Page 1


3

THE COUNTY OF SUFFOLK

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Watsonian vice-counties 2 5 (East Suffolk) and 2 6 (West Suffolk).

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Fritton Lake

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Lowestoft

I T T Ï i _ Y

JC"j-t—W I Beccles

Oulton

Broad

Brandon

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Thetford Little

Benacre Ouse Haiesworth

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Blythbuiirgh

Southwold 4

Mildenhall Livermere

V P

7

Walberswick Lackford Pits Minsmere

Framlingham :

Newmarket

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Bury St. Edmunds

I I Stowmarket Aldeburgh Glpping

Valley Woodbridge Orfordness

Haverhill R.

Stour

Wolves Wood

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Ipswich

Havergate Island

Sudbury _ 1 H a d l e i g h i _ Alton

Water B Felixstowe R.

Stour

Landguard

I

1


SUFFOLK BIRDS 1988 VOL. 37

incorporating the County Bird Report of 1987

Editor S. H. Piotrowski Assistant Editor P. W. Murphy Graphic/Photographic Editor D. R. Moore

Published by SUFFOLK NATURALISTS ' SOCIETY 1988 1


Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH. Š The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, 1988 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the Copyright owners.

ISSN 0264-5793

Printed by Healeys, Fore Street, Ipswich, Suffolk 2


CONTENTS Editorial. S. H. Piotrowski Seabirds and Seawatching in Suffolk 1987. J. M. Cawston and S. Ling Barn Owl mortality during the Winter of 1986/87. J. R. Martin Suffolk Ornithological Surveys: Lark Valley Canada Goose Study. Dr Tony Martin Winter Status of the Hen Harrier in Suffolk 1984-88. Roger Clarke Breeding Lapwings. Ray Waters National Breeding Bird Atlas — Pilot Survey. Ray Waters Weather trends and their effect on the county's avifauna 1987. J. H. Grant Field Reports — 1987. The County Ornithological Records Committee Earliest and Latest dates of Summer Migrants. S. H. Piotrowski List of Contributors Rarities in Suffolk 1987: Reporting County Rarities. Brian Brown Little Bustards. Reg Clarke Long-tailed Skua. Stuart Ling Red-rumped Swallow — first for Suffolk. A. Mullins Red-rumped Swallow — second for Suffolk. Derek Moore Red-rumped Swallow — third for Suffolk. A. C. Easton Desert Wheatear — first for Suffolk. Mike Crewe Marsh Warbler — second for Suffolk. Mike Crewe Subalpine Warbler — second for Suffolk. Dave Butterfield Lesser Whitethroat, Sylvia curruca blythi. Mike Marsh Dusky Warbler — first for Suffolk. Dave Butterfield Landguard Bird Observatory, 1987. Mike Crewe Bourne Park. Mick Wright Birds Ringed at Landguard 1978-1987. Reg Clarke Landguard Gull Study. Roger Beecroft Suffolk Ringing Report. Reg Clarke and Ian Peters

Page 5 7 12 15 16 16 18 19 19 23 101 102 103 105 106 107 108 108 109 110 110 Ill 112 113 118 119 120 121

List of Colour Illustrations Plate No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 U 12 13 14 15

Rendlesham Forest, Forestry Commission Martlesham Heath, H. Mendel Bam Owl, E. and D. Hosking Dabchick, S. Dumican Grey Heron, T. W. Palmer Cormorant, S. H. Piotrowski Utile Egret, S. H. Piotrowski Great Bustards. S. H. Piotrowski Great Bustards. S. H. Piotrowski River Ore, C H. Beardall Dotterel. C. R Naunton Oystercatcher, S. Dumican Nightjar, S. Dumican Little Ringed Plover, S. Dumican Dunlin, E. and D. Hosking

Plate No. 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Facing Page 16 16 17 17 17 32 32 33 33 33 64 64 65 65 65

The Copyright remains thai of the

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Curlew, S. Dumican Glaucous Gull, D. Marsh Iceland Gull, S H. Piotrowski Caspian Tern, T. Loseby Stone Curlew. S. Dumican Desert Wheatear. T. Loseby Desert Wheatear. T. Loseby Great Jit, S. H Piotrowski Spotted Flycatcher, S. Dumican Landguard Point, K. Turner Dusky Warbler, S. H. Piotrowski Desert Wheatear, T. Loseby Reed Warbler. T. W. Palmer Orfordness, S. H. Piotrowski

Photographers.

Facing Page 80 80 81 81 116 116 116 117 117 124 124 124 125 125


Notice to Contributors Suffolk Birds is an annual publication of records, notes and papers on ail aspects of Suffolk ornithology. Except for records and field descriptions, submitted through the County Recorder, ali material should be original. It should not have been published elsewhere or offered in complete or in part to any other journal. Authors should carefully study this issue and follow the style of présentation, especially in relation to référencés and tables. Nomenclature (English and scientific) and order should follow The 'Brìtish Birds' List of the Birds of the Western Palearctic (1984). Manuscripts must be typed, double spaced, with wide margins, on one side of the paper only. They must be in the final form for publication: proofs of longer papers are returned to authors, but altérations must be confined to corrections of printer's errors. The cost of any other altérations may be charged to the author. In certain circumstances the Editor may be able to accept papers on computer dise. Photographs and line drawings are required to complément each issue. Suitable photographs of birds, preferably taken in Suffolk, should ideally be in the form of 35mm transparencies. A payment of £10 will be made to the photographer for each photograph published. Original photographs/line drawings will be returned to the contributors after publication. Every effort possible will be made to take care of the original photographs and artwork. However, photographers and artists are reminded that neither the Editor nor the SNS can be held responsible in the unlikely event of an accident resulting in loss or damage. The author may wish to illustrate his own article but this will be subject to the illustrations being up to the standard required by the Editor, and the décision on such matters will rest with him. Material submitted for publication should be sent to the Editor no later than February lst of each year. Authors of main papers may request up to five free copies of the journal.

Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee Brian Brown (Chairman), Rex Beecroft, Chris Bowden, John Grant, Gerrald Jobson (co-opted), Mike Marsh, Derek Moore, Philip Murphy (Secretary), Tony Prater, Steve Piotrowski, Bob Warren (County Recorder), Cliff Waller, Malcolm Wright.

Addresses Papers, notes, drawings and photographs: The Editor (Suffolk Birds), The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Muséum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH. Records: Bob Warren, The County Recorder, 37 Dellwood Avenue, Felixstowe IP11 9HW. Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee — information: Philip Murphy, 24 Henstead Gardens, Ipswich IP3 9LN.


Editorial Glancing through back issues of Suffolk Birds there are some periods that stand out as being particularly exciting. The 'Great Fall' of 1965 was a phenomenal event, unrivalled in recent times, but 1987 will also be remembered with envy by those to follow. Ornithologists were treated to a spectacular avian display, which almost spanned the year; scarcely a week went by without a nationally rare bird turning up somewhere in the County. The freak weather conditions which included an 'arctic' January, a tremendous hailstorm in August and a hurricane in October must have been partly responsible. The hurricane caused much devastation and has irreparably changed large areas of the Suffolk landscape. With vagrants flooding through it was a very busy time for birdwatchers. After an absence of over sixty years Great Bustards graced Suffolk's shores and three Little Bustards were the first since 1960. Even more remarkable was a Dartford Warbler, a possible victim of the hurricane, which represents Suffolk's only sighting since its extinction as a breeding species around 1939. It is perhaps surprising that despite the high numbers of rare birds only three species were new to the County: Red-rumped Swallow, Desert Wheatear and Dusky Warbler. However, the former came in abundance, with five records involving six birds. Scarce visitors such as Cory's Shearwater, Blue-winged Teal, Gull-billed Tern, Aquatic, Marsh and Subalpine Warblers and Little Bunting were recorded, which together had previously accounted for a mere 25 records for the County. Landguard had its best year ever and in north-east Suffolk the seawatching was, at times, brilliant! Conservation headlines were again dominated by the Felixstowe Dock Extension and the impending loss of Fagbury Flats. With this development now certain to take place we must now evaluate the losses and gains and take stock of the lessons learnt. We have the consolation of a nature reserve, on Trimley Marshes, which will hopefully preserve this land in perpetuity. However, this hardly compensates for the loss of the food-rich estuarine mud of Fagbury Flats. If properly managed it should provide a valuable breeding habitat for birds, of marsh and meadow, and act as a barrier to urban and industrial development further up river. In hindsight, conservationists were ill prepared for such a long and arduous struggle; they lacked scientific data and if it hadn't been for momentous efforts by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds the local effort would have been most seriously wanting. With a greater awareness than ever about the enormous ecological value of our Suffolk estuaries, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) has set up a project to study these threatened habitats. Sponsorship has come from the Central Electricity Generating Board through the World Wildlife Fund. A considerable amount of data has already been collected, concerning our estuarine systems, from the Birds of the Estuaries Enquiry and other surveys. A team of specialists will work with the various groups to identify threats and take actions to prevent any potential damage to valuable habitats. They will plan practical tasks to conserve estuarine wildlife and liaise with landowners and all other interested parties active in these areas. Another scheme, launched during 1987, which enhances the chances of survival for many of our birds, is the establishment of Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs). These have been introduced under the guidance of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and basically offer compensation payments to farmers and landowners who manage their land sympathetically for wildlife. There are two tiers to this management scheme; the first is aimed mainly at landscape value and the second specifically at nature conservation. The guidelines for these management plans were drawn up by a consortium of MAFF, Local Government officials and representatives from conservation bodies.

5


We are fortunate to have three areas of Suffolk within ESAs; the Waveney Valley (Broads ESA), the Brecks and Suffolk River Valleys. Leaving aside the valuable fringe habitats such as woodlands, hedgerows and reedbeds, the prime ecosystems which will benefit are the grassland heaths of the Breck, and the wet grazing meadows of the valley bottom. The Breckland heaths have long been suffering, with rabbits exterminated on some of the best sites, and sheep farming no longer economical. Consequently these sites have suffered from birch and pine encroachment as well as less obvious effects resulting from lack of grazing. Within the scheme, sheep can be encouraged onto these areas to the benefit of the Wheatear, Whinchat and Stone Curlew. The wet meadows, remnants of a once great system for grazing, are a vital habitat for Snipe, Redshank, Shoveler and Garganey, to name just a few. With the return to grass, and reintroduction of grazing, these areas will be greatly improved. Within the guidelines careful thought has been given to livestock densities and grazing rotation, to derive maximum benefit for botanical and ornithological interest. In 1987 Bonny Wood, Barking was purchased by the SWT, as a nature reserve, and consists of 40 acres of magnificent deciduous woodland. In addition, by agreement with the landowners, Levington Lagoon has been developed specifically for shorebirds. There is no doubt that, over the past thirty years, urban development and changes in farming practices have had a devastating effect on our wildlife, but it is not all gloom and doom. There are some areas where time has almost stood still. In contrast to those areas now devoid of hedgerows there are smaller farmsteads operating the old system where song-birds still abound. We have a fantastic series of coastal nature reserves and pockets of sandling heath.

Orfordness is Suffolk's last wilderness, its shingle spit stretching for ten miles south of the town of Aldeburgh. Even here there are threats. Still under the ownership of the Ministry of Defence, the Ness is suffering badly from vandalism and neglect. Parties of fishermen are now able to drive saloon cars along the shingle ridge causing immense damage to its fragile flora. Illegal shooting and hare coursing have been witnessed; rare breeding birds, including a Short-eared Owl, have been found shot and egg-collectors regularly raid the area. The Nature Conservancy Council already owns the southern end of Orfordness and in 1988 will explore the possibility of purchasing the remainder of this designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI); hopefully events will move quickly enough to save the site.

Acknowledgements. The Editor is extremely grateful to the contributors to Suffolk Birds who are acknowledged separately under the relevant sections. Special thanks are due to Philip Murphy, the Assistant Editor, and to Howard Mendel, the Chairman of the Suffolk Naturalists' Society, for their help and support throughout this production. Derek Moore again organised the submission of line drawings and photographs and the source of the original artwork is acknowledged alongside each plate/drawing.


SEABIRDS A N D SEAWATCHING IN SUFFOLK 1987 by J. M .Cawston and S. Ling

The north coast of Suffolk, between Aldeburgh and Lowestoft, is the most easterly part of the British coastline. It is strategically placed, facing the southern North Sea as it funnels into the English Channel, for the observation of passing seabirds. With the recent increases in the quality of optical aids, and with greater powers of identification, it was our belief that, given the right conditions, Suffolk could be capable of producing seabirds and sea watches which would rival that of other coastal counties. Covehithe cliffs appeared the ideal watching point having the height which is lacking at Britain's most easterly promontory — Ness Point, Lowestoft. "Suffolk is not usually noted for its seabirds" was the opening editorial line of the 77th SOG bulletin and those who have spent hours scanning birdless horizons would wholeheartedly support this statement. Newcomers to the County however, may not have been so agreeable, especially if their first year's seawatching here, so happened to be during autumn 1987. With the autumn winds predominantly easterly the seabirds kept coming and coming and, as more birds were seen, other observers were stimulated to join us on those lonely, windy Covehithe cliffs. Historically, Suffolk's record for seabirds is not great. Babington (1884-86) relied on storm driven casualties, tideline corpses and birds brought ashore by Suffolk's once great Herring fishing fleet. Ticehurst (1932) questioned some of the claims of the super-rarities and listed Great and Little Shearwater and Brunnich's Guillemot in square brackets. The County's first record of Sooty Shearwater came as late as 1960, whereas Norfolk's first was in 1851. Cory's Shearwater was even later on the scene with the first off Dunwich in 1974. The majority of the truly pelagic species, that frequent the North Sea, occur further to the north of Suffolk, mainly between Humberside and the north of Scotland. These waters are rich in food but can also be cruel, and gales anywhere from north-west to east frequently force seabirds southwards into its southern half. It is during or after such a gale that Suffolk is at its best, as seabirds, avoiding the harsher conditions out at sea, bid their return via the more sheltered inshore waters. 7


During autumn 1987, in such conditions, we were fortunate to witness passages of such species as Sooty Shearwater, originating in the waters of the Falkland Islands, and the graceful and delicate Leach's Petrel which breeds in the far North Atlantic. Formerly, species such as these have been unexpected bonuses to most birdwatchers in the County. It is our opinion that, with one eye on the weather and a little patience and dedication, such species can be seen regularly off the Suffolk coast. This is not to suggest that seawatching is easy; it can be very hard at times and is wide open to pitfalls for the unwary. So be warned, the birds are not always easy to see or identify, and the only way to improve your knowledge is to sit and seawatch regularly, familiarising yourself with commoner species such as Gannet, Kittiwake, and Fulmar. The year 1987 was undoubtedly Suffolk's best year on record for seabirds and even though coverage was far from complete, record totals were obtained for most species. These included over 1,500 Gannets, three Cory's Shearwaters, 94 Sooty Shearwaters, 35 Manx Shearwaters, eight Leach's Petrels, 275 Arctic Skuas, 14 Pomarine Skuas, 48 Great Skuas, a Long-tailed Skua, three Grey Phalaropes, three Sabine's Gulls, and a Gullbilled Tern.

Although very little seawatching was conducted in the early part of the year, there was good coverage between March and December with over 110 hours of seawatching clocked up by the authors! The majority was undertaken in the Spring and Autumn periods and is summarised below. This is followed by a more detailed analysis of the more important periods of seabird movement during the year. SPRING 1987. March regularly saw small numbers of Fulmars present offshore and the first Gannets of the year were recorded, with nine flying north off Covehithe on 16th. Aprii saw an ยกncrease in the numbers of Fulmar and larger northward movements of Gannets taking place with 78 north off Benacre on 4th. A single Black-throated Diver and Shag were noted in May and Arctic, Pomarine, and Great Skua were ail recorded with at least seven Arctic Skuas between Apr. 24th and June 13th. Black Tern, Razorbill and Guillemot were also recorded during May. 8


AUTUMN 1987. July traditionally brings the first signs of autumn migration and passage waders, such as Curlew and Whimbrel, were passing south offshore thoughout the month, along with the first Arctic and Black Terns. By mid-July the number of seabirds passing along the coast was increasing, with the first of the autumn's Skuas and two Manx Shearwaters. DĂźring August seabird numbers continued to increase with particularly large movements of Gannets and skuas and, by the end of the month, the first Sooty Shearwaters of the year had appeared and all four species of skua had been recorded. September and October saw a drop in Gannet and skua numbers. That truly pelagic group of birds, the 'tubenoses', reached a new peak for the County. Alongside the ever present Fulmar, Sooty and Manx Shearwaters were regularly recorded along with three Cory's Shearwaters and seven Leach's Petrels. The now infamous October 'hurricane' provided up to three Sabine's Gulls at Landguard and one Grey Phalarope at Havergate. November and December were much quieter than the previous three months. But first north, then easterly winds resulted in an influx of at least 105 Little Auks, two Grey Phalaropes, one Leach's Petrel and one Pomarine Skua. A force 6-7 easterly gale on Dee. 2nd produced the last big seabird movement of the year, which included 272 unidentified auks, nine Little Auks, 50 Fulmars, two Manx Shearwaters, (the latest ever for the county), ten Gannets, one Great and 14 Arctic Skuas, all moving north along the coast.

Important periods of seabird movement 1987 May 24th-25th: The best seawatching of the spring probably occurred on these dates. A cold north-easterly airflow out of Scandinavia persisted over the North Sea, bringing with it much low cloud, sea mist and generally poor visibility, resulting in the displacement of an interesting variety of seabirds to Suffolk, considering the time of year. The bulk of the passage probably involved British breeding seabirds returning north to breeding colonies in northern British waters after their displacement. These included 18 Gannets, 37 Fulmars, a Shag, 89 Kittiwakes, nine unidentified auks, and 39 Guillemots, all moving north off Covehithe in two hours, early on the morning of May 24th. Other species noted over the two days were four Red-throated Divers, five more Fulmars, an immature Pomarine Skua, two Black Terns and a Razorbill. Aug. 24th-31st: The first exciting seabird movements of the autumn occurred in an eight day period between Aug. 24th and 31st. DĂźring this time a low pressure system was stationary over the eastern North Sea bringing with it a period of northerly winds, with particularly high rainfall and poor visibility, between Aug. 24th and 27th. There was an almost instant response from seabirds to the start of these conditions, with four Sooty Shearwaters, moving north along the coast at Covehithe, only some two hours after the onset of force 4-5 north-easterly winds and poor visibility, shortly after midday on Aug. 24th. With northerly winds continuing on 26th the first major seabird prize of the autumn was an adult Long-tailed Skua moving north, off Covehithe, with 26 Arctic Skuas, four Great Skuas, three Manx Shearwaters and numerous Gannets. 9


Seawatching commenced at Covehithe at 05.50 hours on 27th and during the first three hours a County record movement of skuas was witnessed. No less than 88 Arctics, seven Greats and two Pomarines were noted with the vast majority moving south ahead of torrential rain. The number of birds recorded would have been much higher if observing conditions had remained favourable. But this was not to be, as by 09.30, a combination of driving rain and low cloud, accompanied by force five to six north-westerly winds, had reduced the visibility to just a few hundred yards. The 28th and 29th were somewhat quieter with the wind moderating to a light northwesterly breeze. During the afternoon of the 30th, however, the wind had switched to the north-east and by the following morning had increased to force four. Once again this resulted in the southward displacement of 'tubenoses' into Suffolk waters, with 29 Fulmars, seven Sooty Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater and two unidentified shearwaters passing back northward off Covehithe on 31st. Also noted were 89 Gannets, 18 Arctic Skuas, five Great Skuas, a Pomarine Skua, 11 Little Gulls and a Black Tern. Sept. 26th-Oct. lOth: A cold northerly airstream was responsible for the displacement of many seabirds as it pushed southwards down the North Sea on 26th and 27th. The air had originated from Arctic waters and on 27th, shortly after first light, a Leach's Petrel was seen Aying off Covehithe. Seawatching then continued uninterrupted between dawn and dusk, and over 200 unidentified auks (an impressive number for September) were noted amongst a good variety of other seabirds. These included a Black-throated and 12 Red-throated Divers, a Sooty Shearwater, five Manx Shearwaters, three Great and a Pomarine Skua.

Over the next 48 hours the winds remained northerly, with heavy overnight rain on 29th, and continued to move birds southwards. The full effect was realised soon after dawn on 30th; the winds switched easterly and were blowing force five-six resulting in one of Suffolk's best ever seawatches as seabirds were forced very close inshore. At Covehithe birds recorded included 143 Gannets, 16 Sooty and four Manx Shearwaters, 46 Fulmars, four Leach's Petrels and two other petrels, which were almost certainly of this species, 10


12 Arctic and six Great Skuas, over 1,500 Kittiwakes, 14 Little Gulls and a Black Tern. The bird of the day, a Cory's Shearwater, was noted off Ness Point, Lowestoft. Oct. Ist was greeted with great optimism as the weather had changed little overnight. The early risers were not to be disappointed and were rewarded with a single Leach's Petrel and another Cory's Shearwater passing northward close inshore. Numbers of seabirds however, were well down on those of the previous day e.g. only 43 Gannets and four Fulmars were recorded throughout the whole day. Presumably most seabirds had by now passed back well to the north. Scarcer shearwaters once again delighted Suffolk's seawatchers on lOth when 13 Sootys were seen off Covehithe and a truly outstanding total of 28 off Minsmere. Unusually ali these were flying south perhaps suggesting a massive displacement of birds from the Atlantic into the North Sea, via the English Channel, with birds reorientating southwards attempting a return via the same route; a theory strongly supported by an impressive count of 408 moving west off Dungeness, Kent, Oct. 9th and a further 143 there on lOth. A probable straggler in this movement was a Cory's Shearwater seen flying south off Covehithe on Oct. 1 Ith.

Conclusion: This paper clearly shows that 1987 was indeed an exceptionally good year for seabirds in Suffolk. The number of Sooty Shearwaters, for instance, recorded in October exceeded the total of ali previous County records! It is possible however, that the upsurge in records may merely reflect the increased seawatching activities and that the true status of certain species is just beginning to be realised. Only consistent watching over the next few years will reveal the true picture. 11


Acknowledgement: We would very much like to thank all the observers who put in so many long hours of watching during 1987 and for their support. We hope that their success will encourage more observers to give seawatching off Suffolk a try and contribute to a still under-recorded aspect of Suffolk ornithology. References: Babington, Rev. Dr. C. 1884-86. Catalogue of the birds of Suffolk. London. Ticehurst, C. B. 1932. A history of the birds of Suffolk. London. J. M. Cawston, 477 Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich IP2 ORU. S. Ling, 20 Stonechat Road, Ipswich.

Barn Owl mortality during the Winter of 1986/87 by J. R. Martin

On Nov. 4th, 1986, a report in the East Anglian Daily Times (EADT) stated that at least eight Barn Owls Tyto alba had been found dead or dying in east Suffolk. The following day, the Daily Telegraph carried a similar story, whilst a later report in the EADT claimed that the number of deaths had reached an "unprecedented total of 20". The actual number of dead Barn Owls reported to the County Recorder and to the author from Oct. 1st, 1986 to Feb. 28th, 1987 is shown in table 1. The reported conditions of at least one Barn Owl — ' 'lethargic and unresponsive to hand feeding " — led to the assumption that agricultural poisons were to blame. There was speculation that the poisons might be anti-coagulant rodenticides. However, post-mortem examinations of three carcases failed to provide evidence to suggest anti-coagulants were responsible for the deaths of these birds. Four other carcases examined externally were found to be in a thin and emaciated condition. A report in the EADT on Dec. 20th claimed that a Tawny Owl Strix aluco had been found dying showing "the classic symptons of warfarin poisoning". The bird, it was said, ''cannot hold its head up and its throat is swollen and hardened so that it cannot eat". This description is not consistent with the poisoning symptons described in the literature for anti-coagulants such as warfarin. Anti-coagulants affect an owl to varying degrees depending upon the intake of contaminated prey. In severe cases haemorrhaging can occur from one or all of the orifices, and from the eyes, feet and at the base of the underwing. Sometimes the skin, particularly around the thighs and breast will be swollen with severe bruising. Affected birds will often show signs of internal bleeding — although this is not easily confirmed after carcases have been frozen. The two carcases submitted for post-mortem analysis to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons were not frozen. Barn Owls are considered to be at minor risk from the effects of warfarin, a 'first generation' anti-coagulant, because of its relatively low toxicity. However, the more potent 'second generation' rodenticides can cause severe distress and sometimes death (Shawyer, 1985 and 1987). In Malaysia, Barn Owls have recently colonised oil-palm plantations encouraged by the provision of artificial nesting sites and the large number of rats. Duckett (1984) described how on one estate the Barn Owl population crashed when warfarin was replaced by the more toxic anti-coagulants 'coumachlor' and 'brodifacoum'; both 'second generation' rodenticides. He reported the presence of large numbers of carcases showing signs of haemorrhaging. When warfarin was reinstated Barn Owl numbers recovered. 12


Nationally there was no recognisable pattern of large scale mortality amongst Barn Owls in Britain during 1986. Altogether 19 individuals were reported in Suffolk; five in the first period of winter between October and December, and 14 during the short, but severe, period of snow in January and February. This pattern of mortality fits the trend of recent years. Numerous studies have proved that the Field Vole Microtus agrestis is the most common prey item taken by the Barn Owl. Colin Shawyer (who was at that time co-ordinating the Barn Owl Survey of Britain and Ireland) considered that the Field Vole population was very low in many regions during the winter of 1986/87. It is likely that the severe weather in January and February, 1987 and low vole numbers were the two most significant factors contributing to the mortality of the Barn Owl in Suffolk. Ringing data (Mead and Clarke, 1987), and frequent autumn influxes, have proved that both the Long-eared Owl Asio otis and Short-eared Owl Asioflammeus, are highly migratory and it is likely that migration is heightened during periods of food shortages. British Barn Owls however, rarely move far from the breeding haunts and immigrants are rare. In Suffolk, ringing evidence has failed to show that locally bred Barn Owls migrate, although rare sightings of the dark breasted race T. a. guttata prove that immigration does occur from time to time (Payn, 1978). Perhaps the first signs in Suffolk that vole dependent birds were moving in search of food was when Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO) trapped a Barn Owl on Sept. 28th, 1986. This bird was the first Barn Owl to be ringed at the Observatory and was found dead, Feb. 9th, at Tendring, Essex. This represents a southerly movement of 14 Km. and constitutes the first record of a Barn Owl ringed in Suffolk but recovered elsewhere. Table 1. Recorded mortality of Barn Owls in Suffolk during winter 1986/87 Date

Location

Circumstances

Recorder

1986 Oct. 29th October

Aldeburgh

H. Dockerill R. Snook

Nov. 9th November Dee. 12th

Nacton, A45 Campsea Ash Bawdsey

found dead found in distressed condition dead on road found dead found dead. Ringed as nestling July, 1986 at Shottisham

1987 Jan. Ist Jan. 6th

Felixstowe Dock Kelsale

found dead killed by car

January

Minsmere

Jan. 15th Jan. 18th January

Capei Hall Barham Trimley

three found dead in cold speli found dead, very thin found dead, very thin found dead

Feb. 2nd February Feb./Mar.

Bedingfield Playford Orford

dead on road found dead, very thin four found dead very thin

R. Biddle T. Hay word S. Baker

J. Flecknoe D. R. Moore RSPB R. Biddle Anon Mrs Moulton M. Keer Mr Halls Mr Grimsey

AH reports concern single birds unless otherwise stated. Not included is the bird ringed at LBO, Sept. 28th and found dead at Tendring, Essex Feb. 9th. 13


Düring November, 1986 there was a massive influx of Long-eared Owls along the eas coast of Britain (Glue and Whittington, 1987). One of the biggest immigrations was recordet in Suffolk (Piotrowski, 1987). Thirty-six birds were recorded in the f>eriod Nov. 13th to 18th of which 30 were at Landguard and 20 on 15th alone. A number of these birds were ringed, and in March 1987, one was found. dead beside a railway track at Herne Bay in Kent (Clarke and Peters, antea), proving that at least one of these 'immigrants had overwintered. Records for that winter are sketchy but it would appear that more thar the usuai number of birds were wintering with six at Minsmere and three at a south Suffolk roost. Our neighbouring counties experienced similar influxes with Essex (Smith 1987 and 1988) noting large concentrations of nine/ten, Nov. 15th at Holland Häven; 12, Nov. 29th at Pitsea and 11 during November/December at Hadleigh. By early 1987 a minimum of 89 birds was present at 25 sites, including 18 at a Harwich roost. In Norfolk (Seago, 1987) 16 migrants were recorded at 11 sites, ten of which occurred during the period Nov. 13th to 19th, and a further 25 birds at four winter roosts. Not since 1975 had such a large movement of these splendid owls been recorded and Glue and Whittington thought that it was caused by a severe shortage of food. They considered that many of the birds originated from the Continent. By contrast the numbers of Short-eared Owls in Suffolk were low. For example, at Stradishall, in west Suffolk, only one was seen spasmodically throughout the period but up to six have been recorded in some winters. At LBO thirteen were noted between Oct. 1 Ith and Nov. 13th and subsequently 'ones' and 'twos' at about 20 additional Suffolk sites. However, no large groups were reported during the period (Piotrowski, 1987).

Discussion: Mikkola (1983) gives the proportion of mammal prey (chiefly voles) taken in Britain by Barn, Long and Short-eared Owls as 97.11, 84.9, and 82.3% respectively. However, in other northem European countries these percentages rise, for the 'eared' owls, to around 98%. For the Barn Owl, the figure remains relatively constant. The percentage of avian prey taken in Britain by 'eared' owls is around 14% whereas the Barn Owl takes a mere 2%. In essence the conséquences of a severe vole shortage, in northem Europe, would be disastrous to the Barn Owl but less so for Long and Short-eared Owls as the latter two species have the ability to switch to bird prey items. Despite understandable fears concerning the application of highly toxic rodenticides in Suffolk there is no direct evidence to suggest that poisoning of Barn Owls occurred on a large scale during the winter of 1986/87. The appearance of a Barn Owl acting in a léthargie manner should not be automatically related to poisoning. A Barn Owl that has had little or no nourishment during the preceding few days may loose the ability to feed and becomes progressively weakened. Reports in the press at the time appear to have been unfounded. According to Bingham (1987) post-mortem examinations of nine Barn Owl carcases, conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, suggest the probable causes of death to be starvation. The large immigration of Long-eared Owls during the autumn 1986, and reports that some of these birds were also found in poor condition, would suggest a severe shortage of voles in northern Europe. The number of Barn Owls found dead which were in a thin and emaciated condition suggests that a similar food shortage was apparent in Britain and that this was the likely cause of their death.

14


This is not the first occasion that fears of toxins transmitted to the Barn Owl, through its prey, have subsequently been considered unfounded. Bunn, et al (1982) state ' 'the Barn Owl's scarcity in the mid-1960s, which in 1966 resulted in it being added to the list of rarities in Schedule I of the Protection of Birds Act 1954, was attributed by many to be largely due to the effects of toxic chemicals contained in pesticides; but we believe that a more likely cause was the exceptionally severe winter of 1962/63". Acknowledgements: I should like to thank John Cooper, F.R.C.V.S., for undertaking the post-mortem examinations of dead Barn Owls and Colin Shawyer for reading the initial draft and passing valuable comments. I am also grateful to the following:— H. Mendel, R. Snook, J. Flecknoe, A. Halls, S. H. Piotrowski, R. B. Warren, E. Hosking, Mrs D. Sims and M. Sanford (Suffolk Biological Records Centre).

ĂŒ

References: Bingham, D. 1987. Poison in waiting for Barn Owls. The Field December. Bunn, D. S., Warburton, A. B. and Wilson, R. D. S. 1982. The Barn Owl. Poyser. Calton. Duckett, J. 1984. Barn Owls Tyto alba and the "second generation" rat baits utilised in oil palm plantations in peninsula Malaysia. Planter, Kuala Lumpur. 60:3-11. Glue, D. E. and Whittington, P. 1987. Long-eared Owls invade east coast. BTO News. 148:1. Mead, C. J. and Clark, J. A. 1987. Report on birdringingfor 1987. Ringing and Migration. 8:135-200. Mikkola, H. 1983. Owls of Europe. Poyser. Calton. Payn, W. H. 1978. The birds of Suffolk. Ancient House Publishing. Ipswich. Piotrowski, S. H. (Ed). 1987. Field reports - 1986. Suffolk Birds, 1987. 36:41. Seago, M. J. (Ed). 1987. Classified notes. Norfolk bird and mammal report 1986. Shawyer, C. R. 1985. Rodenticides: A review and assessment of their potential hazard to non-target wildlife with special reference to the Barn Owl Tyto Alba. The Hawk Trust. 14:6-9. Shawyer, C. R. 1987. The Barn Owl in the British Isles its past, present and future. The Hawk Trust. London. Smith, G. (Ed). 1987. Systematic list, 1986. The Essex bird report. Smith, G. (Ed). 1988. Systematic list, 1987. The Essex bird Report. Jeff Martin, 17 Moss Way, West Bergholt, Colchester C06 3U.

Suffolk Ornithological Surveys One of the more important aspects of Suffolk ornithology is the special field studies undertaken on individual species or groups. Much can be learnt about population levels, distribution, habitat preference and movements, which may help towards the birds' future conservation. The County's policy is to channel local energies towards the national census ofthat year and, quite sensibly, those chosen by the British Trust for Ornithology are usually adopted. In 1987 however, there was much preparation for work on the forthcoming atlas and in consequence only one survey, a sample census on the Lapwing, was organised nationally. Ongoing surveys such as the Birds of the Estuaries Enquiry (BOEE) go from strength to strength as more and more ornithologists participate. We now have complete coverage, for the winter months, on all Suffolk's estuaries and during 1988 efforts will be made to extend the counts to cover passage periods. It is with great sadness however, that we record the tragic deaths of John Longhurst, who since 1969 had been BOEE co-ordinator for the Stour Estuary, and his wife Sally. This is a tremendous loss to Suffolk ornithology but hopefully John's memory will spur others to perform similar duties with the degree of enthusiasm and tenacity shown by him.

15


Lark Valley Canada Goose Study by Dr Tony Martin

The annual reports of Suffolk Birds have shown that the numbers of Canada Geese breed 1; in the County, and the size of the wintering flocks, have increased dramatically over the ps decade. There are indications that they have become more mobile and interchange betwe; sites is frequent. In an attempt to assess these movements 251 Canada Geese were colou ringed in 1986/87. The captures were confined to the west Suffolk gravel pits of Cavenha and Lackford and were conducted whilst the birds were flightless when completing their mk summer moult. Of the 251 birds, 35 (22 juveniles) have so far been recovered dead. Causes of mortalic were reported as "shot — 66%" "hitting wires — 6 % " , "unknown — 11%" or "poisoni by bacterial toxin — 17%". The latter was almost certainly the case for six juveniles four: dead on a shallow pool at Cavenham, where warm waters encouraged high levels of bacteria On the brighter side many of our ringed geese have been reported alive at several site in the Lark Valley and they are always at Cavenham itself. Family parties of colour-ring« birds became a feature of the 1986/87 and 1987/1988 winter. One juvenile reach« Finchingfield, Essex, a straight-line distance from Cavenham of 38 kilometres and the link between the Lark Valley flock and that of Holkham Park, Norfolk was established. An eight year old goose, ringed at Holkham, was 'controlled' at Cavenham in 1986 and a second, from that area aged 11 years, was captured at Lackford in 1987. The most distant sighting so far involved an adult ringed at Lackford and observed on Sutton Bingham Reservoir in Somerset. Of the 34 geese ringed in 1986 and recaptured in 1987, four had lost their plastic colourrings and two their metal rings. Colours used are red, white, blue yellow, orange and green. 1988 will see an extension of the ringing to cover flocks at Ixworth and the author would be grateful to receive details of observations of any colour ringed Canada Geese. Acknowledgements: I would like to thank those who assisted on the catching weekends. Their efforts were nobie and sometimes heroic. Permission to ring was kindly granted by Allen Newport Ltd., Atlas Aggregates Ltd, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Mr Bernard Tickner. The financial support of Allen Newport Ltd is gratefully acknowledged. Dr Tony Martin, do British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 OET.

Winter status of the Hen Harrier in Suffolk 1984-88 by Roger Clarke

It has been generally remarked that Hen Harriers were less in evidence during the 1986/87 and 1987/88 winters. Has this been reflected in the Hen Harrier Winter Roost Survey counts? Table 1 shows Suffolk data for every January since the survey began except 1988. The monthly counts have shown that December, January and February are usually the peak months in eastern England (Humberside, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Cambridge, Suffolk, Essex, Greater London and Kent). January is shown as a representative extract. Although deep snow shortly before the January 1987 count may have affected the result, even the best Suffolk total count that winter was only 18 birds (15th March 1987). The fall in Suffolk in 1986/87 is against a background of fewer watched sites occupied in eastern England as a whole (January — 1987, 16


Plate 1: The devastation ofRendlesham Forest soon after the 'hurricane' of Oct. 16th 1987.

Wate 2: Martlesham Heath, Aug. 1988 — Nightjars continue to hold territory here despite the encroaching development.


%, 1986, 77%) and a smaller mean size of roosts occupied (January — 1987, 3.3 harriers, 86, 3.9 harriers). Exceptional numbers at a few roosts were responsible for the high Suffolk tal number in January 1984. No roosts holding more than five birds were found in January 987 which perhaps indicates that no particular area held any attraction for hunting or other

Table 1. January Hen Harrier Winter Roost Counts in Suffolk

Roost size (No. Harriers) 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

B

A 1

17

1 1

11 10

1

4

2 2 5*

4 2

No. occupied sites 8 Total No. of harriers

-

B

A

18.01.87

12.01.86

13.01.85

15.01.84

B

A

A

B

11

1

2 1

10 4

2 1 2*

4 1 —

1 1 2

8 7 12

1 1 1 1 3*

4 3 2 1

10

3 5*

3 -

8

7 30

48

37

13

A = Number of roosts B = Sub-total of harriers (roost size x A) * = Traditional roost not occupied during that year

The important roosting areas in Suffolk seem to be Breckland and the complex of Sandling heaths and marshes on the coast. Throughout February and March 1988 first light counts were undertaken at one Breckland roost each Sunday. These revealed 12, 14, 9, 5 and 10, Ì 9 , 8, 12 harriers for each respective month, but the great majority flew off towards the Fens, where they presumably dispersed over a wide area to hunt. Prolonged rain throughout mild January 1988 resulted in flooding of Fenland roost sites, which may have been the reason for this congrégation at one dry Breckland site. The warden of nearby Breckland nature reserves considered it a quiet winter for harriers in the Breck with the area used little for hunting. On the coast, one small group of sites held as many as 15 harriers on the December 1987 and January 1988 survey counts, although interaction between the sites made counting difficult. No other significant 1987/88 concentrations of harriers in Suffolk have y et been reported. A high mortality of Barn Owls was recorded during the winter of 1986/87 (Martin antea) and a vole shortage was considered the most likely cause. Analysis of Hen Harrier pellets from Breckland roost sites (Clarke and Palmer 1987) has shown that passerines are the main prey in mid-winter. This has been confirmed by analysis of pellets from elsewhere in lowland 17


England and during other winters. Falls in the vole population are therefore unlikely to depr the mid-winter attendance at roosts, although both voles and rabbits/hares feature more the diet from February onwards and further work is being undertaken to try to determ the dynamics of this relationship.

Ackno wledgemen ts : I am very grateful to everyone who participated in the counts and to the British Trust f< Ornithology who have given the survey 'Trust-aided Enquiry' status.

Reference: Clarke, R. and Palmer, D. 1987. The diet of Hen Harriers roosting on a Breckland Heath. Suffolk Bini198736:71-75 (Editors note: In this paper Little Thetford Prìmary School, Cambridgeshire was prim as Thetford Primary School. I apologise for any embarrassment this may have caused.) Roger Clarke, New Hythe House, Reach, Cambridge CB5 OJQ

Breeding Lapwings 1987 by Ray Waters As part of the BTO national survey of breeding Lapwings, Suffolk sampled one tetrad. selected at random, from each 10 Km square. Of the 41 tetrads which were surveyed in Aprii, no breeding Lapwings were found in 25 but the remaining 16 held a total of 75 pairs. If the 41 tetrads are truly représentative then the total Suffolk breeding population is around 2,000 pairs. The results showed that 58.7% of nesting Lapwings had chosen semi-natural grassland as their nesting habitat (48% grazed permanent grass; 2.7% ungrazed and 8% heathland) The remaining 41.3% were on cultivated land with a clear preference for spring sown cereals (18.7%) and tilled bare land (13.3%). Autumn-sown cereals, grazed ley grass, sugar beet and stubble accounted for the remaining 9.3%. The Lapwing has been declining as a breeding species in Suffolk perhaps due to its preference for all-round vision during incubation. The recent draining and ploughing of our wet-meadows and the increase in autumn-sown cereals have had an adverse effect on the species. Ringing studies have shown that Lapwings will use dual habitats during the breeding season (Redfern, 1982). Birds nesting say, in spring-sown cereals, which allows good all-round vision in the early stages of growth, would move their chicks to forage in nearby meadow land. A detailed account of the survey results has already been published (Wright 1988). Référencés: Redfern, C. P. F. 1982. Lapwing nest sites and chick mobility in relation to habitat. Bird Study 29:201-208. Wright, M. T. 1988. 1987 Survey of nesting Lapwings in Suffolk. Suffolk Ornithologists ' Group Bulletin 79:24-25. Ray Waters, 90 Back Hamlet, Ipswich IP3 8AJ. 18


National Breeding Bird Atlas

Pilot Survey

by Ray Waters

Suffolk can be very proud in playing a major role in testing the methods for use in the National BTO Breeding Bird Survey. In 1987, three different census techniques were tried in each of four 10 km squares. 'Point counts' were made at one spot by noting all birds seen over a 10 minute period, 'timed counts' involved two six hour trips around the 10 km square, noting the birds seen, and 'frequency counts' were made over three hour trips around a tetrad (2km x 2km square). Using these methods we recorded an average of 40-50 species per tetrad, although some tetrads produced over 70 species! Wood Pigeon was the only breeding bird found in every tetrad. Many rare breeding species were found, the most notable being Hobby, Mandarin, Firecrest and Quail but pride of place must go to a pair of Serins (see Systematic List). After the BTO had analysed the results from all the participating counties, 'frequency counts' were chosen as the method to be used for the national survey. In Suffolk we are taking the opportunity to extend the national survey and are gathering data over a five year period to provide invaluable information for the next County avifauna, planned for the mid-1990s. Ray Waters, 90 Back Hamlet, Ipswich IP3 8AJ.

Weather trends and their effect on the county's avifauna 1987 by John H. Grant

(Based on the monthly reports by Ken Blowers, weather correspondent for the East Anglian Daily Times)

WINTER: January,

February,

March.

In like a lion, out like a lamb. . . . so the old saying goes. It usually refers to March, but during meteorologically extraordinary 1987 the saying could well refer to the year as a whole. January certainly roared in like a lion with an anticyclone centred to the northwest of Britain producing a north-westerly airstream to trigger the beginning of an unforgetable 17 day cold spell which set in with a vengeance from 6th. A blocking anticyclone which formed over Scandinavia was soon to plunge us into even more severe conditions and by 12th, with Suffolk under a deepening carpet of snow, much of East Anglia recorded its coolest day of the century. In Ipswich mid-day temperatures stood at an almost unbearable â&#x20AC;&#x201D;7°C. A tightening pressure gradient between the Scandinavian anticyclone and a low over southern Europe subsequently brought bitterly cold north-easterly winds cutting uncompromisingly across Suffolk, which by now was experiencing serious snow drift problems. 19


Amid the cold, cold chaos there were enormous implications for birds. Unquestionabl THE event of the winter, and for many of us the most unforgetable sight we are eve likely to see in Suffolk, was the appearance of the Great Bustards . . . no doubt for out of the eastern European steppes by unimaginably severe conditions. Their loss wa very much our gain.

JAN. 10

JAN. 12

JAN. 14

JAN. 16

The Scandinavia anti-cyclone extended south-westward over the U.K. bringing 11 days of very cold weather with biting north-easterly winds from Siberia. Huge numbers of wildfowl, especially Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Pochard, Scaup and Smew, were displaced from the freezing Continent, in some cases giving rise to dramatic passages along the Suffolk coast. Waders were also on the move in the search of more bearable climes and among the species mainly involved were Knot and Dunlin, although Ruff sought shelter in some extraordinary places, as did Snipe and Woodcock, and there was virtually a total exodus of Lapwing. A scattering of usually scarce species, such as Red-necked Grebe and Whooper Swan, took any refuge they could find in Suffolk and helped to make this period one of the most amazing winter spells ever recorded in the County's ornithology. However, although it was exciting for birdwatchers, a second successive Arctic winter may have had disastrous effects on the populations of some of our resident species. February could hardly be as extreme and conditions eased, although maximum daytime temperatures were stili below the seasonal average on 17 day s. Atlantic dĂŠpressions took control at the end of February, heralding a brief and deceptive mild speli before we were plunged back into winter to suffer our coldest March in 25 years. The month went out like a lion. . . . with south-westerly gales which left a trail of destruction across the County. But, of course, still worse was yet to come later in the year.

SPRING: April, May,

June.

With such a year of extremes on our hands nothing should have surprised us . . . but maybe we were taken aback a little in the last two weeks of Aprii when we enjoyed the most prolonged speli of sunshine in that month since 1945. Near the end of the month the temperature soared to 24°C, which is substantially above the long-term average and was considerably warmer than many Mediterranean locations at that time. Not surprisingiy, this welcome warm speli saw the arrivai, in Suffolk, of several southern species, including the County's first Red-rumped Swallow, two Ortolan Buntings, the first in small runs of Alpine Swifts and Hoopoes, as well as early arrivais of other species such as Swifts, Golden Orioles and Wrynecks. For much of May a blocking anticyclone centred to the west of Britain produced cold northerly winds, but a rich and varied migration, including an exceptional wader passage, warmed the hearts of Suffolk birdwatchers. 20


Temperatures in Ipswich were below the long-term average on 21 days. Battling through the predominantly northerly winds were several Mediterranean over-shooters, such as Alpine Swift and Ortolan Bunting. Rather more predictably, species more often associated with winter, such as Brent Goose, Bewick's Swan, Glaucous Gull, Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Purple Sandpiper, were to be found. The unseasonably cold northerlies were also responsible for a sea bird movement which was unexpected for the time of year on May 24th, and it was not until the last few days of the month that a brief warm spell set in. Flaming June it most certainly was not . . . soggy June, more like, with rainfall 3.78 inches above average. Some parts of West Suffolk recorded one of the wettest Junes for 100 years. Coupled with the rain, generally cool temperatures made it a miserable month for some, although Redwings and Fieldfares which lingered no doubt felt at home. It was not an especially miserable time for those interested in rare vagrants for a Marsh Warbler and a Subalpine Warbler were among the rather wet and windblown wanderers to Landguard. Haverhill in June is hardly the best bet for a Manx Shearwater, but then this was 1987. . . .

SUMMER: July, August,

September.

Early July's respite from rain proved short-lived for from 15th to 29th rain was recorded on every day in Ipswich and other areas fared no better. Active dépressions moving into the country were deep and slow-moving and another great British summer was literally going down the drain. Unsettled and generally wet August will long be remembered for its vicious hailstorm which cut a swathe of damage across east Suffolk on the afternoon of 22nd. Aircraft reported cloud tops up to 35,000 feet — a vertical depth of nearly seven miles — and the torrential rain and hailstones which for once really were as big as golfballs which the clouds unleashed caused flooding and dévastation.

AUG. 22 SEPT. 27 Violent hail and rain from 16.45 to 17.30 Anti-cyclone centred over the U.K. Cool hrs. caused by low moving from Bay of and dry north-westerly winds. Biscav. Surprisingly tew reports of bird deaths were received but species such as Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon and Rook were certainly casualties of the horrendous hail. Appalling weather conditions continued in a mainly north-easterly airstream for the rest of the month and for those brave enough to battle against the elements there were rewards such as Aquatic Warbler, Icterine Warbler and exciting seabirds such as Long-tailed ua - as well as frequent thorough drenchings. 21


Things had to improve in September, and so they did with welcome warm spells breaking up the all-too-familiar, unsettled weather pattern. Most of the avian interest for the month was associated with a high pressure system which moved eastwards into the UK on Sept. 27th, triggering a flurry of activity which was particularly marked on the sea, where Leach's Petrels and an assortment of skuas were noted and at Landguard where specialities such as Barred Warbier and Yellow-browed Warbier occurred.

WINTER October,

November,

December.

Intense low of956 millibars moved rapidly from Biscay, to Cornwall, to Lincolnshire, causing severe gales, mean wind speed 60 m.p.h. with gusts to 90 m.p.h.

OCT. 16 None of us who experienced the great gale of Friday, Oct. 16th, 1987, are ever likely to forget it. Put simply, it was Britain's worst weather disaster since the infamous Great Storm of Nov. 27th, 1703 which claimed 8,000 lives. The intense and cruelly violent depression which whipped into us after tracking rapidly from the Bay of Biscay and gathered impetus after it crashed into the southern counties created mayhem on a scale none would ever wish to see again. Such a forceful phenomenon was certain to have an enormous effect on birds. While the gale raged observation was difficult but a massive southerly movement of waders was recorded at Landguard and the first of a series of Sabine's Gulls was seen. As the storm abated its implications became apparent. Much of east Suffolk's woodland was badly damaged and the conifers of Rendlesham Forest were devastated . . . we were left to ponder on the long-term effects on woodland species. From then to the end of the month, either as a direct result of the gale or borne on the subsequent north-easterly winds, there was a positive procession of vagrants. Landguard was especially busy. Suffolk's first Desert Wheatear and Dusky Warbler, a Little Bunting, further Sabine's Gulls, Pallas's Warblers . . . the rarities just s e e m e d to keep coming. Sea-watching, especially from South wold and Covehithe, was continuing to pay dividends as the predominantly north to north-easterly winds which are usually dreamed of but not often experienced kept on blowing. Indeed, the number of days throughout the year, and particularly in August, on which the winds had the longed-for easterly component was far higher than usual. The year's excellent sea-watching and the high number of rarities we enjoyed was undoubtedly closely related to this. 22


Atlantic depressions with their south-westerly winds, and sunshine hours which were well above the long-term average were the main characteristics of both November and December. The resulting mildness made the year which roared in like a lion go out like a lamb, and a rather whimpering lamb at that. The sightings of Red-rumped Swallows at Lowestoft, Benacre and Southwold up to Nov. 25th, typified just how mild this spell was. It was winter in name only, we were left without a white Christmas for the fifth successive year and, although we were not to know it as the year turned, a more familiar Swallow was soon to illustrate the point . . .

m Ä # W gm . 1K^nt TiiSi

^PSawffl

mm ||Ì||j

y

ir

V sstëa*

FIELD REPORTS -

1987

Introduction ,. , , .. The systematic list of species has been edited by Steve Piotrowski and written by me Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee, with each member acting as author tor tne species grouped below: Divers to Geese Mike Marsh Ducks Malcolm Wright Raptors to Crakes Cliff Waller Oystercatcher to Plovers Derek Moore Sandpipers John Grant Skuas to Auks Brian Brown Near passerines Philip Murphy Larks to Thrushes Rex Beecroft Warblers to Flycatchers Gerald Jobson Tits to Buntings Philip Murphy The species sequence is that of the "British Birds" list of "The Birds of the Western Palearctic". All 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 i n v o l v e d 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 23


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 Meadow;, and for the Stour — the Essex side of the estuary. Population fluctuations were assessed on the results of Common Bird Census (CBC) work at Coddenham, Newbourne and Minsmere; Constant Effort Site (CES) data from Redgrave and Lopham Fens and Bourne Park and transect studies conducted at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve and the Stour Valley (Glemsford to Long Melford). Minsmere is the only site that has consistently produced records of breeding birds and is used as a barometer to monitor local déclinés. Field workers involved with either CBC or CES work are again requested to forward summaries to the County Recorder at the end of the breeding season As from January, 1988, the SORC was charged with the considération of records of two additional species: i.e. Crane and Ring-billed Gull. With the growing number of submissions and the changing trends it has again become necessary to révisé the County list of species that warrant detailed descriptions. Shag has been removed from the list and Water Pipit and Dartford Warbier added. The filli list is detailed below: Black-throated and Great Northern Divers; Red-necked, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes; all shearwaters; Stomi and Leach's Petrels; Purple Heran; White Stork; Bean and Pink-footed Geese. Red-crested Pochard; Ferruginous Duck; Honey Buzzard; Red Kite; Montague's Harrier; Goshawk; Rough-legged Buzzard; Peregrine; Quail; Spotted Crake; Corncrake; Crane; Kentish Piover; Dotterei; Temminck's Stint; Pectoral Sandpiper; Buff-breasted Sandpiper; all phalaropes; Pomarine and Longtailed Skuas; Sabine's, Ring-billed and Iceland Gulls; Roseate Tern; Black Guillemot; Puffin; Hoopoe; Richard's, Tawny and Water Pipits; Dipper; Bluethroat; Savi's, Aquatic, Marsh, Hippolais, Dartford, Barred and Yellow-browed Warbiers; Red-breasted Flycatcher; Raven; Serin; Scarlet Rosefinch; Ortolan, Ciri and Lapland Buntings and any other species that, in the opinion of the Committee, is out of context, in terms of season, habitat or numbers. For the first time we have included, in the appendices, a list of records which have not been accepted for publication in this report. This list includes those records which have been circulated to the respective Committees but, from the evidence before them, were considered to be suspect due to either the identification not being fully established or more rarely a genuine mistake being made. It also includes records which have been previously published in the Bulletins of the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group (SOG), ' 'Birdwatching ' ' Magazine or the recent reports in ' 'British Birds ' ' for which further détails were not forthcoming and in conséquence were deemed unacceptable. It does not include records still under considération. A change from the format adopted in recent reports is that records from previous years will now appear in the main systematic list. Subspecies are listed under the main species heading which includes the scienitific name and with the scarcer species ali records are listed under the Parish and then, if known, the exact location. The exception to this is at the river estuaries and larger, well-known sites which are criss-crossed by parish boundaries, e.g. Minsmere and Alton Water. To minimise the threats to site security, some records of rare breeding birds are published anonymously and under a vague site heading. A table giving the frequency of occurrences is shown for some of the County rarities. With so many rare vagrants visiting the County during 1987 the number of field descriptions submitted for considération, at both national and county level, was substantial. Despite the appeal in Suffolk Birds, 1987 the overall standard of field notes remains generally poor. Some observers have provided accounts of rare birds seen, say in flight and at some distance, which are deficient in detail and at best should have been considered as 'probables'. To help observers determine the best methods to employ when encountering rare birds, this report contains a step by step explanatory paper (see pages 103 to 105). We also encourage the submission of sketches to accompany the description of the bird. Those who lack artistic flair should not be deterred as these are of immense value to the Committee, when processing the record. As with Suffolk Birds, 1987 the best of those submitted have been published in this report to illustrate their effectiveness. 24


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. IP11 9HW. Observers are reminded that Suffolk works to Watsonian vice-county boundaries which are shown on the map on the inner cover. It would be helpful if descriptions of National Rarities are channelled to the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) via the County Recorder. Acknowledgements In 1988 Bob Warren will enter his tenth year as ornithological recorder for Suffolk. He first took on the role as East Branch recorder for the SOG in January 1979 and then as County Recorder from January 1985. We are all extremely grateful for his prodigious efforts and long may he continue. We must also acknowledge the help of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the SOG, Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO), the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the Dingle Bird Club for providing records from their logs. Special thanks are also due to Mick Wright and the hardy participants of the BOEE, who collected a significant proportion of the base data used in the wildfowl and wader sections of this report. Finally we thank all the individual observers whose combined records make Suffolk Birds 1988 possible.

SYSTEMATIC LIST RED-THROATED DIVER Gavia stellata Only small numbers were reported in the first winter period, 85 flying north off Kessingland, Jan. 24th being the maximum. These low numbers are surprising considering that at least 600 were present off the coast in mid-December 1986. Most birds had departed by March but there were indications of a light spring passage with six records involving 14 birds off Covehithe, May 2nd to 25th and a late bird off Minsmere, June 1st. The second winter period started with an unusual number of September records including three early birds off Bawdsey, 1st and 23 flying north off Covehithe, 27th. The species was then rather scarce until December when, although numbers increased substantially, only two counts, both from Minsmere, entered three figures: 300, Dec. 12th and 150, Dec. 31st. Few birds were found in estuarine waters and records referred to singles except for three at Hemley, on the River Deben, Jan. 31st. BLACK-THROATED DIVER Gavia arctica Another good year for this species. Early in the year records came from Lake Lothing, Jan. 15th to 25th; Benacre, Jan. 10th and 20th; Minsmere, Jan. 25th; Landguard, Feb. 9th and Mar. 8th and Alton Water, Jan. 17th to 30th and Feb. 22nd. A late bird was seen flying north off Covehithe, May 5th. The second winter period commenced with two flying north off Southwold, Sept. 19th. Other records came from Minsmere, Oct. 21st and Landguard, Nov. 4th and 15th but pride of place goes to an obliging bird at Lackford G. P., Nov. 26th to Dec. 26th which is the first record in West Suffolk since 1973. GREAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavia immer An average showing with three records: Benacre: Feb. 4th (CAB). Covehithe: Flying south, Nov. 11th (JMC). Ipswich Docks: Dec. 6th (AK). 25


LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis In the breeding season 23 pairs were reported from 14 localities. The largest winter concentrations came from the River Deben with 45, Jan. 18th and

> (13

o

39, Dec. 20th. Elsewhere no group exceeded 13. A gathering of 23, Benacre Broad, Apr. lOth presumably refers to passage birds. GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus A total of 69 breeding pairs was distributed amongst 11 sites; Alton Water held the largest concentration with 34 pairs. With the exception of a count of 100 birds off Southwold/Easton Bavents, Dec. 22nd the highest wintering numbers were to be found on the Orwell, Stour and Alton Water. Orwell Stour Alton Water

J 34 NIL 51

F 60 20 72

S 11 99 103

M 21 34 54

0 26 119 90

N 31 52 58

D 42 25 81

Other notable gatherings were 41, Livermere, May 3 lst and 35, Weybread Pits, Aug. 4th. RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena A small influx of this species occurred during the harsh weather conditions in mid-January. About a dozen birds were involved, including two inland but most had departed by midFebruary. Kessingland/Benacre: Three Jan. 18th to Feb. 23rd (including one, Benacre Pits, Jan. 18th to Feb. 9th); another offshore Mar. 13th. Walberswick: Feb. 24th. Minsmere: Jan. 18th. Orford: Jan. 18th. Shingle Street: Jan 25th, 26th and Feb 18th. Waldringfield: On stretch of River Deben, Jan. 18th to Feb. 15th. Levington: River Orwell, Jan. 17th. Ipswich: In docks (probably Levington bird), Jan. 18th to 26th. Lackford: On gravel pits, Jan. 5th to lOth. Weybread: On gravel pits, Jan. 22nd to 31st. 26


The second winter period brought a further five records. Be nacre: Oct. 19th. Southwold: Hying north, Nov. 26th. Felixstowe: Landguard, badly oiled bird on river estuary, Dec. 3rd. Cavenham Pits: Oct. 18th and Nov. 6th. Redgrave: Two on lake, Oct. 30th. SLAVONIAN GREBE Podiceps cuiritus All records are shown. Benacre: Oct. 19th (WS); two Oct. 27th (SB). Southwold: Dec. 22nd (IRW). Minsmere: Nov. 5th to 7th (RSPB). Deben: Kirton/Ramsholt, Jan.l8th to Feb. 15th (DFW et al). Orwell: Ipswich, in dock area, Jan. 16th to 30th (MM, PWM, et al). Lackford: On gravel pits, Jan 3rd (TBB, SB, ARN,) and 4th and another Feb. 15th to 26th (DC, a et al). 1986 Alton Water: Oct. 12th (RMP). BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps

nigricollis

After the good showing in 1986, numbers returned to normal with just five records. Lowestoft: In harbour, Jan. 21st to 23rd (BJB). Benacre: On Broad, Mar. 8th to Apr. 5th (CAB et al). Southwold: Flying north, Nov. 26th (JMC). Alton Water: Jan. 17th to 29th (EWP et al) and another in full summer plumage, May 2nd (MM). FULMAR Fulmarus glacialis Numbers at the regular breeding site showed another increase. Up to 22 adults were present between Feb. 2nd and Sept. 7th and 10 pairs probably nested although only five young were reared. Up to 8 birds were prospecting at a second site between Feb. 2nd and Mar. 26th Birds were noted offshore every month, peak counts coming from Covehithe â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 37 north May 24th, 46 north Sept. 30th and 50 north Dec. 2nd. The latter count is exceptional as records are usually scarce after the end of September. There were no inland records but one did venture up the Orwell as far as Trimley Lake, May 31st. 27


CORY'S SHEARWATER Calonectris diomedea The fifth, sixth and seventh County records occurred during a phenomenal movement of seabirds. Lowestoft: Ness Point, north Sept. 30th (BJB). Covehithe: North, Oct. Ist (CAB, JMC, SL) and south, llth (DRN, IRW). SOOTY SHEARWATER Puffinus griseus An unprecedented number of records, far exceeding any previous year, involving 94 individuals. Pakefield: North, Sept. 18th (BJB). Covehithe: Noted on eight dates Aug. 24th to Oct. 18th, the largest counts being; 16 north, Sept 30th; 13 south, Oct. lOth; eight south and seven north, Oct. 18th (JMC, DRN, IRW et al). Minsmere: Two north, Oct. 3rd; 28 south, Oct. lOth (IR, RSPB). Sizewell: Two north, Aug. 24th (JMC). 1980 3

1981 1

1982 NIL

1983 7

1984 7

1985 3

1986 5

1987 94

MANX SHEARWATER Puffinus puffinus A record year albeit in smaller numbers than the previous species. The grand total lies in the region of 35 birds and the two off Covehithe, in December, are the latest for the County. The mid-summer occurrence, at inland Haverhill, is of particular interest and undoubtedly came as a result of some unseasonable weather conditions at that time. This record coincided with another in Bedfordshire (Dawson and Allsopp, 1988). Covehithe: Noted on 14 dates, July 17th to Oct. 11th with a peak count of nine Sept. 19th; additionally two very late birds flew north, Dec. 2nd (JMC). Southwold: North Aug. 3rd; five north, one south, Sept. 19th. Minsmere: Sept. 27th; north, Oct. 3rd; four south, Oct. 10th. Aldeburgh: Four north, Oct. 2nd. Shingle Street, Sept. 18th. Landguard: Two south, Sept. 19th; north, Sept. 30th. Haverhill: June 22nd, 'wrecked' bird found alive but subsequently died (DFS, KWW). 28


LEACH'S P E T R E L Oceanodroma leucorhoa Five records involving eight birds. Dates typical except for a late bird in December. Covehithe: North, Sept. 27th (JMC); four north, Sept. 30th (JMC, DRN); north, Oct. 1st (CAB, JMC). Southwold: Dec. 5th (DRN, IRW). Felixstowe: Landguard, south, Oct. 8th (DPB). 1980 2

1981 NIL

1982 2

1983 NIL

1984 2

1985 NIL

1986 2

1987 8

GANNET Sula bassana Monthly bird/day totals off the coast were impressive by Suffolk standards with the accumulative total exceeding 1,500 birds. J NIL

F NIL

M

A 9

M 111

J 53

19

195

J A S 468 396

O 246

N 16

D 32

A total of 78 north, Apr. 14th was the highest count in the spring, while autumn passage produced two three figure movements; 158 north, Aug. 9th (a new County record) and 143 north, Sept. 30th. All these counts were made off Covehithe. December records tend to be rather scarce, so 20 north off Southwold, Dec. 7th, is noteworthy. The most surprising record of the year involved a first-winter bird which turned up inland at Cavenham Pits, Jan. 2nd. CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo High numbers were present on the estuaries in autumn and winter. Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water

I 9 9 35 120 14 100

F 5 67 118 174 91 50

M 7 54 63 162 107 55

S 32 72 186 136 209 2

TOTAL

287

505

448

637

117 147 70 126 17

N 18 64 57 172 154 28

D 13 42 67 168 129 42

477

493

461

O â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

The Wilford Bridge roost again held colour-ringed birds and their countries of origin were The Netherlands, Denmark (two), Scotland and Wales (LAP) (see Ringing Report). Other notable concentrations were; 72 roosting, Sizewell Rigs, Sept. 9th; 60, Lake Lothing, Jan. 15th. A number of non-breeding birds over-summered including; 17 Trimley/Levington area, June 14th; 14, Havergate, June 14th and 33 Wilford Bridge, July 5th. The inland roost at Long Melford was occupied in both winters with 17, Jan. 30th being the peak count. Other inland records included; 33, Barham Pits, Feb. 8th; and 12, Livermere, Dec. 13th. Again, inland evening roost movements up the Stour valley were noted, although the exact destination of these birds is still in doubt. Largest numbers seen were; 58 over Flatford, Aug. 23rd and 46 over Thorington Street, Oct. 11th. SHAG Phalacrocorax aristotelis A very poor year with four or five birds present during the first winter period, up to May 25th, and a maximum of seven birds in the second from Aug. 28th. All records are shown below. Lowestoft: Lake Lothing and harbour area, at least two, January. 29


Covehithe: Adult north, May 25th; immature Nov. 22nd. Southwold: Adult, Dec. 9th. Sizewell: Dec. 29th. Bawdsey: Nov. 29th. Felixstowe: Landguard, two adults south, Aug. 28th; immature, Aug. 31st and Sept. 7th. Ipswich: Dock area, immature, Jan. 4th to Feb. 18th; adult, Jan. 24th to 30th. BITTERN Botaurus stellaris Nine/ten 'boomers' at four localities represents a further decline. Suffolk's principal sites, Minsmere and Walberswick, are now down to a mere three and four/five pair:, respectively and overall, numbers have nearly halved during this decade â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 17 booming males were reported in 1980 and 1981. A number of winter records were recieved away from the breeding areas. All are listed although some probably refer to the same individuals. Beccles: Jan. 8th. Bawdsey: Feb. 1st. Falkenham: Jan. 24th and 25th. Foxhall: Jan. 30th. Bixley/Purdis Heath: Feb. 22nd. Long Melford: Jan. 15th to 17th. Glemsford: Jan. 30th to Feb. 17th; Dec 18th. Lackford: On reserve late January. One boarded the Esbjerg to Harwich ferry during the early morning of June 30th, at sea and about 150 miles north east of Felixstowe. It was aggressive towards its fellow passengers and on leaving the vessel flew towards Orfordness. The claim to a Suffolk record may be questionable but the fact that the bird was flying at sea, in mid-summer, is worthy of note. NIGHT HERON Nycticorax

nycticorax

Holbrook: Holbrook Gardens, probably a third year, June 14th to 21st (JAL et al). This well watched bird was part of an unusual influx of this species into the country. It is interesting to note that of the six recent records (since 1957) four have occurred in June, the others occurring in January and November. 30


LITTLE E G R E T Egretta garzetta A longstaying individual frequented several sites in north-east Suffolk and the series of records maintains the frequency of visits by this species. Excepting 1984, the species has visited the County every summer since 1980. This species is spreading its breeding range northwards in France and is potentially a new breeding species for Britain. All records presumably refer to the same bird.

Benacre: On Broad, intermittently between June 17th to July 18th (JMi, CSW et al). Covehithe: On Broad, June 18th (MM). Reydon: On marshes, July 23rd (BMW). Walberswick: Westwood Marsh, June 6th to 14th then intermittently to Aug. 19th (CSW et al). Minsmere: June 13th, July 14th and 19th (RNM, JS et al). GREY HERON Ardea cinerea A total of 117-141 occupied nests was located at 15 heronries. This compares with 169-187 144-164 in 1986. No. of occupied nests 8 12-21 17-19 7-8 14-17 14-20 5 4 12 11 3-4 6-7 1 1 2-3

Site Henham Blackheath Methersgate Ramsholt Woolverstone Stutton Stoke-by-Nayland West Stow Euston Brandon Wild Carr, Beccles Long Melford Benacre Minsmere Sudbourne

117-141

TOTAL

No nests were found at Herringfleet or North Cove where breeding occurred in 1986. Interesting winter records included one visiting a garden in Felixstowe in both winter Periods, 13 in one field, Wherstead Strand, Nov. 23rd and six on the Alton Water tern raft Feb. 25th. Records of autumn immigration included six flying in off sea at Benacre Sept. 16th. 31


PURPLE HERON Ardea purpurea Two typically dated records which presumably refer to the same bird. Benacre: June 13th (DBB, JMi, DRN). Minsmere: June 2nd to 16th, on the latter date it was seen flying out to sea (RSPB).

All records are given. Breydon Water: Two, June 8th. Benacre/Covehithe: Apr. 8th; two, May 15th; three north, May 24th. Easton Bavents: Three, May 19th. Reydon/Southwold: Two, Apr. 16th; four, Apr. 19th; May 8th. Walberswick: Up to three intermittently, Apr. 13th to May 25th. Minsmere/Eastbridge: Up to three intermittently, Apr. 11th to June 26th; four north, May 30th. Orford: Havergate, Apr. 23rd; on ten dates in June and two, 21st. Hoilesley: June 13th. Felixstowe: Landguard, flying south, June 10th. It is difficult to assess the number of birds that occurred as there was considerable movement between sites. It is likely however, that only four individuals were involved. 32


I

Plate 8: Two of the three Great Bustards that frequented Theberton, Feb. 1987.

Plate 9: Great Bustards on the frosty rape fields at Theberton, Feb. 1987.

Plate 10: River Ore.

J


SWAN Cygnus olor O

N

D

Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 10 176 89 51 230

F 20 151 98 34 153

M 20 151 73 23 247

S NIL 136 124 41 212

148 51 11 290

173 79 54 270

166 95 43 225

TOTAL

556

456

514

513

500

582

534

-

6

5

Numbers on the Orwell remain very low but numbers wintering on the arable fields f the Aide/Ore complex continue to increase. Other sizeable herds were; 67 Lakenheath Apr. 21st; and 47 Beccles Nov. 29th This species continues to be under-recorded in the breeding season, only 24 nesting rs being reported from 16 sites. EWICK'S SWAN Cygnus columbianus Early in the year the largest flocks reported were 100, Aldeburgh, Feb. 19th; 100 south, " dguard, Jan. 7th; 67, Minsmere, Feb. 7th; 67, Iken, Feb. 13th and 50 flying over ungay, Jan. 3rd. Mid-March saw an increase in some coastal areas as birds prepared to depart for their reeding grounds. Numbers at Been peaked at 190, Mar. 15th and 50 were at Falkenham, 'ar. 20th. Flocks totalling 236 were seen to fly out to sea at Gunton, Mar. 15th and 45 ikewise at Lowestoft, Mar. 17th. Also at this time six were seen at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Mar. 15th and two were seen flying over Haverhill, Mar. 10th. A very late bird occurred at Benacre Broad, May 2nd to 11th. Numbers in the second winter period were rather low; the first arrivals being noted on Oct. 25th when 13 flew west over Blythburgh and two were on the Aide/Ore. The largest flocks reported were 43, Sudbourne, Dec. 27th and 29, Minsmere, Nov. 10th. Otherwise, up to 13 occurred at five coastal localities while groups of ten were noted inland at Thorington Street, Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Cavenham Pits and Barton Mills. WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus An excellent year for this species especially in the first winter period when groups of two to 15 were seen at 11 coastal localities; the largest being 15, Reydon Marshes, Feb. 7th; 14, Kessingland, Feb. 16th and 11, Falkenham area, Feb. 26th. Away from the coast the Waveney Valley held seven at Barsham, Feb. 6th and 11 at Homersfield, Feb. 21st. Two were at Lackford, Jan 25th to 28th and four at Alton Water, Jan. 13th (the first record for the reservoir). Most birds had departed by late March although a bird lingered at Benacre, Apr. 26th to 29th. The only acceptable record for the second winter period was four Aide/Ore, Nov. 22nd. BEAN GOOSE Anserfabalis An impressive series of records in the first winter period with groups of one to eight reported from 11 localities. All records are shown but movement between sites undoubtedly occurred. Benacre: Three north and one with Canada Geese, Jan. 31st. »outhwold: Eight, Feb. 1st to 10th. Walberswick: Five, Jan. 31st. am ^ 8 <A- f- fabalis), Feb. 7th to Mar. 4th. Aldeburgh: Two (A. f . », «=>--- * K*. j. rossicus), i uòòicuòf, Jan. J an. 10th; seven (A. f . fabalis), Jan. 28th. Five, Jan. 1st; seven, Jan. 18th. e r e :

U p

t 0

e i

h t

33


Sudbourne: Two, Jan. Ist to 6th; seven (A. f . fabalis), Feb. 8th. Boyton: Four, Mar. 15th. Shingle Street: Six, Feb. Ist. Bawdsey: Three, Jan. 25th. Falkenham: Four, Jan. 24th; one, Feb. 5th; six (A. f . fabalis), Jan. 30th. By comparison only two localities provided records in the second winter peri od. Benacre: Two with Canada Geese, Nov. 29th. Sudbourne: Up to seven present from Dec. 4th. Additionally a ferai bird was present with Canada Geese at Lackford G. P. and Livermere from Apr. 29th to September.

PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus Another poor showing with the following records: Covehithe: Four south, Mar. 16th (JMC). Deben: Five Aying down river, Jan. 12th were Seen at Wilford Bridge, Melton and Kyson Point, Woodbridge (JHG, AMG). Falkenham: Four, Jan. 24th (DRM); two, Jan. 31st (WJB). Alton Water: Five, Jan. 16th and four remaining until Feb. lOth (NPB, SP). In addition to these there were reports of singles from Benacre, Easton Bavents, Minsmere, Shotley, Livermere and Lackford G. P. on various dates throughout the year, but these are more likely to refer to ferai birds. Four known escapees were present at Ixworth in October.

WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser albifrons Maximum monthly counts at main areas were: Minsmere Alde/Ore Falkenham

J 150 140 6

F 130 5 2

N NIL 2 NIL

D 150 62 150

TOTAL

2%

137

2

362

Numbers in the first winter period were low, possibly due to the severity of the weather which resulted in most favoured localities laying under several feet of snow throughout January. In addition to the above, 43 flew north over Landguard, Jan. 7th and groups of one to five were noted at Walberswick, Southwold, Shottisham and Alton Water. A flock of 119 remained at Minsmere until Mar. 14th, five of which were still present, Mar. 22nd. Records for the second winter period commenced with one south off Benacre, Nov. 14th and despite the mild winter there was a distinct increase in numbers at the end of December. Records away from the main areas included 40 south, Benacre, Dec. 20th; 73 south, Benacre, Dec. 21st and eight north over Foxhall Landfill Site, Dec. 19th. Smaller groups of one to three were also noted at Southwold, Shingle Street, Hollesley and Alton Water. (LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE) Anser erythropus Despite the occurrence of at least six individuals this species still fails to warrant a place on the Suffolk list. This is due to the numerous escapees from wildfowl collections, which continue to pollute the records, and those listed below typify the situation. Minsmere: May 16th to 19th. Ixworth: Four throughout October. Long Melford: Oct. 14th. 34


REYLAG GOOSE Anser cmser The feral population continues to increase and is concentrated in three main areas, nacre to Minsmere: Breeding pairs reported from Minsmere (seven pairs) and Walberswick (three pairs); largest flocks were 350, Minsmere, Nov. 14th (a County record); 150 Southwold, Dec. 30th and 112, Benacre Broad, Oct. 2nd. on Water: One pair nested; maximum count 110, Sept. 13th — a new record for the reservoir, kford G. P./Livermere: Three pairs nested at Livermere rearing 14 young; maximum counts 39, Livermere, July 9th and 34 Lackford G. P. in September. Additionally 24 were at Thorington Street Res., Oct. 24th and Dec. 29th and groups f one to eight birds were reported from many other localities. Five at Sudbourne, Feb th, were very wary and may have been genuinely wild. NOW GOOSE Anser caerulescens One or two blue-phase birds reported from Benacre, Alton Water, Lackford Pits, and ivermere, on various dates throughout the year, and up to four white-phase birds, present t Ixworth from October onwards, are all likely escapees. There was much speculation on the origins of an immature blue-phase at Falkenham, Ian 20th to 23rd which was possibly wild. Although genuine vagrancy is unlikely in Suffolk it is by no means impossible when one considers that a Canadian ringed bird occurred in The Netherlands in 1980.

(

CANADA GOOSE Branta canadensis D N O S M are probably F high and J Numbers in the county remain very still 700 increasing. The following 300 _ — 500 Benacre localities recorded flocks169 in excess 600 540 364 210 Aide/Ore 157birds. 271 of 400 Stour/Alton Water Lackford G. P. Livermere Ixworth Cavenham TOTAL

387 504 554 400 350 2364

390 151

254 58

_ _

-

-

812

469

544 1066 484 619 -

3423

148 1009 140 687 —

3048

250 1125 140 688 —

2743

529 1200 —

100 700 3429

Many other smaller flocks were reported including 350, Thorington Street, Jan. 10th; -50, Long Melford, Jan. 7th and 210, Needham Market, Sept. 21st. l e a s t 1 1 0 bre p eding pairs were reported with the main concentrations at Lackford G. r• (25 pairs); Minsmere (18 pairs) and Long Melford (12 pairs). Birds showing characteristics of one of the 'small races' reported at Benacre, July 5th and Aug. 23rd (two); Falkenham, Nov. 22nd and Lackford G. P., Jan. 24th, were unlikely to be of wild origin. BARNACLE GOOSE Branta leucopsis true status of this species in the County is somewhat clouded by the presence of an increasing number of feral birds associating with the Canada Goose flocks. Largest S T r e P° r t e d were: 11, Barham Pits, Oct. 4th; 11, Benacre Broad, Oct. 14th and nine i ^ h '2th. Groups of one to six were reported from many other localities nc ' , m 8 o n e associating with Brent Geese at Falkenham and Shotley Marshes in February. 1 apparently paired with Canada Geese were at Lackford G. P. and Barham Pits; p g o s l l n g was seen at the latter site, osstble wild birds were seen flying in off the sea at Minsmere, Apr. 5th (five) and Aldeburgh, Apr. 6th (six). 35


BRENT GOOSE Branta bernicla BOEE counts show a County population of around 5,000 in the first winter period an 3,500 in the second. Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 939 808 841 2371

F 160 2209 700 1513

M 119 1150 850 1033

O 73 NIL 163 325

N 31 359 766 998

D 115 383 2000 1156

TOTAL

4959

4582

3152

561

2154

3654

Populations on individual estuaries fluctuated greatly due to considerable interchang between sites. On a number of occasions an overland movement between the Deben am Orwell was noted. Indications were that 1987 was another poor breeding year. Late in the year the Debei flock contained only about 5 % juveniles although this is an improvement on the almos total absence of first year birds in 1986. A partial albino bird with white wings returned to Falkenham in November for its thirc successive winter and it was also noted at Trimley Marshes. Impressive southerly movements were noted off Landguard early in the year with 1,000 Jan. lOth/llth and 1,266, Mar. 3rd, whilst the autumn passage totalled 18, 823 birds. Sept. 19th to mid-November. Peak days during this period were Oct. 19th — 2,911; Oct 20th — 6,326; Oct. 21st — 1,319; Oct. 27th — 2,276 and Nov. 4th — 1,443. Large counts were also made elsewhere on the coast including 3,221 south off Benacre, Oct. 27th. Inland records were two at Lackford G. P., Jan. 1st; 50, south-east over Eriswell, Jan. 13th and two at Cavenham Pits, Dec. 6th. The latter birds were also seen flying over Lackford G. P. Also at Ixworth, in an area infamous for escaped wildfowl, two birds frequented Micklemere during September; one showed characters of the dark-bellied race B. b. bernicla and the other of the Northern American and east Siberian race B. b. nigricans, colloquially known as the 'Black Brant'. The latter individual was in the company of a Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus. As usual a few birds lingered into the summer months. An individual with a damaged wing remained throughout the summer on the Deben at Bawdsey and was joined by an apparently healthy bird on June 15th. Other June records came from Minsmere, 6th and 9th to 13th and Benacre, 7th. One flying north off Landguard, Aug. 26th may have been a very early return bird. Birds of the pale-bellied race (B. b. hrota) were reported as follows: Aldeburgh: One south, Dec. 13th. Orford/Sudbourne: Six Sept. 12th; 20 (possibly 36), Sept. 13th. Boyton: Three, Feb. 22nd. Falkenham: Present up to Mar. 15th, maximum 10, Jan. 19th; two, Dec. 20th onwards. The size of the Orford/Sudbourne flock is large for this race by Suffolk standards, and the date is extremely early; very few normally occur before mid-December. The record coincided with an influx of other Nearctic wildfowl (see also Blue-winged Teal). A sighting of 20 Brent Geese of undetermined race at Shingle Street, Sept. 5th may also refer to the Sudbourne flock. RED-BREASTED GOOSE Branta ruficollis The well-watched adult at Falkenham Marshes, present from November, 1986, remained in the general area until Mar. 6th, feeding amongst both the Brent and Canada Goos' flocks. It then moved up the coast in association with the Canada Geese to T h o r p e n e s s Mar. 15th, Minsmere/Eastbridge, Mar. 17th to Apr. 13th and eventually to Benacre Broad 36


where it oversummered. Late in the year it was reported from South wold, Dec. 12 th to 30th and Kessingland, Dec. 31st.This individual shows how difficult it is to assess the status of some vagrant wildfowl. If it had departed with the wintering Brent Geese it would almost certainly have been regarded as a wild bird; however this was not the case and therefore must be treated as an escapee. EGYPTIAN GOOSE Alopochen aegyptiacus Recorded from 22 sites concentrated in the coastal region and south Breck. Most of these records were of ones and twos with those sites holding more than four birds listed as follows: Lound: Ten, July 7th. Somerleyton: Ten Aug. 8th. Corion: Fifteen in flight, Nov. 15th. Kessingland: Seven, Aug. 15th. Wickham Market: Six during October. Ixworth: Up to five regularly in Ixworth meadows. Livermere: The most important site in the County with birds present all year and a maximum of 17, Nov. 15th. Euston: Eight during June. Lackford G. P.: Nine Nov. 18th. Successful breeding was recorded from: Lound: Pair with eight young. Ixworth: Pair with four young. Livermere: Pair with seven young. Euston: Two pairs with at least six young. RUDDY SHELDUCK Tadorna ferruginea Records all presumed to be escaped birds were received from: Benacre: Two on Broad, including probable juvenile, Nov. 21st. Sudbourne: With Shelduck on River Aide, Dec. 20th. Deben: With Mute Swans at Falkenham, Nov. 22nd and twice at Felixstowe Ferry, November/ December. Holbrook: Female on River Stour, Feb. 7th. Livermere: Male, Oct. 25th, Nov. 15th and Dec. 28th. Lackford G. P.: Oct. 8th and Dec. 2nd, probably same as Livermere bird.

SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna The onset of a severe spell of weather with heavy snowfalls in the second week of January instigated a heavy southerly coastal movement which exceeded that of January 1986 (2,800). Hundreds of birds were seen moving down the coast and Landguard recorded a total of 4,414 south on 13 days from Jan. 7th peaking at 2,700, 10th and 1,050, 11th. In contrast to early 1986, birds proved more able to survive the harsh weather conditions resulting in less mortality.

BIyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 361 267 1127 615 578

F 342 875 1163 1305 164

M 404 492 796 999 116

A â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 1018 433 230

A 232 43 -

S 29 109 144 58 401

O 56 169 92 206

N 154 587 428 263 535

D 68 325 524 380 1023

TOTAL

2948

4849

3007

1681

236

741

523

1967

2320

37


Nested all around suitable coasts and estuaries and inland breeding was confirmed from: Sproughton B. F.: Pits, pair with two young. Bury B. F.: Pits, pair with nine young. Livermere: At least six broods in June. Lackford G. P.: Two pairs with broods. Cavenham Pits: Two pairs reared eight young. MANDARIN Aix galericulata A pair nested again near Wherstead and the female was seen with two young. Up to three birds were seen occasionally in the Foxhall area, from April to December, but there was no evidence of breeding this year. Ones and twos at Micklemere were recent escapees from the adjacent Ixworth Wildfowl Farm and similarly, a very tarne female frequented a small pond at Kessingland from October to December. WIGEON Anas penelope There was a heavy, southward, coastal movement during the severe weather of midJanuary. Landguard recorded a total of approximately 30,400 between 4th and 16th, but no less than 27,900 of these flew south on lOth, just as the severe speli approached. The latter figure constitutes the County's biggest ever movement, far exceeding any previous count. Biyth Minsmere Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Livermere Lakenheath Washes TOTAL

J 145 1400 6699 2547 694 1546 346 48 184

F 701 1070 3588 625 515 1170 35 18 380

M 2000 850 2761 1020 315 437 50 14 680

S NIL 68 112 1 12 616 NIL 1

13609

8102

8127

810

-

O 13 500 2225 715 286 672 NIL

_ -

4411

N 350 500 2388 1094 548 2236 NIL —

-

7116

D 491 315 3046 1646 570 2097 24 — —

8188

Between May and August birds were recorded from nine sites, with up to 12 at Minsmere in June and July. There were, however, no indications of breeding. Autumn coastal movements were fairly light, with a maximum o f 4 2 5 south off Benacre, Oct. 27th. Landguard monthly totals were 446 for October and 217 for November, all flying south. Winter records were received from a scattering of sites throughout the County but flock sizes were smaller than usuai. G AI)WALI, Anas streperà J

F

Benacre Minsmere Aide Alton Water Lackford G .P. Lakenheath Washes

_

52 10 13 159 37

82 17 2 15 48

TOTAL

271

164

M 6 30 17 15 9 -

77

N

D 5 80 46 11 5

S 43 113 NIL 4 35

O 50 165 9 NIL 98

-

-

-

195

322

159

147

150 NIL 9 —

The only other sites with counts of over 20 were Ixworth Thorpe, 26, Dec. 24th and Tuddenham (west), 41, Dec. 6th. Confirmed breeding was reported from: Minsmere (minimum of 12 pairs), Erwarton, Lackford G. P. (ten pairs producing five broods all of which fledged), River Lark, between Barton Mills and Icklingham (five pairs) and Lakenheath Washes. At sea one or two birds were occasionally seen off Landguard and 15 flew north off Covehithe, Aug. 25th. 38


TEAL Anas crecca The severe January weather caused some movement; Landguard recorded 500 flying south between 10th and 16th, whilst those frequenting Minsmere decreased from 600, 7th to 100, 13th. Blyth Minsmere Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford G. P. Lakenheath Washes TOTAL

J 10 650 663 186 75 47 46 55 120

F 56 400 613 207 158 100 NIL 29

1852

1563

M 117 172 473 133 69 41 5 36 160

S 13 227 1147 7 8 1001 NIL 63

1206

2466

O —

1200 956 78 44 119 6 68

2471

D 2 390 579 363 81 596 22 53 —

N 4 1000 1080 424 153 603 9 72

2086

3345

The only other counts of 50 or more were: 50, Cavenham Pits, Jan. 24th; 60, Bourne Park Water Meadows, Jan. 18th and 250, Hollesley, Dec. 29th. Breeding was proven only at Minsmere where there was a minimum of eight pairs but just one juvenile was seen; Lackford G. P. where four young were fledged from one pair and Lakenheath Washes where family parties were seen in July. Autumn passage commenced in mid-August and peaked on Sept. 1st when 261 moved south off Landguard. A further 242 passed through in October and elsewhere southerly movements were 105, Covehithe, Sept. 30th and 86, Benacre, Oct. 19th. MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos During the January cold weather 273 flew south off Landguard between 6th and 16th, 300 were noted in the inner harbour, at Lowestoft, 14th and 224 in Ipswich Docks, 12th. Blyth Minsmere Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford G. P. TOTAL

J 147 675 449 693 638 880 465 —

3947

F 56 350 1248 481 556 854 297 —

M 64 211 415 381 331 620 224 2246

403 2474

_

630 119

157 83

-

3842

S 2 320 441 127 256 737 134 54

A

A —

29 830 255 -

-

240

D 78

150 656 212 384 1220 208 177

N 28 272 1012 344 643 2316 151 119

1387 359 570

2694

3667

5259

O —

167 110

A minimum of 40 pairs nested at Minsmere but otherwise breeding season activity was poorly recorded. Near Ixworth, 147 were noted on the Micklemere, Oct. 10th and 166, Ixworth Thorpe water meadows, Dec. 20th. PINTAIL Anas acuta An impressive 700 moved south off Landguard, Jan. 10/11th, at the onset of severe weather. Similar movements were noted at several localities on the coast, e.g. 102, Southwold in an hour and a half period. Benacre Minsmere Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 3 4 28 200 100 103

F 2 13 31 213 89 101

M 2 30 95 85 122 97

S 2 4 NIL NIL NIL 128

O 9 20 171 55 63 208

N 2 9 163 60 155 333

D 2 5 167 170 •86 225

TOTAL

438

449

431

134

526

722

755

39


Apart from the above the only site to hold more than ten birds was Higham, by the River Stour, where 30 were present Nov. 22nd. One pair almost certainly nested at one site and birds were noted in the breeding season in four other areas. Autumn coastal movements offshore included 62 south, Benacre, Oct. 19th; 77 south, Landguard during October and 24 south, Landguard, Nov. 4th. GARGANEY Anas querquedula Two at Minsmere, Mar. 20th were the first of the year and from then on one to three birds were seen at five coastal and one Breckland sites during the spring and summer Oversummering was recorded at one locality, where mating was noted earlier in the season. A female, together with a juvenile, at the same site in August, indicated that breeding may have occurred but this remains inconclusive. The only autumn records came from Minsmere where one or two were present until Sept. 27th. BLUE-WINGED TEAL Anas discors

Minsmere: Female, Sept. 13th to 15th and again, Sept. 24th to 27th (SA, DJH, IR et al). Suffolk's third example of this Nearctic duck and the first since 1972. The bird appeared after a period of predominately westerly winds and coincided with five other reported occurrences from elsewhere in the country (Allsopp and Dawson, 1988). SHOVELER Anas clypeata A total of 50 was at Minsmere, Jan. 10th but disappeared during the cold speli, whilst at Landguard 15 flew south, Jan. 1 lth. J

Walberswick Minsmere Aide Deben Alton Water Thorington Street Livermere Lackford G. P. TOTAL

_

F

M 10 21 27 2

A

50 16 5 20

38 34 NIL 1

2 5

1! 2

6

9 10 12 2 4

98

86

66

57

_

20

_

A 12 30 11

_

S 77 23 NIL NIL

O 3 60 212 2 NIL

N

D â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

40 35 4 2

3

42 37 NIL 12 â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

1

11

11

il)

6

57

111

288

91

97

A impressive count of 212 was made at Havergate, Oct. 25th (included in Aide above) and inland a total of 88 was on Lakenheath Washes, Apr. 12th. Proven or probable breeding took place at Walberswick (two/three pairs rearing 15 young); Minsmere (minimum of seven pairs but few young seen); Orfordness; Shotley; Trimley Lake; Alton Water (five pairs April); Livermere; Lackford G. P. (two pairs, April) and Lakenheath. 40


D-CRESTED POCHARD Netta rufina An array of occurrences some of which are likely to be escapees, nacre: Eclipse male on Broad, June 28th (CAB, SL, DRN). tholt: Male on reed-fringed pond, Oct. 16th was considered "very wild" (MSm). -ast Bergholt: Tame male on River Stour, between Flatford Mill and Dedham, from early January until Mar. 28th; May 25th and again Sept. 30th. Probably same as that recorded at Thorington Street, 1986 (PMB, JL). Haverhill: Pair on flood park, Mar. 18th (DFS). POCHARD Aythya ferina During the January cold spell a flock of up to 98 birds inhabited the Ipswich Wet Dock from about 10th onwards, decreasing to 20 by Feb. 8th. Landguard logged 114 south between Jan. 10th and 19th. D N O S A M F i 100 Aide Orwell Alton Water Thorington Street Lackford G. P. Cavenham G. P. Lakenheath Washes

2 98 174

TOTAL

382

108

NIL 39 84 50 70

25 7 100 30 59

63

25

306

246

NIL 7 15 no 92

NIL

NIL

1 20

55 3 120 168 75 89

15 120 294 79 181

490

787

-

224

21

The October to December counts for the Orwell and Alton Water were way below their former numbers but the 294 at Thorington Street Res., Dec. 10th was a record for the site. Other high counts were 135 at Livermere, Feb. 14th; 80 at Bramford G. P., Mar. 7th and 100 Gedgrave Res., Dec. 20th. Breeding season records came from four sites: Benacre: Two pairs producing four young each. Minsmere: Three pairs rearing at least eight young. Livermere: Two pairs, four young seen. Lackford G. P.: Female with one youmg. FERRUGINOUS DUCK Aythya rtyroca Just a single record which ends a lean period for the species, this being the first since December, 1985. Freston: Female on River Orwell, Dec. 30th and 31st (MRM, RP). TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula A flock of 20 in Ipswich Wet Dock, Jan. 9th, increased during the cold spell to reach a peak of 275 by 24th. A few were noted moving south offshore, e.g. 17 off Minsmere, Jan. 14th.

186

F 76 29 47 15 209 269 50 174

M 10 27 88 38 92 241 30 200

869

869

726

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

8 27 23 275 350

TOTAL

-

27 115 34 50 164

44 20 44 7

16 28 29 146

240

319

4 23 82 103 32 255

D 200 37 131 37 30 288 51 200

450

355

588

499

974

A 35 25

S

N

O 50

_

A total of at least 50 breeding pairs was reported from 17 sites. These were: Benacre "s, Benacre Broad, Minsmere, Staverton, Boyton Marshes, Felixstowe Ferry, Trimley Uk e (20 pairs producing 131 young), Levington, Alton Water, Thorington Street Res.,

p

41


Sproughton Pits, Bramford G. P., Great Blakenham, Foxhall, Great Thurlow, Boxford, Lackford G. P. (three broods, high breeding success, July) and River Lark (between Icklingham and Barton Mills). Undoubtedly under-recorded as a breeding species. POCHARD X TUFTED DUCK HYBRID Aythya ferina x fuligula A drake found dead beside the A45 at the Trimley interchange, Feb. 11th showed characteristics of both Pochard and Tufted Duck and was considered as a hybrid between the two species. The skin was deposited at the Ipswich Museum. SCAUP Aythya mania There was an influx during the January cold spell. Birds were seen almost daily in the Ipswich Wet Dock between 12th and 26th, with a maximum of seven on 19th. Landguard logged 45 flying south on 11th and apart from the birds in the table below there were records of one to three at eight other sites. These included inland records of a female at Barking, Feb. 7th; another on the River Gipping at Bramford, Jan. 27th/28th and again Feb. 17th, and a female at Lackford G. P., Feb. 15th. J Benacre Orwell Alton Water

1 76 1

F 3 64 34

TOTAL

78

101

NIL 14

O 1 NIL NIL

N 1 NIL NIL

14

1

1

M â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

D 2 1 -

3

Three males were on Benacre Broad on the unusual date of July 23rd. Late autumn records were confined to one to three birds from seven coastal sites including a male on Trimley Lake, Oct. 10th and two females there, Nov. 29th. EIDER Somateria moltissima The first winter period produced more records than in 1986. Recorded in all from 15 estuatine or coastal sites but many of the records involve birds moving north or south offshore. Up to nine were regular in Sole Bay from Jan. 18th, between Southwold and Minsmere, with presumably the same birds occasionally on the River Blyth. This flock was noted in varying numbers throughout May, was present off Minsmere, June 1st, and probably oversumme red (see below). Landguard recorded 40 south and eight north between Jan. 10th and 23rd and also 15 north, Feb. 26th and 24 north, Apr. 14th. Up to four at various sites on the River Orwell from Jan. 20th to Apr. 5th. Unlike former years, there were no concentrations around the Fagbury Point area of the Orwell, possibly due to damaged mussel-beds caused by recent dredging operations. There were the usual records of oversummering non-breeders including up to six off Shingle Street most of the summer, up to seven off Minsmere July 8th to Aug. 7th and immature males off Landguard from late May to July 20th and at Havergate June 17th to 28th. Rather scarcer in the second winter period with records from 12 coastal areas and again many of these involved birds moving offshore. These movements were also contradictory: whereas Landguard logged totals of 47 south and four north between Aug. 29th and Dec. 3rd, at Southwold only 11 passed south but 100 north between Sept. 30th and Dec. 8th. The Southwold records include the year's highest count â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 47 north, Nov. 26th. LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis Ten birds were recorded at eight sites as follows: Benacre: Male on pits, Nov. 12th and a female on Broad, Nov. 27th to 29th. Covehithe: Flying north, Mar. 16th. Southwold: Two flying north, Nov. 26th. Minsmere: Flying north, Nov. 25th. 42


Vldeburgh: Slaughden Quay, flying south, Oct. 24th. Orford: Havergate Island, Dec. 24th. Butley: Butley River, male, Jan. 10th. Thorington Street Res.: Male Nov. 2nd to 8th. COMMON SCOTER Melanina nigra Coast

J 250

F 100

M

A 3

M 114

J 70

12

J 250

A 80

S 85

O 100

N 250

D 100

The usual rather complex pattern with many records of flocks moving north and south offshore and group«, often quite large, feeding or resting on the sea. The above table records the maximum count for the month from any point on the Suffolk coast, but as usual the great majority of the records came from the area between Benacre and Sizewell with their favourite spot being Sole Bay. This year the species appeared to be scarcer than usual between March and May. Inland records came from Lackford G. P., a male, Mar. 29th and a pair Apr. 4th and Lakenheath, on the Little Ouse, May 12th, a tame male which allowed approach to within six feet. During the autumn Landguard logged totals of 198 south and 21 north between Aug. 2nd and Nov. 22nd which clearly indicates some southward movement. VELVET SCOTER Melanina fusca A male was seen in Lowestoft Harbour, Jan. 18th and 20th and another was off Benacre, Jan. 11th and 17th. What was probably the same bird was on Benacre Broad from Jan. 31st and for several days in February. A female or, possibly an immature male, was in the Blyth Estuary from Jan. 18th to Feb. 15th. Four were off Orfordness, Jan. 18th and singles were noted at Minsmere, Jan. 19th and in the main channel of Breydon Water, Feb. 7th. Landguard logged three north, Jan 27th, two south, Mar. 3rd and a male north, May 29th. The only report during the summer was of two off Dunwich, July 5th. A rather light autumn movement with totals of six south, 12 north and four, at rest, offshore, between Sept. 27th and Dec. 6th; all between Benacre and Slaughden. Dunwich, Suffolk's most favoured locality, held two, Nov. 13th, three, Nov. 17th and up to five on several days in December. GOLDENEYE Bucephala clangula During the January cold spell birds were recorded daily in Ipswich Docks; five on 9th increased to peak at 80, 15th with 54 still present, 26th but decreasing to four, Feb. 4th. Landguard recorded 61 south between Jan. 4th and 29th. Benacre Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford G. P.

J 18 37 186 151 8 10 9

F 20 20 114 119 36 8 20

TOTAL

419

337

M 15 9 49 65 40 18 25 '

221

4 18

O 2 NIL NIL NIL NIL NIL 1

N 4 1 14 38 27 10 4

D 4 5 41 67 43 15 5

26

3

98

180

A 4 —

NIL -

_

The above table clearly illustrates the species' late return to Suffolk, with very few present before November and a build-up in numbers continuing through until January. Inland records, other than the above, came from Thorington Street Res. (three), River ¡-ark (two, Feb. 1st), Lakenheath Washes (four), Bramford G. P., Haverhill, Needham Market, Barham Pits, Stoke-by-Clare (three) and Micklemere, Ixworth. 43


There was a light autumn coastal movement: Landguard logged 22 south between Oct. 27th and Dec. 3rd. SMEW Mergus albellus The bitter cold of January produced an influx of at least 70 of these delightful saw-bills, and possibly as many as 100. The birds were widely distributed in coastal and estuar;ne waters and counts at the two best sites were:— Benacre Alton Water

J 18 17

F 18 5

M 5 2

TOTAL

35

23

7

In addition to the above, January records included: three around Lowestoft Harbour, three at Carlton New Cut, two at Southwold Boating Lake, four at Walberswick, up to five on the River Deben, two on the River Orwell in addition to five in Ipswich Docks and singles at several other sites. Inland records came from the River Brett at Hadleigh, Cavenham Pits (two) and Lakenheath Washes (two). As usual 'red-heads' outnumbered adult males by a large margin, about five to one, and of the 70 minimum, no more than 13 displayed the exquisite male plumage. Numbers decreased dramatically during February and only eight were left in early March. A lingering 'red-head' frequented the Flatford area until May 28th. There were no records during the second winter period. RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator The harsh weather in January also affected this species. Two in Ipswich Docks, Jan 12th increased to a peak of 20 by 21st and up to 14 remained in the first half of February Seven frequented Lowestoft Harbour/Oulton Broad during January while Landguard logged 25 south and six north in January from the 10th. As usual the Orwell was the premier site with monthly counts of: J

F

M

N

D

48

40

19

1

14

Other January records included four at Benacre, four on the River Aide, three at Shingle Street, four on the River Deben, two at Alton Water and singles at six other coastal sites During the summer a female was on Trimley Lake, June 29th, a female flew north off Landguard, July 21st and another female was on Benacre Broad, July 23rd. The first of the autumn flew south off Benacre, Sept. 27th. This heralded a fairly lig1" coastal movement with about 35 flying south off Benacre during October while L a n d g u a r i logged 28 south in October and 10 during November. Apart from the Orwell, one to three birds were recorded from five other coastal sites, in the last three months of the year, while the only inland record for 1987 involved a 'red-head' at Lackford G. P., Nov. 5th GOOSANDER Mergus merganser Yet another species whose wintering numbers were increased by the January Maximum counts at the main sites were:— Benacre Alton Water Livermere Lackford G. P.

J 8 18 7 30

F 3 12 3 42

TOTALS

63

60

M

N

D 1 1

5 3 19

-

4

27

6

weather

One to three were noted at 16 other sites during January or February. These included a single 'red-head' in Ipswich Docks; a male in the main channel of Breydon Water; an a male and three 'red-heads' on the River Lark at Cavenham Heath. 44


Summer records were of a female at Cattawade in late May and a male in Breydon Water, June 14th. Autumn records were few. Apart from those in the table, a 'red-head' was on the Orwell between Sept. 5th and 13th; six passed south, off Benacre, Oct. 19th where four singles also went south, offshore, in October/November; a group of five (one male) came out of the Orwell and flew north past Landguard, Dec. 6th; four were on Cavenham Pits, Dec. 6th (same birds as Lackford G. P.) and three frequented the Flood Park, Haverhill, Dec. 17th. RUDDY DUCK Qxyura jamaicensis Another good year for this North American stifftail. Records in the first winter period were: two females or immatures, Alton Water, throughout January and a female, Apr. 13th; a female, Benacre Broad, Feb. 7th to 9th; a male, Haverhill Flood Park, Mar. 24th; five males in eclipse, Livermere, Feb. 14th. In the spring a pair was at Walberswick from Apr. 20th to May 6th and another pair was seen at Minsmere between May 2nd and 31st. A male was at Lackford G. P., June 6th. Breeding was proven again at Suffolk's best site, Livermere, where up to three pairs produced 14 ducklings. One unfortunate youngster was found drowned in an eel trap and another was shot, but it was thought likely that the rest survived (TBB). A very young brood of seven was reported on the lake in the first week of August and a pair was still present, Nov. 1st. Records later in the year were a female on Redgrave Lake, Oct. 30th; one Lackford G P., Nov 20th and a male, Dec. 13th; one or two females or immatures, Alton Water, between Nov. 21st and Dec. 23rd and three immatures were on Trimley Lake, from Dec. 12th to January, 1988. RED KITE Milvus milvus The most records for a number of years but probably much duplication. It was unfortunate 'hat two of the records refer to corpses. Benacre/Covehithe: Mar. 11th and 14th (CRN), ^ston Bavents: Found dead on beach, Apr. 5th (BMW). Wickham Market: Nov. 1st and Dec. 1st (CAB, RIW). f ramlinghani: Adult found dead, early November, and taken to taxidermist in Ipswich (per SP). ^ntton Heath/Rendlesham Forest area: Dec. 12th (JHG). motley: Early April (IP), frequency of occurrences this decade is listed as follows: "980 NIL

1981 2

1982 4

1983 3

1984 1

1985 3

1986 2

1987 4

V1ARSH

HARRIER Circus aeruginosas Another excellent breeding season with thirteen females known to have nested. Despite M° n e s t s flooded due to heavy rainfall, the remaining 11 reared a total of 35 young. Minsmere experienced their second best year ever with 12 young being reared from three nests. Spring passage was moderate along the coastal strip, while in the west of the County we only records were of a juvenile over Thetford Forest and Mayday Farm, both Sept. â&#x20AC;˘ a n d a female frequenting suitable breeding habitat in June and July. HEN HARRIER Circus cyaneus Although recorded from over 40 sites it was an extremely poor winter for the species W regular roosts mustering a mere 18 birds. Surprisingly however, ten of these were grey roales which indicates a high proportion of adults. The peak number was also reached 45


in March, at the end of the winter, when numbers are normally swelled by passage birds. An early return bird was noted at Butley, Sept. 13th but subsequent numbers were again well below their former abundance. Amongst a group of six birds at Elveden, Dec. 6th, four were grey males. MONTAGU'S HARRIER Circus pygargus There were no confirmed reports of breeding and apart from the usual indeterminate sightings of summer ring-tails the only acceptable record was noted as follows: M insure re: Male, May 31st (GJ). GOSHAWK Accipiter gentilis Two pairs are known to have bred in the County and while one of these fell victim to egg-collectors/falconers the other raised three young. A pair was also reported from one other site and a single male at another. Along the coast a bird reported flying in off the sea at Benacre, May 2nd, was probably the same as that seen at Minsmere on the same day, Walberswick, May 5th and Henham, May 6th. Walberswick also produced a series of records of a female between Jan. 24th and 31st. Autumn records came from Benacre, Oct. 27th and Staverton, Dec. 31st. SPARROWHAWK Accipiter nisus Widely reported from numerous sites with good numbers during the winter period. Reports during the breeding season also improved but only three pairs are known to have nested successfully. Interesting behavioural notes included a female attempting to take a Kingfisher at Glemsford, Aug. 21st, and another, in north-east Suffolk during December, taking a leaf from the top of an Oak, flying up and dropping it, then twisting down and catching it in mid-air. The latter performance was repeated three times (CRN). COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buteo Winter and passage records from over twenty localities on the coastal strip with summer records of single birds from four sites. Elsewhere the only sightings were singles at Ixworth. Mar. 9th; Eriswell, Aug. 23rd and Haverhill, Dec. 17th. ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus The three single-day records for the first winter period may refer to passage birds. The mid-summer record is intriguing and conforms to the pattern set by other northern species (see also Shore Lark, Ring Ouzel and Fieldfare). It represents the second June record for the County, the other being at Minsmere, June 5th, 1975. There were only two present in the second winter period, both frequenting the Aide estuary. Frittoo: Ashby Warren, June 22nd to 26th (BJB, JCE). Blythburgh: Feb. 2nd (BMW). Rendlesham: Staverton Park, Mar. 7th (AG). Orford: Orfordness, Oct. 25th and on several dates in December (RCB, JHG); Havergate, Nov 20th and 27th (RSPB). Butley: Butley River, Oct. 25th; two Dec. 13th to 26th. (JMC, JHG). Elveden: Mar. 1st (RWHG). OSPREY Pandion haliaetus An excellent year for this species with above average sightings on spring passage Allowing for movement between sites it appears that six birds passed through the County Oulton Broad: Flying south, Apr. 26th (BJB, ACE). Benacre: Apr. 28th (per CSW). Reydon/Southwold: May 29th (BMW). 46


Minsmere: Apr. 30th to May 5th (RSPB, JHG, M DC); another June 24th (SL). Orford: Havergate, Apr. 18th (RSPB). Ttiorington Street: June 14th (ARN). Hi adfield St George: May 19th (DB). I-ackford: Over gravel pits, Apr. 12th (BH, SB), June 6th and 11th (CJ). The autumn movement was also productive but, with the obvious duplication in records, there were probably no more than four birds involved. Covehithe: Sept. 9th (JMC, SL, DRN). Minsmere: Flying south, Aug. 26th (RSPB). Orford: Aug. 26th (RSPB, DL). Eyke: Flying south-east, Aug. 28th (DL). Felixstowe: Landguard, flying south, Aug. 27th (MM). Pakenham: Sept. 24th (MW). Bury St Edmunds: Over beet factory ponds, Sept. 25th (SPE). KESTREL Falco rinnunculus Once again this widespread species was poorly recorded although fourteen pairs were known to have nested. Worm hunting was again recorded from birds in the Haverhill area between January and May and again in December. At Landguard one bird took and ate a fish head being used as bait for gulls, while at Reydon a young bird was observed taking meat and dead mice from a bird table. At Hengrave a female fell down a chimney, Jan. 15th, was taken into care and released Jan. 24th. MERLIN Falco columbarius Wintering birds were widely distributed along the coast and in the Breck, but there were fewer birds than in 1986. For the late winter/spring period, records were received from twelve sites along the coastal strip and three inland. An obvious spring passage occurred during the first three weeks of April. Benacre: Apr. 21st. Easton BavenLs: Male in from the sea, Apr. 10th. ReydonAValberswick: Female sporadically between Westwood and Reydon Marshes, Jan. 17th to May 3rd; male, Reydon Marshes, Feb. 1st. Sizewell: Apr. 5th. Aide Estuary: Sudbourne/Iken marshes, male and female noted on several dates from Jan. 1st to Mar. 22nd, with probably another female on Havergate Island, Apr. 19th. Falkenham/Kirton: Female Jan 27th and Feb. 7th. f I'lixstowe: Landguard, female/immature on several dates Apr. 3rd to 22nd. Foxhall: Mar. 3rd. 1-ackford: Male over pits, Jan. 27th. EnsweU: High Lodge Farm, Jan. 12th. '•akenheath Warren: "Probably two", Jan. 18th. There were fewer records from the second winter period, although autumn passage commenced with an incredibly early bird in the Breck, late July and early August. Benacre: Over Broad, Nov. 28th. "ston Bavents: Oct. 31st. *aiberswick: Male over Westwood Marsh, Nov. 29th. Mmsniere: In from the sea, Oct. 25th. Aide Estuary: A female frequented Sudbourne from the early date of Sept. 9th and another at Iken, °ec. 6th; a male was also at Sudbourne, Oct. 25th and Dec. 20th. ralkenham: Nov. 8th. ^avenham: "Probable female" over heath, Aug. 18th. ™«on Mills: Female flying over, July 27th (MA), "eden: Male during November and Dec. 18th. 47


HOBBY Falco subbuteo An exceptional year which reflects the increases in the breeding population in southern Britain. Noted at about 35 sites although many records refer to passage birds. Suffolk may well have a breeding population of some eight pairs but due to the wideranging nature of the species, shyness during early stages of breeding, and post-juvenile dispersal, numbers are difficult to ascertain. Birds were noted regularly at Minsmere as follows: Minsmere: From Apr. 30th to May 11th and again July 12th and 13th and intermittently to Sept. 16th. During August a bird regularly plundered the Sand Martin colony by the car-park at dusk. There was a very obvious autumn passage with the species being noted at many coastal localities. Two very late birds passed through Landguard, Oct. 27th PEREGRINE Falco peregrinus

Suffolk's best year of late with two sightings during the winter/spring period followed by eight in the autumn/winter, all in the coastal region. The female seen at HavergaKin late August, was a particularly early return bird. Again this highly mobile species most obviously flipped from site to site and it is likely that no more than five birds were involved Gedgrave: Immature flying towards Boyton, Feb. 24th (JHG). Covehithe: Juvenile flying south over cliffs, Sept. 9th (CAB, JMC, SL). Easton Bavents: Over Broad, Nov. 7th (DC). Minsmere: Oct. 3rd (RSPB). Falkenham: Harrassing Wood Pigeons and Lapwings beside River Deben, Nov. 22nd (EP) Trimley St Martin: Immature male over trout-lake and marshes, Nov. 7th and Dec. 30th (MM, MTW1 Felixstowe: Landguard, flying south offshore, Oct. 8th (DPB, JRM). RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE Alectoris rufa Very few records received. Reported to be "very thin on the ground" in the Foxhal area whilst around Haverhill they were noted at fourteen different sites. A covey of 3 was reported at Gazeley, Oct. 19th.

48


The species is being continually polluted by the introduction of the Chukar A. chukar, for game purposes, and birds considered to be purely that species were reported from Thorpeness, May 31st, Thorington Street on the same day and again, June 13th. It would appear that there are few pure 'Red-legs' anywhere in the County. A vociferous bird was watched at Kentford, for two minutes, perched on the roof of a car, May 6th. GREY PARTRIDGE Perdix perdix Records from over forty sites have been received with double figure coveys reported from Theberton, ten, Mar. 7th; Sutton Common, 12, Feb. 1st; Gedgrave, 12, Nov. 29th; Boyton, 14, Dec. 22nd and Great Waldingfield, 11, Jan. 12th. The most significant numbers reported during the breeding season were from the Haverhill area where birds were heard calling at nine sites in May and June and eleven sites in July.

he only unusual report was of a pair at Felixstowe, Apr. 17th, which made an unsuccessful attempt to emigrate! The birds hurtled over the cliff-top (probably flushed yad »g), realised they were over the sea, circled back and landed on the beach (RBW). ^ A ^ Corturnix corturnix ., superb summer for the species and the first real 'Quail year' since 1964! (Note: though 1970 was reported to be a 'Quail year' nationally (Sharrock, 1976), it was a was' M) W l l i c t l n o n e w e r e r e P ° r t e d i n Suffolk.) The total number of birds seen or heard A t 0 35, and singing birds were noted at 17 sites, ost reports involved birds in the Carlton Colville/Gisleham area where up to four birds was h " * C a " ' n 8 between July 18th and Aug. 14th. During August a maximum of seven the ° SCrVeC' Ceding ' n the stubble while another was reported at nearby Mutford during of s T P e r Ì O d ( B J B ' C A B ' C S W e t a / ) " ° t h e r reports from this north-eastern corner Came f r o m Benacre pits ORNI where a bird was heard on May 16th and 17th (JMi, to f [""and, the main concentration was in the Thurlow/Great Wratting area where up f:| v "" r lr ds were heard between May 26th and early June (RJM). Three were noted at Two b"' J U n C 2 0 t h t 0 M y 2 n d ( M A ' C G R B > AJL) and another at Eriswell, July 7th (DRM). q R m l r d s W e re also heard at Tuddenham (west) between May 14th and June 14th (MA, ' a n d another at Wangford during June (MA). Two were at West Row (DRM) and 49


two at Great Bradley, July 4th (SE). Single birds were also reported calling at five other sites, some of which were undisclosed, and one was flushed at a location near Elveden PHEASANT Phasianus colchicus Very few interesting reports of this species, except a bird shot at Washbrook, Feb. la which had the head pattern of a male but the body plumage of a female. It is possible that this bisexual individual was a female changing into a male. This is known colloquiali) as a 'cocky-hen'. As fantastic as it may seem this can happen if the left (functional) ovai) is destroyed or removed. This causes the right (non-functional) ovary to develop into a functional gonad. However, it becomes a testis instead of an ovary and causes the bird to change sex. This is presumably due to the cessation of production of female hormone with the loss of the ovary. The bird changes plumage, behaves like a male and can father young. The phenomenon is recorded in the wild mainly in game-birds in which the functional ovary has been destroyed by gun-shot. Albinos were noted at eight sites and a male and female became hand-tame making regular visits to a garden at Drinkstone. The above events are not surprising considering the vasi numbers which are being inbred and reared in captivity for release.

GOLDEN PHEASANT Chrysolophus pictus Sightings from nine Breckland sites with the main concentration still in the King's Forest area where 14 males and two females were seen, Jan 28th. Here, there were several other reports of good numbers of males and the best count of females was nine with six males during February. The largest number reported away from the King's Forest area was three males at Knettishall Heath, Apr. 22nd. A male which had hybridized with a Pheasant was noted at Gazeley during May. There were no reports from the coast.

LADY AMHERST'S PHEASANT Chrysolophus amherstiae A male was reported from Herringswell on June 2nd and July 26th. A bird was also reported at this site in 1976 and so it is possible that we have a previously unknown feral population.

WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus Recorded from about 30 localities but numbers remain generally low after the series of hard winters. Noted at only three sites in west of the County: Great Bradley, Lakenheatli Washes and Lackford G. P. At the latter site three to five pairs were present, during d* summer months, and the presence of two juveniles confirmed breeding success.

SPOTTED CRAKE Porzana porzana A very good year for the species with probable breeding as follows: Site A: Calling, June 16th. Site B: Up to five birds calling continuously, at dusk and through the early hours, from the begin""1of May to early June. There were in addition two records of birds on autumn passage; Minsmere: Aug. 12th to Sept. 14th (on one occasion the bird was observed following a Rat on ttK' path near the West Hide in broad daylight) (RSPB). Hollesley: Found dead under overhead cables, Sept. 26th (PCa. MCa. PN). 50


rlOORHEN Gallinula chloropus Very few records received for this species, the most notable being from the River Stour, »etween Glemsford and Long Melford, which held 200 during February and Minsmere vhich noted maxima of 68 on Mar. 14th and 60, Dec 13th. Numbers were also high at Uton Water where 44 were present on Jan. 18th and 32, Mar. 15th, and at Bourne Park, pswich where 40 were noted on Jan 18th and 55, Feb. 15th. The best breeding reports were from Walberswick and Lackford G. P. which both held line pairs. COOT Fulica atra The key site for this species was, as usual, Alton Water which yielded several large Munts in both winter periods. The concentration of 300 birds at Benacre Broad, in September, was unusually large for the site and the count for the Orwell, in February, included 200 on Trimley Lake. J

F

Benacre Minsmere Aide Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

93 25 273 263 39 828 110

50 173 260 212 20 478

TOTAL

1631

1193

M

A

A -

111 73 180 122 13 494 -

993

_ _

130 59 141 129 34 602 184

905

1279

794

— —

43

187 27 71 66 10 378 166

823

126

-

-

_ _

N —

141

15

D

O —

160 60 80 64 10 306 114

43

S 300 98 31 34 97 48 215

Inland, Lackford G. P. was the top site with 110, Jan. 25th and 12 pairs were known 'o have nested. The main breeding site seems to have been Walberswick where at least 35 pairs bred (CSW).

CRANE Grus grus ^alberswick: Two Hying north, May 5th (CSW). «eydon: Two over, May 5th (BMW). , J £ n t h a m : Two flying north, May 6th (per CSW). '^kenheath: Principally just over the Norfolk border but also seen on Suffolk side, Sept. 5th TK*

in th I S \^ e a r ' s r e c o i "d involved two wandering individuals noted by a number of observers . j W a l b e r s w . c k a r e a - First seen at Walberswick on the evening of May 5th, then flying tr aouthwold before turning back inland over Reydon and Henham. The following rning these same two birds were reported flying north over Wrentham. KITTLE BUSTARD Tetrax tetrax S "bounie/Ortbrdness: Three Dec. 20th (REC). By coincidence the last County record involved an individual, flushed on Orfordness m June I960, which appeared to alight in a field at Boyton (Payn, 1962). These 1987 birds however, were seen flying over the River Aide, from the direction of the Ness, and ^ to rest in a stubble field at Sudbourne. r his record coincided with a well-watched individual, in the Burton area north of Lhl "istchurch in Dorset, which was first seen on Dec. 30th. (Dawson and Allsopp, 1988). 51


GREAT BUSTARD Otis tarda The most spectacular, and for some the most frustrating, event of the year came with the occurrence of these magnificent creatures. It is probable that the exact number of birds involved will never be known, but it would certainly appear that there were two groups, and possibly three, involving a minimum of five birds but perhaps as many as nine. AU the birds were maies, of various âges, which conforms to the species' behaviour pattern noted at regular wintering sites of association in single sexed flocks (Cramp et al, 1980). The first birds were sighted in the southern half of the County which, at that time, was snowbound. By their nature the birds frequented localities with wide horizons and showed a preference for rape crops. The numerous records at various sites, Feb. 21st, were a resuit of frequent dispersai due to the presence of a large contingent of birdwatchers. These are the first records for the County since four flew over a shooting-party at Cockfield in 1925, one of which was obtained (Payn, 1962). Kessingland: Two settled on Levels for approximately one hour before flying away to the west, Feb. 7th (BJB, RCS). Presumably the same birds were found at New Buckenham, Norfolk, later the same day. Benacre: Two flying over Broad towards Kessingland, Feb. 7th (RCS). Blythburgh: Three flying north over estuary, Feb. 21st (PH, CJL). Westleton: Three briefly on rape field, Feb. 21st. (SP et al). Minsmere: Three south over reserve, Feb. 21st (RSPB). Sizewell: Three settled on Levels, Feb. 21st (DRM, SP et al); three flying south high over power station Feb. 22nd (JMC, SD, EWP). Kelsale: North Green, briefly on rape field, Feb. 21st. Theberton: Hill Farm, three on rape fields by old airfield, Feb lOth to 21st (BH, MJFJ, PWM et al), display noted on 16th. Orford: Raydon Hall, three intermittently on rape field, Jan. 20th to Feb. 27th one of which lingered to Mar. 7th (Gr). Kirton/Hemley: Three flying south-west over River Deben, Jan. 18th (DF) and then intermittently on various fields of mostly winter barley to Feb. 7th (MRM, NJM, ARJP). Harkstead: Harkstead Hall, four noted on rape field from noon, Jan. 16th and recorded daily to Jan. 20th (AB). Horham: Two in rape field near disused airfield Feb. 14th to 25th (BP). OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus The number of breeding reports received was inconsistent; e.g. no counts were submitted from Orfordness where a significant proportion of the County's breeding population is known to exist. The highest breeding concentration recorded was 37 pairs on the fringes of the Orwell. Several other scattered breeding records included at least four pairs from the Brecks. The latter constitute the first records of inland breeding in Suffolk. As in previous years a number of passage birds were reported from various inland sites. The wintering population was counted as follows:— Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 1 28 201 282 800

F 96 183 567 720 457

M 236 485 465 568 346

TOTAL

1312

2023

2100

A

A

-

577 410

S 5 106 223 719 669

868

735

1463

_

158

408 460

9 405 471 456

N NIL 1 104 476 968

D NIL 3 183 1350

1554

1037

2504

O —

AVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta Eight breeding sites produced a minimum of 106 fledged young from 208 pairs. The RSPB reserves at Havergate and Minsmere experienced very mixed results. At the former 109 pairs only fledged 8 young largely due to prédation by Black-headed Gulls, whilst further up the coast at Minsmere 64 pairs fledged a record 94 young from 85 attempts The species continues to overwinter in numbers of international importance, although 52


the very poor counts in January and February reflect the harsh weather conditions of that time. Full counts were:— Blyth Minsmere Aide Deben TOTAL

I NIL NIL 150 5

F NIL NIL 92 1

M 2 44 202 6

A 12 123 363 —

M 8 103 186 1

155

93

254

498

298

D NIL NIL 285 14

308

331

293

194

299

S

A

0

25 283

14 317

35 258

N NIL 1 193

Away from its normal coastal haunts one was found at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, April 1st. STONE CURLEW Burhinus oedicnemus For the first time in recent years we are able to give an accurate figure for the breeding population in the Suffolk Brecks. A total of 50 pairs laid 65 clutches but we have no figure of fledged young (RSPB). Once again a pair was present at a coastal site. Impressive autumn assemblies by modern standards were counted at one Breckland site in mid-September; the maximum recorded was 43. LITTLE RINGED PLOVER Charadrius dubius An impressive 25 pairs were found at nine sites. At one of these, four pairs were present but three failed, probably because of the cold spring weather. At another site four out of five pairs nested on potato and sugar beet fields. The first spring birds arrived from Mar. 27th. Autumn migration proved to be rather insignificant with small numbers seen, mainly at Minsmere and Bury B.F. ponds until Sept. 12th. RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula Only 66 breeding pairs from 13 sites were reported (nine pairs from five sites in west Suffolk) which is obviously much lower than the actual population. Birds were not only found nesting on shingle but also on sugar beet fields particularly in the west of the county. Passage birds showing characters of the northern race C. h. tundrae were reported from Minsmere, May 11th and eight at Havergate May 21st. In winter up to five attended a small roost which was again present on the roof of a Lowestoft woodshed and in December a roost containing 55 birds was found in a field, a djacent to the A12 by the R.A.F. Bentwaters roundabout, approximately one mile from Deben estuary (see low count in table below). Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour TOTAL

J 2 1 55 121 97

F i 2 14 189 63

M 32 77 46 115 98

276

269

368

-

S 59 98 259 485 420

416

1321

A -

50

_

366

123 56 205 218

N NIL 139 139 185 97

D 10 50 4 243 164

602

560

471

O —

The table shows the importance of the south Suffolk estuaries for passage birds and additional month counts of 162, May 17th and 240, Aug. 18th were noted at Levington. Full estuary counts for May and August would be helpful in the assessment of the status °f this species. DOTTEREL Charadrius morinellus The best showing in recent years with records as follows:— »«nacre: Two, Apr. 21st (CSW). 'cklingham: Twelve, May llth (MA). L °vehithe: Sept. 5th (CRN). The gathering at Icklingham represents Suffolk's largest 'trip' since 14 were seen at °rfordness, Aug. 1967. 53


GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis aplicaría Widespread in winter with smaller numbers on passage in March when some large groups concéntrate prior to their northward migration. These often include birds showing plumage characteristics of the northern race P. a. altifrons. All flocks that exceeded 100 birds are listed as follows:— Gisleham: 250, Sept. lst. Kessingland: 100, Dec. 2nd. Laxfield: 300, Dec. 22nd. Gedgrave: 345, Dec. 30th. Falkenham/Felixstowe: Ferry, 200, Jan. 2nd and 210, Dec. 16th. Trimley St Mary: 100, Dec. 28th. Otley: 110, during November. Stonham Parva: 120, Mar. 19th. Long Melford: 1,000, Jan. 7th; 500, April lst; 700, Sept. 4th; 100, Oct. 15th; 200, Nov. 24th and 100 Dec. 12th. Lawshall: 600, Mar. 22nd. Bradfield Combust: 500, during November. Kenton: 150, Mar. 12th. Livermere: 400, Mar. 29th. Great Barton: 150 Sept. 18th and 600 October/November. Ixworth: 370, Oct. 24th. GREY PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola Passage migrants were recorded away from the coast at Knettishall, two, Mar. 14th; Lakenheath Washes, Apr. 4th and Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Apr. 29th and 30th. Wintering numbers continué to be good with the highest concentrations on the Stour during the mid-winter period. The 800 on the Alde, in January, is unusually high and were all at Havergate. It is probable that these birds had amassed at this site as a response to the hard weather. Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 24 800 190 151 1430

F 2 5 192 177 1112

M 14 46 149 262 1069

A 1 50 13 8 25

S 2 10 46 52 593

TOTAL

2595

1488

1540

97

709

12 1 105 510

N NIL 175 42 144 1388

D NIL 64 99 200 1629

628

1749

1992

O —

LAPWING Vanellus vanellus The BTO breeding survey was carried out in selected 10 Km squares and yielded 75 pairs. Casual records, which could include duplications, revealed 109 pairs from 15 sites The hard weather of January saw almost a complete exodus from the County but many had returned by the middle of February and included 1,000 at Great Bradley, Feb. 25th Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 2 34 91 97 15

F 90 1215 730 780 525

M 12 167 204 139 203

TOTAL

239

3340

725

A —

299 —

24 -

323

S 7 568 251 15 164 1005

2792 1002 551 514

N NIL 3925 2925 896 1552

D 900 5425 2051 1300 3397

4859

9298

13073

0 —

The above table shows an enormous influx from October to the end of the year. Mos' observers considered numbers to be higher than usual and this is, most likely, the result of an above average breeding season in Northern Europe. Other signiñcant autumn/la'e winter counts were:— Orford: Havergate, 1,000 in November. Gedgrave: 1,810, Dec. 20th. 54


Raydon Airfield: 1,000, Dec. 18th.

Stradishall: 1,200, Nov. 21st. Fakenham: 2,000, Sept. 7th. Ixworth/Great Barton: 1,000, October/November and 3,000, Dec. 25th.

Finally an individual with pure white primary feathers was seen at Sudbourne, Dec. nd at Iken Ferry, Dec. 30th.

20th a

KNOT Calidris canutus Hard weather movements led to several January records at sites away from the species' Mtuarine strongholds. These included 150 flying south at Landguard, Jan. 14th, during a day when 20 flew south at Sizewell, 50 at Lowestoft, Jan. 12th, 43 on Havergate Island, 23rd and 14 at Walberswick, Jan. 18th. J Blyth ^fe Orwell ^ TOTAL

M

43 1260 486

F NIL 90 307 761

NIL 9 450 93

A 20 15 NIL -

5 34 1 -

S — 5 1 64

1803

1158

552

35

40

12

14

A

0 11 25 66

N — 20 18 565

D — 401 100 1322

103

603

1823

1

Spring passage was light. A party of 20 at Blythburgh, Apr. 7th was probably composed 1 rants ; otherwise the highest numbers were five at both Havergate Island, May 14th an? '8 Minsmere, May 25th. Also in this passage there were several June records from M jnsmere with a maximum of four on 11th and 24th. hut h ™ P a s s a 8 e commenced in early July. Numbers in this month were unremarkable °n 2 3 ( / e a r ' S ' n ' a n d record came from Cavenham Pits where a single was noted

55


At favoured passage stop-over points such as Havergate, Minsmere and Walberswick only small parties were noted in August and September. Havergate scored highest with 34, Aug. 1st and 30 gathered in Holbrook Bay, Sept. 4th. Landguard sea-watchers noted 25 south on both Sept. 5th and Oct. 16th, the latter count making up the bulk of the site's 35 individuals noted throughout that month. Late coastal movement was recorded with 20 at Shingle Street, Nov. 21st and an impressive 67 north at Southwold, Nov. 26th. SANDERLING Calidris alba Two January records tower above all the other first winter counts. They refer to 34 at Southwold on 17th and 28 at Lowestoft on 14th. Otherwise numbers were unimpressive in this period, although the year's only inland record came at this time with one at Cavenham Pits, Jan. 10th. It was a similar story as far as spring passage was concerned; the only large parties were 17 at Easton Broad, May 25th and 13 at Minsmere the same day. One flying south at Sizewell, July 18th signalled the start of a light return passage in which Minsmere could only muster a maximum of five, July 25th. The highest coastal movements were five south at Covehithe, Aug. 27th, seven south there Sept. 3rd and five south at Landguard, Aug. 26th. Twenty which gathered in Holbrook Bay, Oct. 14th may have been on passage and 14 at Fagbury, Dec. 30th represented the second winter period's highest count. LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta The species was something of a rarity in spring with only six records, all in May; four at Walberswick from 11th and two at Minsmere from 25th to 31st. Clearly return passage just had to be heavier and so it proved, heralded by an adult at Minsmere, June 21st. Most records came from Minsmere where the peak number was five, Aug. 23rd, narrowly beating a late party of four juveniles, Oct. 10th. The highest number for the year however, came from Havergate Island where seven were noted, Sept 9th. November records are becoming quite common and up to three were reported from Walberswick at this time. TEMMINCK'S STINT Calidris temminckii Minsmere: May 1st to 7th (JHG, RSPB); another July 30th (JAO, RSPB). Walberswick: May 17th; two May 21st and one remaining to 23rd (JHG, MM, CSW); two Sept 12th and 13th (CSW). After an exceptional 1986, numbers this year were back to normal with six birds frequenting two traditional sites. Excluding the overwintering bird, which was at Minsmef from Feb. 12th to 14th, 1971, the Minsmere occurrence, on May 1st, was the earlies' ever for the County. 1980 7

1981 4

1982 7

1983 3

1984 5

1985 5

8

1986 6

1987

PECTORAL SANDPIPER Calidris melanotos A poor showing for this species which in recent years has become fairly familiar 10 us. There were two records both from traditional sites. Minsmere: Sept. 8th to 17th (RSPB). Walberswick: Sept. 25th (CSW). Frequency of occurences this decade is listed as follows: 1980 NIL

1981 2

1982 2

1983 6

1984 8

56

1985 9

1986 4

1987 2


CURLEW SANDPIPER Calidris ferruginea One at Levington, Apr. 27th continued the recent trend of early arrivals and may have been the same individual reported from nearby on the sea wall at Trimley Lake, May 2nd. Thereafter, one was at Walberswick, May 10th and up to three at Minsmere between May 9th and 21st; the final spring migrants were on the Blyth Estuary where two were seen on May 22nd. Two at Minsmere from July 3rd to 6th were the first returning migrants but it was not until the third week of the month that passage got heavily underway. In the first strong wave of migration adults figured exclusively, there being maxima of 14 at Minsmere, July 29th and 30th. Also in this first wave were three flying south at Landguard, July 21st, accounting for the site's first species record, although another was reported there, Aug. 24th during a period when the traditional second wave of migrants, mostly juveniles, were coming through. Gatherings in this movement included 21 at Minsmere, Aug. 8th and 25 Sept. 20th. The only inland record referred to one at Lackford Pits, Sept. 27th. November records are becoming frequent and a sprinkling came from Minsmere and Walberswick. At the latter there were up to four during this month, the last being seen on the late date of Nov. 24th. PURPLE SANDPIPER Calidris maritima Lowestoft continued to attract the largest numbers, with up to 30 in the first winter period and 35 in the second but the species was also regularly reported at Landguard, perhaps as a result of improved year-round coverage of die site. Suffolk's most southerly point, Landguard's jetty and groynes, proved to be the attraction and parties of up to five in January, four in February, six in March and seven in the first half of April gathered there. An unseasonal record was of one at Landguard, June 5th. A juvenile at Lowestoft, July -2nd was an early return migrant, as were two there, Aug. 24th and one at Landguard, Aug 28th, a day on which one also flew north at Covehithe. Landguard's largest group ,n the second winter period was three in November and December. Away from the two wain sites, records came from Benacre, Southwold, Walberswick, Minsmere, Bawdsey, River Deben and Shotley. D

UNLIN Calidris alpina Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour TOTAL

J 1335 3836 4019 5700 7539

F 482 240 1710 4500 8119

M 1192 2643 2685 5400 9720

S 76 128 56 38 1733

22429

15051

21640

2031

378 142 969 4110

N 20 604 1370 5011 14990

D 436 1130 1898 6000 14551

5599

21995

24015

O —

seri 6 e x t r e m e ' y c o ' d weather during the first winter period no doubt accounted for the Cav S kf r e c o r ( l s i n v °lving displaced ones and twos at the Breckland Pits of Lackford and of a i®"1' ^ e total of 69 south at Landguard during January was presumably also part just Ih weather movement and two found dead there during the month may have been In ® ll P °f the iceberg as far as the weather's toll on the species was concerned, and as R April small parties of migrants occurred at other inland locations, such F' a nd Sproughton and Bramford Pits, while during May small numbers were not i t h J L a c k f o r d ^ Cavenham Pits and Lakenheath Washes, a w duri ° ^ m o s t marked stage of the autumn passage with 2,493 south at Landguard The t h e m o n t h and Minsmere's peak for the year of 500 occurring on Oct. 20th. 1110 inland records was concluded with records from Lackford Wildfowl Reserve 0n o to 47n'' 2 9 t h 311(1 e*0'- 4 t h - Counts on Havergate showed a build-up from 200, Oct. 25th Nov. 8th and to 1,130, Dec. 20th. 57


BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER Limicola falcinellus. This scarce visitor with scantily-known breeding range which probably includes subarctic USSR as well as Fenno-Scandia, has now occurred 12 times in Suffolk. . . . so keep scanning through those Dunlin flocks for the next one! Walberswkk: River Blyth, May 29th to June Ist (CSW et al). Frequency of occurrences this decade is listed as follows: 1980 NIL

1981 NIL

1982 1

1983 NIL

1984 NIL

1985 1

1986 NIL

1987 1

RUFF Philomachus pugnax This was another species displaced by January's big freeze. Conditions were so seven that singles took what refuge they could find in Lowestoft harbour on Jan. 17th and Ipswick Docks Jan. 18th. Further January records came from more conventional sites with up» three at Bury B. F. around mid-month, two in a Brent Goose flock at Falkenham on 23rd and a single on a River Deben estuary count on 18th. Spring migrants began to appear in March and the generally strong passage was at ils height in April and May. A highly impressive gathering of 71 was noted at Walberswict Apr. 16th (¿creasing to 46, Apr. 18th, while Minsmere recorded up to 40 on several Apri days. Lekking was noted at one site but we are again left to wonder if those secretive females produced young. July saw the start of the return movement with a peak for the month, and indeed fot the entire autumn passage, of 50 at Minsmere on 28th. The movement was also fairly strong during August, 25 at Minsmere on 23rd being the month's peak, but it predictably tailed off in September and October. Two were at Sudbourne Dec. 20th, a day on which one was also seen at Gedgrave JACK SNIPE Lymnocryptes minimus. Relatively few records were received and only three referred to more than one bini Surely this rather secretive and unobtrusive species is more numerous as a winter visite to Suffolk than these records might suggest? Benacre: Jan. 3rd. Southwold: Dec. 22nd to 26th. Minsmere: Seen on seven days in November. Bromeswell: The Green, seen twice during January. Bawdsey: Dec. 19th. Felixstowe: Landguard, north along beach, Mar 3rd and Apr. 14th; two Apr. 26th; south Oct 2W Orwell: Levington Creek, Mar. 7th and 29th; Dec. 25th; Bourne Park Water Meadows, Jan to Mar. 15th, three, Feb. 15th; Dec. 12th to 31st; Shotley, four, Oct. 4th. Sproughton B.F.: Ponds, Apr. 4th. Thorington Street: Jan. 3rd. Haverhill: Flood Park, Jan. 17th and Feb. 4th; Dec. 23rd. Lackford: Jan. 18th to Feb. 7th. Obvious passage was evidenced by the Landguard records. SNIPE Gallinago gallinago Insufficient information again hampers attempts to give an accurate account of breed"* numbers but it would appear from observers' records that less than 20 pairs were pr esenl . If this is anything like a true assessment there is serious cause for concern. We are » to hope that in reality the situation is much healthier and our breeding population has simp, been under-recorded. 58


Few were reported in January's cold spell, although some which braved the conditions lid so in unconventional habitats such as gardens and even the area around Lowestoft Coastguards Station. Much higher numbers were recorded in the second winter period. Up to 200 were noted )n several dates in November at Minsmere. December's BOEE counts on the Orwell and Mde/Ore notched up 268 and 247 respectively and a count of 200 at Havergate, Dec. 50th was the site's highest for more than 15 years. WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticóla A total of about 40 roding birds was reported from the Brecks and coastal heaths. As with the previous year, observers were apparently more vigilant with this species and we an now more readily assume that this total is much closer to the true population level than reports indicated a few years ago. One observer even carried out a "casual census" »long public roads in several Breckland Parishes and "very good numbers" were reported. As Suffolk suffered in the icy grip of January's arctic conditions the species appeared in unexpected locations, such as a traffic island on the A45 at Felixstowe, Jan 24th and two in a Walberswick garden, Jan. 17th. Minsmere experienced an influx at this time, with a maximum of 16, Jan. 15th. Numbers in the second winter period were generally low. Noteworthy records at this time however, referred to one on a Felixstowe school playing field, Nov. 2nd, one at Havergate for three days in November-December which was the site's first record for 10 years, and 17 at HoUesley, Dec. 26th. BLACK-TAILED GODWIT Limosa limosa Four pairs were said to have "probably bred" at one site but sadly fanning operations have accounted for the disappearance of another pair which had displayed throughout May at a second site.

r

Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 4 NIL 75 89 776

F NIL 4 202 137 630

M NIL 11 78 12 700

A 40 403 84 NIL 163

TOTAL

994

973

801

690

Ill 150 4 360

S NIL 41 9 1 478

625

529

A —

3 1 I 888

N NIL NIL 1 31 1067

D NIL NIL 3 4 1055

893

1099

1062

O —

ain s

'¡ wintering population is of Icelandic origin (Cramp and Simmons, 1983) being ally assigned to L. I. islándico. The Stour remains as one of Britain's principal wintering LS ^ ' s of international importance to this species. The table also demonstrates the Portance of the north Suffolk estuaries during migration periods. nusual inland winter records involved one at Livermere from Jan. 24th to 29th and g™1" « Micklemere Mar. 29th. An "V i ' a r 8 e s t spring passage assembly was noted at Dcen, where 403 gathered on en«'Elsewhere numbers were rather low, although the Stour's April count (12th) " S l s t e d entirely of a congregation at Stutton. eturn passage commenced in June and gathered strength in July and August. Minsmere's was 170 on July 12th and Havergate's was 100 on Aug. 10th and 11th. On the major est wanes at this time there were notable counts of 150 at Hemley on Aug. 5th and 360 Holbrook Bay on Aug. 18th. B

^R-TAILED GODWIT Limosa lapponica and Uar ^' S c o ' c ' spell no doubt accounted for the relatively widespread scattering of coastal 4th e s t u a r i n e records of singles and small parties. A gathering of 60 at Fagbury on Jan. °ne af the largest winter groups recorded in recent years and a strong hard weather 59


movement took place off Landguard between Jan. 10th and 28th when a total of 46 flew south and a further eight passed north between Jan. 10th and 15th. Other notable first winter parties were 18 on the River Deben Jan. 18th BOEE count and 13 on the River Aide/Ore count on the same day. Spring passage commenced noticeably earlier than usual. For example, observers at Landguard reported 51 north and four south during March and estuary counters noted 67 on the River Deben on Mar. 15th, a day when 36 were counted on the River Aide/Ore estuary. Passage was lighter in April, a month which usually sees the higher numbers, although it produced inland sightings of three at Lakenheath Washes on 20th and a single at Lackford Pits on 22nd. Minsmere's April peak was 18 on 27th and 30th and the species was reported at this usually more prominent stop-over on 22 May days with a maximum of only 12 on 1st. Four in summer plumage over Lakenheath Washes, July 6th heralded a return passage in which records were dominated by 185 south at Landguard on the great gale day of Oct. 16th. Not surprisingly this was a record number for the site. Otherwise autumn passage was remarkably light with 25, on Havergate Aug. 8th and the same number moving off Landguard Aug. 12th, being the highest totals. Very few were reported in the second winter period, the highest count being up to nine on Havergate in December. There was perhaps an overlap of records in the case of these birds as eight were counted on the Aide/Ore estuary count on Dec. 20th. It is worth noting that this species can be sexed in breeding plumage, with usually only the males attaining the attractive deep chestnut underparts. A break-down of numbers of spring males and females in observers' reports would be interesting. W H I M B R E L Numenius phaeopus Two exceptionally early birds were on Orfordness on Mar. 18th (RCB), otherwise a light spring passage was noted from Apr. 10th. A group of 16 flying south over Landguard on Apr. 20th was the highest daily spring total, just exceeding Minsmere's spring peal of 15 on May 7th. Elsewhere, the largest parties were six in from the sea at Sizewell. Apr. 22nd and nine north over Tangham, May 7th. Return passage commenced with two south at Covehithe on June 24th. Havergate's 40 on July 10th easily surpassed any other total, the next highest being 21 over Holbrook on Aug. 31st. There were four October records: Aldeburgh, 1st; Landguard, 19th; Bawdsey, 24th and Felixstowe, 26th.

CURLEW Numenius arquata Between 11 and 15 pairs were located in the Breck. This represented a distinct improvement on the seven pairs found in 1986 but the total was generally in line W®1 other estimâtes of the Suffolk Breckland population in recent years . . . are any being missed on the coast? Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 25 670 437 610 786

F 20 705 1387 341 1316

M 20 414 471 396 740

TOTAL

2528

3769

2041

A

A

_

522 173 200

100

373

622

S 10 394 315 136 837 1692

641 674 145 846

N 18 564 393 500 830

D 25 650 386 546 1085

2306

2305

2692

O —

A bird trapped at Butley River, Sept. 21st, had been ringed at the same site 11 and one day previously. 60

yearS


SPOTTED REDSHANK Tringa erythropus Perhaps an indication of the species' inability to tolerate extreme cold was the dearth of records during January and February when we were in the grip of Arctic weather. Only 1)1 ree January records were received, from Holbrook Bay on 10th and 25th, and Benacre °n 17th. There were no February reports. One on the Blyth Mar. 15th was probably not a wintering bird but more likely the forerunner of an unremarkable spring passage in which records from Minsmere predominated with monthly maxima of six in April and five in May. Elsewhere there were "double figures" at Walberswick during April and 11 were on R. Aide May 11th. The first wave of return migrants, usually females which vacate breeding areas before males and juveniles, commenced on June 13th, at Minsmere, where numbers increased steadily to 19 from 22nd to 29th and then to 57, July 15th, 40, Aug. 16th, 55, Sept. 18th, 37, Oct. 3rd and seven in November and December. Elsewhere, 23 had gathered at Walberswick, July 7th b ut the maximum autumn count at Benacre was only two, July 5th. Inland, one flew east over Lakenheath Washes, July 5th, another was present, Aug. !9tl > and two, Aug. 23rd. A noteworthy record referred to one, Aug. 22nd, at Lackford p "s, where the species is a rare straggler. »SHANK Tringa totanus J 263 317 542 520 134

Blyth Aide Deben Orwell Stour TOTAL

1776

S relative

hard

F 468 550 1105 110 616

M 263 497 701 1170 373

2849

3004

A

A

330 355 76

500

431

830

S 396 463 1202 757 729 3577

676 562 944 487

N 82 1046 1533 1306 1158

D 200 447 1760 1150 697

3669

5125

4254

O —

ow counts on

'y ' the major estuarine wintering grounds indicated that her forced many to find more acceptable climes. Evidence of southerly coastal time came > o T l at Lowestoft, where 185 of the month's 267 total, passed n Mth alone, and from Minsmere, where 90 'passed through' on 14th. m conrL " .' s ' P°ssible to give an accurate account of true breeding status but the highest entrations reported were 28 pairs on the Orwell and 16 pairs on Minsmere's scrape. J u l v n u i m o v e m e n t s °f n o t e took place in July and August, with 35 south off Covehithe and 44 south at the same locality on Aug. 9th being the main counts reported. Weat

mo h

G

«£ENSHANK Tringa nebularia Felix t t W ° r e P o r t s i n the first winter period, at Holbrook Bay, Jan 1st and flying over wim 0 W e Mar. 1st, was probably a result of the extremely cold weather making over8 a difficult proposition. 61


Three at Minsmere Apr. 18th were the first of a very light spring passage in which no party reached double figures. The highest number reported in this period wasfiveflying north at Landguard, May 6th and these could well have been the five seen at Levington on the same day. Minsmere could only muster a spring maximum of four on May 9th. Return passage, as would be expected, was stronger and more widespread, but could still hardly be described as exceptional. It commenced with a single at Minsmere, June 14th, and followed by two on Orfordness, June 28th. Parties of greatest note were 20 on Reydon Marshes, July 26th, 15 on a flooded field at Felixstowe, Aug. 17th, 19 on the Aide/Ore BOEE count of Aug. 9th, and 15 on the same estuary on Sept. 13th. The latter date's BOEE counts produced by far the largest numbers of the year: 50 on the Debet) and 45 on the Stour. Inland, there was a good passage through Lakenheath Washes, where up to nine birds were seen in mid-August, with ones and twos at Beccles, Lackford, Long Melford. Cavenham, Micklemere, Great Blakenham and Sproughton. A few lingered into November with reports referring to eight birds from seven coastal localities but there was only one December record, at Sudbourne on 20th.

GREEN SANDPIPER Tringa ochropus About 15 birds at 12 sites in the first winter period appeared to represent about an average population in relation to recent years. Spring passage, which got under way around mid-April, involved small parties of which none exceeded three birds. This number was noted at Walberswick Apr. 17th, Knettishall. Apr. 20th and Sproughton Pits in mid-April. Return passage commenced with one flying in from the sea at Covehithe, June 24th and five days later three were at Haverhill Flood Park. Early July, however, saw the movement strengthen and it was at this time that the year's largest party, 16 at Walberswick on 7th, was reported. There was a record of " 1 5 + " at Hollesley on Aug. 30th but thtf is an ambiguous method of reporting numbers and makes interpretation difficult. Otherwise the largest numbers were nine at Minsmere, Aug. 23rd and six there on several July dates Parties of five were noted on several occasions in the return passage at Sproughton P|!" five were at Long Melford, Aug. 6th and the same number was reported from Bourne Park Water Meadows, Sept. 13th. In the second winter period reports came from 22 sites and referred to the rather large wintering population of about 33 birds. WOOD SANDPIPER Tringa glareola April arrivals are becoming the norm and the year's first record was of a single ? Minsmere on 18th. There followed a fairly heavy spring passage, in which the most nota"1 occurrences were of up to six at Walberswick during May and inland records from LacÂť 0 Pits, where there were two May 8th to 11th, and Lakenheath Washes, May 23rd. Return passage was noted from June 20th, when two were at Minsmere. On the follow1 day Landguard recorded only its third for the decade with one flying south. The la"1 site was to record its fourth of the 1980s on Aug. 25th when one flew west. ^ The year's peak number was 10 on Havergate July 21st, just exceeding the nine ^ Walberswick at the begining of September. More records from inland sites featured this passage and the localities involved were Lakenheath Washes, Bury B. F., Caventv Pits and Sproughton Pits. ^ At Minsmere where there was a peak of eight on Sept. 18th, a single l i n g e r e d to late date of Oct. 25th, which was not surprisingly the last county record for the ye 62


COMMON SANDPIPER Actitis hypoleucos During the early part of the year only three records referring to possibly over-wintering birds were received: Martlesham Crefck, Jan. 4th; Ipswich Docks, Jan. 18th and Falkenham Creek, Jan 31st. Spring passage commenced on Apr. 16th with one at Haverhill Flood Park. Minsmere's spring maximum was five on May 9th but the county's highest total at this time was 10 at Levington on May 8th. A single at Lackford Pits on June 29th was the first of a return passage in which numbers were not especially high. The peak came on Aug. 25th with about 30 at Benacre, a gathering which was far greater than any other report. Two reports referred to relatively unusual behaviour. At least five on the River Lark at Mildenhall fed on floating weed during a torrential downpour of rain on Aug. 25th and two fed on a ploughed field at Benacre on Aug. 27th. Potentially over-wintering birds in November and December were reported from Southwold, Martlesham Creek, Levington, Alton Water, Cattawade, Flatford and Thorington Street Res. TI RNSTONE Arenaria 0rwel 0

l

S* "'

interpres

J

F

M

A

M

101

116 483

209 222

74 70

49

TI

J

7 20

A

127 —

S

151 360

O

262 430

N

317 395

D

236 521

Additional large counts came from Levington, 110, Apr. 5th and 98, Apr. 27th and Holbrook Bay, 38, Apr. 17th and 70, Apr. 23rd. A series of first winter period records from Landguard, which featured monthly maxima 0 >n January, ten in February and 17 in March, included three which were ringed 3 tv ' 3e ' n ® c u n ningly trapped by using peanuts as bait. ne year's only inland records came during the spring passage with individuals at Lackford p -> Apr. 17th and Cavenham G. P., May 24th. On May 12th one was at Alton Water, a s 'te not especially noted for the species. remarkably light return passage commenced on July 12th when two were at Levington. o f m " 6 ' w l l e r e ^ ^ r s t returning birds were six, July 13th, could only muster a maximum 1 July 26th. The only other counts of note referring to passage parties were 20 at Tergale, Aug. 11th and 15 at Shotley, Sept. 27th. Lowestoft is a favoured locality and its maximum was 22 at Ness Point on Oct. 23rd.

KEO-NECKED PHALAROPE Phalaropus lobatus »•berswick: River Blyth, Sept. 22nd and a different bird, Sept. 25th and 27th (CSW et al). A typical showing for this beautiful, delicate wader of which the frequency of occurrences decade are listed as follows: 1980

1981

1982

2

4

1

1983

1984

3

2

1985

1986

1

1987

1

2

PHALAROPE Phalaropus fulicarius J * Ver y poor showing of this species in the light of most suitable weather conditions, to H firSt W a s o n Havergate on Oct. 17th, no doubt a storm-driven bird which was hurtled "¡»vergate by the great hurricane (JP). rathe^r ^ W a s x c n a t C o v e h i t h e o n N o v - 6 t h (J 1 4 0 ) 3 1 1 ( 1 a t h i r d A)*1«1101111 o f f surprisingly in totally calm conditions, on Dec. 22nd (JHG). 63

Southwold

>


POMARINE SKUA Stercorarius pomarinus An excellent year with at least 14 individuals. The bird noted at Covehithe in May is surprisingly only the sixth spring record for the County. Autumn passage was not up to 1985 standards, when at least 50 birds were present, but nevertheless was well above the norm. The vast majority were seen, offshore, between Lowestoft and Southwold but, with birds lingering, there is some obvious duplication of records. Lowestoft: Oct. 2nd to 4th (RF, CRN). Covehithe: First year north, May 25th (JMC, SL, JMi); up to four, a juvenile and three adults Aug 27th to 31st (JMC, DRN, WS); Sept. 11th (DRN); adult chasing Sandwich Tern, Sept. 14th (SB JMi); up to two adults, Sept. 20th, 27th, 29th and Oct. 1st (JMC, DRN et al); juvenile, Oct. (RF, SL). Southwold: Three south Aug. 26th; immature Sept. 6th (WJB, SL); two immatures, Sept. 27th; adul. Nov. 25th (IRW). Minsmere: Oct. 3rd (IR). SizeweU: Aug. 30th (JMC, SL). Thorpeness: Immature south, Sept. 2nd (WJB, EWP). Aldeburgh: Slaughden, immature south, Aug. 24th (EWP); pale phase south, Aug. 28th (DL). Felixstowe: Landguard, north, Aug. 31st (MDC, SP). SKUA SP. Stercorarius sp. A dark-phase bird of indeterminant species was over Felixstowe Golf Links, Jan. IIÂŽ (BR). ARCTIC SKUA Stercorarius parasiticus An excellent year with at least 275 individuals, the majority of which occurred in i* period August to December. A mediocre spring passage with records as follows: Benacre: Dark-phase north, May 16th. Southwold: Two light-phase north, May 4th. Minsmere: May 21st; two, June 13th. Felixstowe: Landguard, light-phase north Apr. 27th. Autumn passage got underway on July 26th and thereafter very good numbers wert noted offshore moving both to the north and south. It is suspected that many of these birds resided off the Suffolk coast for several weeks and therefore, as with Pomarine Skua there was much duplication of records. Major counts were: Lowestoft: 38 south, 06.00 to 08.00 hrs., Aug. 27th. Covehithe: Eight north, July 29th; 26 north, Aug. 26th; seven north and 81 south, Aug. 27th. north, Aug. 28th; 21 north and six south, Sept. 27th; six south, Oct. 10th; dark-phase north Nov. 15 Southwold: Three north and 26 south, Aug. 26th. Minsmere: 14 north, Dec. 2nd. The total of 14 seen off Minsmere in December is unusually high for such a late da'e Smaller counts were received from Pakefield, Dunwich, Sizewell, Thorpeness, Al burgh, Slaughden, Havergate, Hollesley, Bawdsey, Felixstowe and Landguard, but perM the most unusual record was of a dark-phase immature, in a ploughed field, at East b East Bergholt, Sept. 4th (JLe). LONG-TAILED SKUA Stercorarius longicaudus . ^ The species is surprisingly scarce in Suffolk, but with the high number of skuas in North Sea, during the autumn, it was almost predictable that, once again, this magntf"rarity would be noted off our coast. The following record is the thirteenth for the C o u n Covehithe: Adult north, Aug. 26th (SL, EWP). 64


p

l te 11: Dotterel on Benacre Beach, Sept. 5th, 1987.


GREAT SKUA Slercorarius skua Along with many other pelagic species 1987 was the best year on record for this mainly solitary skua with as many as 48 individuals involved. Singles south at Landguard, Jan. 15th and north May 7th were the only records for the first half of the year. Autumn birds were noted from July 20th to the end of October with the peak movement occurring between Aug. 27th and 31st, although not at the same level of abundance as Arctic Skua. Again movements were both north and south and, with many lingering, actual passage was probably less than that indicated by the records. Lowestoft: Aug. 26th; Oct. 4th and Nov. 11th. Covehhhe: July: 20th; 23rd; 26th; two, 27th and29th; Aug.: four, 8th; seven, 27th; five, 31st; Sept.: 5th; 9th; 13th; 26th; two, 27th; five, 30th; Oct.: two, 1st; three, 3rd; 11th; seven 18th; three, 19th; four, 20th; two, 21st; Dec.: 2nd. Southwold: Aug. 17th; two, Aug. 24th; Oct. 3rd; four, Oct. 10th Minsmere: Aug. 28th, Sept. 27th; ten, Oct. 10th. Aldeburgh: Slaughden, Aug. 24th and Oct. 24th. Bawdsey: Sept. 1st. Felixstowe: Landguard, Aug. 22nd; Oct. 11th and 18th; Dec. 3rd. MEDITERRANEAN GULL Lams melanocephalus Once again recorded in all months though very few in March/April and June to August. Gorleston: Adult by pier, Dec. 12th. Lowestoft: First/second winter flying north over harbour, Aug. 1st; second winter, Jan. 17th and Oct. 11th; second summer, Sept. 30th; third summer, Oct. 16th and 28th; adult, Jan. 17th; July 16th; Sept. 8th; Oct. 4th and Dec. 27th (the adult in July and December had no feet). Benacre: First summer. May 10th; adult, two May 24th and one remaining to 31st; Nov. 21st; unaged birds, Sept. 19th and 20th. Easton Bavents: Two immatures, May 5th. ^alberswick: Two adults May 11th. Minsmere: First year, Apr. 22nd and Oct. 14th; first summer, May 9th to 27th; adults, two May 10th and 26th, one staying to 31st (different to Benacre birds due to overlap of records). Sรณewell: First winter, Mar. 6th; first summer, May 15th (said not to be the Minsmere bird); adult, Jan. 6th; 9th; Feb. 13th and Dec. 27th. Aldeburgh: Second winter, Mar. 12th. rehxstowe: Landguard, first and second winter birds throughout January to mid-February and again Mar. 24th; second summer, July 5th to 14th; adult, Feb. 15th; Mar. 3rd and occasionally Oct. IJth to the end of the year and two Dec. 2nd to 6th (on Dec. 25th one of the birds was seen to ne ringed and the ring number was subsequendy transcribed as being from East Germany), 'nmley St Martin: Adult by River Orwell, Dec. 29th (said to be different to Felixstowe bird), a " Water: First summer, June 15th. nr amford: Adult on pits, Oct. 30th. LI

TTLE GULL Larus minutus 'n January adults were at Havergate, 1st, Minsmere and Landguard, 11th and off |-o*estoft mid-month. A first winter bird was on flood water at Haverhill, Feb. 11th and ' The period, April to June, produced average numbers but seven, Alton Water, Apr. at ^ a n d n i n e ' Minsmere, May 24th were notable. During June up to four were present J "enacre and Minsmere. Inland spring records were of a single at Lackford, Apr. 16th p four adults, Livermere, Apr. 25th. rom early July to the end of September large numbers were reported all along the coast, ^"'mainly in the northern half of the County. Lowestoft was the magnet for the species at the end of September considerable numbers were roosting in the North Denes area, 'gnest counts were achieved early morning, and the daily dispersal was probably Ponsible for the increased counts further down the coast. b

65


Lowestoft: Adult north, July 22nd; the Oval, 16 adults, Aug. 6th, increasing daily to Sept. 18th when 51 birds (including 17 juveniles), decreasing to five, Sept. 21st; maximum count, including additional birds closeby, on the sea or resting on groynes, 60 (22 juveniles), Sept. 18th. Covehithe/Benacre: No spring records but up to four in June; eight during latter half of July, 11 in August, 19 in September and a few in October. Southerly movements during October included 12, 11th; 44, 18th and 12, 19th; adults moving north, Dec. 5th and 6th. Minsmere: A few during April with a peak of 11 on 22nd; up to five in May; nine July and 14 August: fewer in September with six, 2nd and one or two during rest of month. Movements included 25 south, Oct. 20th and eight, 21st. Sizewell: One during mid-May; up to six in July; eight August; one Sept. 6th; 12, Oct. 13th and one or two to Oct. 25th. Landguard: No spring or early summer records; adult north, July 13th; Aug. 27th; 31st; small number south throughout September and October with a maximum of ten, Oct. 16th; adult, Nov. 3rd and 4th

There were also a few reports from other coastal localities and the following records: Haverhill: Juvenile, Feb. 11th and 13th and another Nov. 13th to 22nd. Livermere: Four adults, Apr. 25th. Lackford G. P.: Apr. 16th. Weybread: Oct. 24th.

inland

SABINE'S GULL Larus sabini The hurricane of mid-October brought a few of these Nearctic gulls to the C o u n t ) although inland waters failed to reap their fair share of an unprecedented influx to souther" counties. Felixstowe/Landguard: Immatures south, Oct. 16th (JHG, MM) and 18th (DPB, MDC), adult, sligW oiled, Oct. 20th (JHG, GJJ). BLACK-HEADED GULL Larus ridibundus ^ Counts of the main colonies indicate a total breeding population well in excess of pairs. As usual claimed hybrid or variant individuals were at several localities. Cannon-netting took place at Foxhall Landfill Site during March and D e c e m b e r . a ' from a total catch of 454 birds of this species, four were found bearing foreign ring; their origins were Finland (two), Belgium and Lithuanian S. S. R. In addition an a with an Estonian ring was seen at Southwold, July 23rd and interestingly the s a m e was still present at this locality, Apr. 4th, 1988. An unusual event involved one swallowing a Sand Martin at Benacre, July l*"166


COMMON GULL Larus canus Large counts were 750, Minsmere, Jan. 14th; 111, Deben, Jan. 18th; 273, Orwell, Jan. 18th; 175 south, Landguard, Jan. 11th; 108, Alton Water, Jan. 18th; over 250 in an hour, Landguard, May 7th; 150 south, Landguard, Oct. 17th and 200, Long Melford, Aug. 1st. About 12 pairs bred at Orfordness which is a decrease on 1986. 1983 Orwell: A bird ringed as a nestling at Vaasa, Finland, June 28th, 1981 was recovered shot on River Orwell near Ipswich, Mar. 8th, 1983. LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus fuscus I There were several reports of up to six during January with returning birds becoming evident in mid-February. The BOEE counts revealed 61 on the Deben and 247 on the Aide, both Feb. 15th, and this coincided with a southerly passage off Dunwich, Feb. 13th. Inland flocks were of 103 at Barton Mills, June 8th, increasing to 200 by Aug. 6th and 250, Long Melford, Aug. 1st. I At Landguard southerly movements included 500, Aug. 8th and 600, Oct. 17th. Small numbers were still present in a few areas to the end of December and there were several records of birds showing characteristics of the 'Scandinavian races'. HERRING GULL Larus argentatus At Foxhall Landfill Site, from a total catch of 83 birds, Dec. 19th, three showed characteristics of the race L. a. argentatus. One of these provided confirmation as it was ^earing a Norwegian ring. In addition there were sight records from Lowestoft, Minsmere land Sizewell (two). With care this race can be separated easily in the field. It is a much larger gull, with a slight size overlap with the smaller Great Black-backs. The upperparts are a blue-grey rather than a pearly-grey, as dark, or even darker, than Common Gull. It has less black on the wing-tips but larger, more prominent white mirrors and tips. The head appears Javier and more angular and the bill duller during winter. Size difference alone cannot used as a criteria for separating first winter individuals from Great Black-backs of similar age.

HERRING/LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Breeding numbers at Orford were estimated to be not less than 10,000 pairs, although n com " prehensive census was carried out this year (MTW). ,C

ELAND GULL Larus glaucoides A mediocre year but it was pleasing to see that presumably the same bird had frequented ,, , ^ e ' ' x s t o w e area for the fifth winter in succession. Surprisingly, apart from the one "akefield, there were no reliable reports from Lowestoft in either winter periods.

l 2 r k s t o n : Jan. 25th (CAB), »estoft: Pakefield, first winter north, Nov. 25th (BJB). «iwtowe/Undguard: Adult, Jan. 1st to Apr. 16th and again Oct. 11th to the end of the year (MDC, Lfl O); first winter, Feb 2nd to Apr. 10th (SP, RS); another, Nov. 28th (JA, DPB). RAUCOUS GULL Larus hyperboreus W k ' XK)r showing with possibly no more than two birds wintering in both periods. As v Iceland Gull, there were no records from the species' favoured wintering haunt at 6ss p °int, Lowestoft. For the second year in succession presumably the same bird overs ""«nered at Felixstowe Ferry. 67


Benacre: First winter, Jan. 10th to mid-February (BJB, JMC, CSW); adult on beach then north, Oct. 3rd (SB). Southwold: First winter, Feb. 25th (possibly same as Benacre bird) (JHG). Minsmere: First year, Apr. 12th to 14th; adult north, Dec. 10th (HMB). Havergate: First winter, Mar. 7th (LAP). Felixstowe: Felixstowe Ferry/River Deben, second winter progressing to second summer, from Mar. 30th throughout the summer months to the end of the year (MM, SP, RBW et al). Landgusrd, first winter, south and then up Orwell, Jan. 21st; adult, south, Feb. 2nd. GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus marinus A remarkable gathering of 1,500 on Minsmere Levels, Jan. 14th, coincided with the period of harsh weather. Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 38 34 26 47

F 70 13 11 43

M 29 36 1 8

A â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

17 NIL â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

S 186 14 23 39

O 195 70 25 20

N 595 90 25 22

D 207 65 59 60

KITTIWAKE Rissa tridactyla The Lowestoft, South Pier, colony of 91 pairs (83 successful) raised a record total of 142 young. Included in these figures are four nests, which produced six young, constructed on four rubber tyres, used as fenders to the quayside, inside the harbour mouth. These were prospected in 1986 but the nests came to nothing. Moderate northerly movements took place between May 7th and 14th and July 17th and 22nd. At Covehithe, 280 moved north in a one and a half hour period, Aug. 2nd and small numbers during the rest of the month; then 1,500 north, Sept. 30th and 200 south, Oct. 18th. A gathering of 100 was noted at Benacre, July 27th. GULL-BILLED TERN Gelochelidon nilotica The first record since 1980 and only the sixth for the County. Benacre: Adult north, June 24th (JMC, SL). CASPIAN TERN Sterna caspia

Probably Suffolk's best year ever with a run of records that conforms to the nations trend. These take the total number of occurrences in Suffolk to 23. Minsmere: The Scrape, May 8th to 11th (JAO et al). Lackford: Aug. 21st and 22nd (CJ et al). Cavenham: Same as Lackford bird, Aug. 21st (CGRB) 68


SANDWICH TERN Sterna sandvicensis The first of the year was at Landguard, Mar. 24th, and from early April there were the usual coastal movements. Up to five were seen inland, at Lackford, in late summer, and during the autumn numbers on passage were small; the largest passage count was from Felixstowe, Aug. 26th, when 87 birds passed soQth. The last of the year was at Landguard, Oct. 21st. Details from the County's principal sites are as follows: Minsmere: No breeding reported; monthly maxima were 30, April; 100, May; 17, June; 420, July; 83, August and 15, September; then smaller numbers to mid-October. Havergate: Eight at the end of March increasing to 600 during April; 200 pairs bred rearing 144 young; 560 were present, July 6th. 3 I ~o u ir

A colour marked bird at Benacre, Aug. 29th, had been ringed as a nestling at the Sands of Forvie, near Grampian, Scotland. ROSEATE T E R N Sterna dougallii Two typically dated records for this County rarity and the first since 1985. Minsmere: June 27th (JS) and July 1st (RSPB). COMMON TERN Sterna hirundo Breeding numbers at the main colonies totalled around 85 pairs as follows: W alberswick: 14 pairs. Minsmere: 26 pairs raised 41 young. Havergate: 30 pairs. ~ver Stour: 15 pairs. A heavy southerly passage took place between mid-August and the first few days of September with Landguard logging record numbers; the highest counts were: 839, Aug. 20th " 389, Aug. 25th and 275, Sept. 1st. ARCTIC TERN Sterna paradisaea A very light spring passage with one or two at Minsmere, Havergate, Southwold, %thburgh and Landguard in April and May. No breeding took place in the County. Autumn numbers were generally low with no more than six birds reported at any locality °n any one date, apart from Sizewell where 100, mostly adults, either passed south or Were feeding around the rigs, Aug. 10th (JHG). This is an exceptional record surpassed °nly by a gathering of 150 at Benacre in 1957 (Payn, 1978). 69


L I T T L E TERN Sterna albifrons The County breeding population was at least 350 pairs. On the Minsmere Scrape 32 pairs produced 62 young whilst four in the beach enclosure failed. At another site 55 pairs raised 100 young. Suffolk's coastline is now well established as an area of national importance for this species, and its success is down to those who erect the fences, put up the notices and do their utmost to educate the less informed beach-users. Our thanks to them. Inland, birds were noted at Lackford G. P., May 11th and Aug. 1st. BLACK T E R N Chlidonias niger A very good year with the species showing very well in spring and even better during the autumn. The first record was on Apr. 16th at Alton Water where four were present, Apr. 18th. Another four visited Weybread, Apr. 28th, two passed north off Covehithe, May 25th and singles were at Minsmere, May 25th and 31st. The west of the County faired even better although some of the reports could refer to the same birds: one was at Lakenheath. Apr. 25th and five, Apr. 27th; five were seen flying east at Lackford, Apr. 28th and two were there May 9th and 10th; four were at Livermere, Apr. 24th and one May 28th. An unusual mid-summer occurrence involved one in full summer plumage accompanying Little Terns at Benacre, June 30th. Autumn passage commenced on July 24th and continued through to mid-September with one or two to mid-October. Up to five were seen at several coastal and inland localities but the following were exceptionally high counts: Minsmere: Ten, Aug. 28th and Sept. 5th; 11, Aug. 30th. Sizewell: 20, Aug. 26th and 14, Sept. 3rd. Orford: Havergate, 22, Aug. 25th and 25, Sept. 3rd. Felixstowe: Landguard, 18 passing south, Sept. 5th. G U I L L E M O T Uria aalge Thankfully there appear to have been no major oiling incidents during 1987 or perhaps no winds at the right time to wash corpses ashore!! Main movements were 48 north off Covehithe, May 24th and 109 north, Sept. 27th AUK SP. The highest count of the year involved a passage of 272 unidentified auks off Dec. 2nd.

Covehithe.

RAZORBILL Alca tordo Very few reported, the maximum count being six moving north off Southwold, Nov 26th. Noted at several coastal localities but, as usual, most records refer to tideline corpses L I T T L E AUK Alle alle The only records for the first winter period were: Lowestoft: Dead on beach, Jan. 12th. Benacre: North, Jan. 6th. Small numbers were moving north almost daily from Oct. 28th to Dec. 10th with the main movements occurring between Nov. 21st and 26th. During the latter period strong winds caused a 'wreck' with moribund individuals being picked up at the inland localities of Long Melford, Bury St Edmunds, Ixworth and Thetford Forest. Lowestoft: Nov. 26th. Covehithe: Offshore movements, up to three, Nov. 11th and 12th; 35, Nov. 21st; up to two, Nov 22nd to 28th; up to nine, Dec. 2nd to 12th. 70


Southwold: In harbour mouth, Oct. 30th; offshore movements, Nov. 5th; 13, Nov. 21st; 26, Nov. 26th; 26, Dec. 7th. Minsmere: Up to five offshore, Nov. 24th to Dec. 10th. SUughden: Two, Nov. 11th; Dec. 2nd. Sudbourne: Fishing in borrow-dyke, Oct. 28th. Feli\stowe/Landguard: Ones and twos offshore Nov. 4th to 21st. STOCK DOVE Columba oenas With reports from only 20 sites, this species obviously fails to attract much observer attention. The largest gatherings were of 72 Stutton, Mar. 15th; 50 Holbrook, Apr. 24th; 38 Claydon, Mar. 8th and 34 Gazeley, Sept. 6th. Five passed through Landguard between Mar. 1st and Apr. 20th but there were no autumn records from this site. WOOD PIGEON Columba palumbus Observations during the harsh weather conditions in January included a one hour count of 3,000 flying west over Sproughton at the onset of a snowstorm, 12th, and 20 in from the sea at Landguard, 13th. Winter flocks containing up to 500 birds were noted at Minsmere, Haverhill, Felixstowe, Needham Market and Long Melford. One in a small flock near Felixstowe Ferry, May 26th, was completely white except on its head. COLLARED DOVE Streptopelia decaocto Very few reports. The only three figure counts were 100, Claydon, Apr. 12th and 110, roosting at Rodbridge, Long Melford, Jan. 23rd. The Ipswich Dock population, which numbered over 700 up to 1979, is now virtually non-existent. This is not considered to be a natural decline and is likely to be as a result of concerted efforts, by dockside food manufacturers, to exterminate the species in that area. Also greatly reduced at Lowestoft, which formerly held a population of around 2 to 3,000 birds, where, despite plenty of spillage, there were very few attracted to the grain silos. Up to 70 were attracted to the large quantities of grain that came ashore at Landguard following a shipping collision off the Point in late March. A nest at Landguard contained a juvenile, Feb. 25th and two breeding pairs were located "•Ipswich in late December. One of the latter nested in the roof of a store room at the Waterworks depot and fledged young in early January, 1988. 'TURTLE DOVE Streptopelia turtur An early arrival was at Hinton Apr. 4th but the main influx took place during the last 'ortnight of May e.g. 23 Minsmere, May 17th. A total of 31 pairs bred at Minsmere and in the Haverhill area, 39 "purring" birds Were located in June. Post-breeding flocks are a regular feature of this species; the largest gathering this year contained 100 at Hollesley, Aug. 15th increasing to 150 by Sept. 12th — only one remained I ¡Sept. 26th. Elsewhere there were 58 Mendham, Sept. 2nd and 30 Long Melford, Aug. Only four were noted in October, of which the latest occurred at Landguard, 19th. RING-NECKED PARAKEET Psittacula krameri òspite breeding successfully in 1986, the reports this year from the traditional Aldham s te W e r e of only one being present. There are no signs as yet of the species attempting t ' " colonize any other areas; isolated reports of single birds were from Sudbury, Mar. 22nd; Un dguard Aug. 2nd and Nov. 20th; Benacre July 29th and Ipswich July 4th and 5th. 71


CUCKOO Cuculus canorus Ornithologists' fascination with this parasitic species helps to ensure that many sightings are reported. This year there were records from 65-70 localities in the breeding season (75 in 1986), indicating a relatively stable population although above average totals were reported from Great Bealings and Bures. Two were seen to fly in from the sea at Minsmere, Apr. 25th. Landguard reported an excellent spring passage with one or two present on most days in May. Up to seven fed on an abundance of caterpillars on the saltings at Felixstowe Ferry in late June and early July. One was observed sunbathing on a roof in Felixstowe, Aug. 2nd. Immatures were widely reported from the coastal region in August and early September; six were trapped and ringed at Landguard during August. The largest reported gathering of the year was of at least eight at Bawdsey, Sept. 13th. The final sighting, on Sept. 21st, was of an immature frequenting overhead cables on Tunstall Common.

BARN OWL Tyto alba An encouraging year with reports from about 100 localities, at which up to 25 pairs bred successfully. Although there was a coastal bias in the distribution of reports, at least 20 were in West Suffolk. Victims of January's severe weather were found at Minsmere (three), Kelsale, Orford (four), Capei Hall, Bedingfield, Playford, Trimley St. Martin, Felixstowe and Barham (see paper on Page 12). LITTLE OWL Athene noctua Another popular species with sightings at up to 85 localities including at least 15 successful breeding pairs. One was reported from the Minsmere Sluice bushes, Dec. 19th and singles at Landguard. May 12th, Sept. 21st and Oct. 26th. TAWNY OWL Strix aluco This species' nocturnal habits preclude it from being more widely observed. There were reports from about 65 sites but at only five localities was breeding confirmed; 10 pairs were located at Minsmere and four at Haverhill. One made an unsuccessful attempt to catch a Bat at Haverhill in late July. 1985 Bures: One roosted by day during the summer months in the rafters of the main porch of Bures Church, quite unperturbed by the passage of the congregation below LONG-EARED OWL Asio otus Very few remained to overwinter in the County after the influx in mid-November, 1986. a south Suffolk roost held up to three in February and early March, six were at Minsmere. Jan. 1st and one at Landguard, Feb 11th. A mediocre spring passage featured singles at Landguard, Apr. 15th and May 4th; two. Lowestoft, Apr. 5th to 14th and two, Benacre, Apr. 25th. Breeding season reports were from four coastal sites and six localities in the Breck where one observer described the species as being "not uncommon". Unexpected mid-summer reports were from Benacre beach June 13th and Landguaro June 10th. The latter individual was trapped and by its plumage was sexed as a female Most interestingly the bird was found to be bearing a brood patch which could indicate breeding within the immediate area. It was subsequently resighted at the same site on Jul> 29th, Aug. 4th and 17th. A sad footnote to this story is that in December this bird entered 72


a warehouse, in Felixstowe, and was found dead. The only autumn immigrants were singles at Landguard, Oct. 31st and Nov. 3rd and Benacre/Covehithe Sept. 29th (in off sea) and Oct. 27th. SHORT-EARED O W L Asio flammeus Much lower totals than during 1986. Despite being reported from up to 25 coastal sites during January — early April, the largest gatherings were of only four at Havergate and Kirton/Hemley. None were reported from the Breck but singles were at two sites in the Haverhill area. An interesting report was of one hunting over the extensive areas of grass at the A12/A45 interchange at Copdock, Mar. 11th. Spring passage birds were noted on the coast up to mid-May and at Lakenheath, May 3rd. There was an encouraging improvement in the breeding situation with two cases of proven breeding and birds present at three additional sites during the summer months. The first autumn migrant came in off the sea at Benacre, Sept. 8th. By the year's end there had been sightings at 20 coastal sites but with a maximum of only four at Havergate, Nov. 21st. Inland there were singles in November/December at Tuddenham (west), Lackford, Stradishall and Haverhill. NIGHTJAR Caprimulgus europaeus Surveys revealed 97 'churring' males on the coast and a Breckland total (including Norfolk) of 200. At Minsmere there were 13 pairs (20 in 1986) and 22 pairs were in the Sutton/Hollesley area. The species continues to exploit the clear-fell forestry areas and it remains to be seen whether the effects of October's hurricane will be beneficial to the species in the short-term, but disastrous in the long-term. As in 1986, a singing male was at Haverhill in May but did not remain in the area. Three males were singing at Knettishall as early as Apr. 29th. A passage migrant was at Beccles, May 10th and single birds lingered on into September at Minsmere, to 5th and in the Breck, 7th. SWIFT Apus apus Anticyclonic weather with southerly winds during the third week of April resulted in early individuals at Thorpeness 19th and Minsmere and Landguard both on 20th. However, the breeding population did not generally arrive until May 9th and 10th. Cool unsettled weather in June and July resulted in southerly movements over the coastal region; at Landguard these included 200 June 6th and 7th and 336 July 1st. A gathering °f at least 1,000 at Alton Water, June 9th and 10th included a partial albino with white undertail coverts. Most breeding populations departed in mid-August. Sightings were widespread during toe first half of September and included 33 at Landguard, 5th. The only October reports came from Minsmere 1st, Woodbridge 3rd and Beccles 22nd. ALPINE SWIFT Apus melba The two records below take the total number recorded in Suffolk to 12. The Minsmere d is the first since 1982 and is also the earliest ever recorded in the County. It was Probably brought here by the same meteorological conditions that resulted in the early jnival of Swifts on the Suffolk coast, ^nwich: May 2nd (AD), /¿"»mere: Apr. 18th (BAB, CAB, PS). 5 7 ® Breydon Water: One over the south side of Breydon Water: Sept. 13th was deleted from the ^Jffolk list at the time of the administrative boundary changes of 1974. However, due to the recent jkcision to conform to Watsonian Vice-County boundaries this record can now be reinstated as 'onging to Suffolk. 73


KINGFISHER Alcedo atthis All the indications are that this species overcame the rigours of January's weather reasonably well with reports during the year from about 65 sites (70 in 1986). At 20 widely scattered localities, breeding probably took place although this was confirmed at only four sites. At Lackford G. P., two pairs raised three broods despite the death of an adult male, which had a fish-hook embedded in its wing, in May. A juvenile, trapped and ringed at Landguard, July 6th, is the fifth to be ringed at this site and the first since 1984. BEE-EATER Merops apiaster 0 ?

Covehithe: Over cliffs June 14th (DRN et al). A typically dated 23rd record for the County and the first since 1984. HOOPOE Upupa epops The following five records made this year the best since the seven in 1984. Benacre: May 13th (JMi). Felixstowe: Landguard, Sept. Ist (LBO). Rendlesham: Staverton Picnic Site, Sept. 19th (RLS). Sudbury: Apr. 27th (AAB). Haverhill: May 9th (per DFS). The Landguard bird is the first for the site; it spent a few hours feeding on the beach before flying off strongly to the south and, after a brief encounter with a Lesser Blackbacked Gull, appeared to alight in Harwich, Essex (SP). 1980 10

1981 4

1982 1

1983 3

1984 7

1985 2

1986 3

1987 5

WRYNECK Jynx torquilla During a moderate spring passage, with at least eight recorded, the majority were at sites away from the coast, which is unusual. Grundisburgh: An early arrival, Apr. 14th. Haughley: Apr. 23rd. Minsmere: Two Apr. 25th and one of which remained until Apr. 27th; May 16th. Walpole: Apr. 29th. Mildenhall: Two May 6th. Autumn passage peaked in late August when north-easterly winds produced classic "fai' conditions in which this species featured prominently. There were relatively few new arrival5 in September but they did include two inland at Bradfield St. Clare, the only inland autumn record. 74


Lowestoft: Gunton, up to three Aug. 23rd to 30th apart from five Aug. 29th; North Denes, Aug. 27th and 28th; Oval, Sept. 28th. . Benacre: Up to five during Aug. 26th to 29th, then six 30th but only two remaining from 31st to Sept. 6th and another Sept. 11th and 12th. Minsmere: Aug. 28th, Sept. 3rd, Sept. 13th. Hollesley: Two Sept. 4th and 5th. Bawdsey: Sept. 6th. Felixstowe: Landguard, up to four Aug. 28th to 31st; at least three during Sept. 1st to 8th. Bradfield St. Clare: Two Sept. 5th and 6th. GREEN WOODPECKER Picus viridis With reports from 85 sites (88 in 1986) it would appear that this species managed to survive January's severe weather without great difficulty. Breeding season reports included 11 pairs at Minsmere, five pairs at Haverhill and four pairs at Cavenham Heath. A juvenile was at Landguard, July 28th. GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos major Although noted at about 105 sites during the year (110 in 1986), relatively few were reported after the 'hurricane' on Oct. 16th which caused so much devastation to the species' habitat. Observers are requested to submit all 1988 sightings so that the effects of this habitat destruction can be monitored.

Drumming was first heard on Jan. 17th, at Lakenheath. A total of 18 pairs bred at â&#x20AC;˘nsmere and six together at Nacton, June 17th, included three juveniles, fightings at Landguard, where the species does not breed, are becoming increasingly re quent; this year singles were noted there on Apr. 12th, May 3rd, Sept. 4th, Oct. 18th an d Dec. 6th. One was in the Minsmere Sluice bushes, Oct. 25th. Birds were attracted to peanuts on bird tables at Foxhall and Kentford. nerce rivalry with a Starling over the right to use a particular nesting hole at Hadleigh, a y 25th resulted in the woodpecker chasing its rival from branch to branch for over r hours (WAL). 75


LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopus minor Reported from 65 sites (60 in 1986) but, as with the previous species, the indications are that it has been adversely affected by the habitat destruction caused by the October storm. At Minsmere eight pairs bred including one which chose to nest near the reserve's car park; the pair became a target of harassment by a Great Spotted Woodpecker as they attempted to feed their young. Interesting aspects of behaviour were of singles ground feeding at Barham, Feb. 8th; foraging on dead thistle stems at Levington, Sept. 7th and investigating wooden fence posts at Shotley. One accompanied a Chaffinch flock at Haverhill in December. One trapped and ringed at Landguard, Sept. 15th is the fifth site record.

WOODLARK Lullula arborea Numbers of singing males reported were slightly lower than in 1986. This was disappointing in view of the increase in apparently suitable habitat following the felling of matured conifer plantations. Suffolk Breck Coastal Belt

1986 28 25/28

1987 26 24

TOTAL

53/56

50

Although the coastal belt may have had slightly less coverage than in the 1986 survey year, this would not have applied to the Brecks where intense RSPB work continues. The only winter record was at Hemley/Waldringfield, Dec. 7th.

SKYLARK Alauda arvensis Wintering flocks were small in comparison with recent years; the largest noted were:â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Lakenheath: Kenny Hill, 150, Jan. 18th. Sudbourne: 118, Jan. 24th. Cavenham: 60 around pits, Jan. 25th. Great Bealings: 100, Jan. 31st. Southerly movements were recorded at Landguard up to Feb. 10th totalling 340 birds. At Minsmere 24 pairs bred. In autumn, numbers increased at Landguard from mid-September to over 30 present, but main southerly migration was noted from mid-October with 150 off Benacre, Oct19th; 100, Minsmere, Oct. 20th and "large numbers" coming in off the sea, Benacre. Oct. 27th. SHORE LARK Eremophila alpestris The apparent recovery in wintering numbers, noted in 1986, did not continue in 1987. with few birds present during either winter period. The flock of five, seen at Gunton. was rumoured to be commuting between Lowestoft and Gorleston, but details for onl) one date were received. The bird seen at Gunton, in June, was remarkably late and represents the first record, for the County, during that month. Lowestoft: Gunton, five on Denes, Jan. 11th (NB); one on recreation ground, June 4th (NB, BJB, LFK1 Easton Bavents: Two, Nov. 8th (CRN). Sudbourne: Six, Jan 18th; three Dec. 20th (REC). SAND MARTIN Riparia riparia It is pleasing to report that the recovery in the breeding population, witnessed in l9Âťo. was dramatically accelerated in 1987 allaying the fears that followed the 1984 population 76


crash. At Minsmere the car park cliff was well used with 366 pairs raising 1300 young in the first brood. This compares with-only 11 pairs just two years ago. At Nacton, a colony was occupied by 218 pairs, double that of 1986. First noted at Minsmere on Mar. 24th with other March records from Trimley (three) and Lackford, 28th; Holbrook and Weybread (two), 29th and Haverhill (four), 30th. Numbers increased rapidly in April with 100 in from sea at Landguard, 5th; 200, Alton Water, 11th increasing to 350 20th and 500, Minsmere, 22nd with additional reports from many sites. An albino bird was noted at Boyton, Aug. 8th. The last of the year was at Landguard, Oct. 28th. 1986 Aldeburgh: Nov. 8th. This late date exceeds the latest published in last year's report. SWALLOW Hirundo rustica Breeding success was variable with local fluctuations. First noted at Henham, Mar. 28th and then at Boxford and Reydon, Mar. 29th. During the first week of April there were eight reports from widespread localities and by the third week there were 200 at Alton Water and 250 at Minsmere. Main autumn return movements were noted at Landguard peaking at 5,000, Sept. 14th and at Thorington Street, where 1,000 were present, Oct. 11th. In November, 72 birds were reported from sixteen locations (28 from nine, 1986) and the last was seen at Felixstowe, Dec. 1st. RED-RUMPED SWALLOW Hirundo daurica With a significant increase in vagrancy experienced in southern counties in recent years, it is surprising that Suffolk has had to wait so long for the first County record. This was followed by a mini-avalanche of records which coincided with a national influx. The Southwold bird frequented the sea cliffs and promenade area, and at dusk was seen to roost in the adjacent hotels. The BBRC considers that due to the exceptional number of birds making their way southwards, els where in the country during the late autumn period, •hat each occurrence refers to a different bird. Lastbridge: On wires with Swa)lows, Apr. 21st (AM, JK). Felixstowe: Landguard, two circled Observatory before flying north, Oct. 28th (DRM, SP). Lowestoft: Sparrow's Nest, Nov. 12th (JMC, ACE et al). «nacre: Over Broad, Nov. 14th (WS), southwold: Nov. 21st to 25th (MF, et al) HOUSE MARTIN Delichon urbica First noted at Alton Water, Apr. 4th followed by small numbers at various sites to ^id-month. A few observers reported a decrease in nesting numbers, but at Knettishall one building Played host to 42 nests! At Sproughton B.F. at least two pairs were still attending a nest Slle > Oct. 22nd. Maximum autumn movements were noted at Landguard, Sept. 14th to 28th with a peak of 2.000, Sept. 26th. Albino birds were reported from Framlingham, Aug. 5th and Felixstowe, Aug. 28th. November records involved 57 sightings (160 in 1986) with the last at Felixstowe, N ov. 25th. TREE PIPIT Anthus trivialis erall breeding reports were lower than 1986 although the species was still reasonably ^Presented in the Breck and the coastal belt. Breeding reports included seven pairs at "•'nsmere and 15 pairs at Lakenheath. 77


The first of the year was one in song at Walberswick, Apr. 7th but most birds did not reach their breeding territories until the middle of the month. Spring passage at Landguard totalled 22 birds from Apr. 10th to May 20th. Small numbers were recorded at coastal sites in the autumn with the last sighting at Landguard, Sept. 23rd. MEADOW PDPIT Anthus pratensis Widely reported throughout the year with the expected influxes during passage periods. Amongst the many breeding records received 23 pairs nested at Minsmere. Spring passage peaked at Landguard, Mar. 15th with 135 north and an additional 35 in off the sea. At Minsmere the highest numbers were 150, Apr. 2nd and 6th. Autumn passage was notable from mid-September with some considerable early morning movements. A "large southerly passage" was noted at Ness Point, Lowestoft at 06.00 hours, 19th and a "very big southerly passage" at Walberswick, 23rd. At Minsmere 200 were present, 13th and at Landguard daily counts averaged 200 per day and peaked at 400, 26th. "Very large numbers coming i n " were noted at Benacre, Oct. 27th. R O C K PIPIT Anthus petrosus The species was plentiful during January, being recorded at 14 coastal sites. The highest count was 13 on River Aide, Jan. 18th. Numbers dwindled during February and March and two lingered at Collimer Point on River Orwell, Apr. 19th. One inland at Needham Market, Jan. 25th was an interesting record. The first for the autumn was noted at Minsmere, Sept. 12th followed, the next day, by another at Gedgrave. Other September reports were from Ness Point, Lowestoft, 20th and Landguard, 28th but most birds delayed their arrival until October when at least 50 were present and 20 of these at Havergate, 25th. WATER PIPIT Anthus spinoletta Regular at Minsmere from the beginning of the year, being noted on 16 dates up to Apr. 6th. Most records referred to single birds but four were present, Jan. 13th; two, Apr. 4th and eight, Apr. 6th. Also recorded in the Benacre/Easton Broad area on six dates to Mar. 31st with three birds, Mar. 16th and two, 31st. The most southerly record was by the River Deben, Jan. 18th. Most autumn records involved single birds and Benacre/Easton was the most f a v o u r e d area. Here the species was recorded on ten dates from Oct. 23rd to Dec. 8th including three, Nov. 14th. Also noted at Sudbourne, Dec. 19th; Minsmere, Dec. 20th and S o u t h w o l d . Dec. 27th. YELLOW WAGTAIL Motacilla flava The first winter individual present at Holbrook sewage works from Dec. 27th to 31st. 1986 remained on site until Jan. 4th (thus becoming a second year bird!). The first of the spring was at Haverhill, Mar. 18th, an exceptional date and the second earliest for the County (earliest Feb. 27th, 1942). Apart from a Felixstowe report, Apr 6th, the more general arrival dates were from Apr. 8th and 9th, with 14 Alton WaterApr. 14th and 50, Minsmere, Apr. 20th. Breeding records were incomplete with 35 pairs reported from 14 sites. The largest autumn gatherings were at Minsmere, Aug. 19th to Sept. 15th with a pea* of 100, Sept. 13th. A roost count at Shotley, during September, revealed 50 birds. There was the usual number of spring reports of the nominate race M. f . flava. Blueheaded Wagtail: Gunton: With Yellow Wagtails, May 1st, 2nd and 8th. Kessingland: Apr. 29th. 78


Southwold: Apr. 10th, 17th, 19th, 20th and 30th, three Apr. 22nd and two, 25th Minsmere: Two, Apr. 20th, singles, Apr." 21st, 24th and May 7th. Rramford Pits: May 3rd. There were four examples of the N. Fenno-Scandia race M. /. thunbergi, Grey-headed Wagtail: Lowestoft: Gunton, male "with yellows", May 2nd (BJB). kessingland: male, Apr. 29th (JMi). Reydon: Male May 2nd (CRN, BMW). Landguard: Male, Apr. 29th (DPB, MM, CSPR et al). GREY WAGTAIL Motacilla cinerea Reported from 20 sites during the winter/early spring period and evenly spread between eastern and western areas. Four out of the five confirmed breeding records however, were in west Suffolk. In passage periods it is difficult to separate breeding birds from those on migration, but during the period September to December the species was recorded at 30 sites, 22 of which were in east Suffolk. Birds moving through were noted at Landguard on 14 dates from Sept. 8th to Oct. 25th and another Nov. 21st. During the same period the species was also noted at Benacre, Covehithe, Minsmere and Felixstowe Ferry. PIED WAGTAIL Motacilla alba No large roosts were reported in the spring. At Haverhill 19 pairs were located during the breeding period with one nest containing a Cuckoo's egg. An albino juvenile was located at this site in July. An apparent reduction in numbers was reported from Hales worth and Bures. In the reedbed adjacent to Bourne Park, Ipswich, the traditional post-breeding roost developed as early as June 26th, when it numbered some 50 birds. Numbers increased steadily thereafter to reach a peak of 250 by the end of August. From a sample of 77 birds trapped at this site, 68% were juveniles. Other roosts were noted at Lackford, August (40), Minsmere, Oct. 12th (100) and Thurston early December (100). There was a good spring showing of the nominate White Wagtail M. a. alba which was recorded from Mar. 31st to May 30th at mostly coastal localities. The ten birds at Minsmere, Apr. 9th appeared aliter a very heavy storm. Predictably, there were no autumn records. S®uthwold: Apr. 10th, 29th and three, Apr. 20th. "alberswick: May 30th. "insmere: Two Apr. 5th, 10, Apr. 9th, three to four Apr. 17th, 20th, 21st and 22nd and singles Apr. 16th, 18th, 19th, 23rd, 27th and May 9th. 'rtmJey St Martin: By lake Mar. 31st. "Kstowe: On Ferry golf course, Apr. 27th; Landguard: Three, Apr. 3rd, two, Apr. 6th and singles A Pr. 9th, 16th, 28th, 30th and May 10th, 23rd and 24th. "»verhill: May 4th.

W

AXWING Bombycilla garrulus An excellent first winter period with reports from 14 sites on various dates from Jan. ^ 1 0 Mar. 6th. At least 24 birds were present in the County, Jan. 26th which could represent e largest daily record since 1971. There were no records during the second winter period. ton: Church Lane, six early January, five Jan. 15th to 17th (EJ, LFK). f '"" Broad: Fenlands Crescent, Jan. 18th and 19th; two, 27th; still present mid-February (BJB, CRN). ^"«Wd: Landsdowne Road, early Jan,fiveJan. 18th, up to 14 Jan. 24th to 31st (BJB, LFK, KRetal). tydon: F ' v e reported in December, 1986 remained until Jan. 31st (BMW). 79


Southwold: Four (probably Reydon birds), Feb. 1st and one to Feb. 10th (BMW). Little Glemham: By A12, Mar. 1st (AG). Ufford, Feb. 3rd (MDC). Gosbeck: In grounds of water tower, five, Jan. 26th (per SP). Needham Market: Early January (DCra). Ipswich: Heath Road, intermittent between Princethorpe Road, up to five Jan. 30th to Feb 15th (SP et al)\ one Belvedere Road, early February (per SP) Felixstowe: Landsdowne Road, Jan. 17th (ET) and then two Colneis Road/Rosemary Avenue 19th to 25th (RBW el al). Holbrook: Early January (per HRB). Shotley: Up to five for several days from mid-January (per AWe). Haverhill: Mar. 6th (DFS). DIPPER Cinclus cinclus An individual not subspecifically identified was noted as follows: Minsmere: Nov. 5th (RSPB). This represents the third record for Minsmere and the first for the County since 1981.

W R E N Troglodytes troglodytes Local variations reported in survival rates from the winter with reductions noted at Holbrook and Haverhill. The breeding population in the Felixstowe area increased by 90%, compared with 1986, based on regular transect counts. Interestingly, 60 were ringed at Landguard in October which represents a 300% increase over the annual average since 1983. No doubt as a consequence of the severe winter 14 were seen going to roost in a tit nest box at Kessingland, Mar. 14th and at Minsmere 15 roosted in a squirrel's drey, Nov. 29th.

DUNNOCK Prunella modularis Migration was noted at Landguard during February with a peak of 20 on 28th. In the autumn, return movement, again at Landguard, was recorded during September and October with a maximum of 20, Oct. 12th. ROBIN Erithacus rubecula Although a strong spring and autumn passage is a regular feature at Landguard, a dramatic and unprecedented 'fall' occurred on Oct. 19th involving over 100 birds. Numbers remained high for the following three days and were confirmed by the ringing data which shows 119 ringed, during the period Oct. 19th to 21st, and a record month total of 270. A Dutch ringed bird was 'controlled' there Oct. 1st. Early nesting activity was noted at Gazeley, Feb. 11th and 12 pairs were r e c o r d e d at Valley Farm, Coddenham, March to June. At Benacre one bird 'adopted' the bird-hide and it was reported " n o one dares to come without food" . Singing during night hours was noted near street lighting at Ipswich, Haverhill an Claydon. NIGHTINGALE Luscinia megarhynchos A better year than 1986 with 170 singing males or identified territories excluding Breck which also had good numbers at all traditional sites. At Minsmere and Bradfie Woods there were 58 and 18 territories respectively. 80


BLUETHROAT Luscinia svecica Two relatively early records, both on the same day, coincided with a minor influx at other sites on the east coast of Britain. One was sub-specifically identified as a 'white spotted' L. s. svecica but the other was indeterminate. . Minsmere: Male 'white spotted', Apr. 5th (CAB, RW). Havergate: Apr. 5th (RSPB). BLACK REDSTART Phoenicurus ochruros An apparent reduction in breeding pairs with only 15 reported compared with 22 during the survey year of 1986. Lowestoft: Six pairs raised a minimum of 12 young. Sizewell: Pair bred on power station construction site. Felixstowe: Landguard/dock area, three pairs present throughout summer months but success unknown except for one pair seen with three juveniles. Ipswich: Dock area, singing male Apr. 23rd; town centre, singing males noted on several dates between Apr. 17th and July 7th; east Ipswich, one caught and released, July 9th. Haverhill: Sewage farm, singing male during May, female, June 21st, food carrying, July; industrial estate, female, June 13th, food carrying, July. Breck: At least one pair bred. The first of the year was at Landguard, Mar. 22nd which heralded an excellent spring passage. The species was noted at many coastal localities with maxima of ten at Lowestoft, early April, six at both Southwold and Minsmere, Apr. 5th and 15 at Landguard, Apr. 7th. Excluding the breeding localities, inland records came from Brandon, Apr. 5th, Elmswell, Apr. 8th, Long Melford, Apr. 7th, Hessett, Apr. 12th and Sproughton Pits, May 9th. Return migration was an anticlimax with numbers significantly down on recent years. At Landguard migration peaked, Oct. 20th, when a minimum of 10 birds was on site and two were still present Nov. 8th. The last of the year was at Walberswick on Nov. 24th. REDSTART Phoenicurus phoenicurus Reports of breeding increased to at least 43 pairs, the highest number for many years, °f which 26 were in the coastal belt and 15 in the Breck. Ten pairs bred at Minsmere (two or three in 1986) and one pair at Haverhill. It would be helpful if observers would report all breeding records so that trends can be more accurately assessed. First noted at Minsmere, Apr. 11th and last at Landguard, Nov. 1st (the latest date in the County since 1975). Light autumn passage was noted at various coastal sites from raid-August to Oct. 10th with up to six present at Landguard. W

H1NCHAT Saxícola rubetra Breeding reports totalled 20 pairs equalling the peak of recent years set in 1985. couragingly there were two pairs in the coastal belt, the highest number for many years. A light coastal spring passage was recorded with the first at Landguard, Apr. 18th. Autumn passage commenced, Aug. 9th/10th, when birds were at Minsmere and '-^ndguard. Main movements at the majority of coastal sites were from Aug. 23rd to Sept. tn including at least 13 at Benacre Pits, Aug 23rd and 12 Aldeburgh/Thorpeness, Sept. 111 The last of the year was at Minsmere, Oct. 24th.

STONECHAT Saxícola torquata n 'y ten birds, from six sites, were reported in the period January to early March, '"eluding a pair at Cavenham. Singles were at Landguard Mar. 8th to 11th and Apr. 9th ^ d 10th. 81


Breeding numbers continue to make slow progess following the population crash of 1985 and January's harsh weather conditions did not help. Two pairs bred in the Breck at two sites and 11 to 13 pairs bred at seven coastal sites including three at Minsmere. In the autumn a total of 29 was reported from 13 coastal sites, one at Lackford and again two on Cavenham Heath. WHEATEAR Oenanthe oenanthe Eighteen breeding pairs were reported of which six were at coastal sites, a pattern similar to the last two years. First recorded at Landguard, Mar. 15th and Haverhill, Mar. 18th, becoming widespread from Mar. 22nd to 31st. Reported from 13 areas with up to ten at Landguard, Mar. 29th and 15, Apr. 2nd. A second wave of migrants occurred at the latter site, Apr. 23rd to May 4th with up to 20 present Apr. 26th to 28th, many of which showed characters of the Greenland race O. o. leucorhoa. Autumn passage commenced from mid-August, building up rapidly from 23rd and peaking at most coastal sites between Aug. 24th and Sept. 4th. Highest counts were from between Minsmere and Sizewell, 42, Aug. 24th; Benacre, 22, Sept. 3rd; Landguard, 20, Sept. 3rd and Bawdsey, 25 Sept. 4th. DESERT WHEATEAR Oenanthe deserti A new species for the County. Felixstowe: Landguard, a first year male, probably of the eastern race O. d. atrogularis, Oct. 20th to 24th, trapped 23rd (MDC et al). Initially seen near the shingle heaps at the aggregate plant and then on many parts of the nature reserve. It is interesting to note that this bird was relocated at Prawle Point. Devon, Oct. 26th, and confirmed as the Landguard indvidual by an enthusiastic birdwatcher who managed to record the ring number, in the field, and forward details to the BTO (see detailed report on page 109 and Ringing Report on page 121). RING OUZEL Turdus torquatus A magnificent spring passage with birds being noted at many coastal localities. Along with the national trend the species arrived in two distinct waves; the first around Apr 5th/6th onwards to 12th, and the second from Apr. 17th to May 23rd. Most early reports referred to singles but later became abundant with records from Lowestoft (five'Walberswick (eight), Minsmere (nine) and Landguard (11). Inland, birds were noted at Lawshall, a male, Apr. 12th to 14th, Eriswell, a male, Apr. 18th and Chantry Park, Ipswich. Apr. 30th. For the first time in Suffolk a bird oversummered. " A scraggy-looking bird" was noted, at Minsmere, on several dates from June 18th and was joined by another, June 19th. The former was recorded regularly to the end of August, on 12 dates in September and, what was assumed to be the same bird, to Oct. 20th, although its status must have become obscured once autumn migration got underway (RNM, RSPB). Return passage was less spectacular and commenced with a single at Haverhill. Sep1 12th increasing to three, Sept. 14th. During September the species was also noted at Trim'1!' Lake (two), Eriswell (male in garden), Kessingland and Minsmere. From early October there was a minor influx and, amongst several coastal records, a male was found o ea on the beach at Covehithe and another was seen fighting with Blackbirds at Boyt°n^ Typically, the main autumn movement did not materialise until Oct. 20th from when ' was recorded virtually daily at Landguard to Nov. 7th and at Benacre to Oct. 31stmany November records, included a male at Barton Mills, 2nd, and the last was a Walberswick on 21st. 82


BLACKBIRD Turdus menila There were no heavy spring movements recorded, the maximum being 40 through Landguard, Mar. 1st. One female was observed carrying nesting material at Gazeley, on the early date of Feb. 12th, and three young were seen in the Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds, Feb 27th. There was the usual crop of albino and partial albino birds which included two pure white birds, with yellow bills, together at Great Barton in August. Despite a large influx at Gunton, Sept. 18th, the main immigration occurred typically from Oct. 21st to Nov. 4th when large numbers were observed arriving from over the sea at Lowestoft, Benacre and Landguard. At the latter site a large 'fall' also occurred Nov. 21st/22nd and a total of 332 birds was ringed during the October/November period. FIELDFARE Turdus pilaris The largest flocks of the first winter period occurred in early January with 300, Moulton, Jan. 2nd; 250 feeding on apples, Great Bealings, Jan. 5th and 250, Long Melford, Jan. 7th. Numbers were then relatively small until mid-March when a flock of 250 frequented Lakenheath, Mar. 14th and 80 were at Livermere, Mar. 29th. The latter flock contained an aberrant individual which was creamy-buff in colour. The main return movements occurred in early April and in May twenty birds were noted at eight sites. One ringed at Stzewell, June 28th could relate to an oversummering bird (see also Ring Ouzel). The first birds of the autumn were at Hollesley, Aug. 29th and Landguard Sept. 2nd and 3rd. The species was then apparently absent until Oct. 1st when five were seen at Cavenham and another, in off the sea, at Covehithe. Sparsity of records continued and the first flock of the winter was not seen until Oct. 20th, when 50 were at Farnham. The "lain immigration commenced Oct. 22nd to 27th when large numbers were reported from "tany sites in both east and west Suffolk including 200 near Stonham Parva and "many hundreds" west over Lakenheath. A further peak occurred Nov. 7th to 12th with 300, Minsmere and a remarkable 1,000 in the Akenham area, Nov 8th. Numbers reduced dramatically from mid-November and relatively few, in small flocks, were reported to te end of December. SONG THRUSH Turdus philomelos Southerly movements were noted at Landguard Jan. 11th (37); Jan. 12th (46) and Mar. 1 1th (40). A further influx occurred, at this site, Apr. 26th and, of the 45 present, some showed characteristics of the Continental race T. p. philomelos. Autumn influxes, with other thrushes, were recorded at Landguard, Oct. 1st to 4th; Oct- 19th to 21st; Nov. 4th and 21st. There were 30 at Minsmere, Oct. 22nd. ROWING Turdus iliacus Generally numbers were low January/February although 100 flew over Haverhill, Jan. 4 th and 3Q â&#x20AC;&#x17E; ^ ^ j ^ ^ a t Landguard, Jan. 11th to 13th. Numbers increased with returning lrds from early March to the first week of April but only two were reported in May. here were two late birds; Minsmere, June 13th and a male in song, at an inland site, June 14th. The first autumn records were at Landguard, Sept. 29th to 30th and at Pakenham, Sept. Jth- These were followed by a few records, of mostly single birds, until Oct. 16th when came in from sea at Landguard. At Minsmere 50 were present, Oct. 21st and general '"creases, with other thrushes, occurred up to mid-November. The highest counts were ^Glemsford, Nov 5th and Ickworth Park, Nov. 14th. "Large numbers" were reported Breck during the first half of November. Clearly these birds soon moved elsewhere J ' tere were very few records in late November and December. 83


MISTLE THRUSH Turdus viscivorus Some increase in breeding pairs, compared with 1986, was noted at Long Melford but elsewhere there were too few records to make an assessment. A post-breeding flock numbering 40 birds was observed feeding in an area of grassland, recently cleared of Bracken, at Lower Hollesley Heath, June 24th. At Minsmere a flock of 21 was present, Oct. 5th and eight were noted moving south at Landguard, Oct. 22nd. The mildness of the second winter period was demonstrated by birds in song at Levington, Dec. 20th and Foxhall, Dec. 28th. C E T T I ' S WARBLER Cettia cetti The severity of the weather in January resulted in a further decline and the species is now almost extinct in Suffolk. There was a complete absence of occurrences from the former strongholds in the north-east of the County and the year's only record probably refers to a migrant. Minsmere: Sept. 27th to Oct. 10th (RSPB). This decline in not just confined to our shores. In The Netherlands there was a complete absence in 1986 and 1987 and in France a severe population crash resulted in the species' total disappearance form the Camargue (Sharrock, 1988). Our only glimmer of hope still lies in Norfolk where the species survives in some Broadland localities. GRASSHOPPER WARBLER Locustella naevia The total of 49 reeling males, from 19 sites, is a substantial increase on 1986 and the best this decade. Records came from scattered localities along the entire coastal strip and inland from Lackford, Haverhill, Knettishall Heath, Cornard Mere, Thetford, Great Thurlow and Elveden. The record of one at Minsmere, Apr. 7th is the earliest for the County, and the last of the year involved a bird trapped at Landgaurd, Sept. 9th. SAVI'S WARBLER Locustella luscinioides The best year since 1980 with four 'reeling' males at three coastal sites. Site A: 'Reeling', May 20th. Site B: Two 'reeling', May 30th to June 15th. Minsmere: 'Reeling' on various dates between May 31st and July 12th. AQUATIC WARBLER Acrocephalus paludicola This eastern and central European breeding bird has a very narrow migration path from which it seldom deviates. This may well explain the relative scarcity of the species in Suffolk; this being only the sixth record for the County. Lowestoft: The Denes, Aug. 26th (NCB, BJB, ACE). SEDGE WARBLER Acrocephalus schoenobaenus An abundant and increasing summer visitor in suitable habitat throughout the County Maximum counts were 50, Minsmere, April; 60 pairs, Lackford and 40 pairs b e t w e e n Glemsford and Long Melford, where the observer considered the numbers to be 100 ÂŤ up on those of five years ago. Likewise, at Shotley the population increased to 30 p a i r s after reaching an all-time-low of three pairs in 1986 (MP). In conjunction with the CES scheme, intense studies were carried out in the r e e d b e d s of Bourne Park and Redgrave and Lopham Fens and the results indicate that despite tluincrease in the number of adult birds, the breeding season was mediocre. At the respective sites 68 and 38 birds trapped included 57% and 47% juveniles. 84


MARSH WARBLER Acrocephalus palustris The second record for the County, the first being in 1986. Felixstowe: Landguard, trapped June 9th and 10th (MDC, MM et al). REED WARBLER Acrocephalus scirpaceus Not as abundant as the Sedge Warbler. At Shotley the population was estimated to be between 20 and 30 pairs which was considered to be "steady" (MP) and Lackford held around 25 pairs. From samples of 106 and 48 birds trapped respectively at the Bourne Park and Redgrave and Lopham CESs, only 43.4% and 40% were juveniles. This would indicate a poor breeding season. There was an increase in the number of birds on passage, with ringing returns at Landguard being almost double that of any previous year (90 in 1987 compared with a previous best of 51 in 1984). ICTERINE WARBLER Hippolais icterina An average year with five birds noted on autumn passage as follows: Lowestoft: The Oval, Aug. 26th (RCS). Uxstowe: Landguard, three juveniles, including two trapped, Aug. 29th with one remaining to Sept. 1st (HRB, MM, SP et al); another juvenile trapped Sept. 18th (DPB, SP et al). HARTFORD WARBLER Sylvia undata F lixstowe: Felixstowe Ferry, juvenile male, frequenting golf links and the salterns adjacent to River Deben, Nov. 29th and 30th (DM, CPSR et al). Despite the numerous rarities of 1987 this was the most amazing warbler record of the year. This unfortunate individual could well have been a victim of October's ferocious hurricane, being displaced from its normal breeding quarters. Due to persistent gaping its survival was thought unlikely, and early the next day was seen only briefly despite extensive searching. This is Suffolk's first record since its demise as a breeding species in the County, noted at Walberswick "around the year 1939" (Payn 1962). SUB ALPINE WARBLER Sylvia cantillans Suffolk's second record occurred at Landguard only eight months after the first had been recorded at the same site. In contrast to last year's bird this individual showed characters of the nominate, Mediterranean race S. c. cantillans. Felixstowe: Landguard, male June 8th to 10th, trapped 8th (DPB et al). BARRED WARBLER Sylvia nisoria An average year with two records both at Landguard. The spring bird represents Suffolk's second record for that season, the first being a male in song at Minsmere, May 22nd, '960 (Payn 1962). Like the 1960 bird this individual also gave an occasional burst of song (DRM). Felixstowe: Landguard, first summer trapped May 30th to June 1st (DPB, JHG, MM); juvenile trapped Sept. 29th (DPB, SP). LESSER W H I T E T H R O A T Sylvia curruca Judging from the records received there was an apparent increase in breeding numbers. A total of 11 pairs bred at Minsmere. There was a light autumn passage with the last at Felixstowe, Oct. 17th. One showing 'he characteristics of the eastern race S. c. blythi was trapped at Landguard, Oct. 12th MM) (See page 111 for further details). 85


WHITETHROAT Sylvia communis With our country lanes, hedgerows and commons once again bursting with the scratchy tones of this species, there was no doubt about the welcome increase in the breeding population. There were 24 pairs at Minsmere and 13 between Boxford and Kersey The first of the spring was at Landguard, Apr. 17th, where there was a major fall, by recent standards, involving 75 birds, Apr. 26th. There were no notable peaks in the autumn passage and the last was at Benacre, Oct. 11th. GARDEN WARBLER Sylvia borin The first of the year was noted at Landguard, Apr. 19th and thereafter, observers' records indicated a good breeding season with a steady increase on last year's population. There were 39 breeding pairs at Minsmere, ten at Lackford and six in the Glemsford/Long Melford area compared with four in 1986. There was a light autumn passage with late birds being recorded at Landguard, Oct. 22nd and Benacre, Oct. 31st. Finally, two were trapped at Landguard, on consecutive days, Nov 8th and 9th, the latter equalling the County's latest record. BLACKCAP Sylvia atricapilla Despite the atrocious weather conditions at the start of the year there were records from nine sites during January and February, including two, taking Honeysuckle berries, at Holbrook, Jan. 19th. This is further evidence in the continuing trend for increased wintering records. The first bird considered to be a spring migrant, was recorded at Landguard, Mar. 30th, but most birds did not reach their breeding territories until the last two weeks of April. A reasonably good breeding season was reported with 32 pairs at Minsmere, 15 pairs at Lackford and 21 pairs in the Glemsford/Long Melford area in comparison with 27 in 1986. Autumn passage was unspectacular, but there were several November records and during December the species was recorded from five sites. At Haverhill a male was seen taking both Honeysuckle berries, and small Grapes left on a vine. PALLAS'S WARBLER Phylloscopus proregulus There were four records, three of these at Landguard, of this rare, but more frequently occurring, Siberian warbler. Lowestoft: Belle Vue Park, Nov. 11th to 12th (BJB, PG, LFK). Felixstowe: Languard, Oct. 19th to 21st, trapped 19th, (MM et al); another by New Custom House. Oct. 30th to 31st (GJJ, CL, SP); another Nov. 3rd to 5th, trapped 3rd (LBO). YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER Phylloscopus inomatus Four acceptable autumn records maintained the recent upsurge in occurrences. Lowestoft: Belle Vue Park, Sept. 27th to 29th (RF, PJR). Benacre: Around pits, Oct. 11th (IRW). Felixstowe: Landguard, Oct. 2nd to 6th, trapped 2nd, with two, Oct. 4th (LBO, SL et al). 1980 NIL

1981 1

1982 NIL

1983 NIL

1984 3

1985 9

1986 7

1987 4

The 1981 record was only the fifth for the County and ended an absence of years. Since 1985, 12 of the individuals have occurred at Landguard.

fourteen

DUSKY WARBLER Phylloscopus fuscatus The first and long overdue record for Suffolk. This Siberian warbler is an annual vagrant to the British Isles and late October is a typical arrival period. By virtue of its skulking nature the bird was difficult to observe, having been first found in a mist-net within th LBO compound but was eventually well-watched in the grounds of the new Custom House Felixstowe: Landguard, Oct. 27th to Nov. 1st (CB, DPB, CPSR et al). 86


WOOD WARBLER Pkylloscopus sibilatrix There were 18 spring records which is a substantial increase on recent years (only four singing males, 1986). The first was at Leathes Ham, Lowestoft, Apr. 26th followed by three in song at Haverhill, Apr. 28th. There was a notable influx between May 2nd and 12th; and thereafter, a trickle to the end of the month. During high-summer singing males were recorded at Minsmere (five), Elveden (two), Brandon Country Park and Santon Downham, but breeding was not proven. The bulk of the autumn records came from Landguard. The first, on the early date of July 25th, was followed by two others towards the end of the month, and a further five in August. Elsewhere, birds were noted at Old Felixstowe, Aug. 7th and Lowestoft, Aug. 26th. CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita individuals attempting to overwinter were noted at Ipswich and Lackford, in January, but both records were prior to the harsh weather conditions. From then on there was a dearth of records until Mar. 27th, when the first summer migrant was recorded at Minsmere. The bulk of the arrivals became evident during the first two weeks of April. On May 27th one came aboard a fishing boat about ten miles off Felixstowe Ferry. It is difficult to monitor fluctuations in breeding numbers due to a lack of records. Some population studies were undertaken however, yielding the following results:â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 47 pairs present at Minsmere, four at Lackford and three at Coddenham. In the autumn a bird showing characteristics of the eastern race P. c. tristis was noted at Landguard, Oct. 27th. A number of 'migrants' were noted at coastal sites to Nov. 13th but there were none thereafter. WILLOW WARBLER Phylloscopus trochilus The first birds of the year were at Havergate and Minsmere, Mar. 29th with the main arrivals reaching us during the period Apr. 6th to 15th. There were no large spring falls, the highest day-total at Landguard being 30, May 10th. Population studies revealed 164 pairs at Minsmere, 10 at Lackford and nine at Valley Farm, Coddenham. There was a heavy autumn passage with Landguard recording its best August ever with 416 birds ringed. TTie species was particularly abundant during the period Aug. 16th to 23rd and, at Landguard on the latter date, there was an estimated 500 birds on site. There Was a trickle of records in early October and the last of the year was at Haverhill, Nov. 12th. GOLDCREST Regulus regulus Following the arctic weather conditions of January and February no further decreases in population levels were noted. In some areas there were possible increases but the species is still below its former abundance. There was a light autumn passage and no notable falls. Four were observed in the Haverhill town Christmas tree, Dec. 9th. FIRECREST Regulus ignicapillus Overwintering birds were noted at Minsmere (two) and Holbrook during January and February. Spring migration commenced with three at Landguard, Mar. 21st and lasted to early Une - Records came from the whole of the coastal strip and represent Suffolk's best spring Passage in recent history. Over 100 birds were noted and the highest counts were 20 between Gaston Bavents and Kessingland, six at Lowestoft and five at both Southwold and Landguard. Inland, records came from Thetford Heath, Eriswell, Haverhill and Great Thurlow.

87


Present at five sites during the summer; one pair bred successfully and another was known to have been predated. There was a light autumn passage involving some 40 birds. Singles were noted at several sites along the coastal strip and up to four were at Landguard, Oct. 1st to 4th. The species was present at the latter site for ten days during November until 17th. J 3

F 2

M 24

A 70

M 10

J 2

J A NIL

NIL

S

O

5

29

N 6

D NIL

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER Muscicapa striata The first of the year was at Ixworth, May 1st and then a light passage took place until late June. There appears to have been some recovery in the breeding population since the crash in 1984 with many reports widely distributed throughout the County. There were 16 pairs in the Glemsford to Long Melford area (an increase of three on 1986) of which twelve were around Kentwell Hall. There were few during autumn passage and the last was at Landguard, Oct. 4th. RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER Ficedula parva It is surprising just how infrequently this scarce migrant is recorded in Suffolk, compared to the regularity of records from neighbouring Norfolk and the south and west coasts There was just the single record which is the average for the County. Benacre: Oct. 3rd (MDC, DRM, CSW). PIED FLYCATCHER Ficedula hypoleuca Following the lean year of 1986 there was a substantial improvement in the number of records. During spring passage 14 were noted, in the period Apr. 20th to May 19th. between Lound and Landguard and inland at Wolves Wood, Kedington, Haverhill (three) and Bramford. Autumn passage was also good, peaking typically in late August, but with more than the usual number of records in September. Nearly 100 birds were noted and there were minor falls, Aug. 26th, when 16 were at Lowestoft and Sept. 2nd when ten visited Landguard. There was a trickle of records through to early October and the last of the year was at Benacre, 11th. A 5

M 9

J NIL

J NIL

a

s

O

53

33

3

BEARDED TIT Panurus biarmicus A succession of 'Arctic' winters has had a devastating effect on this species. At Walberswick the breeding population was estimated to be 16 pairs compared with 100 to 120 pairs present in the late 70s (CSW). The only other comment relating specifically to breeding success was that the species bred well in the reedbeds at Benacre, Covehithe and Easton Broads. Maximum counts at the principal sites were 50, Walberswick, 17th; 55, Minsmere, July 5th and 35 Benacre, Oct. 11th. Eruptive behaviour was r e c o r d e d at Minsmere, Oct. 25th. During the winter months, birds were noted at 12 coastal sites away from the breeding areas. The largest gathering was of 20 Flatford, Jan. 1st. There were no reports fr° nl West Suffolk this year. LONG-TAILED TIT Aegithalos caudatus Widely reported. The largest flocks were of 33 Minsmere, Aug. 29th; 30 L e v i n g t o n Jan. 10th and 28 Sutton Heath, Nov. 2nd. A total of 15 pairs bred at Minsmere. Landguard's sole record of the year was a par1) of nine, Oct. 28th. 88


MARSH TIT Parus palustris A welcome increase in the number of sightings with reports from 45 locations (32 in 1986). The largest concentration of breeding birds was at Minsmere with 17 pairs. Breeding in nestboxes was recorded at Bramford and Henham.' One trapped and ringed at Landguard, June 20th, was the first record for the site. WILLOW TIT Parus montanus The regional distribution of the 20 sites (16 in 1986) from where the species was reported is:— West Suffolk — 12; Central Suffolk — three and the coastal region — five. Breeding was recorded at Minsmere (two pairs); Lackford G. P. (two pairs); Glemsford area (two pairs); Haverhill (pair successfully reared five juvs.) and Livermere. COAL TIT Parus ater

Typically dated coastal migrants were at Landguard in October on 7th and 24th (two); typical reports from this site, June 29th and July 22nd and 23rd probably refer to Post-breeding dispersal. ss

BLUE TIT Parus caeruleus Winter flocks included 75 Minsmere, Jan. 14th and 40 roosting in an area of thick weeds 91 Levington, Nov. 28th. Ine only indicator of breeding success was from the Bourne Park CES which showed '< juveniles from a sample of 75 birds. Autumn passage at Landguard peaked at 50, Sept. 24th. G

REAT TIT Parus major lx flew in from sea, high up, at Landguard, Jan. 23rd; the maximum autumn total Ws site was 20, Oct. 22nd. 89


N U T H A T C H Sitta europaea Any commente relating to the effects of the October gale upon population levels ire welome. Reported this year from 55 sites (50 in 1986). Breeding reports included four pairs at Minsmere and four within the grounds of Kentwell Hall, Long Melford. A pair bred successfully in a nest box at Melton.

TREECREEPER Certhia familiaris It appears that this species survived January's severe weather reasonably well, with reports from 45 sites (40 in 1986). A total of 18 pairs was located at Minsmere. Two accompanied a Long-tailed Tit flock at Dalham, Mar. 9th and two asssociated with a mixed tit flock at West Stow in January. One trapped and ringed at Landguard, July 3Ist and Aug. Ist, is the first record for the site.

G O L D E N ORIOLE Oriolus oriolus Despite extensive habitat clearance, up to six singing maies were recorded at the main breeding site, but only two pairs were proved to have bred successfully each rearing a single juvenile. Successful breeding also took place at an additional site where a pair reared three juveniles. At least two singing maies were recorded at Minsmere during the period May 8th to June 22nd, but there was no evidence of breeding. Early arrivais were a male at Badley, Apr. 19th and two at the main breeding site, Apr. 20th (see Swift and Alpine Swift). Passage birds were also noted at Walberswick, May 9th and Mildenhall, June 13th. RED-BACKED SHRIKE Lanius colludo Norfolk's breeding birds at St Helen's Well attracted much media attention as being. so we were told, "the last breeding pair in England". As if to prove the old adage that you should never believe all that you read in newspapers, at least one pair did attempt to breed in Suffolk, albeit without known success. The St Helen's Well male was seen on several occasions on the Suffolk side of the Little Ouse. Site A: Two maies one female; five eggs laid but predated. Four were recorded on the coast during a rather late spring passage but autumn passage was very poor with only two records:â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Minsmere: Male, May 23rd; immature, Aug. 30th to Sept. 3rd. Benacre: Male, June 8th. Walberswick: Male, June 14th. Havergate: Male, June 19th and 20th. Pakefield: Immature, Sept. Ist.

G R E A T GREY SHRIKE Lanius excubitor There are no obvious reasons for the sharp decline in the visitations of this the 1980s. The only records this year were:â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Thorington Street: Jan Ist. Brandon: Mayday Farm, during March and then two Apr. 5th and 6th. Benacre: Oct. 1 Ith; Nov.l8th. Trimley St Mary: Nov. 23rd to 30th. The last bird attracted much attention during its week long stay. 90

species m


JAY Garrulus glandarius Very few were reported this year. The largest recorded gathering was of only nine at West Stow Country Park, Jan. 26th. One at The Grove., Felixstowe is the first site record for two years. There was no evidence of coastal immigration or passage. MAGPIE Pica pica Further increases were recorded at Shotley, East Bergholt, Foxhall and generally in the north-east region.

Notable gatherings were of 32 Long Melford, Feb. 6th; 24 Walberswick, Jan. 17th; 15 Minsmere, Sept. 22nd and 15 Purdis, Dec. 13th. A completely melanistic individual was reported from Belstead, Sept. 30th. Two were watched attacking a Weasel at Stansfield, Feb. 22nd. JACKDAW Corvus monedula Regularly recorded on Minsmere Scrape in March, peaking at 50 on 20th. A total of 70 was counted in the grounds of Kentwell Hall, Long Melford, Nov. 27th in an area where the species is generally considered to be increasing. Small groups were watched arriving from over the sea at Benacre, Oct. 27th. ROOK Corvus frugilegus A report from Gazeley was of the species being very scarce following the Oct. 16th storm. Indications of the effects of habitat destruction on this species' breeding success ÂŽ 1988 are welcomed. The largest feeding flock was of 1500 at Milden, Jan. 1st. Emigration was noted at Covehithe, Feb. 28th when 20 flew high north-eastwards out to sea. At the same site immigration was observed, Oct. 27th. A leucistic individual was recorded at Kentford, Feb. 10th. 91


CARRION CROW Corvus corone corone The highest pre-roost gatherings were at Wherstead Strand during October with 200, 13th and 400, 16th. December totals of up to 31 at Haverhill and 120 Sizewell Levels, 9th are above average. Two rather macabre incidents were reported. At-Bures, Apr. 27th, one alighted onto the back of a Grey Heron and proceeded to attack the base of its neck; the startled heron took to the air with the crow still attached and having risen some 50 feet performed a half-roll ousting its attacker. The heron flew off with the crow in pursuit. At Livermere, Mar. 14th a pair was observed to attack a Rat; one flew into the air carrying the Rat by its tail and then dropped the unfortunate rodent — the final outcome of this bizarre incident went unrecorded. It was a slightly better year for the Hooded Crow C. c. cornix compared with the poor showing of recent years. First winter reports, up to late March, were from Benacre, Jan. 4th; Minsmere, Feb. 19th; Bawdsey, Feb 26th and Easton Bavents/Covehithe area during March. A well marked spring passage was recorded in April with birds at Southwold, 12th; Eriswell, 14th; Havergate, 15th; Benacre, 18th and Lound, 21st. One on the south side of Breydon Water, June 8th is the County's first mid-summer record since 1980 (see also Rough-legged Buzzard and Shore Lark). During the late autumn, one was at Shingle Street, Oct. 29th and two nearby at Hollesley next day. Single birds were subsequently noted on Sutton Heath, Nov. 16th and Dec. 13th. Elsewhere, reported from Pakefield, Nov. 13th and Southwold, Nov. 29th when one came in from over the sea. STARLING Sturnus vulgaris Estimated totals of birds using the coastal reedbeds as roosting sites were 50,000, Jan. 9th and 30,000, Oct. 2nd at Minsmere and well in excess of 125,000 at Easton Broad, Nov. 29th. The intended destination of birds involved in northerly roost movements over the Haverhill area during the winter months is not known. Spring passage was recorded at Landguard in late March with a maximum of 200, 23rd. Coastal immigration occurred between late September and late November; "very large numbers" were involved at Benacre, Oct. 27th. An almost complete albino was noted at Linstead during March and another with a white head and neck at Oulton Broad, Mar. 30th to Apr. 5th. HOUSE SPARROW Passer domesticus Autumn migration was witnessed at Landguard with groups of 50-60 passing through at the end of September and on several dates in October. During this period 220 birds were trapped and ringed but, despite this high number, only seven were retrapped leaving us to ponder on the destination of these supposedly sedentary birds. A leucistic individual was noted at Levington, Sept. 1st to 21st. TREE SPARROW Passer montanus A flock feeding on Fat Hen at Long Melford increased from 60, Jan. 9th to 200, Feb6th and Mar. 13th and then declined to 80, Apr. 8th. A total of 60 came in to roost at Botany Bay, Lakenheath, Jan. 25th. The series of harsh winters has had a marked effect on the population of this specie®There was a mere 25 breeding pairs reported and no fewer than 14 were in the Ha vertu' area. Pairs bred in nest boxes at Great Waldingfield (five) and Earl Stonham. Autumn passage totals at Landguard were the highest for at least three years and peakeú at 267, Oct. 22nd 92


CHAFFINCH Fringilla coelebs Pre-emigration gatherings are a regular spring feature, particularly in the coastal region, and this year they included 400, Dunwich Mar. 28th and 140, Hinton, Apr. 18th. Spring passage at Landguard peaked on Mar. 25th when 105 flew south. No less than 145 breeding pairs were located at Minsmere and 32 pairs at Valley Farm, Coddenham. Direct immigration was most noticeable on Oct. 18th at Covehithe ("small flocks") and Landguard (304). A total of 200 passed over the latter site, Oct. 26th. Notable winter flocks were 163, Clopton, Dec. 12th; 100, Sutton Heath, Nov. 11th and 93, Leiston, Nov. 8th. A partial albino was at Brandon from Mar. 21st and then throughout the summer and a leucistic bird spent most of the year in a Lackford garden.

BRAMBLING Fringilla montifringilla Widespread during the period January to March with reports from at least 32 sites. The largest flocks were 75, Cavenham, Jan. 30th; 40, Clapgate Lane, Ipswich, Jan. 10th and 35, Lowestoft, Feb. 17th. The most frequently reported gathering occurred at Ipswich Docks, peaking at 35, Jan. 17th. Spring passage birds between late March and late April were noted at 15 localities and included the largest flock of the year â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 200 Eriswell, Apr. 9th. Two at Landguard, Sept. 29th were the first of the autumn; passage totals were very low, with only 40 recorded at Landguard up to Nov. 17th. At Benacre 12 were seen to arrive from sea, Oct. 20th and 12 were at Minsmere, Nov. 3rd. The species was noted at only 12 sites during November and December with a maximum total of 27, Gunton, Nov. 30th.

SERIN Serinus serinus For the first time in Suffolk, a potential breeding pair was found; a singing male accompanied by a female frequented an area of suitable nesting habitat in mid-summer. Another, at Landguard during autumn passage, was seen in the company of other finches and represents the second record for the site. Sk A: Male and female, June 14th and 20th. Landguard: Male, Aug. 24th (JRA, DPB, MM). These three birds take the total for the County to 11.

GREENFINCH Carduelis chloris Generally scarce during first winter period although up to 260 had gathered at Lackford Pits in March. Spring migrants were in evidence from late March onwards into April; 58 flew south at Minsmere, Mar. 26th and at Landguard the movement peaked on Apr. 10th when 120 *ere on the reserve and 135 flew south. The magnitude of spring migration can be demonstrated by the number of birds ringed at Landguard. In April, 1986, 1,067 birds We re ringed compared with 705 in the same month this year, whereas the respective annual etches were remarkably stable at 2,249 and 2,251. Despite these statistics the species ls far more abundant on autumn passage, when numbers are swelled by juveniles. They 93


show however, that spring birds are more likely to linger, and search for food, hence the large catches. Interchange between the island of Guernsey and Landguard has now been proved on four occasions. Two birds bearing Guernsey rings were trapped at Landguard during a three day period in April and both birds had been ringed within the space of five days in February. Another ringed at Landguard in March, 1986 was located on Guernsey, Jan. 4th and 25th. Time will tell whether this is a regular wintering haunt or whether the species was forced to retreat south-westwards at the onset of hard weather (see also Ringing Report). Coastal autumn passage was only reported at Landguard where the maximum day total was 500, Oct. 12th. Flocks elsewhere in the mid-autumn period were 130, Eastbridge, Oct. 3rd and 300 Trimley Lake, Nov. 8th.

GOLDFINCH Carduelis carduelis Apart from 30, Stradishall, Feb. 22nd, very few were reported during the first winter period. Most breeding birds arrived during late April and May but insufficient information was received to comment on population levels. Autumn migrants were recorded at Landguard between Sept. 18th and Nov. 29th; as has come to be expected at this site, movements peaked in October with 500 passing through, 10th and 200 on each of 6th, 12th, 19th and 22nd. Early-autumn "charms" in September included 75, Minsmere, 18th; 100 on saltings, Hemley, 23rd and 100, Cavenham Heath, 24th. Wintering groups in December were of 30, Levington, 3rd and 40, Bourne Park, Ipswich. 31st.

SISKIN Carduelis spinus Not as abundant during January to April as in the equivalent period during 1986. However, flocks of 50-75 were noted at West Stow, Great Glemham, Southwold, Minsmere. Redgrave, Tuddenham (west) and Cavenham; a mixed flock with Redpolls totalled 100 in Christchurch Park, Ipswich, Feb. 2nd. Birds were attracted to peanuts in gardens at Southwold, Ipswich, Haverhill, Martlesham and Gunton. A pair bred successfully in the coastal region, while a report from the Thetford area was of " m a n y " juveniles in the summer months. Another observer remarked that the breeding population in the Breckland Forestry Commission woodland had decreased during the last two years. Unusual summer reports came from Landguard, June 17th (six), July 3rd and July l 4ttl (juvenile). Two early autumn arrivals were at Minsmere, Aug. 30th. Only 17 were r e c o r d e d on autumn passage at Landguard during Sept. 11th to Nov. 27th (140 in 1986); this was reflected elsewhere during the second winter period with reports from only 13 sites. The largest gatherings were of up to 60 at Eastbridge, Nov. 18th and Melton, Dec. 26th-

LINNET Carduelis cannabina The only reported movement in response to the onset of severe weather in January of 105 flying south at Landguard during Jan. 12th to 14th. Flocks encountered in the first winter period included 120, Lackford, Feb. 26th; 10"Felixstowe Ferry during January and 100 roosting at Landguard in early March. Coastal spring passage occurred between late March and late April. The largest floc was of 200 Walberswick Mar. 29th while at Landguard peak movements took place in April on 10th (95) and 21st (96). 94


Maximum autumn southerly movements at Landguard occurred in September when the month's total exceeded 800. The'best days were; 14th (200), 25th (200) and 26th (150). In October there were 120, Minsmere, 11th, 200 flew south Aldeburgh, 11th and 400, Levington, 14th. Very few were reported during the second winter period. TWITE Carduelis flavirostris The saltings on the north bank of the River Orwell at Levington retained their status as the principal wintering site in the County for this species but impressive totals were also recorded elsewhere during the first winter period. Southwold: 200, Jan. 25th. I>un wich/Walberswick : 80, February; 30, Mar. 29th. Aldeburgh: Slaughden, 50, January. Levington, 200, Jan. 1st; 300, Feb. 8th; 100, Mar. 29th. An early autumn bird was at Landguard, Sept. 1st; only 22 passage migrants were reported from this site up to Oct. 24th (50 in 1986). Feeding flocks during November and December were located at only eight coastal or estuarine sites with maxima as follows: Dunwich/Walberswick: 60, Dec. 25th. Felixstowe: Felixstowe Ferry, 100, Nov. 8th decreasing to 60, Nov. 30th. Orwell: Levington/Fagbury, 100, Nov. 29th; 235, Dec. 25th. REDPOLL Carduelis flammea First winter period gatherings included 150, Newbourne, January and February; 100, Minsmere, Jan. 2nd; 60 Long Melford, Feb. 2nd (feeding on Evening Primrose seed) and 50, Holbrook, Mar. 22nd. At least 20 migrants passed through Landguard between Apr. 4th and 30th. During the same period, an impressive flock of250 occurred at Minsmere, 13th and 70 at Long Melford the same day. There was evidence of an increase in the breeding population compared with 1986. Extensive survey work at Haverhill revealed at least 18 pairs (six in 1986) and in Ipswich Aere were reports from up to ten sites throughout the town during the breeding season. Overall, breeding reports came from about 30 localities, mostly in the east and south-west regions of the County. Only 30 were recorded on autumn passage at Landguard between Sept. 11th and Nov. w Second winter period totals were generally low; maxima were 45 Lackford during December and 38 Haverhill during November. ^ C T i c REDPOLL Carduelis hornemanni This belated record constitutes the fifth record (eleventh bird) for the County and although racially assigned it is likely to be of the race C. h. exilipes. ^ Benacre: Feb. 18th (PMB, DRP). Note: A review of the taxonomy of this complicated group is published in SOG Bulletin

^OSSBILL Loxia curvirostra , , e r e was no evidence to indicate that a widespread mid-summer immigration occurred though there was a flock of 60 at Brandon, June 12th and two, June 3rd and five, July lb th at Minsmere. w e r e note tf,e d in the coastal region but there was an encouraging report from e Breckland coniferous forests of "good numbers present throughout the year". 95


PARROT CROSSBILL Loxia pytyopsittacus 1986 Tunstall/Rendlesham: Two including a male Feb. 16th (MDC). There were no records for 1987 but this record extends last year's date span in which up to three birds were intermittently seen to Feb. 16th to Mar. 17th.

BULLFINCH Pyrrhula pyrrhula The largest gatherings were of 21, Minsmere, Nov. 6th and 19, Gazeley, Dec. 15th. A total of 16 pairs was located in the Glemsford/Long Melford area (ten in 1986).

HAWFINCH Coccothraustes coccothraustes As in 1986, reported from about 25 sites of which 13 were in the coastal région, six in the Breck and five in the Stour Valley. "Several" pairs bred at a Breckland site where 18 were present, July 21st. A flock of 15 was noted near Ipswich, Jan. 28th and at a site within Ipswich one was watched eating bullace stones, May 8th.

LAPLAND BUNTING Calcaríus lapponicus A record year during which many observers had the opportunity to see and hear this northern species, particularly during the second winter period. First winter period reports were: Carlton Colville: Jan. 29th. Sudbourne: Four, Jan. 2nd increasing to 24, Jan. 18th. Hollesley: Shingle Street, five, Jan. 16th. Deben: Felixstowe Ferry/Falkenham, up to eight in January of which three were trapped and ringed Felixstowe: Landguard, Jan. 26th. Levington: Two Mar. 7th. The first autumn birds were four on Havergate Island, Sept. 15th after which came an avalanche of sightings as follows: Covehithe: Oct. 31st and Nov. 28th. Easton Broad: 12, Oct. 24th and four, Nov. 8th. Southwold: Up to eight in December. Minsmere: Five, Oct. 7th; Nov. 5th; Dec. 5th and Dec. 19th. Sudbourne/Iken: Four, Oct. 25th; 15, Nov. 17th increasing to 20, Nov. 29th; several reports in December of at least 30 and perhaps as many as 50 (being in the company of a largefinchfloe they were notoriously difficult to count, but in any event, they constitute a new Countyrecordtotal Orford: Havergate, Sept. 15th and Oct. 25th. Deben: Ramsholt, four, Nov. 22nd; Felixstowe Ferry, Oct. 25th; two, Dec. 1st and Dec. 20th Felixstowe: Landguard, singles Sept. 20th, 26th, 27th and 29th, Oct. 11th, 24th, 30th and 31st ana Nov. 2nd and 21st. These reports formed part of a widespread influx onto the British east coast in late

autumn

SNOW BUNTING Plectrophenax nivalis Highlights of the first winter period were flocks of up to 36, Lowestoft, January to ear) March; 75 Kessingland/Benacre, Jan. 31st and 70, River Aide estuary, Feb. 18th. Overal^there were reports from 14 coastal sites and also of up to two in the Trimley/Leving10 area of the River Orwell. The final spring report was of two males in almost füll sumfl1 plumage on Dunwich beach, Apr. lOth. 96


One at Benacre, Sept. 26th and two at Minsmere the next day were the first autumn arrivals. As with the previous species, an excellent late autumn with reports from 18 coastal sites. Maxima at the principal localities were:â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Lowestoft: 20, Dec. 31st. Benacre: 70, Dec. 31st. Covehithe: 60, Nov. 28th increasing to 70, Dec. 5th. Easton Bavents: Up to 60 in late November. Minsmere: 26, Nov. 14th. Aideburgh: Slaughden, 100, Dec. 29th. Ikeii: 75, Dec. 30th. Sudbourne: 100, Nov. 29th decreasing to 40, Dec. 20th. Shingle Street/Bawdsey: 27, Dec. 4th. Felixstowe: Ferry, 27, Dec. 4th. Landguard: 16, Nov. 21st. YELLOWHAMMER Emberiza citrinella Breeding reports included 56 pairs at Minsmere and 20 at Valley Farm, Coddenham. Winter gatherings were of 100 at a Kentford roost, Jan. 18th; 80, Barsham Marshes, Jan. 12th; 50 Great Bealings, Nov. 1st and 50, Southwold, Dec. 29th. ORTOLAN BUNTING Emberiza hortulana This species occurred in the County for the fifth successive year. Lowestoft: Gunton, two males Apr. 30th to May 9th (BJB, NCB et al). Felixstowe: Landguard, female trapped and ringed May 6th remaining to May 17th (DPB, MM et al). LITTLE BUNTING Emberiza pusilla

por the second successive year this species occurred at Landguard during October which >ngs the County total up to eight records totalling eleven birds. Felixstowe: Landguard, trapped and ringed, Oct. 19th (DPB, JHG et al).

br

97


REED BUNTING Emberiza schoeniclus During January's severe weather, birds were recorded in gardens at Felixstowe, Ipswich, Haverhill and Boxford. Counts of breeding pairs included 18, Haverhill; 13, Long Melford and 10, Lackford. Up to 35 occurred at Landguard on autumn passage peaking on Sept. 27th when i3 flew south. CORN BUNTING Miliaria calandra A remarkable upsurge in observations, during the breeding season, with reports from up to 30 sites. Over the last few years, the south-east region has held the vast majority of singing males but this year the situation was quite different. Small clusters of breeding sites were recorded in the Haverhill area, between Sudbury and Nayland in the Stour valley and in the north-east within the Gisleham/Mutford/Carlton Colville area. In the northwest, singing males were located at Freckenham, Ingham, Tuddenham St. Mary and Livermere. Disused airfields at Knettishall and Great Waldingfield attracted notable concentrations of singing males this year with 12 and five respectively.

98


Much effort was also put into counting winter gatherings, particularly at roosts, which yielded the following results:â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Carlton Colville: 28 at roost, December. Sudboume: 40 at roost, January and 30, November/December. Hemley: 15, Feb. 1st. Holbrook Bay: 25, Feb. 14th. Aenham: 40, Jan. 14th. Great Cornard: 60 near Mere, Feb. 1st. Livermere: 12, Dec. 12th. Inkenheath: 50, Jan. 18th. Recorded irregularly at Landguard in January, February, April and October. APPENDIX I -

CATEGORY D SPECIES

Wood Duck Aix sponsa Males were reported from Ipswich Docks, Mar. 29th; Bungay, Oct. 24th and the River Gipping in south-west Ipswich, Oct. 28th to Nov. 10th.

APPENDIX II Flamingo sp. Phoenicopterus Orfordness: Dec. 20th.

ESCAPEES

sp.

Puna Silver Teal Anas versicolor puna Ixworth: Nov. 12th to 20th. Chiloe Wigeon Anas sibilatrix Lackford: Throughout year. Ixworth: Three, Nov. 12th to 20th. Cocatiel Nymphicus hollandicus Lowestoft: Aug. 21st. Southwold: Oct. 18th. Ipswich: Jan. 28th. Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild The first County record of this African species now naturalised in Portugal and commonly seen in the Extremadura region of Spain. Haverhill: Mar, 5th. Lovebird sp. Agapornis sp. Minsmere: Mar. 30th. Sunbird sp. Nectarinia osea/asiatica Opinions differed over the identification of this hyper-active escapee which was thought <o be either an Orange-tufted Sunbird N. osea or a Purple Sunbird N. asiatica; both species originate from the Middle East. The two records probably relate to the same bird. Havergate: May 31st. Landguard: May 26th and 27th. In addition there were several reports of Black Swan Cygnus atratus, Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus, Chinese Goose Anser cygnoides, Upland Goose Chloephaga picta, Emperor Goose Anser canagicus and Peafowl Pavo sp. 99


APPENDIX III â&#x20AC;&#x201D; SCHEDULE OF NON-ACCEPTED RECORDS The following list consists of records that were not accepted by the BBRC (national rarities) or the SORC (County rarities). It must be emphasised that in the vast majority of cases the record was not accepted because the Committee members were not convinced, on the evidence before them, that the identification was fully established; in only a very few cases were the Committees satisfied that a mistake had been made. 1987 Records: Black-throated Diver, Ipswich, Jan. 21st and 22nd; Covehithe, Sept. 13th, 19th (three), 26th (three), 27th (two), Oct. 3rd, 20th, 25th, 29th (three), 30th, Nov. 21st (seven); Minsmere, Dec. 17th; Felixstowe, Oct. 16th. Great Northern Diver, Covehithe, May 24th. Red-necked Grebe, Southwold, Jan. 25th (four); Covehithe, Oct. 24th (three); Minsmere, Dec. 20th. Slavonian Grebe, Woolverstone. Jan. 25th; Walberswick, Jan. 18th; Bawdsey, Oct. 29th (six); Ipswich, Dec. 18th; Alton Water, Nov. 7th; Southwold, Dec. 26th. Black-necked Grebe, Waldringfield, Jan. 18th. Cory's Shearwater. Covehithe, Sept. 12th (two); Felixstowe, Oct. 16th. Sooty Shearwater, Lowestoft, Sept. 18th; Covehithe, Sept. 12th (seven), 27th, 29th; Sizewell, Aug. 31st (two); Aldeburgh, Oct. 2nd; Felixstowe. Oct. 2nd; Felixstowe, Oct. 11th (two). Manx Shearwater, Covehithe, Nov. 21st. Leach's Petrel. Felixstowe, Oct. 16th (two). Black Stork, Litde Cornard, Oct. 24th. Whooper Swan, Gunton, Mar 19th (nine); Southwold, Mar. 17th (34); Henham, Feb. 28th (60); Carlton Colville, Dec. 29th (24). Garganey, Glemsford, Aug. 4th (six). Ruddy Duck, Levington, Jan. 24th. Honey Buzzard, Timworth, Aug. 22nd. Black Kite, Holbrook, Mar. 28th; Aldeburgh, Apr. 19th. Goshawk, Ipswich, Sept. 19th. Buzzard, Haverhill, June 28th. Rough-legged Buzzard, Falkenham, Feb. 25th; Minsmere, June 3rd. Osprey, Falkenham, Apr. 20th. Red-footed Falcon, Halesworth, Aug. 28th. Hobby, Minsmere. Mar. 28th; Haverhill, May 18th. Peregrine, Levington, Feb. 8th. Quail, Ixworth, May 24th; Glemsford, June 26th. Kentish Plover, Havergate, June 2nd and 3rd; July 29th. Pomarine Skua. Lowestoft, Oct. 2nd; Covehithe, Aug. 29th, 30th, 31st, Sept. 11th, 20th, 27th, 29th, Oct. 18th; Southwold, Aug. 26th (three); Minsmere, July 19th. Long-tailed Skua, Covehithe, Sept. 19th. Sabine's Gull, Landguard, Dec. 2nd; Lackford, Oct. 19th. Iceland Gull, Benacre, May 11th to 16th. Sandwich Tern, Minsmere, Nov. 14th. Whiskered Tern, Havergate, Sept. 20th. White-winged Black Tern. Landguard, Aug. 12th. Puffin, Covehithe, Sept. 27th (six). Cuckoo, Landguard, Oct. 20th. Pallid Swift, Ipswich, Sept. 14th. Hoopoe, Woolverstone, Dec. 31st. Tree Pipit, Haverhill, Mar 21st Rock Pipit, Sproughton, Aug. 23rd. Water Pipit, Felixstowe, Oct. 28th. Ashy-headed Wagtail Kessingland, May 1st. Waxwing, Haverhill, Jan. 17th. Icterine Warbler, Minsmere, July 30th. Sept. 2nd; Barham, Sept. 3rd; Ipswich, Sept. 19th. Melodious Warbler, Benacre, Aug. 22nd; Ipswich. Sept. 19th. Barred Warbler, Lowestoft, Aug. 18th. Wood Warbler, Minsmere, Sept. 16th. Redbreasted Flycatcher, Landguard, Oct. 30th. Twite, Haverhill, Mar. 5th, 6th, 13th (two). Scarlet Rosefinch, Sutton, Apr. 17th; Wherstead, Sept. 9th.

1986 Records: Peregrine, Walberswick, May 24th; Aldeburgh, Oct. 5th. Nutcracker, Eastbridge, May 4th. Ortolan Bunting, Aldeburgh, Oct. 5th. 1985 Records: Black Kite, Benacre, Aug. 18th. 1980 Records: Montagu's Harrier, Walberswick, Aug. 29th.

100


References: Allsopp, K. and Dawson, I. 1988. September reports. Brit. Birds 81:41-48. Cramp, S. and Simmons, K. E. L. (Eds) 1982. The birds of the western Palearctic. Vol 2. Oxford University Press. Dawson, I. and Allsopp, K. 1987. Monthly reports. Brit. Birds 80:507-513. Payn, W. H. 1962. The birds of Suffolk. London. Sharrock, J. T. R. 1976. The atlas of breeding birds in Britain and Ireland. Berkhamsted. Sharrock, J. T. R. 1988. (Eds). European News. Brit. Birds. 81:20 and 337. EARLIEST AND LATEST DATES O F SUMMER MIGRANTS SPECIES Garganey Hobby Stone Curlew Little Ringed Plover Whimbrel Wood Sandpiper Sandwich Tern Common Tern Arctic Tern Little Tern Black Tern Turtle Dove Cuckoo Nightjar Swift Wryneck Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit Yellow Wagtail Nightingale Redstart Whinchat Wheatear Ring Ouzel Grasshopper Warbler SÂŤlge Warbler Reed Warbler ^ s e r Whitethroat ^Wtethroat tarden Warbler "ood Warbler w illow Warbler jotted Flycatcher J 0 1 Flycatcher Red-backed Shrike Note

s:

Date Mar. 20th Apr. 30th Mar. 27th Mar. 27th Mar. 18th Apr. 25th Mar. 24th Apr. 5th Apr. 16th Apr. 18th Apr. 16th Apr. 4th Apr. 13th Apr. 29th Apr. 19th Apr. 14th Mar. 24th Mar. 28th Apr. 4th Apr. 7th Mar. 18th Apr. 12th Apr. 11th Apr. 11th Mar. 15th Apr. 5th Apr. 7th Apr. 7th Apr. 24th Apr. 15th Apr. 17th Apr. 19th Apr. 26th Mar. 29th May 1st, Apr. 20th May 23rd

Locality Minsmere Minsmere Breckland Breckland Orfordness Walberswick Landguard Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere; Landguard Alton Water Hinton Bedingfield Knettishall Thorpeness Grundisburgh Minsmere Henham Alton Water Walberswick Haverhill* Needham Market; Minsmere Minsmere Landguard Landguard Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Glemsford; Walberswick Haverhill Landguard Landguard Lowestoft Minsmere; Havergate Ixworth Aldeburgh Minsmere

Locality Minsmere Landguard Breckland Minsmere Felixstowe Minsmere Landguard Minsmere Covehithe Havergate Landguard Landguard Tunstall Breckland Beccles Lowestoft Landguard Felixstowe Felixstowe Landguard Covehithe Bawdsey Landguard Minsmere Landguard Walberswick Landguard Minsmere Landguard Felixstowe Benacre Landguard** Landguard Haverhill Landguard Benacre Minsmere

* See details of overwintering bird. County's earliest except for one, Feb. 2nd, 1942, which may have also overwintered. ** Equals latest for Suffolk.

101 I

Date Sept. 27th Oct. 27th Oct. 17th Sept. 25th Oct. 26th Oct. 25th Oct. 21st Oct. 27th Oct. 19th Sept. 14th Oct. 18th Oct. 19th Sept. 21st Sept. 7th Oct. 22nd Sept. 28th Oct. 28th Dec. 1st Nov. 25th Sept. 23rd Oct. 25th Sept. 1st Nov. 1st Oct. 24th Nov. 7th Nov. 21st Sept. 8th Oct. 11th Oct. 24th Oct. 17th Oct. 11th Nov. 9th Aug. 28th Nov. 12 th Oct. 14th Oct. 11th Sept. 3rd


List of Contributors S. Abbott, Mr Albin, R. I. Allison, J. Arnold, J. R. Askins, M. Austin. R. Bacharach (Rba), D. B. Baker, N. P. Baker, J. Balaam, D. Balmer, M. Bamber, T. B. Bamber. D. Barker, N. J. Bamham, W. A. Baston, J. Bedford, H. R. Beecroft, Mrs M. J. Beecroft, R. C Beecroft, P. M. Beeson, K. Bennett, R. Biddle, S. Bishop, N. C. Blacker, L. T. Bloomfield, N. J Bonham, C. G. R. Bowden, G. S. Bowen, W. J. Brame, British Trust for Ornithology, A. Britton. B. J. Brown, C. Brown, M. Buckingham, S. T. Buckton, A. L. Bull, S. J. Burnell, A. A. Butcher, H. M. Butcher, D. P. Butterfield, B. A. Buttle, C. A. Buttle. Mrs Cage, K. B. Carlisle, P. Carr, Mrs S. Carter, C. G. Cartwright, S. Caster, Catchpole, Cockram Peters Ringing Group, P. Catchpole (PCa), J. M. Cawston, M. Cavanagh (MCa), Miss Chase, P. Chillingworth, K. J. Chittleborough, R. E. Clarke, C. Cornish, D. Crawshall (DCra), M. D Crewe, Rev. N. Cribb, M. Crowley, D. Croxson, C. G. D. Curtis. S. Dean, A. Dixon, H. W. Dockerill, P. J. Dolton, Canon W. H. Donnan, A. R. Dowling, O. G. Douglas, J. W. Drake, G. R. Duval. A. C. Easton, D. Easton, J. C. Eaton, S. Edwards, G. L. Ellis, S. P. Evans. R. Fairhead, M. R. Farmer, D. Finch, P. R. Flint, M. Forbes, D. S. Forrester. R. W. H. Garner, Mrs H. K. Garner, Mrs J. D. Garrod, K. W. Garrod, J. Garstang, D. J. Gibbs. P. GUI, J. A. Glazebrook, R. Glazebrook, A. Goodey, P. R. Gowen, J. H. Grant, Miss L. Green, N. Green, A. M. Gregory, C. Gregory, G. Grieco. M. A. Hall, Miss F. L. Hamilton, P. J. Hamling, Dr. D. C. Harper, B. Harrington, B. Hart, R. Hoblyn, P. Horsenail, D. J. Holman, J. Howe. P. Jackson, C. Jakes, M. James, M. J. F. Jeanes, Dr G. Jenkins, G. J. Jobson, D. P. Johnson, E. Jones, D. Joy. J. Keep, M. C. Keer, Mrs L. F. Kellow, A. Kennedy, T. P. Kerridge, J. Kirk, C. A. E. Kirtland. D. B. Knightley, G. Knight, J. Knights. Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, D. Lambert, C. Lansdell, Landguard Bird Observatory, A. J. Last, W. A Last, S. Laverton, J. Lawley, B. Lawson, W. G. D. Legge, W. E. Lemmon, J. Levene (JLe). D. Liley, S. Ling, S. M. Lister, J. B. Longhurst, C. J. Lowe, J. A. Lowe, Lowestoft Field Club. E. P. J. Maconsland, R. N. Macklin, Miss Z. MacLaughlin, Mrs C. Mansfield, S. J. Marginson. D. Marsh, M. Marsh, Dr A. Martin, J. R. Martin, N. J. Mason, Mrs Mayhew, Dr. P. McAnulty. Miss M. McKemess, S. Mesquita, J. Minihane (JMi), D. R. Moore, J. L. Moore, M. R. Morley. M. C. Morris, A. Mullins, P. W. Murphy, P. Murtรณn, Dr R. Y. Mynott. A. R. Nairn, C. R. Naunton, C. G. Newman, P. H. Newport, D. R. Newton, P. Newton. J. A. Oates, D. W. Ockelton, W. E. Oddie. M. Packard, A. R. J. Paine, D. Parker, Mrs E. Parker, J. G. Parker, J. R. Parker, O. B. Parker. E. Parsons, J. Partridge, R. M. Patient, E. W. Patrick, W. H. Payn, J. Pearce-Higgins, B. A Pearson, T. Peake, I. Peters, S. Piotrowski, B. Pleasance, R. Plowman, A. Pope, L. A. Potter, O. R Powell. J. L. Raincock, B. Ranner, P. J. Ransome, Rare Breeding Birds Panel, N. W. Rayment, Mrs M A Riley, Mrs M. Rivers, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, I. Robinson, K. Robertson, P. RudgcC. P. S. Ruffles. P. Sawer(PSa), E. Seymour, Mrs L. M. Sharpe, DrM. J. Simmonds, DrN. J. Skinner, D. F. Smith. M. Smith (MSi), P. Smith, R. C. Smith, R. E. Smith, R. L. Sore, J. Sorensen, Mrs M. Sparrow P. Steggall, W. Stone, Mrs D. Stone, T. Stopher, Suffolk Biological Records Centre, Suffolk Ornithologists' Group, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, J. C. Sutherby, R. Swindin. Mrs E. Thomas, M. Thomas, A. Thompson, B. G. Thompson, Thetford Natural History Society. Lt. Col. J. F. Todhunter, Mrs D. C. Tozer, J. A. Turner, M. N. Turner. Mrs Usherwood. Mrs M. Vincent. . R. Waldren, C. S. Waller, D. F. Walsh, I. R. Walsh, R. B. Warren, Rev. R. G. Warren. R > Waters, E. H. Webb, L. Webb, A. Welch (AWe), B. M. Wentworth, A. Westcott, P. Witharn P. Whithorn, B. Woodhouse, J. Woolfnes, J. H. Woolnough, C. Worledge, W. Worledge, C. WngW. M. Wright, M. T. Wright. J. Zantboer.

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Rarities in Suffolk 1987 With so many rare birds visiting Suffolk in 1987 many descriptions, which in normal years would have been included, have been omitted from this report. Notable omissions include Cory's Shearwater, Night Héron, Blue-winged Teal, Great Bustard, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Gull-billed and Caspian Terns, Alpine Swift, Aquatic, Dartford and Pallas's Warblers, Serin and Little Bunting. Those published are heavily edited versions of the observer's original account with the introductions, in particular, trimmed to the bare minimum. The assessment Committees received excellent descriptions for ali the forementioned species but there were many others which lacked détail and subsequently were not accepted for inclusion in the systematic list. The following paper gives hints on how to prepare and write a field description.

Reporting County Rarities by Brian Brown — Chairman of the SORC

In compiling the 1987 Bird Report the SORC members assessed over 120 written descriptions of County rarities. These descriptions ranged from a few which were very good to the majority which can only be described as poor. Because of this, Committee members felt that they had rejected a number of records due to lack of evidence rather than mistaken identification. No record goes into print unless the evidence put before the Committee is totally convincing. It is with this in mind that the Committee has suggested that the following guidelines be set out for the use of those who are less experienced at report writing. The observation: Obviously the most important part of any record. If not observed properly and accurate notes made the written description must suffer accordingly. Watch the bird for as long as possible and note as many features about it as you can. What may appear irrelevant at the time may become important when making any 'dentification later. It is preferable not to sit with a field-guide open in front of you as it will take your eyes away from the bird, during the observation period, and you may become confused later as to what features you saw on the bird and what you saw in the hook. It is important to take a notebook in the field and note down as much as possible about the bird immediately after the sighting or during the sighting if the bird is on view for an adequate period to allow you to do so. Always include a sketch, however unartistic ss this can save a lot of words and is more accurate. You can then check your notes against field-guides later. F

'eld Notes: These must include:— the size, shape, markings, coloration and any behaviour you feel "^y be characteristic; any song or cali should be described; the habitat in which it was found; what it was feeding on and any other species with which it was associating. Size ^ d shape can be compared with any well known species especially if close-by for direct comparison. Bill, leg, tail and wing length are very important especially in wader 'dentification. Instead of stating, for example "the bird looked long-billed" or "it had Porter legs than . . . " try to give more exact comparison. Bill-length can be estimated 35 a proportion of head-length, tail length as a proportion of body-length, etc., etc. 103


Before describing plumage détails one should get to know the names of feather groups by studying the topography diagram in a good field-guide. It is not difficult to get to know these and it is much easier and less confusing, to be able to state for example "médian coverts brown edged b u f f ' than "an area in the middle of the fore-part of the folded wing had small feathers which were brown with buff edges". Bare-part colour (bill, eyes, legs and any other areas of bare skin) is of utmost importance. One should look for any variation in the colour of upper and lower, or bases of, mandibles (very important in some warblers) or colour différences between toes, tarsus and thighs. It is not good enough to describe any part of a bird as dark, e.g. dark bill or legs! Dark what? red, blue, brown? Always quote colour where possible qualified as dark or pale as appropriate.

The written report: This is really the officiai extension of the field notes and should be based completely on them so far as the description is concerned. It should be written on the form available from the County Recorder or follow the same format. It is preferable if it is typed or printed as some handwriting has proved almost illegible. The report must include — observers name, address and téléphoné number; date, time, place, distance and duration of the observation; optical aids used; any past experience of the same or similar species and if any were present at the time for direct comparison. Names of other observers, especially if they were able to confirm the original identification; name of the person who first found and identified it and anyone who disagrees with the identification; if photographed state by whom and include copies if possible; if caught and ringed the name of the ringer; weather notes e.g. state of light, any précipitation, wind force and direction. Give a brief account of how the bird was found and how you came to identify it as the species claimed. This should be followed by a full detailed description of the bird containing ali the points included in the field notes. Do not be afraid of writing too much as long as it is relevant. One never gets bored when assessing well written notes. Always include a sketch of the bird, pointing out features in the written description. Don't worry if you are not a good artist; the poorest of drawings can help to enlighten points which are otherwise difficult to describe. If more than one bird was involved a description of each individuai (or at least a note of any différences between them) will normally be required. It is realised that with large seabird movements this is not always practicable.

Other Points: The Committee members commented that there were very few reports from différent observers which referred to the same bird even though found by two or more o b s e r v e r s It is important that ali persons involved in the originai identification put in i n d e p e n d e n t descriptions. In more than one instance it appears, rightly or wrongly, that a group of observers leave it to one of their number to write the reports, or share them out on a 'you do this one 1*11 do that one' basis. It is important that they ali do one. It is also very dangerou^ to rely on other observers, especially if you don't know them, to send in reports. If y°u were one of the first to see a bird, do a report. Every year we hear o f rare or scarce bird> but never get a description because ali concerned left it to others and the record is lostIn many cases an observer let himself down when it came to writing a description an may well have had a good record rejected through supplying insufficient, or poorly w o r d ed • evidence. Statements such as "it showed ali the characters illustrated in. . . . " or "it mLlsl have been 'a' because it couldn't have been 'b' or ' c ' etc." without further e v i d e n c e art not good enough and will be rejected out of hand. 104


Some observers go to great lengths to explain the identification features of ali similar species in an attempt to prove that their bird was not one of them. In fact, some descriptions turn out to be identification papers to whole groups of species — this is not necessary. State why you have ruled out species a, b, or c, by ali means, but there is no need to go further. The Committee have, or have access to, most of the identification guides and papers required to make an accurate assessment; indeed, one member has one of the best private ornithological libraries in Suffolk. It is desirable that a description be separated from other notes. Some observers include them in their monthly species list to the County Recorder. This makes them difficult to extract for circulation to the Committee and they inevitably tend to be brief and contain few of the points mentioned above. A point which may not be obvious to many observers is that field-guides are just that — guides — and are by no means perfect. Some are even a downright hindrance to identification! It is usually obvious if a description has been copied from a book as the imperfections show up. If a proper, detailed, description is taken in the field without référencé to books there will usually be something in that description which will show that it was noticed in the field and not gleaned from a book, thus enhancing the authenticity of the record. Remember birds don't read or write books, so they don't always look, or behave in the manner that books would have us believe. Finally, the Committee would like to thank ali of those who sent in written descriptions and hope that rejections are not taken personally. They realise that report writing is an onerous task, as they are not exempt from supplying written reports themselves merely because they are members of the Committee. They are soon jumped on by other members if they don't! The Committee feels that adherence to the above guidelines will help to improve the standard of the annual report and save a lot of people wasting their time writing unsatisfactory descriptions. Accuracy is essential and we owe it to posterity to leave records that can be relied on in the future and it is to help achieve this goal that the above guidelines are presented.

Little B u s t a r d s by Reg Clarke

Whilst counting a mixed Lapwing/Golden Piover flock, at 11.00 hrs. Dee. 20th at Sudbourne, as part of the Birds of the Estuaries Enquiry (BOEE), my attention was diverted to three birds flying in from the River Aide. They alighted in a stubble field no more than 100 metres in front of me, but as they passed I noted an unusual creaking/squeaking sound accompanying their wing-beats. They stood motionless and alert and, with the aid °f a telescope, I was able to watch them for about four or five minutes. Their gait, wing markings and vermiculated plumage left me in no doubt that the birds w ere Little Bustards Tetrax tetrax. ^ r i p t i o n : Head, neck and breast mottled-greyish-buff with darker centres (lighter motüed on throat and neck). One of the birds had some noticeable blackish flecks and streaks on neck below throat änd was paler on breast. Mantle and scapulars greyish/buff with dark brown barring or vermiculation. ^he mande also had some feathers with pronounced dark centres. Underparts off-white on two of t^e birds with light motding or barring on flanks. The third bird had whiter underparts with a few ^nall black smudges on flanks. When at rest or W a l k i n g no white could be seen in the wings. Flight Head, neck, wing-coverts and tail greyish-buff, rest of wing white except for tips of primaries and a crescent near carpai joint (as in Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus) which were black. Flight was 105


fast recalling Partridge Perdixperdix and the wings made an unusual creaking/squeaking sound. The rump appeared to be slightiy paler than the rest of the underparts. Structure Like Partridge but slightly bigger (about size of V/igeon Anas penelope); amore attenuated body and longer legged and necked.

After gathering the above details I was anxious to obtain confirmation of the record, so I attempted to make contact with fellow counters further up river. As I walked away however, the birds again took flight and I watched them land in another stubble field about half a mile away. After pin-pointing the field I left the area to return later with Nick Green and Steve Piotrowski. For the remaining daylight hours we together made an exhaustive search of the area, but unfortunately failed to relocate the birds.

Long-tailed Skua by Stuart Ling Eric Patrick, Ken Richmond and I were seawatching off Covehithe Cliffs when, at approximately 12.30 hrs. on Aug. 29th KR drew our attention to a skua flying north close inshore. I noticed that it had an exceptionally long tail and it appeared to lack the distinctive white wing flashes of Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus. It was apparent that we were watching an adult Long-tailed Skua S. longicaudus in full summer plumage. Description: Size and structure size similar t o Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla (or smaller) and n o t i c e a b l ) smaller than other skuas. Structure differed from Arctic Skua by way of its very slim body, tapering towards the rear end and a distinctive small head and bill. The tail appeared slightly longer and slunmer than Arctic Skuas' and showed the distinctive long central tail feathers characteristic of this species These streamers were a very noticeable feature and were much longer than those of any adult Arctic Skua I have previously seen. The wings appeared longer and proportionally narrower than those o Arctic Skua and at times appeared to be held in a more swept back fashion. Plumage the head showe a small, neat black cap, separated from the mantle by a quite distinct pale collar. The cap c o n t r a s t e d well with the uniformly whitish face and breast. The belly, vent and undertail coverts w e r e dusky grey, gradually becoming darker towards the undertail coverts. This again contrasted well w i t h tne 106


pale face and breast. Both the upper and undertail coverts looked uniformly dark. The coloration and pattern of the underparts were very distinctive, differing from that of adult Arctic Skuas'. The mantle, rump and inner wing were a uniform grey-brown. This contrasted with the black prìmaries and narrow black trailing edge to the secondaries. There was no white blaze on the upperwing as shown by Arctic Skuas and the only white present was restricted to the inner web of the outer primary.

This distinctive upperwing pattern was most obvious when the bird turned into the sunlight. The underwing was quite uniform greyish/black, again lacking any white wing flashes, only showing white on the webs of the two outer primaries. Behaviourflightvery light and easy with soft buoyant flapping action. This differed from the more falcon-like flight of Arctic Skua. It was not seen to chase any °ther birds during the Observation.

Red-rumped S w a l l o w — 'first' for Suffolk by A. Mullins At about 06.00 hrs. on Apr. 21st, 1987, J. Keep and I located five hirundines on telephone 'res near the Eel's Foot Inn at Eastbridge. It was immediately apparent that one of the birds had a striking pinkish rump. Having seen a Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica, at Wiveton in North Norfolk a fortnight earlier, we were sure that this bird was the same s Pecies. We viewed the birds (the others being a House Martin Delichon Urbica and three Swallows H. rustica) from within 10 yards. w

107


Description: Underparts creamy white, tinged huffish apart from black undertail coverts. Wing and tail appeared black in most lights but at times showed a dark blue gloss; the tail looked about the same length as the nearby Swallows, but the thicker streamers gave it a much less forked appearance Crown black, finishing just above the eye resulting in a buff-red supercilium. Nape orange-pink coloration more pronounced than on rump. Rump looked very pale in flight, but when perched was seen to be buff-pink at the base of the mantle getting lighter towards the tail; when the rump feathers were ruffled, the pink coloration was very pronounced. Behaviour the flight action resembled House Martin more than Swallow with fewer acrobatic turns. Voice the only call note that was heard was a sparrow-like "chirrup". After 10 minutes the birds were disturbed by a passing car and they all flew off in the direction of Minsmere reserve. Despite much searching the Red-rumped Swallow was not relocated.

Red-rumped Swallow — 'second' for Suffolk by Derek Moore Steve Piotrowski and I were checking mist-nets at Landguard Bird Observatory, on Oct. 28th, when four Hirundines circled the fort. We noted that one of these had a long tail and a 'dirty looking' rump and we spontaneously realised that we were watching a Redrumped Swallow Hirundo daurica. All four birds turned and flew away northwards and as they departed over the dock complex we noted that a second bird was also a Red-rumped Swallow. Due to the presence of a Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus there were a number of observers on site, but most were stationed on the seaward side of the bank and therefore failed to see the birds. Dave Butterfield, Daragh Croxson and Justin Zantboer managed sufficient views to confirm the identification. Description: Both birds were typical Hirundine in shape and structure. The upperparts were black/blue and the throat and belly dirty brown or buff. The rust coloured nape collar and buffish rump were clearly noted and the undertail coverts were black. Long tail streamers were present on both birds and these tended to be held straight rather than spread like a Swallow and we both agreed it was similar to that of House Martin.

Red-rumped Swallow - 'third' for Suffolk by A. C. Easton Whilst searching the gardens of the Sparrows Nest Park, Lowestoft, on Nov. 12th two Hirundines flew in front of me. The first was an obvious House Martin Delichon urbica but the second had a rather dingy, vaguely orangey-buff rump and a closer look revealed a Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica. Description: Head Crown black, Orange on nape and rear of face, brightest just behind and above the eye. Ear coverts duskier. Upperparts Mantle, upper back and uppertail coverts black, strong!) glossed with blue. Lower back and rump pale orange, brightest at the forward end, though mucn paler than the orange on the head. Wing feathers were of varying shades of brown, the lesser covert» being the darkest, almost black and the flight feathers the palest. Tail Uniform blackish brown, outermost feathers slighdy bowed outwards, curving in again towards the tips. Outer tail feathers very l°n? making quite a deep fork. Underparts Throat down to the belly and underwing coverts all very Pale orangey-pink, brightest on the flanks, axillaries and underwing coverts. Vent white. Undertail coverts black. No streaking on the underparts. 108


Desert W h e a t e a r -

'first' for Suffolk

by Mike Crewe At 14.00 hrs. Oct. 20th, I was watching two Black Redstarts Phoenicians ochruros in the gravel processing yard at Landguard Point when my attention was diverted to a very sandy-coloured wheatear standing with its back to me. As it flew away it revealed an all black tail and buffish, off-white rump. Even this brief glimpse was enough for me to realise that it was a Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti and the black face led me to believe it was an adult male (a later examination by Observatory staff revealed that it was a wellmarked first-year male). The general appearance was of a pale, sandy-buff bird with dark face, wings and tail. All wing-feathers had paler edgings and the lesser-coverts were noticeably pale giving a whitish patch on the wing in flight. Flight views also revealed a black under-wing. Over the next three and a half hours the bird was very active. It frequently fed on the sides and top of the large mound of gravel and around the water tanks. It spent time on the beach, Observatory banks and the nature reserve. As well as feeding on the ground it perched freely on buildings, low bushes and posts which it used as look-out perches for seeking food. As well as the typical wheatear pose with a rather upright stance it also adopted a horizontal posture. Description: Crown, nape and mantle pale sandy-buff with a slight greyish suffusion in some lights; forehead creamy white, extending as a narrow supercilium to well behind the eye. Face and throat black with fairly broad buff tips. Breast and belly very pale creamy buff; the upper-breast slightly deeper buff. Under-tail coverts white; rump off-white with a pale buff suffusion. Tail appeared all black with white basal third only visible at close range and in certain positions. Black of face joined to dark wing by a narrow black line visible at close range. Secondaries blackish, edged buff; primaries as secondaries but more narrowly edged buff. Greater and lesser coverts edged off-white; lesser coverts very broadly edged white so as to appear almost all white with dark centre. Underwing coverts and axillaries black; tertials broadly edged buff; bill and legs black. By dusk at least 20 observers had seen the bird and many more were to arrive the following day. The bird remained in the area until Oct. 24th when it was seen by several hundred birdwatchers. On 23rd it ventured into a 'Potter' trap and the following in-hand description was taken by David Butterfield, Mike Marsh and Colin Ruffles. Plumage Forehead and crown buff. Lores and ear coverts black finely tipped buff. Supercilium pale buff above the eye. Nape, mantle, back, scapulars and upper tail-coverts buff. Rump pale whitishbuff. Chin and throat black finely tipped buff. Breast and flanks buff. Belly paler buff. Vent and under tail-coverts dirty white. Wing Primaries dark brown finely edged on basal half of inner web. Secondaries dark brown more broadly edged and tipped white. Tertials inner web dark brown, outer web buff; outers slightly paler brown than secondaries. Primary coverts and alula dark brown edged andtippedpale buff. Lesser coverts and median coverts black broadly edged and tipped buff. Inner "ledian covert very broadly edged almost white. Outer greater coverts dark brown edged and tipped off white; inners black edged and tipped white. Under wing-coverts black edged white. Axillaries black. Wing condition good but slightly abraded. Tail Distal two thirds of rectrices black; basal third white but completely obscured by the upper tail coverts. Soft parts Upper and lower mandibles black. Ws very dark brown. Orbital ring pale buff. Tarsus and toes black. Soles pale greyish-brown. Inside °fupper mandible black. Palate pinkish yellow. Wing-formula Emarginated P.3/P.4/P.5. Wing-point p -3. Second primary = P.5/P.6. P.l = 1mm longest Pc. Wing-length (straightened) 92mm. Weight 20 -5g. Ring No. E670940. Remarkably this bird left Landguard on the evening of Oct. 24th only to be relocated at Prawle Point, Devon the next day, a distance of 402 Km. Confirmation was obtained the ring number which was transcribed in the field.

109


Marsh Warbier — 'second' for Suffolk by Mike Crewe On June 9th, 1987 I was carrying out an early morning net round at Landguard Bird Observatory when I abstracted a rather pale Acrocephalus warbler which contained a hint of yellow-buff in its plumage. The measurements and wing formula confirmed that the bird was a Marsh Warbler A. palustris. The final identification was mainly based on the measurement from tip of wing to outermost secondary and on the Walinder formula (Svensson, 1984) which involves subtracting the length of bill to skull from the produi t of the widths of tarsus and bill. Description: Plumage Crown, nape and ear-coverts warm yellowish-brown extending from nape down sides of neck to side of breast. Supercilium yellowish-buff, broad in front of eye, very faint behind eye, extending 4.0mm behind eye. Very faint and thin greyish eye-stripe. Lores pale bufftsh-whiu Throat, white lightly tinged pale buff, paler than breast. Mantle, rump and upper tail-coverts all uniform yellow-brown with olive suffusion. Upper breast warm buff. Belly white suffused yellowish buff. Flanks, brownish yellow-buff — darker than belly. Vent and upper tail-coverts, creamy-buff darker than belly. Wings Lesser and median coverts as mande. Greater coverts brown edged yellowish-brown Alula darker than coverts, brown faintly edged buff. Primary coverts dark brown faintly edged yellowbrown. Primaries and secondaries as primary coverts with inner six primaries tipped paler. Tertials dark brown broadly edged yellow-brown. Tail Overall rounded shape, dark brown with outer rectrices distinctly paler on outside edge. Outer four feathers tipped buff especially towards outer tail. Soft Parts Upper mandible brown with lemon-yellow cutting edge. Legs pale flesh brown. Toes yellower with noticeable yellow soles. Iris grey-brown. Gape bright yellow. Wing-formula P.l = p.cc, P.2 = 2mm, P.3 longest, P.4 —2mm, P.5 -4mm, P.6 —7mm, P.7 -9mm, P.8 —11.5mm, P.9 —13mm, P. 10 —15mm, outer secondary —20.5mm, emarginated P.3, wing-point P.3, notch on 2nd primary = P.7/P.8. Measurements wing length 71.0mm, notch length 11.0mm, bill to feathering 11.85mm, bill to skull 14mm, bill width 4.1mm, tarsus width 1,6mm, Wallinder formula 7.44, Weight 12.4gms. Ring number C830671. Upon release the bird proved extremely elusive and was seen only briefly in the field. It was retrapped on June lOth. Référencé: Svensson, L., 1984. Identification guide to European passerines. Tring.

Subalpine Warbler — 'second' for Suffolk by Dave Butterfield On Monday June 8th, 1987, at Landguard Bird Observatory, I rose at dawn (04.00 hrs) and proceeded to open the mist nets. Returning to a 20ft net, which had been o p e n tor no longer than five minutes, I noticed that a small bird had been caught. In the half-lig^1 my initial impression was that it was a Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata but I quickly realised that it was a male Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans. Description: Plumage Crown, nape, lores and ear-coverts uniform dark grey, slight orange mark above orbital eye ring. Back, mantle and rump dark grey with brownish tinge. Moustachial stripp white, thin and distinct. Chin, throat, breast, flanks and vent, brick-red with undertail coverts sligM > paler. Belly off white. Wing — primaries and secondaries dark brown. Tertials, primary coverts an^ alula dark brown no edging. Lesser coverts dark brown slightly tipped pale brown. Median cove 110


dark brown. Greater coverts dark brown with the outermost faintly edged palé brown. Tail — R.l íoutermost) outer-web cream, inner-web edged and tipped cream, R.2 (2nd outer) tipped cream. Rest of rectrices to central pair dark brown. Condition of tail was very worn. Soft parís upper mandible dark grey with palé grey cutting edge. Lower mandible grey with pink/hom base and dark grey tip. Iris palé brown, almost orangey. Orbital eye-ring bright red/orange. Legs and feet orangey-brown. Claws grey brown. Wing-formula Emarginated on P.3 and P.4 (very worn). Wing-point P.3. Second primaiy = P.5 (very worn). First primary = longest primary covert. Ring No. C830657. Unlike the 1986 individual, which showed characters of the eastern race S. c. albistriata this bird was typical of those frequenting Mediterannean districts, S. c. cantillans.

Lesser W h i t e t h r o a t — s h o w i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of t h e eastern race

Sylvia curruca

blythi

by Mike Marsh On Oct. 12th, 1987 a Lesser Whitethroat was trapped at LBO. Apart from the back and mantle appearing more olive-brown, rather than greyish-brown, the plumage was similar to that of the nominate race S. c. curruca. However, a routine check of the bird's biométries revealed an unusual wing formula; the wings being blunter than normal.

Measurements: Primaries 4th and 5th — longest; 3rd —0.5mm shorter; 6th —2.0mm shorter; 7th —4.5mm shorter; 2nd = 7th. Wing length 65mm. Tail length 58mm. Tarsus length 21mm. Weight 13.2g. Examples of the nominate race typically show a more pointed wing with the second primary falling between the fifth and sixth. Al so the third primary forms the wing point, with the fourth of equal length or 0.5mm shorter, and the fifth to seventh, 1.0-2.5mm, 4.0-5.0mm and 6.5-8.0mm shorter, respectively (Williamson, 1976). Further reference to Williamson showed the measurements of the Landguard bird to correspond to those of the eastern race S. c. blythi and on this basis together with the browner upperparts the bird was assigned to this race. After release the bird was watched by a number of observers in the bushes in front of •he Observatory, during which time it was oliten seen ground feeding, which in my opinion 's unusual for this species. Blythi breeds from western Siberia east to Transbaicalia and south to the Kirgiz Steppes and Mongolia. Migrants occur fairly regularly in Britain in September and October, most records coming from Fair Isle and the east coast. Although this constitutes the first Suffolk record of a bird showing characteristics of •his subspecies it is likely that others have been overlooked in the past due to plumage similarity with the nominate race and the necessity to examine the bird in the hand to confirm foe wing formula. Références: Williamson, K. 1976. Identification for ringers, 3. The genus Sylvia, BTO Field Guide 9, Revised and enlarged édition. Tring. Ili


Dusky Warbler -

'first' for Suffolk

Dave Butterfield At approximately 13.00 hrs I was conducting a regular check of the mist-nets at Landguard Bird Observatory with two visiting ringers Eric Woods and Chris Brown. Whilst extracting a bird from a net, CB proclaimed that it was a Radde's Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi but on closer examination, in the ringing room, the identification was confirmed as Dusky Warbler P. juscatus. Description: Plumage Forehead and crown, very dark olive. Lores black. Ear-coverts olive-brown Supercilium thin — buff in front of eye, extending 8mm behind eye and 2mm deep. Rusty-buff behind eye. Eye-stripe blackish-grey from bill through eye, broadening behind eye and becoming slightly paler. Nape, mantle, scapulars, back, rump and upper tail-coverts very dark olive. Chin whitish-buff paler than throat. Throat buff. Breast greyish-buff breast band. Flanks greyish-buff. Belly and vent buff. Under tail-coverts orangey-buff. Wing Primaries blackish-olive finely edged olive-brown. Outer primarles edged paler than inner. Secondaries and tertials blackish-olive finely edged olive-brown. Primary coverts as greater coverts but less brownish tinge to fringes. Alula blackish-olive broadly edged olive-brown. Lesser and median coverts olive-brown with blackish-olive centres. Greater coverts blackish-olive more broadly edged and tipped with olive brown. Under wing-coverts and axillaries

warm buff. Wing condition fresh. Tail AU rectrices blackish-olive narrowly edged olive-brown and abraded. Soft Parts Upper mandible blackish brown, tip and cutting edge palé orangey-brown. Lower mandible distal half brown with pinkish-orange base, underside and tip. Iris very dark brown. Orbita ring very palé buff. Tarsus purplish-brown front, paler at rear — yellowish-brown. Toes purplishbrown slightly paler than tarsus. Soles yellowish-brown. Gape orangey-yellow with greyish tip. formula P.l 13.55mm longer than p.cc, P.2 —8mm, P.3 —2mm, P.4 longest, P.5 —lmm, P.6 —2mn>. P.7 —4mm, P.8 -7mm, P.9 -8.5mm, P.10 —10.5mm, emarginated P.3, P.4, P.5, P.6, wing-poinj P.4, second primary = P.8/P.9. Measurements Wing-length (straightened) 64mm, notch- length (P 4> = 14.5mm (there was also an indistinct notch on P.3), tail length 53mm, bilí width at proximal en 3.0mm, bilí depth 2.5mm, tarsus 21.7mm, tarsus width 1.9mm. Weight 9.7g. Ring No. 3P575» The bird was subsequently seen by hundreds of visiting birdwatchers and was last seen in the grounds of the New Custom House on Nov. lst. 112


Languard Bird Observatory, 1987 by Mike Crewe After the record breaking year of 1986 few would have predicted the events of 1987. Desert Wheatear and Dusky Warbler were species new to the County and these, together with Mediterranean Gull and Marsh Warbler, were ringed in Suffolk for the first time. Success was partially due to the employment of a ringer/warden who maintained a daily presence throughout the year. More significant however, were the dream weather conditions, ideal for bird watching, which boosted the number of passage birds. These factors combined to create a new record ringing total of 9,284 birds involving 83 species, 11 of which were new to the Observatory's already impressive list. This must surely put Landguard on the map as a major observatory site, filling the huge gap between Spurn on Humberside and Sandwich Bay in Kent. Both Subalpine Warbler and Little Bunting were the second site records, but surprisingly both Marsh Tit and Treecreeper were first time visitors. All in all, the year saw the appearance of 189 species of which 12 were new to Landguard. This total included no less than six national rarity species, involving nine individuals, most of which occurred during an amazing purple patch that followed the October hurricane. In September, the fourth anniversary of the Observatory gave 'Friends of Landguard' another chance to socialise and, although no rarities were present, everyone had a good day. The 'Friends' were informed of the marvellous achievement of John Alport in running the Mars London Marathon in aid of LBO. Through his efforts the Observatory's funds were boosted considerably. In addition, the presentation of a seat was made in honour, and fondest memory, of Dick Hipkin, one of our founder members, who was so sadly lost to the Observatory in 1986. More work was carried out on outsites than ever before; the Constant Effort Site at Bourne Park had a successful introductory year and the purchase of our own cannon-netting equipment, thanks to the contributors to the 'Dick Hipkin Memorial Fund', enabled us to carry out more intensive work on waders and gulls. JANUARY: With the appointment of a fulltime warden it was not difficult to make this the best January on record at LBO. Single Common and Mediterranean Gulls were ringed, for the first time, bringing the total number of species ringed to 101. The weather was also kind to birdwatchers and extreme conditions provided some useful records. A Great Skua on 15th was unseasonal and an Iceland and two Mediterranean Gulls, wintering at Felixstowe, were regularly seen. The weekend of 10-11th produced severe snowfalls and strong winds and resulted in some very heavy wildfowl and wader movements. Wigeon was the predominant species with over 32,000 flying south on 10th alone, while counts of 700 Pintail, 45 Scaup, 3750 Shelduck, 100 Pochard, 30 Bar-tailed Godwits and 100 Curlew were also exceptional (for the time of year). Red-necked Grebe, Lapland Bunting, Bewick's Swan and White-fronted Goose were all recorded and a Fulmar on 28th was the first January record for LBO. At outsites the highlight was three Lapland Buntings ringed at Kingsfleet. FEBRUARY: With the weather being fairly settled there were few noteworthy events during this period. However, the first few days produced some qiiite heavy gull movements with 180 Great Black-backed and 850 Herring passing south on 2nd, and an interesting record of four Coots in the river mouth on 1st. Ringed Plovers began to arrive and were soon setting up territories and displaying while resident passerines began to sing. On 10th a male Kestrel was watched taking a fish head used to bait a gull trap and caching it in 113


a tuft of grass; it later returned and was watched eating it. On 9th a Black-throated Diver flew south and a pair of Gadwall flew in off the sea. The two Mediterranean Gulls were joined by a third briefly on 15th and a Glaucous Gull flew south on 8th. A handful of Fieldfares, Redwings and a Brambling started a movement back through the site, a Com Bunting stopped to sing on 28th and a pair of Snow Buntings took up residence from 18th. Other records include a Common Seal on Ist and 25th. M A R C H : A very good month for offshore passage; the highlights being a Black-throated Diver, Greylag Geese, Pochard, four Eider and two Velvet Scoter. Ali the commoner ducks were recorded including a pair of Gadwall south on 23rd. Wader passage was light and included small numbers of Golden and Grey Piover, Knot, Sanderling and Bar-tailed Godwit. More unusual were sightings of a Jack Snipe and two Woodcock. An adult Mediterranean Gull was seen on 3rd and the resident Iceland Gull continued to patrol the beach on the hunt for anglers' left-overs. A few migrants drifted through with single Sandwich Terns on 24th and 25th, a male Stonechat from 8th â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 1 Ith, Wheatears from 15th and the first Black Redstart on 22nd. The latter two species peaked at ten and eight respectively on 29th. A Blackcap on 30th and four Chiffchaffs between 25th and 28th were the only warblers and three Firecrests were present from 2Ist. Passing Fieldfares and Redwings, a Brambling on 23rd, and three Snow Buntings, present throughout the month, gave a more northerly flavour. Three Turnstones, attracted to peanuts, and one of the Snow Buntings were the first ringed at the Landguard. Non-ornithological records included a Weasel on several dates and a Common Seal on 26th, while amongst the lower animais there was a Common Frog from 24th and a Peacock butterfly on 3Ist. APRIL: Records of Fulmars increased with breeding birds returning to Suffolk. Birds of prey put on a good show with Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and several sightings of a Merlin reported. Wader passage included four Avocets, three Jack Snipe and single Woodcock and Common Sandpiper. Bar-tailed Godwits trickled past and Whimbrels were recorded in good numbers towards the end of the month with a maximum of 16 on 20th Purple Sandpipers peaked at seven early in the month. Tems were slow to return with Little Terns noted from 18th and Common Terns from 23rd. A single Arctic Skua passed northwards on 27th. All the commoner summer migrants passed through with the third week seeing the best arrivais, although the first Cuckoo was not recorded until 30th. With Yellow Wagtails building up at the end of the month a closer look revealed a male Grey-headed Wagtail on 29th and several overshooting White Wagtails put in an appearance. At least four Ring Ouzels were recorded but, in contrast to the steady flow of Wheatears, of which several showed characteristics of the larger Greenland race, there was just a single Stonechat. A few Fieldfares, Redwings and Bramblings and single Long-eared and Short-eared Owls, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Magpie (a site rarity) occurred. A Garden Warbler on 19th was the earliest recorded here by eleven days. A minor fall occurred on 26th predominated by a record day-total of 75 Whitethroats (27 ringed). A total of 1,360 birds of 41 species was ringed during the month. A Weasel was on the reserve on 20th, a Common Seal offshore on 7th and Peacock. Small Tortoiseshell and Small White butterflies emerged. Plants began to become a feature of the reserve and species in flower included Early Scurvy-grass, Common Whitlow-grassSweet Violet, Spring Beauty, Spring Vetch, Rue-leafed Saxifrage, Early Forget-me-not. Coltsfoot and Field Wood rush. MAY: Summer migrants continued to arrive in force with traditionally later species, such as Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, appearing with larger movements of Swifts, Reed Warblers 114


and Whitethroats. More unusual visitors were a Marsh Harrier on 2nd, Ruff on 17th, Longeared Owl on 4th, Great Spotted Woodpecker on 3rd, Ring Ouzel on 23rd and Wood Warblers on 19th and 22nd. Only two Pied Flycatchers were recorded, but a Barred Warbler from 30th to June lst was only the second spring record for the County. A iemale Ortolan Bunting was present but elusive from 6th to 20th and a touch of winter was provided by two Fieldfares on 5th — a contrast to the influx of Swifts and a good run of Cuckoos. A passing Arctic Tern was an interesting record, the species being scarce here in spring, and sea passage also provided good records in the shape of a Great Skua, six Greenshanks, seven Whimbrels, two Avocets and a male Velvet Scoter. An immature male Eider set up temporary residence by the jetty, where up to two Purple Sandpipers could also be seen. Insects emerged in great profusion and eleven species of butterfly were recorded including Orange Tip, Painted Lady, Small Heath, Small Copper and Common Blue, and a Poplar Hawk-moth appeared on 29th. The insect highlight however, was provided by a record of the Hairy Dragonfly, Brachytron pratense, on 19th, a species for which only a handful of records exists for the County. Mammals included sightings of both Common and Pygmy Shrew and several sightings of a Hedgehog. Plants continued to flourish with many grasses now coming into flower alongside the more readily identifiable species. Two Landguard specialities had varying fortunes; the grass Festuca trachypylla had lost some 80% of its 1979 population destroyed by development but the Small-flowered Buttercup appears to be doing well in its main colony. JUNE: The good run of summer migrants continued into June and Suffolk's second Subalpine Warbler turned up on 8th and stayed until lOth. It was present at the same time as Landguard's first, and the county's second, Marsh Warbler. Also on lOth was a Spoonbill, only the third record for the site, a Wood Sandpiper on 2lst was only the third for the decade and a Purple Sandpiper on 5th was the first June record for Landguard. Little Terns and Ringed Plovers were busy with the chores of breeding despite human disturbance and numbers of warblers dropped off dramatically mid-month. Yet another Long-eared Owl was recorded and, even rarer here, a Barn Owl was present on 30th. Firecrests had an excellent spring and singles on 8th and 17th were unusually late. Equally unexpected were records of six Siskins on 17th and the site's first Marsh Tit on 20th. A Clouded Yellow was noted on 4th and a Grey Squirrel was a surprise visitor on 8th. Birds-foot Trefoil clothed the reserve in a vivid carpet of yellow and single stems of Common Spotted and Pyramidal Orchids were found. A survey of fems revealed Bracken, Male Fern, Wall-Rue and Black Spleenwort. JULY: The turnabout of migrants was noticeable this month with arriving birds stili present during the first ten days and returning birds passing through from 20th. There were some surprising species noted this month with three Curlew Sandpipers south on 23rd and a Treecreeper on 31st both being new species for the site. Other scarce visiors were a Kingfisher on 6th, Green Woodpecker on 28th, Siskins on 3rd and 14th and a Magpie °n 24th. Three Wood Warblers occurred and several juvenile Cuckoos passed through. Offshore single Fulmar, Gannet, Golden Piover and Little Gull were noted and there was a small passage of Whimbrel, Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank and Greenshank. The immature itale Eider stili remained in the area and there was an early return of ducks with records °f Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and a single Red-breasted Merganser. Thirteen species of butterfly were present including Meadow Brown, Comma and Large and Essex Skippers. Six-spot Burnet moths swamped the reserve and at least one Narrowbordered Five-spot Burnet was found. Cinnabars were also common and Oak Eggar and Poplar Hawk-moth were both good records. Dragonflies noted were Southern Hawker, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Common Darter with a superb male Emperor on 30th being the first record for the site of this magnificent species. 115


AUGUST: Offshore there was a steady trickle of Gannets moving south and a good passage of skuas with a Pomarine, a Great and 17 Arctics seen. There were three records of Shag during the month and a Grey Heron settled briefly on the reserve on 8th. Birds of prey included two Marsh Harriers and an Osprey, the latter making a low pass over the reserve as it moved south. There was an excellent range of waders which included another Curlew Sandpiper on 24th, two Ruff and a Black-tailed Godwit on 16th, two Spotted Redshank^ and single Green and Wood Sandpipers on 17th and 25th respectively. Lesser Black-backed Gulls began to leave for more southern shores and were replaced by incoming Great Blackbacks. Two Little Gulls were also seen. Terns put on a good show with ten Black Terns passing south, and a good run of Arctics coinciding with the main Common/Sandwich Tern movement. A Ring-necked Parakeet on 2nd was a first for the site, and a steady passage of Cuckoos resulted in six being ringed. Many summer migrants passed through during the month and warblers came in abundance. A record 105 Willow Warbiers was ringed on 23rd, a major contribution to the month total of 416. Five Wood Warblers were also ringed and three Icterine Warblers were present over the Bank Holiday weekend. Pied Flycatchers put on a better show than in the spring and a surprise find on 24th was a maie Serin whose stay was all too brief! Despite the bad weather, butterfies appear to have had a good year with an abundance of Common Blue, Essex Skipper and Small Copper, although S mall Heath were in short supply. There were clouds of Hoverflies providing a rich diet for migrant birds. Dragonflies continued to show well with Common Blue, Large Red and Blue-tailed Damsels, Migrant Hawker, Emperor and Common and Ruddy Darters present. The latter was a new species for the site and at least three diffĂŠrent Emperors were seen. Common Lizard, Weasel and Common Seal were ail noted during the month. Landguard's unique plant, Stinking Goosefoot, had a poor year with only four plants of flowering size found at a new site, although there were several very small plants at last year's site. SEPTEMBER: Sea passage picked up with several interesting records including three Manx Shearwaters, a Shag, 17 Arctic Skuas and 13 Little Gulls. Black Terns again stole the show with southerly movements involving a single on 4th and 18 on 5th, outshining the ten last month. A single Red-throated Diver was noted and a good Gannet passage took place. The usuai southerly passage of ducks and waders was noted and birds of prey were two immature Marsh Harriers on 15th and a Sparrowhawk on 3rd. A touch of the exotic occufred on Ist when the long awaited first record of Hoopoe was logged and at least three Wrynecks were recorded during the first week. Other woodpeckers on the move were a Great Spotted on 5th and a Lesser Spotted on 15th. There was an excellent passage of summer migrants resulting in a new month record of 1,920 birds ringed. This total was more than a little due to some excellent catches of Swallows and House Martins with respective totals of 363 and 648. A fourth Icterine Warbler occurred on 18th and a Barred Warbler on 29th but more unusual here was a Grasshopper Warbler on 8th, only the second ringed at LBO. Winter birds were early on the scene with a Twite on Ist, a Fieldfare firom 2nd to 3rd, Bramblings on 29th and 30th and at least four records of Lapland Bunting Butterflies continued to flourish with 15 species recorded. At least two Wall Browns were present and Essex Skipper, Common Blue and Small Copper continued to do wellA 'passage' of Red Admirais was noted on 17th when at least 100 were counted flying south, and a larva was found on 6th. By the end of the month only Red Admirais and Commas were present in good numbers, attracted to apples put down for thrushes in the Heligoland Trap. Treble-bars, Large Yellow Underwings and day-flying Silver-Ys were the only moths noted with the latter present in great abundance â&#x20AC;&#x201D; numbers probably swollen by new arrivais of this strongly migratory species. Dragonflies included Migrant Hawkers, which were present throughout the month, but Common Darters seemed to be less widespread than in previous years. A second Ruddy Darter was recorded on 15th. 116


Plate 20: Stone Curlew â&#x20AC;&#x201D; ringing recoveries show the hazards encountered by Suffolk's migratory breeding birds.

Plate 21: Desert Wheatear, Oct. 1987.

Plate 22: Desert Wheatear, Oct. 1987.


Plate 23: Great Tit at Staverton Park, Butley â&#x20AC;&#x201D; with much of Suffolk 's woodlartd destroyed by October 's hurricane hole-nesting species may well decline.

Plate 24: Spotted Flycatcher tending young.


OCTOBER: October 1987 will live in the memories of the County's ornithologists for many years to come as never in the Observatory's history has there been a month containing so much excitement. The highlights came in the form of a male Desert Wheatear and Dusky Warbler, both new to the County, and two Red-rumped Swallows, new to Landguard.

c

< E

MB CM MB

3E

"IBB

o o to 5

A brace of Yellow-browed Warblers was outshone by two Pallas's Warblers, the first since 1984. Landguard's second Little Bunting in consecutive years accompanied one of the Pallas's Warblers on 19th. Most of the summer migrants passed through in varying numbers and ringing peaked with 1,972 new birds being ringed. Twite, Snow Bunting, Lapland Bunting, Ring Ouzel and Grey Wagtail were all noted during the month and single Long-eared, Short-eared and Little Owls occurred. Sea passage was at times excellent, especially after the hurricane on 16th. No less than three Sabine's Gulls occurred during the month — a new species for the site. Little, Mediterranean and Iceland Gulls were recorded and one Great and 11 Arctic Skuas were seen. A Razorbill on the 1st was a good record for the site but was surpassed by a Leach's Petrel on 8th. Several Gannets and Fulmars were noted and Brent numbers were good with 6,326 flying south on 20th being a major contribution to a month-total of 15,900. Duck passage was also good and included Pintail, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Goosander among the more regular species. Birds of prey included several sightings of Merlin, four Sparrowhawks, two Hobbies together on 27th, and the first Peregrine for Landguard on 8th. Wader passage included 11 Avocet, a Ruff, a Jack Snipe, four Woodcock and five Black-tailed Godwit while a total of 2,148 Dunlin was counted moving south on 16th. Insect numbers dropped markedly but Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma remained to the end of the month, as did Migrant Hawker and Common Darter dragonflies. A Hornet was noted on 28th. Rabbits were again badly hit by myxomatosis. NOVEMBER: A quieter month. Small numbers of Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes offshore were joined by single Black-throated Divers on 4th and 15th. A ring-tail Hen Harrier flew over the docks on 13th and a hybrid Red-legged x Chukar Partridge was found amongst the Red-leg covey on the reserve. Waders were scarce but a late Greenshank was noted on 9th. Also of note were eight Guillemots, a Razorbill and three Little Auks — one of these flew south with a flock of 13 Starlings, and another fished in the harbour mouth. A Ring-necked Parakeet on 20th was the second record of the year — a bird resident in the area or range expansion from the south-east? Several summer migrants lingered into November with Ring Ouzel, Black Redstart, Wheatear, Garden 117


Warbier, Blackcap and Chiffchaff noted. A Garden Warbier on 9th equalled the latest for the County. A third Pallas's Warbier occurred from 3rd to 5th making it a bumper year for this species. Only two Bramblings were recorded and Siskins were noted on only two dates. Lapland Buntings continued to do well however, with another two records this month and a flock of 16 Snow Buntings occurred briefly on 2Ist. Insects disappeared for the winter but on Ist a Migrant Hawker dragonfly and a Hörnet were the latest for the site. Red Admirais were noted on 2nd and 6th and a Painted Lady on 18th.

DECEMBER: With coverage of the site running down during the month there were fewer records. The mild winter also contributed to a dearth of good birds. A Red-necked Grebe on 3rd was only the third for the site but was unfortunately heavily oiled. Six Goosander flew north from the estuary on 6th and the Mediterranean and Iceland Gulls continued to visit. There were two late Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A very good year for Great Spotted Woodpeckers was rounded off with the fifth record for the year on 6th and a female Blackcap on 3rd was only the second December record for LBO. There were no non-ornithological records of note.

BOURNE PARK by Mick Wright The scrub and phragmites area at Bourne Park provided LBO with an excellent opportunity to operate their first Constant Effort Site (CES). Even the prospect of a 4.30 am start to the sessions did not dampen the enthusiasm of the ringers involved, but only strengthened the committment and tenacity needed to secure a thoroughly successful first season. The aim of the CES is to investigate bird populations through a constant netting regime. The season ran from May Ist to the end of August and was split into twelve periods, with three net lanes each using 120 feet of netting at every session. Unfortunately one session had to be cancelled due to bad weather; nevertheless, a total of 517 birds involving 31 species was processed. The target species, Sedge and Reed Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus and A. scirpaceus, were trapped, ringed and processed in good numbers. Sedge Warbler Reed Warbler

Adult 25 46

Juvenile 39 42

Retraps 4 18

Total 68 106

Only infrequent visits were made to the site prior to the onset of the CES scheme. Of the four Sedge Warbler retraps two were originally ringed during the 1985 breeding season as adults. Likewise from eighteen retrap Reed Warbiers, fourteen (nine juveniles and five adults) were ringed during 1985. Other notable ringing statistics included seventy-seven Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrelli from their reedbed roost, an adult Magpie Pica pica, two juvenile Tree Creepers Certhia familiaris and a juvenile Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia. Over the next few years, especially when corresponding visits from consecutive seasons are paired, CES data will provide detailed information on population changes. The retrap data will be used to help estimate adult survival. We are indebted to Mr J. A. Orr, Director of Récréation and Amenities, Ipswich Borough Council for his permission to use the site, and staff of the Parks Division for their assistance. 118


BIRDS RINGED AT LANDGUARD 1978-1987 Grand Total Total Species 1978-87 1987 Species Manx Shearwater 0 1 Fieldfare Teal Song Thrush 0 1 Sparrowhawk 1 Redwing 3 Kestrel 2 8 Misde Thrush Hobby Grasshopper Warbler 0 1 Red-legged Partridge 0 15 Sedge Warbler Moorhen 0 1 Marsh Warbler Ringed Piover Reed Warbler 3 51 Golden Piover 0 2 Icterine Warbler Purple Sandpiper 0 1 Melodious Warbler Woodcock 2 Subalpine Warbler 8 Turnstone 3 3 Barred Warbler Arctic Skua Lesser Whitethroat 0 1 Mediterranean Gull 1 1 Whitethroat Black-headed Gull Garden Warbler 5 12 Common Gull 4 4 Blackcap LitUe Tem 0 26 Pallas's Warbler Littìe Auk Yellow-browed Warbler 0 1 Wood Pigeon 5 21 Dusky Warbler Collared Dove 87 109 Wood Warbler Turtle Dove 10 Chiffchaff 19 Cuckoo Willow Warbler 9 18 Bam Owl Goldcrest 0 1 LitUe Owl 0 Firecrest 1 Long-eared Owl 2 19 Spotted Flycatcher Nightjar 0 Red-breasted Flycatcher 1 Swift 0 2 Pied Flycatcher Kingfisher 1 5 Long-tailed Tit Wryneck Marsh Tit 3 9 Green Woodpecker 0 Willow Tit 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 5 Coal Tit Lesser Spotted Woodpecker 1 2 Blue Tit Skylark Great Tit 7 25 Sand Martin Treecreeper 1 7 Swallow Red-backed Shrike 572 13% House Martin 689 Great Grey Shrike 929 Tree Pipit Magpie 8 27 Meadow Pipit Jackdaw 182 282 Rock Pipit Starling 1 1 Yellow Wagtail 4 House Sparrow 2 Grey Wagtail Tree Sparrow 0 1 Pied Wagtail Chaffinch 0 5 Brambling Wren 230 83 Greenfinch Dunnock 940 215 Goldfinch Robin 851 373 Siskin Thrush Nightingale 1 0 Linnet 34 Nightingale 7 Redpoll 1 Bluethroat 0 Bullfinch Black Redstart 235 69 Snow Bunting 194 Redstart 38 Yellowhammer 45 Whinchat 24 Ortolan Bunting 2 Stonechat 1 Litde Bunting 140 Wheatear 100 Reed Bunting 1 Desert Wheatear 1 21 Ring Ouzel 11 TOTAL 2400 599 Blackbird

119

Total

Grand Total

1987

1978-87

16 431 40 4 1 37 1 90 3 0 1 2 75 132 125 159 2

31 1231 175 9 2 95 1 248 10 1

1 9 106 717 83 33 84 0 26 8 1 0 0 147 58 1 0 0 0 1 205 566 11 167 13 2251 122 0 331 6 15 2 74 1 1 1

2 6 218 274 452 682 3 8 1 17 395 1972 586 91 218 1 234 130 1 1 14 768 317 1 2 2 1 1 1084 767 52 475 79 6330 775 9 2382 35 33 2 150 3 2 15

9284

28519

1


LANDGUARD GULL STUDY by Roger Beecroft

The Landguard Gull Study is concentrating on the gulls using the Suffolk County Council Landfill Site at Foxhall near Ipswich and the breeding colony on Orfordness. Düring 1987, a total of 278 gull pulii was ringed on Orfordness and four successful Visits were made to cannon-net gulls at Foxhall, with 685 birds caught. Although work at Foxhall commenced less than two years ago we already have some interesting results. Black-headed Gull movements have been recorded between Foxhall and Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia, USSR, and Germany, indicating that many of the birds wintering in Suffolk breed in the Baltic. The individuai found in Norway on 9.4.87 had travelled some 1096km from Foxhall where it was ringed only 33 days earlier on 7.3.87. This is a good example of the thousands of birds that winter in Suffolk and départ in mid-March when numbers at sites like Foxhall decrease rapidly. Birds using Foxhall are also known to do so over successive winters — seven birds have already been retrapped in two winter seasons. Soon after the Black-headed Gulls départ the Lesser Black-backs are rapidly returning. From April gulls at Foxhall are again counted in thousands, with Herring and Lesser Blackbacks present in roughly equal numbers; Black-headed Gulls are now seen only in tens because our breeding population stays mainly coastal during the summer. The link between Foxhall and Orfordness has been confirmed by recoveries of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls ringed at Foxhall and found at the Orfordness breeding colony. The proportion of breeding birds using sites like Foxhall has still to be assessed — we hope to do this during 1988. A colour-marking project to find out how far breeding birds travel to feed is already being planned for 1989! Lesser Black-backs ringed in Suffolk have recently been found during the winter in the Algarve, Portugal and Tarfaya on the coast of Western Sahara. One second winter bird had its ring number read through a telescope in Merseyside showing the large wintering range of the Suffolk birds. Herring Gull movements are still unclear. Numbers at Foxhall are low during the winter, but no long distance movements have been recorded. Birds caught at Foxhall include individuals ringed in Essex, Kent and Lincolnshire. The number of gulls ringed is restricted financially and we are therefore grateful for the grant provided by Suffolk County Council. 120


Suffolk Ringing Report by Reg Clarke and Ian Peters

Wind, rain and a freak hurricane were the extremes that Suffolk's ringers endured in 1987, but despite these conditions the record ringing total, set in 1986, was surpassed (table H). The highlights of an excellent year included the addition of four species to the County ringing list: Mediterranean Gull, Desert Wheatear, Marsh Warbler and Dusky Warbler and the establishment of new national longevity records for Shelduck and Avocet. Subalpine Warbler and Little Bunting were ringed for the second successive year. The longest movements involved a Swallow from Bourne Park to South Africa and a Lesser Black-backed Gull from Orfordness to Western Sahara. Waders, especially Dunlin, proved difficult to trap but there were improved catches of Ringed Plover and Redshank. A good passage of Common Sandpipers resulted in several being ringed along with a few Greenshank and a Wood Sandpiper. Four Constant Effort Sites were in operation and the specific ringing studies on Woodlark and Stone Curlew continued. The purchase of cannon-netting equipment by Landguard Bird Observatory proved beneficial, with good returns from gulls ringed at the Foxhall Infill. New catching techniques included the use of 'Potter traps' and low-power tapelures which significantly boosted the totals of WTieatear, Meadow Pipit, Whinchat, Black Redstart, House Martin and Swallow. Ringing sites took quite a battering in the aftermath of October's hurricane with a number being completely destroyed. A similar fate fell upon one of the County's migration study areas, set in the grounds of the Sizewell Power Station, but this time due to the imminent construction of the 'B' complex. With much time spent clearing gale-damaged areas ringing activities were curtailed in the latter two months of the year. There is still a significant return from the extensive wildfowl studies conducted by the Wildfowl Trust, at Nacton Decoy, despite its closure as a ringing station in 1982. The rĂŠsumĂŠ principally refers to controls or recoveries affecting 1987 but as details of birds, found in foreign parts, sometimes take years to reach the finder/ringer the highlights back to 1982 are included in this report. The first annual meeting of Suffolk ringers" was held at the Post House Hotel, Ipswich on Feb. 26th, 1988. The second meeting will take place on Saturday Apr. 1st, 1989, at Landguard Bird Observatory, commencing at 10.30 hours, and Chris Mead head of die BTO's Ringing Office will be present to comment on the objectives and future of the Ringing Scheme. On the evening before Chris will deliver a lecture on ringing and migration, at the Post House Hotel commencing at 19.30 hours, to which all ornithologists are invited. Ringers, operating within the County, are again requested to forward a copy of their ringing returns to Reg Clarke at the same time as these are forwarded to the BTO. 121


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 EURING 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 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 Caught or trapped, released with ring w 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 0 caught or trapped alive and not released /?/ Manner of recovery unknown * Exact locality witheld

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo C. 1 17.06.86 Tofte So 56°52'N 10°12'E (Jylland) Denmark vv 216886 05.07.87 Wilford Bridge, Bromeswell 52°05'N 01°21'E (green TB4 L/Leg) vv 02.08.87 Wilford Bridge, Bromeswell C. 1 31.05.85 Braendegards So 55°08'N 10°24'E (Fyn) Denmark 214910 vv 05.07.87 Wilford Bridge, Bromeswell (red K46 R/Leg) vv 02.08.87 Wilford Bridge, Bromeswell ? 1 ??.??.87 St Margaret's Island, Tenby 51°38'N 04°42'W (Dyfed) vv 13.09.87 Wilford Bridge, Bromeswell 415Km E (green NB L/leg) ? 1 ??.??.87 St Margaret's Island, Tenby 51°38'N 04°42'W (Dyfed) vv 13.09.87 Wilford Bridge, Bromeswell 415Km E (green D4 L/leg) ? •n r> 86 Oostvaardersdijk 52°25'N 05° 14'E (Ijsselmeerpolders) N e t h e r l a n d s Î vv 24.10.87 Wilford Bridge, Bromeswell 72Km W (yellow BC R/leg) ? 1 ??.??.87 Solway Firth 54°58'N 03°30'W (Dumfries and Galloway) vv 24.10.87 Wilford Bridge, Bromeswell (white CL R/leg) The Dutch bird was the same as that present in 1986 and those from Denmark are the first Suffolk sightings originating from that country. Canada Goose Branta canadensis ? 4 20.06.87 Lackford 52°19'N 00°34'E vv 15.08.87 Sutton Bingham Reservoir, Somerset One of three geese sighted outside the County being identified by colour rings attached in conjunction with the Lark Valley Canada Goose study (see summary on page ??). Shelduck Tadorna tadorna GP25713 3J 12.09.70 x 04.04.86

Buüey 52°05'N 01°30'E Hogmast, Manningtree 51°56'N 01°05'E (Essex) 30Km SW 5.68J days This is a new British longevity record which previously stood at 12 years. 122


Wigeon Anas penelope FV77050 3F +F

09.09.79 Nacton 52°01'N 01°15'E 20.05.82 Nr Berezovo 63°58'N 65"00'E (Khanty-Mansi) U.S.S.R. 3,942Km ENE Since 1982 birds from Nacton Decoy have been recovered in the U.S.S.R. (two), Finland, Sweden, Denmark (three), Germany, Netherlands, France and Italy (two). The most distant recovery since 1982 is published. •adwall Anas streperà FV77225 3F +F

31.08.81 Nacton 14.02.82 Baie du Seine 49°30'N 00°15'E (Seine-Maritime) France 288Km SSW

Teal Anas crecca EH57160 4M +F

04.11.80 Nacton 20.08.86 Vuorijarvi Parkano 62°03'N 22°55'E (Turku-Pori) Finland 1,713Km NE EH57261 3M 15.11.81 Nacton x 15.05.83 Sotkamo 64°08'N 28°23'E (Oulu) Finland 2,072Km NE 12.10.80 Nacton EH57146 4M 08.09.86 Audsholt, Biskupstungnahr 64°07'N 20°29'W (Arn) Iceland +F l,844Km NW In addition to those published, and since 1982, there were recoveries from Finland, Sweden, Denmark (two) Germany and France (five). The record of EH57146 represents Britain's third recovery from Iceland. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos GP82623 3M 08.11.76 Nacton +F 16.10.83 Nr Onega 63°56'N 38°06'E (Arkhangelsk) U.S.S.R. 2,522Km NE Since 1982 foreign recoveries have been received from U.S.S.R (three), Poland, Finland (five), Norway, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands (seven) and France (eight). The most distant is published. Pintail Anas acuta

FV77237

4M 09.09.81 Nacton +F 15.05.84 Nr Muzhi 65°22'N 64°34'E (Yamal-Nenets) U.S.S.R. 3,895Km ENE Foreign recoveries were from the U.S.S.R.(three including the above), Finland (two), Denmark (two) and France (three). 123


Shoveler Anas clypeata FS25692 4M 06.10.71 Nacton +F 24.11.84 Wix, Manningtree 51°55'N 01°19'E (Essex) 13Km SSW This local recovery shows this long-lived individual's fidelity to south Suffolk estuaries. Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula FS99351 1 22.07.79 /?/ 14.03.87

Hollesley 52°03'N 01°26'E Almere-haven 52°20'N 05°13'E (Ijsselmeerpolders) Netherlands 260Km E

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus SS64637 1 04.07.85 Coastal Suffolk* x 06.11.86 Bhail, Fez 32°20'N 06°47'W Morocco 2,315Km SSW By amazing coïncidence this bird was recovered just nine days previous to its brother/sister (SS64636) being found dead in Portugal. Both birds were part of a brood of four and these recoveries clearly demónstrate the vulnerabilty of our breeding birds once they leave our shores. Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus FR82601 6 23.02.86 Fagbury 51°58'N 01°18'E +F 03.08.87 Zuydcoote 51°04'N 02°30'E (Nord) France 128Km SE Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta ED52654 1 06.06.71 Minsmere (red colour-ring on L/leg) vv 25.07.87 Minsmere 52° 14'N 01 °37'E EN45965 3 18.08.86 Butley 52°05'N 01°30'E x 15.01.87 Playa de Aro 41°50'N 03°03'E (Gerona) Spain l,145Km S Despite the presence of colour rings it is not always possible to identify the individual concerned. There are currendy at least three Avocets, in Suffolk, bearing red rings. The ring number on the Minsmere bird was transcribed in the field and far exceeds the previous British longevity record which stood at five years. Prior to 1987 there were only two recoveries from Spain. Stone Curlew Burhinus oedienemus EH28534 1 18.06.85 Breck» +F 02.11.85 Ullibarri-Gamboa 42°56'N 02°36'W (Alava) Spain 1,078Km SSW It is likely that this was killed on passage thus further demonstrating the hazards encountered by Suffolk s migratory breeding birds. Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima St. 2 31.12.85 Nidingen 57°18'N 11°54'E (Halland) Sweden 4235210 vv 11.04.86 Ness Point 52°29'N 01 °46'E 839Km SW Coincidentally the bird observed at Landguard in 1985 was also ringed at Nidingen, Halland. This gives some indication as to the origins of the County's wintering population. Dunlin Calidris alpina With fewer birds being trapped there were less 'controls'. Predictably birds bearing foreign rings were fro"1 the Netherlands (three), Poland (two), and West Germany. Redshank Tringa totanus DN61564 6 24.01.87 Fagbury x 29.01.87 Wimereux 50°46'N 01 °37'E (Pas-de-Calais) France 135Km SSE This movement may have been a response to food shortages caused by severe weather. The bird travelled 135 kilométrés in the space of five days. 124


Plate 25: A bird's-eye view of Landguard Point, Felixstowe, 1986.

Plate 26: Dusky Warbier at Landguard, Oct. 1987.

Plate 27: Desert Wheatear at Landguard Oct. 1987.


V<

*i 1 | f* • «r • - Ii' r '• A r . V V7? * Ii -iVvÖT *» > *:, - ?V j. ' > i

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Plate 28: Reed Warbier.

Plate 29: Wet meadows on Orfordness, June 1988.

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Black-headed Gull Larus Mu. 1 U401055 V Mu. 1 U377056 V St. 1 6096329 6096329 V ED45181 1

ridibundus 27.06.85 06.12.86 11.06.81 06.12.86 27.06.86

Ulemiste, Tallinu 59°27'N 24°45'E (Estonia) U.S.S.R. Foxhall Infill 52°02'N 01°16'E l,679Km WSW Kolmenasva, Matsalu 58°45'N 23°41'E (Estonia) U.S.S.R. Foxhall Infill l,596Km WSW Vorrgrunden, Skelleftehamn 64°41'N 21°18'E (Vasterbotten) Sweden NE 02.02.87 Landguard Point 51°56'N 01°19'E l,825Km WSW 14.07.69 Waldringfield 52°03'N 01°20'E V 18.02.87 Sompting, Worthing 50°51'N 00°20'W (Sussex) 176Km S EN78786 6 11.01.87 Ipswich 52°04'N 01°10'E X 14.04.87 Rakvere 59°22'N 26°19'E (Estonia) U.S.S.R. l,766Km ENE EN22593 5 11.02.85 Ipswich 52°04'N 01°10'E X 06.05.87 Kirkkojarvi, Toholampi 63°46'N 24°18'E (Vaasa) Finland 1,874Km NE EN22558 6 10.02.85 Ipswich 52°04'N 01°10'E w 09.06.87 Hietaniemi 60°10'N 24°55'E (Helsinki) Finland l,719Km NE There were many recoveries of this well-travelled species which is due to both the increase in the numbers ringed and the skill of observers, both at home and abroad, in transcribing ring numbers in the field. All of the six international movements shown are in excess of 1,500 kilometres. There were additional recoveries from Sweden, Denmark (four) and West Germany (two). The manner of the recovery of EN78786 was unusual being taken by a Mink at a Russian Mink Farm. The longevity of the species is demonstrated by ED45181 which is still surviving after 18 years (the British record is currently 22 years).

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus GH57291 1 11.07.87 Orfordness 52°07'N 01 °33'E x 15.12.87 Tan Tan, Western Sahara 28°26'N 11°06'W 2,834Km SSW Most southerly recovery yet of a bird originating from the Orfordness colony. Herring Gull Larus argentatus Mu. 1 08.06.86 Haademeeste, Parnu 58°06'N 24°29'E (Estonia) U.S.S.R. T29866 x 13.02.87 Martlesham Heath 52°03'N 01°17'E l,618Km WSW Barn Owl Tyto alba GH23392 3

28.09.86 Landguard Point 09.02.87 Tendring, nr Clacton 51°53'N 01°08'E (Essex) 14Km WSW This is the first record of a bird ringed in Suffolk but recovered elsewhere. Long-eared Owl Asia olus GH23400 2M 15.11.86 Landguard Point xF 12.03.87 Heme Bay, Reculver 51°23'N 01 °08'E (Kent) 63Km S GJ95476 4F 10.06.87 Landguard Point xF 29.12.87 Felixstowe 51°58'N 01°20'E 4Km N The recovery of GH23400 shows that at least one of the birds, involved in the autumn influx of 1986, had overwintered in eastern England. The other record is most unusual involving a female, complete with brood Patch, oversummering in the Felixstowe Dock area.

Cuckoo Cuculus canorus DA49739 4F 19.05.85 Landguard Point v 13.06.87 Litüebourne 51°17'N OriO'E (Kent) 73Km S This represents Landguard's first recovery of this species. It was found injured after hitting glass, laid an e 8g, and was released after care.

125


Sand Martin Riparia riparia E221811 3 16.06.87 River Usk, Abergavenny 51 °49'N 03°01'W (Gwent) v 16.07.87 Levington 51°59'N 01°16'E 294Km W Swallow Hirundo rustica B383965 3 29.08.86 xF 07.05.87 C8260% 4 22.09.85 xF 13.02.87 The recovery of B383965 involved a was exhausted and died later.

Redgrave Fen 52°23'N 01°01'E North Aüantic 31°12'N 11°43'W Moroeco 2,573Km SW Bourne Park, Ipswich 52°01'N 01°09'E Bethal 26°23'S 29°30'E (Transvaal) South Africa 9,147Km S bird that came aboard a yacht about 100 miles west of Morocco. It

Robin Erithacus rubecula A. 3 13.10.85 Oostvaardersdijk 52°25'N 05°14'E (Ijsselmeerpolders) Netherlands A789988 v 05.04.87 Landguard Point 272Km W Prior to 1987 only 26 Dutch ringed Robins had been recovered in Britain. Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti E670940 3M 23.10.87 Landguard Point v 26.10.87 Prawle Point 50°12'N 03"44'W (Devon) 402Km WSW One of the most remarkable occurrences of 1987. This bird, new to Suffolk, arrived on 20th, was trapped at the first attempt in a potter trap on 23rd, and stayed until the evening of 24th. The bird was relocated the next day at Prawle Point and the ring number confirmed with the aid of a telescope. Blackbird Turdus merula XK22024 5F 02.01.81 Waldringfield 52°03'N 01°20'E + 23.12.86 Pas-de-Calais 50°57'N 01 °50'E France 127Km SE RB58791 5M 08.03.86 Ipswich 52°04'N 01°10'E v 21.10.86 Orna 55°09'N 11°10'E (Sjaelland) Denmark 743Km NE RB66445 6F 14.03.87 Landguard xF 11.04.87 Tranebjerg 55°50'N 10°36'E (Samso) Denmark 746Km ENE There were additional recoveries from West Germany (three) and France. Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus B356083 3 07.09.81 Titchfield Haven 50°49'N 01°14'W (Hampshire) v 26.04.87 Holbrook 51°58'N 01°H'E 211Km ENE B886525 4 24.07.83 Walberswick 52°18'N 01°38'E v 28.05.87 Landguard Point 46Km SSW C931665 3 15.08.87 Walberswick 52° 18'N 01 °38'E x 23.08.87 Hove 50°49'N 00°10'W (Sussex) 206Km S E533555 3 08.08.87 Sizewell 52°12'N 01°37'E v 30.08.87 Mortagne Sur Gironde 45°92'N 00°47'W (Charente-Maritime) France 766Km Garden Warbler Sylvia borin C829219 3 23.09.86 Landguard Point x 20.05.87 Florennes 50°51'N 04°37'E (Namur) Belgium 297Km SE Prior to 1987 only three British ringed Garden Warblers had been recovered in Belgium. Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus C931665 3 16.08.87 Walberswick 52°18'N 01°10'E v 12.11.87 Brandon Marsh 52°23'N 01 °26'W (Warwickshire) 208Km W This is an exceptional movement for recent years, but would fit into the pattern of movements r e c o r d e d when the population was high during the 1960s. 126


Starling Sturnus vulgaris Suk. 3F 24.06.86 Ventes Ragas, Silute 55°21'N 21°13'E (Lithuania) U.S.S.R. T102285 v 22.02.87 Ipswich 52°04'N 01°10'E l,367Km WSW As expected there were additional foreign recoveries from the Netherlands (three), West and East Germany and France. A bird ringed at Walberswick, as a juvenile in June 1978, was present at the same site in December 1986 attaining the age of eight and a half years. Greenfinch Carduelis chloris VB01296 5M 27.03.86 Landguard Point V 04.01.87 Le Foulon 49°28'N 02°34'W (Guernsey) Channel Islands 387Km SSW J. 5M 10.02.87 Les Landes, St. Peter Port 49°26'N 02°37'W (Guernsey) A18867 Channel Islands V 17.04.87 Landguard Point 392Km NE J. 5F 15.02.87 Le Foulon 49°28'N 02°34'W (Guemsey) Channel Islands A41898 V 19.04.87 Landguard Point 387Km NE The interchange of birds between Landguard and the Channel Isles is likely to be due to cold weather dispersal. Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis C829824 3M 22.11.86 Landguard Point X 03.01.87 Hazebrouck 50°43'N 02 °32'E (Nord) France 159Km SSE Siskin Carduelis spinus C715867 6M

04.04.86 Ipswich 12.04.87 Woodside of Tollie, Ussie, Conon Bridge, 57°34'N 04°29'W (Highland Region) 710Km NNW C426257 3 18.08.85 Ipswich X 05.09.87 Stjordal 63°27'N 10°57'E (Nord-Troudelag) Norway 1389Km NNE C715984 6M 15.04.86 Ipswich X 01.11.87 A. W. Duinen, by Zandvoort 52°21'N 04°32'E (Noord-Holland) Netherlands 231Km E Prior to 1987 there had only been 23 British ringed Siskins recovered in Norway. V

Linnet Carduelis cannabina E396697 3 26.03.87 Landguard Point 0 28.10.87 Los Lances, Tarifa 36°02'N05°37'W (Cadiz) Spain l,850Km SSW Landguard's furthest foreign recovery of this species, but unfortunately it shows the attitudes of some Mediterranean countries as this bird was captured alive and then caged. Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus C826544 4F 02.05.87 Bourne Park, Ipswich x 29.07.87 Stutton, nr Ipswich 51°57'N 01°09'E 7Km S The manner of this recovery is the most interesting factor, the ring being found in a Kestrel's pellet. Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Chris Mead, for his comments on the draft, and Rex and Roger Beecroft, Peter Catchpole, Malcolm Cavanagh, Chris Bowden, Derek Eaton, Landguard Bird Observatory, Dr Tony Martin, Dr Peter McAnulty, Alan Miller, Derek and Jeremy Moore, Philip Murton, Paul Newton, Steve Piotrowski, Roy Thatcher, Brian Thompson, Tony Thompson, Cliff Waller, Lyn Webb, Rodney West, Chris Wright, and Mick Wright without whose efforts and co-operation this ringing report would not have been produced. Reg Clarke, 6 Nelson Road, Ipswich IP4 4DS. Ian Peters, 'Petang ', The Street, Shotley, Ipswich IP9 1LX. 127


TABLE D: SYSTEMATIC LIST O F SPECIES AND TOTALS O F BIRDS RINGED IN SUFFOLK, 1987 Species Fui mar Grey Heron Mute Swan Canada Goose Shelduck Teal Mallard Pintail Tufted Duck Sparrowhawk Kestrel Moorhen Coot Oystercatcher Avocet Ringed Piover Grey Piover Lapwing Dunlin Jack Snipe Snipe Woodcock Black-tailed Godwit Curlew Redshank Greenshank Green Sandpiper Wood Sandpiper Common Sandpiper Turnstone Mediterranean Gull Black-headed Gull Common Gull Lr. Blk.-backed Gull Herring Gull Gt. Blk.-backed Gull Common Tern Little Tern Wood Pigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Cuckoo Barn Owl Little Owl Tawny Owl

Total 6 17 2 140 4 15 1 1 6 1 5 3 1 122 28 148 10 65 178 3 55 2 5 19 109 6 2 1 17 5 1 732 20 363 221 6 6 48 11 90 24 9 6 1 4

Species

Total

Long-eared Owl Nightjar Swift Kingfisher Wryneck Green Woodpecker Gt. Sptd. W'pecker Lr. Sptd. W'pecker Woodlark Skylark Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit Meadow Pipit Rock Pipit Yellow Wagtail Pied Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Nightingale Black Redstart Redstart Whinchat Stonechat Wheatear Desert Wheatear Ring Ouzel Blackbird Fieldfare Song Thrush Redwing Mistle Thrush G'hopper Warbier Sedge Warbier Marsh Warbier Reed Warbler Icterine Warbler Subalpine Warbler Barred Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler Blackcap

128

2 10 94 2 3 2 9 10 40 8 841 1168 738 13 189 1 14 92 293 514 737 24 69 41 25 3 101 1 11 1322 40 550 44 18 15 265 1 616 3 1 2 146 262 201 411

Species

Total

2 Pallas's Warbler 1 Yellow-browed Warb. 1 Dusky Warbler 10 Wood Warbler 268 Chiffchaff 1012 Willow Warbler 113 Goldcrest 35 Firecrest 155 Spotted Flycatcher 28 Pied Flycatcher 1 Bearded Tit 129 Long-tailed Tit 41 Marsh Tit 8 Willow Tit 107 Coal Tit 1638 Blue Tit 799 Great Tit 27 Nuthatch 49 Treecreeper 14 Jay 2 Magpie 1 Jackdaw 2 Rook 2308 Starling 577 House Sparrow 13 Tree Sparrow 383 Chaffinch 14 Brambling 3666 Greenfinch 281 Goldfinch 29 Siskin 418 Linnet 7 Twite 78 Redpoll 2 Crossbill 205 Bullfinch 3 Lapland Bunting 2 Snow Bunting 121 Yellowhammer 1 Ortolan Bunting 1 Little Bunting 97 Reed Bunting 1 Com Bunting GRAND TOTAL

24121


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 the Society's primary objects, and members' observations are fed to a network of specialist recorders for possible publication, and deposited in the Suffolk Biological Records Centre, jointly managed with Ipswich 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 a quarterly newsletter and organises an interesting programme of summer field excursions and winter lectures at venues throughout the County. The Suffolk Naturalists' Society offers a joint membership with the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group at a reduced subscription. This entitles joint members to receives literature and attend the meetings of both organisations. If you are not yet a member of the Society but would like to join, contact Jeff Martin, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH. MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES SNS Individual £8.00 £10.00 Family £3.00 Junior (under 18)

Joint membership SNS/SOG £14.00 £17.00 £4.00


CONTENTS Editorial. S. H. Piotrowski Seabirds and Seawatching in Suffolk 1987. J. M. Cawston and S. Ling Barn Owl mortality during the Winter of 1986/87. J. R. Martin Suffolk Ornithological Surveys: Lark Valley Canada Goose Study. Dr Tony Martin Winter Status of the Hen Harrier in Suffolk 1984-88. Roger Clarke Breeding Lapwings. Ray Waters National Breeding Bird Atlas — Pilot Survey. Ray Waters Weather trends and their effect on the county's avifauna 1987. J. H. Grant Field Reports — 1987. The County Ornithological Records Committee Earliest and Latest dates of Summer Migrants. S. H. Piotrowski List of Contributors Rarities in Suffolk 1987: Reporting County Rarities. Brian Brown Little Bustards. Reg Clarke Long-tailed Skua. Start Ling Red-rumped Swallow — first for Suffolk. A. Mullins Red-rumped Swallow — second for Suffolk. Derek Moore Red-rumped Swallow — third for Suffolk. A. C. Easton Desert Wheatear — first for Suffolk. Mike Crewe Marsh Warbler — second for Suffolk. Mike Crewe Subalpine Warbler — second for Suffolk. Dave Butterfield Lesser Whitethroat, Sylvia curruca blythi. Mike Marsh Dusky Warbler — first for Suffolk. Dave Butterfield Landguard Bird Observatory, 1987. Mike Crewe Bourne Park. Mick Wright Birds Ringed at Landguard 1978-1987. Reg Clarke Landguard Gull Study. Roger Beecroft Suffolk Ringing Report. Reg Clarke and Ian Peters

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Suffolk Birds 1988  

Volume 37 Bird Report for 1987

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