . In flight it w a s n o t i c e a b l y p a l e . T h e flight w a s s t r o n g i s h a n d quite p u r p o s e f u l . A l t h o u g h never c o m p a r e d directly with a n y o t h e r species, it seemed to ali i n t e n t s a n d p u r p o s e s , R e e d W a r b l e r size.

Description: Typical Acrocephalus type, chunky with dagger-like head and bill, plumage lacking any obvious characteristics. Overall colour paler than Reed Warbler. Upperparis uniform olive-grey with no hint of warmth especially the rump the colour of which remained consistent. Underparts appeared to be paler than Reed Warbler's, being a whitish-stone colour as opposed to a pale buff. Buffish suffusion to sides of breast. Bird was never stili when in view, so unable to make anything of the primary projection or the supercilium. Structurally différent from Reed Warbler was its plumpish look to the belly région, looking in silhouette more like a Sylvia (Garden/Blackcap) than an Acrocephalus. This feature aided by the head shape appearing a little more rounded than Reed. In addition the bill seemed deeper at the base although length seemed same as Reed and its colour appeared to be predominantly a rather pleasant yellowish-orange; again it was not possible to assess the full extent of this coloration The legs were sturdy and noticeably pale in colour. Voice: This was most remarkable. Very musical and mimetical, sometimes extremely strident, other times subdued. Continuous when not feeding. Many European passerines clearly identifiable, often linked together with a Sylvia/Hippolais warble. Mimicked birds of particular note included: Yellow Wagtail: superb rendition of flight note, this repeated at one point over and over again, lasting for what must have ben some 10-12 seconds; White-throat: again very well mimicked including scolding alarm note churrs; Finches: included snatches of Goldfinch, Greenfinch and at one point a lengthy Serin trill. Also a Chaffinch 'pink' on severa! occasions. Frequently used a Swallow-like 'tysup' very loud and liquid in sound; Cetti's Warbler: the 'chup chup' was the first note I heard and initially drew my attention to the bird; Nightingale: alarm note was most impressive; Read/Sedge Warbler: again snatches of these two would be thrown in at random.

No one particular cali or song other than the Swallow-like 'tysup' and the warble dominated its repertoire.



Greenish Warbler — 'second' for Suffolk by Brian Brown ! On Sept. 20th my son and I were watching a Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca at ihe top of a large Sycamore tree in Belle View P a r k , L o w e s t o f t . 1 suddenly caught a brief view of a Phytloscopus warbler with a large eye-stripe. I suspected that it was a Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides, but as I had only seen the head and breast in the few seconds it was in view I stayed put and waited for it to reappear. This it did after a few minutes but equally as briefly and head on as before. After several minutes it appeared again and I got a hint of a wing-bar. It again disappeared for a b o u t a minute, but had moved down to some lower and more open trees and bushes in one of the p a r k ' s herbaceous borders by the time it had appeared again. It was now very easily viewed and we were able to move eventually to within five metres. We then noted the following: a b r o a d , long and very prominent supercilium with a slight kink above the ear-coverts; a single quite prominent wing-bar on the tips of the greater coverts, and n o hint of a second (upper bar); dark upper mandible with lower mainly yellow darkening towards the tip; very pale under-parts, o f f - w h i t e with n o hint of b u f f ; greyish-green upper-parts, with head noticeably greyer than back, and slightly darker stripe through the eye; bright green edges to outer tail feathers and secondaries, the latter forming a wing panel when wing closed. T h e bird was calling frequently with occasional bursts of song. We had no d o u b t whatsoever that the bird was a Greenish Warbler and f r o m the clean bright state of the plumage considered it to be a first-year individual. T h e latter point was confirmed by reference t o Svensson's " I d e n t i f i c a t i o n Guide to E u r o p e a n Passerines"; Williamson's " I d e n t i f i c a t i o n for R i n g e r s " Vol. 2, and Ticehurst's "Genus P h y l l o s c o p u s " . The bird stayed in Belle View P a r k and the adjacent Sparrows Nest G a r d e n s until Sept. 22nd working round a circuit of roughly 250 metres diameter. I watched it for a total of about three hours over the three days it was there. When the bird disappeared I was o f t e n able to relocate it by the call or song. However it invariably stopped singing a f t e r mid-day and then became more difficult to find. It was o f t e n out in the open in bright sunlight down to five metres, and occasionally at g r o u n d level which m a d e observation very easy. Description: Upper-parts greyish-green appearing much greener in good light than dull. Head forehead, crown and nape greyish with a tinge of greenish, noticeably greyer than rest of upper-parts in all lights; supercilium very prominent pale creamy-white, broadest just behind the eye and extending past ear-coverts onto nape (but not as far as in Arctic Warblers I have seen) where there was a slight kink (not as pronounced as Arctic Warbler's). A narrow stripe through the eye was of a darker greenish-grey than the upper-parts but not strikingly so. Earcoverts very pale and almost unmarked (difficult to observe) with an indistinct darker border around the lower edge. Under-parts chin to under-tail coverts whitish with a very pale greyish w ash and no buff. Wing primaries and secondaries brownish-grey, darker than rest of upperParts, secondaries with bright green edges forming a panel on the closed wing. The green was much more prominent in bright light. Coverts greyish-green, with whitish tips to the greaters forming a wing-bar which was very distinct and sharply defined in dull light or shade, but at limes quite indistinct in bright light. Alula dark, noticeably darker than rest of plumage. Tail dark greenish-grey, the outer feathers with bright green edges, much more noticeable in bright light. Legs brownish-gfey at the front, pinkish-grey at sides. Difficult to be precise as colour seemed to vary with the light. Bill upper mandible dark-blackish, lower mandible yellow with a hint of darkening or dirtying towards tip. Eye dark. Size no other Phyllosc's around for close comparison but I would estimate about Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff size. Call a quite di-


sylabic 'soo-wit', like a short sharp Yellow Wagtail. Sometimes almost slurred together intoa 'sooweap' or 'seeeoo'. Calls given in flight much louder and more wagtail-like than those from végétation. Song a jangle of up to 12 or more musical notes or syllables from cover or out in the open. Very varied and difficult to describe, but unlike anything I have heard before. The bursts lasted from one to five or more seconds, and usually began with a cali note followed by a chattering jangle of musical notes including phrases which I have transcribed as: 'weeo-weeo-weecho', 'weetew-weetew-weetew', 'chididaweeo-weeo', 'witchew-witche» wichoo', 'tidji-vidji-vidji-vit'. The bursts often ended with a cadence of downward inflected notes like the end of a Willow Warbler's song 'weeo-weeo-witcho'. Song was delivered from high up in trees or low down in bushes etc., with the bird out in the open or in cover. Mainly during the mornings and very seldom after mid-day. Behaviour Very similar to Wilìo» Warbler and Chiffchaff but much more active and fast moving, apt to disappear and reappear some distance away. Foraged from tops of quite tali trees: Sycamore, Poplar etc., and less frequently Scot's Pine, but seemed to prefer lower trees and bushes such as Rhododendrons, Hawthorn, small Elms etc., and occasionally on old dead trees. Also frequently came almost to ground level in tali grass, nettles and bracken.

Great Grey Shrike — s h o w i n g characteristics of the race pallidirostris colloquially k n o w n as the Steppe Shrike. Race new to Suffolk and only the third record for Britain by M i k e M a r s h O n D e c . 6 t h at a b o u t 1330 h r s . s o o n a f t e r a r r i v i n g at L a n d g u a r d P o i n t I received a s e c o n d h a n d r e p o r t t h a t a G r e a t G r e y S h r i k e Lanius excubitor h a d b e e n seen in the area.

(XlIG - hcrr* tx.U ko'H, dot-b brtj— nctcy* tO tulrt'Ort t i p s te ÌT^J-M:) IHU'J


1 s o o n l o c a t e d t h e bird p e r c h e d o n a tali H a w t h o r n b u s h in t h e Observatory c o m p o u n d a n d w a s i m m e d i a t e l y s t r u c k by its o d d a p p e a r a n c e . T h r e e p o i n t s werc p a r t i c u l a r l y u n u s u a l , t h e s e b e i n g : its overall pale b r o w n i s h - g r e y a p p e a r a n c e ; its dark m a s k w a s c o n f i n e d t o a p a t c h b e h i n d t h e eye; a n d its p a l e bill c o l o r a t i o n . T h e bird w a s r e m a r k a b l y c o n f i d i n g a l l o w i n g a very close a p p r o a c h . It favoured o n e c o r n e r o f t h e c o m p o u n d , usually p e r c h i n g o n a tali H a w t h o r n b u s h b u t also using a d e a d E l d e r b e r r y b u s h a n d a low pile of b r u s h w o o d . F o r t u n a t e l y it w a s s o o n c a u g h t using a m i s t - n e t , r i n g e d , a n d t h e following description taken. Description: Upper-parts forehead, crown and nape pale brownish-grey, brownish-black patch on ear-coverts, extending back from half-way down eye, appearing relatively short, slightly broader at rear and finishing below eye. Indistinct off-white supercilium over eye and along top edge of ear-covert patch tapering off towards rear. Neither the ear-covert patch nor the supercilium extended in front of the eye, the lores being pale brownish-grey. Mantle, back and



mmp pale brownish-grey. Scapulars paler than mantle and wiih a slight pinkish tinge. Wing lesser coverts similar to scapulars being very pale brownish-grey with a slight pinkish tinge. Median coverts dark brown edged with pale brown. Greater coverts dark brown with broad warm pale brown ends tipped with white. Primary coverts dark brown tipped with white. Alula brown, slightly paler than primary coverts. Primaries dark brown with basal halves white, forming a distinct wing patch. Secondaries dark brown on outer webs, but inner webs white with dark brown ends. Secondaries and innermost three primaries tipped white. Tait graduated and rather worn. Outer two pairs of rectrices off-white, third outer pair dark brown with broad white ends and narrowly edged white, fourth outer pair dark brown with white ends (only a ihird as extensive as on the third outer pair) and remaining rectrices completely dark brown. Under-parts dirty off-white, being slightly warmer on flanks and breast these having a slight pinkish-brown tinge. No sign of vermiculation and no distinct contrast between upper-parts and under-parts. Under-wing and axillaries pure white. Soft-parts bill pale pinkish horn (appearing more pale grey in the field) with dark brown on ridge of distal half of culmen and tips to both mandibles. Under-side of lower mandible a distinct pale pink. Iris chocolatebrown. Legs, feet and claws black. Wing-formula emarginated P . 3 / P . 4 / P . 5 Wing-point P.3 2nd p. = P . 5 / P . 6 . Measurements wing (straightened) 111mm; tail length I03mm; width of visible wing patch (primary coverts to end of white patch) 18mm; weight 74gm. Cali in the hand a harsh drawn-out shrieking trill was given.

After release the bird was relocated perched in a H o l m O a k tree being m o b b e d by Great Tits and C h a f f i n c h e s . However it soon disappeared, a n d , despite searching, was unfortunately not seen again. The brownish coloration of t h e greater and median coverts would indicate that it was in first-winter plumage. Summary: Having referred to " T h e Birds of the Palearctic F a u n a " the extensive white shown on the inner web of the secondaries and the lack of vermiculation on the under-parts assigns this bird to one of the southern or 'meridionalis' group of races of Great Grey Shrike. Of this g r o u p only the sub-species 'pallidirostris' is recognised as being migratory and I have identified this bird as being of this race on the basis of pale plumage, lack of contrast between upper and under-parts, lack of black in f r o n t of eye, horn coloured bill and white under-wing coverts and axillaries. These characteristics were also exhibited by the two previous d o c u m e n t e d British records, which occurred on Fair Isle, one in 1956 and the other in 1964 and descriptions of these birds are given in 'British Birds' 50: 246-249 and 73: 401-402. Some slight discrepancies are however apparent between these descriptions and that of the L a n d g u a r d bird including the colour of the lores, which, although not black, was described as dusky and dark grey-buff on the Fair Isle birds and was pale brownish-grey on the L a n d g u a r d bird, the supercilium, which did not extend in f r o n t of the eye on the L a n d g u a r d bird but did so on the 1964 bird and the colour of the under-side of the lower mandible, which was a distinct pale pink on the L a n d g u a r d bird and black on the 1956 bird. Wing and tail measurements for the Landguard bird fall within those for the Fair Isle birds but the weight was considerably higher. T h e high weight is possibly explained by the fact that earlier in the day the bird had been observed feeding on the remains of a dead Rabbit. This interesting piece of behaviour was recorded in an article appearing in " T w i t c h i n g " magazine, which also gave a field description of the bird. U n f o r t u n a t e l y this article concluded that the bird was merely of the nominate race moulting f r o m juvenile to first-winter plumage; however, the lack of vermiculation on the under-parts and the a m o u n t of white on the inner web of the secondaries would rule out this possibility.


Little Bunting — seventh record for Suffolk and the first since 1 9 7 6 by M i k e M a r s h J u s t a f t e r d a w n o n O c t . lOth I e x t r a c t e d a b u n t i n g f r o m o n e o f t h e mist-nets at L a n d g u a r d P o i n t . T h e b i r d a p p e a r e d small b u t as it w a s b a r e l y light at t h e time l a s s u m e d t h a t it w a s j u s t a R e e d B u n t i n g Emberiza schoeniclus. H o w e v e r , after r e t u r n i n g t o t h e O b s e r v a t o r y a n d e x a m i n i n g t h e b i r d t h o r o u g h l y with S. P i o t r o w s k i , it p r o v e d o t h e r w i s e a n d t h e bird in q u e s t i o n w a s in fact a Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla. T h e f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n w a s t a k e n : Description: Head ear-coverts chestnut with slightly paler patch towards rear. No dark streaking present; supercilium broad, cream-buff; eye-ring prominent, cream-white contrasting with supercilium; crown feathers grey-brown with black centres giving flecked appearance. Distinct but faint buff-brown central crown-stripe, starting at bill and becoming browner towards nape; lores buff-brown slightly paler than ear-coverts; edging to ear-coverts chocolate-brown starting at eye becoming broader at rear and narrowing and becoming greyer along bottom edge, stopping underneath eye. No dark extended f r o m beneath eye to bill; malar stripe cream-buff; moustachial streak, black flecking starting 2mm from bill and widening towards upper breast; nape grey-brown. Upper-parts back, feathers black-centred edged with chestnut then grey giving a streaked appearance; rump, grey-brown feathers with dark-brown centres and no chestnut. Wing lesser coverts grey-brown with dark-brown centres; median coverts black edged with buffish-white forming wing-bar; greater coverts black centres to feathers, edged chestnut and tipped with buff forming wing-bar; primaries brown edged buff; secondaries brown edged chestnut; tertials as below (for right wing). Tail (see sketch for outermost and second outermost tail feathers). Other tail feathers dark brown and pointed, with light brown edges to the central pair. Pointed rectrices indicative of a first-year bird. Under-parls chin, pale buff unstreaked; throat, pale buff with very faint streaking; breast, feathers of upper breast white with black centres, giving streaked appearance. This streaking fading out towards lower breast but extending towards flanks where streaking becomes bolder. Streaking on flanks extending on to thighs; belly, white; vent and under-tail coverts pale buff; thighs, grey-brown. Soft-parts bill, triangular and pointed, upper mandible being slightly concave then straightening towards tip (see sketch below); legs, pink; toes, pink; eye, black. Measurements wing length 69mm; emarginations on outer web of P . 3 / P . 4 / P . 5 and slightly on tip of P.6; P.6 to wing-tip 5mm; Tarsus to toe 34mm; weight 14gm. H «ad


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Overall impression was of a small Bunting with a rather greyish appearance to upper-parts, chestnut unstreaked ear-coverts, a distinct pale eye-ring and a pointed triangular bill. When released it flew off and gave a hard Robin-like 'tick' call. It was not seen again.

Suffolk Ornithological Surveys 1 9 8 6 Many of the county's ornithologists took part in one or more of the surveys conducted during the year. Some surveys are ongoing e.g. Common Bird Census, the Ringing Scheme, Constant Effort Sites, Nest Record Scheme, Birds of Estuaries Enquiry, Seabird Colony Register, etc.; others concentrate on one particular species. Most schemes are carried out in conjunction with national surveys organised by the BTO, and Mick Wright and Ray Waters take on the dual role of BTO representatives and SOG Project Officers. We are indebted to both of them for their prestigious efforts. Unfortunately, space does not allow for full and detailed accounts of the survey results to be published in 'Suffolk Birds' and therefore only summaries, together with the sources of reference, are given. For details of the Ringing Scheme see separate section entitled "Suffolk Ringing Report". Breeding Woodlarks 1986: Summarised by Ray Waters (full account in SOG bulletin No. 76). The First ever national survey of Woodlarks was carried out by the BTO in 1986. In Suffolk (Watsonian boundaries) 53-56 pairs were found, with another 22 pairs in the Norfolk Brecklands. This means that East Anglia is truly a Woodlark stronghold with about one third of the U.K.'s breeding population here. All 50 pairs in the Breck were in Thetford Forest, which is Forestry Commission owned coniferous plantation. Chris Bowden (representing the RSPB), and Ron Hoblyn are continuing to study Woodlarks in the Brecks and elsewhere. In 1986 we investigated the Woodlarks that bred in Suffolk outside of the Brecks, an area hereafter referred to as 'Coastal Suffolk'; 25-28 pairs were found which suggests a gradual increase over the past 20 or so years, although previous figures are very much approximations. Over the last 40 years however, several localities in Coastal Suffolk have been lost as breeding sites e.g. Lowestoft, Foxhall, Fritton, Hartest, Iken and Martlesham. In 1986 Woodlarks were heavily concentrated within an area of 3 km radius that held 80% of the Coastal Suffolk population. In 1986 in Coastal Suffolk 72% of the pairs were on Forestry Commission conifer plantations. As in the Brecks, these breeding sites had been cleared of trees within the past seven (usually four) years. The remaining 28% of pairs were on heathland. These 25-28 breeding sites were compared with 11 sites where Woodlarks had bred since 1975 but where none had been found in 1986. There was not one single common habitat feature found in all breeding sites, although bare ground, short grass and bracken were extensive in most of them. In comparison, the 11 recently vacated sites tended to have less bare ground, due to being overgrown with heather


(on heathland) or small shrubs (on Forestry Commission plantations). However, some of the unoccupied sites appeared more suitable in these respects than some of the breeding sites! It was also significant that of the vacated sites a higher proportion were on heathland, this being probably due to a higher proportion of heathland sites becoming unsuitable for breeding over the past ten years. Woodlarks are a particularly attractive Schedule One species for which East Anglia has a special responsibility to conserve. In 1986 the recently felled Forestry Commission plantations were very important, but in f u t u r e decades the amount of this suitable habitat, in East Anglia, will be decreasing steadily, d u e to the age structure of the plantations. Consequently, heathland will become increasingly important. Research into management techniques on both plantations and heathland is currently being undertaken, with help f r o m the R S P B a n d the Forestry Commission. This is greatly appreciated as Woodlarks are likely to need as much help as possible in the foreseeable future. Wintering Cormorani Survey 1985-1986: Summarised by Ray Waters (full account in SOG bulletin N o . 73). This investigation was part of the BTO national survey. Co-ordinated daytime counts on Suffolk waters were made monthly throughout the winter a n d were timed to coincide with the regular counts for the BOEE and the Wildfowl Trust. In addition known roosts were counted at first or last light, also on co-ordinated dates. Estimated monthly daytime totals varied between about 300 and 500 birds. Only five sites held an average of over 20 birds during the winter months: Stour Estuary (99); Orwell Estuary (87); Deben Estuary (68); A i d e / O r e Estuary (52) and Minsmere (22). For the four estuaries these figures are more than double the corresponding counts recorded by the BOEE in the early 1970s (in fact old records suggest that there has been a steady increase in S u f f o l k ' s wintering C o r m o r a n t s over the past 100 years). There were n o clear trends as the winter progressed. T h e combined totals of C o r m o r a n t s counted at ali overnight roosts were: November 1985 (370); J a n u a r y 1986 (257) and March 1986 (261). This is around 80 fewer birds t h a n f o u n d on the daytime counts. It is likely that another overnight roost is used by S u f f o l k ' s C o r m o r a n t s either in Essex, or perhaps undiscovered in S u f f o l k . The three m a j o r overnight roosts were at: Melton (114); Stour Valley, several localities (108) and Sizewell Rigs (63). The Suffolk Black Redstart Breeding Survey 1986: Summarised by Roger Beecroft (full account in SOG bulletin N o . 75). Following the increase in numbers of Black Redstarts recorded breeding in Suffolk during 1985, a countywide survey was organised in 1986. A total of 40 territories (including o n e reported after the survey results were originally published) was found. This was two more than in 1985 but it included five territories at Gorleston. Although Gorleston is a traditional site and lies within the Watsonian vice-counties these birds were included in the Suffolk totals for the first time. The 1986 n u m b e r s are therefore effectively slightly down on 1985, although stili significantly u p on previous years. Of the pairs known to include an adult male, 8207o bred successfully, compared with only 22% of the pairs known to have first year males. Ali birds that were recorded on territory were in their expected habitat of industrial/urban areas. A couple of interesting nest sites were chosen â&#x20AC;&#x201D; one on a ledge of a beach-hut (the hut alongside was aptly named " T h e A v i a r y " ) , and another in an old wartime Pill'box. 70

Future surveys: Breeding Bird Atlas: The BTO is organising what will probably be the biggest ornithologieal survey ever attempted anywhere in the world. Several Suffolk birdwatchers have helped with a pilot survey which will determine the methods to be used in the full survey. This survey is basically a more extensive repeat of the Breeding Bird Atlas carried out about 20 years ago and published in " T h e Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland". In Suffolk we will be using this opportunity to also complete a more comprehensive and detailed 'Suffolk Atlas', mapping our breeding birds on a tetrad basis (except of course for 'sensitive' species). Fieldwork for the National Atlas will take place between 1988-1990 inclusive but in Suffolk two or three years more will be needed to collect the extra data for the more detailed 'Suffolk Atlas'. At the time of writing exact dÊtails of these two Atlas projects and how they will be incorporât ed have yet to be finalised.

The diet of Hen Harriers roosting on a Breckland heath by Roger Clarke and David Palmer This is an account of the analysis of 110 pellets collected by Roger Clarke in January, February and March 1986 from forms at a communal Hen Harrier winter roost site in heather on a Breckland heath in north-west Suffolk. Pellets from diurna! raptors are notoriously more difficult to analyse than those from owls because their stronger stomach acids leave fewer remains intact. This was our first experience of analysing such pellets. Methods:

The pellets were dried immediately after collection to arrest decay. It is possible to identify feathers (and fur), at least to their order, by microscopie 71

examination of structures (Day 1966). We did not a t t e m p t this, but instead took the most direct route to the identification of individual species. T h e colours of feathers in the pellets did not seem to have been affected. T h e species of b i r d / s in each pellet was often c o n f i r m e d by feathers f r o m two or m o r e areas of its plumage and sometimes by the presen:e of a beak. Species of voles and mice were identified from teeth f o u n d in the pellets a n d r a b b i t / h a r e by the distinctive f u r . Results: Table I — Number of Hen Harrier pellets, by diet type:

25. 1.86 Bird Bird & Mammal Mammal Unidentified Total

1. 2.86

% No.



% No.

14 5

73.7 17 80.9 2 26.3 1 4.8 — — — 1 4.8 2 2 9.5 — — — 19 100.0 21 100.0 4


% No.

28. 3.86

% No.

Total % No. %

50.0 20 52.6 11 39.3 — 11 28.9 11 39.3 50.0 6 15.8 6 21.4 1 2.7 — — — 100.0 38 100.0 28 100.0

64 28 15 3 no

58.2 25.5 13.6 2.7 100.0

T h e diet type (Table 1) showed an interesting shift in emphasis. T h e r e was a clear increase in m a m m a l prey by M a r c h . This has been noticed f r o m pellets collected by Roger Clarke at other roost sites. T h e vulnerability of small m a m m a l s is subject to a complex range of factors (Craighead & Craighead 1956), almost impossible to observe without high densities to work o n . We hazard a guess that they are more active by M a r c h , building u p bodyweight after living under a blanket of snow earlier. It should be b o r n e in mind that pellets may be days or weeks older t h a n collection dates and there may be a bias towards the collection of f u r pellets, which seem less liable to disintegrate in wet conditions. Table 2 — Bird diet by number of individuals identified to species:

Species Red-legged Partridge Grey Partridge Pheasant (Female) Pheasant (Maie) Snipe Pigeon/Stock Dove Wren Fieldfare Song Thrush Blue Tit Starling Chaffinch Greenfinch Linnet Bullfinch Yellowhammer Reed Bunting

25.1.86 and 1.2.86 No. % 2 4.8 1 2.4 —

15.2.86 and i.3.86 No. % 3 10.4 10.4 3 1** 3.4



1 6 1 2 1 2 3 7 3 1 3 8*

2.4 14.3 2.4 4.8 2.4 4.8 7.1 16.6 7.1 2.4 7.1 19.0

28.3.86 No. % I*** 5.6 —









1 2

3.4 6.9


5.6 22.2


1 4



1 2 8

5.6 II.1 44.3



5 8

17.2 27.6 100.0

Total 42 100.0 29 * One with a single lead shot. ** Breast feathers only, with two lead shot *** Head/neck feathers only, with one lead shot.


Total % No. 6.7 6 4 4.5 1 1.1 1 I.I 1 I.I 1 1.1 10 11.3 1 1.1 3.4 3 3.4 3 2.2 4 4.5 11 12.4 5.6 5 2 2.2 10 11.3 24 27.0 89


T h e c o m m o n e s t parts of birds (Table 2) to survive were feathers f r o m the alula region of the wing, c o n t o u r feathers, beaks ( o f t e n falling apart into their constituent sheaths), gizzards, bones (mostly broken), claws and skin f r o m the feet. Although up 72

Io three species of bird occurred in single pellets we never proved that more than one individual of the same species occurred in any pellet. No similar beaks were duplicated in a pellet, and bones, which might have been counted, were fragmented, irregular in number, and in any case unidentifiable as to species. Some 24 pellets contained bird remains which were not identified. Yalden & Yalden (1985) have shown that feathers are more likely to linger than fur, in the Kestrel for example. Other unidentified bird remains had been reduced by almost complete decay. Quantities of quills were found in a few pellets, where the rest of the feathers had disintegrated.

Table 3 — Mammal diet by number of individuals identified to species:

Species Rabbit/Hare Bank Vole Field Vole Wood Mouse Harvest Mouse Total

15.2.86 and 8.3.86 % No. 4 20.0


25..1.86 and 1.2.86 No. % — —







80.0 — —


28.3.86 No. 3 18.8 3 18.8 7 43.7 2 12.5 1 6.2 16

100.0 42

Total No. % 7 16.7 3 7.1 29 69.0 2 4.8 1 2.4 100.0

Mammal species identified are listed separately (Table 3). The skulls of voles and mice did not come through intact. Teeth were often present, jaws or parts thereof and an irregular number of assorted bones. Fur came through in quantity and good condition. Pellets of rabbit/hare fur were particularly large and otherwise contained just a few small pieces of bone. It was occasionally possible to prove that two individuals of the same species of mammal occurred in a pellet, on the evidence of number of jaws/incisor teeth. Twelve pellets contained small mammal remains which remained unidentified because of the absence of any teeth. Other items found in the pellets were frequently grit and seeds from seed-eating bird prey (sometimes still in a gizzard), sand, grass, pieces of deciduous leaf, bracken and part of a wheat ear stalk. Insect/mollusc remains found were only of a size to be food of prey — pieces of small beetle case (pellet contained Blue Tit), a small chrysalis (pellet contained Blue Tit and Wren) and a small snail shell (pellet contained Starling). The minute chaetae from earthworms were not checked for. The seeds were identified as cereal grains, Black Bindweed, Knotgrass, and other polygonum sp., Pale Persicaria, Fat Hen, Elderberry and brassica sp. Black Bindweed always coincided with Reed Bunting remains. Much of the vegetation was perhaps accidentally swallowed with prey. An aftergrowth of fungus on one pellet was identified as Onygena corvina, a widespread species on bird remains. The lead shot found with Reed Bunting remains may have been swallowed as grit; it was partly sliced open (on impact?). Initial speculation that it was an angling weight was discounted after comparison with such. A further pair of lead shot, not shown on Table 2, was found in a pellet with quills, a gizzard, large grit, possible water weed and part of an unidentified pinkish-grey feather.

Sex ratio of Harriers and prey mix Seven counts of the roost (Table 4) were made as part of the national Hen Harrier Winter Roost Survey. Evening counts were difficult, due to confusion from unseen arrivais and birds rising after settling. O f t e n , no more than two birds were ever in the air at the same time. Counting was easier in the morning as birds rose singly from the site. Approximate numbers are shown by Table 4.

Table 4 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Roost Counts: Date 23.12.85 19.01.86 25.01.86 01.02.86 15.02.86 23.02.86 16.03.86

p.m. p.m. a.m. a.m. a.m. p.m. p.m.

Observer Roger Clarke Roger Clarke Roger Clarke Roger Clarke Roger Clarke Roger Clarke CĂŹraeme Hewson

Total 3 7 5 7 4 7

t 34

Ringtails* 2 4 3 4 3 4 0 20 59%

Grey Mi 1 3 2 3 1 3 1 14 41%

* Females of ali ages and first winter males Allowing for a few first winter males among the ringtails, it seems likely that the sex ratio of birds attending the roost was about equal. The female Hen Harrier is on average about 50% heavier than the male and can therefore tackle larger prey. The male is widely thought to hunt more passerine prey, which his smaller size and therefore greater agility allow him to catch more readily, but both sexes at this roost must have caught a lot of passerines. The middle period in Tables 2 and 3 coincided with the long freeze of February 1986 (coldest since 1947). The lack of Greenfinches at that time ties in with the greater mobility of that species, which is able to undertake long hard-weather movements (Boddy 1986). The harriers therefore caught more buntings which are strongly sedentary (Prys-Jones 1986), and a few partridges and rabbits/hares which were perhaps more vulnerable in such weather. The greater diversity of mammal prey after the first week of March might be expected, as species of more enclosed habitats ventured out in spring weather and young rabbits/hares appeared. The total lack of Wrens at that time was perhaps because they moved out of the reed beds to space themselves out elsewhere on territories (Marchant 1986). Greenfinches probably returned after the hard weather and were preyed upon, just as, in increased proportions, were the ever present buntings. We cannot account for the apparent lack of any Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. These are archetypal open country species often named as Hen Harrier prey and specimens were referred to during analysis. Meadow Pipits are often present on the harriers' roosting heath itself, sometimes noted as roosting communally there themselves. Both species do move to avoid snow cover though (Green 1986, Spencer 1986), and patchy cover lingered throughout February being occasionally redusted. The apparent absence of shrews may also be worthy of note.

Habitat The catchment area for this roost is not all Breckland as defined by an eastern boundary line drawn from Bury St. Edmunds to East Harling. Approximately one 74

quarter of the area contained within a circle of 10 Km. radius around the roost lies to the east of Breckland. Hen Harriers are thought to disperse by up to about 16 Km. (10 miles) from roost sites during the day, but in this case a radius of 10 Km. probably encompasses the great majority of the area hunted over. Such a radius contains about 50 Km. of river (three rivers involved). The river valley to the east of the roost is especially rich in rough, marshy environs and may have been responsible for the high percentage of Reed Bunting prey. Major blocks of mature conifer, plantations covering perhaps 20 Km 2 and many small woodland belts, coverts, spinneys and groves break up the land to the north and west of the roost, which must be awkward ground for the open country hunting harrier. Remnant Breckland heath on nature reserves accounts for just 10 Km 2 . The remainder is mainly farmland, with some pastures in river valleys to the east and south-west of the roost but overall perhaps 90% arable.

Discussion This roost attracted an increased number of harriers and a higher proportion of grey males compared with the previous two winters. This was a time when numbers of harriers in neighbouring Cambridgeshire were unusually poor. We therefore surmise that we were looking at relatively rich feeding for this roost, perhaps more so for the more passerine-catching males. The diet composition shown by the results could be distorted by various factors (e.g. feathers of some species of birds may be more prone to being completely digested), but many hours of work on the comparisons with specimens has made us sure of the species we have identified. A search of the literature reveals various degrees of dependence by Hen Harriers on mammals or birds. Our results show a swing away from birds as small mammals became available. This is in line with the conclusion in Cramp & Simmons (1980) that voles are preferred when numerous. The occurrence of lead shot in four pellets is of concern, and is not mentioned in the literature on harriers that we have seen. Several more of the gamebirds recorded could have been moribund or eaten as carrion, as may some of the rabbits/hares; a harrier would not always eat the parts containing shot.

Acknowledgements Some Pellets were analysed jointly by the pupils of Soham Village College Biology Department (Cambs.), under guidance of their tutor G r a h a m Loasby, and Thetford Primary School. Mammals were identified by Alan Revill of Upware Field Studies Centre (Cambs.). Sylvia Peglar identified seeds, Paul Mason supplemented our collection of bird specimens and Dr. Roy Watling identified fungus. We thank them all. References

BODDY, PRYS-JONES, MARCHANT, GREEN, SPENCER IN LACK, P. 1986. The Alias of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. Poyser. Calton. CRAIGHEAD, J. J. & CRAIGHEAD, F. C. 1956. Hawks, Owlsand Wildlife. StackpoleCo., Pennsylvania. CRAMP, S. & SIMMONS, K. E. L. (eds.) 1980 The Birds of the Western Palearclic, Vol. 2. Oxford University Press. DAY, M. G. 1986. Identification of hair and feather remains in the gut and faeces of stoats and weasels. Journal of Zoology, 148. R.S.P.B. Owl Pellets. A Practical Guide to Studying their Contents. YALDEN, D. W. 1977. The Identification of Remains in Owl Pellets. The Mammal Society, Reading. YALDEN, D. W. & YALDEN, P. E. 1985. An experimental investigation of examining Kestrel diet by pellet analysis. Bird Study, 32.


Marsh Harrier â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Malcolm


A brief history of the breeding of the Marsh Harrier in Suffolk by D. R. Moore Introduction The Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) is classified as a rare breeding bird in Britain, and nesting records are collected by The Rare Breeding Birds Panel. This species is uncommon as a breeding bird but its numbers in Britain have fluctuated greatly in recent years. This paper seeks to summarise the history of Marsh Harriers nesting in Suffolk, to examine their habitat requirements, and to review some of the problems facing this species. The data used have been taken from Suffolk Bird Reports and files of the R.S.P.B., and supplemented by reference to various published works and the records of local observers. The Years up to 1945 Marsh Harriers were certainly recorded quite regularly in the last century even though Babington (1884-6) noted that it was the rarest of the three harrier species. The last possible breeding record is of a nest and three young taken 'near Yarmouth' in the summer of 1862, although we do not know to which county this record relates. It may have been in Norfolk because Ticehurst stated that " I cannot find any reference which would suggest that it has bred in Suffolk during the last 100 years". In the early part of this century records were confined to passage and oversummering individuals and breeding was not confirmed until 1945 even though Marsh Harriers had nested sporadically in the Norfolk Broads from 1911 and annually from 1927. 1945-1986 The first contemporary record this century was from near Lowestoft in 1945 when four young fledged from one nest (Table 1). A second nest was also suspected. There then began a steady increase in the annual number of nesting attempts between 76

Lowestoft and Walberswick. The birds responsible for this may have originated from the nearby Norfolk Broads or the extensive wetlands of the Netherlands. Suitable breeding habitat had increased in Suffolk during and after the Second World War as large tracts of grazing marshes at Kessingland, Walberswick and Minsmere reverted to reedbeds following deliberate flooding as an anti-invasion measure. Of the three, only Kessingland was subsequently reclaimed to agriculture. The increase in the number of breeding birds was further aided by the relaxation of keepering during and after the war. These factors may have enabled birds to establish themselves in regular sites and then to spread out unhindered to new areas. Another factor was the increasing tendency for adult females in particular to overwinter in Britain, enabling them to avoid the dangers of migration. By 1958, there were eight nests in Suffolk out of 15 in Britain in that year. This proved to be the high point and a rapid decline followed until by 1971 the single nest at Minsmere was the only one reported in Britain. At this point extinction for this species as a British breeding bird seemed a formality. The decline was initially something of a mystery because nesting habitat was apparently unchanged since the days of recolonisation. It was suggested that Coypus (Myocaster coypus) could affect breeding success by reedbed destruction through grazing stems and rhizomes and by disturbing incubating adults, but there was no evidence to support this; in fact, it has been suggested that Coypu grazing can provide additional feeding ground for Marsh Harriers in the more extensive reedbeds. It seemed more likely that the use of organochlorine pesticides, especially DDT, aldrin and dieldrin, was the most likely cause since the decline was in parallel with other species of British birds of prey where pesticides were clearly implicated. A progressive voluntary ban on these substances was introduced from 1971. Marsh Harriers are polygamous and the appearance of a second female at Minsmere in 1972 produced two nests and four fledged young. The upward trend continued and in 1973 birds nested at Carlton Marshes and Walberswick. At the latter site this was the first breeding since 1967. Both sites had been declared nature reserves shortly before. Another pair nested in north-west Suffolk in 1973. Numbers continued to increase and by 1977 there were once again eight nests in the county. Marsh Harriers were now nesting again in some other suitable British counties and a continuing increase in Suffolk meant that by 1984 most extensive reedbeds were occupied and at some sites several nests were usual. Colonisation was also taking place of smaller reed ronds by the edge of larger rivers. In 1986, 14 nests were located from which flew 35 young. In the period 1945-1986 a total of at least 477 young Marsh Harriers flew from Suffolk nests. Why the sudden increase? Well, the reclaimed polders in the Netherlands had provided many additional reedbeds for Marsh Harriers with an estimate of up to 900 nests in the 1980s. Recruitment of young birds from this population was very likely and as numbers increased, the continued protection and success of East Anglian nests resulted in considerable numbers of home produced young. A similar increase has also occurred in Norfolk, particularly on the north coast. Breeding Sites A number of Suffolk sites (particularly extensive reedbeds) have become traditional breeding places, and nesting at one, Minsmere, has now taken place every year since 1955, a continuous run of 33 years. From 1982 nesting has also taken place in quite small reed ronds in arable areas. To date the fledging success is lower in these situations than in larger reedbeds which may suggest that food is less available at these sites or that they are being colonised by younger less experienced birds. No records have been received of nesting in arable crops although this has been noted in other counties and on the Continent. 77


Breeding adults


1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985

2 6 10 6 6 6 0 2 6 2 6 10 11 15 10 11 5 5 5 8 10 10 10 7 6 6 2 3 9 9 10 12 14 12 13 13 15 12 10 20 26

1 3 5 3 3 5 0 1 3 1 3 5 6 8 5 6 3 3 3 4 5 6 5 4 3 3 1 2 5 5 5 6 8 6 8 7 8 7 6 11 15




Total fledged young

Mean fledged young per nest

4 0 2 6 3 5 0 3 3 2 4 10 15 13 9 10 7 10 8 8 7 16 16 5 6 8 2 4 14 7 14 17 23 16 23 20 18 16 20 26 42 (minimum) 35

4.0 0.0 0.4 2.0 1.0 1.7 0.0 3.0 1.0 2.0 1.3 2.0 2.5 1.6 1.8 1.7 2.3 3.3 2.7 2.0 1.4 2.7 3.2 1.3 2.0 2.7 2.0 2.0 2.8 1.4 2.8 2.8 2.9 2.7 2.9 2.9 2.3 2.3 3.3 2.4 2.8 2.5

Full clutches were taken in 1949, 1950, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1973 & 1980. A pair were believed shot in 1982 and renests occurred in 1960, 1974, 1976, 1981 & 1982. 78

Threats to the Marsh Harrier The major threat to any species is the loss of habitat. Thankfully most of our larger Suffolk reedbeds are now protected as nature reserves. The only problem is sustaining water levels and managing these areas to prevent scrub encroachment and subséquent drying up. Disturbance is also significant in causing birds to desert both in the early stages of incubation and even when feeding large young. One Suffolk nest failed because of the attentions of young boys who, anxious to see and photograph the birds, built a hide almost against the nest itself. Happily a repeat nest produced three flying young. Unfortunately a number of clutches have been taken by egg collectors, and these are only the known cases (Table 1). Poisoning is stili a danger even after the réduction in organochlorine pesticides, since the use of other poisonous substances stili occurs. In 1979 a young maie bird was found dead beside a rabbit carcase. When examined both were found to contain quantifies of a poison called mevinphos. Clearly, putting out poisoned baits to kill vermin is indiscriminate and irresponsible. Man stili turns his hand against birds of prey and accordingly Marsh Harriers have been found shot even in recent years. Naturai hazards such as prolonged heavy rain can flood nests causing desertion and/or loss of eggs/chicks and prédation by Foxes can also occur. Despite these difficulties the Marsh Harrier population of Suffolk is thriving. Numbers of nests are stili relatively low and continued protection is necessary, not only for the birds themselves but also their very special breeding habitats. Acknowledgements I am greatly indebted to the late G. B. G. Benson who first introduced me to Marsh Harriers in the 1950s. 1 have relied heavily on information both published and unpublished, supplied by John Day of the R.S.P.B. and I am grateful to him for his encouragement and enthusiasm which has prompted me to produce this paper. I would also like to thank J o h n and those Marsh Harrier enthusiasts Dick Briggs and Cliff Waller for their comments on a draft of this paper. Finally, thanks to everyone who has helped in any wav to protect this marvellous bird and ensure its survival. Sources

AXELL, H. E. & HOSK1NG, E., 1977. Minsmere, Portrait of a Bird Reserve. London. BABINGTON, C., 1884-86. Catalogue of the Birds of Suffolk. London. BENSON, G. B. G., 1957. Some Notes on Marsh Harriers. Trans. Suffolk Nats. Soc.. 10: 62-66. CRAMP, S. & S1MMONS, K. E. L. (Eds) 1980. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Vol. 2. Oxford. HOSKING, E., 1943. Some Observations on the Marsh Harrier. Brit. Birds 37: 2-10. MOORE, D. R., 1980. Observations on the Ornithological, Topographical and other Changes at Benacre/ Covehithe 1968-80. Suffolk Birds 1980: 37-44. PAYN, W. H., 1978. The Birds of Suffolk. Ipswich. PEARSON, D. J., 1972. Changes in the Status of Heath and Marshland Birds in the Walberswick area 1953-72. Suffolk Bird Report 16: 152-157. TICEHURST, C. B., 1932. The Birds of Suffolk. London. UNDERHILL-DAY, J., 1984. Population and Breeding Biology of Marsh Harriers in Britain since 1900. Journal of Applied Ecology 21: 773-787. WALLER, C. S., 1982. Status Changes of Breeding Birds of the Walberswick area 1793-82. Suffolk Birds 1982. 58-63.


Notes Unusual perching by T a w n y Owls by J e f f Martin At dusk on 24th July 1986 when I was driving f r o m Barrow to Hargrave in West S u f f o l k , I saw a bird perched on a power cable erected over a field to my left. 1 instantly recognised the bird as a medium-sized owl. I stopped the car a n d , with the aid of binoculars, identified it as a Tawny Owl. T h e owl eventually flew into Wilsummer W o o d . On 13th August, I was driving along a lane that skirts Free W o o d at Bradfield St. George, and as I a p p r o a c h e d a bend in the road saw a Tawny Owl perched on a power cable a b o u t 20 feet above the r o a d . 1 was able to stop the car very close to the bird and was a f f o r d e d a very good view. Perching on overhead wires is not unusual for some medium-sized birds, but I do not know of another instance where a Tawny Owl has been recorded doing so. However, perching on wires may be m o r e c o m m o n than we k n o w of due to this species' nocturnal habits.

W a x w i n g s eating s n o w by Mike C r e w e Whilst watching the Waxwings that frequented a Lowestoft housing estate during February 1986 I noticed the following behaviour: One of the birds left the small C r a b Apple tree (Malus s p j , in which they were feeding, and alighted on a nearby snow-covered roof. Here it proceeded to consume several beak-fulls of snow. I presume that as the crabs were by now rather old and shrivelled, and therefore containing less moisture than earlier in the season, the bird was seeking a source of water.


Landguard Bird Observatory 1986 by Mike C r e w e and Rex Beecroft Yet another year of surprises and new records for Landguard, with new species recorded and new peaks reached with the ringing totals. New species for the site were Subalpine Warbler and Little Bunting which brought the site total to 222 of which I69 were recorded in 1986. Water Pipit was a belated addition to the list following the BOU decision to separate Water and Rock Pipits as two distinct species. The annual ringing total of 6,110 was more than 1,500 above the previous high set in 1984 and was more than a little due to the total of 2,249 Greenfinches ringed, a figure which is nearly three times the previous annual record for the species. The Observatory's third anniversary was celebrated with a successful open-day on Sept. 28th with Subalpine Warbler, three Yellow-browed Warblers and two Wrynecks present assuring a good time for all. It is with great sorrow that we record the untimely illness to LBO's most popular and active member, Dick Hipkin. It was an illness from which he was not to recover and when he passed away in September it ended the most saddening period in the Observatory's history. His memory will live on however, through his wife Anne who remains a member of the LBO team and through the Dick Hipkin Memorial Fund w hich will be used to purchase our own cannon-netting equipment for catching gulls and waders â&#x20AC;&#x201D; something that Dick himself was keen to establish. It is without doubt that the thought of Dick's enthusiasm and dedication will spur others on to ensure the continued growth of the Observatory.

Diary of Events JANUARY: A rather mild month which produced little notable bird movement. Interesting records were ten White-fronted Geese, Jack Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Mediterranean and Iceland Gulls and a Snow Bunting. A Water Rail was found dead, and a southerly movement of wildfowl noted on 9th included 200 Brents, 32 Wigeon and 2,800 Shelduck. Kittiwakes were well above previous norms and up to 250 could be seen off-shore during the month with up to 350 on 7th, and 45 adults and two immatures were resting on the reserve on 8th. An adult Little Gull on 15th was also an unusual record. 'â&#x20AC;˘'FBRUARY: Another very quiet month off-shore with 220 Wigeon south on 9th being the only movement of any size, while the continued visits of the Felixstowe Iceland Gull provided the only record of interest in the gull group. A male Black Redstart on 12th was a good record of an obviously wintering bird and was probably 'he individual responsible for records of this species in Felixstowe Docks during the winter. Passerines made up for the lack of off-shore action by being present in good numbers. Bullfinches were more in evidence than usual with at least nine birds noted. Around (he 9th, passerines arrived in greater numbers with Song


Thrush, Blaekbird and Fieldfare arriving from 8th and 450 or more Starlings preseni on lOth. Most unusual for Landguard. however, was a flock of up to 30 Yellowhammers present but this may well have involved a much larger trickle of birds through the area. LBO's first ever cannon-netting session was an historié occasion for Suffolk ringers with the net being fired at Fagbury over the Oystercatcher roost with considérable success. MARCH: Some wader passage began this month with Knot, Grey Piover, Woodcock, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Turnstone all of note. A single Short eared Owl north on 25th moved through with the first of the spring migrants. White Wagtail, Stonechat, Black Redstart and Wheatear all arrived, and return winter movements consisted of Fieldfares, Redwings and Bramblings, and a single Lapland Bunting. Yellowhammers continued to visit with 40 present in early March, dropping slowly to a mere handful by mid-month. APRII,: Some interesting sea passage occurred during the month with Pintaii Shoveler and Canada Goose of note and an unexpected Black-throated Diver flying by. A similar selection of waders to last month passed off-shore and the second Jack Snipe of the year was recorded. A good Whimbrel passage occurred from 18th and less expected birds included Glaucous Gull and Long-eared Owl. Terns and hirundines came through later in the month, mainly during the last week but Sandwich Terns appeared from 9th. All the more common migrants also came through at the latter end of the month and, as with the Terns and the hirundines. 23rd-25th was the peak period for arrivais. Two Ring Ouzels and several Firecrests were bonuses among the more regulär species. MAY: Traditionally the month that produces the choice spring birds, but this year was rather quiet with no full-blooded rarities occurring. Some site rarities were recorded including Magpie, Jackdaw, Shag and Marsh Harrier. Sea passage included Arctic Skua, Mediterranean and Little Gulls, four Avocets, a few other waders and several Gannets. Traditionally later migrants came slowly but surely with Turtle Dove, Swift, Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher arriving and a run of Yellow Wagtails and Garden Warblers. Whinchat and Ring Ouzel were attractive extras. Wheatears were present throughout the month but this former breeding species did not stay. JUNK: The dull spring continued well into June and nationally as well as localh there was a dearth of birds; (by the end of May no Pied Flycatchers had yet occurred at Landguard) and only a scattering of Warblers, Chats and other migrants passed swiftly through. A Hobby on Ist was the month's highlight and a Tree Sparrow was an off season visitor. Of great interest was the first breeding record of Redpolls on the site — a totally unexpected event. JULY: Traditionally a quiet month at Landguard, but there were one or two interesting records. The young Redpolls hatched successfully on 4th and a Sparrowhawk was a good site record. A male Eider on the sea was rather unseasonal but the appearance of a few waders was typical of the first southerly movement of birds Coming back through. Both Whimbrel and Grey Piover occurred later in the month. Single Nightingale and Redstart appeared and a Reed Warbier was heard briefly in song. At least seven pairs of Little Tern bred. AUGUST: An excellent month with a good selection of warblers and some interesting sea passage. Two Icterine, a Barred and two Wood Warblers were ail noted


and good numbers of most summer migrants were recorded including a good run of Pied Flycatchers and a Red-backed Shrike. A long-staying Wryneck remained into September and waders included Golden and Grey Plovers, R u f f , both Godwits, Whimbrel, Greenshank and Green and C o m m o n Sandpipers, Mediterranean Gull, several Arctic Skuas, Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Gannet and Greylag Goose were all added to the usual species to make sea-watching more interesting than normal. SEPTEMBER: T h e good a u t u m n passage continued well into this month with Yellow Wagtails providing one of the best a u t u m n passages ever for that species. Grey Wagtails also put on a good show; normally only one or two occur but at least ten were noted during this m o n t h . Other summer migrants continued in good numbers including Nightingales, Whinchats and Redstarts and a whole host of Warblers headed by no less than three Yellow-browed Warblers and a Subalpine Warbler, the latter being the first for S u f f o l k . A good run of Tree Pipits continued from August and last m o n t h ' s Wryneck was joined by a second. Sea passage included a good selection of wildfowl, G a n n e t s , Arctic Skuas and a Mediterranean Gull. Purple Sandpipers appeared back on the Point f r o m 7th and were joined by a Sanderling on 14th. At least two Sparrowhawks occurred. Singles of W o o d Sandpiper, Barn Owl, Great Spotted W o o d p e c k e r and Woodlark were all unusual birds which m o v e d through all t o o quickly. Arctic Terns put on a good show a m o n g the more regular Terns with 19 birds noted. Pied Flycatchers continued to flood through and signs of winter were the first Bramblings and a Snow Bunting. OCTOBER: Fine weather, particularly early in the m o n t h , kept the migrants flowing with a very good lale a u t u m n accumulation of summer migrants including all the common warblers and chats as well as a Barred Warbler for a week, the Subalpine Warbler slaying until 2nd and another three Yellow-browed Warblers delighting us wilh their presence. Site scarcities included single Long-tailed Til and Magpie but the second national rarity of the year appeared in the shape of a Little Bunting — l a n d g u a r d ' s first — which stayed all loo briefly on 10th. A Shorelark was m o r e obliging however slaying for nine days during m i d - m o n t h . Both Long and Shorteared Owls passed through and up to two Mediterranean Gulls ' f l o a t e d ' up and down the coast. O f f - s h o r e , Red-throated Divers began to appear, and Pintail, Velvet Scoter and Eider were recorded. A Leach's Petrel flew into crane wires in Felixstowe Docks and was released at Landguard the following day. Raptors were represented by Sparrowhawk — completing a good run this a u t u m n — and a Merlin.


T A B L E O l R I N G I N G T O T A L S A T L A N D G U A R D 1986


Manx Shearwater Teal Sparrowhawk Kestrel Hobby Red-legged Partridge Moorhen Ringed Piover Golden Piover Purple Sandpiper Woodcock Arctic Skua Black-headed Gull Little Tern Little Auk Woodpigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Cuckoo Barn Owl Little Owl Long-eared Owl Nightjar Swift Kingfisher Wryneck Green Woodpecker Gt. Spot. Woodpecker Lsr. Spot. Woodpecker Skylark Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit Meadow Pipit Yellow Wagtail Grey Wagtail Pied Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Thrush Nightingale Nightingale Bluethroat Black Redstart Redstart Whinchat Stonechat Wheatear Ring Ouzel

Total G r a n d T o t a l 1986 1978-1986

0 0 2 0 0 0 1 3 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 14 1 2 1 0 13 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 2 2 246 34 1 23 1 1 3 22 134 134 0 6 0 37 70 5 0 8 3

1 1

2 6

1 15 1 48 2 1 6 1 7 26 1 16 22 9 9 1 1 17 1 2 4 6 1 4 1 18 6 824 240 19 100 2 1 5 147 725 478 1 27 1 166 156 21 1 40 10

Total Grand Total Species

Blackbird Fieldfare Song Thrush Redwing Mistle Thrush Grasshopper Warbier Sedge Warbier Reed Warbier Icterine Warbier Melodious Warbier Subalpine Warbier Barred Warbier Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbier Blackcap Pallas's Warbier Yellow-browed Warbier Wood Warbier Chiffchaff Willow Warbier Goldcrest Firecrest Spotted Flycatcher Red-breasted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Long-tailed Tit Willow Tit Coal Tit Blue Tit Great Tit Red-backed Shrike Great Grey Shrike Magpie Starling House Sparrow Tree Sparrow Chaffinch Brambling Greenfinch Goldfinch Siskin Linnet Redpoll Bullfinch Yellowhammer Ortolan Bunting Little Bunting Reed Bunting

1986 544 1 198 9 1 0 7 40 2 0 1 2 49 32 86 133 0 4 1 88 311 57 9 29 0 43 9 0 2 88 31 1 1 1 437 140 8 114 28 2249 78 5 401 10 6 73 0 1 4


6110 1986 total â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 6110 birds of 74 species ringed. Overall, during the nine years 1978-1986 inclusive a total of 19235 birds of 99 species have been ringed at Landguard.


1801 15 800 135 5 1 58 158 7 1 1 4 143 142 327 523 1 7 8 289 1255 503 58 134 1 208 122 1 14 621 259 2 2 1 879 201 41 308 66 4079 653 9 2051 29 18 76 2 1 14 19235


Plate 18: Long-eared Owl: 20-30 were present at Landguard on November 15 which coincided with an influx at other East Coast sites. Photo Roger Tidman

Plate 19: Little Tern: The cold and wet summer may well have helped this species with less disturbance to their beach habitats. Photo Steve Piotrowski


Plale 20: This Purple Suffolk's most favoured

Sandpiper, on Landguard Jetty, is frequenting one of wintering localities for this species. Photo Steve Piotrowski

Plate 21: A view from the Landguard towards the town of Felixstowe.

Bird Observatory

compound looking north Photo Rex Beecroft


Warbier — Barry


NOVEMBER: Off-shore there was good passage again with both Black and Redthroated Divers, Bewick's and Mute Swans, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Pintail, Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser recorded and some wader passage. The Iceland Gull returned to the area and four Little Auks were noted. Owls were very well represented with up to six Short-eared and a Little Owl but Long-eared Owls stole the limelight with 20-30 present on 15th coinciding with an influx at other East Coast sites. Two Ring Ouzels were noted and Redwings and Fieldfares carne through. Yet another Yellow-browed Warbier appeared on 13th — ihe seventh of the autumn. Firecrests were present most of the month and a Mealy Redpoll and two Snow Buntings occurred. Mediterranean Gulls reached a new peak with at least four reported. OECEMBER: A much quieter month but still a few interesting visitors. The 7th produced a wide ränge of wildfowl passing through including 1,300 Brents and two Goosander. Another Little Auk was seen and a single Lapland Bunting passed over on 14th. Noted on the 2nd were 14 Snow Buntings, and a Great Grey Shrike briefly present on 6th, but long enough to be trapped, was considered to be of the eastern race pallidirostris — ihe Steppe Shrike of the Middle East. lf accepted this will be only the third record for Britain.

Non-Ornithological Records Düring the year non-ornithological records were kept and some interesting records were forthcoming. Mammals are rather limited in occurrence at Landguard due to its isolation, but as well as the resident Rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus and Brown Rats Rattus norvegicus, Weasels Mustela nivalis were recorded throughout the year, a Common Seal Phoca vitulina was noted off-shore during April and, surprisingiy, a Grey Squirrel Neosciuruscarolinensis appeared on September 1 Ith. The mammalian highlight of the year was the appearance of a whale on November 6th, which entered the river and became stranded in Bathside Bay on the Essex side of the River Stour. The whale eventually re-floated itself and spent some time around the harbour before swimming back out to sea. It was reported in the East Anglian Daily Times to 85

be a Bottle-nosed Whale Hyperoodon ampullatus, but from the published photographs it is now considered, by the Suffolk Biological Records Centre to have been a Lesser Rorqual Balaenoptera acutorostrata. The jetty on Landguard Point is very important in the county as virtually the only piece of 'rocky shoreline' in Suffolk and some of its marine life gets washed ashore during winter or early spring gales. During this time, fair numbers of Common Starfish Asterias rubens and Common Sunstar Solaster papposus were washed up and later, in March, Edible Crab Cancer pagurus, Shore Crab Carcinus maenus, Lobster Homarus vulgaris and Sea-mouse Aphrodite aculeata were all found. Butterflies are an attractive feature of the site with several common species being present in good numbers, notably Common Blue Polyommatus icarus; Small Copper, Lycaeana phlaeas, Essex Skipper, Thymelicus lineรณla and Orange-Tip Anthocharis cardamines. As is to be expected on an east coast site, migratory species were noted during the summer months and included Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, Painted Lady Cynthia cardui, Clouded Yellow Colias croceus and Large White Pieris brassicae with Red Admiral and Large White breeding locally to produce later broods. Migrant species also account for some of the moth records with good numbers of Silver-Y Autographa gamma recorded and Hummingbird Hawk-moth Macroglossum slellatarum during June, July and September. Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae, Six-spot Burnet Zygaena filipendulae stephensi and Yellow Shell Camptogramma bilineata cannot be missed during the summer, the latter being easily flushed from vegetation, and the former two much in evidence as day-flying species. A first for the site was the discovery of a caterpillar of the Emperor Moth Pavonia pavonia on a Bramble Rubus sp. on the reserve. On July 17th a moth night was held and 39 species were attracted to the light, the most interesting of which was the Bordered Sallow Pyrrhia umbra. Dragonflies consisted of two species which typically wander after breeding, namely Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum and Migrant Hawker A eshna mixta, and also Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum which breeds locally. Plant highlights were the discovery of single stems of Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis and Common Spotted Orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii, and the best showing for some years of Stinking Goosefoot Chenopodium vulvaria, a rare casual of disturbed areas, and a plant for which Landguard is a British stronghold. These plants were found due to the diligent searching of Arthur Copping who has been carrying out a survey of the botany of the site for several years and we are much indebted to him for his invaluable and very thorough work.

Bourne Park and adjacent water meadows by Mick Wright Bourne Park is to be found on the southern fringe of Ipswich. It is in the ownership of Ipswich Borough Council and is principally municipal parkland used for recreational purposes. At its southern extremity there is a large reedbed which has grown up, through natural progression, from an abandoned boating lake; a relic ot the 1920s. This excellent 'outsite' provides the ringers from Landguard Bird Observatory with further opportunities in which to study and take part in other surveys and projects for the British Trust for Ornithology. In 1986, 364 birds of 28 species were ringed at this site.


The site contains a mixture of habitat and is bisected by Belstead Brook. The brook, whose source lies in the Parish of Naughton, meanders through the chalky boulder clay of the Suffolk uplands before reaching Bourne Park and into the Orwell estuary at Bourne Bridge. The habitat is mainly of phyragmites reed-bed and water meadows bounded by mature broad-leaved trees and woodland on three sides. Although Bourne Park fringes a heavily populated area, the pressures associated with urbanisation, at the moment, are having minimal consequences. The site's own natural barriers and constraints have safeguarded and protected the area's ornithological richness. During the winter months, the meadows contain good numbers of Snipe Gallinago gallinago and, regularly, the elusive Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus can be flushed. When the Orwell is at flood, the meadows provide a roosting site for waders and wildfowl. The woodlands, too, provide ideal habitat for many species of birds. The reed-bed in autumn is noted for large concentrations of roosting hirundines, and throughout the winter period for Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarreUii. During the summer, the reed-bed comes alive with the songs and calls of the Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus and Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus. Looking ahead to 1987, it is this specific reed-bed habitat that makes the Bourne Park 'outsite' ideal for the BTO's latest ringing scheme known as a Constant Effort Site (CES). This scheme aims to gather information which will help to explain bird population changes, through a programme of summer mist-netting in specific habitats. Changes between years in the totals of adults captured provide an index of population change at the study site. Information on post-fledging productivity is provided by the ratio of juveniles to adults captured in the late season, while between-year retraps (birds ringed in previous years) provide information on survival. In specified habitats, relationships between habitat and population changes can be investigated. The CES will thus provide data complementary to those from the Common Bird Census, the Waterways Bird Survey, the Nest Record Scheme and Ringing Recoveries.

Fagbury by Reg Clarke Since 1984 the L.B.O. team have been heavily involved in the monitoring of the population and distribution of shorebirds that winter within the Orwell Estuary. Much of the work has been centred at Fagbury in the area threatened by the proposed expansion of the Port of Felixstowe, and a variety of marking and catching techniques have been employed. During 1986 a total of 13 visits were made to the site with Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Turnstone, Blackheaded Gull, Goldfinch and Twite being ringed. Due to the difficulty in catching large waders, expertise was drafted in by courtesy of Jeff Kew and members of the Wash Wader Ringing Group cannon-netting team. Although during daylight hours this was by far the most productive method, at night, we continued to employ mist-netting. In three cannon-netting firings Feb. 23rd; Mar. 23rd and Oct. 18th a total of 415 Oystercatchers was trapped, two of which originated from the Netherlands having been ringed within eight kilometres of each other in the district of Friesland. On Dec. 12th, Dunlins were the target species and out of a catch of 348 no less than 92 of the birds were retraps of birds ringed in previous years at this site. This


indicates the site fidelity of this hardy little wader. Another eight of the birds were controls; three carrying foreign rings from Sweden, Finland and Poland, and five carrying United Kingdom rings. Ringing recovery data to date appears to suggest that the Dunlins, sub-species Calidris alpina alpina that over-winter on the Orwell Estuary, come via the Baltic and Scandinavia and probably moult on the Waddensee or the Wash before arriving at our site. Over the study period (autumn 1984 to date) 427 Oystercatcher; 26 Ringed Plovers; 14 Grey Piover; 16 Turnstone; 226 Redshank; 1146 Dunlin; 28 Knot and one Jack Snipe have been ringed, and with the ever-increasing number of retrapped Dunlins and Redshanks (birds ringed in previous years) being caught each succeeding year, surely this shows the importance of this particular piece of estuarine habitat to our overwintering waders.

Orfordness by Roger Beecroft Having secured permission from the Ministry of Defence and the Property Services Agency to visit the normally restricted area on Orfordness, LBO members made eight Visits to the site in 1986. Orfordness holds a large gull colony (cl0,000 pairs of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls in 1986) and many breeding waders (especially Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Redshank and Ringed Piover). 196 birds were ringed, the majority being Lesser Black-backed Gull pulii. Many of the breeding gulls probably feed on inland refuse sites; in 1986 LBO started cannon netting at Foxhall Land fili Site under the guidance of members of Cambridgeshire Gull Group. The work at Foxhall is likely to prove the link between the feeding and breeding areas and trace the migration routes of the thousands of gulls that use Foxhall. With gull study groups in Cambridgeshire, Essex and London we should also find out how faithful wintering gulls are to feeding areas. Some interesting recoveries have already been obtained from studies on Orfordness; an Oystercatcher caught at Fagbury in winter was ringed as a chick on Orford three years earlier, a Common Gull ringed as a nestling had its ring number read through a telescope the following winter in Devon giving the first indication where our small breeding colony goes to in winter, and a juvenile Lesser Blackbacked Gull found dead in Morocco during February provided Landguard with its first African recovery.



Species Fulmar Grey Heron Shelduck Moorhen Oystercatcher Ringed Piover Grey Piover Lapwing Knot Dunlin Jack Snipe Snipe Curlew Redshank Green Sandpiper Common Sandpiper Turnstone Black-headed Gull Common Gull Lsr. Blk-backed Gull Herring Gull Little Tern Stock Dove Woodpigeon Little Owl Kingfisher Skylark Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Meadow Pipit Rock Pipit Yellow Wagtail

Total Grand Total 1984-1986 1986 5 4 1 5 421 31 11 9 0 356 0 4 4 15 0 0 2 497 5 248 86 10 1 0 0 0 0 0 77 1 1 1 1

10 4 11 7 443 62 14 26 28 1203 1 21 9 237 2 3 16 590 26 511 95 61 5 4 1 4 3 18 815 15 2 1 1

Species Grey Wagtail Pied Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Black Redstart Whinchat Blackbird Song Thrush Redwing Sedge Warbier Reed Warbier Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Blackcap Chiffchaff Willow Warbier Long-tailed Tit Blue Tit Great Tit Treecreeper Chaffinch Greenfinch Goldfinch Linnet Twite Redpoll Bullfinch Snow Bunting Yellowhammer Reed Bunting C o m Bunting

Total Grand Total 1984-1986 1986 1 97 4 7 6 0 0 10 2 0 9 55 0 0 4 0 1 5 48 1 1 1 4 2 3 4 0 3 0 1 19 0

1 189 9 11 10 5 1 29 12 1 46 224 1 2 4 1 6 5 99 4 1 1 4 3 5 4 1 4 1 3 47 1



1986 total â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 2084 birds of 47 species ringed. Overall, during the three years 1984-1986 inclusive a total of 4984 birds of 65 species have been ringed at L.B.O. Outsites. During the nine years 1978-1986 inclusive, a Grand Total of 24309 birds of 123 species have been ringed by Landguard Bird Observatory.


Suffolk Ringing Report by Reg Clarke and Ian P e t e r s The enthusiasm of the county's ringers continued in 1986 with more birds than ever before being ringed. Table 1 shows the totals of each species and these accumulate to an incredible 23,483 birds. Cold weather in February and March forced large numbers of birds to search urban environments for food. This accounts for the unusually high numbers of Starlings, Siskins and Black-headed Gulls being ringed, most of which were captured in well-baited gardens. Migration-wise however, both seasons conformed to national trends and were generally poor. Wind direction and weather conditions were detrimental to mistnetting and passage migrants were few and far between. On a brighter note two new species were added to the county ringing list; both of these were at Landguard with a Subalpine Warbler in September and a Little Bunting in October. Worthy of special mention are 4,300 Greenfinches, the majority of which were ringed in the Spring, showing that this species passes through in greater numbers than was at one time anticipated. This may be due to the species' exploitation of the peanut stocks provided by thoughtful householders, at a time when natural food supplies become depleted. Specific studies of our estuarine avifauna continued and a total of 1,207 waders was ringed. Other special projects included an intense study on Stone Curlews, Woodlarks and Marsh Harriers (all RSPB) and the continuation of the colourringing scheme by LBO on Black Redstarts. All ringers that operate in the county are invited to attend a special meeting which is to be held at the Ipswich Post House Hotel on February 26th 1988 (19.30 hrs.). It is hoped that this will be the first of an annual event at which ringers can meet each other and exchange ideas. It would greatly assist in the compilation of the Ringing Report if ringers would send a copy of their ringing returns to Reg Clarke, 6 Nelson Road, Ipswich IP4 4DS, at the same time as these are forwarded to the BTO.


Selected List of Recoveries Arrangement of entry: Age when ringed:

Sex: Manner of recovery:

Recoveries are arranged by species; ringing details are given on the first line and recovery data on the second. This is given according to the EUR1NG code; the figures do NOT represent years. Interpretation is as follows: 1 Pullus (= nestling or chick) 2 Fully grown, year of hatching quite unknown 3 Hatched during calendar year of ringing 4 Hatched before calendar year of ringing, but exact year unknown 5 Hatched during previous calendar year 6 Hatched before previous calendar year, but exact year unknown 8 Hatched three or more calendar years before year of ringing M = male; F = female v w

Caught or trapped, released with ring Ring number read in the field, or sight record of identifiable colour ring(s) + Shot or killed by man x Found dead xF Found freshly dead or dying / ? / Manner of recovery unknown * Exact locality withheld Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo: Three birds hearing yellow leg rings were noted at Wilford Bridge, Melton and Minsmere in July and August, all of which were offspring from the Dutch breeding colonies at Oostvaardersplassen in the Ijsselmeer area. 5059583 1 23.6.73 St. Margaret's Island, Tenby: 51 ° 3 8 ' N . 0 4 ° 4 2 ' W . (Dyfed) xF 18.1.86 Landguard Point: 5 1 ° 5 6 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 9 ' E . (Suffolk) 415 km E. Shelduck Tadorna tadorna: A notable movement as prior to 1981, only 11 British-ringed birds of this species had been recovered in France. GJ80803 10.10.85 Butley: 5 2 ° 0 5 ' N . 0 1 ° 3 0 ' E . (Suffolk) 15.11.86 Canet St. Nazaire: 4 2 ° 4 0 ' N . 0 3 o 0 1 ' E . (Pyrenees-Orientales) France 1052 km S. Marsh Harrier Circus SS64636 1 x

aeruginosus: 8.7.85 Coastal Suffolk* 15.4.86 Muge: 3 9 ° 0 6 ' N . 0 8 ° 4 2 ' W . (Ribatejo) Portugal 1663 km SSW.

Coot Fulica atra: This bird is awaiting vérification from the BTO to qualify as a new British longevity record. AJ90925

6 /?/

16.8.69 19.12.86

Boyton: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 1 ° 2 9 ' E . (Suffolk) Brouage: 4 5 ° 5 2 ' N . 0 1 ° 0 4 ' W . (Charente-Maritime) France 713 km SSW. Oystereatcher Haematopus ostralegus: A. 19.4.77 St. Nicolaasga: 5 2 ° 5 5 ' N . 0 5 ° 4 5 ' E . (Friesland) Netherlands 8 V 23.2.86 Fagbury: 5 1 ° 5 8 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 8 ' E . (Suffolk) 319 km WSW. 5114595 A. 24.4.81 Rotstergaast: 5 2 ° 5 4 ' N . 0 5 ° 5 4 ' E . (Friesland) Netherlands 8 5124157 V 23.2.86 Fagbury: 51°58'N. 0 1 ° 1 8 ' E . (Suffolk) 328 km WSW. 23.3.86 Fagbury: 51°58'N. 0 1 ° 1 8 ' E . (Suffolk) FR85029 8 + 20.7.86 Baie de Somme: 50°14'N. 01°33'E. (Somme) France 193 km S.


Slone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus: The following recoveries show that already the RSPB's intensive study of this species is bearing fruit. The French bird was found injured and was released afte; care 29.5.86 West Suffolk* ED62069 1 29.11.86 Campanario: 38°58'N. 0 5 ° 3 6 ' W . (Badajoz) Spain 1630 Im SS x 12.6.74 West Suffolk* EC92315 1 V 5.9.86 West Suffolk* 4M EH28522 28.5.85 West Suffolk* x 13.11.86 Batha, Fez: 3 4 ° 3 5 ' N . 0 3 ° 0 4 ' N . Moroceo 1994 km SSW 1 EH76132 30.5.82 West Suffolk* V 18.10.86 Sahurs: 4 9 ° 2 1 ' N . 0 0 ° 5 6 ' E . (Seine-Maritime) France 332 km S Knot Calidris canulus: This bird conforms to a pattern which shows that the migration route of the Canadian/Greenland population follows the Norwegian coastline, where pre-breeding fattening takes place prior to the final hop over the Norwegian Sea to their high aretie breeding grounds. CE55104 4 4.2.85 Ramsholt: 5 2 ° 0 5 ' N . 0 1 ° 2 3 ' E . (Suffolk) v 13.5.86 Kantornes: 69°23'N. 19°18'E. (Troms) Norway 2142 km NNE. Dunlin Calidris alpina. Again 1986 provided a good selection of controls, but the pattern conformed to previous years with no surprises. A. 4 16.12.85 Westnol: 51°26'N. 0 4 ° 0 0 ' E . (Zeeland) Netherlands V Hl 90020 2.11.86 Kingsfleet: 5 1 ° 5 9 ' N . 0 1 ° 2 4 ' E . (Suffolk) 189 km WNW. NS10938 3 28.11.82 Ramsholt: 5 2 ° 0 5 ' N . 0 1 ° 2 3 ' E . (Suffolk) 5.9.86 Schiermonnikoog: 52°29'N. 0 6 ° 1 2 ' E . (Groningen) V Netherlands 359 km ENE. BX50084

5 x

26.2.76 8.4.86



23.10.84 14.4.86



3 V


3 V

St. 3384636


St. 3346760 BX82689




3 V


4 V

Cd. JA58768

3 V

Gd. JN01326 Gd. J A31026





6F V

7.10.84 20.7.86 11.12.85 20.8.86 31.7.86 14.12.86 15.8.83 6.12.86 31.10.75 21.7.86 25.11.84 21.7.86 21.9.84 10.1.86 1.9.85 11.12.85 12.8.78 6.12.86 22.7.85

Boyton: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 1 ° 2 9 ' E . (Suffolk) Heligoland: 5 4 ° 1 1 ' N . 0 7 ° 5 5 ' E . (Heligoland) West German» 489 km NE. Brantham: 5 1 ° 5 8 ' N . 0 1 ° 0 3 ' E . (Suffolk) Crildumersiel: 5 3 ° 4 0 ' N . 0 8 ° 0 1 ' E . (Kreis Friesland) West Germany 504 km NE. Brantham: 5 1 ° 5 8 ' N . 0 1 ° 0 3 ' E . (Suffolk) Drummeholm: 5 4 ° 3 7 ' N . 11°28'E. (Lolland) Denmark 752 km NE. Ramsholt: 5 2 ° 0 5 ' N . 0 I ° 2 3 ' E . (Suffolk) Nidengen: 5 7 ° 1 8 ' N . 1 l ° 5 4 ' E . (Hailand) Sweden 889 km NE. Ottenby: 5 6 ° 1 2 ' N . 16°24'E. (Oland) Sweden Ramsholt: 5 2 ° 0 5 ' N . 0 1 ° 2 3 ' E . (Suffolk) 1078 km SW. Ottenby: 5 6 ° 1 2 ' N . 16°24'E. (Oland) Sweden Fagbury: 5 1 ° 5 8 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 8 ' E . (Suffolk) 1090 km SW. Butley River: 5 2 ° 0 6 ' N . 0 1 ° 3 0 ' E . (Suffolk) Vistula Mouth: 54°20'N. 18°56'E. (Gdansk) Poland 1186 km NNE. Ramsholt: 5 2 ° 0 5 ' N . 0 1 ° 2 3 ' E . (Suffolk) Vistula Mouth: 54°20'N. 18°56'E. (Gdansk) Poland 1194 km NNE. Reda Mouth: 5 4 ° 3 9 ' N . 18°30'E. (Gdansk) Poland Ramsholt: 5 2 ° 0 5 ' N . 0 1 ° 2 3 ' E . (Suffolk) 1170 km WSW. Ujscie Wisly: 5 4 ° 2 0 ' N . 18°56'E. (Gdansk) Poland Ramsholt: 5 2 ° 0 5 ' N . 0 I ° 2 3 ' E . (Suffolk) 1194 km WSW. Mikoszewo: 5 4 ° 2 2 ' N . I 8 ° 5 8 ' E . (Elblag) Poland Fagbury: 5 I ° 5 8 ' N . 0 1 ° I 8 ' E . (Suffolk) 1206 km WSW. Sappi: 6 I ° 2 9 ' N . 21°21'E. (Turku-Pori) Finland 92

Plate 22: Firecrest at Landguard spring and autumn.

where the species is most regularly seen both in Beecroft Ph°t0 R^er

Plate 23: This Yellow-browed Warbler was the first 1986. s


Piale 24: Pieci Flycatcher: Despile a poor spring passage the species was predominarli in the autumn Photo Roger Beecroft

Piate 25: Mist-netting were ringed bere.

in the reed-bed at Bourne Park: In 1986 364 birds o/28 species P h o t o R o g e r Beecroft





6.12.86 19.11.84 14.7.86

Fagbury: 51°58'N. 0 1 ° 1 8 ' E . (Suffolk) 1610 kw SSW. Ramsholt: 52°05'N. 0 1 ° 2 3 ' E . (Suffolk) Drummeholm: 54°37' N. 11 °28' E. (Lolland) Denmark 725 km NE.

Redshank Tringa totanus: Both recoveries were in consequence of the harsh weather and as the latter bird was found amongst 100 corpses it shows the species' susceptibility to these conditions. DN32530 3 12.9.85 Butley: 5 2 ° 0 5 ' N . 01 ° 3 0 ' E . (Suffolk) x 21.2.86 Le Taret, Baie des Veys: 4 9 ° 1 9 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 9 ' W . (Manche) France 359 km SSW. DR 13054 6 16.1.80 Boyton: 52°04'N. 01 ° 2 9 ' E . (Suffolk) x 6.3.86 Ramsey, Harwich: 5 1 ° 5 6 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 4 ' E . (Essex) 23 km S. Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus: In addition two were controlled bearing Dutch rings. 10.2.85 Ipswich: 52°04'N. 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) EN22546 5 X 29.10.86 Nr. Esbjerg: 56°30'N. 0 8 ° 3 0 ' E . (Jylland) Denmark 634 km NE. 9.2.86 Ipswich: 52°04'N. 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) EN45921 6 X 23.10.86 Fakse: 5 5 ° 1 2 ' N . 12°08'E. (Sjaelland) Denmark 804 km NE. EJ18859 4 12.12.81 Ipswich: 52°04'N. 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) vv 19.3.86 Damhussoen: 5 5 ° 4 1 ' N . 12°29'E. (Sjaelland) Denmark 843 km NE. 1 31.5.85 Trakai: 5 4 ° 3 8 ' N . 2 4 ° 5 6 ' E . Lithuanian S.S.R. Lith. V 9.2.86 Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) 1601 km E. 190848 9.2.86 Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) EN45943 6 + 5.8.86 Bissjon: 6 4 ° 2 5 ' N . 2 1 ° 1 4 ' E . (Vasterbotten) Sweden 1796 km NNE. Common Gull Larus canus: The ring number of the Paignton bird was read off in the field and represents the first known sighting of a bird which was reared in Suffolk but seen elsewhere. EB22250 1 3.7.85 Orfordness: 52°05' N. 01 ° 3 5 ' E . (Suffolk) vv 3.3.86 Paignton: 50°26'N. 0 3 ° 3 4 ' W . (Devon) 402 km WSW. A., 1 5.7.74 Schiermonnikoog: 5 3 ° 4 5 ' N . 0 6 ° 2 0 ' E . (Groningen) 32*19667 Netherlands x 8.3.86 Snape: 5 2 ° 1 0 ' N . 0 1 ° 3 0 ' E . (Suffolk) 370 km W. Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus: The natal area of this bird lies 4° north of the Arctic Circle approaching Norway's northernmost extremity. Slav. 1 22.7.84 Hjelmsoy, Maasoy: 7 1 ° 0 9 ' N . 24°44'E. (Finnmark) Norway 335387 x 4.5.85 Orfordness: 5 2 ° 0 5 ' N . 01 ° 3 5 ' E . (Suffolk) 2423 km SSW. Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus: GH28196 shows the southern extent of the over-wintering range of this gull, and is the first foreign recovery of the gull ringing project at Orfordness. Slav. 1 12.7.85 Store Vengelsholmen: 5 7 ° 5 8 ' N . 0 7 ° 3 2 ' E . (Vest-Agder) 493538 Norway GH28196



3 x

7.8.85 4.2.86

Orfordness: 52°07'N. 01 ° 3 3 ' E . (Suffolk) 753 km SSW. Orfordness: 52°05'N. 0 1 ° 3 4 ' E . (Suffolk) Azemmour: 3 3 ° 2 0 ' N . 0 8 ° 2 5 ' W . Morocco 2233 km SSW.

Sand Martin Riparia riparia: This is the second year running a bird f r o m Rochester has been controlled at Playford. C546922 4M 10.9.85 Lower Stoke, Rochester: 51 ° 2 7 ' N . 0 0 ° 3 8 ' E . (Kent) v 12.7.86 Playford: 52°05'N. 0 1 ° 1 3 ' E . (Suffolk) 81 km NNE.

Swallow Hirundo C018915


3J x

22.8.83 1.5.86

Landguard Point: 5 1 ° 5 6 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 9 ' E . (Suffolk) Gas Platform L4 Alpha: 5 3 ° 4 3 ' N . 0 4 ° 0 6 ' E . (North Sea) 272 km NE.

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes: Ring found in a Barn Owl (Tyto alba) pellet, when pellets werc beingj analysed as part of a class project on Owls. 9K5549 3 28.9.85 Newbourne Springs: 5 2 ° 0 2 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 8 ' E . (Suffolk) x 9.5.86 Newbourne Springs: 5 2 ° 0 2 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 8 ' E . (Suffolk) 0 km 0 Hlackhird Turdus merula: Two interesting movements showing the origins of some of our overwintering birds; in addition there were three controls from the Netherlands. XP48387 5M 27.2.85 Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) x 24.5.86 Norreso Maribo: 54°46'N. 11°31'E. (Lolland) Denmark 748 km NE. St. 1F 29.7.86 Sunnana: 5 8 ° 4 3 ' N . 12°31'E. (Alvsborg) Sweden 4216231 v 2.11.86 Landguard Point: 51°56'N. 0 1 ° 1 9 ' E . (Suffolk) 1033 km SW. Fieldfare Turdus pilaris: migration. B. 2F 11Z69923 x XP57834 5 x

As with Blackbird, these movements typify the Trans-North Sea thrush 7.11.81 23.2.86 19.1.85 16.7.86

Merksplas: 5 1 ° 2 2 ' N . 0 4 ° 5 2 ' E . (Antwerp) Belgium Capel St. Mary: 52°00'N. 0 1 ° 0 4 ' E . (Suffolk) 271 km W. Witnesham: 5 2 ° 0 7 ' N . 01 ° 1 1 ' E . (Suffolk) Skulhus Ghovic: 6 0 ° 5 5 ' N . 10°40'E. (Opland) Norway 1138 km NNE.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos: This represents Landguard's second Portuguese recovery involvine this species. RX80412 6 25.4.86 Landguard Point: 51 ° 5 6 ' N . 01° 1 9 ' N . (Suffolk) + 15.12.86 Portalegre: 3 9 ° 3 8 ' N . 0 7 ° 3 3 ' W . (Alto Alentejo) Portugal 1528 km SSW. Reed Warbler: Acrocephalus B396746

4 v


22.5.83 3.10.85

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla: C320131 4F 16.9.84 xF 29.4.86

Hollesley: 5 2 ° 0 3 ' N . 01 ° 2 6 ' E . (Suffolk) Arahal: 3 7 ° I 5 ' N . 0 5 ° 3 3 ' W . (Sevilla) Spain 1733 km SSW.

Newbourne Springs: 5 2 ° 0 2 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 8 ' E . (Suffolk) Kaedi: 16°12'N. 13°32'W. Mauretania 4194 km S.

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus: The Walberswick bird depicts both longevity and site fidelitv of this Trans-Saharan migrant. 3B8855



Walberswick: 52° 18'N. 01 ° 3 8 ' E . (Suffolk)

x 9.5.86 Walberswick: 52°18'N. 0 1 ° 3 8 ' E . (Suffolk) 0 km 0 2K0891 3 21.8.86 Landguard Point: 5 1 ° 5 6 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 9 ' E . (Suffolk) x 22.9.86 Casablanca: 3 3 ° 3 9 ' N . 0 7 ° 3 5 ' W . Morocco 2154 km S. Goldcrest Regulus regulus: 6K3626 4M 28.9.85 Tunstall: 5 2 ° 0 7 ' N . 0 I ° 2 9 ' E . (Suffolk) x 12.1.86 Churchdown: 51°53'N. 02°11'W. (Gloucestershire) 252 km " Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata: C390707 4 12.8.84 Benhall Low Street: 52° 1 l ' N . 01 ° 2 6 ' E . (Suffolk) + 21.10.86 Settat: 3 2 ° 5 8 ' N . 0 7 ° 1 9 ' W . Morocco 2249 km SSW. Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus: C480126

3F v

19.8.85 15.3.86

Walberswick: 5 2 ° 1 8 ' N . 0 1 ° 3 8 ' E . (Suffolk) Ely: 5 2 ° 2 4 ' N . 0 0 ° 1 8 ' E . (Cambridgeshire) 91 km W.

Coal Tit Parus ater: An exceptional long-distance movement for this normally sedentary species. C067403 6 1.2.84 Snape: 52° 10'N. 01 ° 3 0 ' E . (Suffolk) v 3.4.86 Snettisham: 52°33'N. 0 0 ° 3 0 ' E . (Norfolk) 104 km N. Starling Sturnus vulgaris: Recoveries of this species followed the trends of previous years, with birds from the Low Countries, Sweden, the Baltic States and U.S.S.R., the longest movement of which is reproduced below. (Countries of origin were Belgium (2), Netherlands (3), West Germany (2), East Germany (1), Sweden (1), Poland (1), Lithuania (5) and U.S.S.R. (1).) XK98460 6M 21.2.82 Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . O P I O ' E . (Suffolk) x 1.5.86 Kiauneliskis, Ignalina: 5 5 ° 1 7 ' N . 25°54'E. Lithuanian S.S.R. 1666 km E. Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs: A. 4F 21.3.85 Kampen: 5 2 ° 3 4 ' N . 0 5 ° 5 5 ' E . (Overijssel) Netherlands B621740 v 3.11.86 Landguard Point: 5 1 ° 5 6 ' N . 01° 19'E. (Suffolk) 321 km W. Greenfinch Carduelis chloris: Only two of the many Greenfinch recoveries are shown, the Netherlands control being the most interesting as up to the end of 1985, only 64 birds of this species wearing foreign rings had been recorded. The other recoveries within the U.K. almost all conformed to the pattern of previous years, with south-westerly orientated movements in the autumn and northeasterly orientated movements in the spring. A. 3F 16.11.85 Haamstede: 51°40'N. 0 3 ° 4 3 ' E . (Zeeland) Netherlands B650693 v 18.4.86 Landguard Point: 5 1 ° 5 6 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 9 ' E . (Suffolk) 168 km W N W . VA65234 3F 12.10.85 Landguard Point: 5 1 ° 5 6 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 9 ' E . (Suffolk) v 6.4.86 Hoeilaart: 5 0 ° 4 6 ' N . 0 4 ° 2 8 ' E . (Brabant) Belgium 254 km ESE. Crossbill Loxia curvirostra: A notable recovery showing movement between the coast and the Brecks. BV09484 5 29.4.84 Tangham: 52°05'N. 0 1 ° 2 6 ' E . (Suffolk) x 12.9.86 Flempton: 52°18'N. 0 0 ° 3 9 ' E . (Suffolk) 59 km NW. Siskin Carduelis spinus: The latter four recoveries of this species would suggest movements back to the Scottish Highlands, whilst the first four birds could possibly be continental breeders. However, more work needs to be done on the movement of this species. C794492 5M 23.2.86 Sunningwell: 51°42'N. 0 1 ° 1 7 ' W . (Oxfordshire) V 17.4.86 Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) 173 km E. 5F 5.4.86 Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E (Suffolk) C715883 V 8.12.86 Wassenaar: 52°10'N. 0 4 ° 2 1 ' E . (Zuid-Holland) Netherlands 217 km E. 5M 3.3.86 Wellington, Telford: 5 2 ° 4 2 ' N . 0 2 ° 3 1 ' W . (Shropshire) C472818 V 23.4.86 Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . O P I O ' E . (Suffolk) 259 km E. B. 4F 22.10.85 Merksplas: 51°22'N. 0 4 ° 5 2 ' E . (Antwerp) Belgium 2194654 V 30.3.86 Ipswich: 52°04'N. 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) 266 km W. C715843 5F 30.3.86 Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) V 19.4.86 Whickham: 5 4 ° 5 6 ' N . 0 1 ° 4 0 ' W . (Tyne & Wear) 369 km NW. 26.3.86 Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) C715833 6M 31.5.86 Balfron: 5 6 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 4 ° 2 0 ' W . (Central Region) 571 km NW. x C714849 5M 31.3.86 Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N . 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) V 22.4.86 Clochan, Buckie: 5 7 ° 3 8 ' N . 0 3 ° 0 0 ' W . (Grampian Region) 673 km NNW. 20.4.86 Ipswich: 52°04'N. 0 1 ° 1 0 ' E . (Suffolk) 6F v 10.5.86 Alness Ferry: 5 7 ° 4 0 ' N . 0 4 ° 1 5 ' W . (Black Isle) 712 km N N W . Linnet Carduelis cannabina: An unusual movement for this species, as prior to 1981 only 18 Britishringed birds had been recovered in Belgium.



3JM v

5.8.85 13.10.86

Landguard Point: 5 1 ° 5 6 ' N . 01°19'E. (Suffolk) Brasschaat: 5 1 ° 1 7 ' N . 0 4 ° 2 7 ' E . (Antwerp) Belgium 228 km ESE. 95

TABLE 1: SYSTEM ATIC LIST OF SPECIES ANI) TOTALS OF BIRDS RINGED IN SUFFOLK 1986 Species Total Species Total Species Total Fulmar 1 5 Little Owl Whitethroat 161 Grey Heron 6 Tawny Owl 7 Garden Warbler 178 C a n a d a Goose 111 Long-eared Owl 13 Blackcap 405 Shelduck 14 Short-eared Owl 1 Yellow-browed Warbler 4 Teal Nightjar 36 8 Wood Warbler 1 4 Mallard Swift 570 Chiffchaff 224 T u f t e d Duck 5 Kingfisher 3 Willow Warbler 94) Marsh Harrier 23 Wryneck 2 Goldcrest 60 Sparrowhawk 2 Green Woodpecker 1 9 Firecrest 9 7 Kestrel Gt. Sptd. W'pecker 68 Spotted Flycatcher Water Rail 1 Lr. Sptd. W'pecker 7 46 Pied Flycatcher 52 Moorhen 12 Woodlark 34 Bearded Tit Oystercatcher 437 27 Skylark 7! Long-tailed Tit 19 Avocet Sand Martin 646 21 Marsh Tit Swallow 9 Stone Curlew 53 1406 Willow Tit 84 Ringed Piover 58 House Martin 185 Coal Tit 1121 Grey Piover 16 Tree Pipit 1 Blue Tit 543 Lapwing Meadow Pipit 38 50 Great Tit 20 Knot 3 Rock Pipit 1 Nuthatch 30 I Yellow Wagtail Little Stint 148 Treecreeper 1 1 2 Purple Sandpiper Grey Wagtail Red-backed Shrike 1 Dunlin 549 Pied Wagtail 239 Great Grey Shrike Ruff 1 Wren 173 Jay 1 419 Jack Snipe 2 Dunnock Magpie 1 Robin 322 Snipe 28 Rook 2674 1 Nightingale 44 Woodcock Starling 148 7 Black-tailed Godwit Black Redstart 48 House Sparrow 10 Curlew 74 Redstart 23 Tree Sparrow 326 Whinchat Redshank 59 10 Chaffinch 30 2 Wheatear Green Sandpiper 8 Brambling 4305 1 Ring Ouzel C o m m o n Sandpiper 3 Greenfinch 176 2 Blackbird 1065 Turnstone Goldfinch 358 635 Fieldfare 25 Black-headed Gull Siskin 486 SongThrush C o m m o n Gull 6 330 Linnet 4 277 Redwing 21 Lr. Blk-backed Gull Twite 596 95 Mistle Thrush Herring Gull 15 Redpoll 9 28 7 Little Tern G ' h o p p e r Warbler Crossbill 192 Stock Dove 5 Sedge Warbler 163 Bullfinch 131 Reed Warbler Woodpigeon 8 906 Yellowhammer 1 Icterine Warbler Collared Dove 21 2 Little Bunting 5 1 Subalpine Warbler 1 Turtle Dove C o m Bunting 163 2 Barred Warbler 2 Cuckoo Reed Bunting 23484 4 Barn Owl Lesser Whitethroat 199 Grand Total

Acknowledgements W e w o u l d like t o t h a n k P e t e r C a t c h p o l e , R o d n e y W e s t , P a u l N e w t o n , A l a n M i l l e r , Malcolm C a v a n a g h , Chris Bowden, Dr. P. McAnulty, Dr. A. Martin, Cliff Waller, Steve P i o t r o w s k i , Rex a n d R o g e r Beecroft, Mick W r i g h t , Derek a n d J e r e m y M o o r e , Philip M u r t รณ n , Brian T h o m p s o n , E. H. W e b b , Derek E a t o n , J o h n Rolf, T o n y T h o m p s o n a n d L a n d g u a r d Bird O b s e r v a t o r y w i t h o u t w h o s e e f f o r t s this ringing report could not have been produced.


SUFFOLK NATURALISTS SOCIETY Founded in 1929 by Claude Morley (1874-1951), the Suffolk Naturalists' Society pioneered the study and recording of the County's flora, fauna and geology, to promote a wider interest in natural history. Recording the natural history of Suffolk is still one of primary objects, and members' observations are fed to specialist recorders for possible publication, and deposited Biological Records Centre, jointly managed with Ipswich

the Society's a network of in the Suffolk Museums.

Suffolk Natural History, a review of the County's wildlife, and Suffolk Birds, the County bird report, are two high quality annual publications issued free to members. The Society also publishes an interesting quarterly newsletter and organises a programme of summer field excursions and winter lectures at venues throughout the County. The Society offers a joint membership with the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group at a reduced subscription rate. This entitles joint members to receive literature and attend the meetings of both societies. If you are not yet a member of the Society, but would like to join please contact: The Hon. Secretary, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH. MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES SNS Individual £6.00 Family £7.00 £3.00 Junior (under 18)

Joint membership SNS/SOG £10.00 £12.00 £4.00

Contents Editorial. S. H. Piotrowski Weather trends and their effect on the county's avifauna 1986. J. H. Grant Field Reports â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 1986. The County Ornithological Records Committee Earliest and Latest dates of Summer Migrants. P. W. Murphy List of Contributors Descriptions of county rarities 1986: Semipalmated Sandpiper. D. J. Weaver Subalpine Warbler. Muriel J. Beecroft Marsh Warbler. A. A. K. Lancaster Greenish Warbler. Brian Brown Great Grey Shrike, Lanius excubitor pallidirostris. Mike Marsh Little Bunting. Mike Marsh Suffolk Ornithological Surveys 1986: Breeding Woodlarks. Ray Waters Wintering Cormorant Survey 1985-86. Ray Waters The Suffolk Black Redstart Survey 1986. Roger Beecroft The diet of Hen Harriers roosting on a Breckland heath. Roger Clarke and David Palmer A brief history of the breeding of the Marsh Harrier in Suffolk. Derek Moore Notes: Unusual perching by Tawny Owls. Jeff Martin Waxwings eating snow. Mike Crewe Landguard Bird Observatory 1986. Mike Crewe and Rex Beecroft Bourne Park and adjacent water meadows. Mick Wright Fagbury. Reg Clarke Orfordness. Roger Beecroft Suffolk Ringing Report. Reg Clarke and Ian Peters

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Suffolk Birds 1987  

Volume 36 Bird Report 1986

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