THE C O U N T Y OF S U F F O L K ? & E
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Watsonian vice-counties 2 5 (East Suffolk) and 2 6 (West Suffolk).
SUFFOLK BIRDS 1989 VOL. 3 8 incorporating the County Bird Report of 1988
Editor S. H. Piotrowski Assistant Editor P. W. Murphy Graphic/Photographic Editor D. R. Moore
Published by SUFFOLK NATURALISTS' SOCIETY 1989
Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH. ÂŠ The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, 1989 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.
Printed by Healeys, Fore Street, Ipswich, Suffolk 2
CONTENTS Editorial. S. H. Piotrowski Birds of Estuaries Enquiry â€” the first twenty years. M. T. Wright Shorebirds and the Felixstowe Dock extension. R. C. Beecroft Suffolk Estuaries Breeding Wader and Wildfowl Survey 1988. Dr C. Beardall Seabirds in Suffolk, 1988. J. M. Cawston & S. Ling Distribution and status of the Nightjar on the Suffolk Sandlings. N. O. B. Ravenscroft Fall of migrant birds October 1988. S. H. Piotrowski Weather trends and their effect on the county's avifauna 1988. J. H. Grant The 1988 Suffolk Bird Report. The County Ornithological Records Committee Earliest and latest dates of summer migrants. S. H. Piotrowski List of contributors Rarities in Suffolk 1988. S. H. Piotrowski Cattle Egret. Mark Whittingham Paddy field Warbler. J. R. Askins Red-eyed Vireo. D. N. Bakewell Obituary â€” F. K. Cobb (1912-1989). Gerald Jobson Notes The Suffolk Lammergeier. H. Mendel Lesser Black-backed Gulls plunge diving in Ipswich Docks. J. R. Martin Aberrant Whinchat. S. H. Piotrowski Lark Valley Canada Goose Study. Dr Tony Martin Letters. Haverhill's Starlings. Stephen Edwards Landguard Bird Observatory, 1988. Mike Crewe Bourne Park. Reg Clarke Suffolk Ringing Report. Reg Clarke and Ian Peters
Page 5 6 15 18 21 26 33 36 40 119 120 121 122 122 123 124 125 125 126 127 128 128 129 136 138
List of Colour Illustrations Plate No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Castle Marshes. D. R. Moore Lapwing. Eric & David Hoskings Fagbury. 1987. Felixstowe Dock & Railway Co. Fagbury. 1989. Felixstowe Dock & Railway Co. Oystercatchers. R. C. Beecroft Fulmar. S. H. Piotrowski Goosander. S. Dumican Common Buzzard. S. Dumican Crane. R. C. Beecroft Crane. R. C. Beecroft Ringed Plover. S. Dumican Black-winged Stilt. S. H. Piotrowski Purple Sandpiper. J. Levene Ruff. S. H. Piotrowski Iceland Gull. J. Levene
Facing Page 6 6 7
Plate No. 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
7 18 18 19 19 66 66 66 67 67 82 82
27 28 29 30
The copyright remains that of the
Facing Page Common Tern. J. Levene Little Auk. T. W. Palmer Short-eared Owl. T. W. Palmer Hoopoe. D. R. Moore Tree Pipit. S. Dumican Waxwing. S. H. Piotrowski Robin. T. W. Palmer Wheatear. S. Dumican Subalpine Warbler. M. Dean Icterine Warbler. J. Levene Paddyfield Warbler. Landguard Bird Observatory Spotted Flycatcher. Eric & David Hoskings Long-tailed Tit. S. Dumican Ortolan Bunting. D. Mitchell Snow Bunting. J. Levene
82 83 83 83 132 132 132 133 133 133 140 140 141 141 141
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 references and tables. Nomenclature (English and scientific) and order should follow The 'British 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 Ist 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 Cawston, John Grant, Gerrald Jobson. 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 A double celebration takes place in 1989 when the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) celebrates its centenary and the Suffolk Naturalists' Society (SNS) its Diamond Jubilee. All ornithologists are indebted to the outstanding work of the RSPB and through its success, a more widespread concern for the welfare of our birds and their environment is shown by ordinary people and not just the conservation-minded. For sixty years the SNS has flown the flag for ornithological recording in Suffolk, maintaining the records system, organising surveys and publishing journals such as Suffolk Birds. In recent years they have been ably assisted by the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group (SOG). Interest in birds has grown considerably this century, to the extent that the RSPB can now boast of a membership exceeding a half a million (1 % of the population of the UK). The fascination of birds attracts enthusiasts from all walks of life and there is a variety of aspects on which one can concentrate. There is conservation, which may include habitat improvement by way of management, bird study and recording, ringing, population studies or just straight forward observation, be it of birds in the garden, seawatching, visiting the local nature reserve or chasing rarities further afield. Perhaps the latter activity, twitching, is becoming the most popular particularly amongst the younger birdwatchers. Looking back to 1988 the year may prove to be the most important in the County's ornithological history, principally because it saw the start of an ambitious project in which every town and parish will be searched to determine the distribution and population of our breeding species. It was a year in which three species were added to the Suffolk list: Cattle Egret, Paddyfield Warbler and Red-eyed Vireo, but otherwise it was not exceptional for rarities. The year will perhaps be best remembered for the tremendous 'fall' which occurred in mid-October, which was most evident at Landguard Bird Observatory, where thousands of birds were grounded. Subsequent to the commencement of work extending Felixstowe Dock further into the Orwell Estuary the task of creating the Trimley Marshes Nature Reserve was undertaken by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Creation of freshwater lagoons and wet meadows is underway and the area of some 200 acres should prove attractive to many species such as Lapwing, Redshank and Snipe in the breeding season and to Brent Geese and other wildfowl in the winter. However, it will not compensate for the loss of Fagbury Flats and shorebirds typical of intertidal mud. The SWT agreed to purchase 125 acres of Castle Marshes, Barnby, which are some of the finest grazing marshes still left in the Waveney Valley. Rich in dyke flora and dragonfly species, these marshes also hold nesting Lapwing and Redshank, a splendid pair of Barn Owls, Marsh Harriers and occasionally Garganey. SWT's Lackford Wildfowl Reserve was formally opened by Bill Oddie in November 1988 and the SOG's 1989 New Year's Day birdwatch raised over ÂŁ400 which will be put towards the development of a new wader scrape there. The Kittiwake colony at Lowestoft has been a popular feature of The Suffolk Bird Report since they first bred there in 1958. Sadly their principal nesting site, the South Pier Pavilion, has been demolished, but the developers have constructed an artificial cliff at the harbour mouth and early signs indicate that some of the birds have adopted this as their new home.
The Editor is indebted to all the contributors without whom Suffolk Birds 1989 would not have been possible. Special thanks are due to the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee and in particular Brian Brown and John Grant. Stirling work by the Assistant Editor, Philip Murphy, helped maintain our high standards and again Derek Moore organised the submission of drawings and photographs.
The Birds of Estuaries Enquiry in Suffolk - the first twenty years by M. T. Wright Prior to the 1970s the importance of British estuaries, and their significance for wintering populations of waders and wildfowl, was largely unknown. Estuarine habitats were being lost to agricultural réclamation, industrial development and recreational pursuits with ever increasing frequency, placing untold pressures on estuary birds. At the same time there were numerous proposais for water-Storage barrage schemes, with the potential loss of habitat spelling disaster for shorebird populations. Such threats, plus the lack of quantitative information on the birds involved, resulted in the instigation of the Birds of Estuaries Enquiry (BoEE). National Perspective In August 1969 a literature search was undertaken by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and in winter 1969/70 a pilot study was undertaken by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). This led to a five-year project funded jointly by the RSPB and the Nature Conservancy (now the Nature Conservancy Council — NCC) and administered by the BTO. Tony Prater was appointed, in June 1970, to organise the project at a national level and to publish the findings of the Enquiry (Prater 1981). The BoEE monitors wader and wildfowl numbers annually with the aim of documenting population levels and fluctuations at each of Britain's estuaries. This data is used to help assess the impact of any proposed development at a local, national and international level. Following the completion of the five year project, the lack of resources resulted in a graduai running down of the scheme, although comprehensive mid-winter counts continued at many British sites which included most of the Suffolk estuaries. With threats to estuaries increasing in frequency, Mike Moser was appointed full-time Estuaries Officer in 1982 (succeeded by Robert Prys-Jones in 1987). His main objectives were to restore fieldworker participation in the BoEE to the 1975 level (1,000 people were then involved) and to computerize estuary data. Jeff Kirby became Assistant Estuaries Officer in 1986 resulting in an expansion in the scope of the Estuaries Programme. Suffolk's Personalities Düring the inaugural years the BoEE in Suffolk had two regional co-ordinators; the late G. B. G. Benson from the Deben to Breydon Water and R. M. Blindell from the Orwell to the Thames. Each estuary had its own organiser and through their locai knowledge and enthusiasm the foundation of co-operation and willingness was set, leading to a dedicated band of fieldworkers. Düring the earlier years, counts for Breydon Water were organised by Mike Jenner, the Blyth by the Dingle Bird Club, the Ore and Butley River by the late Mike Cavanagh, the Upper Aide by R. E. Tuberfield and J. W. Clarke, the Deben by Geoff Hollis and the Stour by the late John Longhurst. The Orwell was counted by pupils from Northgate Grammar School's Bird Club in Ipswich, under guidance of their schoolmaster Bill Plumb, and included Mike Marsh, Philip Murphy and Ray Waters who continue counting the estuaries today.
Plate 1: Castle Marshes, Barnby, in north Suffolk, consists of 125 acres of grazing marsh and is the County's newest nature reserve.
Plate 2: A total of 251 breeding pairs of Lapwing were located during the Estuaries Breeding Wader and Wildfowl Survey.
Present day co-ordinators are John Shackles, Rodney West, Nick Mason, John Turner, John Glazebrook and myself for the Blyth, Aide/Ore, Deben, Stour, Alton Water and Orwell respectively. The fieldwork is carried out at monthly intervais and coincides with spring tides to obtain an accurate count of waders at roost. About ninety fieldworkers are employed to achieve full coverage of Suffolk's estuaries. Currently, the Aide and Orwell are counted throughout the year, and the Stour fortnightly, at high and low-water (roosting and feeding birds). In addition, the Deben and Orwell are being monitored through monthly low-water counts as part of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust's (SWT) Estuaries Project. Ornithology Waders and wildfowl use the East Atlantic Flyway to commute between their breeding grounds in Arctic Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia and Western Siberia to wintering areas on the coast of Western Europe and West Africa. Suffolk's estuaries are favourably located within the Flyway and provide important refuges and feeding stations for substantial numbers of birds. Counts for the last five winters show that the average peak winter count for waders was 65,227 (peak 70,176) and for wildfowl 34,700 (peak 39,749). According to criteria given by SalmĂłn et al (1988) these vast wintering populations included an impressive list of sixteen species in nationally and nine in internationally significant numbers. The average maximum (av. max) and peaks (pk) used in the appraisal refer to the last five years (1984/89) unless otherwise stated. STOUR The Stour holds more wintering species of either international or national importance than any other estuary in Suffolk. Its wide expanse of intertidal marsh and mudflats accommodate Suffolk's largest populations of Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Piover, Dunlin and Mute Swan and good numbers of Redshank, Wigeon, Shelduck and Brent Geese. Counts for the first five years of the Enquiry (1970/75) show that the Stour held six species of international, and eleven of national importance, and the only changes since then involve Pintail, whose numbers no longer meet the criteria set for national importance and Curlew whose numbers have increased to this level. During the last twenty years many species have substantially increased their wintering numbers (Table I). The peak number of wintering wildfowl in 1988/89 was 8,580 and the average for the past five years was 8,489. During the late 1950s the Mistley Grain Wharf held a wintering Mute Swan herd totalling 950 (Blindell, 1976). Numbers plummeted during the 1960s, but the population has since stabilised and since 1976/77 the Stour has ranked between fifth and ninth most important estuatine wintering site in Britain. Brent Geese move between the estuaries of the Deben, Orwell, Stour and Hamford Water causing peaks and troughs in count totals. Nevertheless, the estuary regularly supports internationally important numbers. An increase in the population has been noted at ali Suffolk estuaries since the 1970s and the average for the Stour has risen from 363 in 1970-75 to 1,485 in 1984-89. Based on the predicted British population for 1988/89 of 109 â€” 147,000 (SalmĂłn 1988), Suffolk held 3-4%. Shelduck (av. max 1,811) and Wigeon (av. max 2,125) have declined over the twenty years but are stili present in internationally and nationally significant numbers respectively. Both Teal and Mallard have increased whilst Goldeneye have remained stable. The numbers of waders wintering on the Stour in 1988/89 peaked at 27,284 and averaged 25,182 over the past five years placing the Stour amongst the top 20 estuaries in the United Kingdom.' Oystercatchers regularly use the lower reaches of both the Stour and Orwell and should be considered as one population. Their numbers have increased substantially; the highest combined Stour/Orwell count for the periods of 1970/75 was 603 and for 1984/89 was 2,324.
The wintering Ringed Plover population (av. max 393, pk 525) has doubled over the past twenty years. Grey Plovers have also increased from an average maximum 356 in 1970/75 to 1,345 in 1984/89, an increase of 278%. An exceptional count of 1,761 in November 1988 was more than twice the level required for international importance. Dunlin have remained reasonably constant (av. max 16,146) and not shown the national downward trend (Moser 1987). The wintering population of Black-tailed Godwits is of Icelandic origin â€” Limosa limosa islandica (Cramp and Simmons 1983), and is the Stour's most important species. The population has remained relatively stable although an increase has been noted during the last five seasons. An exceptional peak count of 1,660 occurred in February 1986 and the average maximum of 1,132 for 1984/89 represents 23% of the British population. Redshank figures show a striking decline of 31 % when comparing the average maximum for 1970/75 (2,409) with 1984/89 (1,651). This is approximately 10% more than the national trend (Moser 1987). Turnstone (av. max 531), however, regularly peak above the level of international importance, the highest recorded BoEE count being 840 in November 1988. During autumn passage, Black-tailed Godwits (av. max 517, pk 888) occur in internationally important numbers and there are impressive counts of Ringed Plover (av. max 330), Grey Plover (av. max 641) and Redshank (av. max 1,506, pk 3,343), all of national significance. ORWELL A relatively narrow estuary with continuous mudflats throughout its length. Seawalls on the lower reaches protect either arable farmland or grazing marsh and give way to natural cliff, saltmarsh or sandy shoreline which is for the most part landscaped by woodland. The inter-tidal areas contain high densities and a wide variety of invertebrates that in turn support a diversity of wintering wildfowl and waders. Full coverage was achieved for only two winters (73/74 and 74/75) during the first five years of the Enquiry but, based on peak counts, the Orwell held one internationally and eleven nationally important species (Blindell 1976). During the past five years two species have had populations of international and six of national importance. Autumn passage Turnstone and Ringed Plover respectively reach levels of international and national importance. Based on peak counts the wintering wildfowl numbers for 1988/89 were 4,276 and the average for the past five winters was 5,279. In harsh winters these numbers are boosted by species, normally frequenting inland waters, seeking refuge in the warmer estuaries when their own haunts become frozen, e.g. Ipswich Docks held 1,150 Tufted Duck, 200 Pochard, ten Smew, 36 Scaup and 24 Red-breasted Mergansers in January 1985 (Murphy 1987) resulting in a wildfowl peak in excess of 7,500. Mute Swans have declined from an average maximum of 310 (1970/75) to 58 (1984/89) and are no longer of national importance. During the 1960s the Ipswich Docks herd often numbered 500 (Blindell 1976). Brent Geese (av. max 1,228, pk 2,000) are present in internationally significant numbers (see Stour). Shelduck show a slight increase (av. max 1,069 â€” 1979/75 to 1,132) and verge on internationally important status, whereas Wigeon (av. max 979) have remained relatively stable. Mallard have increased (av. max 382 â€” 1970/75 to 709) but the Shoveler, an important species during 1970/75 (av. max 68, pk 75), is now rarely seen. The concentration of Coot (regularly 580, pk 1,100) represents the second largest estuarine population in Britain (Blindell 1976) and more recently, in February 1985, exceeded 864 birds. The number of waders wintering on the Orwell in 1988/89 peaked at 15,124, slightly less than the average for 1984/85 to 1987/88 (16,437), placing the Orwell amongst the 8
top 25 estuaries in the United Kingdom.1 Oystercatchers (see Stour) and Ringed Plovers have steadily increased over the past 20 years, the latter to the level of international importance. On the basis of average counts from 1981 to 1987, the Orwell was the most important estuary in Britain for wintering Ringed Plover (O'Brien and Ravenscroft 1985). Likewise, Grey Plovers (av. max 255) have increased to a population level which is of national importance. Dunlin have increased by 15% since 1973/75 (av. max 7,649 to 8,774), although, after impressive populations during the early 1980s, the last six years have seen a 30% decline. Under exceptional circumstances however, the Orwell may support large numbers of Dunlin for a limited period, as was shown by a low-water count of 17,000 during January 1985's severe weather conditions. Knot populations fluctuate between years (av. max 1,192 pk 2,499). The Orwell is becoming a preferred estuary for Black-tailed Godwits, with a peak roost count of 139 in Dec. 1988 and average maximum for 1984/89 of 62 being of national significance. However, respective low-water counts for Dec. 1988 and Jan. 1989 were 440 and 480 which are of international significance. Redshank have declined in line with national trends by 19% (av. max 2,025 â€” 1970/75 to 1,637) to a level marginally short of that of international importance. Turnstone (av. max 340) have increased, but now fall short of the revised qualifying levels of national importance as a result of the survey of the UK's non-estuarine shores (Moser 1987). Curlew populations (av. max 627, pk 904 â€” February 1989) have remained relatively stable although some birds, on occasions, frequent both the Stour and the Orwell.
DEBEN Most of the Deben estuary is flanked by seawalls to protect low-lying arable fields. The estuary is shallow and meandering with extensive saltmarshes and supports important wintering populations of Brent Geese, Shelduck, Wigeon and Redshank. During the first five years of the Enquiry (1970/75) coverage was incomplete resulting in under-estimates. However, full coverage has been maintained (1984/89) and shown that there are five species of national and one of international importance. The average number of wintering wildfowl for the past five years was 6,113 and the estuary currently holds important concentrations of Mute Swan (av. max 118, pk 130), Bewick's Swan (pk 42) and White-fronted Goose (pk 109). Brent Geese (av. max 1,490, pk 3,360) are present in nationally important numbers (see Stour). The Shelduck population (av. max 1,055) is of national importance and appears to be increasing; a peak count of 1,408 in March 1989 exceeded the criteria for international importance. Wigeon (av. max 1,916) are present in nationally important numbers and Pintail (av. max 210, pk 345) are only marginally below this level. Small flocks of Teal (av. max 363) and Tufted Duck (av. max 56, pk 141) regularly occur and rafts of Goldeneye (av. max 91) have peaked at 186. The number of waders wintering on the Deben in 1988/89 peaked at 11,795 and the average for the last five years was 8,708. Oystercatcher (av. max 405), Curlew (av. max 762, pk 1,387) and Grey Plover (av. max 186) verge on nationally important status and occur with good populations of Dunlin (av. max 2,861, pk 4,019). Black-tailed Godwit numbers (av. max 150, pk 333) have increased over the past five years, as they have on the Stour and Orwell, and Redshank (av. max 1,736, pk 2,399) are present in nationally important numbers and only marginally short of the level set for international significance. During autumn passage Redshank (av. max 1,842, pk 2,707) are present in nationally, sometimes internationally, important numbers. Low-water counts for April 1988 and 1989 and for July 1988 were 68, 152 and 154 respectively showing the Deben to be of national importance for the species during passage periods. Also, in autumn, regionally good numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit (pk 101), Greenshank (pk 50), Common Sandpiper (pk 44) and Ringed Plover (pk 259) are present.
BLYTH The tidal basin of the Blyth lies two miles inland and is connected to the sea by a narrow Channel.
The average number of wintering wildfowl in 1988/89 was 2,236. After a series of lean years the Shelduck population (av. max 532) is no longer of national significance but remains regionally important. Regular wintering wildfowl also included Wigeon (av. max 1,243, pk 1,872) and small flocks of Mallard and Teal. The average number of wintering waders in 1988/89 was 3,014 but there are no species present of national significance. In line with the national trend the populations of Dunlin (av. max 1,417) and Redshank (av. max 661) have suffered a 20% decline over the past twenty years (Moser 1987). DĂźring spring passage small parties of Spotted Redshank are present and Black-tailed Godwits (pk 220 â€” April 1986) occur in nationally important numbers. More Redshank and Ringed Piover are present during autumn passage than at any other time. ALDE, ORE, BUTLEY AND HA VERGATE ESTUARY COMPLEX A large inter-tidal area makes up the inner Aide from where the estuary then narrows and turns southwards to join the River Ore at Orford. Incorporating Havergate Island, and flanked by the continually growing shingle spit of Orford Ness, the Ore is then in confluence with the Butley River before reaching the sea at Shingle Street. Extensive areas of grazing marsh and saltings are to be found throughout this complex. The first five years of the Enquiry (1970/75) established that important wintering populations occurred on the Butley River and Havergate Island. The following appraisal is for the whole of the Aide complex and is based on the last four years of counts. The Aide complex is ornithologically diverse and holds important populations of less common species. Nine species are of national and two of international significance. The area is also important to wildfowl and waders on passage. Wintering wildfowl numbers in 1988/89 peaked at 13,265 and average 11,174 over the past four years. Wigeon (av. max 5,014) are internationally important and in harsh winters may peak in excess of 7,000 birds. Mute Swan (av. max 174), Bewick's Swan (av. max 92, pk 154), White-fronted Goose (av. max 131, pk 235), Shelduck (av. max 1,100) and Teal (av. max 1,345) are ail present in nationally significant numbers with Pintail (av. max 217) only marginally short of the set criteria. The Shoveler (av. max 60) has declined over the past 20 years although it remains regionally important. Wintering waders average 11,886 over the past four years. The Avocet (av. max 386, pk 514) has firmly established the Aide complex as the most important wintering site in Britain and the only site of international importance. Grey Piover (av. max 215) and Redshank (av. max 949) winter in nationally important numbers.' Lapwing regularly occur in large numbers (av. max 5,205, pk 7,815) and Curlew numbers (av. max 882) regularly dip in November and peak in February. During passage periods Black-tailed Godwits (av. max 124, pk 184) occur in nationally significant numbers, although the spring population is smaller. Oystercatcher numbers rapidly increase from a low wintering population to peak in March. ALTON WATER Alton Water is a 390 acre reservoir supplying drinking water to south-east Suffolk and is used for water based sports and leisure activities. The reservoir is strategically placed between the Stour and Orwell Estuaries and is closely linked to them during times of disturbance or severe winter weather. During winter, flocks of Wigeon, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard and Coot are attracted to the reservoir. Great Crested Grebe regularly exceed 100, Grey-lag Geese have increased to 150 and the Canada Goose flock may number 500 or more. 10
TABLE I: Selected Wader and Wildfowl totals at Suffolk BoEE sites in winter.
Mute Swan Bewick's Swan E. White-f. Goose Brent Goose Canada Goose Shelduck Wigeon Teal Mallard Pintail Shoveler Tufted Duck Goldeneye Oystercatcher Avocet Ringed Plover Grey Plover Knot Dunlin Black-t. Godwit Curlew Redshank Turnstone
* + — §
Denotes Denotes Denotes Denotes
STOUR 1970/75 1984/89 Ave. Peak Ave. Peak 353 241 354 246 + 12 — — + 5 420 1485 2371 363 2 8 286 390 2097 2891 1811 2762 2600 3079 2125 2833 56 108 470 603 911 1283 1754 2316 554 940 161 333 + + 48 45 + + 32 5 51 100 63 132 924 1997 135 200 — — + 3 143 239 393 525 356 765 1345 1761 957 1371 745 1770 14178 20640 16146 20854 500 816 1132 1660 679 787 1335 2395 2409 4755 1651 3221 840 202 400 531
ORWELL 1970/75 1984/89 Ave. Peak Ave. Peak 310 458 58 66 13 25 0 0 0 0 12 58 465 550 1228 2000 0 0 74 123 1069 1650 1132 1500 1029 1200 979 1920 138 150 179 300 382 445 709 929 209 225 211 309 68 75 7 22 93 100 180 507 78 80 95 151 493 495 1251 1680 124 62 250 7649 + 769 2025 285
172 63 375 7923 25 1000 2100 290
512 782 255 380 1192 2449 8774 13000 62 139 627 904 1637 2972 340 535
no average calculated due to incomplete estuary coverage. population too small for meaningful figure to be obtained. no figure available or no count made. maximum average over two winter periods (1973/74 and 1974/75).
DEBEN 1970/75 1984/89 Ave. Peak Ave. Peak * 5 118 138 — + 42 + 109 — 1490' 3360 277 442 * 143 1055 1408 » 156 1916 2547 * 286 363 448 * 60 444 693 * 9 210 345 — + 9 56 141 * 4 91 186 65 112 405 567
» 1598 * * 479 *
6 2190 57 215 714 1
+ 2861 150 762 1736 26
8 4019 333 1387 2399 37
BLYTH 1970/75 1984/89 Ave. Peak Ave. Peak + 7 + 2 6 —
+ 2 + 2 787§ 1094 408§ 500 + 30 96§ 117 + 3 + 8 + 2 + 2 92 § 143 + 2 43 § 84 7§ 13 + 100 1950§ 2200
70 817 902 + 1
+ + 52 532 1243 133 212
+ + 164
+ 34 29
+ 661 —
4 6 146 717 1872 265 400 4 45 30 12 236 21 69 92 11 1880 47 820 —
ALTON WATER 1984/89 Ave. Peak + 28
_ + 373 +
+ + 338 + + 285
518 59 158 41 465 3 51 370 29
ALDE COMPLEX 1984/89 Ave. Peak 174 203 92 154 235 131 685 1232 906 630 1100 5014 1346 1574 217 60 114 32 594 386 89 215 24 2666 21 882 949 20
442 77 149 51 813 514 139 393 68 3836 65
TABLE II: Proportion (%) of NW European population of wildfowl and W. European population of waders wintering on Suffolk estuaries. Species
Bewick's Swan Brent Goose Shelduck Wigcon Avocet Ringed Piover Grey Piover Black-t Godwit Redshank Turnstone
1.0 1.7 2.8 0.8 1.0
Aide Complex 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.5
Suffolk Total 0.8 3.3 4.1 1.0 1.5 2.3 1.7 2.8 2.5 1.7
NB: Except for the Aide complex the percentages are based on the average winter (November to March) maxima recorded over the period 1984/85 to 1988/89. For the Aide complex figures refer to the 1985/86 to 1988/98 period. Figures in bold print represent populations approaching international importance. Sources of criteria for international importance: Prater (1981); Scott (1982). Sources for national importance: wildfowl â€” Owen et al (1986): waders â€” Prater (1981) as revised by Moser (1987).
TABLE III: Proportion (%) of the British population of wildfowl and waders wintering on Suffolk estuaries. Species Bewick's Swan Mute Swan White-f. Goose Brent Goose Shelduck Wigeon Teal Pintail Avocet Ringed Piover Grey Piover Dunlin Black-t. Godwit Curlew Redshank Turnstone Total Species
Aide Compie* 1.8 1.0 2.2
1.7 1.4 1.0
1.7 6.4 3.8 22.6 1.5 2.2 1.2
2.2 1.2 2.0 1.2 0.7 2.2 0.8
0.9 0.7 3.0 0.8 2.3
1.7 2.4 1.1
1.4 2.5 1.3 0.9 53.0
Suffolk Total 1.8 3.0 2.2 4.8* 6.7 4.6 1.3 1.7 53.0 3.9 9.5 6.5 26.8 3.0 8.0 2.0
NB: Except for the Aide complex the percentages are based on average winter (November to March) maxima recorded over the periods 1984/85 to 1988/89. For the Aide compex figures refer to the 1985/86 to 1988/89 period. Figures in bold print represent populations approaching national importance. * Based on the estimated British population for 1988/89 (Salmon 1988), Suffolk held between 3-4% of the British population. For sources of criteria refer to Table II. 12
CONSERVATION A wilderness of ooze, sandflats, saltmarsh and tidal pools coupled with relatively mild ice-free winters attracts vast numbers of wintering wildfowl and waders to Britain. The large tidal range provides rich feeding areas and refuges. Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that these areas are seen as wastelands by national conglomerates and all too often by local authorities. Threats to estuaries in the United Kingdom are more prevalent today than ever before. Some proposed developments would be environmentally irreversible and render large areas of the estuarine ecosystem unsuitable for shorebirds. Tidal barrages to generate electricity on the Severn and Mersey, water storage on the Wash, Morecambe Bay and Dee Estuary, marina development at Langstone Harbour and land-claim on the Firth of Forth and Humber estuaries threaten some of Britain's premier wildfowl and wader wintering areas. Other estuaries suffer similar threats e.g. dock, industrial and housing development, recreation and leisure pursuits, oil exploration and pollution. In Suffolk we are aptly aware of the consequences of such development. Over the years many of our estuaries have been walled and in the process 10,800 hectares of saltmarsh and mudflat (Beardall et al 1988) have been reclaimed for agriculture. Although the Blyth, Aide complex and Deben estuaries are free from industrial development, major losses of inter-tidal areas of mudflat to dock development at Ipswich, Felixstowe and Harwich have occurred. The BoEE in Suffolk has helped to identify Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and been used as a guide in the designation of Ramsar and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). BoEE data has been used in evidence to protect almost all of Suffolk's estuaries from various developments. The Stour, Orwell, Butley, Havergate and Blyth have been notified as SSSIs and the Deben and part of the Aide are in the process of being designated as such. The river valley areas of the Blyth, Butley, Ore and Aide are designated as Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) as well as being part of Suffolk's Heritage Coast. The Stour and Orwell are within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also qualify as SPAs and are awaiting designation under the Ramsar Convention and the EC Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds. With such lavish assurances, one would have thought that our estuaries are suitably protected. Unfortunately this is hardly the case. Earlier this decade the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company demonstrated how vulnerable important wildlife sites are when their Bill, allowing the destruction of Fagbury Flats, gained Parliamentary consent. This was despite an unprecedented amalgamation of many conservation bodies in opposition who gave their all in a hard three year battle. BoEE data was used to provide an unequivocal defence, for the wildlife of the site, but unfortunately to no avail. Threatening almost all of Suffolk's estuaries are small scale piecemeal developments that continually nibble at the precious estuarine environment and statutory designations. At the present time Suffolk has been hit by a building boom as more and more people move to rural surroundings. The backlash following the emigration from our cities has yet to be felt and soon demand for more recreational and leisure facilities will put further untold pressures on our remaining wild areas. Already sailing and water-based pursuits dominate much of the estuarine scene. Unfortunately the outlook is gloomy. Probably the greatest threat to our quiet reaches is from marina development and its associated destruction of natural habitat and disturbance of neighbouring areas. Many ecologically damaging activities however, are long-term and threats from pollution largely go undetected and unresolved. Through a united front of conservation bodies and well reasoned arguments, backed by sound BoEE data, the outcome of recent Public Enquiries is encouraging. We must not be complacent however, as precious estuarine wildlife habitats continue to be threatened and destroyed at an ever increasing rate. Through the BoEE vital facts are obtained which are fundamental to the understanding and conservation of our natural estuarine heritage.
TABLE IV: Overall wintering wader and wildfowl BoEE counts on Suffolk estuaries 1984/85 to 1988/89. 1984/85 1985/86 ORWELL Wader 22804 17269 Wildfowl 7588 5522 STOUR Wader 29518 20692 Wildfowl 6791 9270 DEBEN Wader 7297 6361 Wildfowl 4339 8081 BLYTH Wader 3023 2552 Wildfowl 2536 2023 ALDE/ORE/BUTLEY/HAVERGATE COMPLEX Wader 10081 § Wildfowl 13265 § ALTON WATER Wildfowl 1588 §
NB: The figures in Table IV have been derived using raw data held by R. West and M. Wright. For each of the winter periods, the peak count for each site was first calculated by listing the highest count for each species between November and March, and then totalling these counts. The average peak winter count for 1984/85 to 1988/89 (1985/86 to 1988/89 for the Aide complex and Alton Water) was then calculated using the winter peaks. The peak count for each site has been shown in italics. § Denotes that the estuary was not counted for that winter period. Acknowledgements First and foremost sincere thanks to all BoEE fieldworkers, both past and present, for their enthusiasm, dedication and sheer hard work in collecting the data over the past twenty years. Thanks are also due to Jeff Kirby, Tony Prater and Steve Piotrowski for their helpful and constructive comments on the various drafts of this paper.
References (1) Birds of Estuary Enquiries (BoEE) Annual Reports. Wildfowl Trust. Slimbridge. Beardall, C . B., Dryden, R. C. & Holtzer, T. J. 1988. The Suffolk Estuaries. The Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Saxmundham. Blindell. R. M. 1976. The estuarine bird populations of the region. Orwell to Thames. 1972 to 1975. The Essex Bird Report, pp 71-102. Essex Bird Watching and Preservation Society. C r a m p , S. & Simmons, K. E. L (Eds). 1983. The birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol. 3. Oxford. Moser, M. E. 1987. A revision of population estimates for waders (Charadrii) wintering on the coasüine of Britain. Biol. Conserv. 39: 153-164. M u r p h y , P. W . (Ed). 1987. 1985 Systematic List. Suffolk Birds 1985, pp 6-63. Suffolk Naturalists' Society. O ' B r i e n , M. G. & Ravenscroft, N . O . M . 1985. An assessment of ornithological importance of the Orwell Estuary in relation to proposed developments at Fagbury. Unpublished ms., Suffolk Wildlife Trust/Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Owen, M . , Atkinson-Willis, G. L. & Salmon, D. G . 1986. Wildfowl of Great Britain, 2nd Edition. University Press, Cambridge. Prater, A. J. 1981. Estuary birds of Britain and Ireland. Poyser, Carlton. Salmon, D. G . 1988. Verification of Dark-bellied Brent Goose breeding success, 1988. Unpublished m s . , Nature Conservancy Council. Scott, D. A. 1982. Biogeographical populations and numerical criteria for selected waterfowl species in the Western Palearctic. Proc. Conf. Cons. Wetlands of Int. imp. esp. as Waterfowl Habitat, Cagliari 1980: 1135-1150. 1st. Naz. di Biologia d. Selvaggina, Bologna.
M. T. Wright, 15 Avondale Road, Ipswich IP3 9JT. 14
Shorebirds and the Felixstowe Dock Extension by Roger Beecroft During 1988, the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill completed its passage through Parliament and in the winter of 1988/89 the infill of Fagbury Flats commenced in earnest. Studies in previous years had been aimed at assessing the likely impact of this expansion but from 1988/89 we were able to monitor this in reality. Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO) continued their ringing and colour-marking scheme, working in conjunction with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) who employed Mick Wright as Orwell Project Officer. Both parts of this work were funded by Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company, the latter via the Nature Conservancy Council. This paper reports on the preliminary results of the study which will continue for a minimum of three years. The results will be fully analysed upon the project's completion. During the 1988/89 winter 881 waders of seven species were caught and ringed by LBO of which 624 were colour-marked. The SWT project started in October 1988 and included regular counts at Fagbury, monthly low-water counts on the Orwell and Deben and searches for colour-marked birds. The information used in this paper is mainly restricted to lowwater counts on the Orwell and movements of marked birds. Fig. 1: Dunlin
Fig. 1-4: Wader numbers of Fagbury, winter 1988-89.
Fig. 2: Redshank
500 400 300
200 100 O
Fig. 3: Grey Plover
Fig. 4: Oystercatcher
The monthly totals of selected species feeding at Fagbury are shown in Figs. 1-4. The increase in numbers from October to December coincides with a build-up of these species generally on the Orwell at this time. Numbers on the Orwell continued to climb in January, but a rapid decrease was seen in feeding numbers at Fagbury. This decrease coincided with the expansion of dockland onto the Fagbury feeding grounds which started in early December. 15
Due to the infilling technique employed by the developers the Dock expansion had differing effects on the various species. Ballast and large quantifies of seawater were pumped from dredgers, stationed offshore, and deposited onto the infili area. Excess seawater was returned to the estuary by way of run-off over the remaining mudflats. Some of the finer deposits, silts and sands, were washed onto the mudflats changing their consistency and making it more difficult for the smaller, probing species like Dunlin to feed efficiently. Other species fed successfully on prey items pumped up with the dredgings. An example of this is the Grey Piover whose numbers decreased in January as the infili work progressed, but remained above the November population. Dunlin however, dropped rapidly and the January total was only one third of the November level. One of the species that would have benefited from the extra sand was the Sanderling whose numbers peaked at 48, a high number for the Orwell.
Fig. 5: The Orwell estuary showing sections used in report. It can therefore be clearly seen that birds left Fagbury as the development progessed â€” but where did they go? Indications come from the results of the colour-marking scheme. Fig. 5 shows the sections of the Orwell used in this paper. The figures given are the proportion of colour-marked birds seen in a particular area compared with the total Orwell sightings for that period. 16
Earlier studies on the Orwell have shown that most waders are faithful to a particular wintering feeding area and movements described here may reflect the loss of feeding grounds at Fagbury. Although most of the sightings of colour-marked birds were on the Orwell some records corne from further afield e.g. Dunlin from the Stour, Deben, Aide and Foulness; Ringed Piover from Benacre Broad (where one bird stayed to breed) and Grey Piover from Hamford Water. The trend for Dunlin numbers to decrease at Fagbury is reflected in the movements of marked birds seen on their feeding grounds. Prior to Dee. 6th, 94% of colour-marked Dunlin were seen in the lower reaches of the estuary of which 58% had remained at Fagbury after the development commenced. Dunlin showed the most obvious trends with numbers of marked birds increasing upriver as they decreased at Fagbury (Fig. 6). Redshank showed a similar trend with ali the sightings coming from Fagbury until Dee. 6th after which only 56% were seen there, although 89% remained in the lower reaches of the river (Fig. 7). Percentages of Grey Piover remained remarkably constant, in the lower reaches of the river, at 95 % prior to development and 96% after — however, an increase in the numbers of marked birds at Fagbury, from 64% to 91 % shows that they could successfully feed there.
Fig. 6: Dunlin.
Fig. 7: Redshank.
Fig. 8: Grey Piover.
B A B A B A B A Lower Lower- Upper- Upper mid mid
B A B A B A B A Lower Lower- Upper- Upper mid mid
Lower Lower- Upper- Upper
Fig. 6-8: Percentages of marked birds recorded in each section of the Orwell, before and after the start of the dock expansion. Fagbury is shown stipled.
The work so far has indicated the initial movements of birds during the development of the dock. Most birds moved only small distances, but this may have increased the density of birds in neighbouring areas. If birds return to these areas in future years the extra pressure on food resources may have serious conséquences during periods of severe weather when demand for food is at its highest. This is obviously a problem that did not arise in the winter of 1988/89. Much more information is needed to determine how this development affeets the survival of the individuáis that are forced to leave Fagbury. Roger Beecroft, Fen Cottage, Fen Lane, Creeting St. Mary, Ipswich. 17
Suffolk Estuaries Breeding Wader and Wildfowl Survey 1988 by Dr Charles Beardall During the spring of 1988 the Suffolk Wildlife Trust Estuaries Project co-ordinated a survey of the breeding waders and wildfowl on the Suffolk estuaries. The survey was essentially designed to provide a detailed understanding of the distribution and abundance of ail species of waders and wildfowl breeding on the saltmarsh and wet grassland bordering the Suffolk estuaries. Previous studies on selected sites of saltmarsh and grassland in Suffolk's coastal région have indicated that whilst this area may be nationally important for breeding waders (Smith, 1983, Allport, O'Brien and Cadbury, 1986), a comprehensive picture on a local basis does not exist. A total of 3,727 hectares was surveyed (see Fig. 1) comprising 1,141 hectares of saltmarsh, 2,183 hectares of grassland adjacent to the estuaries, 346 hectares of shingle (predominantly Orfordness) and 57 hectares of reed. For direct comparison with other national breeding wader surveys the method employed was that used by Allport et al (1986), involving five visits to each site during which the surveyor approached every point to within 100 métrés. A summary of the results for each estuary is given in Table 1. The total breeding populations recorded reveal that the study area held 1.4% of the Redshanks. 1.4% of the Oystercatchers and 1.0% of the Ringed Plovers estimated to breed in Great Britain (based on the population estimâtes reported by Piersma 1986). For Avocets the figure was as high as 35.0% (A. J. Prater, pers. comm.). Twelve percent of Suffolk's breeding Lapwing population was also found in the study area (based on figures reported by Wright, 1988). Nine of the sites surveyed were also visited during the 1981/82 Breeding Waders of Wet Meadows survey organised by the B.T.O. (Smith, 1983). Since this survey there has been an overall decrease in the populations of Redshank (—38.0%), and Oystercatcher (—12.0%) although there has been an increase (+30.0%) in breeding Lapwings (O'Brien, 1989). During the last nine years the population of Ringed Plovers breeding on Orfordness has declined by some 75.0%, from 53 pairs in 1979 (Piotrowski, 1980) to 13 pairs in 1988. In contrast the Orwell population has increased from 17 pairs in 1985 (Waters, 1985) to 32 pairs in 1988, half of which were on temporary areas of shingle at Fagbury (soon to be covered by the Dock extension). The distribution of breeding waders was to a large extent dictated by the availability of suitable habitat. For example the Stour held 8.0% of the total wader population in the 7.0% of the area surveyed, the Blyth held 24.0% in 19.0% of the area surveyed and the Deben held 17.0% in 18.0% of the study area.
Plate 5: Oystercatchers at Fagbury Point, 1985.
One third of all the Redshanks were found on the Blyth estuary, predominantly nesting on cattle grazed grassland. Over the entire study area, however, 48.0% were found on saltmarsh and 48.0% on grazing marsh, despite there being twice the area of grassland available. Although ungrazed saltmarsh was only 27.0% of the study area, 44.0% of the Redshanks were found on this habitat with a peak density of 81 pairs per Square kilometre. This compares with a peak density of 50 pairs per Square kilometre on cattle grazed grassland. Lapwings reached a peak density of 34 pairs per Square kilometre, with the majority of birds found on cattle grazed grassland. The Blyth estuary was also relatively important for Snipe and Lapwings holding 86.0% and 40.0% respectively, of the total pairs recorded. However, the total population of Snipe recorded as breeding in the study area was only 29 pairs.
Avocets were found to breed not only on saltmarsh and brackish lagoons but also on freshwater grazing marshes. The large number of gulls found on the Alde/Ore/Butley complex illustrĂ˘tes the importance of Orfordness as a breeding site. This colony of Lesser Black-backed, Herring and to a lesser extent Common Gulls, is the largest in south-east England. In contrast the main Black-headed Gull colonies were found on selected areas of saltmarsh on the Deben, Blyth and Butley. Most of the Common Terns, and all of the Sandwich Terns were recorded on Havergate Island (RSPB reserve) where management helps secure their survival. This survey provides us with the first comprehensive set of data concerning breeding waders and wildfowl on and adjacent to the Suffolk estuaries, identifying the important sites and populations. DĂźring the spring of 1989 all remaining areas of coastal grazing marsh in Suffolk will be surveyed, providing a complete picture of breeding waders on coastal grassland and saltmarsh. 19
The information collected during this survey will also provide a comprehensive baseline from which future comparable surveys can gauge changes in breeding populations, as well as in land-use and management. In addition the data provides an essential conservation tool allowing informed arguments to be presented against insensitive development proposals which may degrade the valué of these important areas. The grasslands adjacent to both the Alde/Ore/Butley complex and the Blyth lie within the Suffolk River Valleys Environmentally Sensitive Area (designated by MAFF in 1988). The effectiveness of this designation in promoting and maintaining the wildlife valué of these areas will become apparent by repeating this study in future years. A detailed account of the survey can be found in the Wader Study Group Bulletin, 1989.
Table I: Total breeding pairs of waders, wildfowl, gulls and terns for each of the Suffolk estuaries. Species Canada Goose Shelduck Gadwall Teal Mallard Shoveler Tufted Duck Oystercatcher Avocet Ringed Piover Lapwing Snipe Redshank Black-headed Gull Common Gull Lsr. Bl-bkd. Gull Herring Gull Sandwich Tern Common Tern Little Tern
Blyth 11 72 15 10 103 21 6 30 *
22 101 25 148 600 0 0 0 0 1 *
Butley Aide/Ore 55 202 15 2 115 27 64 223
Deben 38 126 4 2 66 0 9 103
24 89 0 120 592 30 7500 2500 63 112
6 24 3 115 179 0 0 0 0 0 *
Orwell 11 114 1 0 21 3 17 50
Stour 10 17 0 0 17 0 0 65
32 18 1 64 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 19 0 14 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 125 531 35 14 322 51 96 471 152 100 251 29 461 1371 30 7500 2500 63 113 98
* = Schedule One species — details withheld.
Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank the twenty one surveyors who kindly gave up their free-time to collect the field data. We would also like to thank the many landowners who gave us permission to survey their property.
References Allport, G., O'Brien, M. and Cadbury C. J. 1986. Survey of Redshanks and other breeding birds on saltmarshes in Britain 1985. Unpublished ms., Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Sandy. O'Brien, M. 1989. Breeding waders of wet meadows survey, 1989. B.T.O. News 161:7. Piersma, T. 1986. Breeding waders in Europe. Wader Study Group Bulletin 48 (Supplement): 115. Piotrowski, S. H. 1980. Suffolk Ringed Piover survey 1979. Suffolk Ornithologìsts ' Group Bulletin 43: 1-9. Smith, K. W. 1983. The status and distribution of waders breeding on wet lowland grasslands in England and Wales. Bird Study 30: 177-192. Waters, R. 1985. BTO breeding Ringed Piover survey 1985. Suffolk Ornithologìsts ' Group Bulletin 68: 12-18. Wright, M. T. 1988. Survey of nesting Lapwings in Suffolk. Suffolk Ornithologìsts ' Group Bulletin 79: 24-25.
Dr C. Beardall, c/o The Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Park Cottage, Saxmundham. 20
Seabirds in Suffolk, 1988 by J.M.Cawston and S.Ling Introduction The growing interest in seawatching in Suffolk, highlighted in Suffolk Birds 1988, continued throughout 1988. Observer coverage steadily increased during the year; we have full dĂŠtails for more than 200 hours of seawatching amassed over a total of 70 dates. The highlights of the year included 2,160 Gannets, 619 Fulmars, three Cory's Shearwaters, 35 Sooty Shearwaters, 70 Manx Shearwaters, one Storm and two Leach's Petrels, 45 Great, 39 Pomarine, 250 Arctic and five Long-tailed Skuas, ten Sabine's Gulls and nine Puffins. Prior to 1988 most locai ornithologists had considered that seawatching was only worthwhile when the winds blew from between north-west and east; it remains the case that during such conditions the largest passages of seabirds are recorded off Suffolk. While these conditions are generally the best, increased watching in 1988 showed that south westerly winds were often capable of producing birds of special note. Winds from the south west rarely produce large movements of birds but observation during the year showed that shearwaters in particular seem to be most affected by these conditions. The ideal weather to bring these birds to Suffolk occurs during and after periods of strong south westerly winds in the North Atlantic and English Channel, particularly if the wind speed reaches force five or above. Shearwaters are regularly pushed up the Channel and into the southern North Sea. Once here, they circuiate and many move back south into the Channel when the winds decrease. RegulĂ¤r watching in 1988 showed that Manx and Sooty Shearwaters occurred more frequently during and after south-westerly winds than in any other conditions and ali three Cory's Shearwaters and an unidentified large shearwater were seen after south westerly winds. It is becoming clear that if winds blow from the south west, particularly above force five, shearwaters may be displaced into the southern North Sea. 21
MARCH The number of Gannets recorded in the previous four years totalled just 1,281 birds (a yearly average of 320), 11 % of which occurred on a single day in 1986! In 1987 we witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of records of this species and the rise continued throughout 1988. The annual total of 2,160 birds included a remarkable passage in March when 273 and 324 flew north on 3rd and 6th respectively. These birds, ali adults, were pushed close inshore by onshore winds and poor visibility. They had clearly migrated through the English Channel and were continuing their journey via the North Sea to their breeding colonies further north. The movement noted off Suffolk coincided with a large easterly passage off Dungeness, Kent. Large scale northward movements in spring have surely been under-recorded in the past and hopefully future watching, in the right conditions, will show them to be regulĂ¤r occurrences. Also in early March a large influx of Shags was noted at several coastal localities and as many lingered into the summer months there were increased sightings on seawatches. APRIL AND MAY Seawatching in this period was unexceptional with no outstanding movements. This is to be expected as most adult seabirds are on their breeding grounds at this time and, with easterly rather than northerly winds dominating the period, there was little to displace them from their feeding movements. Late breeders such as skuas and shearwaters however, have a pronounced passage in early May and given the right conditions this should be witnessed off Suffolk.
1 s CD CJ
JUNE Seawatching is usually rather quiet during this month with few seabirds passing through the southern North Sea. In 1988 however. northerly winds prevailed for most of the month, displacing one or two unusual species. Numbers of Gannets and Fulmars were well above average for this month with peak counts of 34 and 37 north respectively. A single Manx Shearwater flew south off Covehithe on 5th but more intriguing was a record of a small shearwater sp. north off the same locality on 26th which was considered by the observer not to have been a Manx. On l Ith 26 Arctic Terns flew north off Covehithe, but perhaps the month's prize bird was an adult Sabine's Gull north off Southwold, on I2th, the same day as an unseasonal Arctic Skua flew north off Covehithe. The total of 49 auks recorded during the month was again unseasonally high. 22
JULY July is not normally a hectic month, particularly early on, but this year proved to be exceptional, with several observers experiencing some exciting birds. Early in the month a deep Atlantic depression passed over Britain bringing with it strong south-south-westerly winds between 3rd and 5th. An early evening seawatch at Covehithe on 4th produced a Cory's Shearwater, two Manx Shearwaters, two large shearwaters, which were not specifically identified, and an amazing total of 300 Little Terns all moving south. At Covehithe the first Sooty Shearwater of the autumn flew south on 13th and the second Cory's Shearwater of the month flew north on 24th, again in south-westerly winds. Further south-westerlies during the last few days produced four Manx and a Sooty Shearwater and the first three Arctic Skuas of the autumn.
AUGUST With an increase in seawatching there was a mass of records relating to this month. The peak autumn movements of Gannets and Fulmars were recorded and persistent southwesterlies in the first three weeks produced several Manx and Sooty Shearwaters as well as a Sabine's Gull north off Covehithe on 10th and the third Cory's Shearwater of the autumn north off Southwold/Covehithe on 19th. On the 21st the winds backed from south-west to north-west and were accompanied by frequent heavy showers. In response large numbers of birds passed south off Covehithe ahead of the weather including 99 Gannets, 88 Fulmars, six Great Skuas, 28 Arctic Skuas and 100 Sandwich Terns. The following day the winds decreased and many of the displaced seabirds began to move northwards. These included ten Manx Shearwaters and a Sabine's Gull at Covehithe. A total of 152 Gannets on 24th was the largest movement of the autumn, on a day when two unidentified large shearwaters were also seen. The first Pomarine Skua of the autumn was recorded off Slaughden on 24th. 23
SEPTEMBER South-westerly winds dominated the first ten days and both Manx and Sooty Shearwaters were regularly recorded, albeit in small numbers. On 10th an anticyclone developed to the west of Britain pushing against a stationary area of low pressure over the North Sea. This resulted in strong north-north-westerly winds, which persisted until 24th, and strengthened to force seven during the period 13th to 15th to disturb large numbers of seabirds. Watchers at Covehithe logged two Puffins flying north on 11th and two Sooty Shearwaters, a Pomarine Skua and a Puffin on 13th. A 12-hour seawatch there on the 14th revealed five Arctic Skuas flying north and a creditable 66 south, 94 Gannets and northerly movements of eight Sooty and 17 Manx Shearwaters, 45 Fulmars, 26 Little Gulls, seven Great Skuas and over 400 Kittiwakes. By the 15th the numbers of most seabirds had dropped considerably, although a total of 93 Gannets was recorded along with five Sooty Shearwaters, a Pomarine Skua and eight Razorbills, all at Covehithe. These weather conditions may also have been responsible for an exceptional influx of Long-tailed Skuas into the Northern Isles and N.E. Britain (e.g. 126 off Orkney on 18th and 19th). By the 23rd small numbers had moved south into the North Sea. Large numbers of Pomarine Skuas were also noted along the British east coast at the same time. The first signs that this influx could affect Suffolk were three Pomarine Skuas flying south off Covehithe on 24th to be followed by ten Pomarine Skuas flying north and three Longtailed Skuas, including two adults in summer plumage, the next day. No further seawatching was carried out until 28th when two more immature Long-tailed Skuas flew north off Covehithe and another at Southwold. The month ended well with a juvenile Sabine's Gull north off Lowestoft on 30th.
OCTOBER Most of October was dominated by warm south-east to easterly winds which were generally rather light. Seabirds remained undisturbed by these conditions and as a result no exceptional passages were recorded. Two Manx Shearwaters south off Pakefield on 1 st were the last of the year and a total of 15 Pomarine Skuas was recorded on ten dates. Sabine's Gulls were recorded off Bawdsey on 11th, Lowestoft (two) on 19th and Slaughden on 30th. A Leach's Petrel was found exhausted at Walberswick on 16th. The passage of Brent Geese increased during the month with Landguard recording 13,869 and there was a peak day count off Covehithe of 2,435 on 1st. A Long-tailed Duck flying south off Covehithe on 9th was the forerunner of an excellent winter for this species. A period of moderate northerly winds from the 28th to 30th caused a good influx of auks, with a combined total of 453 unspecified auks, 112 Guillemots, nine Razorbills, 39 Little Auks and a Puffin on 29th and 30th. The 29th also produced 1,000 Kittiwakes and a small unidentified petrel flying north.
NOVEMBER No large movements of seabirds were recorded during the month although several County rarities were noted. A Leach's Petrel graced Minsmere beach for some twenty minutes on 7th and two days later four Grey Phalaropes were seen off Lowestoft. Single Great Northern Divers were recorded off Lowestoft on 13th and Landguard on 20th. Cold northerly winds on 21st produced single Leach's and Storm Petrels and a Puffin off Southwold and 85 Eiders north off Kessingland. The last skuas of the year were an Arctic and a Great off Covehithe and Southwold respectively on 28th. 24
DECEMBER As could be expected little of note was featured during this month. Typically large numbers of Red-throated Divers were present offshore with a peak count of 280 north off Southwold on 7th Other highlights were two Puffins north off Easton Bavents on 1st and a Black-necked Grebe and another Puffin off Covehithe on 7th. Three Red-necked Grebes were on the sea at Covehithe on 11th.
Conclusion: This report shows that 1988 was another excellent year for seabirds in Suffolk. The results collected over the past two years clearly show that almost every species of regularly occurring seabird had been under recorded in the past. We feel sure that with patient and regular watching, birds such as Cory's Shearwater and Long-tailed Skua will be seen off Suffolk annually. We urge all observers who scan the seas to submit their records even if they only concern the odd Gannet or Fulmar as all information contributes to a better understanding of seabird numbers and movements off Suffolk. Acknowledgement: Once again we would very much like to thank all the observers who put in so many long hours of watching during 1988.
J. M. Cawston, 477 Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich. IP2 ORU. S. Ling, 20 Stonechat Road, Ipswich. IP2 OSA. 25
The Distribution and Status of the Nightjar on the Suffolk Sandlings, 1981 to 1988 by N. O. M. Ravenscoft Introduction Nationally, the Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus is thought to be a species in decline, as a pronounced contraction in range from the north and west, this century, has continued (Gribble 1983). Today, its strongholds are the heaths of southern England and East Anglia. In Suffolk, the Nightjar was once common over heaths and commons, but since 1945 it has become less numerous and disappeared from many of its former haunts (Ticehurst 1932, Payn 1962). It is now largely confined to the heathlands of the Brecklands and Sandlings. Over the same period, the extent of the Sandlings heathland has been reduced, mainly by conifer afforestation, agriculture and industriai and recreational development. It is estimated that the heathland area has been reduced by over 80% in the past century (Fitzgerald et al 1986). The majority of the plantations were planted in the 1920s and 1930s and their extent is almost double that of the remaining heathland. Since 1978, however, substantial areas have been felled and restocked creating clearings which represent large amounts of the originai planted area (overall 23.6% in 1987: Ravenscroft, 1989). Since the survey by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) which estimated the national population of the Nightjar in 1981 at ca. 2100 pairs (Gribble 1983), the status of Nightjars on the Sandlings has been monitored annually by teams of ornithologists from the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group (SOG) and Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT). Traditionally, breeding occurred on the heaths of the rĂŠgion but after the felling of the first mature areas of the plantations in the late 1970s breeding started in clearings. Since then, the population of the bird on the Sandlings has undergone a dramatic increase. This paper describes this increase and the present status and distribution of the Nightjar on the Sandlings.
Status The population of Nightjars on the heathland of the Sandlings rĂŠgion appears to have remained remarkably stable in the years of study (table 1). Most of the variation in the numbers in each year can be accounted for by the extent of heathland survey ed. Only in one year, 1985, was full coverage achieved. In contrast, numbers in plantations have increased greatly. From being barely present in the BTO census of 1981, 41 churring males were recorded in 1987 and 44% of the population occurred in plantation clearings.
Distribution at Major Sites The patterns of occupancy of clearings within the plantations were similar year to year (figs. 1 and 2). At both Rendlesham and Tunstall there has been an increase in birds present, filling new areas as they become available. This pattern was particularly pronounced at Tunstall (fig. 2). At Sutton and Hollesley Heaths, where numbers have remained more stable, there were also similar distributions of churring males from year to year (fig. 3). 26
Habitat Preferences The distribution of the male Nightjars at Sutton and Hollesley Heaths between 1983 and 1987 (fig. 3) can be superimposed on the vegetation present (fig. 4). This appears to show a strong affinity of males for the edges of, or clearings within, woodland: in this case invasive Pines Pinus sylvestris and P. nigra or scattered or more dense Silver Birch Betula pendula. This was particularly noticeable on Upper Hollesley Common, and dividing the area into its components (fig. 4) also indicates that the highest numbers of birds are associated with the areas containing the most woodland edge that the species is thought to prefer (Berry 1979, Cadbury 1981).
Fig. 3: Distribution of male Nightjars at Sutton and Hollesley Heaths between 1983 and 1987.
Over the entire site, in the year of least numbers, male Nightjars existed at a density of 0.38 per 10ha or about 26ha per bird. In the peak year this density increased to 0.59 per 10ha or about 17ha per churring male. The five year average (1983-1987) was 0.47 birds per 10ha or 21 ha per male. The preferences of the Nightjar within the coniferous plantations have been recently described elsewhere (Ravenscroft 1989). Densities of males (1985-1987) within clearings were found to be higher than those at Sutton and Hollesley: the maximum recorded was 1.26 per 10ha or 7.9ha per male and the minimum of 0.59 per 10ha or 16.8ha per male, still greater than the maximum recorded on heathland. Within the clearings between 11 and 14ha were occupied by each male. Bird densities within plantations and on heathland were similar to other studies (plantations: Bruenner 1978, heathlands: Lack 1932, Berry 1979, Cadbury 1981). 29
The density of male Nightjars within plantations also varied according to the age of the clearing (since restocking). In 1985, there was a marked preference for clearings restocked for between one and five years: unplanted, newly planted and clearings restocked from between fi ve to eight years (the oldest available) were rarely occupied. By 1987, this preference was still apparent but had become less pronounced with less preferred areas becoming more utilised, perhaps resulting from breeding success in the preferred clearings. Analysis of the végétation showed that between the age classes one to five, the ground flora of clearings was most varied and notable for the presence of heathers. Trees, especially Silver Birch were at their greatest density, but remained relatively low. At earlier ages clearings were largely devoid of végétation and at later stages generally dominated by the pine crop and smothering ground flora such as Bracken Pteridium aquilinum and Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg. The sizes and shapes of clearings were also important to Nightjars. Larger clearings contained more birds but clearings below 10ha did not support birds and those below 23ha only a single churring male. Above 23ha it became difficult to predict numbers occupying a clearing. Analysis of the relationship between bird density and the shape of the larger clearings, however, indicated that birds preferred those more circular or square in shape than generally large but oblong clearings.
Discussion The results from the annual surveys since 1981 clearly demónstrate the large increase in numbers of Nightjars on the Sandlings région in recent years. This is almost entirely due to the colonisation of new habitat in the form of clearings in coniferous plantations. Furthermore, heathland populations appear to be stable with no evidence of any continued decrease as noted elsewhere in the country (Gribble 1983) and within Suffolk (Payn 1962). The population increases in response to the availability of habitat would also seem to suggest that any previous decline in abundance was associated with habitat loss: either by destruction or végétation change. Birds now exist in higher densities in plantations than on heathlands, perhaps indicating a preference for this habitat, it would be interesting to establish whether adults switch from heathland to plantations or whether the latter are birds attempting to breed for the first time. The increase in numbers and the graduai broadening of the range of preferred ages of clearings occupied indicates breeding success within plantations, but also, perhaps, on nearby heathland, maybe as a result of recently restored management. It is notable that the highest densities of birds occurred in clearings with the greatest variety of végétation structure, composition and topography, with the density of trees at its greatest but still of low height — less than 3m. These conditions are the most similar to the woodland edge effect found on heathlands to which the bird also exhibits an affinity. If the extent of this habitat limits the numbers of nesting birds on heathlands, then the expanse available within clearings would allow birds to approach maximum permissible density, explaining the apparent preference for the latter. Feeding activities of nightjars probably greatly overlap on heathlands and birds are known to feed communally (Lack 1932). This, therefore, may not affect spacing of birds in clearings. These birds may indeed stili feed on surrounding heathland or elsewhere but it seems probable there is also an abundance of prey within clearings. All these factors combine to suggest that the preferences of Nightjars for more circular clearings may be associated with the unsuitability of the mature plantation edge where végétation is much denser and uniform (mainly Bracken and Bramble — Hill 1979) — the opposite effect to that on heathland. Prior to October 1987, the Forestry Commission had projected an annual felling quota of at least 70 ha for Rendlesham, Tunstall and Dunwich into the next Century. This would have ensured a succession of clearings suitable for the Nightjar as those presently occupied become overgrown. However, after the storm, the future appears less certain. If damaged 31
areas are cleared and restocked simultaneously, an effect much like that of the original planting in the 1920s and 1930s will result and before this matures the Nightjar will run out of suitable clearings. It would therefore be preferable to stagger replanting and accommodate other preferences of this bird, such as size and shape of clearing. Acknowledgements Without the help of employees of SWT and members of SOG during the annual surveys this paper would not have been possible. Unfortunately, they are too numerous to list here. The survey owes much of the late M. Cavanagh and was organised as part of the Sandlings Project of SWT of which C. Fitzgerald, E. Fish, M. Rose and Dr M. Auld are to be thanked for their involvement. I am also grateful to D. Moore, Director of SWT, for the opportunity to write this paper. Thanks are due to the Forestry Commission, especially the late Martin Sayer, for maps of restocked plantations and additional information. J. Sorensen (RSPB) and C. Waller (NCC) supplied additional information.
References Berry, R. 1979. Nightjar habitats and breeding in East Anglia. Brit. Birds. 72:207-218. Bruenner, K. 1978. Two-year study of a population of the European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus in Northern Bavaria. Anz. Omithol. Ges. Bayern. 17:281-292. Cadbury, C. J. 1981. Nightjar census methods. Bird Study. 28: 1-4. Fitzgerald, C., Martin. D. and Auld, M. 1986. The Sandlings project 1983-1985. Unpublished ms., Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Saxmundham. Gribble, F. C. 1983. Nightjars in Britain and Ireland in 1981. Bird Study. 30: 165-176. Hill. M O. 1979. The development of a flora in even aged plantations. In The ecology of even-aged foresi plantations. (Eds E. D. Ford. D. C. Malcolm and J. Atterson), pp. 175-192. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Cambridge. Lack. D. C. 1932. Some breeding habits of the European Nightjar. Ibis. 74:266-284. Payn. W. H. 1962. The birds of Suffolk. Ancient House, Ipswich. Ravenscroft, N. O. M. 1989. The status and habitat of the Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus in coastal Suffolk. Bird Study, (in press). Ticehurst, C. B. 1932. A history of the birds of Suffolk. Gurney and Jackson, London.
TABLE I: The numbers of Nightjars recorded from heaths and plantations of the Sandlings 1981-1987. 1981 + Heathland Sutton and Hollesley Minsmere Dunwich Westleton Walberswick Martlesham and Purdis Snape Warren Other (three sites) Tunstall and Blaxhall Sub-total Plantations Rendlesham Tunstall Dunwich Sub-total Total % heathland % plantations
11 18 3 5 5 3 3 6 5 59
14 20 3 6 5 3
17 13 3 5 5 3 1 2 3 52
14 7 7 28 87 68 32
19 10 7 36 91 60 40
25 11 5 41 93 56 44
18 7 *
14 15 2 3 3
2 1 4 41
1 0 3 4 34 88 12
0 5 5 46 89 11
2 4 43 *
4 4 8 51 84 16
+ BTO census * no data available.
N. O. B. Ravenscroft, c/o The Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Park Cottage, Saxmundham. 32
Fall of Migrant Birds October 1988 by S. H. Piotrowski Introduction There are many ups and downs in a bird's year but those that need to migrate face an extremely hazardous journey. At the mercy of the elements, passerines that pass along the east coast tend to involve British and Scandinavian breeding birds and when unfavourable weather conditions are encountered they must seek immediate refuge. If conditions are severe â€” torrential rain, gales or fog, millions may perish. Many birdwatchers will have had some experience of such an event and may recall instances when coastal bushes were "alive" with birds. In ornithological circles, we use terms such as " f a l l " , "landfall" or " r u s h " to describe such influxes. Britain's largest recorded landfall occurred in north-east Suffolk on Sept. 3rd 1965 (Axell and Pearson, 1966). Since then, Suffolk has experienced some exciting falls with perhaps the most notable of recent years relating to birds displaced by the tail of hurricane Hortense - Oct. 5th to 7th, 1984 (Piotrowski, 1984). Estimating numbers involved however, has always been a difficult task as weather conditions are often not conducive to observation. The species involved can also be skulking and a group of coastal bushes visibly holding, say, two or three Blackcaps could, in reality, be playing host to 20 or more. Furthermore, if we have correctly accounted for the 20 Blackcaps, would the same birds be present, say, an hour later? Ringing surveys have shown that invariably there is a constant change-over of birds when fall-conditions prevail. The most accurate estimations are obtained from bird observatory logs, where meticulous records are kept and reinforced by ringing data. By courtesy of Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO) we have access to the 'Bird Observatory Grapevine Sheets' and these are used to compare events elsewhere in the country. This account refers to the period of Oct. 12th to 21st 1988, with relevance to Suffolk, but with some reference to our neighbouring counties of Norfolk and Essex. From Oct. 12th a large blocking anti-cyclone was centred over central Europe resulting in strong easterly winds over the North Sea. Fog and dense, low cloud persisted from 14th to 20th and then light southerly winds to 25th. Such conditions caused a massive landfall of birds initially in northern counties, peaking on 12th, and then mirrored in southeastern England to peak on 16th. October 12th The effects of the landfall had reached north Norfolk where over 20 Yellow-browed Warblers (17 in Wells Woods) were reported along with an Icterine Warbler, Great Grey Shrike and Richard's Pipit, but there was only a ripple in Suffolk. At Landguard, migrating flocks of 200 Redwings and 75 Fieldfares were noted soon after dawn and ringing highlights were two Firecrests, Long-eared Owl and Ring Ouzel. An unexpected addition to the Landguard list was a Bearded Tit. October 13th There were still few indications of the landfall experienced further north, although there were signs of a light influx of thrushes and warblers. At Lowestoft about 100 Robins were grounded and Ring Ouzels were present at Benacre, Minsmere and Landguard (three). Yellow-browed Warblers were at Lowestoft (four), Minsmere (two) and Bawdsey bringing Suffolk's year-total to 23, almost doubling the number of occurrences this decade. October 14th A further 200 Blackbirds and 150 Redwings were logged at Landguard and a respectable 95 new birds were ringed; a Red-breasted Flycatcher was the first noted there since 1984. 33
October 15th There was a modest passage of thrushes through Landguard but otherwise there were few new birds apparent. October 16th East Coast birdwatchers will remember this day for many years to come as many would have witnessed their biggest ever fall. Species most affected were Robin, Song Thrush. Blackbird and Redwing, as well as Goldcrest and Brambling. Estimated numbers, present at East Coast Observatories, are tabulated as follows:— Spurn Gib. Pt. Landguard Sandwich Dungeness
Robin 500 —
1,000 420 —
Song Th. 100 —
300 150 100
Bl'bird 700 —
100 100 —
Redwing 2,500 500 500 500 800
G'crest 1,000 —
40 200 —
Brami'g 180 64 100 30 —
There was much avian activity on the north Norfolk coast with eastern rarities such as Olive-backed Pipit, Pied Wheatear, Little Bunting, Radde's Warbler and Red-breasted Flycatcher reported along with tens of thousands of common migrants. Details of the species involved are sparse, but flocks of 750 Bramblings conform to the pattern elsewhere. At LBO the records really tumbled —their tally of 506 birds ringed beat the previous record set in 1983 by over 200. Day-totals for Robins (265), Song Thrushes (63) and Redwings (33) were all new records. Three more Ring Ouzels, a Hawfinch (second for the site), a Garden Warbler, two Redstarts and eight Blackcaps were ringed. It was obvious that the fall was not confined to the Landguard peninsula but spread to many gardens in the town of Felixstowe itself. There was a significant fall of Robins at Bawdsey, just north of Felixstowe, and it was estimated that there were at least 10,000 birds grounded between Bawdsey and Landguard. October 17th Although Suffolk was missing out badly on rarities, the spectacle of such a massive invasion of passerines was ample compensation. The bushes around the Sparrow's Nest Theatre, Lowestoft, held 300 Redwings, 100 Goldcrests, 50 Robins and a single Ring Ouzel and at Benacre an estimated 1,000 Goldcrests were present. The County received a particularly heavy influx of Black Redstarts with at least 20 noted at four coastal localities. Ringers were still extremely busy at Landguard where a further 366 new birds were trapped including 186 Robins, 25 Goldcrests, two Firecrests and a Ring Ouzel; a flock of six Lapland Buntings was present on the beach. Landguard Sandwich Dungeness
Robin 500 170 200
Song Th. 250 — 100
Bl'bird 150 — —
Redwing 100 — 500
G'crest 40 — 100
Brambl'g 60 — —
A Red-breasted Flycatcher was found in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk and in Essex an estimated 1,000 Robins and 40 Black Redstarts frequented a four mile stretch of the Dengie sea wall. A further 28 and 20 Black Redstarts were recorded at The Naze and Holliwell respectively and "sizeable" influxes of Bramblings and Goldcrests were noted at a number of coastal localities. October 18th The flow of new arrivals decreased significantly but with many birds 'coasting' there was still plenty to see. At Landguard 124 new birds were ringed and included a Treecreeper, only the second for the site, a Firecrest and a Garden Warbler. The Treecreeper caused much excitement as there were suspicions of it being a Short-toed. However, after a thorough examination it was found to be a Treecreeper of the British race. (It was ironic that a genuine Short-toed Treecreeper was trapped at Sandwich Bay the next day). October 19th Immigration had now decreased from a flood to a mere trickle but, not surprisingly, there was still a number of eastern vagrants to be found. These included three more Great Grey Shrikes and up to nine Richard's Pipits in Norfolk. 34
October 20th Almost as if the previous two days had been the lull before the storm, there was a further massive influx of passerines at coastal localities. At Landguard 322 new birds were ringed from an estimated 1,000 Redwings, 150 Robins, 150 Song Thrushes, 200 Blackbirds, 70 Goldcrests, 25 Chiffchaffs, 15 Blackcaps and eight Woodcocks on site. October 21st LBO was playing host to visiting ringers on the first day of its initial BTO ringing course and, although there were less birds on site, over 100 were ringed and a Richard's Pipit, the first for the site since 1980, was found on the reserve.
Summary In mid-October, 1988 the east coast of Britain received a spectacular fall of passerines. The event was staggered over a ten-day period and was noted between the Borders region of Scotland and Dungeness in Kent. On the Suffolk coast there were huge concentrations of birds between Lowestoft and Landguard Point. Note: This paper is a summary of that published in SOG Bulletin No. 82 (Piotrowski 1989). Observations outside Suffolk are unchecked and not authenticated records. References Axell, H. E. and Pearson, D. J., 1966. The Great Fall of migrants â€” a special report. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 13: 250-266. Piotrowski, S. H., 1984. The events of the 5th-7th October. Suffolk Ornithologists' Group Bulletin 65: 10-19. Piotrowski, S. H., 1989. Fall of Migrant Birds on the East Coast October 12th to 21st, 1988. Suffolk Ornithologists' Group Bulletin. 82: 7-15.
S. H. Piotrowski, 18 Cobham Road, Ipswich 1P3 9JD. 35
Weather trends and their effect on the county's avifauna 1988 by John H. Grant (Based on monthly reports by Ken Blowers, weather correspondent for the East Anglian Daily Times.)
One Swallow might not a summer make . . . but for postman K. W. Goldsmith one Swallow delivered a first-class winter surprise at Bromeswell on Jan. 22nd. H. Birt was equally astonished when it flew past his Melton office window four days later; this is the first January record for Suffolk. The bird was enjoying a remarkably mild, if very wet winter in which there was an almost complete absence of frost and snow and no prolonged cold spells. Deep Atlantic depressions tracked across the County and barometric pressure on Jan. 29th of 969 millibars (28.61 inches) ranked as one of the lowest readings of the century. It is possible that the Swallow had been wintering in the South West and was swept north-eastwards to us by one of the gales. Such mildness meant northern and eastern rarities were few, but after previous harsh winters our resident species deserved a break. The absence of frost and snow meant that species such as Lapwing. Golden Piover and Snipe had no need to move on and several observers remarked upon their high numbers; perhaps this was some compensation for the paucity of hard-weather influx species. Persistent Atlantic depressions were responsible for record rainfall in much of Suffolk and were perhaps also responsible for the arrivai of two American Wigeon at Minsmere. February continued in January's mild vein with températures rising above 7°C on 22 days and sunshine hours way above average. March was meteorologically unsettled. Cool northerly winds associated with the Azores anti-cylone positioned to the west of Britain early in the month, were responsible for a 'wreck' of Shags in which inland areas featured as well as coastal sites. From mid-month, however, Atlantic depressions again dominated and on 18th south-easterly winds associated with a slow moving front across England and France deflected several Red Kites onto our shores. Towards the month's end south-westerly airstreams sent températures soaring well above the late-March average on many days. Spring migrants such as Swallows, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers made full use of such conditions to put in their first appearances.
SPRING: Aprii, May,
The warmth of late March set the trend for Aprii. The maximum temperature in Ipswich reached or exceeded the long-term 12°C average on 16 days and rose to 19°C on Apr. 18th, while West Suffolk was experiencing something of a heatwave in which Apr. 18th stood out at 24 °C in Bury St Edmunds — the third highest temperature for the month since 1946. 36
Spring migrants were quick to capitalise on such fine weather and arrivais were generally earlier than in recent years — e.g. a Garden Warbier reached Ufford on Apr. 7th. May is an eagerly anticipated month and, with a combination of southerly winds and occasionai rain to ground migrants, it was a bumper time for rarities and scarce visitors. Pride of place among the southern overshoots went to our first Whiskered Tern since 1910, its arrivai coinciding with a re-establishment of southerly winds which had briefly broken down. A supporting cast of southern and eastern rarities such as Black Kite, and Caspian Tern made May a merry month indeed. Several climatologists remarked upon May's warmth — at Bury St Edmunds, for example, there was a mean temperature of 13.5°C and only four Mays since 1946 were said to have been warmer. The story changed markedly in June, an unsettled month with a noticeable lack of sunshine producing, for example, a total of only 137 hours at Levington which was a chilly 74 hours below the long-term average. Winds came from around the northerly point on 22 days to give an autumnal feel to the weather. This being the case, a rarity or two could well have been foreseen but it would have taken a brave forecast to have predicted Suffolk's first Paddyfield Warbier, which appeared at Landguard on June llth.
SUMMER: July, August,
Unsettled July was dominated by Atlantic depressions but national rarities dispelled dépression amongst Suffolk's birdwatchers. A succession of vigorous lows, caused by the jetstream slipping south of its usuai summer position between Scotland and Iceland, created a distinctly autumnal month. In Ipswich, for example, there was rain on 26 days and températures were generally below the seasonal average. Avifaunal action was above the seasonal average, however. Star-billing went to an obliging Bee-eater which attracted the crowds to Reydon around mid-month. Other scarce visitors which braved the elements were Night Heron, Caspian Tern and White-winged Black Tern, while the deep Atlantic depressions whipped up south-westerlies in which seabird passage began to feature. The so-called summer was proving to be, yet again, a generally unsettled period — the fourth in succession to show a changeable pattern — but August transpired to be the best of the season's months over much of Suffolk. Changeability was still the key word, but températures were for the most part a degree or two above average and sunshine totalled 205-215hrs. Undoubtedly the highlight of a rather mediocre month for birds was Suffolk's first Cattle Egret, which paid a fleeting visit to Minsmere on the 9th. Most of the other interest related to shearwaters and skuas at sea. Not surprisingly in the light of a generally westerly air flow, few Continental drift migrants were recorded and passage warblers were said to have been scarce, although this may have been due to a poor breeding season rather than adverse winds. A period of heavy rain straddled August's end and September's beginning, heralding a windy, showery month in which the main features were Atlantic depressions, which produced a County first, and a North Sea dépression, which gave rise to a run of interesting species brought in by the resulting north and north-westerly winds. The North Sea dépression inflicted its effects for about a week from 12th, in which time scarce migrants included Yellow-browed Warblers, a Red-breasted Flycatcher and Red-backed Shrikes, together with the season's peaks for such species as Whinchat and Pied Flycatcher and the first arrivais of winter visitors such as Goldeneye, Brambling, Lapland Bunting and Snow Bunting. 37
Winds with a northerly component usually create interest for Suffolk's sea-watchers and they were rewarded in the period by sightings which included several Sooty Shearwaters, the year's peak in numbers of Manx Shearwaters and three Puffins as well as Pomarine, Arctic and Great Skuas. The month ended with its undoubted highlight â€” an Atlantic gale-swept Red-eyed Vireo, a County first and as far east as it could get at Lowestoft on 29th. The sea also produced its best highlights at the end of September in the elegant shapes of at least five Long-tailed Skuas from 25th.
WINTER October, December.
In meteorological terms, October was a rather warm month â€” in ornithological terms it was very hot. Most of the excitement was condensed into the period 12th to 21st, when Suffolk enjoyed its share of a massive fall of migrants on Britain's east coast (Piotrowski, 1988). A large blocking anticyclone was centred over central Europe from 12th resulting in winds from the east over the North Sea. Fog and dense cloud persisted from 14th to 20th and then light, southerly winds set in to the 25th.
Fig. 1: The period from Oct. 12th to 21st was generally warm. Thunderstorms occurred late Oct. 12th with heavy rain over much of East Anglia.
Such conditions produced one of Suffolk's biggest ever 'falls' of migrants. On the 16th Landguard's day-ringing record was smashed by more than 200 when 506 birds were ringed. It was estimated that at least 10,000 migrants were grounded between Bawdsey and Suffolk's southernmost point. Surprisingly, no nationally rare species appeared to be involved in the 'fall', but some of the totals of the commoner Continental immigrants were outstanding. Landguard's ringing returns included 265 Robins, 63 Song Thrushes and 33 Redwings; overall estimates for birds present on the site included 1,000 Robins, 300 Song Thrushes, 100 Blackbirds, 500 Redwings. 40 Goldcrests and 100 Bramblings . . . quite a remarkable day. On the 17th, notable falls of species such as Redwings, Goldcrests and Robins were reported from Lowestoft and, at Benacre, an estimated 1,000 Goldcrests were present. Black Redstarts also featured along the coast and things were ticking over busily at Landguard where a further 366 new birds were ringed and site estimates included 500 38
Robins, 250 Song Thrushes, 150 Blackbirds, 100 Redwings, 40 Goldcrests and 60 Bramblings. A two day relative lull was broken on the 20th when a further influx took place and at Landguard 322 new birds were ringed from an estimated 1,000 Redwings, 150 Robins, 150 Song Thrushes, 200 Blackbirds, 70 Goldcrests, 25 Chiffchaffs, 15 Blackcaps and eight Woodcocks. During this period it seemed to be "raining birds", but, interestingly, and for the second consecutive month, Lowestoft was said to be Britain's driest place with a month's total of just 1.22 inches. In stark contrast, the heaviest rain of the year was recorded at Martlesham on 19th when thundery activity spreading north from France resulted in a fall of 1.7 inches. Suffolk's share of the Waxwing invasion, which took place in late October and early November, was small in comparison to Norfolk's but still rated as one of the year's highlights. Although several factors undoubtedly induced this arrival, it was assisted by northerly winds associated with high pressure to the west of Britain. Sunny November paved the way for another mild winter. Over much of Suffolk it was the sunniest November of the century. The East Anglian 30 year sunshine average for November ranges from 66 hours at Felixstowe to 57 hours at Ipswich, yet readings included 106 hours at Beccles, 105 hours at Higham and 100 hours at Levington. A flurry of snow as cold air swept down from the Arctic on 19th and 20th proved to be only a brief glimpse of winter.
Fig. 2 November was often sunny with cloudless skies, whilst December was remarkable for the persistence of a large and intense anticyclone, to the south-west of Britain, ensuring south- westerly winds and a conspicuous absence of cold spells. December, too, was notable for its mildness. During the Christmas weekend some parts of southern England recorded temperatures of 14Â°C, the same as that reported on the North African coast. In many parts of Suffolk it was the driest December since 1963 and in the Ipswich area the total rainfall amounted to less than one inch. In consequence the ornithological year ended as it had begun with few hard weather immigrants. On the other hand, resident species such as Kingfisher, Water Rail, Bearded Tit, Tree Sparrow and Stonechat showed welcome increases in numbers. An ill wind might blow in the vagrants to excite the twitchers, but winter's mediocre mildness is certainly appreciated in some quarters. Reference Piotrowski, S. H. 1989. Fall of migrant birds on the East Coast October 12th to 21st 1988. Suffolk Ornithologists Group Bulletin 82: 3-15.
J- H. Grant, c/o The East Anglian Daily Times, 84 Thoroughfare, Woodbridge. 39
The 1988 Suffolk Birci Report Introduction The systematic list of species has been edited by Steve Piotrowski and written by the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee, with individuai members acting as authors for the species' groups below: Divers to Hérons : John Cawston Geese : Cliff Waller Ducks : Malcolm Wright Raptors to Game Birds : Derek Moore Crakes to Plovers : Tony Prater Sandpipers : Mike Marsh Skuas to Auks : Brian Brown Near-passerines : John Grant Larks to Wren : Chris Bowden Dunnock to Thrushes : Rex Beecroft Warblers to Sparrows : Philip Murphy Finches to Buntings : Gerald Jobson The order and nomenclature follow the ' 'British Birds " list of " The Birds of the Western Palearctic". Ail 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) with each figure representing the maximum count for that site in that particular month. A dashed entry indicates that no data was received. Counts from the River Aide include the river complex of the Ore, Orford and Butley as well as Orfordness, Gedgrave Reservoir and Havergate Island; for the Orwell — Trimley Lake and Bourne Park Water Meadows and for the Stour — the Essex side of the estuary. Population fluctuations were assessed on the results of Common Bird Census (CBC) work at Coddenham 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). A vast amount of data has been collected as a resuit of the first year's work on the national and County atlas, but, due to the considérable amount of time required for processing, population assessments have been omitted from this report. Minsmere is the only site which has consistently produced records of breeding birds and is used as a barometer to monitor local population fluctuations. Field workers involved with either CBC or CES work are urged to forward summaries to the County Recorder at the end of the breeding season. Contributors are requested to be specific especially when detailing observations on the more common breeding species. It is difficult to make an accurate estimation of breeding trends when processing e.g. "Wheatear — Lakenheath Warren — several pairs." Your estimation is better than a wild swing by the Editor. There was some improvement in the overall standard of field notes although many accounts remain deficient in detail. For guidance on report writing please see the paper on pages 103-105 of Suffolk Birds, 1988. Field sketches, which accompany a description of the bird, are of immense value to the Committee and observers who lack artistic flair should not be deterred. A list of records which have not been accepted for publication can be found in the appendices and includes those which have been circulated to the respective Committees but considered inadequate 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 Monthly Reports in ' 'British Birds ' ' for which further 40
details were not forthcoming. It does not include records still under consideration. A written description should accompany reports of the following: Black-throated and Great Northern Divers; Red-necked, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes; all shearwaters; Storm and Leach's Petrels; Purple Heron; White Stork; Bean and Pink-footed Geese; Red-crested Pochard; Ferruginous Duck; Honey Buzzard; Red Kite; Montagu's Harrier; Goshawk; Rough-legged Buzzard; Peregrine; Quail; Spotted Crake; Corncrake; Crane; Kentish Plover; Dotterel; Temminck's Stint; Pectoral Sandpiper; Buff-breasted Sandpiper; all Phalaropes; Pomarine and 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 Warblers; 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.
Subspecies are listed under the main species heading. For scarcer species all records are listed under the Parish and then, if known, the exact location. The exception to this is at river estuaries and larger, well-known, sites which are criss-crossed by parish boundaries; e.g. Minsmere, Orfordness, 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 scarcer species.
Observers are reminded that Suffolk works to Watsonian vice-county boundaries taking in areas that are now considered as Norfolk, Cambridgeshire or Essex. The most significant area affected is that of Lothingland, the northern limits of which follow the River Yare and include the south side of Breydon Water. A map of the County of Suffolk can be found on the inner cover. It greatly assists the preparatory work 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. It is helpful if descriptions of National Rarities are channelled to the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) via the County Recorder. Acknowledgements We are once again indebted to Bob Warren, our County Recorder, whose efficient handling of the thousands of records enabled Suffolk Birds 1989 to be published within a tight time schedule and to our own high standard. Thanks are also due to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the SOG, Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO), the Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) and the Dingle Bird Club for providing records from their logs. Mick Wright again helped with the collation of the tables in the wildfowl and wader sections and thanks are due to the hardy participants of the BoEE, who collected the base data. Finally we thank all the individual observers whose combined records make Suffolk Birds 1989 possible. 41
SYSTEMATIC LIST RED-THROATED DIVER Gavia stellata With both winter periods remaining unseasonably mild, it was not to be an exceptional year for this species. Counts made during the first winter period could only muster a maximum of 50 birds off Benacre and Minsmere, Jan. 10th and 11th respectively. Very small numbers were noted throughout February and March and the last returning bird moved north off Covehithe, Apr. 27th. A small influx in early December provided the largest counts of the year, with 229 south off Southwold, Dec. 4th, and 280 north there, Dec. 7th, including 115 flying north in a four minute period. BLACK-THROATED DIVER Gavia arctica Numbers of this species were well down on those of 1987, with only eight birds recorded for the whole year. The first half of the year saw one off Minsmere, Jan. 10th, and a very obliging bird was at Benacre Pits, Mar. 5th to 20th. Seawatchers were rewarded with an adult, in full summer plumage, flying north off Covehithe, Mar. 27th. During the latter part of the year seawatching provided one north at Covehithe, Oct. 16th, and singles on the sea off Benacre, Nov. 21st, and off Landguard, Nov. 19th and 22nd. Sadly, an oiled individual was at Easton Broad, Dec. 27th to 30th. The following are belated records for 1987, previously not accepted, but now considered authentic in the light of further evidence. 1987 Covehithe: singles Sept. 13th and 27th and Oct. 25th (SL et al). GREAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavia immer A g o o d y e a r and r e c o r d e d in b o t h w i n t e r p e r i o d s . Lowestoft: Ness Point, flying north, Nov. 13th (WJB, JMC, JH, et al). Oulton Broad: Oct. 23rd to 26th (CAB, RF, RW, et al). Southwold: Jan. 2nd and 3rd (DRN, IRW). Minsmere: Mar. 6th (AD, PS). Felixstowe: Landguard, flying south, Nov. 20th (MM).
The Oulton Broad individual was in full summer-plumage and was much admired by many observers.
LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis A total of 41 pairs from 24 localities reported during the breeding season represents a significant increase on 1987 (23 pairs from 14 localities). This was perhaps due to increased vigilance by fieldworkers in the initial year of national and county atlas schemes. Sites holding five or more pairs included Benacre, Minsmere and Lackford Wildfowl Reserve. Once again the River Deben proved to be the key wintering site for this species with 42 Nov. 23rd and 39 Dec. 2nd. Inland, 23 were at Lackford, Oct. 16th, perhaps reflecting the high breeding success there. Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water TOTALS
J 5 14
F 2 29
11 9 3
S 2 5 2 NIL
O NIL 19 2 4
N 3 42 13 12
D 1 39 4 10
GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus Spring and summer saw a total of 74 pairs reported from 19 sites. Numbers continue to increase at Alton Water, the County's stronghold, with 47 pairs holding territory, Apr. 7th. Throughout the winter periods the Orwell and Stour estuaries, together with Alton Water, again proved to be the species' most favoured areas. The largest number noted at sea was 11 north off Southwold, Mar. 6th. J 2 30 4 111 11
F 5 36 51 102 10
M 25 22 37 73 21
Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford
14 36 29 11
S 4 4 127 79 13
O 7 17 89 109 14
N 3 27 102 53 12
D 5 35 54 92 12
9 11 75 3
RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena In a year in which breeding was confirmed for the first time elsewhere in Britain, a pair held territory at a Suffolk site during the early summer. The birds, in superb breeding plumage, were together for 17 days and were seen offering 'nesting material' as part of their spectacular display ritual. When one of the birds disappeared there was much speculation that 'she' could be incubating — this however, was never proved. There was only one record for the first winter period but during the latter part of the year ten birds were reported. Benacre: dead on beach, Nov. 6th and one on pits, Nov. 17th. Covehithe: three together on sea, Dec. 11th.
Southwold: Jan. 24th. Walberswick: Dec. 6th. Minsmere: north, Dec. 4th. Felixstowe: Landguard, north, Oct. 2nd. Levington: on River Orwell, Oct. 16th and 25th.
Alton Water: Nov. 2nd to 20th. Site A: pair May 22nd to June 7th single to at least June 26th.
SLAVONIAN GREBE Podiceps auritus There were no reports for the first winter period and the year's first record was a spring migrant, attaining summer plumage, on Southwold boating lake. T h e latter half of the y e a r r e v e a l e d five b i r d s . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , the last, at W a l b e r s w i c k , was l a n d b o u n d as a result of an o f f s h o r e oil-spill. Southwold: on boating lake, Mar. 27th to Apr. 2nd (BJB, CAB et al). Walberswick: oiled bird in dyke, Dec. 27th to 1989 (MJ, CSW et al). Sudbourne: on River Aide, Nov. 13th (NCG).
Alton Water: Dec. 27th (RS). Holbrook: in Creek on River Stour, Oct. 16th, two, Nov. 13th (JNS).
BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis A good year involving up to six birds. The Benacre bird showed many signs of breeding behaviour including aggression and display to the resident Little Grebes and the construction of a 'nest' platform. Benacre: on Broad, full-summer plumage, May 30th to June 10th (CAB, DRN et al). Covehithe: flying north, Dec. 7th (JMC). Weybread: on gravel pits, Apr. 19th and 20th (DRN).
Alton Water: May 15th (full-summer plumage) (KD). Holbrook: in Creek on River Stour, Oct. 16th (JNS).
Ixworth Thorpe: Mar. 18th to 23rd (PGHW). 1980 3
FULMAR Fulmarus glacialis Five birds had returned to the now well-established breeding site at Bawdsey Cliffs, Jan. 27th. Up to 20 adults were present there to the end of August and six young were fledged. Offshore movements were recorded in all months except November, but in that month a hint of overwintering in the North Sea well offshore was given by 30 feeding some 20 miles off Felixstowe, around the Sunk Lightship, Nov. 1st. The largest spring movement was 38 north off Covehithe, Apr. 28th. Autumn movements included 88 off Covehithe, Aug. 21st and 45 there, Sept. 14th. Inland, one flew north over Long Melford, Aug. 29th. CORY'S SHEARWATER Calonectris diomedea
Three individuals were recorded taking the County total to ten birds, six of which occurred in the past two years. Covehithe: south, July 7th (IRW), north, July 24th (DRN), north, Aug. 19th (RW).
Southwold: north, Aug. 19th (MF). By the timing of the observations the Southwold bird, Aug. 19th, is undoubtedly the same individual as that off Covehithe the same day. SOOTY SHEARWATER Puffinus griseus The total of 35 individuals recorded for the year was down on 1987 but well up on preceding years. There were two July records, south off Covehithe, July 13th (WJB), the County's earliest ever, and another south there, July 28th (JMC). P e a k c o u n t s c a m e f r o m C o v e h i t h e as f o l l o w s : Covehithe: five north and three south, Aug. 14th (WJB, JMC, MM et al), eight north, Sept. 14th (JHG, SL, DRN et al), three north and two south, Sept. 15th (WJB). 1980 3
MANX SHEARWATER Puffinus puffinus An excellent year, with at least 70 birds recorded, double that of 1987. There were two spring records, both off Covehithe — north, May 7th and south, June 5th. The highest autumn counts all came from Covehithe, four south, July 28th, nine north, Aug. 12th, eight north, Aug. 22nd, eight south, Sept. Ist and 17 north, Sept. 14th; the latter count came during northerly gales and is a County record movement. The most unusual record of the year involved a bird, frightening the life out of chickens in a run at Wortham, Sept. 8th; it was later released at Dunwich. M 1
STORM PETREL Hydrobates pelagicus T w o r e c o r d s , both d u r i n g cold northerly w i n d s in late N o v e m b e r . Southwold: south, Nov. 21st (SL, EWP). Gedding: Nov. 24th (JCW, RS).
The Southwold record is very noteworthy, for it occurred only minutes after a Leach's Petrel on the same seawatch, the first time in recent years that both species have been recorded in the County on the same day. The Gedding bird was picked up freshly dead in a garden and this constitutes the first record for west Suffolk for half a Century or more. LEACH'S PETREL Oceanodroma leucorhoa Three birds recorded as follows: Southwold: north, Nov. 21st (SL, EWP). Walberswick: exhausted on beach, Oct. 16th, later released (PF, CSW). Minsmere: over beach, Nov. 8th (RJP). 1980 2
GANNET Sula bassana A record year for this beautiful seabird, occurring in every month, with the year's total reaching at least 2,162. The year started well when 36 flew north off Southwold, Feb. 13th. March was truly outstanding with counts of 273 north at Covehithe, 3rd and 324 north off Southwold, 6th (a new County record). The peak autumn counts carne from Covehithe and included 11 north, 88 south — Aug. 2Ist, 125 north, 26 south — Aug. 24th, 54 north, 40 south — Sept. 14th and 72 north, 21 south — Sept. 15th. J 6
CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo BOEE counts show a significant increase in the wintering population which, in 1986, was estimated to be 460 birds. Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water TOTALS
J 11 58 117 111 123 69
F 15 13 66 115 141 117 58
M 9 10 91 34 90 116 16
52 91 13
N 20 8 71 78 94 152 12
62 100 141 146 42
41 105 1
20 67 125 70 244 11
0 18 18 75 170 118 188 42
_ _ _
D 25 —
Numbers at the Long Melford roost were down on previous years with a maximum of eight during both winter periods. There was a further increase in oversummering birds although as usual numbers were boosted by Continental birds following post-juvenile dispersal in late July. Birds displaying in high trees, beside Alton Water reservoir during the early spring, gives rise to speculation that the species will soon be reinstated to the County's list of breeding birds.
S H A G Phalacrocorax
An excellent year for this species with birds recorded in every month, mainly as a result of a large influx in early March. During that month birds were reported from at least ten sites between Lowestoft — maximum of 18 — 11th and Alton Water — maximum of ten — 10th. On the latter date an adult was taken to Minsmere, after being recovered from a huge vat of vegetable oil at a factory in Diss, Norfolk — the bird was released apparently none the worse for its experience, and on the same day a bird, which had been ringed on the Isle of May, was found exhausted in a Stradbroke garden. The next day another ringed bird, this time from the Fame Islands, was found dead on Covehithe beach (see Ringing Report). Other inland occurrences were from Bramford Pits, Mar. 12th and 13th, and Cavenham, by Temple Bridge over River Lark, Mar. 5th and 6th. As a result of the above influx birds were recorded throughout the spring and summer months with the most regular sightings being at Lowestoft and Covehithe. These included 20 at Lowestoft (three adults in breeding plumage), May 6th to 9th, six still there June 1st and one to July 26th. Two were off Covehithe June 29th and Aug. 14th. Monthly totals are listed as follows: J
B I T T E R N Botaurus
A slight increase in 'booming' males was an encouraging sign. Twelve were heard at three sites in the County which was two/three up on 1987. With very mild winter periods there were few records away from the County's more traditional sites; these were two at Barnby and singles at Reydon, Shotley and Glemsford, all in January.
NIGHT HERON Nycticorax nycticorax Minsmere: juvenile, July 20th (BJ, GCT).
This individual spent only one evening on the reserve and was reported to be looking sick; sadly it was not seen the next day.
CATTLE EGRET Bubulcus ibis A long-awaited addition to the County list but unfortunately, like the previous species, its stay was all too brief. Minsmere: The Scrape, Aug. 9th (GA, AR, MW et al).
The bird was spotted amongst the roosting gulls, during the evening, but soon after it was found it flew off to the south much to the disappointment of local bird-watchers. This was probably the same bird which had frequented Halvergate Marshes, Norfolk earlier the same day. 46
GREY HERON Ardea cinerea A total of 119 to 132 occupied nests was located at 13 heronries. This compares with 169-187 in 1985, 144-164 in 1986 and 117-141 in 1987.
No. of occupied nests 12-15 11-15 18 4-5 11-16 26 2 4 15 9 3 NIL 1 NIL 3
Site Henham Blackheath Methersgate Ramsholt Woolverstone Stutton Stoke-by-Nayland West Stow Euston Brandon Wild Carr, Beccles Long Melford Benacre Minsmere Sudbourne
The maximum number of occupied nests at colonies fell for the fourth successive year. Part of this decline can be directly attributed to the 'hurricane' of October, 1987 as some sites, e.g. the Blackheath and Long Melford colonies suffered considerable damage with many trees felled. A bird at Haverhill was watched attempting to capture a Mallard duckling and killing a Reed Bunting. Offshore movements of one/two birds were noted on five dates between September and Oct. 2nd at Landguard. One arrived from the sea at Covehithe, Sept. 4th.
PURPLE HERON Ardea purpurea Two records, but sightings presumably refer to the same individual. Walberswick: south over Westwood Marsh, June 13th (DRN). Minsmere: adult, June 17th to 23rd (AK et al).
SPOONBILL Platalea leucorodia Records were received from six sites: Benacre: May 27th. Walberswick: south, Apr. 21st. Minsmere: immature intermittently, Apr. 22nd to Oct. 7th adult, July 24th. Havergate: May 15th and 18th, two, June 13th, one, Aug. 7th, Sept. 25th and Oct. 8th.
Orfordness: two, May 25th. Felixstowe: south-west over town, later over Landguard and then up River Stour and into Essex, Sept. 25th.
There were probably no more than two/three individuals for the whole of the year. Records are complicated by a wide-ranging African Spoonbill P.alba, an obvious escapee, which was also noted in Norfolk, Essex and Hertfordshire. The bird has been described as being 'very tame' and found in abnormal circumstances (see appendix II); as such observers must be particularly wary of out-of-season birds frequenting unusual habitats. 47
MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor A
Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water
J 26 32 165 94 41 156 2
F 26 34 153 100 33 245 10
M NIL 11 176 93 15 121 12
19 132 53 20 125 16
14 112 7
6 357 18
18 112 102 35 327 24
O 2 23 47 66 45 221 28
N 6 24 183 76 58 202 13
D 2 35 195 138 56 126 9
The main concentration of birds on the Aide and Ore was found on the Sudbourne Marshes while those on the Deben were in the Falkenham/Bawdsey area. Additional herds were noted at 40 sites including one of 42 on Peto's Marsh, Carlton Colville, Feb. 28th, of which only 17 were adults, while 102 were present there, Mar. 31st. Ipswich Docks held up to 66 birds during November and December. Non-breeding summer herds were 60 Lakenheath, May 21st and 122 Been, during May. Reports of confirmed breeding came from only 12 sites with 17 pairs rearing 63 young. A further eight sites produced ten more nests but breeding success was not recorded.
BEWICK'S SWAN Cygnus columbianus Few were reported in the first winter period, although records included 32 at Herringfleet on the Norfolk border. This locality was an interesting addition to the known wintering sites. More traditional sites included the Southwold/Walberswick area where there were 24 birds, Jan. 31st, dramatically increasing to 105 by the end of February. At nearby Minsmere a maximum of 21 was recorded between Jan. 31st and Feb. 21st. At Sudboume 62 birds were present in January decreasing to 30, Feb. 21st. Further inland, 60 birds, of which only nine were juveniles, were present in the Waveney Valley, between Beccles and Shipmeadow, Feb. 7th. The largest number recorded was 120 near Lakenheath during February. Notable movements away from known wintering areas were: Oulton Broad: 47 east, Feb. 17th and 42 east Mar. 2nd. Ufford: 62 south-east, Feb.
Timworth Green: 42 north-east, Mar. 8th. Santon Downham: 50 west, Feb. 14th. The late winter period produced records from 20 sites the earliest being four at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Sept. 30th. The Sudbourne herd had returned by Nov. 19th and peaked at 66, Dec. 11th and over 50 were seen at Shipmeadow, Dec. 31st. Immigrant flocks of 33 and 29 were seen to come in from the sea at Kessingland, Dec. 21st.
WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus The only records for the County during the early winter period were five accompanying the Bewick's at Havergate, Feb. 7th, four which landed briefly in a flooded field at Haverhill, Jan. 22nd and three which frequented Kessingland Levels throughout January and into early February. Late winter records were from the King's Fleet area of the River Deben where an immature was present amongst the Mute Swan herd from Nov. 18th and was joined by two adults Dec. 19th with all three remaining to 1989. Five adults were seen with Bewick's at Sudbourne, Dec. 19th while inland reports were of eight flying north over Kedington, Nov. 21st, 20 flying west at Ashbocking, Nov. 19th and three in the Cavenham/Lackford area from Dec. 17th to 28th. 48
BEAN GOOSE Anser fabalis The only record in the first winter period was a single at Livermere, Feb. 14th which was considered to be an escapee. The second winter period produced a few more records with seven at Orfordness, Nov. 13th (JRA) and 29 which were seen to arrive from the sea at Slaughden and proceed up the River Aide, Oct. 30th (DRM). The only other record was of six flying south off Landguard, Nov. 17th (SP) which is the first record for the site. PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus A slightly better year for this species with the early winter period producing 20 at Minsmere, Jan. 10th following a single bird there on the 4th. Fifteen of these birds were still present on Jan. 16th and it was probably this flock which was seen at Shotley the next day. The late winter period produced records of five at Benacre, Dec. 28th, a single at Minsmere, Dec. 18th and four in the Slaughden/Boyton area Dec. 23rd to 1989. A bird of dubious origin was reported with Canada Geese at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve in January, March, August and September and at Livermere in January and March. Probably the same bird was at Glemsford and Long Melford in November and December. WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser albifrons The early winter period saw a flock of 26 birds in the Southwold/Walberswick area, Jan. 6th, increasing to reach a maximum of 74, Jan. 25th to Feb. 1st. On the Minsmere/ Eastbridge Levels 180 were present Jan. 1st dropping to about 140 by Jan. 16th after which numbers fluctuated between 80 and 140 until Mar. 7th followed by a rapid decline. The Aide/Ore complex held only ten birds, Jan. 1st and reached a peak of 28, Jan. 10th, after which there were no further reports. Except for one/two in the Orwell area the only other numbers of note were about 60 flying south down the Deben at Falkenham, Jan. 3rd and a group of 12 flying north over Haverhill, Mar. 6th. There were even fewer birds reported in the late winter period, the only records being three flying north over Wrentham, Nov. 21st and 16 north off Dunwich, Dec. 31st. A flock frequented the Minsmere/Sudbourne area between Nov. 21st and Dec. 31st peaking at 32, Nov. 28th. A single, with a Lesser White-fronted Goose, amongst the Canada Goose flock at Alton Water, Oct. 16th and Nov. 13th was considered to be an escapee. LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser erythropus The number of escapees from wildfowl collections continues to increase and may invalidate genuine specimens which might occur. An adult was reported from Shotley, and across the estuary at Trimley Lake, from Jan. 15th to Feb. 2nd. What was believed to be the same individual was at Benacre, Apr. 7th and Bramford Pits, Apr. 12th and presumably this bird then appeared with Canada Geese at Alton Water, Nov. 2nd to 20th. Other records came from the Breckland with an adult at Livermere, Feb. 14th and Apr. 24th and the same bird at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve between June 30th and Aug. 29th. The date sequence suggests that there was one or possibly two wide-ranging individuals. GREYLAG GOOSE Anser anser The County's feral population continues to increase and seems to be concentrated in three main areas â€” Benacre to Minsmere, Alton Water and Breckland. The maximum counts were noted as follows: Benacre: 115, Nov. 30th. Walberswick: 98, Sept. 10th; eight pairs nested. 49
Minsmere: 200, Jan. 22nd, 230, Sept. 17th, 250, Oct. 16th to Nov. lOth, 245, Nov. 12th; seven pairs nested. Alton Water: 179, Feb. 21st, 200, Nov. 5th; three pairs raised 20 young. Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, 41, August; two pairs nested. Livermere: 32, August.
Several birds were reported to be paired with Canada Geese and five hybrid offspring from one of these mixed pairs were seen at Alton Water.
SNOW GOOSE Anser caerulescens All records almost certainly refer to escaped individuals and include a white phase with Canada Geese at Butley Creek, Dec. 18th which may have been the single reported from Alton Water, Sept. 25th. The west of the County again provided the bulk of the records which probably involve only three birds. Ixworth: Micklemere, three, Jan. 27th, two white birds, Aug. 5th. Lackford: blue-phase bird occasionally between June and December, white bird, October and December. Livermere: July 28th, white and blue-phase birds, Dec. 18th.
CANADA GOOSE Branta canadensis Numbers continued to be high with the following counts from areas which are covered regularly:
Benacre Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford Livermere Ixworth TOTALS
J 600 40 278 238 105 140 ML 351 382 —
F 200 36 226 195 no 60 325 7 382 475 -
M 500 12 211 253 103 78 263 23 245 -
22 127 137 2 26 151 9 30
A 500 54
31 250 5 40
127 88 NIL 761 450 2243
S 600 60 —
842 103 86 491 2 1092 -
O 420 36 100 231 232 80 17 384 750 470 2720
N 353 NIL 60 300 154 71 15 420 328 -
D 230 NIL 250 400 85 95 265 250 211 800 120 2706
In addition to the above there was a flock of 350 at Mendham during August. A total of 125 nesting pairs was located on the estuaries (Beardall antea). Elsewhere breeding was reported from only 19 sites and involved 67 pairs which produced a minimum of 180 young (some observers did not record the size of broods). There were several reports of birds of the smaller races B. c. hutchinsii/minima with two at Benacre, one in the Orwell area and one from Breckland, all of uncertain origin. Observers should be wary of hybrid Canada/Barnacle Geese which superficially resemble small Canada Geese. Normally, such birds show the Barnacle's apron-like demarcation from the neck to the upper-breast.
BARNACLE GOOSE Branta leucopsis Birds almost certainly of feral origin were recorded from 27 sites, with flocks of up to 36 on the coastal strip, between Lowestoft and Eastbridge and up to four on Breckland waters, along with ones and twos from other areas. 50
BRENT GOOSE Branta bernicla BOEE counts show a County population of around 3,000 in both winter periods. Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J 50 484 965 970
F 7 1000 898 1375
M 7 18 800 787
O 1493 65 600 1446
N 271 1200 376 1331
D 201 800 554 1784
A 4 â€”
The usual large southerly movement in October and November included 2,435 off Covehithe, Oct. 1st, while 2,169 birds were counted in an hour flying south off Felixstowe, Oct. 25th. Landguard logged 13,869 in October and 10,215 in November. A good proportion of juveniles was noted amongst the flocks indicating a successful breeding season. Late returning birds were noted at Minsmere, May 28th, and a lone bird remained on the Scrape throughout the summer. A white-winged individual was seen at Falkenham in February and returned with a flock to be seen there and at Shotley in November and December. Birds of the pale-bellied race B.b. hrota were reported at: Falkenham: King's Fleet area, two â€” Feb. 14th. Shotley: on marshes, Feb. 28th. Southwold: flying offshore, Oct. 27th.
RED-BREASTED GOOSE Branta ruficollis The presumed feral bird, first noted in November 1986, made occasional appearances in the Benacre/Kessingland area in every month of the year. EGYPTIAN GOOSE Alopochen aegyptiacus Records were received from 18 scattered localities for this now well established East Anglian introduction. The only counts above five were: Somerleyton: 29 in a field, Jan. 31st. Lound: six Jan. 10th. Livermere: 16 Jan. 11th, 15 July 16th, 11 July 20th and 12 Aug. 7th.
Breeding was noted from: Oulton Broad: north side, pair bred but young did not survive. Gunton: one/two pairs. Ixworth T h o r p e : one pair rearing two broods. Euston: pair with eight young. Livermere: two immatures seen with adults.
At Lound, June 2nd, a bird was seen to fly up to the top of a pine tree. This is the first recorded instance of such behaviour in Suffolk, although in Africa, Egyptian Geese are known to nest in trees using the old nests of other species (Brown et al 1982). Observers are requested to submit details, both past and present, of Suffolk nest sites. RUDDY SHELDUCK Tadorna ferruginea All the f o l l o w i n g r e c o r d s a r e b e l i e v e d to relate to e s c a p e d b i r d s :
Benacre: on Broad, May 8th.
Walberswick: May 8th to 26th. Minsmere: May 19th to 21st and July 13th. Erwarton: on River Stour, Dec. 18th.
Orfordness: Dec. 11th. Havergate: Dec. 23rd. Lackford: on Wildfowl Reserve, female, Jan. 23rd to Feb. 3rd. Livermere: one to three between January and July 16th.
Coastal records probably involve only two indivduals. 51
SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna In contrast to the previous two years, the winter weather was mild and no large coastal movements were reported. A total of 67 Aying south off Landguard, Jan. 6th was the largest winter movement recorded. Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J 172 60 554 572 567 1014
F 372 108 995 1121 699 1548
M 325 67 890 1144 739 1468
13 167 128 28 317
0 120 80 680 429 93 462
N 185 677 511 445 1038
D 520 21 691 689 495 1055
As usuai the wintering population peaked in February and March. An incredible 531 breeding pairs were located around the estuaries, of which 202 were around the Alde/Ore/Butley complex (Beardall antea). Only three pairs were reported elsewhere on the coast and a further 26 were located near to inland lakes and gravel pits. Counts of juveniles included 40 at Livermere, June lOth and 55 on the Orwell at Pinmill, July lOth. A light autumn coastal movement was noted, with 299 south off Landguard during October. MANDARIN Aix galeri culata The only records were one at Martlesham Creek in January and a iemale hearing a pink ring at Kessingland, Jan. 9th and 30th.
WIGEON Anas penelope Only 48 birds were noted flying south past Landguard during January, a huge contrast to the record 30,400 recorded in the equivalent month in 1987, which coincided with a severe cold spell. Overall, numbers wintering were also down as is shown by the following counts: Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J 851 420 3655 663 413 1123
F 421 970 2448 1121 448 1656
M 441 400 890 390 258 942
57 276 10 19 701
O 67 550 989 802 614 2833
N 220 220 2550 1246 763 3404
D 1872 348 2631 1448 852 2139
Additionally 'several hundred' were noted at Botany Bay, Lakenheath, Feb. 5th and 250 on Benacre Broad, Mar. 9th. As usual a few birds summered on the coast, with a maximum of ten at Minsmere in June, but without any indications of breeding. Autumn movements included 250 north off Covehithe, Sept. 14th. Landguard logged 1,029 south during October with 212 on 12th and 329 on 25th being the highest day totals. AMERICAN WIGEON Anas americana Minsmere: male and female on The Scrape, Jan. 27th and 28th (RSPB).
The only previous record for Suffolk is also of a pair at Minsmere during the summer of 1974. GADWALL Anas streperà Benacre Minsmere Alde/Ore Alton Water Lackford Lakenheath TOTALS
J 4 70 11 9 207
98 3 2 121
52 24 14 76
N 28 42 2 NIL 72
D 2 30 20 9 97
101 95 20 32
111 25 19 158 65
113 17 5 —
The 207 at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve in January is a record for the site. A total of 61 breeding pairs was located at the following 19 sites: Benacre Broad, Covehithe Broad, River Blyth (15), Walberswick (two), Minsmere (seven), Sudbourne, Orfordness (two), Orford (two), elsewhere on Aide/Ore (ten), Falkenham Creek, elsewhere on River Deben (three), Trimley Lake, Alton Water, Glemsford, Thurlow Hall Lake, Lackford Wildfowl Reserve (five), River Lark near Cavenham (two), Ixworth Thorpe (two) and the Little Ouse near Brandon (three). TEAL Anas crecca Monthly counts from the main sites were: Blyth Minsmere Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford
J 123 600 1271 137 90 228 227 70
F 91 1100 931 163 58 247 170 43
M 57 600 600 207 34 162 2 39
267 658 31 NIL 314 NIL 123
0 1 555 400 198 20 290 4 45
N 12 287 607 357 3 529 44 100
D 149 277 2362 313 48 150 23 108
Other counts of more than 50 in the first winter period were 70 at Benacre in February; 200 Hollesley, Feb. 20th and 100 Shingle Street, Mar. 31st and in the second winter period: 250 Benacre Broad, Nov. 30th, 70 Newbourne, Dec. 4th, 1,000 Hollesley, Dec. 28th and 52 Thorpeness Meare, Dec. 31st. Breeding was only proven at Minsmere, where there was a minimum of six pairs, but pairs frequented suitable breeding habitat, during the summer months on the River Blyth (ten), Orfordness (two), Falkenham Creek (two), Trimley Lake, Baylham Mere (four) and Lackford Wildfowl Reserve (two). Landguard recorded a light autumn coastal passage: 167 south in September, 193 in October and 87 in November. A drake showing characters of the North American race A.c. carolinensis was noted at Ixworth, Apr. 28th, but due to obvious escapees in the area its origin is suspect. MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford
J 31 119 1290 303 598 1027 NIL 279
F 64 226 1044 178 500 843 170 179
M 24 118 680 109 228 834 169 162
46 238 —
135 NIL 83
D 168 179 1838 180 486 1453 348 200
N 22 147 877 206 541 1121 336 179
24 95 350 93
370 358 101 27 352 262 164
0 18 192 174 235 468 1202 419 136
Other counts of note were 110 at Botany Bay, Lakenheath, Feb. 8th and 400, Benacre Broad, Nov. 30th. A total of 437 breeding pairs was located, but this undoubtedly understates the true breeding figures with many broods, especially those on inland rivers and ponds, left undetected. The bulk of the total was made up from 322 pairs found on the estuaries (Beardall antea) but double-figure concentrations were also found at Minsmere (30 prs.); Lackford Wildfowl Reserve (35 prs.); Glemsford/Long Melford area (ten prs.), River Brett at Brent Eleigh (12 prs.) with smaller numbers at many other sites. There was an interesting late record of a large brood of 18 newly hatched young on the River Kennett near Kentford, Oct. 31st. PINTAIL Anas acuta An interesting January record was of a flock of 18 flying north over the A12 near Saxmundham at 08.30 hrs on 26th, followed by a sighting of 18 (16 males) flying north off Covehithe one hour later, presumed to be the same flock (JMC). Benacre Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J 1 3 442 13 157 194
F 2 60 74 84 126 74
M 12 43 17 8 11
S 20 2 31 1 NIL 65
O 20 7 72 35 71 466
N II 2 102 81 228 323
D 4 3 49 132 189 78
Apart from coastal reports no counts from other sites exceeded ten and the only inland records came from Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, a male during May, and an immature male from Sept. 17th to the year's end.A male was also noted at Minsmere, May 29th, but there were no indications of breeding this year. A total of 76 flew north past Lowestoft, Sept. 30th and Landguard logged 169 south offshore during October and 48 south November. 54
GARGANEY Anas querquedula The first records were on Apr. 1st when two pairs were seen at a coastal site and one pair in Breckland. Birds were seen at three coastal sites during the spring and on Apr. 17th one of these held three pairs and two extra males. However, breeding was only proven at Minsmere, by the presence of a female with three ducklings, June 7th. Eclipse birds on autumn passage were two at Walberswick, from late July until Aug. 31st, and one at Minsmere, Sept. 5th. SHOVELER Anas clypeata Benacre Minsmere Aide/Ore Stour Alton Water Lackford TOTAL
J 4 63 23 30 NIL 19
F 1 146 23 48 NIL 1
M 5 138 36 16 1 3
A 12 40 20 11 1 8
40 42 2 NIL 39
80 22 2 2
43 95 4 9 14
N 10 35 61 6 23 48
D 3 30 84 6 20 21
No counts from other sites exceeded ten except 11 on the Blyth estuary, Feb. 21st and Mar. 20th and 12 Butley Creek, Apr. 3rd. A total of 67 pairs were reported during the spring from 14 probable breeding sites but nesting was proven only at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, where two broods were seen. Landguard logged eight flying south, Sept. 1st. RED-CRESTED POCHARD Netta rufina Minsmere: a female, Apr. 20th to 22nd and M a y 24th (RSPB). A l t o n W a t e r : t w o e c l i p s e d r a k e s , S e p t . 11th ( B O E E ) . H a v e r h i l l : F l o o d P a r k , v e r y t a m e d r a k e , M a r . 18th ( D F S ) .
These could relate to wild birds on passage but records are complicated by obvious escapes from wildfowl collections. POCHARD Aythya ferina Benacre Aide/Ore Orwell Alton Water Thorington St. Lackford
J 50 65 55 110 59 246
F 53 15 75 130 60 174
M 36 25 6 40 88
A 2 1 1 2 2 NIL
XII NIL NIL 30 39
O 20 NIL 30 9 70 160
N 58 1 48 105 62 156
D 30 8 40 58 166 208
Other counts of note were 50 Redgrave Lake, Jan. 14th, 46 Livermere, Feb. 14th and 21st and 51 Barham, Dec. 22nd. Breeding at Minsmere and two other sites produced five broods. TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula M
Benacre Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Thorington St. Lackford
J 65 22 111 40 80 248 80 352
F 15 17 118 10 150 120 75 259
38 149 16 120 23 29 217
135 16 —
N 35 15 26 3 77 34 78 187
29 16 139 161 130 290
33 2 67 36
26 15 69 39
D 50 —
The only other three-figure count was 109, Bramford Pits, Jan. 17th. A total of 140 breeding pairs was reported from the following 23 sites: Oulton Marshes, Benacre, River Blyth, Minsmere, Blackheath, Staverton, Gedgrave, Kirton Creek, Felixstowe Ferry, Trimley Lake, Shotley Marshes, Erwarton, Holbrook Gardens, Bramford, Barham, Barking, Needham Market, Stoke-by-Nayland, Glemsford, Haverhill, Thurlow Hall, Cavenham and Lackford. The species appears to be breeding on all suitable waters throughout the County. Offshore movements included 34 south and two north off Southwold, Nov. 21st.
i 0} .c o ir SCAUP Aythya mania With the mild winter weather, numbers in the first winter period were well down on those of 1987. On the coast one to five were seen at eight localities between Jan. 6th and Apr. 27th. There was a series of records from Alton Water, with up to eight (three drakes, five ducks) regularly present from Jan. 10th to Apr. 7th. A male was on Benacre Broad during July and the same bird was on Covehithe Broad, Aug. 3rd and 7th. During the second winter period Trimley Lake was the place to see Scaup; four females/immatures, Nov. 17th to 21st; a female Nov. 24th and 14 to 26 were present between Dec. 14th and 31st. Other records included seven at Alton Water, Dec. 28th to 31st and a female Melton G.P./Bromeswell reservoir, Dec. 2nd to 26th. Landguard logged 36 flying south, Nov. 3rd and elsewhere on the coast one/two were noted at nine localities from Sept. 5th to the end of the year. EIDER Somateria mollissima Rather scarce in the first winter period, when all the records (bar Landguard) came from the north-east coast between Lowestoft and Minsmere and only involved four birds. At Landguard four flew south, Jan. 2nd and another four, Jan. 29th. Scattered records of non-breeding birds continued throughout the spring and summer. Nine north off Southwold, June 18th was the maximum. 56
There was a sudden upsurge in birds moving offshore in November, beginning with 30 south off Lowestoft — 9th. This was followed by large northerly movements of 45 off Minsmere — 20th and 76 off Lowestoft, between 07.55 and 08.55 — 21st (consisting of 12, 1, 16, 7, 13, 5, 2, 3 14 and 3 birds); the larger flocks were invariably led by an adult male. The day-total for 21st was increased by 85 moving off Kessingland between 11.30 and 13.30 hrs. Although only covering three hours the accumulative total of 161 constitutes a record one-day movement for Suffolk and might well have been several times this had an all day watch been possible. Landguard regularly logged small numbers moving offshore October to December, but no more than nine on any one day. LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula
There was only a single record in the first winter period, a female off Levington in the River Orwell, Jan. 5th. A male in partial summer plumage occurred at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, May 31st — an unusual date for the site's first record (CJJ, TPK). There was a quite exceptional influx in the second winter period. It began on Oct. 9th with a male flying south off Southwold and a female/immature south off Landguard. The only other October records were two at Shingle Street — 19th and two north off Benacre — 30th. During November there was a total of 33 sightings from 18 coastal or estuarine localities between Kessingland and Landguard and during December, 29 sightings from 17 localities. Most records involved just one or two birds but five flew north off Kessingland, Nov. 19th; four to six, Woolverstone, Orwell Estuary, Nov. 17th to 27th and a group of six regularly on the sea in Sole Bay throughout December. Because of an unknown degree of duplication of sightings it is difficult to estimate the total number of birds involved in the influx but 50 to 70 seems the probable range. COMMON SCOTER Melanina Coast
nigra A 150
The figures in the above table are the maximum counts for each month from any point on the Suffolk coast. The January count came from Benacre and Dunwich and February's from Shingle Street. All the counts from March to August came from Dunwich/Minsmere and clearly refer to a flock which spent the spring and summer in one of the species' favourite haunts — Sole Bay. The September count referred to a flock off Lowestoft but the 282, in October, and 500, November, were passage birds which were respectively logged at Southwold, Oct. 30th, and Landguard, Nov. 3rd. The December count came from Shingle Street. Other notable southerly movements were: 150 Lowestoft. Oct. 2nd; 128 Covehithe, Oct. 29th and 150 Southwold, Nov. 21st. Landguard logged 190 south during October and 704 south November. The only inland records were two males at the Flood Park, Haverhill, Jan. 24th and a male there, Mar. 15th (DFS). VELVET SCOTER Melanina
In the first winter period birds were seen offshore at: Southwold: Jan. 2nd. Walberswick: Feb. 21st. Dunwich/Minsmere: four — Feb. 25th, one to two — Mar. 6th, 26th and Apr. 1st, ten — Mar. 23rd. Bawdsey: Feb. 7th.
An unseasonable female was a long way inland at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, June 1st (CJJ) (see also Long-tailed Duck). 57
In the s e c o n d w i n t e r p e r i o d r e c o r d s c a m e f r o m : Benacre/Covehithe: north — Sept. 14th; female on Broad and pits — Oct. 26th to Nov. 20th; four on sea — Nov. 17th. Southwold: six north, two south — Nov. 21st. Dunwich/Minsmere: four — Dec. 9th, two — Dec. 4th, singles — Nov. 6th and 20th, Dec. 3rd and 5th. Aldeburgh: Slaughden Quay, Nov. 11th, two — Nov. 19th. Trimley/Nacton: two/three on River Orwell — Dec. 25th to 31st.
GOLDENEYE Bucephala clangula Benacre Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford TOTALS
J 5 21 64 85 81 12 15
F 5 20 66 77 132 14 12
M 4 3 12 37 102 5 11
O 10 NIL 12 4 10 5 5
N 2 4 14 30 54 4 9
D 3 1 46 30 42 29 18
NIL — — — —
Apart from the above localities Goldeneyes were widely reported from other estuaries and inland freshwaters, but no count exceeded ten except for 12 Minsmere, Nov. 30th. Pairs or single birds stayed at several sites until the end of April but there were no records after a pair, at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Apr. 30th, until three Alton Water, Sept. 11th. There was evidence of a light southerly passage in the late autumn. Landguard totals were 23, October, and 11, November, and Lowestoft, ten, Nov. 9th. SMEW Mergus albellus This beautiful little duck is an excellent barometer of winter weather conditions around the North Sea. In January 1987, when we were in the grip of arctic weather conditions, at least 70 graced the Suffolk coast and estuaries. In the same period in 1988 there were just four:
Blythburgh: male on River Blyth, Jan. 24th. Alton Water: red-head Jan. 25th. Thorington Street: male on reservoir and on River Stour, Feb. 23rd and 24th. Lakenheath: Botany Bay, red-head Jan. 1st.
A red-head was seen at Flatford on River Stour on the unusual date of July 12th. A red-head was also seen at the same location in May 1987, perhaps the same individual? The only second winter record was of a red-head on Benacre Broad, Dec. 24th. 58
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J NIL NIL 8 7
F NIL 2 2 13
M 1 NIL 8 12
O 1 NIL NIL 6
N NIL NIL 1 3
D 1 NIL 14 16
The table shows that for the first time for many years the Orwell was not the major wintering site. Records, for the first winter period, were also received from Benacre Broad, singles Feb. 28th and Apr. 17th (the latter also seen on Covehithe Broad) and Minsmere, two males May 2nd. Several birds were noted flying offshore January to March including ten north and one south off Southwold, Mar. 6th. Autumn records began with one south off Landguard Sept. 17th. A total of 54 flew south off Landguard during October and five November. Apart from the localities in the above table one to four were reported in the second winter period from Lowestoft, Covehithe, Easton Bavents, Southwold, Minsmere, Butley River, Shingle Street and Felixstowe Ferry. One or two were seen almost daily on Benacre Pits or Broad from Sept. 27th to the year's end. The only inland record of the year came from Livermere, a redhead, Dec. 18th. GOOSANDER Mergus merganser Benacre Minsmere Alton Water Lackford TOTALS
J 1 1 1 9 12
N 3 8
D 1 6 1 10
Other records for the first winter period were three Flood Park, Haverhill, Jan. 7th; a female, Lound, Jan. 6th; a male, Suffolk Water Park, Bramford, Mar. 2nd; a pair, Holbrook Gardens, Mar. 13th to 20th and Stour Estuary, Apr. 17th. There were no more reports until a male flew south off Felixstowe, Oct. 26th. A male and four red-heads flew south past Landguard, Nov. 19th and a pair north off Ness Point, Lowestoft, Nov. 22nd. December sightings were from Covehithe, 7th, a red-head on a fishing pond near Ipswich, 16th and males Kirton Creek and Barham both 22nd. RUDDY DUCK Oxyura
Walberswick: pair from Apr. 17th intermittently throughout May and June; breeding probable but not proven. Minsmere: Island Mere, June 20th. Iken: two on River Aide, Nov. 13th. Trimley/Levington: Trimley Lake, two females/immatures, Jan. 1st to Feb. 6th, male and female/immature, Nov. 27th; River Orwell, Dec: 4th. Haverhill: Flood Park, male, Mar. 24th and a pair, Apr. 13th. Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, up to five during September from 13th, male throughout October and November, three December. Livermere: male Mar. 11th, 'several' throughout spring and summer, four males and two females, June 19th, female (last of the year), Aug. 9th.
The Livermere birds were thought to have been dispersed by a shooting party, in September, and sought refuge at Lackford. There was no proof of breeding this year but birds probably at least attempted to breed at one Breckland and one coastal site. 59
HONEY BUZZARD Pernis apivorus After a year's absence from the County this very rare passage migrant had its best year since 1981 with records as follows: Minsmere: flying north, Aug. 3rd (JMC, DC, AMG). Felixstowe: Landguard, flying south, May 15th (JHG, MM, SP, CSW et al). BLACK KITE Milvus migrans Undoubtedly Suffolk's best ever year for a species which is slowly increasing its range northwards and is now nesting irregularly in Belgium. The following brings the total number of occurrences in the County to eight. Covehithe/Benacre: May 2nd and 5th (JMC, DRN, EWP). Walberswick: May 15th (AH).
Haverhill: June 13th (DFS). 1987 Tattingstone: June 10th (DC). The belated 1987 record is the first for the County since one flew over Eastbridge in 1981. RED KITE Milvus milvus
The County's best year this decade with at least seven individuals. January records were from Ellough, near Beccles, and Coddenham and, as the birds were seen on consecutive days, the records probably refer to the same individual. There then followed a spate of spring records which, allowing for duplication, refers to at least five different individuals. 60
On Nov. 13th a bird originally flushed from Orfordness (09.45 hrs) was tracked southwards at Bawdsey (11.45 hrs) and Holbrook (12.45 hrs). EUough: Jan. 3rd (SH). Benacre: Apr. 2nd (DRN, RCS), Apr. 17th (JMC). Southwold: Apr. 5th (TN). Westleton: over Heath Apr. 5th (per CSW). Walberswick: Hoist Covert, Apr. 5th (CAC, WRC). Vlinsmere: over Island Mere, Apr. 3rd (RSPB). Sizewell: flying towards Leiston, Apr. 3rd (per JHG). Orfordness: Nov. 13th (JA, DCr). Sutton: over Common, Apr. 18th (per DRM). Bawdsey: Nov. 13th (MC). Felixstowe: north, Apr. 1st (MM), Landguard, south, Mar. 23rd (MM). Holbrook: south-west Nov. 13th (RS). oddenham: Jan. 4th (per BH). Haverhill: two north-east, Mar. 27th (DFS). Brandon: Mar. 28th (NG). 1980 NIL
WHITE-TAILED EAGLE Haliaeetus albiciUa
With t h e p o p u l a t i o n n e s t i n g o n Baltic s h o r e s slowly i n c r e a s i n g this s p e c i e s is n o w wintering r e g u l a r l y in small n u m b e r s in the N e t h e r l a n d s and F r a n c e . It is t h e r e f o r e not surprising that sightings of this gigantic bird are b e c o m i n g m o r e regular in eastern E n g l a n d .
Butley/Boyton: immature, Dec. 12th to 1989 (JH et al).
Helmingham: Nov. 27th to Dec. 10th (DN, AS, T). The Helmingham bird was initially thought to be a Golden Eagle but the date spans indicate that it was the same bird as that frequenting the Butley/Boyton area. The latter spent much of its time in the picturesque Butley Creek often roosting in woodland on the Orford side of the river. On Dec. 24th it made a brief excursion to Grundisburgh, Culpho and Eyke. The bird was ringed with both metal and coloured plastic rings that will hopeftilly determine its origin. 61
MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosa The increase in our breeding population continues; 25 females reared at least 54 young, the highest in contemporary times (see Suffolk Birds 1987 p76). This is a conservative estimate as six nesting birds were not watched regularly in order to determine whether any young fledged. Autumn movements were seen away from normal haunts at Lowestoft, Sept. 30th, Woolverstone, Sept. 7th, Felixstowe, Sept. 27th, Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Aug. 29th and Pakenham, Sept. 3rd. A late wanderer was observed at Mayday Farm, Brandon, Nov. 21st. Wintering females were two at Minsmere during January and one at Walberswick, Dec. 31st. HEN HARRIER Circus cyaneus The last two years have seen a reduction in wintering numbers, probably due to the mild weather. It is estimated that about forty birds were present at twelve sites in the early part of the year. The first autumn migrant was observed at Minsmere on the early date of Sept. 1st and thereafter immigration took place throughout September and October with approximately thirty birds occupying ten sites at the year's end. MONTAGU'S HARRIER Circus pygargus Sizewell: over Levels, male, Apr. 17th (MJ).
This, the only acceptable record, is particularly early. GOSHAWK Accipiter gentilis Breeding was confirmed at one site where up to three young were seen and nesting could have occurred at a second locality. Casual sightings involved birds from possible breeding stock, perhaps with the exception of one at Sutton Heath, Feb. 11th. SPARROWHAWK Accipiter nisus Only five pairs confirmed breeding at four sites but birds in potential nesting habitat were reported from 24 other localities. Numbers appear to be increasing still and reports are now widespread. The resident population is augmented in winter by Continental visitors. In the winter periods numbers were good with reports from a total of 43 sites in the early part of the year and 48 locations from October until the year's end. A female was observed taking a Magpie from Minsmere Scrape, Jan. 28th, and this incident caused much excitement. COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buteo Suffolk has a dearth of suitable breeding habitat for this species so the record of one carrying food, June 1st, gives much hope that nesting is taking place. However, this observation was not backed up with subsequent sightings and as the species is known to be conspicuous and particularly vociferous, during the nesting period, it would be premature to reinstate the species to breeding status without further evidence. A total of thirteen individuals was noted in the period January to March. The first returning migrants were seen at Minsmere where two were seen, Aug. 15th. After this another six were reported in the coastal strip to the end of the year. ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus In the early part of the year there were up to three birds frequenting the coastal strip and a probable passage migrant in the Breck. Minsmere: Jan. 24th. Butley/Gedgrave: two Jan. 3rd to March 13th. Brandon: Mayday Farm, last week of March. Elveden: Apr. 1st. 62
T h e m a i n a r r i v a i f o r the s e c o n d w i n t e r p e r i o d w a s in e a r l y N o v e m b e r and the b i r d s were exclusively c o a s t a l . Benacre: Nov. 5th and 6th. Southwold: Nov. 6th. Westleton: over heath, Nov. 6th. Minsmere/Eastbridge: Dec. 4th and 5th. Sudbourne: Dec. l l t h to 20th. Butley/Boyton/Gedgrave: Oct. 31st, two possibly three from Dec. 17th to 1989. Tunstall: Dec. 30th. Falkenham: Nov. 8th.
Two birds were seen regularly in the Butley River area roosting each evening in a small Oak tree. The Sudbourne bird was watched feeding on a dead Rabbit at the same time as the two had returned to their roost at Butley proving that three birds were in the area. However, it is likely that no more than four birds wintered in the County. OSPREY Pandion haliaetus The species' successful recolonisation of Scotland, estimated to be 31 pairs during the period 1980-84 (Thom, 1986) and spread in Scandinavia, is likely to be responsible for this continuing spate of records. 1980 6
As usual t h e s p e c i e s w a s f a r m o r e e v i d e n t d u r i n g s p r i n g p a s s a g e : Walberswick: May 15th and June 6th (CSW et al). Minsmere: up to two May 15th to 20th, then single to June 6th (RSPB) Aldeburgh: May 21st (CJU). Flatford/Cattawade: Apr. 26th (per DRM). Alton Water: Apr. 17th (IP) and May 18th (RJW). Nayland: Apr. 25th and 26th (RCD). Bradfield St. George: Apr. 18th (ES). Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, Apr. 12th and 13th (APN, SE) and May 4th to 16th (CJJ et al). Brandon: Mayday Farm, Apr. 22nd (NG).
It seems likely that the Nayland, Flatford and first Alton Water records refer to the same individual and that the Walberswick and Aldeburgh records were of birds on excursions from Minsmere. Autumn passage was noted as follows: Covehithe: Aug. 2nd (DRN, JMC et al). Minsmere: July 6th and 30th (RSPB). Havergate: Sept. 3rd to 22nd (RSPB). Hadleigh/Aldham: Sept, lst to 21st — seen to take Goldfish from a small pond (AB, JRM).
KESTREL Falco tinnunculus A total of 19 breeding pairs was reported from 12 sites including two which bred in v ery close proximity to nesting Barn Owls. This widespread and common species was recorded from many parts of the County during the year. MERLIN Falco columbarius In the early part of the year 12 birds were recorded from 11 sites including two May records at Reydon — 7th and Landguard — 8th. The first autumn migrant was noted at Foxhole Heath, on the early date of Aug. 30th and thereafter a total of 11 was reported from ten sites. 1987 Cavenham: The "probable female" over heath, Aug. 18th should have read Dec. 18th. 63
HOBBY Falco subbuteo The recent upsurge in records continues and possibly reflects an increase in the County's breeding population. Hobbies are extremely secretive in their breeding habits and may be overlooked by casual observations. One pair definitely bred rearing three young and another did the same just over the border in Essex; the latter pair was regularly seen in Suffolk. It is possible that nesting took place at a minimum of a further seven sites. Many records of migrants were received; the earliest Apr. 27th, Minsmere and the latest, Oct. 25th at Landguard. PEREGRINE Falco peregrinus Records referring to three wild birds were received as follows: Minsmere: Feb. 13th (SNJC) and Mar. 1st (IR). M a r t l e s h a m : juvenile, probable female, over Creek and River Deben, Jan. 3rd and 24th (GJJ). F a l k e n h a m : immature male, Jan 24th (MM) and probable male, Dec. 12th (MM). Trimley/Shotley: over marshes, immature male, Jan. 1st (MM, SP, DFW) and 31st, Mar. 6th (MM).
Birds of captive origin were one which escaped at Ipswich, Aug. 6th and another wearing jesses at Minsmere, Nov. 18th. RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE Alectoris rufa Observers report much hybridisation with Chukars/4. Chukar and it still seems that the Suffolk population contains few pure birds. GREY PARTRIDGE Perdix perdix Thirteen pairs were located in the Haverhill area but additional breeding records were received from only 36 widely scattered localities. QUAIL Cotumix coturnix Calling birds were reported near Minsmere, May 27th/28th and Sudbourne and Cattawade (two) in July. Singles were noted in the breeding season in the Breck and feeding in front of a combine-harvester in a bean field at Witnesham, Sept. 16th. GOLDEN PHEASANT Chrysolophus pictus Reported from only six sites in the Breck and additionally from Cockfield and Henstead. The latter are almost certainly not of the feral population but recent escapes. LADY AMHERST'S PHEASANT Chrysolophus amherstiae Herringswell: Hall Farm, male, June 3rd. Assumed to be the same bird as that reported in 1987, which was regularly seen by farm workers throughout the year.
WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus Scarce in the first winter period; seen at only eight sites with maxima of ten at Minsmere and four at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve. A spring migrant was discovered amongst the cargo in a ship's hold, by dockworkers at Felixstowe, May 28th, and taken to Landguard to be ringed and released. Summering birds were noted at Lowestoft, Lackford, Walberswick and Minsmere but breeding was not proven although juveniles were seen at the last site in August. During the second winter period seen at 20 sites with maxima of eight at Minsmere, five at Lackford and three at Walberswick. SPOTTED CRAKE Porzana porzana A single on autumn passage was the only record. Minsmere: Aug. 20th to 29th (RSPB). 64
CORNCRAKE Crex crex Heveningham: Oct. 14th (CSW).
The decade's third record of this formerly abundant breeding species and the first since 1982. Sadly, this individual was found dying on a road. MOORHEN Gallínula chloropus This species remains poorly reported. The main sites were Minsmere with 117 Feb. 14th and the Stour Estuary with 153 Feb. 21st. Elsewhere, maxima were in the second winter period: i.e. 89 on R. Orwell in September, 80 on the Stour near Glemsford, in December, and 48 on Alton Water in October. A migrant was at Landguard, Nov. 12th. The only breeding concentrations noted were 15 pairs on Shotley Marshes and six pairs at both Great Bradley and Haverhill. COOT Fúlica atra Numbers at the principal site, Alton Water, were substantially lower than in recent years, especially in the second winter period with a peak of just 223 in December. It will be interesting to see if the phenomenon of a flush in numbers which so often happens in the early years of a reservoir, happens here. Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford TOTALS
J 20 105 82 187 122 2 603 191
F 30 199 131 NIL 144 48 389 176
M 22 191 69 60 80 20 224 78
31 53 58 176
33 65 101
O NIL 38 4 48 71 4 177 204
N NIL 30 56 66 52 5 184 161
D NIL 27 56 96 68
Although breeding was reported at 11 sites none held more than three pairs; this hardly provides a true picture of the breeding population. The two main inland sites were Lackford Wildfowl Reserve with a peak of 204 in October, and Livermere, 80/90 Feb. 14th. CRANE Grus grus A wide-ranging sub-adult was present on the coast between Covehithe and Felixstowe Ferry, May 9th to 23rd; this was possibly the same individual as that seen at Kessingland, June 3rd. Kessingland: June 3rd, flying out to sea (DRN). Covehithe/Easton: flying south, May 12th (WJB, JM, EWP). Walberswick: Westwood Marsh, evening, May 16th (per CSW). Minsmere: May 9th, 15th to 17th (SP, NJS et al). Sudbourne: Boulger Hall, then south over Havergate, May 23rd (RW). Eyke: River Deben, flying north, May 22nd (HM). Felixstowe Ferry/Falkenham/Bawdsey: May 15th, 21st and 22nd (MM et al).
A further five individuals were noted during autumn passage. Benacre: over Broad, two flying south, Aug. 17th (RCS). Felixstowe: Landguard, three flying south offshore, Oct. 29th (JRA, MM).
The Benacre birds were almost certainly the same as the two seen at Beccles, on the Norfolk side of the River Waveney, earlier the same day (CAB), and the Landguard party was perhaps the same as the three birds reported as "probably of this species" flying south at Covehithe, Oct. 28th (JW). 65
OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus For the first time there was a near complete count of breeding pairs: the Suffolk Wildlife Trust's estuary team located 471 pairs along the coast. By far the greatest number, 223, was on the Alde/Ore/Butley estuaries which includes Orfordness; the Deben held 103 pairs. Inland pairs, one of which bred, were seen at Tuddenham St Mary, Ixworth and Livermere: inland breeding is becoming well established. Small numbers of birds apparently migrating south throughout the year were seen from Covehithe, Minsmere and Landguard: peaks at the latter were in March, 364, and August, 225. Off Minsmere 400 moved south Aug. 22nd. Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J NIL 11 187 900 907
F 221 299 260 1077 767
M 194 813 460 743 629
M 80 440
J 55 357
J 110 411
15 86 509 541
0 1 4 348 614 455
N NIL 1 125 373 762
D 1 5 118 330 1569
BLACK-WINGED STILT Himantopus himantopus The two records which are the County's first for this species since 1979, must surely relate to the same two individuals. Unfortunately, the age/sex of the birds were not recorded and thus uncertainty remains as to whether they were the same as the two immatures which were present at Willen Lake, Buckinghamshire, June 8th to 16th (Dawson and Allsopp, 1988). Alton W a t e r : t w o , June 5th (JFr). L i v e r m e r e : t w o , J u n e 6th ( A R N , C J J , C G , et
AVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta Breeding numbers fell for the second consecutive year to 197 pairs. This was principally due to a great reduction from 109 to 50 pairs at Havergate where just 10 young fledged. Minsmere also fared poorly raising only 14 young from 45 pairs. Prédation from a Fox and a Coot was thought to be the main problem at the latter site. An anti-Fox fence has since been erected around The Scrape to try to prevent this source of failure. Inland, birds were seen at three site-' '...V^nheath Washes, two Apr. 1st, Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, one, June 19th to 22m! . "i-?ccles, two July 20th. Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben
J NIL NIL 213 NIL
F NIL 3 282 2
M 22 53 115 NIL
A 6 115 269 3
120 240 3
14 394 NIL
0 NIL 4 345 NIL
N NIL 2 514 1
D NIL NIL 500 17
Outstanding counts were obtained in November and December, the 514 in the former being the highest winter count yet made in the County. The mild winter may have encouraged more birds to stay although one bird caught at Butley Creek, Oct. 10th, wore a German ring proving that some Continental breeders were involved. STONE CURLEW Burhinus oedicnemus The detailed survey work and protection given to this species in Suffolk Breckland has continued to provide a comprehensive picture of its distribution and breeding success. In 1988, 48 pairs were located, only slightly fewer than in 1987, but breeding success was poor and only 19 young are known to have fledged (RSPB). A pair was again seen in the coastal belt. The problems that this species faces were illustrated by at least three clutches being taken by egg-collectors in May. A ringed female was found freshly dead at Felixstowe 66
ir Plates 9 and 10: Crane at Felixstowe Ferry, May 1988. This wide-ranging individual was seen at several coastal sites.
Ferry on the very late date of Nov. 24th (KAW). The first were seen Mar. 21st and the last in Breckland, Oct. 7th. A migrant was heard over Ipswich, June 23rd, an unusual date. LITTLE RINGED PLOVER Charadrius dubius Only twelve pairs were reported from six sites, but this does not represent the true County breeding population. Of these just two were known to have hatched young; much more detail on breeding pairs and success is required. An interesting record involved three pairs nesting in a Sugar Beet crop, in West Suffolk, "several hundred metres" away from a newly constructed lake, their normal breeding habitat. The first migrant was at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Mar. 27th and the last at Alton Water, Sept. 25th. A poor autumn passage brought maxima of nine on July 24th to Minsmere and six at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve; the last at these sites were on Sept. 11th and 12th respectively. Two were seen moving south at sea, at Southwold Sept. 1st and Landguard, Sept. 17th. RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula During the spring most of the coast from the Stour to the Blyth was covered and 100 pairs were located (Beardall antea). Other coastal counts revealed a further 16 pairs. This number was much lower than expected, particularly at Orfordness, traditionally the principal site, where just 13 pairs were found; Piotrowski (1980) reported 53 pairs there in 1979. The only inland breeders were two pairs at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve. Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J 25 67 104 200 219
F 21 61 27 164 63
M 10 56 4 37 30
A 5 28
M 20 82 3 131
J 8 41
97 55 566 217
0 16 63 200 340 157
N 6 40 18 230 227
D 6 61 84 344 227
Birds showing characters of the northern race C.h. tundrae were noted at Walberswick from May 25th to 28th, with a peak of 19 - 26th (JHG), and at Lowestoft Aug. 8th (BJB). The importance of the Orwell is clear throughout the year, but especially in autumn; the Levington roost was then of particular significance with peaks of 365, Sept. 11th and 340, Oct. 2nd. KENTISH PLOVER Charadrius alexandrinus There were only two records of this species which is becoming increasingly scarce on its Continental breeding grounds. Minsmere: female, May 30th (RM, GOT, JS et al).
Havergate: female/immature, Aug. 18th (KB, SDe, PMa).
DOTTEREL Charadrius morinellus The only record was of two birds arriving on an unusually late date, as spring migrants are rarely seen in June. Kessingland/Benacre: two males, June 10th to 13th (many observers).
GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis apricaria Numbers were well up compared with recent years; there were 22 sites where flocks of over 200 birds were seen. The year can be divided into three distinct phases with peaks in January to early February, in late March and early April and from mid-November to the end of the year. All flocks of 400 birds or more are tabulated: Carlton Colville: 800 Jan. 8th and 12th; 400 Nov. 12th. Mutford: 600 Dec. 29th. 67
Otley: 500 early January, 620, Dec. 20th. Falkenham: 400 Feb. 14th. Stowupland: 600 Mar. 27th. Stour Valley: Higham, 500 Mar. 27th to Apr. 9th, 820 Apr. 12th and 800 Apr. 16th. Acton: 1,300 Feb. 3rd. Long Melford: 450 Mar. 28th. Kedington: 500 Dec. 24th. Stradishall: 1,000 early February. Bradfield Combust: 850 Dec. 11th. Livermere: 800 Mar. 30th and Apr. 15th.
There were only three May records with the last on the late date of May 30th, at Minsmere, where the first returning bird was seen on July 25th. GREY PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola Inland, one was in a flock of Golden Plover at Haverhill Jan. 20th to Mar. 14th. At Lackford Wildfowl Reserve one Apr. 6th was followed by an impressive series of autumn records: singles were present on several dates in September and on Oct. 2nd and 6th, with peaks of seven, Sept. 16th and 17th and four, Sept. 25th. Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J 2 126 170 175 700
F NIL 230 110 212 806
M 1 22 95 97 698
A 2 9 7 4 79
12 20 40 601
O 21 •75 98 208 719
N 6 82 167 284 1761
D 18 173 44 283 761
The peak count of 1,761 on the Stour in November is the highest count yet recorded in the County but wintering numbers were not otherwise particularly large. LAPWING Vanellus vanellus A total of 251 breeding pairs was located around the estuaries with 101 pairs on the Blyth and 89 on the Alde/Ore/Butley complex (Beardall antea). Other breeding records were widely scattered. Early in the year the mild winter enabled large numbers to remain from late 1987. Flocks of 1,000 were seen at Beccles, Boxford, Claydon and Mickfield. The regular estuary counts show the pattern well. Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J 200 300 7815 2778 1200 634
F 421 600 4190 1222 858 893
M 70 460 859 62 61 10
95 367 161 81 452
O 1 350 220 552 180 584
N NIL 243 2231 1194 447 803
D 1121 111 5152 1908 1518 869
Numbers in the second winter period were low until mid-December when a major influx occurred. Flocks of 1,000-1,500 were at Elmswell, Haverhill, Stradishall and Woodbridge. Flocks of 2,000 or more were: Gedgrave Marshes: 5,000 Jan. 24th. Ixworth: 3,000 Jan. 4th. Long Melford: 2,000 Feb. 3rd. Havergate: 3,000 Dec. 30th. Kedington: 2,000 early November. Hepworth: 2,000 mid-December. Framlinghatn: 2,000 Dec. 22nd. Monk Soham: 2,000 Dec. 23rd. Falkenham: 2,000 Dec. 27th. 68
Partial albinos with white primaries were noted near the River Aide, Jan. 24th and Claydon, Nov. 6th and 27th. Could these records refer to the return of one seen at Sudbourne and Iken in December 1987? KNOT Calidris canutus Wintering numbers were unexceptional and as usual were concentrated on the Orwell and Stour estuaries. Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J NIL 1 18 NIL 600 608
F NIL NIL NIL NIL 320 1222
M NIL 1 5 NIL 280 200
A 40 1 NIL 19 NIL NIL
A 5 9 NIL 6 NIL
11 208 20 100 34
0 NIL NIL 50 1 90 415
N 20 NIL NIL 15 254 681
D NIL NIL NIL NIL 760 305
Spring passage was light and extended from mid-March into June, with peaks occurring in the second week of April and the second week of May. Largest flocks reported were: 40 Blythburgh, Apr. 10th and 17 Minsmere, May 8th. A few occurred at Minsmere throughout June, including nine, 22nd, thus making it impossible to separate late spring migrants from the first of the return birds. Numbers were then very low until a remarkable influx on Sept. 1st when 523 flew south off Landguard, 208 were on Havergate Island and 60 flew in at Felixstowe Ferry. Although !arge influxes often occur during hard weather, it is exceptional to have such a movement in the County in early September. This influx was probably responsible for a higher than normal autumn population on the estuaries, including 100 Levington, Sept. 25th and 107, on Stour, Oct. 1st. Three inland records were received, all from Lackford Wildfowl Reserve:— Sept. 28th, Oct. 15th (four) and Oct. 28th. SANDERLING Calidris alba Numbers were very low in the first winter period, maximum counts at the County's two regular wintering haunts, Lowestoft and Fagbury, being only eight and four respectively. Spring passage was light and, with the exception of 15 at Minsmere, Mar. 21st, no group exceeded six. Most records were in May and late birds were seen in June at Benacre, four — 1st and Minsmere, 10th and 16th. Return migration commenced with three at Minsmere, July 23rd and this locality provided the majority of autumn records, including a peak count of 15, Sept. 15th. Elsewhere, the largest groups were eight, Aldeburgh, Aug. 1st and seven, Levington, Aug. 2nd. Improved numbers were present in the second winter period. Fagbury managed a high count of 29, Dec. 7th but numbers at Lowestoft were disappointing with only up to five present. LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta An early arrival at Minsmere, Apr. 4th to 18th was joined by a second individual, Apr. 10th. The only other spring records involved one or two at Southwold, Walberswick and Minsmere between May 8th and June 1st. Autumn passage was much more noticeable, commencing with two at Landguard, July 13th. Subsequent records came from four coastal localities, with Minsmere providing the largest groups: seven, Aug. 29th and ten, Sept. 19th. A few birds lingered into November including two at Benacre Broad, 3rd and four at Minsmere, 5th, with an exceptionally late bird remaining at Minsmere until Dec. 7th. 69
TEMMINCK'S STINT Calidris temminckii Only one record and the worst showing since the singleton in 1972. Walberswick: May 26th (JHG et al). 1980 7
PECTORAL SANDPIPER Calidris melanotos A g o o d y e a r w i t h f i v e r e c o r d s a l t h o u g h s o m e d u p l i c a t i o n is p o s s i b l e . Benacre: July 30th (DRM, CSW). Walberswick: Aug. 31st (DRM, CSW). M i n s m e r e : July 29th to 31st (CAB, RSPB, NJS), Aug. 29th and 30th (MDC, RSPB) and Sept. 18th to 25th (DBB, AR et al). 1980 NIL
CURLEW SANDPIPER Calidris ferruginea After an early bird at Southwold, Apr. 27th, the only other spring occurrence was at Walberswick, May 13th, the worst spring showing since 1985 when there were also only two.
K By comparison autumn passage was the best since 1969. The first birds reported were two flying south off Landguard, July 13th and by July 20th there were five at Minsmere. Numbers increased in August and included 25 at Minsmere — 23rd, 16 at Benacre — 29th, and nine at Covehithe Broad — 29th. These numbers were overshadowed, however, when 104 were present at Minsmere, Sept. 1st. This appears to be a County record flock and coincided with a large influx of Knots and Bar-tailed Godwits further down the coast. Surprisingly, only ten were present the next day but many may have dispersed to the estuaries, as the BOEE counts, Sept. 11th, revealed small groups at Havergate (16), Orford (eight), Felixstowe Ferry (six), Levington (21) and Alton Water (three). The last birds of the autumn were 20 at Minsmere, Sept. 25th. With such a large influx on the coast it was not surprising that a few found their way inland and Lackford Wildfowl Reserve provided an excellent set of records: seven, Sept. 2nd to 4th, one, Sept. 6th, two, Sept. 8th and 9th and one, Sept. 14th and 15th. 70
PURPLE SANDPIPER Calìdris maritima Numbers at Lowestoft, Suffolk's main site for the species, were high in both winter periods. Up to 28 were present in January, building up to a County record of 44, Mar. 15th and 20th. Although most birds departed in April, eight were still present May 1st and an extremely late bird occurred on June 1st. The first return bird appeared at Lowestoft, Aug. 19th, but numbers were low until late-October and a peak count of 34 was made, Nov. 10th. As usual the only other locality with regular sightings was Landguard. Here one to three were present intermittently up to Apr. 16th with late birds seen in May on 2nd, 15th, 16th (two) and 26th. The second winter period only produced four records of one or two birds between Sept. 14th and Nov. 7th. Elsewhere reports came from four localities: Gorleston: Nov. 28th. tvessingland: five south, Dec. 4th. Southwold: two Feb. 18th, Nov. 27th and 28th (at boating lake) and Dec. 29th. Vlinsmere: north May 9th, Sept. 17th to 19th and one to three, Oct. 31st to Nov. 10th.
DUNLIN Calidris alpina
309 214 160 77 2576
0 196 150 1021 245 1224 4707
N 400 150 844 1178 6238 16154
D 1026 52 1796 852 7645 8833
Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J 500 128 898 1180 6500 12689
F 369 64 1141 1871 6146 16134
M 155 40 597 352 320 1001
A 150 50 108
A 70 377
In addition to the above 150 were at Benacre Broad on March 12th, during a period of artificially low water levels caused when the flimsy, shingle beach, that separates the sea from the Broad, was breached. Spring passage reached a peak in the first half of May, when flocks included 140 at Walberswick 7th; 80 at Levington 1st and 59 at Minsmere 3rd. Late migrants were still passing through in late May and early June and one of these late birds at Walberswick, May 25th to June 1st, showed characters of the race C.a. arctica (JHG). This appears to be the first report in the County of this race, which breeds in northeast Greenland and winters in West Africa, although it has probably been overlooked in the past. Return birds started to arrive in late June, but numbers were low until September. The heavy coastal movements normally witnessed in late September/early October were hardly apparent and the largest count was 155 south off Covehithe, Sept. 15th. A number of birds turned up inland, mainly at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve where monthly maxima were: J NIL
Other inland reports came from Livermere — two, Sept. 15th and Bramford Pits, Aug. 22nd to 31st. A partial albino was seen at Wherstead Strand, Nov. 6th having the greater coverts and some mantle feathers white. RUFF Philomachus pugnax Breeding possibly took place at one locality, where two males and a female were present from May 29th, and throughout June, with a male and a juvenile seen July 10th. It is possible however, that the latter birds were early autumn migrants (see also Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper). 71
Lekking was noted at two other sites in late April. Late February saw the arrival of the first spring migrants, up to six occurring at Minsmere and seven seen on the Aide/Ore BOEE count — both from 21st. Passage lasted to the end of May but numbers were low, with only two localities producing double figures; Minsmere — up to 17 in March and 11 in April and Hollesley, 14 Apr. 1st. Return passage was also unspectacular, lasting from mid-July to Oct. 24th. Minsmere reported the largest group, 25 July 31st, and other notable gatherings were 15 Benacre Broad, Aug. 1st and 13 Lakenheath Washes, Oct. 4th. The latter record was particularly noteworthy due to its inland location and other such records involved singles at Livermere, June 25th and Mickfield where a male was seen with Lapwings on a stubble field, Oct. 11th. Winter records were fewer than normal with just three reports — two Sudbourne and one Gedgrave, both Jan. 24th, and three on Deben BOEE count, Nov. 13th. JACK SNIPE Lymnocryptes minimus. After the poor numbers of the last three years, 1988 showed a marked improvement. Early in the year one to three occurred at five coastal and two inland localities, the latest bird being seen at Shingle Street, Apr. 11th. The first return bird was not seen until Oct. 16th but this was the forerunner of an excellent second winter period. Records came from 12 coastal sites and included 13 Minsmere, Oct. 25th, eight Shotley Marshes, Dec. 16th, seven Martlesham Creek, Nov. 30th and four Bourne Park, Ipswich, Dec. 11th. SNIPE Gallinago gallinago As usual it was extremely difficult to estimate the County's breeding population. Reports indicate the presence of at least 48 drumming birds at 15 localities, plus "several" drumming at an additional site. The highest concentration was 25 pairs on the River Blyth (Beardall antea) and at least four pairs bred at Minsmere. Wintering numbers were fairly high and mainly concentrated on the coastal marshes. Numbers included 200 Shotley Marshes, January and December, 152 Lower Deben area, Nov. 13th, 125 Aide/Ore area, Jan. 24th and 100 Bourne Park, Ipswich, Dec. 27th and 30th. Additionally up to 150 were present at Minsmere in March but these were probably passage birds, as were 136 at Reydon Marshes, Apr. 14th. J NIL 50 125 62 200 54 25
F 2 100 109 70 83 130 7
M 7 150 63 42 65 61 NIL
A 136 100 8 10 9 10 NIL
A 1 29 7
Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water
12 3 1
235 29 16 72 23 4
19 117 152 311 74 35
16 40 472
Although the first autumn migrants started to appear in July, numbers remained very low until October. Minsmere's peak count of the year was made on Oct. 22nd when 235 were present. WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticóla Reports of 17 roding birds at nine sites on the coastal heaths were received, but of only 11 from four sites in Breckland. However, one observer considers it to be a very common breeding species throughout Breckland, so many birds must still go unreported. Away from these areas breeding was confirmed at Haverhill and Gazeley. Roding normally occurs from early March so one reported roding at Reydon on the early date of Jan. 31st is particularly noteworthy. 72
Wintering birds were widespread, the largest groups being 14, flushed from a wood by a shooting party at Walberswick, Dec. 31st; 13 at Haverhill, February and six at Great dealings, Jan. 11th. One or two migrants appeared on the coast in late March and early April and again in late October and November; autumn passage was more noticeable and included eight at Landguard, Oct. 20th. Also of interest was one in Holywells Park, Ipswich, Nov. 21st, the same day one was seen to fly in from the sea at Kessingland and another was on Covehithe Cliffs. BLACK-TAILED GODWIT Limosa limosa Five pairs were present at three potential breeding sites and one pair successfully reared two young. Additionally, one pair made a nest scrape and was seen copulating at Minsmere Scrape, but unfortunately there were no further developments.
Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J NIL NIL NIL 1 1 891
F NIL NIL 3 111 1 592
M 6 60 23 147 NIL 1
A 60 64 75 68 4 31
M 36 29 2
I 26 50 NIL
5 184 6 12 482
O NIL 3 2 3 76 686
N NIL 1 1 42 100 799
D NIL NIL 6 48 440 650
53 109 10
22 159 17 10 322
During the 1970s and 80s this species has been a rather scarce wintering bird on the Orwell, despite the large numbers on the adjacent Stour estuary. It is therefore pleasing to see that a flock of 440 was present at Nacton from Dec. 19th to the end of the year and hopefully it will become a regular feature on this well watched estuary. Numbers of passage birds appear low (1987 totals for March, April and August were 801, 690 and 625 respectively) although these may be masked by the early exodus of birds wintering on the Stour. A s u r p r i s i n g n u m b e r of inland r e p o r t s c a m e f r o m f o u r localities: Haverhill: Flood Park, two Mar. 30th, two Apr. 10th and 11th and ten Apr. 12th. l akenheath: on Washes, Apr. 1st and two June 16th.
Uvermere: Aug. 9th. Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, four Aug. 13th to 15th.
BAR-TAILED GODWIT Limosa lapponica
Although large numbers winter in our neighbouring counties of Essex and Norfolk this species is rather a scarce wintering bird in Suffolk and usually only occurs in hard weather. This year's mild weather produced a typically poor showing with four on the River Deben and eight at Havergate, in January, nine on the Aide/Ore and two on the Stour, in November, and six at Havergate and one at Minsmere, in December, being the only records. A total of 65 on the Aide/Ore, Mar. 20th probably refers to early spring migrants, but spring migration did not start in earnest until the last week of April and was largely over by mid-May. Highest counts were 60 Minsmere, May 1st and 50 Orfordness, May 8th. Groups of ten to 20 also occurred at five other coastal sites. Autumn passage began with three at Minsmere, June 25th, but only small numbers were noted until Sept. 1st when there was a remarkable southerly movement of 406 off Landguard and at least 60 at Havergate. This day also saw an unprecedented influx of Knot and Curlew Sandpipers into the County. Passage had largely finished by the end of September, although 44 were present at Havergate, Oct. 8th and a small influx at the end of October produced 21 on the Stour, 20 at Levington and 18 at Methersgate. Inland records came from two localities; Livermere, two — May 2nd and Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Jan. 17th, nine flying north east — Apr. 29th and three July 29th. WHIMBREL Numenius phaeopus Early arrivals were noted at Landguard, three north Mar. 27th, and Haverhill, Mar. 31st. The latter record was the first of a series of sightings at this locality where one to two were seen on several days up to May 10th with three present Apr. 12th and five Apr. 17th. Peak spring passage was in late April and early May and included a count of 74 on the Aide/Ore, May 8th, of which 60 were at Orfordness. On the same day flocks of 18 and 16 were seen flying over Felixstowe and Minsmere respectively. Return birds started arriving mid-June with numbers reaching a peak in late July including 32 south, Covehithe, July 29th and 31 Shingle Street, July 30th. Several small groups were seen in August and early September and a count of 27 was made on the Aide/Ore, Aug. 14th. One flying south off Landguard, Oct. 7th was the only October record of the year. Apart from the birds at Haverhill there were three other inland reports; Livermere, Apr. 24th, Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, July 28th and one flying over Santón Downham, July 30th. CURLEW Numenius arquata Very few breeding reports were received from Breckland but numbers were said to have been similar to those of 1987, which was 11 to 15 pairs. Song flight was noted at one coastal site on two occasions in April but there was no indication of breeding.
Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J 24 713 593 550 821
F 9 1242 420 649 605
M 24 712 696 346 774
A 224 28 69 323
M 4 35 1 6
297 — —
388 470 426 310
0 13 181 871 646 918
N 19 313 758 400 1187
D 28 407 593 200 681
The only sizeable counts away from the estuaries were 100 Minsmere, June 25th and 107 south, Landguard, July 5th. 74
SPOTTED REDSHANK Tringa erythropus The only records forthcoming in the first two months of the year were of up to five in the Walberswick/Minsmere area in January and a single at Holbrook Bay, Feb. 27th. Late March saw the arrivai of the first passage birds, migration reaching its peak in late April/early May when counts included 25 Walberswick, Apr. 24th and 14 Minsmere, May 5th. The last of the spring migrants, in mid-May, were soon followed by the first return birds, which started to appear from June lOth. Numbers at Minsmere quickly increased so that by June 26th there was already a gathering of 50 there. Large numbers were present at Minsmere up to early October, reaching a peak of 80 on Aug. 1 lth, which equals the County's previous largest count. Away from Minsmere the only other counts in double figures were 25 Walberswick, July 31st, ten Benacre, Aug. 25th and ten Havergate, Oct. 25th. Autumn passage extended into November with up to seven at Minsmere to 20th and up to four at Martlesham Creek, whilst the only overwintering birds were four at Walberswick in late December. Two inland records were received, both from Lackford Wildfowl Reserve — Aug. 28th and three Sept. 7th. Monthly maxima at Minsmere were as follows: J 5
987 1608 416 990
O 408 544 1347 646 1165
N 328 642 1867 1217 1197
D 327 494 1416 1373 865
1548 ' 4001
REDSHANK Tringa totanus Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
I 273 602 1571 1600 301
F 449 612 786 1394 405
M 626 636 870 1090 675
A 80 374 397 579
J 200 327
Wintering numbers on the Stour were again low compared with counts in the early and mid-1980s which were regularly over 2,000 and exceeded 3,000 in the 1984/85 winter. A total of 471 breeding pairs was located on the estuaries (Beardall antea) and a further 23 pairs at Minsmere. The highest concentrations were 148, 120 and 115 pairs on the Blyth, Aide/Ore complex and Deben respectively. No breeding records were received away from the coast but there were several inland records throughout the year including up to 15 at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve in June.
GREENSHANK Tringa nebularia No records were received until Apr. 15th when one flew north over Beccles. One to three were then seen at numerous coastal localities up to early June with peak numbers occurring in May. The three largest gatherings were ali seen on May 7th; six at Minsmere, six at Levington and five at Walberswick. Larger groups occurred on autumn passage including an excellent count of 50 on the Stour BOEE count, Sept. 1 lth and 18 at Havergate, Sept. 2nd. Inland records were also more numerous with one to four at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Livermere, Ixworth Thorpe, Lakenheath Washes, Bramford Pits and Thorington Street. The only sighting after the end of October was of one at Blythburgh, Nov. 27th. 75
GREEN SANDPIPER Tringa ochropus Wintering numbers were high in both winter periods. Up to 27 individuals were recorded from 19 localities in January/February, and up to 39 at 21 sites in November/December, including a report of seven at Alton Water, Nov. 14th. A light spring passage saw no more than four birds together, with the last being seen at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, May 7th. A single, again at Lackford, June 11th, was the forerunner of an excellent autumn passage. By June 25th there were already eight at Bramford Pits and this locality then produced many double figure counts up to early September, including a very high total of 25, Aug. 26th which is the highest since 30, Minsmere, Aug. 1963. Other large gatherings included 13, Sproughton B.F. pits, Sept. 6th, ten Lakenheath Washes, Aug. 14th and eight/nine at four other localities. WOOD SANDPIPER Tringa glareola Numbers returned to normal after last year's excellent showing. Spring passage produced six singles between Apr. 17th and May 26th including two inland records. Covehithe: Apr. 17th.
Southwold: May 13th and 23rd. Walberswick: May 25th and 26th. Haverhill: May 7th to U t h .
Ixworth: Micklemere, May 17th. Return passage started on June 14th but numbers were very low with no more than two seen together, although four occurred inland. Southwold: July 4th. Walberswick: Aug. 31st.
Minsmere: June 15th, one to two July 4th to Sept. 9th.
Shingle Street: Sept. 27th. Levington: Aug. 22nd and 29th. Sproughton: on pits, Aug. 9th. Bramford: on pits, Aug. 18th. Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, June 14th and July 20th. 76
OMMON SANDPIPER Actitis hypoleucos Early in the year, presumed overwintering birds were seen at Melton, Jan. 24th, Alton Water, Feb. 11th and Mar. 13th and Stoke-by-Nayland, Mar. 1st. Small numbers occurred on spring passage. Migration started with an early bird at Benacre Broad, Apr. 3rd and continued to early June, the largest party being nine at Trimley Lake, vfay 12th. The status of birds at Levington, June 13th and Haverhill Flood Park, June 17th and Oth is somewhat obscure, being rather late for spring migrants but perhaps too early for return birds. Autumn migration started in early July and the largest groups were seen in late July ¡id early August, including 21 at Minsmere, Aug. 2nd, 20 at Lackford, Aug. 8th and 18 at Felixstowe Ferry, July 26th. A few birds lingered into early November and there were December records from Wilford iridge and Bramford Pits, 29th and Alton Water where one or two were regularly seen, and three Dec. 25th. The species was a surprise addition to the LBO ringing list when singles were trapped on the Observatory mound on May 11th and 12th. rURNSTONE Arenaria interpres A 8
Aide/Ore >eben Orwell Stour
J 8 1 144 259
F 11 11 423 571
M 11 37 217 379
M 5 1 42
J 1 —
S 2 4 142 390
O 3 3 248 330
N NIL 10 289 840
D 19 2 263 357
Wintering numbers were high and the counts dominated by those on the Orwell and Stour estuaries. The count of 840 on the Stour in November is particularly noteworthy. A few wintering and passage birds occurred away from the estuaries including a maximum of 25 at Lowestoft, Mar. 31st. There were no occurrences in west Suffolk but there was an interesting report of 11 feeding with Golden Plovers away from the immediate vicinity of the coast at Gisleham, Jan. 26th, and two doing likewise, Nov. 13th. RED-NECKED PHALAROPE Phalaropus lobatus A typical s h o w i n g w i t h only o n e r e c o r d .
Havergate: Aug. 10th (PMa). 1980 2
GREY PHALAROPE Phalaropus fulicarius An excellent showing by Suffolk standards with the four records, involving at least seven birds, being the best total since 1982. Lowestoft: Ness Point, flying in and settling in Harbour area, Jan 31st (PN), one on sea and three south, Nov. 9th (BJB).
Havergate: Sept. 16th to 18th (KB, JP). Felixstowe: one south, briefly landing on sea, Feb. 13th (MM).
Those in February and September were the first, in recent years, for those particular months and although the November birds occurred on a classic date, no recent records have involved more than two birds together. 77
POMARINE SKUA Stercorarius
Another excellent year which involved an estimated 40 individuals including Suffolk's first winter record since 1983. There were no spring records but autumn passage started early with two in late August. This was followed by a month's gap before a significant movement occurred in late September. Lowestoft: Ness Point, Sept. 26th (J&KG), dark-phase with 'spoons' north Sept. 30th (DNB), juv. Oct. Ist and 2nd (DNB, SL, PR), juv. south, Oct. 15th (DNB); two north, Nov. 3rd (BJB). Covehithe: two juvs. Aug. 28th (JMC, SL), three south, Sept. 24th (GJJ), ten north, Sept. 25th (JMC. SL, DRN), Oct. Ist and 2nd (WJB, DCM), north, Nov. 3rd (EWP). Southwold: Jan. 3rd (CSW), five, Oct. 25th (DC) and three. 26th (JHG). Aldeburgh: Slaughden Quay, Sept. 24th (AB), Oct. 30th (DCM). Felixstowe: Landguard, three south, Sept. 25th (AB, MM, DRM), singles Sept. 26th and Oct. 6th and 9th (MM, SP), an exhausted bird frequented the jetty area, Oct. 14th to 17th (LBO). ARCTIC SKUA Stercorarius parasiticus Noted in all months from March to November although spring passage was again weak but with a reasonably strong autumn passage. Allowing for some duplication about 250 individuals were involved in the movements. Covehithe: north, May 7th (RCS), light-phase adult north, June 12th (JMC). Minsmere: two north, Apr. 2Ist (RSPB). Felixstowe: Landguard, light-phase adult in river estuary. Mar. 24th (LBO). There was an early Start to autumn passage with records from July 9th continuing sporadically to November. Extended periods of watching, principally in the north-east of the County, showed four main peaks — Aug. 21st, Sept. 14th and 25th and Oct. Ist. Lowestoft/Pakefield: one to four offshore on most days from Aug. 22nd to Oct. Ist (12 — Sept. 13th) but, thereafter, a distinct lack of records until Oct. 30th when two flew north. Benacre/Southwold: July — dark adults 9th and 24th and three north, 3Ist; August — movements from 3rd to 28th, peaking at five north and 23 south on 21st; September — peaks were five north and 66 south, 14th and 21 north and eight south, 25th, otherwise, daily maxima up to 11 birds from 9th to 28th; October — one north and 22 south, Ist, ones or twos 8th to 23rd and five north 30th; November — Single 28th. 78
unwich/Aldeburgh: two south, July 10th, up to five Aug. 7th to 22nd, ones and twos Sept. 14th to 26th and five, Nov. 8th. elixstowe: Landguard, only records, August — 11th and 21st (two); September — 24th (four) and 25th (six); October — 1st, 9th (three), 11th (12) and 20th; November — 20th. An immature off Covehithe, July 31st, was watched for some fifteen minutes pursuing Swift, which it eventually caught and killed, only to be robbed of it by a Herring Gull. -Vhat irony! LONG-TAILED SKUA Stercorarius longicaudus
Suffolk's best ever showing of this skua with at least six individuals. Covehithe: adult and immature, Sept. 25th (JMC, DC), two juveniles, Sept. 28th (JMC, DC). Southwold: adult, Sept. 25th (JCE et al), juvenile Sept. 28th (JMC). The adult at Southwold had a full tail and was watched by several observers, for some 30 minutes, flying up and down the promenade. GREAT SKUA Stercorarius skua One off Covehithe, Mar. 14th, was the only report for the first half of the year. Long periods of watching at Covehithe produced the bulk of the records with Sept. 14th being the best day. Lowestoft: Ness Point, north Sept. 30th. Covehithe: March, south, 14th; August, up to three, 10th to 12th, six, 21st; September, seven, 9th to 13th, seven, 14th, up to ten, 24th to 28th; October, two north, 16th. 79
Southwold: four, Oct. 9th, singles, Oct. 18th and 19th and Nov. 28th. Minsmere: three, Sept. 14th, Sept. 17th. Bawdsey: Sept. 17th. The bird off Minsmere, Sept. 17th, was chasing an Arctic Skua!! MEDITERRANEAN GULL Larus melanocephalus Probably a record year although the situation was clouded by obvious movement between sites and birds returning in the second winter period. For the third successive y eat oversummering occurred giving rise to speculation that this species will soon be added to the County's list of breeding birds. Corton: second winter, Oct. 12th. Lowestoft: adult with no feet (seen also in July and December, 1987), Jan. 23rd, normal adults, Jan. 30th, Sept. 29th to Nov. 8th; first winter, Sept. 21st to 1989; second winter, Feb. 11th; second summer, Aug. 12th. C a r l t o n Colville: second winter, Jan 27th. Pakefield: by holiday camp, first winter, Jan 4th to Mar. 5th and (presumably the same bird returning) second winter, Nov. 21st to 1989. Benacre: first winter, Mar. 12th, Oct. 2nd and Dec. 3rd; first summer (same as March bird?) Apr. 2nd and June 2nd; two immatures (first winter?), Oct. 22nd. Southwold: first summer, May 13th; second winter, south, Feb. 13th. M i n s m e r e : adult, two in f.s.p. May 2nd to 11th; first summer, May 1st to 3rd, two — May 2nd, June 1st, Sept. 9th; second summer, May 15th.
Sizewell: adult, Jan. 1st to Mar. 3rd and Aug. 31st to 1989.
Aldeburgh: adult, Feb 6th. Felixstowe: adult (bearing East German ring), 1987 throughout spring and summer and intermittently from Sept. 25th to 1989, two, Feb. 27th. Levington/Trimley: adult (not Felixstowe bird), Jan. 1st to 9th, Feb 20th, July 21st to 30th and Dec. 21st to 1989. B r a m f o r d : on pits, adult, Dec 22nd and 29th. Site B: pair in full summer-plumage. May 25th, displaying June 4th.
LITTLE GULL Larus minutus Recorded in all months of the year. There was the usual sprinkling of reports during the first winter period: Southwold: adult, Jan. 2nd, first winter, Feb. 13th. Minsmere: adult, Jan. 15th. Sizewell: adult, Mar. 7th. Felixstowe: Landguard, adult. Mar. 3rd. Haverhill: adult, Jan. 25th. A light spring passage from end of April through May and continuing in June. Maxima at the principal sites occurred as follows: Benacre: up to three imms., June 2nd to 28th. Walberswick: four adults and two imms., Apr. 30th. Minsmere: four adults, Apr. 30th, up to five imms., May 7th to 24th. As usual the autumn produced many reports from all along the coast, and is best illustrated by the series of records made at Benacre/Covehithe. Maxima at the principal sites: Lowestoft: July: singles — 3rd, 16th and 24th; August: up to four — 12th to 24th; September: two - 3rd, seven - 9th, five - 11th, 15 - 15th, three - 25th, 18 — 30th. Benacre/Covehithe: July: up to five — 4th to 30th; August: one/three — 3rd to 10th, seven — 11th, 12 — 12th, up to five — 14th to 26th, seven, 28th; September: 11 — 1st, 45 — 3rd, one — 4th, 13 — 9th, four/five — 11th and 12th, 26 — 14th, 15 - 15th, three — 25th; October: eight 1st, one/two — 2nd to 16th, 13 — 29th, 14 — 30th; November: single — 6th. Dunwich/Minsmere: July: single — 17th and 18th, two — 20th to 22nd; August: two/four — 1st to 31st; September: up to seven — 1st to 25th; October: ten — 8th, single 15th to 23rd; November: four — 4th, five — 8th, single — 10th.
Autumn passage continued through to mid-November but thereafter there were no further reports. 80
SABINE'S GULL Larus sabini An unprecedented series of records this year involving possibly as many as nine individuals. Lowestoft: Ness Point, juv. north, Sept. 30th (DNB), two juvs. Oct. 19th (RBW). C vehlthe: imm. Aug. 10th (DC). Niuthwold: first summer, June 12th (IRW). Dunwich: juv. Aug. 22nd (GCT). insmere: adult on Scrape and flying towards Sizewell, Sept. Ist (AB, BC, KP), ĂŽ-'aughden: adult, Oct. 30th (DRM). Bawdsey: adult north, Oct. 11th (DL). 1980
BLACK-HEADED GULL Larus ridibundus A partial albino at Ness Point, Lowestoft during January to March. Breeding was confined to only three estuarine sites; the Blyth, Aide/Ore complex and Deben where the respective colonies held 600, 592 and 179 pairs (Beardall antea). With an upsurge in interest concerning the origins and movements of Suffolk's gulls, an interesting series of ringing recoveries was obtained from the coastal belt. This was achieved largely through the patience of one particular observer who painstakingly anscribed the ring numbers with the aid of a telescope and a loaf of bread. These included birds from Denmark, Finland, Holland, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and West Germany at Felixstowe; Russia at Ipswich; Spain (thought to be the first Spanish ringed bird to be recovered in Britain) at Gorleston; Estonia at Lowestoft, Lithuania and Estonia (return bird seen in July, 1987) on Apr. 4th at Southwold (MM). COMMON GULL Larus canus An albinistic bird at Benacre, Apr. 2nd, had just a little grey on the back and its bare parts were pink. A total of 25 pairs nested at Orfordness without success. A West German ringed bird at Felixstowe, Mar. 1st and 11th returned Oct. 30th. A Norwegian ringed bird was at Lowestoft, Nov. 28th. LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus fuscus Winter records came from 15 sites with concentrations close to their Orfordness breeding site. As usual there were several reported as showing characters of the Scandinavian race L.f. fuscus. Birds considered to be of the sub-species L.f. intermedius were at Southwold, Jan. 14th and two, Mar. 18th. Larger counts were â€” 63 Havergate, Apr. 1st; 200 per hour moving north off Covehithe, May 15th; 4,556 River Aide, May; 177 Minsmere, May 31st; 145 Kessingland, June 5th; 150 off Ness Point, Lowestoft, June 17th; 78 Lowestoft Oval, Aug. 8th and 74 Lackford Pits, Sept. 28th. An estimated 7,500 pairs were at Orfordness, July 10th on which date a chick being handled for ringing regurgitated a whole Mole (RCB). A Dutch-ringed bird was found dying at Bramford Pits, May 15th. HERRING GULL Larus argentatus An estimated 2,500 pairs were at the Orfordness breeding colony, July 10th. The only reported movement was of a steady southerly stream of 45 per hour at Landguard, Oct. 7th. About 30 individuals showing characters of the northern race L.a. argentatus were reported. Yellow-legged birds probably of the race L.a. michahellis were noted at Bramford Pits, May 4th, May 14th (dead) and Dec. 22nd, Lowestoft, Mar. 8th and Minsmere, June 16th. 81
ICELAND GULL Larus glaucoides There were three records of this scarce gull: Lowestoft: second/third year Mar. 12th (JRR). Benacre: first/second winter, Dec. 12th (DL, DRN). Felixstowe: a fourth winter approaching adult plumage 1987 to Apr. 20th returning Oct. 18th to 19i 9 (MM, BR, RBW et al).
The Felixstowe bird made frequent excursions to Landguard and presumably was the same as the adult that was disturbed from a roost at Fagbury, Dec. 24th (JLM). GLAUCOUS GULL Larus hyperboreus As with other species of 'white-winged' gull it is becoming increasingly difficult to assess the number of individuals involved due to overlap of localities, movement of birds and possibly confusion in ageing. Allowing for such duplication however, no more than eight birds were seen during the year. Lowestoft: first winter moulting first summer. Mar. 6th to Aug. 5th; adult, Nov. 25th; second winter (returning bird?) Nov. 26th to 1989. Pakefield: second year, Jan. 6th and Mar. 6th. Gisleham: by pit, second and third winter, Mar. 5th. Kessingland: second winter, Feb. 14th. Easton Bavents/Southwold: second winter, Mar. 13th, 27th and 29th. Minsmere: first winter, Mar. 18th and another Nov. 20th to Dec. 21st, third summer, Apr. 16th and 17th, adult, Oct. 30th. Aldeburgh: third summer, Apr. 15th. Felixstowe: first winter (slightly oiled) Feb. 23rd; Felixstowe Ferry, third winter, Jan. 6th to Apr. 10th, adult, Sept. 11th to 1989. The third winter individual that wintered at Felixstowe was probably the same as that seen at Aldeburgh and then Minsmere in April. 82
Plate 14: R u f f - breeding may have taken place in Suffolk during 1988.
Plate 15: Adult Iceland Gull at Felixstowe, j989
Plate 16: Common Tern - breeding numbers have declined in the past decade.
Plate 17: Little Auk at Sudbury, October 1988.
Plate 18: A Short-eared Owl was found shot at Orfordness in April 1988.
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus marinus Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour TOTALS
At Landguard a steady northerly movement was noted in April and 30 moved north on May 7th. Return passage was noted at Landguard in the autumn with the highest day-total being 83, Aug. 21st. KITTIWAKE Rissa tridactyla Of the 107 nests, on or around the South Pier at Lowestoft, 91 were successful producing 153 young — a record number of nests and young. The great irony is that this site has since been demolished. Great efforts have been made to preserve the colony in the hope that the species will continue nesting in the area and an artificial cliff has been constructed at the Harbour mouth — we wait with bated breath. Large numbers moved north offshore during October with counts at Covehithe of 400 - 14th, 90 — 15th, 150 — 16th and 1,000 — 29th. Southwold weighed in with 300 north, Nov. 21st. CASPIAN TERN Sterna caspia Minsmere again held the monopoly on the species with two typically dated records. M i n s m e r e : S c r a p e , M a y 1 1 t h ( G C T et al)
a n d J u l y 2 9 t h ( P A H et
SANDWICH TERN Sterna sandvicensis The only breeding record was of 50 pairs which raised 23 young at Havergate. The maximum count there was of 638 roosting, Apr. 29th. There were no other large counts reported. The autumn passage was very light the largest number being 100 moving south off Covehithe, Aug. 21st. ROSEATE TERN Sterna dougallii
3 U5 Again the only record of the year concerned a bird in mid-summer at Minsmere. Minsmere: Scrape, one in full summer-plumage, June 25th to 28th (RSPB et al). 83
COMMON TERN Sterna hirundo Apart from a couple of isolated reports the only records of breeding were from Haverga ; Island where 112 pairs bred and Minsmere where 17 pairs nested but unfortunately all fail» Birds in first-summer plumage were at Minsmere May 26th and June 26th and 27th, Felixstowe, June 6th and Benacre, June 17th. Numbers in the County seem to have been abnormally low perhaps due to the declin: in breeding numbers of the past decade. Maximum summer counts were in June: 60 Benacrt 17th and 145 Havergate 12th and August: 93 at Minsmere, 12th and 250 at Sizewell, 14tl. The autumn passage fared little better with the only three figure movements, off Landguard, being: 161 Aug. 8th and 130 Sept. 7th. ARCTIC TERN Sterna paradisaea There were no reports of confirmed breeding although there were a number of record. from mid- to late June. The first of the year were two at Alton Water, Apr. 30th, followed by a single, at Lackfor Wildfowl Reserve, the next day. A modest coastal passage then prevailed throughout Ma and June with the largest movements logged at Covehithe; seven May 18th, 26 June 1 It!: and six adults June 30th. A very light return passage commenced in mid-July and continues to late October. The highest counts of this period were 26 and 13 south off Southwold Aug. 28th and 29th respectively, seven south off Minsmere, Sept. 18th, 18 off Sizewell Sept. 21st and 13 south off Landguard, Oct. 6th. LITTLE TERN Sterna albifrons The first of the year was at Landguard on the early date of Apr. 15th. Birds were thei unusually abundant in April being recorded at Benacre, Walberswick, Minsmere, Havergatt Island and Landguard. At the latter site the species was noted almost daily with a maximun of 17 Apr. 26th. There followed a light passage in May peaking at 73 at a roost on Havergatt Island — 1st, 48 at Landguard — 22nd and 60 around the Sizewell rigs — 23rd. The only inland record came from Haverhill where one was seen with three Common Terns at 05.33 hrs., June 3rd. The main colonies met with mixed success, ranging from nil to 40 fledged young. Total breeding population amounted to 209 pairs which produced 160 young. Sadly, despite a considerable amount of effort afforded to the protection of some colonies, many yielded poor results. A southerly movement involving 300 birds, noted off Covehithe July 4th, is the largest ever for the County. The last of the year was at Sizewell, Sept. 29th. WHISKERED TERN Chlidonias hybridus M i n s m e r e : adult, May 26th (GCT et at).
To the delight of local observers this long-awaited second record for Suffolk appropriately chose Minsmere for a day-out — the first occurred as long ago as 1910. BLACK TERN Chlidonias niger There was an excellent spring passage with records from seven coastal and seven inland sites. There were April records from Walberswick and Minsmere and in May the species arrived in three distinct waves; 7th and 8th, 14th to 18th and 23rd. Benacre: oyer Broad, May 7th/8th, six May 23rd. Covehithe: three north May 8th, 12 north May 18th. Walberswick: two Apr. 30th, two May 8th. 84
linsmere: two May 7th and 22nd, three/four May 8th, singles Apr. 17th and May 12th, 16th and 17th. Shingle Street: May 10th and 26th. andguard: four west up River Orwell, May 23rd. Trimley: Loam Pit Lake, two May 27th. Ipswich: Norwich Road, four flying over. May 7th.
\lton Water: three May 7th, four May 8th. Bramford: Suffolk Water Park, May 8th.
ihurlow Hall Lake: three May 12th. Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, single May 7th to June 26th, 11 May 16th. akenheath: three on flooded land, May 7th.
Uvermere: two May 14th. The long-staying individual at Lackford was one of five seen in mid-summer. Others were noted at Ness Point, Lowestoft and Landguard on June 14th and 19th respectively. Additionally, two were recorded at the latter site drifting south on jetsam June 28th and two south July 7 th. By contrast autumn passage was poor with no more than two birds present at the coastal localities of Benacre Broad, Covehithe, Minsmere, Sizewell and Landguard, between July 20th to Sept. 11th, and inland at Lackford, Sept. 22nd to 29th. WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN Chlidonias leucopterus Two in late-summer are the first records for the County since 1985 and bring the total number of occurrences in Suffolk to 19. Beccles: River Waveney, immature, Aug. 19th and 22nd (TA, AR, RW). Minsmere: moving south, July 8th (DG, AMG).
The Beccles bird spent most of its stay on the Norfolk side of the River Waveney, but was also seen hawking for insects on the Suffolk side on several occasions. GUILLEMOT Uria aalge Small numbers of birds (no more than four together) oiled or otherwise were reported from 11 sites during the first winter period. Spring passage was almost non-existent with a handful of records between the beginning of March and the end of June. However, the species was undoubtedly involved in the large movements of unidentified auks off Southwold/Covehithe but to what extent we will never know (see auk sp.). There was a good return passage from mid-September to late October with the maximum count coming on Oct. 29th when 95 were identified moving north off Covehithe. AUK SP. Counts off Covehithe/Southwold showed what can be achieved by consistent watching at one site. Late winter/early spring movements included 353 north, in a three hour period, Feb. 13th and 280, also north, in two and a half hours, Mar. 3rd. Coinciding with the good passage of Guillemots on Oct. 29th, 250 unidentified auks also moved north and were followed by 230 the next day. The highest November count was 65 north on 13th and in December 17 moved north on 27th. RAZORBILL Alca lorda There were only three records of singletons during the spring and not many more in the autumn (but see auk sp). Consistent movements were noted in September however, and again mostly from Southwold/Covehithe. These included four north, 14th, seven north and one south, 15th and three north, 29th but the highest count of the year was not achieved until Oct. 30th when six moved north. Elsewhere, a mere seven birds were reported from five sites. 85
LITTLE AUK Alle alle Singles found dead at Trimley Lake, Feb. 6th, and Minsmere, Feb. 27th, were the only records of the first winter period. During the late autumn there was the usual influx in late October/early November followed by a second wave Nov. 20th/21st. Lowestoft: Ness Point, 11 north Oct. 30th, ones and twos Nov. 13th, 20th and 21st. Benacre/Covehithe: singles on Broad and dead on beach plus 20 north — Oct. 29th, 15 north • Oct. 30th, five north — Nov. 13th, single — Nov. 20th, three Dec. 7th. Southwold: two Nov. 3rd, four Nov. 20th, six Nov. 21st. M i n s m e r e : ones and twos Oct. 29th and 30th, Nov. 3rd, 20th and 30th and Dec. 12th.
Sizewell: two Nov. 20th. A l d e b u r g h : Slaughden, singles Oct. 30th and 31st and Nov. 20th. Felixstowe: Landguard, ones and twos Oct. 12th, 25th and 30th and Nov. 3rd and 20th.
'Wrecked' birds were found inland in a Levington garden, Oct. 30th (perhaps tho individual seen flying with Starlings at Fagbury the same day) and another at Sudbury Oct. 30th and 31st. PUFFIN Fratercula arctica With the majority of records this decade referring to dead or moribund individuals t was pleasing to see a series of apparently healthy birds amongst other auks. Covehithe: two north Sept. 11th (JMC, SL, EWP), singles north Sept. 13th and 14th (DRN, RW), one on sea Dec. 7th (JMC).
Easton Bavents: two north Dec. Ist (JHG). Southwold: single on sea then north Nov. 21st (SL, EWP). Felixstowe: Landguard, north Oct. 30th (CPSR).
The frequency of occurrences this decade is shown in the following table with thiJ proportion of dead or moribund individuals in brackets. 1980
STOCK DOVE Columba oenas The gentle hint in Suffolk Birds 1988 went unheeded and we are once again left with an undoubtedly incomplete picture of this species' true Suffolk status as a result of scant information from observers. There was only one report depicting a change in status; i.e. " a steady decline in numbers, in the Felixstowe area, over the past four years." Reports were received from only 24 parishes and the only sizeable gatherings mentioned were 25-30, Tuddenham St Mary, Jan. 24th and 60, Sudbourne, Dec. 20th. Landguard again witnessed a light spring passage with six passing through between Mar. 9th and Apr. 21st. Three flew south there June 21st and six were recorded passing south at the same site between Oct. 20th and Nov. 23rd. Nesting in a Rabbit burrow, an "occasional" activity (Cramp et al, 1985) was noted on Orfordness. WOODPIGEON Columba palumbus This species is about as far removed from pelagic birds as could be imagined, so quite what possessed the adult which flew out to sea at Covehithe, July 5th, to 'spread-eagle' itself on the waves for three minutes before flying back inland we shall never know. Just a summer's day dip, perhaps? As with the previous species, the wilderness of Orfordness induced some unusual breeding behaviour. Five nests were found on the ground, of which two were in grass, two were in small stands of Rosebay Willowherb, Epilobium angustifolium, and one was in a small stand of phragmites reed. 86
The largest flocks reported in the first winter period were 3,000 Blythburgh, Jan. 13th; 2,500 Minsmere, Feb. 21st; 2,100 Gedgrave, Jan. 24th; 1,800 Long Melford throughout January and 1,000 King's Fleet, Felixstowe, Feb. 14th and Haverhill, Feb. 16th. At the ยกtter locality 4,000 were noted heading north, Mar. 6th. Flocks were smaller in the second winter period, the maxima being 1,000 Minsmere, November and December, and 800 in flight over Stutton Mill, Nov. 19th. COLLARED DOVE Streptopelia decaocto Only seven records received and therefore it would be meaningless to make an assessment of population fluctuations. We urge all observers to pay particular attention to this species as apparently there is a national decline. Reference was made to a fully-fledged bird which was found, Jan. 28th, in Cobham Road, Ipswich, after apparently falling from its nest, giving an egg laying date around Dec. 17th, 1987. At Haverhill 94 were at roost in January and 97 in February, a month in which 50 were at Rodbridge, Long Melford. Passage was suggested by the nine noted at Minsmere, May 5th. TURTLE DOVE Streptopelia turtur First recorded at Oulton Marshes, Apr. 16th. There followed a steady trickle through the rest of April and early May and a larger influx towards the end of May when records included 35 on a 40 yard stretch of overhead power cables at Hinton Pits, May 27th. The only notable breeding concentrations reported were 34 pairs at Haverhill and 20 territories at Minsmere. Counting post-breeding gatherings assembled on overhead power cables seems to be a popular 'sport' for some observers and the year's records included 67 in such a party at Alton Water, Aug. 4th. By far the largest flock of the year, however, was 110 on rough ground at Long Melford, July 27th. The year's last record was at Fagbury, Trimley St Mary, Oct. 17th. RING-NECKED PARAKEET Psittacula krameri The female at the traditional Aldham site must be as sick as a parrot for she has apparently lost her mate. She remains in the area, however forlornly, and was seen on several occasions. She may have wandered somewhat, too, and have accounted for the records from Higham, Dec. 3rd and Ipswich, July 5th. Perhaps more promisingly, two were seen on Sutton Heath, Jan. 27th and two were also reported from Lowestoft, Oct. 1st and 2nd. Other reports were from Chillesford, Jan. 24th, Alderton, Nov. 14th and Minsmere, Nov. 26th. CUCKOO Cuculus canorus It is not often that Redlingfield is mentioned in Suffolk Birds, but the parish laid claim to the County's first reported arrival of this species on Apr. 14th. There followed reports from 63 localities, compared with 65-70 in 1987 and 75 in 1986. Could there be a slight decline setting in? Within the localities where the species was recorded observers' comments ranged from "common all over the reserve" at Minsmere, to "numbers appear down" on the Shotley Peninsula. The majority of records referred to April and May, no doubt because observers are keen to note their first Cuckoo of the year, but very few records relate to outward-bound autumn migrants. The latest record received was from Minsmere, Sept. 18th. 87
Mating in any circumstances is only rarely observed with this species, so the observation of mating in what must have been a rather precarious position on overhead electricity wire at Long Melford, May 23rd, is doubly noteworthy.
BARN OWL Tyto alba Perhaps as a consequence of successive mild winters this species appears, at the ver least, to be consolidating with a population level reported which is remarkably simila to the previous year's. About 102 localities frequented during the year, and about 2 breeding pairs reported, virtually mirrors 1987's figures of 100 localities and up to 2: breeding pairs. The population however, appears well below the level of 1985, for example when records came from 146 localities.
The species is being intensively studied nationally and locally â€” the results of a detailed RSPB study based in north Suffolk will hopefully help conservation of this popular bird. In the meantime efforts such as those of a farm at Shotley, where two of the six nest-boxes were successfully used, are to be applauded. A less conventional nest-site was an old watertank at Carlton Colville in which five well-developed young were observed. Migrants, or at least local wanderers, were noted at Landguard Sept. 9th and Oct. 2nd. One with a yellow plastic leg-ring was found in the locker room of premises at Lowestoft Harbour and was considered, by the BTO, to have most likely been captive-bred. The indiscriminate release of such birds is a worrying trend as they lack the hunting skills of their ancestors, resulting in starvation once in the wild. LITTLE OWL Athene noctua A marked reduction in records compared with the 85 localities reported as holding the species in 1987 . . . there being only 60 localities for the year under review. It would be interesting to establish if this reflects an actual population decline or merely represents a fluctuation in the level of recording. At Landguard, where records could relate to either migrants or local wanderers, one was heard Feb. 11th and at least one was present Oct. 14th to 28th and Nov. 4th to 26th. 88
4WNY OWL Strìx aluco This species is almost certainly more numerous and widespread than the records from 70 localities suggest. A combination of its nocturnal habits and a low level of interest in e species amongst observers probably results in a severe underestimate of the true ipulation. However, a comment from a Bradfield Combust observer, to the effect that >ne had been seen or heard since the great storm of October 1987, may be construed as having a rather ominous tone.
LONG-EARED OWL Asio otus Breeding was proven at only two sites, both on the coastal heaths, and this surely is ! jthing like a true picture of the species' breeding status. Summertime reports from the ¡ recks were not backed up with any details relating to breeding. Thankfully there are ill many suitable areas where the species may well breed undetected. The lack of observers' i scords is understandable to a degree in that the species is somewhat unobtrusive and often looses rather remote locations in which to nest. However, the so-called "squeaky-gate" call of the young makes a nest site relatively easy to find. Perhaps a more accurate estimation •'f the population can be made in subsequent years. Records of coastal spring migration were few and far between. One seen hunting in the Landguard Bird Observatory compound, May 5th, may have been the bird seen to fly off a ship at nearby Felixstowe Docks three days previously. Other coastal spring migrants were at Benacre Pits, Mar. 26th and two at Leathes Ham, Lowestoft, Apr. 10th. Autumn passage involved reports from Pakefield, Oct. 6th and a series of records from Landguard, involving seven birds, between Oct. 3rd and Nov. 20th. One, Oct. 12th, apeared totally unconcerned by ringers who passed within ten feet of it.
SHORT-EARED OWL Asio flammeus Although widespread along the coast during the period January to early April, numbers involved remained low. Most reports referred to only single birds and the largest concentration was of six on the River Deben BOEE count, Feb. 21st, followed by five on the same estuary's count, Mar. 20th. On the latter date four were recorded during the Rivers Alde/Ore/Butley estuary count. Elsewhere three or four were reported from Erwarton Marshes, Feb. 23rd and three were seen displaying in mid-March at another locality. An autopsy on a corpse found on Orfordness, Apr. 24th, revealed that it had been shot which is yet another outrageously callous act in an area known to be the haunt of "cowboy" wildfowlers and egg-collecters. Disappointingly, particularly in the light of 1987's promising statistics, there were no recorded instances of breeding and the paucity of summer records goes a long way to dispelling hopes that the species may have bred undetected by observers. The intentions of one at Boyton, Aug. 29th, which was seen to repeatedly fly up from the ground at Barn Owls taking food to their young is open to conjecture. Was it trying to hi-jack a meal for itself, or could it too had hungry mouths to feed? Numbers in the second winter period were higher than in the first and included notable inland concentrations of seven at Cavenham Heath, Nov. 13th, six at Thurston, Nov. 29th and five at Stradishall Airfield, Oct. 16th. On the coast and along the estuaries the largest concentrations were seven on the River Alde/Ore/Butley BOEE count, Nov. 13th, five near Shotley, Dec. 11th, four on Orfordness, Nov. 11th and four or five at Cattawade, Dec. 28th. 89
NIGHTJAR Caprimulgus europaeus The steady, welcome increase in breeding numbers continues, as does the trend towart colonisation of Forestry Commission clear fell areas. Such clearings, however, ar ephemeral in nature and, in the long term, the current upsurge in the species' populatio Ì may be proved to be equally so. Perhaps it is as well to guard against complacency. The first records of the year were from three sites on the Sandling Heaths, May 14th In Breckland there were 101-115 males on forest clearings and 6-13 on heath, whil on the coast Minsmere's total of 23 territories was the reserve's best to date. The species was also well represented at other Sandling localities with a minimum o 127 churring males including two on a remnant heath near Ipswich recently heavil developed for housing. Again, one was present at Haverhill in June. A juvenile struck by a car in the Hollesley area was taken into care, Sept. 11th. It wa apparently only stunned and, after developing a taste for cat food, it recovered and wa released on Sutton Common, Sept. 20th.
SWIFT Apus apus Inland sites often record returning summer migrants before coastal locations and thi first reported arrival was at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Apr. 16th. There followed abou 20 other April reports before the first mass immigrations during early May which includei 200 over Ipswich town centre, 5th, 250 at Alton Water the next day and 1,000 passing over Minsmere, 9th, 10th and 11th. Havergati ibservcrs noted a southward passage of 1,500, June 4th and similar passagt was noted at Landguard throughout July, with the largest numbers involved being 46t - 11th, 552 - 13th, 697 - 14th, 615 - 22nd and 1,200 - 23rd. Several observers remarked upon the early departures from their towns in late July anc the first ten days or so of August. This was reflected in the count of 100 flying low to the south at Gunton, July 23rd and the "steady southerly passage" recorded at Landguare around this time when the maxima were 100 — Aug. 1st, 97 — 11th, 80 — 12th and 87 — 21st. The mass exodus had reduced to a mere trickle in September. The last record for the year was of a laggard at Lowestoft, Nov. 13th. ALPINE SWIFT Apus melba There were no acceptable records for 1988 but one over Benacre Broad, May 2nd 1987, was presumably the bird that frequented Dunwich the same day. 1987 Benacre: over Broad, May 2nd (DRN, RCS).
KINGFISHER Alcedo atthis Successive mild winters have no doubt favoured this species and the records from about 88 sites compare well with 1987's total of about 65. So, on the face of it, the situation at present appears encouraging. Breeding probably took place at about 20 sites and was confirmed at about 13. Once again, this compares favourably with the four confirmed breeding records in 1987. In the Ipswich and Oulton Broad areas pairs were reported nesting in the upturned roots of fallen trees. Multiple records outside the breeding season are comparatively scarce, so the report of six at Lound, Nov. 11th is worthy of note, as are the totals of seven on the River Stour BOEE counts, Sept. 11th and Nov 13th. One ringed at Landguard, Oct. 18th, was the site's sixth ringing record for the species. 90
BEE-EATER Merops apiaster Seydon: Reydon Smear, July 12th to 16th (DRE et al).
Most previous Suffolk records refer to individuals that were observed briefly passing through, so this 'long-stayer' was a relief to hundreds of observers who were thoroughly entertained during its presence. This constitutes the 24th County record. HOOPOE Upupa epops A total of eight records made this the best year for this exotic visitor since the ten in 1980. 1980 10
Carlton Colville: on marshes, Apr. 30th (RB). Benacre: by pits, Apr. 30th (DRN, RCS et al).
Snape: May 2nd (MJS). Felixstowe: Landguard, Apr. 28th and 29th (LBO et al). Ipswich: Piper's Vale, Oct. 24th (MSS).
Haverhill: Apr. 18th (DFS). Stradishall: on airfield, Aug. 8th (PNe).
Lackford/West Stow: Apr. 3rd to 5th (MA, CGRB, CJJ). WRYNECK Jynx torquilla A very poor year, particularly in the spring when a mere two, or possibly three, were recorded. Autumn passage was not a great deal more pronounced but a particularly late bird was ringed at Landguard in October. Oulton Broad: found dead in a garden, Sept. 18th. Pakefield: Sept. 18th. Southwold: Easton Bavents/Southend Warren, May 2nd.
Dunwich: on cliffs, May 13th. Minsmere: on dunes, May 14th, at least one, Sept. 14th to 25th. Ipswich: Dorset Close, in garden, Sept. 21st. Sudbury: in a garden, Sept. 24th to 27th. Felixstowe: Landguard, ringed, Oct. 20th.
The bird at Dunwich Cliffs, May 13th, may have been the same individual seen on the dunes at Minsmere the following day. GREEN WOODPECKER Picus viridis A remarkably stable population level is indicated by observers' reports. Records came from 87 localities compared with 85 in 1987 and 88 in 1986. There were only nine instances of confirmed breeding, but breeding season records included six sites at Haverhill and 16 territories at Minsmere. Many of the casual spring and summer sight records received probably relate to breeding birds and, given the satisfactory number of records throughout the year, the species appears to be holding its own. At Landguard, where the species is only rarely encountered, singles were ringed July 7th, Aug. 8th and Aug. 16th. GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos major Observers were requested in Suffolk Birds 1988 to submit all sightings so that the effects of habitat destruction, caused by the great storm of October 1987, could be assessed. As a result reports came from 98 sites, compared with 105 in 1987 and 110 in 1986. This apparently slight reduction could, in fact, mask a much greater population decline, particularly if recording of the species had been, as must be suspected, rather incomplete in previous years. Suspicions of a marked decline are emphasised by observers' comments such as "generally scarce" and "much rarer here these days." The earliest date on which drumming was first noted was Feb. 6th, at Gunton, although drumming was said to have taken place in Holywells Park, Ipswich, in "winter and spring. " 91
A pair present at Brent Eleigh from November took nuts from a peanut holder. In January however, a male at Nettlestead had not been so fortunate . . . after making use of similari) supplied food it injured itself by flying into a window. An immature was ringed at Landguard, Aug. 13th and other migrants at this site wert noted on June 4th, Sept. 20th, Oct. 21st, Oct. 24th to 25th and Oct. 29th. LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos minor This species is another which may have been adversely affected by the October 198" storm. It was reported from 55 sites during the year, compared with 65 in 1987 and 60 in 1986. Whereas this might not appear to be a catastrophic reduction, the population apparenti) suffered badly in some areas. For example a Long Melford observer reported that none had been seen in the area since the storm. At Minsmere, however, seven territories were established, a reduction of only one from the previous year. WOODLARK Lullula arborea Numbers remained stable overall, despite a further increase in restocked forestry habitat. The Breckland total (including Norfolk) was again 43 territories, with a higher proportion in Suffolk. Suffolk Breck Coastal Belt
1986 28 25/26
1987 26 24
1988 31 16
Again no birds were found on Breckland heaths (records refer to forestry clearings) despite good coverage. The coastal belt was incompletely covered, but figures from selected sites suggest that they at least held their own. The latest report was Nov. 11th from the coastal belt, but no wintering flocks were located. The Suffolk Brecks colour-ringed bird, sighted at Margate (Kent) in March 1987, was seen back in the forest in May 1988, giving further evidence of the mysterious movements of this population. SKYLARK Alauda arvensis Peak first winter period flocks were:â€” Great Bradley: 280, Jan. 22nd. Haverhill: 130, January. Sudbourne: 200, Feb. 26th. Breeding numbers were reported as follows:â€” Minsmere: 29 territories (24 in 1987). Stradishall: on airfield, 20 pairs. Landguard: 10 pairs. C o d d e n h a m : CBC revealed 17 territories (15 in 1988).
Autumn movements were noted from mid-September, with a peak of 100 south at Landguard on Oct. 2nd. A flock of 42 came in from the sea at Covehithe, Oct. 16th. SHORE LARK Eremophila alpestris Numbers were again very low with no records from the first winter period. Records from Covehithe and Benacre probably involve the same birds. Benacre: t\yo from Nov. 13th were seen regularly until the end of the year (GJJ et al). Covehithe: Oct. 27th (SA), two, Nov. 22nd (EWP). Southwold: two flew south along promenade, Nov. 30th (EWP). 92
SAND MARTIN Riparia riparia The recovery witnessed in 1987 was not maintained at all breeding sites. There were some gains and some losses. The Minsmere car park colony had only 140 occupied sites compared with 366 in 1987. Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, however, had 128 pairs which was considered to be an increase. First noted at Haverhill, Mar. 15th, and reported from eight sites before the end of March including 20 at Lackford, 27th. Passage birds gave rise to the total of 1,000 at Alton Water, Apr. 29th. During autumn passage 1,400 flew south off Covehithe, Sept. 11th, and the last bird of the year was noted at Benacre, Oct. 27th (SA). SWALLOW Hirundo rustica Two records probably referring to an overwintering bird seen first at Bromeswell, Jan. 22nd (KWG) and then by the River Deben at Melton Hill, Jan. 26th (HB). Such records are sure indications of a mild winter and are the first January records for the County. The first spring migrant occurred at Benacre, Mar. 26th, followed by seven other records before the end of the month. Heavy return passage was recorded at Landguard, Sept. 5th, when 10,000 moved south, and at Southwold, Sept. 11th, with 5,000 south. The last records were on Nov. 19th from Minsmere and Sudbourne. HOUSE MARTIN Delichon urbica First noted on Apr. 9th at Alton Water. There is little evidence of any change in abundance since 1987. A spectacular movement of 45,000 south at Southwold, Sept. 11th was followed by several counts in the hundreds along the coast on subsequent days. Three records from the Benacre and Southwold areas, all Nov. 19th, were the last of the year. RICHARD'S PIPIT Anthus novaeseelandiae Despite a notable autumn influx elsewhere in Britain there were only two records. Even so, these are the first records for Suffolk since 1985 and only the third and fourth this decade. Pakefield: Rifle Range, Oct. 5th (AO, MO).
Felixstowe: Landguard, Oct. 21st (DC, JHG, MM). The Landguard bird is the fourth for the site and the first there since 1980. TAWNY PIPIT Anthus campestris Suffolk's third spring record and the 23rd overall. Southwold: May 20th and 21st (DRE).
TREE PIPIT Anthus trivialis First seen Apr. 3rd at Elveden. Numbers in Thetford Forest were thought to be very good on the young plantations. The usual scattering of sites in the coastal belt held small numbers, although at Minsmere there were 14 territories compared with seven in 1987. Last recorded at Landguard, Oct. 12th. MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis This species was reported widely within the County, the largest concentrations, as usual, being in the autumn. A total of 1,378 was counted moving south at Landguard, Sept. 25th and there were several coastal records exceeding 100 in late September and again in midOctober. Inland, the largest flock was of 100 at Long Melford, Oct. 14th. Breeding numbers received were 24 pairs at Minsmere, 26 at Haverhill, eight at Landguard and ten at Felixstowe Ferry, but otherwise few were reported. 93
ROCK PIPIT Anthus petrosus A wide scattering mainly of single birds at coastal sites. Recorded up to May 2nd a Minsmere in the first winter period and again from Sept. 19th at the same site. By fa the highest count was of 54 beside the River Aide, Nov. 13th. Birds showing the characteristics of the Scandinavian race A.p. littoralis were seen a Martlesham Creek, Mar. 5th (MDC) and three on Lowestoft Denes, Mar. 11th (BJB) WATER PIPIT Anthus spinoletta Recorded at five sites. Mostly singles seen on nine dates in the first winter period uj to Apr. 4th. In the second winter period, birds were seen regularly at both Benacre ant Minsmere from mid-November to the end of the year and three were seen along the Deben Dec. 13th. There was one other record of more than two birds â€” eight, together on Minsmen Scrape, Nov. 15th (RSPB). YELLOW WAGTAIL Motacilla flava Early records were two at Alton Water, Apr. 1st, and others at three sites on the 4th The usual flood of arrivals was recorded in the third and fourth weeks of April. Breeding records were incomplete with 22 pairs reported from 12 sites. There was ar interesting report of birds seen feeding at night under the Felixstowe Docks floodlights No large gatherings were reported and the last of the year was over Southwold Harbour Nov. 12th.
There was the usual crop of spring reports of the nominate race M.f. flava, Blue-headed Wagtail: Lowestoft: The Oval, pair May 8th to 11th (BJB). Minsmere: Apr. 14th (RSPB). Shingle Street: Apr. 18th and 23rd (MCa) Bramford: by Suffolk Water Park, Apr. 25th to June 30th (WJB). Falkenham: male, July 7th (MM). Felixstowe: Landguard, Apr. 19th (MM), two, May 7th (EWP), May 14th (TPK). 94
Two birds showing characteristics of the Grey-headed, N. Fenno-Scandia race M.f. hunbergi, were seen. Felixstowe: Landguard, May 14th (MM). Uwestoft: the Oval, May 16th (BJB). GREY WAGTAIL Motacilla cinerea There was nothing unusual about the reports on the breeding population, with the usual sporadic nesting along river corridors throughout the County. A total of 52 sites recorded birds at some time during the year, but breeding was confirmed at just seven of them, six of which were in west Suffolk. PIED WAGTAIL Motacilla alba Large February roosts of 150 on Tolly Cobbold warehouses, Ipswich and 80 at Martlesham Creek were the main concentrations in the first half of the year. Breeding was recorded at a number of sites. At Haverhill 26 pairs were located and a Woodbridge pair made the local press by rearing young in a nest by the radiator of a working digger. Post-breeding roosts peaked at 135 at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Sept. 29th and at 160, Minsmere, Oct. 15th. An early White Wagtail M.a. alba was at Lowestoft North Denes camp-site, Mar. 11th to 19th followed by spring records from 20 sites, five of which were inland. Autumn migrants were noted at Landguard Sept. 21st, at Lowestoft, Covehithe and Landguard, Sept. 25th, and again at the latter site Oct. 22nd. WAXWING Bombycilla garrulus No records for the first part of the year completed a blank winter. The autumn was to bring the best numbers for many years, making it a 'Waxwing winter' with a minimum of 110 birds spread between 25 sites. All but three of the birds were seen in the east of the County. The first was on Oct. 20th, followed by the majority of records in early and midNovember, including the largest flock of 28 on Westleton Heath. At least 17 were recorded in December, including nine in Lowestoft, 31st. Gunton: on cliffs, four Nov. 25th (MDR). Lowestoft: up to 12 various roads and gardens Nov. 2nd to 27th (BJB et al), Bloodmoor Road, nine Dec. 31st (BJB et al). Pakefield: up to seven Nov. 12th to 19th (BJB, JBH et al). Kessingland: two Nov. 6th, three Nov. 12th (MSS). Benacre: Nov. 11th (per MTW). Southwold: Dec. 26th (per DRM). Westleton: on Heath, up to 28 Nov. 1st to 14th (RSPB et al). Minsmere: up to 11 in car park Nov. 10th to Dec. 30th (RSPB et al). Aldeburgh: in garden, Dec. 17th (JAD). Aldringham: in garden, November (JAD). Sudbourne: School Road, in garden, four Nov. 2nd (MCK). Blaxhall: on Heath, two Nov. 6th (DCM). Chillesford: Nov. 16th (JHG). Boyton: two Oct. 20th (AM). Woodbridge: California, one Nov. 7th and 8th (MDC), Edwin Ave., four Nov. 20th (LAP), one Dec. 7th (BC). Felixstowe: Church Road, two Dec. 18th (per JBH), Landguard, Oct. 30th (MM et al). Ipswich: Janebrook Road, 12 Nov. 10th (per RB), Aldercroft/Ashcroft Road, four Nov. 6th (per PM), Woodbridge Road, two Nov. 27th (RJW). Chelmondiston: Pinmill, two Oct. 29th (EMP). Holbrook: Dec. 10th to 12th (RS). Hadleigh: Nov. 4th (per JO). Haverhill: Nov. 18th (RT). Tostock: in garden, Nov. 22nd (per TPK). 95
DIPPER Cinclus cinclus A bird of the Black-bellied race C.c. cinclus was seen on the River Box. Stoke-by-Nayland: Thorington Street, River Box, Feb. 21st to 26th (SC, DRM. et al). After an absence of five years this is the second year in succession that the species has been recorded in Suffolk. WREN Troglodytes troglodytes All reports received mention that the population had increased and at Coddenham the number of territories recorded in the CBC had more than doubled from 13 in 1987 to 27. One was heard singing in floodlighting at Haverhill at 02.40 hrs in April. DUNNOCK Prunella modularis Autumn migration was noted at Landguard with counts of 50 on both Sept. 18th and Oct. 17th. During October a number of trapped birds examined had the wing formula of the Continental race P.m. modularis (English-bred birds are of the race P.m. occidentalis (Hartert, 1910)). Some increase in breeding numbers was reported at Benhall and Coddenham. ROBIN Erithacus rubecula Although autumn influxes of Continental/Baltic Robins are frequently recorded, the amazing 'fall' witnessed in mid-October was unprecedented in Suffolk far exceeding the 1987 experience. Lowestoft: 100 Oct. 13th, 50 Oct. 17th. Benacre: "very large fall" Oct. 16th. Minsmere: 60 Oct. 16th. Bawdsey: "exceptional numbers" Oct. 16th, "good numbers" Oct. 20th. Landguard: 1,000 Oct. 16th, 500 Oct. 17th 50 Oct. 20th. First evidence of a heavy influx was at Lowestoft with 100 Oct. 13th, but the main 'fall' occurred Oct. 16th during easterly winds with very large numbers recorded at Benacre, Minsmere, Bawdsey and Felixstowe. At Landguard an amazing total of 1,000 was present of which a record 265 were ringed. Although numbers declined in subsequent days exceptional totals were still present up to Oct. 20th. An incredible total of 645 birds was ringed at Landguard during the month. Clearly the highest counts were from Landguard where the topography and, perhaps, coverage facilitate such activity but it is clear that several thousand Robins, possibly up to 10,000, arrived on the coastal belt at that time. Early nest building was reported from Felixstowe, Feb. 17th and Haverhill, Feb. 19th and birds singing at night in floodlit areas were noted at Haverhill and Ipswich. A bird at Kentford had one wing completely white. NIGHTINGALE Luscinia megarhynchos An excellent year with 180 singing males recorded. This excludes the Great Glemham and Breckland areas which both reported an apparent increase over 1987. At Minsmere however, there were 45 territories (58 in 1987). Three birds were still at Bawdsey, Sept. 4th. BLUETHROAT Luscinia svecica Felixstowe: Landguard, male of the 'red-spotted' race L.s. svecica trapped, May 20th (MM, SP, AT). A typical showing and the first record for Landguard since 1984. The table shows that for an east-coast county Suffolk hardly reaps its fair share of records of this scarce but regular passage migrant. 1980 NIL
BLACK REDSTART Phoenicurus ochruros Breeding levels were similar to 1987. Thirteen pairs definitely bred producing at least 16 broods. A further three pairs possibly bred but with unknown success. Lowestoft: five singing males but only three breeding pairs two of which double-brooded; minimum of 12 young. Sizewell: pair nested in the core of an electric cable drum. RAF Woodbridge: pair bred in hangar producing two young. felixstowe: pair nested in a vandalised beach hut and three young were ringed; Landguard/Felixstowe Docks, four pairs bred, two males were heard singing during the night under floodlighting. Ipswich: Cornhill, singing male mid-May and female mid-June; west Ipswich, recorded late May/early June but breeding success unknown. Sproughton: Beet Factory, singing male May 25th to early June. Haverhill: two pairs definitely bred producing three fledglings each. RAF Lakenheath: pair nested successfully in small derelict building producing four young.
A single male in the Lowestoft Ness area, Jan. 10th to 31st, was the only first-winter ÂĄ'ecord. In the spring the earliest bird to take up residence was at Haverhill where a male was present on four dates from Mar. 7th and was joined by a female, Mar. 25th. A male was present at Benacre, Mar. 19th and 20th but the main spring passage, involving 11 coastal belt sites, commenced Mar. 21st/22nd peaking with eight at Landguard, Apr. 17th. West Suffolk reports were from Lackford, Apr. 5th and Elveden, Apr. 3rd. Autumn passage peaked dramatically Oct. 16th to 20th (coinciding with the heavy Robin influx) with a total of 30 birds being reported from seven coastal sites, Oct. 17th; of these, 17 were in the Landguard area. A wintering pair was noted at school premises at Hadleigh throughout most of December.
REDSTART Phoenicurus phoenicurus Encouragingly the main breeding areas reported some increase over 1987 with 12 territories at Minsmere (ten in 1987) and a further apparent increase in the Breck. Overall, at least 40 territories were noted maintaining the improvement recorded in 1987. A pair was present at Sutton Heath â€” the first for several years. Again observers are asked to report any records of singing males and/or breeding so that the status can be accurately assessed. First spring bird was a male at Minsmere, Apr. 14th with a more general spread from Apr. 17th. Autumn migration was evident from early September with six at Landguard, Sept. 8th and 15th. Recorded at nine coastal sites in October including Landguard on nine dates. Last noted Oct. 30th at Benacre.
WHINCHAT Saxicola rubetra A disturbing fall in breeding records with none from the coastal areas and only limited success in west Suffolk: Cavenham: pair raised two young. Lakenheath: "several pairs". Thetford Forest: a pair successfully bred. First spring records were from Benacre and Landguard, Apr. 17th with a peak May 9th/10th when maxima of seven and four were at Minsmere and Landguard respectively. Autumn movements commenced with two at Benacre, Aug. 1st and Landguard, Aug. 3rd. Generally August numbers were low but this was more than offset by an excellent September particularly at Minsmere where daily counts were high with at least 15 Sept. 97
11th. Other peak days were 12 Lowestoft, Sept. 9th, an incredible group of 30 Covehithe. Sept. 29th and eight Landguard, Sept. 8th. The last was at Iken, Nov. 13th. An aberrant individual with an all dark tail was at Landguard from Oct. 20th to 21st (see page 127).
STONECHAT SaxĂcola torquata A good first winter/spring with records from 17 areas, mostly coastal, but including five from west Suffolk. Definite breeding records and territories held during the breeding season totalled 12 â€” a reduction on the 1987 level of 13/15. Only one pair bred in the Breck but numbers at Minsmere increased to four pairs. Autumn reports were encouragingly high in number involving 19 coastal and two west Suffolk sites. Most records were during November when possibly up to 43 birds were present. Peak days at Minsmere were 14 Sept. 6th and eight Nov. 13th. 98
VHEATEAR Oenanthe oenanthe Breeding pairs were reported from only 13 sites, plus two possibles, which represents significant reduction on last year. On the coast, Minsmere and Sizewell held the only lefinite breeding pairs (compared with six in 1987) and a decrease was also noted in the irecks. The first spring records were three at Haverhill, Mar. 15th and two, Mar. 18th. Numbers vere more general in the last week of March with reports from 11 areas. At Landguard ¡ine were present, Mar. 28th. Highest spring count was at the latter site with at least 50, \pr. 20th and a second peak of 20, May 10th. Birds showing characters of the Greenland ace O.o. leucorrhoa were present from Apr. 29th. The first sign of return movement was three at Aldeburgh, Aug. 1st although records vere sparse until Aug. 21st when nine were together at Benacre and 17 at Landguard. •lumbers quickly built up to the highest count of at least 30, Landguard, Aug. 30th with ood numbers continuing at a number of coastal sites until mid-September. Last recorded at Minsmere, Nov. 12th. UNG OUZEL Turdus torquatus An excellent spring passage with reports from 16 sites from Mar. 30th (at Landguard — the County's earliest date since 1984) to May 12th (at Lound, Lowestoft and Benacre). The main movements came in two distinct waves, firstly Apr. 14th to 21st and then Apr. 28th to 30th. During the former 11 were present with seven at Minsmere, Apr. 16th ind 18th. A phenomenal total of 21 — 30th, was confined to three sites; 12 Minsmere, ight Landguard and a single Benacre Pits. Autumn passage was less spectacular with September records coming exclusively from andguard; 17th, 24th and 25th. There were no further reports until Oct. 11th from when here was a mini influx involving up to 40 birds at 11 sites. The highest numbers were loted at Minsmere (maximum of 16) and Landguard (maximum of 15) but three or more were at Shingle Street. There were three November records; Lowestoft 5th, Minsmere 1st and North Warren, \ldeburgh, 12th. BLACKBIRD Turdus merula Two males were seen to be involved in a territorial dispute under artificial light at 01.30 hrs Jan. 8th, at Sproughton Beet Factory, a promising early start to the year. A male foodcarrying, Jan. 18th, at Levington Research Station, was also a remarkably early date although birds were noted in song at Landguard from Jan. 10th and Ipswich, Jan. 26th. At Gazeley, nest building was seen late January and again February 21st and apparent food-carrying at the end of February. The size of some communal roosts may not always be appreciated — 172 were counted entering a Haverhill plantation in 30 minutes, Jan. 9th. Some increase in numbers of returning birds was noted at Landguard during the third week of February with at least 40, Feb. 22nd. Over 50 were also present, Mar. 9th, 10th and 20th. One field at Foxhall contained 25 Feb. 20th. In the Benhall area an increase in the breeding population was recorded including one pair nesting on a bank in long grass, an unusual nest-site for this species. At Coddenham 28 territories were recorded in a CBC area (22 in 1987). Coinciding with a period of easterly winds a large influx occurred from mid-October. First reported at Gunton, 11th and quickly followed by a series of counts from Landguard; 200 — 14th, 100 — 16th and 17th and 200 — 20th. On the latter date "hundreds" were recorded at Sudbourne and a further big influx occurred at Gunton on 25th. Minsmere's biggest count was 100 on 18th. Albinos were at Great Barton and Erwarton and one with a pure white head at Tostock. 99
FIELDFARE Turdus pilaris Present in good numbers in January with flocks of 100, or more, at Minsmere and Denham, 150 at Higham and 200 at Sudbourne. At a Bradfield Combust farm "100s" were present in January and February but had largely gone by Mar. 8th. Generally, numbers appeared to be less in February with the only reported three figure flock being 100 at Hollesley, 20th. From mid-March numbers were boosted by passage birds and several flocks exceeding 100 were reported, with 250 at Boxford being the largest. April gatherings were noted at Felixstowe Ferry, 110 — 20th and at Higham, 120 — 16th. Recorded on 11 dates in May, mostly at Minsmere, where the last of the spring was seen on 25th. September records were limited to only four dates; Lowestoft, 9th; Landguard, 14th and 22nd; Sizewell, 22nd and four Walberswick, 30th. Records were still sparse in early October but from 12th there was a notable immigration with flocks at Landguard of 75 — 12th, 170 — 24th and 47, in off the sea, 29th and at Minsmere, 200 — 19th and 270 — 23rd. Other large flocks during this period included 100 at both Levington and Great Bradley and 150 at Long Melford. Smaller numbers were evident in November and December although flocks of over 100 were recorded at six sites including 250 at Westleton, Dec. 11th. SONG THRUSH Turdus philomelos Early nest building was noted at Gazeley and Haverhill at the end of February. At Minsmere 14 territories were recorded and at Coddenham seven were noted in the CBC (four in 1987). Small influxes of returning birds were recorded at Landguard from the third week of February to mid-April but a flock of 200 at Rougham, Feb. 20th was exceptional. The heaviest falls were noted at Landguard in October which included 300 — 16th, 250 — 17th and 150 — 20th coinciding with easterly weather and other thrush immigration. At Minsmere 80 were seen feeding on Laurel berries, Oct. 9th. A bird at Haverhill had some problem with identity as included in its repertoire was a Green Woodpecker "yaffle". REDWING Turdus iliacus There were very few records from January to early March the highest counts being 90 Needham Market, Feb. 7th; 50 Cornard, Feb. 10th and 40 Haverhill, Feb. 27th when some night migration was also noted. Further movements commenced Mar. 9th and 10th when a few birds passed through Landguard and over 100 were seen heading out to sea there Mar. 12th. Flocks of 100 were at Boxted Mill, Mar. 19th, Thorington Street, Mar. 27th and Lawshall early and mid-April. The last of the spring was at Minsmere, May 15th. The first returning birds were at Minsmere, Sept. 14th and six at Landguard, Sept. 17th followed by only a light scattering in early October. However, all this was to change dramatically in the period Oct. 16th to 20th when a heavy immigration was noted during damp easterly weather, including a record local rainfall total of 1.6" in 24 hrs, 19th/20th. A massive fall of over 1,000 birds was recorded at Landguard, 20th preceded by 500 — 16th and 100 — 17th as well as 350 — 24th. At other coastal sites 300 were at Lowestoft, 17th and at Minsmere 136 — 16th and 250 — 19th. Heavy overnight, westerly migration was heard at Ipswich 23.30 hrs, 18th. This great influx obviously moved through very quickly as only low numbers were reported to the year's end with the exception of 170, Alton Water, Dec. 31st. 100
vIISTLE THRUSH Turdus viscivorus The earliest evidence of successful breeding was provided by a juvenile on Mar. 23rd it Haverhill, where a flock of up to 20 immature birds was noted, June 12th. Flocks of 20 to 25 were reported from several sites during July to October including /linsmere where 12 territories were recorded. :ETTTS WARBLER Cettia cetti The mildness of the first winter period must have assisted the species' minor resurgence Âżfter three lean years. )ulton B r o a d : Mar. 29th to May 2nd and again Oct. 20th.
iaverhill: May 19th and 20th. larket Weston: singing on fen May 9th to June 2nd. Oulton Broad has been a favoured area for some time but the latter two sites are new ocalities for the species. ÂŤRASSHOPPER WARBLER Locustella naevia Not as numerous as in 1987 but the reports totalling 33 'reeling' males in the coastal egion did include 24 at Minsmere (12 in 1985). Males were only reported in West Suffolk torn Market Weston Fen (two), Haverhill and Kedington. One between Minsmere and Sizewell, Apr. 3rd is the earliest for the County (ABo). Autumn passage migrants were trapped at Landguard Sept. 4th and 6th. SAVI'S WARBLER Locustella luscinioides
Single 'reeling' males were located at three sites. Site B: July 24th. Site C: May 5th and 6th. Minsmere: May 8th to 26th. An encouraging sign for the future lies with the record from Site C because it represents the first report from a locality where the habitat differs from that in the species' normal haunts. 101
SEDGE WARBLER Acrocephalus schoenobaenus The relative abundance of this species continued; amongst many breeding reports were those of 94 pairs, Minsmere (50 in 1987), 42 pairs between Glemsford and Long Melford (40 in 1987), 30 pairs, Shotley (30 in 1987) and 29 pairs, Haverhill. One observer commented that the species had returned to its population level of the early 1970s. The only sites to record decreases were Lackford where, after a total of 60 pairs in 1987, onl) 40 pairs were located, and Bourne Park CES where only 15 breeding adults were trappei compared with 29 in 1987. At the latter site breeding success was also down from 57.3% (1987) to 46.4% this year. Of particular interest were the reports of five pairs nesting on Stradishall airfield and of birds nesting in Rape fields at Walberswick and Glemsford. There was a trickle of passage migrants through Landguard from Apr. 11th up to June 10th and again from July with a maximum of four, Aug. 12th. Minsmere recorded the first of the year on Apr. 6th and the last on Oct. 2nd. PADDYFIELD WARBLER Acrocephalus agricola The first County record of this Asiatic species and only the third British spring record, the second having occurred only six days previously on the Isle of May, Fife (Butterfield 1988). Felixstowe: Landguard, trapped, June 11th (JRA, DPB, MM et al).
This bird was not reliably reported later than 10.00 hrs, after which all sightings refer to a rather greyish Chiffchaff, much to the embarrassment of many hundreds of observers (see article on page 122). MARSH WARBLER Acrocephalus palustris For the third year in succession this species occurred on the coast in late spring. Kessingland: singing, June 2nd and 3rd (BJB, RCS et al). Bawdsey: singing from reed-scrub, May 28th and 29th (ABo). These represent the County's third and fourth records following the first in 1986 and second in 1987. REED WARBLER Acrocephalus scirpaceus Varying fortunes were recorded in the breeding population. An increase to 15 pairs was recorded between Glemsford and Long Melford (nine in 1987) but 15 pairs at Lackford indicated a decrease (25 in 1987). The situation at Shotley was stable with 25 to 30 pairs, but for the first time in "many years" the species was outnumbered by the Sedge Warbler at this site. Eighteen pairs were located at Oulton Broad and at the Bourne Park CES the number of adults trapped was down from 64 in 1987 to 44 this year. Spring passage at Landguard peaked at five, May 26th and three were present as late as June 18th. Autumn birds were recorded at Landguard from July 22nd and at least 35 were noted at this site in the period up to Oct. 2nd.
ICTERINE WARBLER Hippolais icterina There had only been three previous spring records, but this year two arrived within two days in May. The autumn records are typical. Southwold: Sept. 10th and 11th (JMC et al). Minsmere: Sluice bushes, Aug. 10th (GCT). Landguard: singles trapped May 13th and 15th and two, Sept. 21st (LBO). The spring birds are the earliest ever for the County. 102
HARTFORD WARBLER Sylvia undata .linsmere: Sluice bushes, Dec. 3rd (JB). Almost exactly a year after the celebrated Felixstowe Ferry occurrence, yet another showed itself, this time to just one fortunate observer and in doing so becomes the second County record in just under 50 years.
SUBALPINE WARBLER Sylvia cantillans Suffolk's third record occurred at Landguard only 10 months after the second had been recorded at the same site; as with that bird, this individual was assigned to the nominate Mediterranean race S.c.cantillans. During its stay it was heard to sing. Felixstowe: Landguard, male Apr. 23rd and 24th, trapped 23rd (LBO). BARRED WARBLER Sylvia nisoria For the third successive year, Landguard was the only site to report this species in the County; this record conforms to the pattern of early autumn occurrences. Felixstowe: Landguard, immature, Aug. 31st to Sept. 5th, trapped Aug. 31st (LBO). 1980 3
LESSER WHITETHROAT Sylvia curruca There was a generally early arrival with singles at Landguard and Gedgrave, Apr. 17th and Haverhill and Lawshall, Apr. 18th. Landguard recorded an excellent spring passage up to June 23rd which peaked at eight Apr. 27th and ten May 9th to 12th. Local surveys indicated a slight decrease with nine pairs at Minsmere (11 in 1987) and only two pairs in the Glemsford/Long Melford area (five in 1987). However, there were encouraging reports of 17 pairs in the Haverhill area and five pairs at Coddenham; overall, there were breeding season records from at least 40 sites. 103
Autumn passage commenced at Landguard, Aug. 2nd and peaked in mid-Septembe with ten on 18th. At Minsmere there were counts of ten Aug. 24th; 11 Sept. 4th and eigh Sept. 17th. The only October reports were of a singles at Benacre, 1st and South wold, 2nd WHITETHROAT Sylvia communis Another very successful breeding season with indications of further increases in some areas. Minsmere reported 38 breeding pairs (24 in 1987); Haverhill — 21; Glemsford/Lonj Melford — 16 (11 in 1987) and Valley Farm, Coddenham — 12 (12 in 1987). The main arrival commenced on Apr. 17th. At Landguard, spring passage peaked at 11, Apr. 29th and autumn movements at 15, Sept. 4th. There was only one October record at Landguard 7th to 22nd, but two in November at Minsmere, 2nd (RSPB) and North Denes, Lowestoft, 12th (JRR); the latter bird is the County's third latest ever, having only been surpassed by singles at Herringfleet, Nov. 25th, 1968 and Benacre, Nov. 15th, 1981 GARDEN WARBLER Sylvia borin There was a generally early arrival with several April records including one at Ufford. 7th (MDC) and five, Landguard, 29th; the former is the County's second earliest ever, having been surpassed only by one at Walsham-le-Willows on Apr. 4th, 1974. Spring passage at Landguard continued to June 10th and peaked at 15, May 9th. All the indications were of a stable breeding population; counts of breeding pairs included 36, Minsmere (39 in 1987); six, Glemsford/Long Melford area (six in 1987) and 11, Haverhill. A protracted autumn passage commenced with two at Landguard, July 30th and the species was noted there on most days in August. Reports in September were received from only five sites and in October one or two were at Landguard until 20th and one at Lowestoft, 17th. Finally, Suffolk's previous latest date for the species, Nov. 9th, 1980, 1985 and 1987 — all at Landguard, was surpassed by one trapped at Landguard, Nov. 12th (MM) and another at Lowestoft, 13th (ACE). BLACKCAP Sylvia atricapilla Wintering by this species has been a regular feature in Suffolk since the 1960s. The birds involved are apparently from northern and eastern European stock and would have entered Britain during the late autumn (Langslow, 1979). Despite the very mild conditions, the only birds reported during January and February were singles at Sudbourne, Felixstowe, Nettlestead (feeding on apples) and Haverhill; the only December record referred to a male at Ipswich, 30th. Reports in March from Landguard 20th/22nd and Lackford 29th probably refer to early returning breeding birds. The main arrival commenced on Apr. 12th and at Landguard passage continued to June 15th having peaked there at 10, May 9th. Surveys of breeding populations revealed 51 pairs, Minsmere (32 in 1987); 34 pairs, Haverhill area and 20 pairs, Glemsford/Long Melford area (21 in 1987). Return passage was noted at Landguard as early as Aug. 5th, but in general most autumn migrants were recorded from late September to mid-October. The species was involved in the " f a l l " of migrants that occurred on Oct. 16th, when there were 15 at Landguard, and several reports of up to three at other coastal sites. November reports were mainly from Landguard where 11 were trapped during the month, up to 29th, including six on 12th. PALLAS'S WARBLER Phylloscopus proregulus Despite 1988 being full of eastern promise this jewel failed to put in an appearance. However, these belated additions to 1987's tally make that year Suffolk's best ever. 1987 Aldeburgh: Nov 1st (RBa, RES) 1987 Felixstowe: Landguard, by New Custom House, Dec. 23rd. (WS). 104
The Felixstowe record is believed to be the latest ever for Britain. 1980 NIL
There are just three records outside the limits of the table with singles in 1963, 1966 and 1977. This brings the County total to 13, with Landguard logging seven. YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER Phylloscopus inornatus An even greater nationwide influx than that of 1985 resulted in at least 23 being located in Suffolk, thus taking the overall County total up to 51. The majority of sightings during 1985-87 were at Landguard but this year Lowestoft was the centre of attention. There was a small arrival in September and then pronounced influxes around Oct. 2nd and 13th. Corton: Oct. 2nd (SL). Lowestoft: Belle Vue Park, two, Oct. 7th (PG); Arnold's Walk, in off sea, Oct. 5th (EWP el Southwold: Sept. 25th and Oct.
Sept. 17th and 18th (NJS et al), two, Oct. 2nd (DNB, BJB el al), Oct. 2nd (BJB); Flycatcher Lane, four, Oct. 13th (DNB); Denes, al). 3rd (both DRN et al).
Minsmere: Oct. 12th and two, Oct. 13th (RM et al). Hollesley: two trapped, Oct. 2nd (PC et al). Bawdsey: one trapped, Oct. 13th (HRB). Landguard: four trapped, Oct. 1st to 3rd (LBO). 1980 NIL
WOOD WARBLER Phylloscopus sibilatrix There were singing males in late April and May at Corton, Minsmere, Pakenham and Haverhill (four) but this was the fifth consecutive year that breeding was not proven. A total of ten spring passage birds was reported from Apr. 24th at Lowestoft, Benacre, Minsmere, Landguard and Ipswich. None were reported between May 19th and July 31st when two at Thorpeness probably signalled the start of autumn passage. However, autumn migrants were mostly restricted to August with reports from Dunwich, Thorpeness, Blaxhall, Landguard (four) and Haverhill. The final bird of the year was trapped at Landguard, Sept. 5th. CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita The abnormally mild conditions during January to early March were undoubtedly responsible for above average numbers of overwintering birds; there were reports from Lowestoft, Kessingland, Beccles, Halesworth, Minsmere, Walton, Felixstowe (two), Nowton and Haverhill. In March, spring migrants started to arrive in force from 22nd, and on 28th there were eight at Landguard and seven at Minsmere. Notable concentrations in April included 20, Haverhill, 11th; 15, Landguard, 16th/17th and ten, Clare Country Park, 13th. Spring passage continued at Landguard until at least June 18th. At Minsmere, an 80% population increase was recorded, from 47 pairs in 1987 up to 85 pairs this year; elsewhere, surveys of breeding pairs revealed 23, Haverhill; nine, Glemsford/Long Melford (nine in 1987); nine, Wherstead/Spring Wood area; seven, Lackford (four in 1987) and six, Coddenham (three in 1987). The first coastal autumn migrant was recorded at Landguard, Aug. 26th. September m axima were 30, Landguard, 21st and 15, Lowestoft, 29th. In October, one was still singing at Tunstall, 15th, while on the coast, Landguard's maximum total was 25 on 20th. 105
A bird showing characteristics of one of the northern races was at Lowestoft, Oct. 2nd and Landguard's only November record was ascribed to the eastern race P.c. tristis, 4th During the latter half of November singles were located at Corton, Lowestoft, Benacre and Minsmere. Likewise, there was a northerly bias to December sightings with reports from Lowestoft, Oulton Broad, Benacre, Dunwich and Minsmere (two). WILLOW WARBLER Phylloscopus trochilus For the fourth consecutive year there were March arrivals; the first was at Woodbridge. 20th and, by 31st, three were at Haverhill. Substantial numbers started to arrive in April from 11th when 30 were at Landguard increasing to a spring peak of 60 on 17th. Population surveys revealed some impressive totals of breeding pairs e.g. 167, Minsmere (164 in 1987); 57, Haverhill; 15, Glemsford/Long Melford (27 in 1987); 15, Wherstead/ Spring Wood area and 13, Coddenham (nine in 1987). These figures show local fluctuations but the Minsmere totals probably indicate a relatively stable population at present. Autumn passage totals at Landguard were below those of 1987 but after a single on July 19th, numbers increased to 15, July 27th; 30, Aug. 2nd and 50, Aug. 16th. September totals were much lower with a maximum day-total of 20, Landguard, 10th. The final birds of the year were in October at Bawdsey, 27th and Lowestoft, 30th. One showing characteristics of the northern race P. t. acredula was trapped at Landguard. Apr. 16th. GOLDCREST Regulus regulus One at Landguard, Feb. 28th is the first site record for that month â€” spring passage peaked there at 25, Mar. 28th. Fifteen pairs were located at Haverhill in May. The most dramatic event of the year was a spectacular influx on the coast during the third week of October; maximum counts were 1000, Benacre, 17th; 100, Lowestoft, 17th; 100, Minsmere, 20th and 70, Landguard, 20th. FIRECREST Regulus ignicapillus First winter period reports were from Holbrook, Jan. 17th and Brandon, Mar. 8th. Spring passage took place between Mar. 23rd and May 19th, apart from a belated male at Landguard, June 30th. Reports came from seven coastal sites, and Haverhill, totalling up to 55 birds of which about 20 were at Landguard. Highlights included six, Landguard, Apr. 17th; up to four, Haverhill, Apr. 1st to 10th and a male which was subsequently released after being found exhausted on a ship in Lowestoft Harbour, Apr. 3rd. Potential breeding activity was reported from five sites; up to six pairs probably bred but in only one case was this actually proven. A moderate autumn passage totalling 30-35 birds between Sept. 30th and Nov. 10th was exclusively coastal. About half of the reports were from Landguard where eight were ringed during October. J 1
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER Muscicapa striata The highlight of spring passage was a spectacular influx of 150, Landguard, May 9th â€” this is the largest gathering of the species in Suffolk since the "Great Fall" of Sept. 3rd, 1965 when 300 were at Minsmere (Axell and Pearson, 1966). Breeding reports were received from 40 sites throughout the County. Sixteen pairs were located in the Glemsford/Long Melford area (16 in 1987) and 13 at Haverhill. Three pairs used nestboxes provided for their use in a wood at Shotley. An uneventful autumn passage took place, mainly on the coast, between July 24th (Landguard) and Oct. 20th (Minsmere). 106
RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER Ficedula parva Suffolk's best year for this species since 1964, when five were recorded. The Lowestoft ind Minsmere birds, in particular, enabled many observers to see this delightful species, in Suffolk, for the first time. !>owestoft: Arnold's Walk, Sept. 29th to Oct. 2nd (DNB el al). Vlinsmere: Sluice bushes, Sept. 15th and 16th (RSPB). Felixstowe: Landguard, one trapped, Oct. 14th (MDC, DC et al). 1980 NIL
PIED FLYCATCHER Ficedula hypoleuca At least 24 spring migrants occurred during the period Apr. 21st to May 31st, of which seven were at Haverhill and ten at Landguard; there were also sightings at Lowestoft, Southwold and Havergate. The majority of records occurred during May 12th to 15th. Autumn passage was well below average with August, normally the peak month for the species, accounting for just a single report; two, Gunton, 13th. When passage finally got under way, in early September, it was exclusively coastal, with reports from seven localties. The largest gatherings were seven, Landguard, 13th; four, Lowestoft, 17th and three Southwold, 11th. Six were noted in October with the last of the year at Lowestoft, 18th. A 2
BEARDED TIT Panurus biarmicus The exceptionally mild first winter period must have greatly assisted the species' recovery. Although there were no specific surveys of breeding success, a post-breeding count, of 190, at Minsmere, Sept. 18th indicated a good season. Eruptive behaviour occurred at breeding sites, in late autumn, and was probably responsible for the reports of 20 south-west over Levington, Oct. 17th; two north over Westleton Heath, Nov. 6th and Landguard's first record of the species, Oct. 12th. There were no first winter reports away from breeding sites. During the late autumn birds were found at 12 coastal non-breeding sites, with maxima of 22, Sudbourne, Nov. 13th; ten, Flatford, Oct. 16th and nine, Ramsholt, Dec. 11th. For the third successive year there were no reports from West Suffolk. LONG-TAILED TIT Aegithalos caudatus Numerous sightings widespread throughout the County. Several flocks were reported, the largest of which were 50, Minsmere, Sept. 17th; 47, Sweffling, Dec. 11th and 24, King's Forest, December. Thirty pairs were located at Minsmere (15 in 1987), but a decrease was reported from Shotley. Landguard's sole record was of seven, trapped, Oct. 24th. One fed on peanuts in an Ipswich garden, Jan. 23rd. MARSH TIT Parus palustris Although reported from only 32 sites (45 in 1987), localised increases were noted. A general increase has been recorded in the Glemsford/Long Melford area over the last four to five years, 22 pairs bred at Minsmere (17 in 1987) and the species was described as an abundant breeder on the Blackheath Estate, Snape. The species' site fidelity was demonstrated by one ringed as a nestling at Gt. Glemham in 1983, and retrapped there this year on Feb. 5th. A mixed tit flock at Knettishall Heath, Aug. 29th contained at least 200 birds. Blue, Great and Coal Tits comprised the majority but there were at least five Marsh Tits. 107
WILLOW TIT Parus montanus Reported from 18 sites (20 in 1987). Localised decreases were noted in the Glemsford Long Melford area where the species is now rarer than the Marsh Tit having previously been commoner. There were no breeding reports from Minsmere where two pairs brec in 1987. Birds were located in the breeding season at Thorpeness, Hacheston, Coddenham Bramford, Lackford, West Stow, Brandon and Haverhill (three pairs). A juvenile trapped and ringed at Landguard, June 26th, is the third site record. COAL TIT Parus ater
D I "C -C
o ir A most remarkable event was the discovery of adults feeding young in a Rabbit burrow, Upper Hollesley Common, Mar. 31st (NM); the breeding site is not as remarkable as the very early date â€” eggs are not normally laid until late April. A flock totalling 40 birds was at Minsmere, Jan. 13th. Singles were at Landguard, Mar. 21st, May 27th and Oct. 28th. BLUE TIT Parus caeruleus Flocks of up to 60 were located at Minsmere, Jan. 30th and Dunwich Heath, Mar. 3rd. The CBC survey area at Coddenham contained 13 pairs (15 in 1987) and a report from Benhall was of a marked reduction in nestbox occupation. Following on from the previous species, a case of unusually early breeding occurred at Oulton Broad where a pair was feeding recently fledged juveniles, Apr. 19th. An aberrant individual at Felixstowe, during spring and summer, had its mantle, head and throat coloured very pale green with no darker markings and the underparts much paler than normal. There were indications of a passage at Landguard, Mar. 9th to 11th, Mar. 22nd and Oct. 10th. 108
GREAT TIT Parus major The unusually mild weather in January and February prompted a pair to commence nestbuilding at Haverhill as early as Feb. 21st. As with Blue Tit, a marked reduction in nestbox occupation was reported from Benhall; the Coddenham CBC area held nine pairs (nine in 1987). A pair of Robins that built in a nestbox at Ixworth was forced to abandon the site because of persistent harassment from a pair of Great Tits that subsequently occupied the box and reared a brood. Spring passage was most evident at Landguard during March, when 60 birds were ringed, peaking at 20 on 22nd. NUTHATCH Sitta europaea No decrease was recorded following the great storm of October, 1987, with reports from 55-60 sites (55 in 1987). Seven pairs bred at Minsmere (four in 1987). A pair successfully reared five juveniles in a nestbox provided for tits at Brantham. One was watched foraging on the roof and gargoyles of Stutton Church, Feb. 21st. TREECREEPER Certhia familiaris This unobtrusive species was another to benefit from the mild first winter; there were reports from 55 sites (45 in 1987) and the Minsmere breeding population increased from 18 to 27 pairs. Additional breeding reports included six pairs, Haverhill and four pairs, Chelsworth Hall. A 'migrant' at Landguard, Oct. 18th and 19th is only the second record for the site. GOLDEN ORIOLE Oriolus oriolus The principal breeding site, which has been occupied during every summer since 1967, is being steadily razed; this year only three singing males were located (six in 1987) and only one pair bred successfully. While this main locality is being destroyed, it is encouraging to report the presence of up to three pairs at an apparently quite unconnected second area, and a singing male in early July at a third site. The only passage birds were at Minsmere, June 14th and Sudbourne, Aug. 13th. It is deeply regretted that the breeding birds at the main site suffered unnecessary disturbance caused by irresponsible birdwatchers deliberately getting far too close to the nest. We remind observers that this species afforded protection under Schedule One of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. RED-BACKED SHRIKE Lanius collurio Unattached males were present at one site, May 29th to June 30th and at a second site June 3rd; despite much searching there was no sign of a female at either locality. The Norfolk breeding birds based just across the Little Ouse from Santon Downham occasionally ventured into Suffolk. During a fairly late autumn passage, five immatures were located on the coast, mainly in mid-September: Lowestoft: Sept. 13th. Benacre/Kessingland: Sept. 10th to 18th. Minsmere: Oct. 1st to 17th. Landguard: Sept. 9th to 13th. Trimley St. Mary: Fagbury, Sept. 25th. 1985 Lowestoft: female Aug. 26th. The Minsmere bird is the County's latest since 1981. 109
GREAT GREY SHRIKE Lanius excubitor After only four records in 1987, there was an encouraging upturn in the occurrences of this species, especially in the autumn. None were reported during January and February, but two were found simultaneously at opposite sides of the County in early March. In c o n j u n c t i o n with the fall of m o r e c o m m o n p a s s e r i n e s (see R o b i n and G o l d c r e s t ) there w a s a n o t a b l e i n f l u x in O c t o b e r . N o n e of t h e s e r e m a i n e d t o o v e r w i n t e r a n d it w a s n ' t until m i d - N o v e m b e r that w i n t e r i n g b i r d s a r r i v e d .
Herringfleet: Oct. 20th. Pakefield: Oct. 19th. Benacre: Oct. 24th. Southwold: Oct. 9th.
Westleton: Mar. 6th to Apr. 10th. Tunstall: Dec. 31st. Stradishall: Oct. 17th.
Cavenham: Nov. 12th and 13th. Brandon: Mar. 6th to Apr. 11th, two Apr. 10th, Nov. 13th to 1989. Most of the records refer to single day occurrences which may relate to one or two roving individuals. The Brandon birds however, were long-stayers and entertained hundreds of observers during both periods. JAY Garrulus glandarius Indications of a decrease in some areas; only one seen during the year in the Glemsford/ Long Melford study area where breeding ceased five years ago. Noted at only two sites in the Haverhill area during May and at Brent Eleigh described as being "not very common". The largest gatherings were 24 Minsmere, Jan. 8th and 13 Lackford, Sept. 17th. One at Landguard, Apr. 27th is the first site record since May 1985. MAGPIE Pica pica Still dramatically increasing, although stabilisation of population reported from Glemsford/ Long Melford. Maximum monthly totals during the first three months of the year at Minsmere were 43, 40 and 23 respectively; elsewhere, there were 28, Polstead, Feb. 20th; 26, Cavenham, Dec. 18th and up to 11 feeding on a dead Hare, Haverhill, in January. A nest had been built by the end of February at Lackford Wildfowl Reserve; three pairs subsequently nested at the site and were thought to have been responsible for a marked reduction in the success rate of small passerines on the reserve. JACKDAW Corvus monedula Pre-roost gatherings included 200 at Stoke-by-Nayland, Feb. 14th, and 390 at Sweffling, Dec. 11th. Emigration was recorded in March when 18 flew north at great height over Minsmere, 6th, and 100, north over Lowestoft, 20th. ROOK Corvus frugilegus There was a good response to the appeal in Suffolk Birds 1988 following the October 1987 hurricane; the results are probably best summarised by an observer who commented "small rookeries seen all over the place this year". Overall, 130 rookeries were reported of which at least 60 contained 12 nests or less. The largest reported rookery contained 138 nests beside the River Gipping at Badley; 40 pairs bred within the confines of High Point Prison, Stradishall and three nests were, unfortunately, abandoned after being constructed on floodlighting towers at Felixstowe Docks (see Piotrowski, 1988). 110
A pre-roost gathering at Haverhill, Jan. 20th, contained 4,000 birds and a roost movement north over Sweffling, Dec. 11th totalled 1,100. The only reported coastal autumn movements were at Landguard where 25 were counted either coming in off the sea or coasting south during the period Oct. 23rd to Nov. 30th. The roost of Rooks and Jackdaws at Culpho near Grundisburgh was estimated to contain 5,000 birds in January and February. CARRION CROW Corvus corone Wherstead Strand continues to dominate roost reports with a peak this year of 310, Nov. 20th; equally interesting is an account of 20 roosting with Cormorants at Suffolk Water Park, Bramford, Feb. 17th and Mar. 2nd. Autumn counts of birds coming in off the sea were 14, Landguard, Oct. 31st and two, Covehithe, Oct. 30th. Observations of Hooded Crow C. c. cornix were mostly coastal but during the first winter period singles were in the Breckland localities of Eriswell, Jan. 31st, and Cavenham, Mar. 2nd; coastal sightings at the same time were at Benacre, Feb. 21st; Boyton, Feb. 20th and Sutton Heath, Jan. 16th to 18th and Mar. 3rd. One at Minsmere, Apr. 20th was probably a passage migrant. The first two autumn records were from Lowestoft where one was seen on a school playground, Oct. 3rd, and another came in off the sea, Oct. 27th. During November reports were from Pakefield, 19th; Benacre 3rd and 13th; Westleton, 5th, and Sudbourne, 30th. Finally in December there were sightings at Minsmere, 12th, and Sudbourne, 11th. RAVEN Corvus corax Suffolk's third record this century of this formerly prolific breeding species and the first since 1980. Spending much of its time hidden in Scottshall Coverts, and appearing infrequently to spar with local Carrion Crows, resulted in few observers obtaining convincing views. Minsmere: May 15th to 20th (JMC, GCT et al). STARLING Sturnus vulgaris During the exceptional mild weather in January birds were seen collecting nesting material at two sites in Felixstowe. An equally unexpected sight was of 80 flying straight out to sea, Landguard, Jan. 31st. Autumn movements at Landguard peaked on Oct. 30th when 3,360 came in from the sea; at Gunton, "vast numbers" moved inland over the coastline, Nov. 18th. Pre-roost gatherings at Haverhill were estimated at 20,000, Jan. 8th, and 15,000, Feb. 14th; 12,000 were roosting at Minsmere, Oct. 23rd and the Easton Broad roost increased from 300, July 9th to 10,000, July 30th. Birds observed in Felixstowe gardens included a runt, Feb. 26th, and a leucistic individual, Dec. 8th. HOUSE SPARROW Passer domesticus A pair was found nesting at Oulton Broad in late January. Regular counts at Felixstowe indicated a much higher autumn population than usual. Albinos were at Chelmondiston, Oct. 21st to Nov. 4th and Long Melford, December. TREE SPARROW Passer montanus As in 1987, the largest flock was at Long Melford where up to 350 were present during January and February; elsewhere there were 100, Gunton, early March; 100, Sudbourne, Jan. 14th; 100, Trimley St. Mary, December; 80, Lawshall, Apr. 18th and 70, Bramford, Feb. 28th. Ill
Very few specific breeding reports were received, but 14 pairs were located at Haverhill (14 in 1987) and two pairs bred in nestboxes at Earl Stonham. At Landguard eight spring migrants were noted from Apr. 18th to May 15th and a very light autumn passage saw only 78 recorded between Sept. 14th and Nov. 17th peaking at 21 on the latter date. RED-EYED VIREO Víreo olivaceus Lowestoft: Warrenhouse Wood, North Denes, Sept. 29th (DNB et al).
The first and totally unexpected Suffolk record of this Nearctic species. There were three other Red-eyed Vireos in Britain (and two in Ireland) at the same time, but they were all in more typical localities in the south-west, whereas this bird had somehow found the most easterly woodland in Britain. This exciting discovery constitutes the first record of an American passerine in Suffolk since 1969 when a White-throated Sparrow was at Lowestoft; this is excepting the infamous Lark Sparrow at Landguard, in June/July 1981, which was somewhat unreasonably placed on Category D (escapees) of the British list by the British Ornithologists' Union — only they know the reason why! CHAFFINCH Fringilla coelebs Winter flocks were 115 at Minsmere, February; 50 at Foxhall, January, and 70 at Butley, December. Pre-emigration gatherings were 60 at Minsmere, March, and 50 at Sutton Heath, April. Song was noted by Feb. 17th at Bury St Edmunds. At Minsmere and Valley Farm, Coddenham 191 (145 in 1987) and 36 (32 in 1987) territories were held respectively. Partial albino birds, with all white heads, were noted at Wherstead and Brandon (the latter apparently holding territory) and, with white wings, at Freston BRAMBLING Fringilla montifringilla During the period January to March the species was widespread in small numbers throughout the County. The largest flock was 80 at Santon Downham, on the Suffolk side of the County border, Mar. 5th. There was a moderate spring passage with reports from 18 sites. The last of the spring were ten at Icklingham, Apr. 24th. Autumn passage commenced early with a single at Earl Soham, Sept. 9th whereas the first coastal bird arrived, at Landguard, Sept. 25th. There then followed a tremendous influx with three figure totals reported from both Lowestoft and Landguard, during October's "fall" period. Many of the birds arrived exhausted and one, which spent several days around the busy container terminal at Felixstowe Docks, became very tame and eventually was picked up by hand. Largest October counts were: Lowestoft: Sparrow's Nest, 12 — 1st, 100 — 13th, 50 — 16th. Benacre: Beach Farm, 50 — 16th, 70 (in two flocks) — 18th. Minsmere: 20 - 17th, 16 — 23rd. Landguard: 100 - 16th, 60 — 17th, 20 - 18th. In November autumn passage inevitably fizzled out and few, if any, of October's arrivals remained to overwinter. The species was noted at only three sites in December with the largest gathering being 14 at Sudbourne on Christmas Day. GREENFINCH Carduelis chloris Flocks of several hundred were noted at various localities in both winter periods, the largest being 1,000 at Herringswell, Dec. 11th. The breeding population remained relatively stable with no change in the Glemsford/Long Melford area and a slight reduction, from five to three pairs, at Valley Farm, Coddenham. A total of 14 breeding pairs was located at Minsmere and at Lowestoft an adult was still feeding two juveniles, Oct. 2nd. 112
There was a marked autumn passage at Minsmere where peak flock counts were 170 Oct. 15th and 260 Nov. 4th. Landguard logged flocks that exceeded 300 on most days during October and 500 were present on 16th. GOLDFINCH Carduelis carduelis Reported as being very scarce during January to March with only four double-figure flocks reported: 40 Lackford, Jan. 2nd; 20 Minsmere, Jan. 28th; 30 Belstead, Feb. 7th and 40 Beach Farm, Benacre, Feb. 14th. Charms returning from warmer climes became apparent from early April and a daily passage, at Landguard, from Apr. 12th, peaked at 100, May 1st. At Minsmere 200 flew north, May 14th. There was a moderate return passage with at least 1,402 moving south, at Landguard, during October and 105 in November. Large concentrations were noted at Havergate, 161 Oct. 8th; Felixstowe Ferry, 300 Oct. 17th and Fabury, 80 Oct. 17th. Late winter flocks were 80 Benacre, Nov. 19th and 50 Levington, Dec. 19th. SISKIN Carduelis spinus Excepting a flock of 150 at West Stow in January, the species was scarce during the period January to April with only small numbers noted throughout the County. Spring passage was extremely poor with few reports but a late bird was noted at Landguard, May 23rd. Breeding was reported at only two sites although, contrary to the comment in Suffolk Birds 1988, reliable sources state that the breeding population in the Breckland Forestry Commission woodlands had remained stable during the last two years. There was a good autumn passage from September and at Minsmere there was visible migration of northward coasting birds with 89 Sept. 7th, 166 Sept. 16th and 60 Oct. 13th. At Landguard most birds were coasting south with a maximum of 107 Sept. 25th. In November, maxima at Minsmere were 200 — 5th and 90 — 20th. Elsewhere, the largest flocks were at Martlesham Creek, 30 — 5th; Great Bealings, 50 — 18th; Newbourne, 15 — 8th and Lackford, 27 — 5th. December saw a reduction in numbers at coastal localities with 80 at Minsmere; 30 at Staverton and 20 at Butley Mills being the largest flocks. In West Suffolk feeding flocks frequented Thorington Street (12) and Brent Eleigh (25), whilst the Lackford flock increased in number to 60. LINNET Carduelis cannabina The species was scarce during the first winter period with double-figure flocks, during January/February, reported from only Minsmere, 40-50, Havergate, 30-40, North Warren. 60, and Whitton, Ipswich, 20. Spring passage flocks were 200 Lowestoft, Apr. 11th; 68 Minsmere, Apr. 17th; 120 Sizewell, Apr. 3rd and 100 Kirton, Apr. 7th. At Landguard 100 were present Mar. 27th and 71 coasted south, Apr. 21st. Autumn flocks included 290 Bawdsey, Sept. 27th and 200 Levington, Sept. 26th, whilst Landguard logged 275 south, Sept. 25th and 65 south, Nov. 13th. Second winter flocks were few and far between but, in December, a large flock of some 120 frequented a weedy field at Felixstowe Ferry and 70 were at Levington Marina. TWITE Carduelis flavirostris Recorded from only eight sites during the first winter period with the major flocks as follows: Walberswick: 40 Jan. 31st. Boy ton: 75 February. Levington: 70 January, 40 February. 113
There was no obvious spring passage but in the autumn 88 flew south, at Landguard. during the period Oct. 12th to 24th and 60 were on the beach at Minsmere, Oct. 22nd. In the second winter period flocks were recorded from 13 coastal or estuarine sites with maxima of 60 at Walberswick, Dec. 29th and 100 at Levington, Nov. 8th. REDPOLL CarduelĂŹs flammea Widespread during the first winter period with gatherings of 50 or more at Minsmere. 80 Jan. 20th; Belstead 50 Feb. 7th; West Stow Country Park, 300 January, and Lackford. 55 March. Breeding behaviour was noted at 40 sites (30 in 1987) and in the Haverhill area 16 pairs were located in June (18 in 1987 and six in 1986). Autumn passage was very poor with Landguard logging only 58, flying south, during the whole of October. Flocks during the second winter period were generally low. CROSSBILL Loxia curvirostra There was no evidence of any large scale irruptions although mid-summer flocks at Minsmere were 24 June 21st and 14 July 26th and at Tunstall, 20 July 8th. Recorded from 15 sites, during the breeding season, and reports from the Breck indicate that there were "good numbers in the plantations this year". A single over Landguard, May 23rd, and two males and three females at a puddle on an industrial estate near Ipswich, in December, were unusual records. BULLFINCH Pyrrhula pyrrhula Reported from 54 sites, the vast majority of which were in the south-west of the County. Most observers considered there to be a significant increase in breeding numbers compared with the previous three years. An aberrant individual accompanied a female at Tunstall â€” it was pale grey all over except for a dark crown. HAWFINCH Coccothraustes coccothraustes Reported from 12 coastal and eight inland sites. A flock of ten, at a site to the west of Ipswich, was the largest of the first winter period. During the breeding season at least 17 pairs were found at 13 sites. Probable immigrants were recorded as follows: L a n d g u a r d : trapped, Apr. 4th (JRA et al), trapped, Oct. 16th (PRG et al). Southwold: St Edmund's Churchyard, tame female, Oct. 28th. Benacre: in from sea, Nov. l l t h .
LAPLAND BUNTING Calcarius lapponicus Another good year with increased records and higher wintering numbers. The influx of autumn 1987 resulted in wintering at eight coastal sites ranging from Lowestoft to Falkenham. Maximum was up to 25 at Sudbourne from January to Mar. 20th. Late autumn and second winter period records were from four coastal sites with maximum of 13 at Sudbourne, Dec. 24th. At Landguard singles were noted in October and November but six flew over the fort and up the River Orwell, Oct. 17th.
SNOW BUNTING Plectrophenax nivalis Flocks seen in the first winter period were 65 at Benacre, January to March, 30 at Lowestoft, January to March, and 240 at Sudbourne in January. 114
A single at N e s s P o i n t , L o w e s t o f t , S e p t . 16th, h e r a l d e d the arrival of n u m e r o u s f l o c k s at n o less t h a n 2 0 coastal localities. P e a k c o u n t s at t h e p r i n c i p a l sites w e r e : Lowestoft: 60 Nov. 27th and Dec. 31st. Kessingland: 40 November. Benacre/Covehithe: 100 Dec. 18th. Minsmere: 30 Nov. 6th. Aldeburgh: Slaughden Quay, 326 Dec. 11th (consisting of four flocks of 200, 100, 18 and five plus three in from the sea). Sudbourne: 21 Nov. 13th increased steadily to 140 Nov. 30th and peaking at 250 Dec. 27th. Orfordness: 70 Dec. 11th. Falkenham: 30 Nov. 26th and 27th.
The Slaughden birds almost certainly included those seen regularly on the stubbles across the River Aide at Sudbourne but nevertheless this is Suffolk's largest count of modern times.
YELLOWHAMMER Emberiza citrinella Breeding surveys revealed 71 pairs at Minsmere, 25 pairs at Haverhill and 22 pairs at Valley Farm, Coddenham. Late breeding was reported from Felixstowe Ferry, Sept. 17th, where a male was watched feeding a large juvenile. Winter flocks were 70 Minsmere, January/February; 100 Sudbourne, January; 50 Haverhill, January; and 150 Long Melford, January to March.
ORTOLAN BUNTING Emberiza hortulana This regular but scarce migrant occurred in the County for the sixth successive year. Felixstowe: Landguard, male. May 13th to 15th (MM, TPK et al).
REED BUNTING Emberiza schoeniclus Surveys revealed 43 pairs at Haverhill and 15 pairs at Glemsford/Long Melford. Highest winter flock counts were 40 at Minsmere in January and 100 at Fagbury in December.
CORN BUNTING Miliaria calandra Reported from 36 sites in the County during the year (30 in 1987) and from 21 localities in the breeding season. The breeding range is becoming more and more restricted with the Aide Estuary, Stour Valley and Shotley peninsula being the species' strongholds. Isolated pairs were reported during the summer at Carlton Colville, Gisleham, Freckenham, Great Bradley and Beck Row, Mildenhall. Winter flocks were 100 at Sudbourne in January and 100 at Holbrook in February.
APPENDIX I - CATERGORY D SPECIES Wood Duck Aix sponsa Oulton B r o a d : Nicholas Everitt's Park, female, Jan. 12th. 115
APPENDIX II -
Once again our natural avifauna was enhanced by an array of species which had recently escaped from aviaries or wildfowl collections. Each year this list gets progressively longer indicating, perhaps, that the keepers of such species are either becoming increasingly careless or have some desire to populate the County with exotics. African Spoonbill Platalea alba Martlesham: immature on heath, Sept. 12th.
Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis Benacre: July 18th and 26th (possibly the Minsmere bird). Minsmere: Mar. 22nd and 23rd and July 10th to 24th. Havergate Island: July 13th.
Paradise Shelduck Tadorna variegata Wrentham: female, Apr. 3rd.
Chiloe Wigeon Anas sibilatrix Minsmere: male, May 22nd to June 4th. Needham Market: Station Lake, male, Dec. 6th. Ixworth Thorpe: on ponds, male, Apr. 18th. Ixworth: Aug. 5th.
Puna Silver Teal Anas versicolor puna Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, Mar. 25th to May 16th. Ixworth: on River Blackbourne, April.
Bahama Pintail Anas bahamensis Southwold: female. May 15th. Walberswick: female, Apr. 30th to May 8th (same as Southwold bird). Ixworth: on River Blaxbourne, two, April.
Saker: Falco cherrug. Minsmere: May 20th (SP).
Reeve's Pheasant Syrmaticus reevesii Cavenham: male, throughout year.
Diamond Dove Geopelia cuneata Felixstowe: June 27th (caught by cat and cared for by Blue Cross Centre).
Parakeet sp. Psittacula sp. Gunton: May 8th. Lowestoft: Apr. 2nd (possibly Alexandrine). Felixstowe: Landguard, June 18th. Lackford: August.
Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus Sproughton: Apr. 23rd.
Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus Foxhall: July 2nd to Oct. 22nd. Ipswich: Bulstrode Road, December. Vlton Water: Mar. 2nd.
Red-billed Blue Magpie Cissa erythrorhycha Lakenheath: May.
Peach-faced Lovebird Agapornis roseicollis Haverhill: May 2nd and 3rd.
House Finch (Mexican Finch) Carpodacus mexicanus Gazeley: March.
Black-eared Waxbill Estrilda troglodytes Minsmere: Sluice bushes, Aug. 25th and 26th, Oct. 2nd. Felixstowe: Landguard, two, Sept. 17th.
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus Landguard: maie, June lst to l l t h and July 17th.
Pin-tailed Weaver Vidua macroura Felixstowe: Landguard, female or immature, July 7th to 9th.
In addition there were several reports of Black Swan Cygnus atratus, Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus, Chinese Goose Anser cygnoides, Emperor Goose Anser canagicus and Peafowl Pavo sp. Other examples of exotic wildfowl at Ixworth were Maned Goose Chenonetts jubata, Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera, Chilean Teal Anas flavirostris and Hooded Merganser Mergus cucullatus.
APPENDIX III - 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. 1988 Records: Black-throated Diver: Lowestoft, Nov. 20th; Benacre, Dec. 5th; Covehithe, Oct. 29th; Southwold, Dec. 14th; Hollesley, Feb. 28th; Waldringfield, Nov. 26th. Red-necked Grebe: Walberswick, Dec. 6th; Thorington Street, Nov. 9th to 22nd. Slavonian Grebe: Benacre, Feb. 27th. Black-necked Grebe: Bawdsey, Oct. 4th; Alton Water, Oct. 16th. Sooty Shearwater: Sizewell, Aug. 24th. Storm Petrel: Covehithe, Oct. 29th. Pink-footed Goose: Reydon, Feb. 6th. Ferruginous Duck: Woolverstone/ Freston, Jan. 31st. Honey Buzzard: Lakenheath, Apr. 17th; Rendlesham, May 15th. Black Kite: Otley, Apr. 17th. Montagu's Harrier: Hinton, first-summer male, Aug. 18th; Saxmundham, male, July 16th; Hollesley, male, June Ist; Sutton, female, May 8th. Goshawk: Kessingland, Dec. 17th; Walberswick, June 4th; Tunstall, Mar. 23rd. Rough-legged Buzzard: Minsmere, Jan. 24th; Falkenham, Apr. Ist. Common Buzzard: Alton Water, Apr. Ist. Red-footed Falcon: Minsmere, male. May
14th; Landguard, male, Sept. 9th. Peregrine: Dunwich, Oct. 13th. Kentish Plover: Havergate, May 2nd, Aug. 18th and 28th; Felixstowe, Apr. 25th. Temminck's Stint: Minsmere, Apr. 10th. Grey Phalarope: Landguard, Sept. 1st. Pomarine Skua: Covehithe, Sept. 15th; Minsmere, Nov. 3rd
Mediterranean Gull: Haverhill, Mar. 2nd to 12th. Sabine's Gull: Corton, Oct. 12th. Kittiwake: Haverhill, 25 Feb. 29th, two Mar. 2nd. Gull-billed Tern: Covehithe, three, July 5th. Hoopoe: Bawdsey, Sept. 9th. Alpine Swift: Trimley St. Martin, May 8th. Wryneck: Long Melford, Oct.
29th. Calandra Lark: Southwold, two, Dec. 17th. Lesser Short-toed Lark: Landguard, Mar. 16th Woodlark: Landguard, Oct. 15th; Haverhill, three Mar. 22nd, Mar. 26th, Apr. 3rd. Red-rumpÂŤ'
Swallow: Dunwich Heath, Apr. 24th. Richard's Pipit: Long Melford, Apr. 8th. Tawny Pipit: Wickham Market, one/two Apr. 30th. Black-eared Wheatear: Landguard, female, Aug. 9th Fieldfare: East Bergholt, five Aug. 29th. Grasshopper Warbler: Landguard, Oct. 10th. Serin: Haverhill, Apr. 9th; Lowestoft, Nov. 15th. Lapland Bunting: Bawdsey, three Oct. 24th.
1987 Records: Cory's Shearwater: Southwold, Oct. 3rd. Greater Yellowiegs: Minsmere, Aug. 16th. Short-toed Lark: Easton Bavents, Nov. 7th. Citrine Wagtail: Cavenham, Sept. 17th. Great Reed Warbler: Minsmere, June 27th.
1986 Record: Bonaparte's Gull: Reydon, May 16th and 17th. 1983 Record: Gull-billed Tern: Minsmere, Sept. 24th.
1982 Record: Arctic Redpoll: Walberswick, Feb. 20th. 118
References: A x e l l , H . E . a n d P e a r s o n , D . J . 1 9 6 6 . T h e g r e a t fall o f m i g r a n t s — a s p e c i a l r e p o r t . Trans. Nat. Soc. 1 3 : 2 5 0 - 2 6 6 . B r o w n , L . H . , U r b a n , E . K . & N e w m a n , K . 1 9 8 2 . The birds of Africa. V o l 1. L o n d o n . B u t t e r f i e l d , D . B , 1 9 8 8 . P a d d y f i e l d W a r b l e r in S u f f o l k . Birding World 1 : 2 0 3 - 2 0 5 . C r a m p , S. ( E d s ) 1 9 8 0 . The birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol. 2. Oxford. D a w s o n , I . a n d A l l s o p p , K . 1 9 8 9 . J u n e r e p o r t s . Brit. Birds 8 1 : 5 2 0 - 5 2 5 . H a t t e r t , E . 1 9 1 0 . Die Vgel der palarktischen Fauna 1. B e r l i n .
L a n g s l o w , D . R . 1979. M o v e m e n t s of B l a c k c a p s ringed in Britain a n d I r e l a n d . Bird Study 2 6 : 2 3 9 - 2 5 3 . P a y n , W . H . 1 9 6 2 . The Birds of Suffolk. London. P i o t r o w s k i , S. H . 1 9 8 0 . S u f f o l k R i n g e d P l o v e r s u r v e y 1 9 7 9 . Suffolk 43:1-9.
P i o t r o w s k i , S . H . 1988. S u f f o l k R o o k e r i e s — 1988. Suffolk Ornithologists ' Group Bulletin. 7 9 : 14-16. S h a r r o c k , J. T . R . 1 9 7 6 . The atlas of breeding birds in Britain and Ireland. Berkhamsted. T h o m , V . M . 1 9 8 6 . Birds in Scotland. Carlton.
EARLIEST AND LATEST DATES OF 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 Warblert) Sedge Warbler Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler** Wood Warbler Willow Warbler Spotted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Red-backed Shrike Notes:
ARRIVALS Date Locality Apr. 1st Lakenheath/Minsmere Apr. 27th Minsmere Mar. 21st Breckland/Haverhill Mar. 27th Lackford Mar. 27th Landguard Apr. 17th Covehithe Mar. 20th Minsmere/Havergate Apr. 7th Havergate Apr. 30th Alton Water Apr. 15th Landguard Apr. 17th Minsmere Apr. 16th Oulton Broad Apr. 14th Redlingfield May 14th Minsmere Apr. 16th Lackford May 2nd Easton Bavents Mar. 15th Haverhill Mar. 26th Henham/Benacre Apr. 9th Alton Water Apr. 3rd Elveden/Sizewell Apr. 1st Alton Water Apr. 12th Glemsford Apr. 14th Minsmere Apr. 17th Benacre/Landguard Mar. 15th Haverhill Mar. 30th Landguard Apr. 3rd Minsmere Apr. 6th Minsmere Apr. 17th Haverhill Apr. 17th Landguard/Gedgrave Apr. 12th Kedington Apr. 7th Ufford Apr. 24th Landguard/Haverhill Mar. 20th Woodbridge May 4th Brent Eleigh Apr. 21st Haverhill May 29th Coast
* See details of overwintering bird. § Earliest for Suffolk. ** Latest for Suffolk. 119
DEPARTURES Date Locality Sept. 5th Minsmere Oct. 2nd Westleton Oct. 7th Breckland Sept. 25th Alton Water Oct. 7th Landguard Sept. 24th Sizewell Oct. 18th Landguard Oct. 25th Felixstowe Oct. 22nd Sizewell Sept. 24th Sizewell Sept. 29th Lackford Oct. 17th Fagbury Sept. 18th Minsmere Sept. 20th Sutton Nov. 13th Lowestoft Oct. 20th Landguard Oct. 27th Benacre Nov. 19th Minsmere/Sudbourne Nov. 19th Benacre/Southwold Oct. 12th Landguard Nov. 12th Southwold Sept. 4th Bawdsey Oct. 30th Benacre Nov. 13th Iken Nov. 12th Minsmere Nov. 12th North Warren Sept. 6th Landguard Oct. 2nd Minsmere Oct. 16th Iken Oct. 2nd Southwold Nov. 12 th Lowestoft Nov. 13th Lowestoft Sept. 5th Landguard Oct. 30th Lowestoft Oct. 20th Minsmere Oct. 18th Lowestoft Oct. 17th Minsmere
List of Contributors I have endeavoured to acknowledge all contributors to Suffolk Birds and to the best of my knowledge this list is complete. If by some mischance I have failed to include your contribution please accept my sincere apologies â€” Eds. S. Abbott, T. Abrihart, G. Anderson, J. Arnold, J. R. Askins, M. Ausden. J. W. S. Bailey, D. B. Baker, N. P. Baker, D. N. Bakewell, J. Bancroft, N. J. Banham, S. Banks, W. A. Baston, J. Bedford, H. R. Beecroft, Mrs M. J. Beecroft, R. C. Beecroft, P. M. Beeson, Rev. G. Bell, K. Bennett, Mr Bentley, W. H. S. Betney, R. Biddle, A. Bimpson, A. Binder, R. Bircham, H. Birt, S. Bishop, L. T. Bloomfield, Blue Cross (Felixstowe), A. Botwright (ABo), C. G. R. Bowden, G. S. Bowen, G. Boyle, D. Bradshaw, W. J. Brame. British Trust for Ornithology, A. Britton, B. J. Brown, J. A. Brydson, W. Bryon, A. L. Bull, S. J. Burnell, H. M. Butcher, D. P. Butterfield, B. A. Buttle, C. A. Buttle. K. B. Carlisle, Mrs S. Carter, Catchpole, Cockram, Peters Ringing Group, J. M. Cawston, M. Cavanagh (MCa), Miss P. Chase, K. J. Chittleborough, R. E. Clarke, S. N. J. Clarke, C. A. Cornish, W. R. Cornish, Miss L. J. Coull, B. Crantham, D. Crawshaw, M. D. Crewe, D. Croxson, C. G. D. Curtis. Mrs J. A. Davies, K. Davis, S. Denny (SDe), J. Digby, H. W. Dockerill, A. Dodd, O. G. Douglas, J. W. Drake. A. P. Driver, S. Dumican. A. C. Easton, D. R. Eaton, M. J. Edwards, S. Edwards, G. L. Ellis, F. E. Elliston, Mrs B. E. Elliston, L. G. R. Evans, S. Evans. M. R. Faint, R. Fairhead, D. Flatman, J. Flecknoe, J. Frost (J.Fr). C. Garnham, Mrs J. D. Garrod, K. W. Garrod, J. Garstang, N. Gibbons, D. J. Gibbs, J. R. Gibbs, P. Gill, J. A. Glazebrook, K. W. Goldsmith, A. Goodey, P. R. Gowen, A. S. Gower, S. A. Graham, J. H. Grant, D. Green, Miss L. Green, N. C. Green, A. M. Gregory, C. Gregory, M. A. Hall, H. A. N. Hallan. P. J. Hamling, B. Harrington, A. Harris, B. Hart, M. Hartshorn, N. Harvey, P. A. Harvey, J. B. Higgott, S. Hipperson, R. Hoblyn, P. Horsenail, Ipswich Museum. C. J. Jakes, M. James, H. G. Jeffery, G. J. Jobson, D. P. Johnson, G. Jones, M. Jones. E. F. Keeble, M. C. Keer, Mrs L. F. Kellow, M. Kelvin, A. Kennedy, T. P. Kerridge, J. Kirk, C. A. E. Kirtland, D. B. Knightley, G. Knight, J. Knights. Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, Landguard Bird Observatory, A. J. Last, W. A. Last, J. Lawley, B. Lawson, P. Lawson, W. Legge, J. Levene (JLe), D. Liley, S. Ling, C. J. Lowe, J. A. Lowe. Lowestoft Field Club. R. N. Macklin, Miss Z. Maclaughlin, D. F. Madin, S. J. Marginson, D. C. Marsh, M. Marsh, N. Marsh, R. A. Marsh, R. V. A. Marshall, Dr A. Martin, Rev. F. W. Martin, J. R. Martin, P. L. Martin, N. J. Mason, Dr P. McAnulty, H. McButcher, B. McCarthy, Miss M. Mckerness, H. Mendel, S. Mesquita, J. Minihane (JMi), D. E. Moore, D. R. Moore, J. L. Moore, M. R. Morley, P. Mostyn, C. A. Muncaster, P. W. Murphy. A. R. Nairn, P. Napthine, C. R. Naunton, D. Newman, P. H. Newport, D. R. Newton, P. Neport (PNe), P. Newton, P. North. Mrs A. O'Brien, M. O'Brien, J. Oxford. M. Packard, A. R. J. Paine, Mrs E. Parker, E. Parsons, J. Partridge, R. M. Patient, E. W. Patrick, K. Patrick, W. H. Payn, J. Pearce-Higgins, B. A. Pearson, I. Peters, S. Piotrowski, R. Plowman, A. J. Potter, L. A. Potter, A. J. Prater (AJPra), A. J. Price. J. L. Raincock, B. Ranner, P. J. Ransome, N. W. Raynent, J. Read, A. Risborough, Mrs M. Rivers, A. Rivett, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, I. Robinson, M. D. Robertson, J. Rochester, A. Rowlands, P. Rudge, C. P. S. Ruffles. P. Sawer, E. Seymour, Dr M. J. Simmonds, Dr N. J. Skinner, D. F. Smith, M. Smith (MSi), R. C. Smith, R. E. Smith, R. Smurthwaite, J. Sorensen, Mrs M. Sparrow, J. N. Stedman, P. Steggall, M. G. Stiff, His Hon. D. Stinson, R. Stones, W. Stone, A. Southwell, Suffolk Biological Records Centre, Suffolk Ornithologists' Group, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, R. Swindin. M. Thomas, Mrs R. Thomas, A. Thompson, J. Thompson, P. Thompson, Lt. Col. J. F. Todhunter, Lord Tollemache, L. Townsen, Mrs D. C. Tozer, R. B. Tozer, J. A. Turner, M. N. Turner. D. Underwood, Mrs Usherwood. 120
J. Vance, J. Vane, A. E. Vine, Mrs M. Vincent. J. C. Wakerley, R. Waiden, C. S. Waller, A. R. Walsh, D. F. Walsh, I. R. Walsh, H. W. Wallis, R. A. Walthew, R. M. Walton, R. B. Warren, Rev. R. G. Warren, R. J. Waters, G. Watley, E. H. Webb, L. Webb, A. Welch (AWe), A. Westcott, R. West, P. Whitham, P. Whittaker, M. Whittingham, P. J. Wilkinson, S. Williams, N. Willis, P. G. H. Wilson, R. Witters, K. A. Wood, J. Woolfries, J. H. Woolnough, M. Wright, M. T. Wright. S. Youell. J. Zantboer.
Rarities in Suffolk 1988 by Steve Piotrowski
It may not have been Suffolk's best year for extreme rarities but there were certainly enough vagrants around to keep us all busy. Seawatchers were rewarded with no less than three Cory's Shearwaters, two Leach's and a Storm Petrel (petrels of each species were also found moribund), seven Grey Phalaropes, six Long-tailed Skuas, eight Sabine's Gulls and nine Puffins. Cattle Egret, Night Heron and Purple Heron all visited Minsmere, the former being a first for the County and the latter was also seen at Walberswick. A pair of American Wigeon, also at Minsmere, brought a glimmer of light to an otherwise dull January. On the raptor front there were three Black Kites, two Honey Buzzards and a majestic White-tailed Eagle. A single Spotted Crake passed through Minsmere but, sadly, the only Corncrake record of the year involved a road casualty at Heveningham. It was Suffolk's best year of late for Cranes with a long-staying, wide-ranging individual in spring and five on autumn passage. It was not a good year for the wader buffs with only two Kentish Plovers, two Dotterel, single Temminck's Stint, five Pectoral Sandpipers, two Black-winged Stilts and a Rednecked Phalarope passing through. Minsmere almost held the monopoly on the rare terns with two Caspians making fleeting visits and a Roseate, in immaculate plumage, staying to delight its admirers. Suffolk's long-awaited second record of Whiskered Tern duly arrived in May and there were two White-winged Black Terns. The eight Hoopoes that arrived were frustratingly difficult to catch-up with but an extremely obliging Bee-eater, at Reydon Smear, was ample compensation. A Tawny Pipit was only the third County record for the spring but two Richard's Pipits were hardly a fair share of a large national autumn influx. We did receive a significant proportion of the Waxwing invasion however, with over 100 spread between 25 sites. Two typically dated Marsh Warblers were found singing in early summer but the title of "bird of the year" went to a Paddyfield Warbler, trapped at Landguard in June. A Dartford Warbler was noted in Suffolk for the second consecutive year and a Subalpine Warbler made it three years in a row. There were six Icterine Warblers, a single Barred Warbler and an exceptional 23 Yellow-browed Warblers, along with three Red-breasted Flycatchers. The most unexpected bird of the year was a Red-eyed Vireo which managed to find the most easterly wood in Britain, Warrenhouse Wood, Lowestoft, in which to spend a September afternoon.
Cattle Egret -
First for Suffolk
by Mark Whittingham Guy Anderson and I were watching the Minsmere Scrape from the West Hide, just after 19.30hrs, on August 9th when GA drew my attention to a Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis which was preening amongst a group of 100 roosting Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus. The bird was in summer plumage and basically all white except for light orange/buff feathers on the crown, ehest and mantle. The size was approximately one and a third times that of the nearby Black-headed Gulls although this was difficult to judge. The bird was noticeably upright in stance; the legs were approximately half the length of the body and appeared pinkish in colour. The neck was noticeably short and the bill relatively short and stout appearing blunt compared with what I remember of Little Egret Egretta garzetta (which was an adult in breeding plumage). We observed the bird for about two minutes before I left to summon A. Rowlands and G. Morgan from South Hide. On our return the bird had taken flight and we watched it leave The Scrape and disappear over Sizewell. In flight, it appeared broad winged, typical of an egret or héron. The wings were pure white above and below and the legs extended beyond the tail although the extent of this was not noted. The bulging neck was held in typical héron or egret fashion. The flight was quicker than that of Grey Héron Ardea cinerea with relatively shallow wing-beats. The bird was lost from sight at around 20.00hrs. Independent accounts were submitted by Adam Rowlands and Guy Anderson (Ed.).
Paddyfield Warbler -
First for Suffolk
by J. R. Askins I had been up since dawn at Landguard Bird Observatory on June 1 Ith catching very little. I returned to the kitchen at about 08.00hrs for a second breakfast and D. Butterfield left, joking that he was going to get a rarity. He returned within ftve minutes with a bird from the nearest net; it was an Acrocephalus warbler with a distinct supercilium — a Paddyfield Warbler A. agricola. DB ringed the bird and we took an 'in the hand' description, repeated about ten minutes later by M. Marsh and S. Piotrowski. In the hand the s m a l l e r bill, small b r o w n eye and short w i n g s w e r e immediately apparent. Description: Upperparts: Forehead warm olive brown with crown slightly darker, a 'blotchy' appearance given by darker feather centres. The lores were also warm olive brown, the ear coverts buff brown and the supercilium buffish white. The supercilium was broad, extending from the bill to 5mm behind the eye. The eye stripe was the same colour as the crown but the mantle, scapulars, back and upper tail-coverts were warmer rufous-brown. The rump was even more rufous in tone. Underparts: The chin and throat were white with the breast and flanks a warm pale buff tone. The belly and vent were off white with a slight creamy coloration, and the under tail-coverts, while paler than the flanks, had a rufous tinge. Wings: The primaries and primary coverts were dark brown thinly edged paler. The secondaries were a similar colour with a broad edge which was most marked on the tertials. The alula was dark brown, while the greater coverts were olive brown with rufous brown edges. The under wing coverts and axillaries were greyish white. The wings were moderately abraded. Tail: Pale brown with the abraded, pointed feathers having paler tips. Two newer feathers were darker brown, again with pale brown tips. Bare Parts: The upper mandible was almost black with pale pinkish cutting edge and a slightly paler tip. The lower mandible was distinctly pinkish Straw with the distal one third black with a pinkish Straw tip. There were three long rictal bristles each side of the billThe iris was small and a warm brown colour with scarcely any orbital ring. The tarsus and toes were pinkish brown with perhaps a slight yellow tinge to the toes. The inside of the upper mandible faded from pink to white then grey towards the tip. The tongue was pinkish with greyish tongue spots. 122
Measurements: Wing-point = 4, second primary = 7th, emarginated on 3, 4, and 5 and notched on 2nd and indistinctly on 3rd. First primary 1.5mm longer than primary coverts. Wing formula: wing-point = 4, 2nd = - 6 , 3rd = - 2 , 5th = - 0 . 5 , 7th = - 6 . Outer secondary to wing-point = 10mm. Wing length = 57mm. Notches: 2nd = 13mm, 3rd = 11mm. Tail 50mm (longest and shortest feather = 10mm). Bill to skull = 15mm. Exposed culmen = 10.3mm, width = 4.1mm. Tarsus = 19.7mm, width = 1.6mm. Weight 10.7gm. Before release the bird was photographed and compared, in the hand, with a Reed Warbler A. scirpaceus. The striking supercilia, warm tones to upper and lower parts, with contrasting dark wings were obvious. The Paddyfield Warbler's slighter build, longer tail, shorter wings and bill were also noticeable. The smaller, less defined eye was also commented upon. In the field the bird was only seen briefly before the arrival of hundreds of birdwatchers who, unfortunately, misidentified a peculiar plumaged Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita as the Paddyfield Warbler. This is the first record for Suffolk, the 16th for Britain and the third ever in Spring (Butterfield 1988).
Reference Butterfield, D. B. 1988. Paddyfield Warbler in Suffolk. Birding World. 1: 203-205.
Red-eyed Vireo — First for Suffolk by D. N. Bakewell The bird was found in a small copse (Warrenhouse Wood, North Denes, Lowestoft) of predominantly Elms and Sycamores. The initial view was only of grey legs and a glimpse of a white supercilium, as the bird sat behind a leaf. It then moved into the open fleetingly before flying off, leaving me in no doubt as to its identity (Red-eyed Vireo, Vireo olivaceus) — and shaking! After making a rough sketch I ran off to find a 'phone, and, after spreading the news, returned about 25 minutes later. I saw the bird well on my return, as it fed slowly on the outermost branches of a seeding Sycamore, and then three more times in the next two hours, by which time two or three other birders had arrived. There then followed a nerve-racking 45 minutes, during which I saw the bird several times but could not get them onto it. Eventually it showed briefly but well and, as larger numbers of birders arrived, was relocated in a small clearing, where it was on view more or less continuously for half an hour, feeding in Sycamores and Ash. As the afternoon wore on, it became less showy, and was finally seen to fly off, presumably to roost, at about 18.15hrs. It was not seen subsequently, despite much searching the following morning. Description: General behaviour: Fed fairly obviously on outer branches of Sycamores — and once or twice in Ash — flycatching and sitting still for quite long periods. Occasionally chased by Chiffchaffs, Phylloscopus collybita and Blue Tits, Parus caeruleus. Once seen to catch a caterpillar, which it polished off by bashing it against a branch. Jizz: Characteristically held wings drooped and tail half-cocked. Plumage immaculate. Bulky appearance like rather large warbler recalling Garden Warbler Sylvia borin or Icterine Warbler, Hippolais icterina in size and shape. Bare parts: Bill thick, blunt-tipped. Lower mandible appeared pale fleshy yellow. Upper mandible grey-brown (exact colour and pattern not noted). Iris brown. Thick strong-looking legs and feet pale biue-grey. Head: Forehead and crown slate-grey, rather pale in strong light. Lateral crown stripe black, extending from just in front of eye to a short distance behind it — wedge shaped, thickest at rear. Supercilia white and brilliantly obvious, extending from bill to rear edge of ear coverts. Eyestripe olive-brown and thin — quite short — tailing off before end of supercilium. Ear coverts and eye-ring creamy, with greeny-yellow tinge to rear corner and along lower edge. Rather pale. Upperparts: Olive-green, almost leaf green in bright light. Alula and inner webs of primary coverts blackish. Primary projection roughly two thirds tertial length. Tail as upper-parts, clearly notched and rather short. Rump in good light perhaps tinged brighter than back. Underparts: pearly white, except for yellow-green pectoral patches and creamy yellow vent. Undertail surprisingly dark. 123
F. K. COBB (1912-1989) By Gerald Jobson
Kerry Cobb of Eastbridge died on Apr. 16th 1989 aged 77 years. Born in Rugby, he saw active service during the war in the RAF and whilst serving in Bomber Command was shot down over the Mediterranean. Kerry parachuted into the sea, but was picked up by the Germans and imprisoned in Greece. After the war, Kerry worked for Christophersons, the agricultural merchants in Ipswich, eventually becoming Managing Director. His interest in ornithology flourished and he formed the Dingle Bird Club to ring birds on the Dingle Hills at Walberswick. It was here that I first met Kerry and we were soon helping in the construction of a Heligoland trap, in the hope of catching the odd rarity, which otherwise would elude us in the thick gorse. I remember looking with awe at a full-page description, that Kerry had written in the 'Dingle Log', of a Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria that he had trapped there. Always a commanding figure in Suffolk ornithology, Kerry edited the Suffolk Bird Report from 1954 to 1960 and set a very high standard. This earned him praise from British Birds, which in those days reviewed County bird reports. The review noted that Kerry was not disposed to accept records lightly or on flimsy evidence. Kerry was always keen on a rarity and many a time we would 'mull over' a rare wader at Minsmere, after which, Kerry would return home and search through available literature, and previous articles in British Birds, to further our knowledge of the bird. I joined Kerry, and his wife Audrey, on several memorable holidays in Scandinavia where he enjoyed watching Cranes in Norway, Black Woodpeckers in Sweden and Thrush Nightingales on Oland in the Baltic. Kerry spent his retirement years at Eastbridge where he was able to birdwatch to the full along the coastal strip whilst keeping a large garden under control. He built up one of the most impressive garden lists that I have seen. Such unlikely garden species as Pomarine Skua, White-tailed Eagle and Spoonbill were all ticked off from the study window. He was active in the field, until his illness about two years ago restricted his activities. He leaves a widow, Audrey to whom we extend our deepest sympathies. 124
THE SUFFOLK LAMMERGEIER (BEARDED VULTURE) Gypaetus barbatus (L.) For as long as anyone can remember a mounted LĂ¤mmergeier has presided over the Ogilvie Collection of British Birds, in the 'Bird Room' at the Ipswich Museum. High above the rest of the cases of mounted birds with, until recently, only a name label, few ornithologists today realise that the bird is reputed to have been shot in Suffolk. According to the printed Ipswich Corporation 'Report of the Museum, Victoria Free Library, and Schools of Science and Art Committee' presented 'For the consideration of the Council on August 13th, 1890', amongst items donated to the Museum 'during the last year' was a 'Specimen of the Lammergeyer (sic) vulture shot at Mothergate (sic) probably Methersgate, Woodbridge, by Mr. A. Helsham Jones'. It was usual only to mention the more significant donations in such reports and, therefore, it is reasonable to assume that this was considered to be an important acquisition. The acquisition of this specimen was even reported at the time in the local press. A newspaper cutting pasted in the minute book of the same committee at the end of the 'Monthly Meeting May 7th 1890' reports: 'Nor ought we omit mention of the Sammergeya (sic) vulture, shet (sic) at Mothergate (sic), Woodbridge: and . . . presented by Mr. A Helsham-Jones.' It appears that the specimen deteriorated over the years and was due to be destroyed but had a last minute reprieve. The hand-written minutes of the monthly meeting of the 'General Committee' of the Museum, Free Library and Technical Instruction Committee 125
held November 4th 1903, 'Resolved that a vote of thanks be sent to Mr. D. Carruthers of Holbrook for the renovation and resetting of a specimen of the Lamagar (sic) — one of the specimens which had been condemned.' Two species of vulture have been recorded from the British Isles, the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus (L.) in 1825 and 1868, and the Griffon Vulture, Gyps fulvus (Hablizl) in 1843 and 1927 (Snow, 1971). The Lämmergeier is not on the British list and this Suffolk record has never been seriously considered in any of the local lists. It is Europe's rarest vulture and although once widespread in the mountainous areas of southern Europe and north Africa, across Europe and Asia to China, there has been a marked contraction in range and the species is now extinct in many areas where it nested in the 19th century (Cramp, et al, 1980). A Lammergeier was, it seems, shot near Woodbridge in 1890, not long after the publi cation of Babington (1884-6). Perhaps by the time of Ticehurst (1932) the record had been forgotten, or was it known to Ticehurst but disregarded for some good reason? Did this bird reach Britain as a vagrant or was it perhaps an escape? We will never know for sure but further research might provide the most likely answers. Were there any unusual weather patterns in the first half of 1890? Were any other unusual vagrants from areas where the Lämmergeier used to be found recorded in Britain at that time? (First indications show that this was the case. During 1988-89 there was a spectacular irruption of Pallas's Sandgrouse, Syrrhaptesparadoxus (Pallas), into Europe and Britain (Cramp et al, 1985), which continued into 1890 (Ticehurst, 1932). The central Asiatic distribution of this species is very similar to that of the Lämmergeier). How commonly were Lammergeiers kept in captivity in Britain in the 19th century? Even though geographical variation in the species is slight, can the likely origin of the bird be determined from a close examination of the specimen at Ipswich Museum? More questions than answers at the moment, but it is an interesting area for further research. References Babington, C., 1884-86. Catalogue of the birds of Suffolk. London: John van Voorst. Cramp, S. (Ed.) et al, 1980. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol. 2. Oxford: O.U.P. Cramp, S. (Ed.) et al, 1985. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol. 4. Oxford: O . U . P . Snow, D. W. (Ed.), 1971. The status of birds in Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Blackwell. Ticehurst, C. B., 1932. A history of the birds of Suffolk. London & Edinburgh: Gurney and Jackson.
Howard Mendel, The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP I 3QH. We look forward to comment and the results of further research before deciding whether or not to submit this record to the BOU as a possible addition to the British List — Ed. LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS PLUNGE DIVING IN IPSWICH DOCKS. On Apr. 27th, 1988, I saw three adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus flying low around Ipswich Docks. Occasionally one would alight briefly upon the water. There was little wind and so the water was calm and smooth. The birds were in company with three Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus. One of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew to height of 25 feet, paused momentarily, and then dived into the water in the manner of a Gannet Sula bassana, although unlike a Gannet it did not become completely submerged. A moment later it came up from the water carrying a small, unidentified, fish in its beak. It then flew to the southern quayside and ate it. I believe the fish was alive when the gull caught it. Although gulls occasionally scavenge for scraps in a similar manner, I believe it is unusual for a Lesser Black-backed Gull to catch live fish in this manner. Cramp, et al (1983) details instances of shallow-plunging in which the bird becomes completely immersed for about two seconds. Nevertheless, this is the first time this behaviour 126
has been noted in Suffolk and thefact that an apparently live fish was retrieved from Ipswich Docks is worthy of note. Ed. Reference: Cramp, S. and Simmons, K. E. L. (Eds) et al, 1983. The birds ofthe Western Palearctic Vol. 3. Oxford.
J. R. Martin, 17 Moss Way, West Bergholt, Colchester, Esssex. \BERRANT WHINCHAT. I was ringing with Mike Marsh at Landguard Bird Observatory on Oct. 20th, 1988, when MM abstracted a bird, from a net positioned amongst the Poplars at the rear of the Observatory mound, which he thought was a Whinchat Saxícola rubetra. The bird was in juvenile plumage showing a spangling effect on its back feathers and similar to plate 54 shown in Cramp et al (1988). We were initially suspicious of this bird however, as we rarely capture this species in that area of the ringing site and a closer examination revealed that its tail was ali dark lacking the characteristic white bases to the sides. This led us to believe that the bird was a Siberian Stonechat Saxícola torquata stejnegeri/maura. Further characters supporting this theory were pale edgings to the secondaries, giving the appearance of a wing-panel in the field, dark ear-coverts and crown and tail feathers with outer-webs finely edged and tipped buff. However, the supercilium seemed much too strong and the measurements fell outside that of Stonechat, but inside that of Whinchat; thus ending our délibérations. OUTER TAIL FEATHER
Outer web: almost entirely whitish-buff Inner web: black, tipped whitish-buff, with basai half marginally greyer.
SECOND OUTERMOST TAIL FEATHER Similar to outer tail feather, but less whitish-buff on outer web, this being restricted to outer edge.
Observers should be wary of possible juvenile/female Siberian Stonechats and should also consider Whinchat in aberrant plumage such as the one described.
Reference Cramp, S. (Ed). 1988. The birds ofthe
Vol. V. Oxford.
S. H. Piotrowski, 18 Cobham Road, Ipswich IP3 9JD. 127
LARK VALLEY CANADA GOOSE STUDY. The third year of fieldwork on this study saw catches at Cavenham and Ixworth, giving a combined total of 76 juveniles and 109 new adults. One of adults had been ringed at Holkham, Norfolk in 1981, representing our third control from that site in as many years. The "Norfolk connection" was furthei confirmed by birds ringed in the Lark Valley, but seen or found at Titchwell and Kings Lynn during the past 12 months. Despite the proximity of Canada Goose flocks in East Suffolk we have had no evidence of interchange between the coastal and Brecklanc' populations. The opportunity to look in more detail at movements within Suffolk will occur after the 1989 moult season when colour-ringing will be carried out at several sites across the County. Please take the trouble to check Canada Goose flocks for rings when you encounter them. Reports can be sent to either the Editor or myself and you will receive details of those birds you've seen. Of the 439 birds ringed since 1986, 43 have been reported dead. Shooting is clearly the highest cause of mortality by far, but there is little doubt that the species is still increasing in Suffolk. Despite the reports of birds far afield, there is now clear evidence that shooting, on the whole, affects birds bred and reared locally. The average distance moved between ringing and death, in the Lark Valley, is only 10km (6 miles) and most probably remained within 20km of their natal site throughout their life. Dr Tony Martin, Sea Mammal Research Unit, c/o British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 OET.
Snow and Lapland Buntings
LETTERS HAVERHILL'S STARLINGS In response to the comment in Suffolk Birds 1988 concerning the unknown destination of Haverhill's wintering Starlings, I should like to report that since November, 1987, and probably before, very large numbers from both the Haverhill and Cambridge areas have flocked to farmland just outside Brinkley, Cambridgeshire. I cannot be sure of the numbers involved, though there must have been upwards of 30,000 birds. For most of the winter the Starlings roosted in a narrow conifer plantation not far from the main Brinkley to Cambridge road. The sight of the massive flocks wheeling in the air and covering fields and trees was breathtaking. Stephen Edwards, 1 St Johns Cottages, Great Bradley, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 9LG.
Landguard Bird Observatory, 1988 by Mike Crewe For the third successive year records tumbled at Landguard and there were even more surprises instore. A total of 9,294 birds, of 83 species, was ringed at the Observatory and a further 3,321 at outsites. After seeing 1987 through with a full-time ringer/warden it was sad that, with the collapse of the Manpower Services Commission's Community Programme Scheme, we had to bid him farewell. However, due to great personal efforts, by some of the LBO staff, coverage was maintained throughout the critical period of October and November. This was just as well as mid-October proved to be the busiest in the Observatory's history with massive falls of migrants along the east coast of Britain. Landguard saw much of the action with thousands of birds grounded on 16th, 17th and 20th and for such a small area the total of 506 birds ringed on 16th is truly phenomenal, significantly contributing to the Observatory's record month total of 2,741. In all, 186 species were observed at Landguard during 1988 with eight new species added to the list: Bean Goose, Crane, Honey Buzzard, Red Kite, Waxwing, Paddyfield Warbler, Bearded Tit and Hawfinch. Insect recording progressed well but despite the unusually warm weather in late spring the once thriving population of the Holly Blue butterflies failed to reappear. On the plus side dragonflies were plentiful with Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly (Libellula quadrimaculata) being new to the Observatory. A surprise addition to our list of fauna came with a Yellow-necked Mouse (Apodemius flavicollis) which was caught raiding one of our Potter traps. LBO continued its important work on projects such as the wader monitoring on the Orwell Estuary and the gull surveys on Orfordness and the refuse tips around Ipswich. In September, LBO, together with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, hosted the International Wader Study Group Conference, which was being held in Suffolk for the first time. An extremely interesting and informative programme of lectures was produced and the event was a great success. We have the knack of choosing superb birdwatching days for our annual 'friends' openday and this year proved no exception. With skuas, terns and waders abounding offshore, and Ring Ouzels hiding in the bushes, a Spoonbill was on cue to perform a memorable fly-past affording those present magnificent views. JANUARY: With mild weather conditions prevailing the birds frequenting Landguard were fairly predictable with few surprises. An immature Gannet, 19th and a Fulmar, 31st were respective first and second January records for the site. Sea passage was otherwise quiet with just three Red-throated Divers and a Pintail noted. Two Greylag Geese flying south 11th, was an unusual record. Single adult Mediterranean and Iceland Gulls made occasional visits and up to two Purple Sandpipers were noted on the jetty. FEBRUARY: Again sea passage was poor although a few more species were noted. At least three Shags were found dead and badly oiled on the tide-line and wildfowl highlights were a single Canada Goose, seven Pintail and three Scaup â€” all offshore. Ringed Plovers returned to reclaim their territories while up to three Purple Sandpipers continued to probe for invertebrates on the jetty. On the flooding tide about 200 Blackheaded Gulls also exploited this food source. The first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the year occurred on 12th and was followed by a northerly passage of 35 on 26th. The surprise bird of the month was a Grey Phalarope, on 13th, which was seen on the sea near Felixstowe 129
Pier then flew south past Landguard. Several species began to trickle through, after being scarce ali winter, notably Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Linnet. There was also an influx of Blackbirds durine the third week and single Corn Bunting, 1 lth and Magpie, 22nd were noted. A Goldcrest on 28th was the first February record for LBO. MARCH: Surprisingly, Shag numbers reached doublé figures including a group of foui flying over, 8th and lOth, and an adult showing ali the behaviour of a bird prospectinj for a nest site; clambering over concrete blocks, it disappeared for some time under one of the blockhouses. A Red Kite, a first for the site, passed south low over the reserve on 20th and a Common Buzzard flew north the same day. Waders included a Woodcocl under the Tamarisk bushes and offshore groups of four Bar-tailed Godwits — south, anc three Whimbrel — north. Gull movements were small but noticeable with Lesser Black-backs building up by the end of the month and Kittiwakes moving through with over 70 on 13th. The Iceland Gull continued to pay occasionai visits. The first passage migrants and summer visitors begar to arrive with Stonechat, 17th, Wheatear and Blackcap, 20th, Black Redstart and Chiffchaff. 22nd, Ring Ouzel, 30th and Willow Warbler, 31st — the latter being a particularly earl) date. A male Firecrest was trapped, 23rd and a few winter birds lingered including small numbers of Fieldfare and Brambling. The first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the year was noted, lOth and Peacock, 22nd.
APRIL: Traditionally the month for the main arrivai of summer visitors and with nearly 1,300 birds ringed during Aprii this year was no exception. By the end of the month most of the regular summer migrants had passed through and good ringing totals were achieved for Nightingale (eight), Black Redstart (16), Wheatear (29), Ring Ouzel (four), Blackcap (54) and Willow Warbler (189). A single Yellow Wagtail, a difficult species to trap, was ringed and a male Subalpine Warbler, the third for both Suffolk and Landguard, in as many years was present on 23rd and 24th. Swifts were on the scene as early as 21st, Wood Warblers by 24th but Cuckoos were late with the first record on 30th. 130
Corvids provided some interest with regular raids by two Magpies (uncommon here), the first Jay since May 1985 and three pairs of Rooks, which attempted to nest on the dock floodlights. A Hawfinch, trapped on 4th, was the first record for the site and a Hoopoe, in the caravan park area, was the second closely following the site's first record last September. The latter bird proved extremely elusive and managed to evade the eager eyes of most of the Landguard regulars. Passage waders included Greenshank, 30th, Bar-tailed Godwit, 29th, Golden Plover (12), 17th and Snipe, 20th. A trickle of Whimbrel passed through the site during the second half of the month. A female Marsh Harrier flew north, 26th and there was a good run of Canada and Greylag Geese records. A record of a Slow Worm, 17th was the first at Landguard for some years. MAY: With the usual lull in passage finches and thrushes the month's ringing total decreased although the number of summer migrants present was actually greater. Good monthly ringing totals were achieved for Lesser Whitethroat (31), Whitethroat (59), Garden Warbler (29), Willow Warbler (68) and Spotted Flycatcher (58). Scarce visitors included a Crossbill, 23rd, Ortolan Buntings, 3rd and 13th to 15th, Icterine Warblers, 13th and 15th, Honey Buzzard, 15th, Grey-headed Wagtail, 14th, Bluethroat, 20th and Coal Tit, 27th. Other more predictable, but by no means less interesting, visitors were Ring Ouzel, 5th, Wood Warbler, 10th, several Firecrests and at least 10 Pied Flycatchers â€” the best ever spring for the species. Spotted Flycatchers were late arriving with the first noted, 8th but then a bottle-neck elsewhere finally released the bulk of the birds as at least 150 were present in the ringers' compound early the next day. There was little activity offshore with just a single Gannet noted but above average movements of gulls and terns included four Black Terns that were seen to fly up the Orwell, 23rd. Passage waders included two Avocets, 25th, a Purple Sandpiper, in summer plumage, to at least 26th and a handful of Bar-tailed Godwits, Common Sandpipers, Whimbrels and two Greenshank. JUNE: Normally a quiet month as spring migration peters out but this year was to be different. A mass hallucination session began shortly after Suffolk's first Paddyfield Warbler was trapped and ringed at the Observatory, 10th. After release the bird showed briefly in the Heligoland trapping area and then disappeared. Despite the attentions of several hundred birdwatchers birders over the weekend only seven people were lucky enough to "get the right bird" everyone else having to make do with stunning views of a Chiffchaff which fooled everyone to a greater or lesser degree until it decided to sing. A Willow Tit, trapped, 26th was only the third for the site and Landguard's third June record of a Firecrest occurred. A Hobby was seen harrassing Swallows early on 28th. Little Tern numbers peaked at just five on 19th and unfortunately the pressure of continued human disturbance appears to have pushed this bird out as a breeding species. Red-legged Partridges continued to do well here with one nest containing 16 eggs. Unfortunately, even this isolated population appears to have been infiltrated at some time by hybrid Chukar x Red-legged Partridges. Butterflies reached twelve species during the month with Common Blue, Large Skipper and Painted Lady appearing. Last year's heavy attack of Myxomatosis has taken its toll on the Rabbit population with numbers greatly reduced and the grass noticeably longer in fenced-off areas. JULY: A Great Crested Grebe passing south, 22nd was unseasonal as was a Brent Goose, 13th. Wader records included eight Avocets, three Curlew Sandpipers, two Little Stints and a small return passage of Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrels, Greenshanks and Common and Green Sandpipers. Swift passage was very noticeable mid-month with high counts of 552, 13th, 697, 14th, 615, 22nd and 1,200, 23rd. A Green Woodpecker was trapped, 131
29th and a Nightingale retrapped, 6th having been ringed here in June. There was an obviou; build up of summer migrants in the second half of the month with young birds beginnin; to move through the site; this was particularly obvious with the commoner warbler species A Spotted Flycatcher was only the Observatory's third July record. Butterflies continued to do fairly well despite the showery weather and several moths were recorded including Poplar Hawk, Dotted Rustie and Common Emerald. A Common Seal was seen hauled up on the groynes to the north of the reserve, 18th and 19th. Its apparent tameness was a novelty at the time but in retrospect it is sad to note that it may well have been a victim of the terrible disease which nearly wiped oui the North Sea population of these endearing creatures. AUGUST: Sea passage began to pick up with Fulmars peaking at 15, 2Ist and two Man? Shearwaters, 12th. A few Gannets were logged and an early Shag flew through, 27th Three Arctic Skuas were seen with two immatures patrolling the beach, 21st. Lesser Black backed Gulls began to move out of the area being replaced by incoming Great Black-backs with 83 noted, 2 Ist. Nine species of duck were noted offshore with Pintail, Gadwall and Shoveler of greater interest and both Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits among the regulat wader species. Swift and Cuckoo numbers began to tail off but both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were trapped and ringed. Summer migrants passed through in good numbers and Whitethroats were proved to have bred. A Barred Warbler, trapped, 3Ist, was the only County rarity of the month but there was a good return passage of Tree Pipits. Four Wood Warbiers were recorded and the later passage of Chiffchaff, compared with Willow Warbler, was clearly demonstrated with daily double figure totals for the latter along with one or two Chiffchaffs. Overall Willow Warbler numbers were well down, on last year's high, with 50, 16th being the best day total. Fourteen species of butterfly were noted including Small Heath, Comma, Painted Lady and Essex and Large Skippers. The activities of a Weasel, 5th, drew an audience of two Wheatears, a Whinchat and a Meadow Pipit following its progress. Landguard's fiorai speciality, the Stinking Goosefoot, was extremely scarce this year; a single plant discovered in late July, by our regulĂ¤r botanist Arthur Copping, had disappeared by mid-August but three other plants discovered near the LBO compound survived with at least one producing seed. SEPTEMBER: A good sea movement was noted, Ist, producing Great Crested Grebe, 15 Fulmars, two Manx Shearwaters, Gannet, two Avocets, seven Black-tailed Godwits, 406 Bar-tailed Godwits, Arctic Skuas, 130 Common Terns, three Arctic Terns and two Black Terns. Wader passage continued on a similar vein and many other species were recorded in good numbers. At least 14 Arctic Skuas passed through, a first winter Mediterranean Gull was noted, 25th and a Little Ringed Piover, 17th constituted the third record, for the site, this decade. Hirundines began their major exodus with Swallow counts peaking at 10,000, 5th but House Martin numbers were well down. Another Great Spotted Woodpecker passed through and Grey and White Wagtails were noted. Returning summer migrants flooded through and made up the bulk of the 1,151 ringed during the month. Two Grasshopper Warbiers were trapped and a good passage of Pied Flycatchers resulted in 19 being ringed. Rarer passage migrants were below expected numbers with only a Single Wood Warbler and two Icterine Warbiers being recorded. The prize catch was an immature Red-backed Shrike trapped and ringed, 9th and staying to 13th while a sign of things to come was provided by Fieldfares, 14th and 22nd, a Brambling, 25th and a Snow Bunting, 24th. Two Ring Ouzels were seasonal and the Barred Warbler, which was extremely elusive and seldom seen, remained until 5th. A Barn Owl spent the day roosting in the Holm Oaks, 9th, but after being harassed by the locai Kestrel tried to hide under Brambles on the beach. 132
Plate 20: Tree Pipit feeding young at Ixworth Thorpe.
Plate 21: One of the 28 Waxwings at Westleton Heath, November 1988.
Plate 22: This Robin is a very populĂ¤r visitor to Benacre Hide.
Plate 23: Wheatear at Icklingham.
Plate 24: This Subalpine Warbler is Landguard 's and Suffolk 's third record.
Plate 25: lcterine Warbler at Southwold, September 1988.
BIRDS RINGED AT LANDGUARD 1978-1988 >pecies vlanx Shearwater vtute Swan Teal Jparrowhawk <estrel Hobby ied-legged Partridge Water Rail Moorhen ^inged Piover Golden Piover Purple Sandpiper Woodcock Common Sandpiper Turnstone Arctic Skua Mediterranean Gull Black-headed Gull Common Gull Little Tern Little Auk Wood Pigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Cuckoo Barn Owl Little Owl Long-eared Owl Nightjar Swift Kingfisher Wryneck Green Woodpecker Great Spotted Woodpecker Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Skylark Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit Meadow Pipit Rock Pipit Yellow Wagtail Grey Wagtail Pied Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Thrush Nightingale Nightingale Bluethroat Black Redstart Redstart Whinchat Stonechat Wheatear Desert Wheatear Ring Ouzel
Total 1988 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 5 0 0 6 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 9 5 8 0 1 5 0 4 1 1 3 3 0 11 0 398 38 11 25 0 3 0 1 149 257 737 0 10 1 42 50 13 2 59 0 18
Grand Total 1978-88 1 2 1 3 9 1 15 1 1 56 2 1 14 2 3 1 1 13 4 26 2 27 118 24 26 1 2 24 1 6 6 10 4 8 2 36 7 1794 967 38 307 1 7 1 6 379 1197 1588 1 44 2 277 244 58 4 199 1 39
Species Blackbird Fieldfare Song Thrush Redwing Mistle Thrush Grasshopper Warbier Paddyfield Warbier Sedge Warbler Marsh Warbler Reed Warbler Icterine Warbler Melodious Warbler Subalpine Warbler Barred Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler Blackcap Pallas's Warbler Yellow-browed Warbler Dusky Warbler Wood Warbler Chiffchaff Willow Warbler Goldcrest Firecrest Spotted Flycatcher Red-breasted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Long-tailed Tit Marsh Tit Willow Tit Coal Tit Blue Tit Great Tit Treecreeper Red-backed Shrike Great Grey Shrike Magpie Jackdaw Starling House Sparrow Tree Sparrow Chaffinch Brambling Greenftnch Goldfinch Siskin Linnet Redpoll Bullftnch Hawftnch Snow Bunting Yellowhammer Ortolan Bunting Little Bunting Reed Bunting TOTAL
(.rami Total 1978-88
800 18 502 177 4 2 1 57 0 53 3 0 1 1 92 144 87 253 0 4 0 6 286 645 271 22 98 1 29 7 0 1 2 127 146 1 1 0 1 0 213 454 1 96 34 1935 177 4 597 25 21 2 0 0 0 0 2
3200 49 1733 352 13 4 1 152 1 301 13 1 3 7 310 418 539 935 3 12 1 23 681 2617 857 113 316 2 263 137 1 2 16 895 463 2 3 2 2 1 1297 1221 53 571 113 8265 952 13 2979 60 54 2 2 150 3 2 17
The Landguard 'Friends Day' was held on 25th and proved a great success again both socially and ornithologically. A Spoonbill gave a fly-pass along the beach and offshore a party of three Pomarine Skuas lumbered purposefully south. Two Short-eared Owls put in an appearance with one spending time sitting on the beach only to have its hideaway pin-pointed by mobbing gulls and a Kestrel. Similarly, a Whimbrel gave fine views when it loitered for a while on the grass on the reserve. Siskins passed through in excellent numbers during the month and 107 were counted, 25th with ten or more in the LBO compound in the company of 50 Redpolls. Non-ornithological records included a Common Lizard at the north end of the reserve, 9th, a Pigmy Shrew, 28th, Grey Squirrel, 6th and lOth in the LBO compound, and a Weasel, 9th which spent some considérable time leaping up and swinging on overhanging Tamarisk branches then rolling around 'killing' a twig on the ground. Moths included a Red Underwing, 4th, and Common Darter and Migrant Hawker dragonflies were present in fair numbers. OCTOBER: Once again October proved to be the high point of the year at LBO. A Rednecked Grebe, 2nd started the sea passage on the right lines and Gannets peaked at 12, 1 lth. The highest Brent Goose count was on 25th when 5,000 flew south. Ten Bewick's Swans flew in off the sea, 30th and the first Long-tailed Duck since 1985 passed by. This proved to be the best month for raptors with two Sparrowhawks, two Hen Harriers, two Merlins and a Hobby noted. Avocets were again recorded and are becoming a more regular bird on passage here. Woodcock carne through in good numbers with a peak day count of eight, 20th and a late Whimbrel, 7th. Skua passage peaked on 1 lth, when 12 Arctic Skuas were noted, and on 9th a Pomarine Skua passed by and several Arctics were watched harassing gulls close to the beach giving excellent views throughout the day. Twelve Little Gulls were noted during the month and of the three Little Auks recorded, one, on 30th, was retrieved from a garden in Levington and released at Landguard. A Puffin, the second record for Landguard, also passed on 30th and coincided with several records elsewhere on the Suffolk coast. The almost obligatory autumn Little Owl showed up with at least two différent birds occurring, one of which was trapped and ringed. A Long-eared Owl was found roosting in the compound, 12th, the day after a Short-eared Owl had been watched sitting on the roof of the Heligoland Trap eyeing up the Rabbits below. Two unexpected birds which were trapped during the month were Kingfisher, lOth, and a late Wryneck, 20th, the latter being the only record for the year. At least three Great Spotted Woodpeckers were reported and were part of a number of records along the east coast of Britain — probably Continental birds. Also in good numbers were Ring Ouzels with at least 11 birds noted. There were several firsts for the site including a Waxwing, 30th, a totally unexpected Bearded Tit, 12th, and a party of three Cranes, flying south, 29th. A Richard's Pipit, 23rd, was the first here for eight years, the second Hawfinch of the year, 16th, was also the second for the site and a Red-breasted Flycatcher, 14th, was the fourth for the site and only the second ringed. Four Yellow-browed Warblers, part of a national influx, were ringed, but the most numerous passage migrant of the month was Robin. A total of 645 birds was ringed with no less than 268 of them on 16th. This was just a fraction of one the largest falls noted for at least 20 years. Over 1,000 Robins were grounded on 16th alone and other species affected were made apparent by the month's ringing returns: Blackbird (442), Song Thrush (280) and Goldcrest (182). Other perhaps more locai movements resulted in the ringing of 89 Wrens and 75 Dunnocks. In ali 2,741 birds were ringed during the month — the best month ever for LBO. The most significant mammal record was the discovery of a Yellow-necked Mouse in a Potter Trap — a device with a trigger entrance used to catch birds, such as Wheatears, Black Redstarts and Meadow Pipits, that tend favour open areas.
NOVEMBER: All three commoner divers were recorded with a Great Northern on 20th being the first here since December 1985. Six Bean Geese Aying south over the beach, 17th gave us a new species for the site and 17 Bewick's Swans were seen arriving from the sea on 2nd. Most of the ducks were in short supply but some of the diving ducks put on a good show with 42 Scaup, including 36 on 3rd, two Long-tailed Ducks, 18 Eider, fi ve Red-breasted Mergansers and a single group offive Goosander. The largest movement of duck however, involved Common Scoter which were noted on seven dates including 538 Aying south on 3rd. With the demolition of the old wooden jetties near the point, as part of the improvements to the sea defences, Purple Sandpipers virtually disappeared with only one record during the month. Kittiwakes are becoming more regulĂ¤r offshore and good numbers were seen following fishing boats. Three Little Auks were noted and Fieldfares, Redwings and a few Bramblings passed through. There were still several summer visitors present, early in the month, the highlight being a Garden Warbier on 12th â€” beating the County's previous latest date by three days. Five Snow Bunting were noted on 12th then a single on several dates from 13th. The 12th also produced three Twite and a Lapland Bunting. Owls included a Long-eared Owl, trapped on 20th, and at least one Little Owl still present. Other records included a Painted Lady butterfly, 2nd, a Migrant Hawker dragonfiy, 4th, and Weasels and a Common Seal early in the month.
DECEMBER: With the absence of a full-time warden the Observatory began to run down and reasonable coverage was only possible until 1 Ith with isolated visits after that. Offshore another Long-tailed Duck was noted on 1 Ith and there were several records of Red-throated Diver. Once again Kittiwakes were common offshore but numbers tailed off after 16th. Passerines produced a few records of interest including the first December record of a Goldcrest, 2nd and the second ever Waxwing, lOth, closely following the first in October. 135
BOURNE PARK by Reg Clarke The aim of the Constant Effort Site (CES) scheme is to investigate local bird populations through a constant netting strategy at various sites of differing habitats throughout the country. From this a national index is drawn up which monitors the birds' breeding success rate and highlights any increases or dĂŠclinĂŠs. The reedbed laying adjacent to Bourne Park, on the outskirts of Ipswich, is an ideal site for this type of survey and in conjuction with the scheme Landguard Bird Observatory once again operated a CES. Despite two sessions being cancelled, due to unfavourable weather conditions, a total of 304 birds of 27 species processed.
3 -o (5 I
Between May Ist and Aug. 3 Ist three net lanes, totalling 120 feet of netting, were erected in identical positions at each of the 12 sessions. From the information derived a comparison between the locai breeding birds' rate of success and the results of the National Constant Effort Site Index were made. The data gathered in our second year enabled us to use this in conjunction with the previous year's results to analyse the species' site fidelity, breeding success rate, the number of territories held along with detailed information on population fluctuations. Our most important source of information undoubtedly cornes from retraps. These are birds hearing rings from either the current year or from previous years that are caught again. These birds provide us with information on site fidelity (by how birds from previous years return to breed again) and the number of territories held (according to the net from which the bird is retrieved). As our CES is composed of mainly phragmites, and surrounding scrub, our two target species are Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus and Reed Warbler/4 crocephalus scirpaceus as these aqre good indicator species for this particular habitat. One bird of particular interest was a Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia originally ringed at Dungeness Bird Observatory, Kent, 17.04.88 which was subsequently controlied 27 day s later at Bourne Park. 136
Table I: Summary of Reed and Sedge Warbiers for 1987/1988.
Sedge Warbier Reed Warbier
1987 Juv. 39 42
Ad 29 64
% Juv 57.3% 39.6%
Ad 15 44
1988 Juv. 13 25
% Juv 46.4% 36.2%
Sedge Warbier: of the 15 adults captured in 1988, six were hearing rings from previous years, and all related to birds ringed in 1987 (two as adults and four as juveniles). Reed Warbier: of the 44 adults captured in 1988 24 were birds from previous years. Ten were ringed in 1985 (four as adults and six as juveniles), six in 1986 (two as adults and four as juveniles) and eight in 1987 (all as adults). Table II: Summary of species and number of birds trapped in the first two years of the Bourne Park CES.
Turtle Dove Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Yellow Wagtail Pied Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Blackbird Song Thrush G'hopper Warbier Sedge Warbier Reed Warbier Lr. Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbier Blackcap Chiffchaff Willow Warbler Spotted Flycat'er Long-tailed Tit Marsh Tit Blue Tit Great Tit Treecreeper Magpie Starling House Sparrow Chaffinch Greenfinch Redpoll Bullfinch Yellowhammer Reed Bunting TOTAL: GRAND TOTAL Ad/Juv:
Ad 0 0 2 2 0 25 5 3 3 11 1 0 29 64 2 1 4 4 0 1 0 0 0 12 10 0 1 2 0 0 11 1 8 1 7 210
1987 Juv. 0 0 3 2 1 52 5 6 11 13 6 1 39 42 0 0 1 0 6 7 3 1 1 63 12 2 0 1 0 0 15 2 5 0 7 307 517
67.5% 66.6% 78.5% 54.1% 85.7% 57.3% 39.6%
57.7% 38.4% 50.0% 59.3%
Ad 1 l 7 13 0 0 4 7 2 17 4 1 15 44 1 2 0 3 2 4 0 3 0 9 4 0 0 0 20 1 9 7 2 0 5 188
1988 Juv. 0 0 4 0 0 2 0 8 3 8 5 0 13 25 0 1 0 4 3 3 0 17 0 9 1 0 0 0 2 0 4 0 0 0 4 116 304
53.3% 60.0% 32.0% 55.6% 46.4% 36.2%
57.1% 42.8% 85.0% 50.0% 20.0%
Suffolk Ringing Report by Reg Clarke and Ian Peters A poor spring followed by a patchy breeding season resulted in low numbers of birds bein ringed throughout 1988. However, totals were boosted by a massive autumn 'fall' (see artici page 33), most evident at Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO), but with almost all coastal ringei seeing some of the action. The record ringing total set in 1987 was, with much enthusiasm an hard work, pushed to an all-time high of 25,097 birds (see Table II). The highlights of yet another excellent year included the addition of one new species to th County ringing list: Paddyfield Warbler, and surprise! surprise! Subalpine Warbler was ringe for the third successive year. The longest movements included a Swallow from Landguard t> South Africa, a Lesser Black-backed Gull from Orfordness to Western Sahara, a Reed Warbler from Holbrook to Morocco and a Little Tern from Fagbury to Morocco. There were much improved catches for wader buffs, following a poor 1987, with Dunlin; in particular, proving less difficult to capture. Participation in the Breeding Waders Survey led to an increase in the number of pulli ringed, which complemented the overall total of 1,313 birds of 19 species. The cream of the autumn passage was four Curlew Sandpipers, eight Greer: Sandpipers and a single Wood Sandpiper; all of these species are rarely ringed in Suffolk. Cannon netting on the Orwell contributed to improved numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover. Knot and Turnstone (the latter notoriously difficult to mist-net), all of which (excepting Knot) were colour dyed by LBO in connection with the monitoring of the Felixstowe Dock expansion at Fagbury, now in its fifth year. Since the demise of Nacton Decoy there has been a drastic reduction in the number of ducks ringed in Suffolk and as they are difficult to mist-net the total of 50 Teal ringed is worthy of note The County projects continued apace with specific studies on Canada Goose, Nightjar, and Woodlark. Four Constant Effort Sites were again operated and Suffolk ringers participated in the Breeding Waders Survey and the Birds of Estuaries Enquiry. The Orfordness Gull Study was stepped up and although increased numbers of nestling Lesser Black-backed Gulls were ringed the emphasis was on Herring Gulls to determine their post-natal movements from this site, for which to date we have little information. With the running down of the Foxhall Landfill Site cannon-netting activities terminated here but in 1989 ringers followed the refuse trucks and continued their studies at Bramford Landfill Site. It will be intriguing to ascertain whether the gulls, originally ringed at Foxhall, will also follow their example to exploit this new site. On the passerine front 1988 started off slowly but redeemed itself with an excellent autumn passage. On the whole the bread and butter birds appeared to hold their own with totals only marginally up or down on last year. However, Nightjar, Kingfisher, Tree Pipit, Nightingale, Grasshopper Warbler, Bearded Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Tree Sparrow were ringed in significantly increased numbers. Also, as a result of the " f a l l " , Robins, thrushes, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were up but on the debit side there were notable decreases in the numbers of Reed Warblers. Greenfinches and Redpolls. Scarce vagrants conformed to their usual patterns with small numbers of Wryneck, Icterine Warbler, Barred Warbler and Red-backed Shrike being ringed. There were increased numbers of Ring Ouzels however, and it was Suffolk's best ever year for Yellow-browed Warblers with seven birds ringed. Hawfinch, a species seldom included in the ringing list, makes a welcome return this year, with two 'migrants' trapped at Landguard. Both Bluethroat and Red-breasted Flycatcher, also ringed at Landguard, made welcome returns to the ringing list after being absent since 1984. The importance of sight records of colour-ringed birds is highlighted by a Spoonbill which was recorded at Minsmere on several dates between May 20th to Aug. 21st. The sequence of sightings show the movements of the bird which was ringed as a pullus in Holland.
A successful annual meeting of Suffolk ringers was held at Landguard Bird Observatory, on Saturday Apr. lst, 1989 and in attendance was Chris Mead head of the BTO Ringing Office. Topics discussed included the future of the Ringing Scheme, computerisation of ringing data, Constant Effort Sites and the extension of the Lark Valley Canada Goose Project. 1990's meeting v.'ill be hosted by the Dingle Bird Club; ail ringers who operate within the County are requested to attend Fen Cottage, Hinton, at 10.30 hrs Saturday Apr. 7th. Those wishing to tour the ringing site should be present at 08.30 hrs. Suffolk's ringers are again requested to forward a copy of their ringing returns to Reg Clarke, 6 Nelson Road, Ipswich IP4 4DS, in good time, for inclusion in next year's report.
Selected List of Recoveries Arrangement of entry:
Recoveries are arranged by species; ringing détails are given on the first line and recovery data on the second.
Age when ringed:
This is given according to the EURING code; the figures do NOT represent years. Interprétation is as follows: Pullus ( = nestling or chick) Fully grown, year of hatching quite unknown Hatched during calendar year of ringing Hatched before calendar year of ringing. but exact year unknown Hatched during previous year Hatched before previous calendar year, but exact year unknown Hatched three or more calendar years before year of ringing = maie; F = female Caught or trapped, released with ring Ring number read in the field, or sight record of identifiable colour ring(s) Shot or killed by man Found dead xF Found freshly dead or dying Found long dead xL caught or trapped alive and not released 0 /?/ Männer of recovery unknown Exact locality witheld
Sex: Manner of recovery:
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1101667 1 23.07.87 Isle of May: 56°11'N 0 2 ° 3 3 ' W (Fife) v 10.03.88 Stradbroke: 52°18'N 01°17'E (Suffolk) G8098 1 17.06.86 Farne Islands: 55°37'N 01°37'W (Northumberland) x 11.03.88 Covehithe: 52°22'N 01°43'E (Suffolk) These two individuals were part of a large wreck of this species which occurred in early March and shows that at least some of Suffolk's wintering birds originate in north-eastem Britain unlike Cormorants which apparently come from Wales or the near Continent (see previous Ringing Reports). The Stradbroke bird was taken to a "seabird specialist" at Frinton, Essex, pending release, but was subsequently refound at Holland Häven, Essex, Apr. 23rd, in "poor condition", and re-released at Colne Point the next day.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1082487
Woolverstone: 52°01'N 01° 12'E (Suffolk) Ardleigh Reservoir: 51°55'N 00°59'E (Essex) 19 km SW
Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia A 1 11.06.86 Isle of Vlieland: 53°16'N 04°59'E Netherlands 8038230 vv 17.04.88 Langton Herring: (Dorset) (seen daily to 24.04.88) vv 28.04.88 North Scrape, Cley Nature Reserve: (Norfolk) vv 17.05.88 Holkham: (Norfolk) vv 20.05.88 Minsmere (to 22.05.88) vv 14.07.88 Minsmere (to 24.07.88) vv 21.08.88 Minsmere The bird remained in the Netherlands to at least 31.08.86 before departing to seek new pastures. The sequence not only shows the origin of the bird but also how wide-ranging it became once settling in Britain. Teal Anas crecca ??????? 3M 06.12.86 Hollesley: 52°02'N 01°26'E + 15.02.88 Coudekerke: 51°00'N 0 2 ° 2 5 ' E (Nord) F r a n c e 135 km SE 139
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus FR85274 8 18.10.86 Fagbury: 51 °58'N 01° 18'E v 02.06.88 Averiy, Nr. Kristiansund: 63°05'N 07°30'E (More og Romsri ) Norway 1288 km N FR85428 5 20.09.87 Levington: 51°59'N 01°16'E +F 16.08.88 Gravelines: 50°59'N 02°07'E (Nord) France 126 km S FR85165 8 23.03.86 Fagbury: x 25.05.88 Hjorungavag, Hareid: 62°21 'N 06°04'E (More og Romsdal) Norv v 1188 km N The birds recovered in Norway were found within 100 kms of one another. Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus EH76142 1 15.05.82 Nr. Salisbury: 51°07'N. 01°43'W (Wiltshire) vv 02.06.85 West Suffolk:* 208 km NE vv 18.04.86 West Suffolk:* EH28585 1 30.05.86 West Suffolk:* xF 27.09.87 Riviere Dordogne: 45°02'N. 0 0 ° 3 5 ' W (Gironde) France 816 lor. S EP20565 1 21.05.87 West Suffolk:* + F 25.10.87 Lectoure: 43°56'N. 00°37'E. (Gers) France 933 km S EP20570 1 02.06.87 West Suffolk:* xF 20.09.87 Middleton Moor: 53°16'N. 0 1 ° 4 2 ' W (Derbyshire) 186 km NV. 4F 23.08.86 West Suffolk:* xF 24.11.88 Felixstowe Ferry: 51°59' 0 1 ° ' 2 4 ' More results from the RSPB's ringing study on this species. The Wiltshire sighting indicates that the Breckla; birds are not breeding in isolation from populations elsewhere. The Felixstowe Ferry bird was colour-ringi as part of the RSPB's scheme and was found on an exceptionally late date. Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula He. 4M 12.06.87 Neu-Bessin, Rügen: 54°35'N 13°09'E (Rostock) 80373100 East Germany V 30.08.87 Levington: 51°59'N 01°16'E (Suffolk) 840 km W H. IF 02.07.76 Heligoland : 54°11'N 07°55'E (Helgoland) West Germany V 80760180 24.08.87 Levington: 51°59'N 01°16'E 507 km SW Both of these recoveries give an indication as to the origin of the breeding areas of birds seen on the Orwel! during autumn passage. Dunlin Calidris alpina Suffolk ringed birds were recovered in Sweden (5), West Germany (2), and Poland (2). A bird bearing a West German ring was controlled at Fagbury. Woodcock Scolopax EP28098 4 xF
Redshank Tringa DR04983 4 x
rusticola 20.10.88 27.11.88
Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) Torcy, Nr. Hesdin: 50°29'N 0 2 ° 0 1 ' E (Pas-de-Calais) France 168 km SSE
totanus 25.09.77 08.07.88
Boyton: 52°04'N 01°29'E Beechamwell: 52°38'N 00°36'E (Norfolk) 87 km N
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus He. 1 17.06.85 Langenwerder, Wismar: 54°02'N 11°30'E 5089283 (Rostock) East Germany vv 08.12.87 Felixstowe: 51°58'N. 01°20'E 717 km WSW This is the seventh foreign ringed bird to be discovered in Britain (sixth from Germany) and is probably the same individual, then a second winter, that frequented the Felixstowe area during the autumn and winter of 1986/87. The bird oversummered around Felixstowe seafront in 1988 and was still present at the turn of the year.
Plate 26: Paddyfield Warbler (bird on left) in comparison with Reed Warbler.
Plate 28: Long-tailed Fornham St Genevieve.
Plate 29: Ortolan Bunting at Landguard, May 1988.
Plate 30: This was one of several Snow Buntings that frequented Ness Point, Lowestoft, during the winter of 1988/89.
J lack-headed Gull Larus ridibundus B90011
5 01.01.79 Ipswich: 52°04'N 01°10'E + 05.05.86 Seghezha: 63°43'N 34°28'E (Karelia) U.S.S.R. 2337 km ENE idditional Suffolk ringed birds were recovered in West Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland and he U.S.S.R. Birds bearing foreign rings came from Finland and Lithuania. The longest movement is shown .bove.
>esser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3H36968
1 15.07.87 Orfordness: 52°05'N 01 °35'E (Suffolk) /?/ 07.02.88 Tarfaya: 27°55'N 12°55'W Western Sahara 2946 km SSW n addition to the above, recoveries of pulli ringed on Orfordness in 1987 were received from Morocco 4), Portugal (1) and France (1). A bird ringed as an adult at Foxhall Landfill Site was found during the .Vinter in Morocco.
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 3G41240
3 05.12.87 Foxhall Landfill: 52°03'N 01 °06'E (Suffolk) x 24.07.88 Hanstholm: 57°57'N 08°38'E (Jylland) Denmark 736 km NW This is the first foreign recovery of a Foxhall ringed Herring Gull. All other recoveries refer to short-range movements within southern and south-eastern England.
Little Tern Sterna albifrons NV41218
1 29.06.88 Fagbury: x 08.10.88 AinEssebaba: 34°42'N04°09'W(Casablanca) Morocco 1967 km S Prior to 1988 only two British ringed Little Terns had been recovered in Morocco.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto EP28037
1 12.05.87 Landguard Point: xF 21.08.88 Cleethorpes: 53°34'N 00°02'W (Humberside) 203 km NNW This is an interesting post-natal movement, as most of our breeding population appears to be sedentary.
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur DN46644
3 16.08.87 Hollesley: + 28.08.87 Cabecao: 38°56'N08°10'W (Alto Alentejo) Portugal 1636 km SSW An exceptionally fast movement of 1636 kms in twelve days by a juvenile bird moving towards its winter quarters. Sadly the fate of this bird was sealed by a gun.
Woodlark Lullula arborea NA27776 1 26.06.86 West Suffolk:* vv 12.03.87 Foreness Point: 51°23'N. 01°26'E (Kent) ca. 125 km SSE The most distant recovery of a BTO-ringed bird, which returned to its breeding area in 1988 and nested four kilometres from the original ringing site.
Swallow Hirundo rustica C311383 4M xF
Landguard Point: Borden Farm, De Jagersdrif: 28°01'S 30°25'E (Natal) South Africa 9334 km S Landguard's most distant recovery to date.
House Martin Delichon urbica E397820
Landguard Point: Loch Lagan, Nr. Newtonmore: 57°04'N 04°08'W (Highland Region) 670 km NNW 141
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes 3R7178 2 24.10.88 Landguard Point: xF 31.10.88 Martlesham Heath, Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 4 ' N 0 1 ° 1 8 ' E 15 km N 8N0871 3 11.06.88 Walberswick: 5 2 ° 1 8 ' N 0 1 ° 3 8 ' E x 05.11.88 Bawdsey: 5 1 ° 5 9 ' N 0 1 ° 2 5 ' E 38 km S 3K0074 3 2 5 . 0 9 . 8 8 Walberswick: V 02.10.88 Shoreham: 5 0 ° 5 1 ' N 0 1 ° 1 7 ' W (Sussex) 208 km S The Controlling of 3K0074 at Shoreham is a remarkable example of a very quick movement of 208 km in seven days. W h o says Wrens are boring? Dunnock Prunella E267741 3 v
modularis 05.07.87 24.04.88
Robin Erithacus rubecula E670587 3 10.10.87 xF 25.04.88 E670773
31.10.87 10.02.88 Prior to 1988 there had been only three X
Flag Creek, St. Osyth: 5 1 ° 4 9 ' N 0 1 ° 0 5 ' E (Essex) Landguard Point: 21 km NE
Landguard Point: Isoheikoinen, Paimio: 6 0 ° 2 6 ' N 2 2 ° 4 4 ' E (Turku-Pori) Finland 1621 km N E Landguard Point: Langenwerder, Wismar: 5 4 ° 0 2 ' N 11 ° 3 0 ' E (Rostock) East Germam 720 km E N E Walberswick: Beira Baica: 3 9 ° 4 8 ' N 0 7 ° 3 9 ' W (Lisbon) Portugal 1560 km SW recoveries of BTO-ringed birds from Finland and eleven from Portugal.
Blackbird Turdus merula St. 6F 13.04.87 V 4250033 21.11.87 RC40285 3M 21.11.87 + F 06.06.88 There were additional recoveries f r o m
Martsbo, Gavle: 6 0 ° 3 6 ' N 17°17'E (Gavleborg) Sweden Landguard Point: 1374 km SW Landguard Point: Odda: 6 0 ° 0 4 ' N 0 6 ° 3 3 ' E (Hordaland) Norway 960 km N Netherlands (3), West Germany (3), Denmark (1) and Sweden (1).
Song Thrush Turdus RV38176 5 xF
Landguard Point: Kampenhout: 5 0 ° 5 7 ' N 0 4 ° 3 3 ' E (Brabant) Belgium 249 km ESE
philomelos 21.02.88 23.04.88
Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia C861035 4M 17.04.88 Dungeness: 5 0 ° 5 5 ' N 0 0 ° 5 9 ' E (Kent) V 14.05.88 Bourne Park, Ipswich: 5 2 ° 0 1 ' N 0 1 ° 0 9 ' E 123 km N Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus E085765 3 10.08.86 Holbrook: 5 1 ° 5 8 ' N 0 1 ° H ' E x 16.10.88 Chemaia: 3 2 ° 0 5 ' N 0 8 ° 3 7 ' W (Safi) Morocco 2349 km S Whitethroat Sylvia E671658 4F v Goldcrest Regulus 3P5642 3F v
communis 28.04.88 23.08.88
Landguard Point: Spurn Point: 5 3 ° 3 5 ' N 0 0 ° 0 6 ' E (Humberside) 201 km N N E
régulas 05.10.87 21.04.88
Landguard Point: Bardsey Island: 5 2 ° 4 6 ' N 0 4 ° 4 8 ' W (Gwynedd) 425 km W
Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus 2P2600 3F 03.10.86 Steep Holm, Bristol Channel: 51 ° 2 0 ' N 0 3 ° 0 6 ' W (Avon) v 10.04.88 Landguard Point: 312 km E A significant movement spanning an eighteen month period. Bearded Tit Panurus E270719 2F v
biarmicus 01.10.88 10.11.88
Walberswick: 5 2 ° 1 8 ' N 01 ° 3 8 ' E Sturry: 5 1 ° 1 8 ' N 0 1 ° 0 9 ' E (Kent) 116 km S. 142
[ ang-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus : P5765 28.10.87 Landguard Point: 26.08.88 Wicken Fen: 52°18'N 00°17'E (Cambridgeshire) 81 km WNW ' lue Tit Parus caeruleus ( 299888 5F 17.01.88 v 21.03.88 630938 1 06.06.88 V 23.10.88 itarling Stumus vulgaris 6M UJ73569
Little Okeford: 51°48'N 00°40'W (Hertfordshire) Landguard Point: 137 km E Great Glemham: 52°12'N 01°25'E Sheringham: 52°57'N 01°12'E (Norfolk) 85 km N
Ipswich: Monastyrschinsky: 54°22'N 31°54'E (Smolensk) U.S.S.R. 2060 km ENE RA20332 3F 18.11.84 Shotley:51°57'N 01°17'E X 15.08.85 Daugavpils: 55°33'N 26°39'E (Latvia) U.S.S.R. 1716 km ENE M 1 23.05.85 Sakiai: 54°57'N 23°03'E (Lithuania) U.S.S.R. T048654 V 26.02.88 Ipswich: 1480 km W RC44541 5M 08.03.87 Ipswich: X 30.05.88 Klaukkala: 60°23'N 24°38'E (Uusimaa) Finland 1713 km NE The above is a selection of the many recoveries received for this species and clearly shows the origins of our wintering birds. Birds were also recovered in West Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. X
Chaffinch Fringilla KA36779 3F x
coelebs 06.11.83 29.03.88
Greenfinch Carduelis A. 5F B722293 v
chloris 16.04.88 02.05.88
Siskin Carduelis spinus C886223 6M
Landguard Point: Croxdale Hall, Nr. Durham: 54°44'N 01°34'W (Durham) 365 km NNW Oranjezon: 51°34'N 03°34'E (Zeeland) Netherlands Landguard Point: 160 km WNW
Tangham Farm, Hollesley: 52°05'N 01°26'E Knaresborough: 54°00'N 01°27'W (North Yorkshire) 287 km N
Linnet Carduelis cannabina E396197 3F 29.11.87 Levington: xF 02.05.88 Nr. East Dereham: 52°45'N 00°51'E (Norfolk) 90 km N C830968 3M 03.08.87 Landguard Point: 0 23.10.88 Getafe: 40°18'N 03°44'W (Madrid) Spain 1349 km S C830968 is Landguard's second recovery of this species from Spain and again refers to a bird captured and caged.
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis VB85006
4F 04.03.87 Landguard Point: v 28.01.88 Sandwich Bay: 51°16'N 01°23'E (Kent) 74 km S A 50% success-rate was achieved at Landguard as the above is one of only two Snow Buntings ringed at this site to date.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Chris Mead for his comments on the draft and Rex and Roger Beecroft, Chris Bowden, Peter Catchpole, Malcolm Cavanagh, Mike Crewe, Derek Eaton, Landguard Bird Observatory, Dr Tony Martin, Mike Marsh, Dr Peter McAnulty, Alan Miller. Derek and Jeremy Moore, Paul Newton, Steve Piotrowski, Roy Thatcher, Brian Thompson, Tony Thompson, Cliff Waller, Lynn Webb, Rodney West, Chris Wright and Mick Wright without whose help and co-operation this report would not have been possible.
Reg Clarke, 6 Nelson Road, Ipswich 1P4 4DS. Ian Peters, 'Petang', The Street, Shotley, Ipswich IP9 1LX. 143
TABLE II: SYSTEMATIC LIST OF SPECIES AND TOTALS OF BIRDS RINGED IN SUFFOLK, 1988 Species Fulmar Grey Heron Mute Swan Canada Goose Shelduck Wigeon Teal Mallard Sparrowhawk Kestrel Water Rail Moorhen Oystercatcher Avocet Ringed Piover Grey Piover Lapwing Knot Curlew Sandpiper Dunlin Jack Snipe Snipe Woodcock Black-tailed Godwit Bar-tailed Godwit Curlew Redshank Green Sandpiper Wood Sandpiper Common Sandpiper Turnstone Black-headed Gull Common Gull Lsr. Blk-bkd. Gull Herring Gull Gt. Blk-bkd. Gull Common Tern Little Tern Little Auk Stock Dove Woodpigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove
Total 6 5 2 185 1 1 50 4 1 4 3 4 23 83 77 24 95 8 4 753 1 94 6 2 2 10 99 8 1 9 14 522 3 1352 557 2 9 49 1 2 16 10 11
Cuckoo Barn Owl Little Owl Tawny Owl Long-eared Owl Nightjar Swift Kingfisher Wryneck Green Woodpecker Gt. Sptd. W'pecker Lsr. Sptd. W'pecker Woodlark Skylark Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Tree Pipit Meadow Pipit Rock Pipit Yellow Wagtail Pied Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Nightingale Bluethroat Black Redstart Redstart Whinchat Stonechat Wheatear Ring Ouzel Blackbird Fieldfare Song Thrush Redwing Mistle Thrush G'hopper Warbier Sedge Warbier Paddyfield Warbier Reed Warbier Icterine Warbier
8 7 1 3 5 32 19 5 1 7 8 2 21 31 149 886 210 25 35 1 5 67 670 817 1147 45 1 45 52 14 2 61 19 1583 32 711 189 9 13 211 1 440 3
Subalpine Warbier Barred Warbier Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbier Blackcap Yellow-browed Warb. Wood Warbier Chiffchaff Willow Warbier Goldcrest Firecrest Spotted Flycatcher Red-breasted Fly. Pied Flycatcher Bearded Tit Long-tailed Tit Marsh Tit Willow Tit Coal Tit Blue Tit Great Tit Nuthatch Treecreeper Red-backed Shrike Jay Magpie Rook Starling House Sparrow Tree Sparrow Chaffinch Brambling Greenfinch Goldfinch Siskin Linnet Redpoll Bullfinch Hawfinch Yellowhammer Reed Bunting GRAND TOTAL
1 1 185 352 178 573 7 6 582 1094 388 24 175 1 29 92 205 31 16 77 1312 801 19 40 1 16 10 1 1913 503 31 356 34 2850 271 20 682 119 237 2 91 58 25097
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 £8.00 Individual £10.00 Family £3.00 Junior (under 18)
Joint membership SNS/SOG £14.00 £17.00 £4.00
CONTENTS Editorial. S. H. Piotrowski Birds of Estuaries Enquiry — the first twenty years. M. T. Wright Shorebirds and the Felixstowe Dock extension. R. C. Beecroft Suffolk Estuaries Breeding Wader and Wildfowl Survey 1988. Dr C. Beardall Seabirds in Suffolk, 1988. J. M. Cawston & S. Ling Distribution and status of the Nightjar on the Suffolk Sandlings. N. O. B. Ravenscroft Fall of migrant birds October 1988. S. H. Piotrowski Weather trends and their effect on the county's avifauna 1988. J. H. Grant The 1988 Suffolk Bird Report. The County Ornithological Records Committee Earliest and latest dates of summer migrants. S. H. Piotrowski List of contributors Rarities in Suffolk 1988. S. H. Piotrowski Cattle Egret. Mark Whittingham...., Paddyfield Warbler. J. R. Askins Red-eyed Vireo. D. N. Bakewell Obituary — F. K. Cobb (1912-1989). Gerald Jobson Notes The Suffolk Lammergeier. H. Mendel Lesser Black-backed Gulls plunge diving in Ipswich Docks. J. R. Martin Aberrant Whinchat. S. H. Piotrowski Lark Valley Canada Goose Study. Dr Tony Martin Letters. Haverhill's Starlings. Stephen Edwards Landguard Bird Observatory, 1988. Mike Crewe Bourne Park. Reg Clarke Suffolk Ringing Report. Reg Clarke and Ian Peters
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Volume 38 Bird Report 1988