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SUFFOLK BIRD5 1991

• 1990 Bird Report

• Ringing Report

• Breeding Seabirds

• Bearded Tits

• Southwold's Birds


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THE COUNTY OF SUFFOLK

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

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SUFFOLK BIRDS 1991 VOL. 4 0 incorporating the County Bird Report of 1990

Editor S. H. Piotrowski Assistant Editor P. W. Murphy Photographic Editor J. Levene

Published by SUFFOLK NATURALISTS' SOCIETY 1


Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH Š The Suffolk Naturalists' Society 1991 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.

ISSB 0264-5793

Printed by Healeys, 55 Fore Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1JL 2


CONTENTS Page Editorial. S. H. Piotrowski 5 A Guide to Birding in Southwold. Stuart Ling <6 John Cawston 7 Further Studies on Bearded Tits at Walberswick. Mark O'Brien & Derek Eaton ....12 Mute Swans in Suffolk 1990. Mick Wright 14 Breeding Seabirds in Suffolk. Mick Wright & Ray Waters 19 1989/90 Suffolk River Valley ESA Winter Bird Survey. T. J. Holzer 35 Weather Trends and their effect on the County's avifauna, 1990. John H. Grant 40 The 1990 Suffolk Bird Report 45 Rarities in Suffolk 1990 Steve Piotrowski 136 Great Shearwater. Nigel Odin 137 Great Shearwater. A. C. Easton 137 Great White Egret. Peter Dolton 138 Baird's Sandpiper. Brian Small 139 Stilt Sandpiper. Steve Piotrowski 140 Desert Wheatear. Derek Eaton 141 Greenish Warbler. Brian Small 142 Parrot Crossbill. A. Howe 143 Arctic Redpoll. A. Riseborough 144 Notes 145 Water Rail catching and killing Water Shrew. Cliff Waller 145 Grey Héron versus Stoat. Steve Piotrowski 145 Willow Tit showing characters of the race Parus montanus borealis. Brian Small 145 Common Sandpiper showing similarity to Spotted Sandpiper. S. Ling 146 Obituary: Harold Jenner — a great naturalist (1921-1990) R. W. Blacker 148 Landguard Bird Observatory 1990. Mike Crewe 150 Suffolk Ringing Report. Steve Piotrowski & Reg Clarke 155 Letters: Siskins breeding in Breckland. Ron Hoblyn 164

List of Colour Illustrations Plate No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

Red-throated Diver Jack Levene Little Auk Jack Levene Grey Héron Jack Levene Purple Héron Sleve Piotrowski Black Stork Steve Piotrowski Scaup Dumican Bamacle Goose Stan Dumican Long-tailed Duck Jack Levene Little Ringed Piover Jack Levene Temminck's Stint Jack Levene Lapwing Stan Dumican Dunlin Jack Levene Little Stint Jack Levene Stilt Sandpiper Jack Levene Short-eared Owl Stan Dumican Mediterranean Gull Jack Levene Kingfisher Stan Dumican

Facing Page

Plate No.

Facing Page

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33.

22 22 23 23 23 50 50 50 51 51 51 80 80 80 81 81 108

The copyright remains that of the

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Sand Martins Jack Levene House Martin Stan Dumican Wren Stan Dumican Mistle Thrush Jack Levene Desert Wheatear Jack Levene Robin Stan Dumican Wheatear Jack Levene Whitethroat Stan Dumican Reed Warbler Stan Dumican Chiffchaff Stan Dumican Crossbill Jack Levene Chaffinch Jack Levene Hawfinch Stan Dunican Treecreeper Stan Dumican Ortolan Bunting John Marchant Red-headed Bunting Jack Levene

photographers.

108 109 109 109 124 124 124 125 125 125 150 150 150 151 151 151


Notice to Contributors Suffolk Birds is an annua] 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 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. 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. Prints (6" x4") of most photographs are available to readers, at a cost of £1.50 per print, by sending a stamped addressed envelope together with remittance to the Photographie Editor. The author may wish to illustrate his own article but this will be subject to the illustrations being of the standard required by the Editor, and the décision on such matters will rest with him. Material submitted for publication should be sent to the Editor no later than February lst of each year. Authors of main papers may request up to five free copies of the journal.

Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee Cllff Waller (Chairman), Rex Beecroft, Brian Brown, John Cawston, Gerald Jobson, Mike Marsh, Derek Moore, Philip Murphy (Secretary), Tony Prater, Steve Piotrowski, Bob Warren (County Recorder), Malcolm Wright, John Grant.

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 (records for 1992 onwards to Philip Murphy — see below). Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee — information: Philip Murphy, 24 Henstead Gardens, Ipswich IP3 9LN.


Editorial

One of the saddest events of the last decade has been the loss of tne vast Poplar plantations, at Lakenheath, in north-west Suffolk, known affectionately to birders as "The Oriole Woods". It was truly an ornithologists' paradise, holding huge populations of Sylvia warblers, woodpeckers and Cuckoos. The Hawfinch was one of the rarer breeding species, but the jewel in the crown was Britain's largest concentration of Golden Orioles. They were discovered in 1967 and occupied the site each summer, peaking at 12-14 pairs in 1981. The wood lay dormant during the winter months, but as the buds burst forth in May, the breeding birds returned. Birds were not the only crĂŠatures to profit from this unique habitat. Butterflies and moths abounded and as the woods were skirted by the Little Ouse river they attracted a great variety of dragonflies. A walk along those leafy rides on a fine summer's day revealed a woodland bursting with life, song-birds announcing their presence from the rustling canopy and the vegetated floor, butterflies fluttering along ride and giade and brilliant white Muslin moths dropping from the trees like falling snow. Now, however, standing in the remnants of this once fine forest and gazing across an empty, featureless landscape, which formerly housed row upon row of majestic Poplars, I have to say to myself "Why did we letthis happen?". During this age of enlightenment could not the site have been saved? With the sale of the estate we cannot blame the landowner for gathering his harvest when he could and returning the high grade land to a more lucrative agricultural use. But surely our conservation bodies could have done more? It would have helped if the wood had been designated as a Site of Special Scientifc Interest, but the fact that it was a relatively young, man-made habitat, comprising of hybrid, non-native trees which were approaching senility, hardly inspired the decision-makers. In addition, the land carried a price-tag which was considered too much to spend on securing the future of an "expanding species" such as the Golden Oriole. Expanding they may have been, but as they command special protection under Schedule One of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, surely we had a duty to give them a helping hand in their attempi to colonise Britain? I also ask myself ' 'Would the site have been saved had it not been shrouded in secrecy ? ' '. I would venture to say "probably". Each year hundreds of birdwatchers, from near and 5


far, came to sample the delights of the forest, but it is only now, after the whereabouts of the site had been made public by the RSPB, that we have dared to name it in Suffolk Birds, fearing an outcry from certain quarters. This is despite the fact that the site has now been razed almost in its entirety and most, if not all, active birdwatchers and eggcollectors alike, were, in any event, well aware of the site's existence! I, like many others, was under the misapprehension that ' 'a good proportion of the site would be saved ' '. The Golden Oriole Group consists of amateur and professional ornithologists devoted to the study and future conservation of Golden Orioles. The species is colonising similar habitats in neighbouring Norfolk and Cambridgeshire and the group is actively encouraging landowners to plant Poplar plantations in the hope of accelerating the process. However, the fact remains that one of the Suffolk's prime wildlife habitats has been transformed into an arable desert. The loss of the Lakenheath plantation is a lesson to us all and it is important that in future we do not sit back in forlorn hope that the interests of our wildlife are being looked after. Wildlife habitats will come under pressure from many quarters and if anyone needs convincing of what can be achieved in the face of colossal commercial exploitation, they need look no further than Trimley Marshes Nature Reserve. This new reserve serves as a monument to those organisations which fought together to save the Fagbury Flats and, although the battle was lost, it is pleasing to see how quickly the "replacement" reserve is being colonised by the species for which it was designed. The construction vehicles had hardly left before Little Terns began nesting on one of the shingle islands and a pair of Avocets had taken up territory. The results of an even more remarkable effort can be seen at the exhausted gravel workings at Lackford, now the Lackford Wildfowl Reserve. Here a 'scrape', constructed by volunteers on a shoe-string budget, proved much to the liking of Little Ringed Plovers and other species. Both Trimley and Lackford reserves have been provided by developers as compensation for the countryside which has been destroyed and have proved a significant gain for wildlife. In other areas, such the gravelrich valleys of the Upper Stour, Gipping and Waveney, development has gone ahead with precious little thought to the future conservation of wildlife, resulting in almost all redundant workings being claimed by industry, anglers and sail-borders. The gravel abstraction problem lies with the conditions set with original planning consent and even when developers are willing to reinstate their workings for the benefit of wildlife, which is an easy option, the conditions often dictate that the area must be restored to its original use, such as agriculture. The message to conservation-minded people is simple i.e. if we ask for nothing we will get nothing. However, using the battle against the extension of the Port of Felixstowe as an example, the harder we fight the bigger the reward. As a postscript to the Lakenheath story, I am informed that 100 acres of razed woodland have been replanted, so we may yet be able to report a success story on the lines of Trimley and Lackford. The RSPB has made some marvellous acquisitions over the years and, in Suffolk, we are privileged to have, on our door-steps, superb nature reserves such as Minsmere and Havergate Island. The purchase of Church Farm Marshes, Aldeburgh is another link in the chain of diverse, coastal habitats and, as you will see from this report, it is already attracting huge numbers of wildfowl and waders. The Suffolk Wildlife Trust is committed to the purchase of the nearby Hazelwood Marshes, providing sufficient funds are raised as part of their campaign. This is a rich area of coastal meadows and dykes, hosting a wealth of breeding birds, and ornithologists must positively support the effort. Acknowledgements : Again I must thank Philip Murphy, the Assistant Editor, for his Stirling work on this edition of Suffolk Birds. Thanks are also due to Nigel Odin, Ranger for the Landguard Forum, for his help with proof-reading and Jack Levene for his first year's work as Photographic Editor. 6


A Guide to Birding in Southwold by Stuart Ling and John Cawston

In Suffolk, we are fortunate in having a number of excellent coastal sites for birds, the majority of which are already well known and frequently visited by birders eg. Landguard, Minsmere, Benacre and Lowestoft. However, the Southwold area has been under-watched in the past and only in the past two or three years has there been a consistent effort to watch this excellent site. The aim of this paper is to highlight those areas of most interest in and around Southwold and to give an indication of some of the birds that can be expected there. Southwold has a wide variety of habitats, situated in quite a small area, which are attractive to a a diverse range of species. These habitats include: fresh marsh, a boating lake, numerous gardens providing a variety of cover, a golf course and coastal denes. The whole area gives plenty of scope for an interesting day's birding. The sites described below are the areas that we consider to be of most ornithological interest in Southwold. 1. Southwold Boating Lake This is situated just north of the pier at the northern edge of the town and, if undisturbed, can be attractive to many birds. Apart from the resident wildfowl, winter may produce the occasional rare grebe or sawbill and in spring and autumn small numbers of waders occasionally drop in to feed. The grassy edges to the lake are attractive to pipits and wagtails, including Scandinavian Rock Pipit in the last two winters. 7


2. Seawatching Situateci at the northern end of Sole Bay, the town of Southwold projects at least a further two miles out to sea than the east facing coastline immediately to the south and is therefore one of the County's best seawatching sites. The best place to watch is from the small shelter situated on the promenade just south of the pier. The variety of species to be expected is much the same as at the principal localities further north, i.e. Covehithe and Corton, and in recent years highlights have included: Cory's Shearwater, Leach's and Storm Petrels, Grey Phalarope, Long-tailed Skua, Sabine's Gull, Roseate Tern and Puffin. â&#x20AC;˘ The shelter provides obvious protection from the weather, but lacks the height of Covehithe and Corton.

3. Gun Hill and St Edmunds Churchyard The town has many well-vegetated gardens which are an obvious attraction to migrant passerines. In our experience the best of these are situated on Gun Hill, near the Coastguard lookout and in and around St Edmunds Churchyard. At Gun Hill, the mature Sycamores regularly hold migrant warblers, flycatchers and other passerines including, in the past two years, Icterine and Yellow-browed Warblers, Firecrests and a Red-backed Shrike. The high ground here is also excellent for observing visible diurnal migration, especially during the autumn when early morning watches frequently show large numbers of hirundines, finches etc. to be moving south. St Edmunds churchyard, situated in the town centre, is also worth checking, particularly for flycatchers and berry-feeding birds such as thrushes. Recent sightings here have included a Yellow-browed Warbler and up to a dozen Crossbills.

4. The Denes These extend from Gun Hill to the harbour entrance and consist of short turf and marram grass, bordered on the Ferry Road side by a vegetated bank. This area is attractive to many birds including finches, buntings, pipits, chats and warblers and the occasionai Wryneck and Ring Ouzel. Early morning is the best time to check this area as it soon becomes disturbed by dog-walkers and such like.

5. Southwold Town Marsh Situated between Ferry Road and Blackshoe Road this extensive grazing marsh is an important area for both breeding and wintering wildfowl and waders. During the spring small areas frequently flood, attracting migrant waders, notably godwits, Ruff, Whimbrel, etc. Garganey have also been noted regularly. The footpath adjacent to Ferry Road gives excellent views over the whole area. In the winter, Short-eared Owls can often be seen hunting and flocks of finches and buntings regularly feed on the marsh.

6. Southwold Common and Golf Course Coastal golf courses are well known for their attraction to birds and Southwold's is no exception. The prime areas are the bushes along the southern edge of the golf course, the Holm Oaks around the water tower and the tennis courts near the Club House. Birds seen in this area in the past two years include Barred and Icterine Warblers, Wrynecks, Firecrest and Red-footed Falcon. 8


At the time of writing the list of species recorded within the parish boundary of Southwold (the area bordered by Buss Creek, the R.Blyth and North Sea) stands at 235. The following list includes ail species that have occurred in this area. An attempt has also been made to record the status of these birds. We would be glad to receive any additional information on the status of these birds and any additions to the list that we have overlooked. John Cawston, 477 Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich. Stuart Ling, c/o 20 Stonechat Road, Ipswich. 9


APPENDIX A — Checklist of the birds of Southwold Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata W , P Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica W , P Great Northern Diver Gavia immer RP Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis B,R,W Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus W , P Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena W , P Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus W , P Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis RW,P Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis P Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea 28.8.86 (three), 19.8.88 Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus P Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus P Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 21.11.88 Leach's Petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa RP Gannet Sula bassana P Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo W , P Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis W , P Bittern Botaurus stellaris V Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 13-20.5.90 Grey Heron Árdea cinerea R,W,P White Stork Ciconia ciconia 23.9.57 Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia RP Mute Swan Cygnus olor B,R Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus W Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus W Bean Goose Anser fabalis W Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus W White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons W Greylag Goose Anser anser R,W Canada Goose Branta canadensis R,W Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis RW Brent Goose Branta bernicla W , P Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus F Shelduck Tadorna tadorna B,R,P Wigeon Anas penelope W , P Gadwall Anas streperà B,W,P Teal Anas crecca W , P Mallard Anas platyrhynchos R,B,W Pintail Anas acuta W , P Garganey Anas querquedula S,P Shoveler Anas clypeata W , P Pochard Ay thya ferina W , P Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula R,B,W,P Scaup Aythya marita W , P Eider Somateria moltissima W,P Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis W , P Common Scoter Melanina nigra W , P Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca W , P Goldeneye Bucephala clangula W , P Smew Mergus albellus RW Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator W , P Goosander Mergus merganser RW Red Kite Milvus milvus RP Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus S,P Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus W , P Goshawk Accipiter gentilis RP

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus S,W,P Buzzard Buteo buteo W , P Rough-legged Buzzard Buteo lagopus RW, RP Osprey Pandion haliaetus P Kestrel Falco tinnunculus R,B Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus 6.6.58, 24.5.90, 20.6.90 Merlin Falco columbarius W , P Hobby Falco subbuteo S,P Peregrine Falco peregrinus RP Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa R,B Grey Partridge Perdix perdix R,P Quail Cotumix coturnix V,(B) Pheasant Phasianus colchicus R,B Water Rail Rallus aquaticus P,W Moorhen Gallínula chloropus R,B Coot Fúlica atra R,B,W Crane Grus grus V Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus W , P Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 22.4.49 (six) Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta P Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus (B) Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius P Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula W , P Dotterel Charadrius morinellus 30.9.79 Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria P Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola P Lapwing Vanellus vanellus R,B,W,P Knot Calidris canutus P Sanderling Calidris alba P Little Stint Calidris minuta P Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii RP Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos V Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea P Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima W , P Dunlin Calidris alpina W , P Ruff Philomachus pugnax P Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus RW Snipe Gallinago gallinago R , B , W , P Woodcock Scolopax rusticóla P Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa B,P Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica P Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus P Curlew Numenius arquata P Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus P Redshank Tringa totanus R , B , W , P Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis 5-6.5.47 (three) Greenshank Tringa nebularia P Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus W , P Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola P Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus 2-6.6.51 Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos P Turnstone Arenaria interpres W , P Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius 22.12.87, 8.11.89

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Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus W , P Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta W , P Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava P,S,B Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea P Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba R,B,P Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus RW Wren Troglodytes troglodytes R.B Dunnock Prunella modularis R,B,P Robin Erithacus rubecula R,B,P Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos S,(B),P Bluethroat Luscinia svecica 4.9.65 (two), 11.5.85 Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros P Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus P Whinchat Saxícola rubetra P Stonechat Saxícola torquata W , P , B Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe P Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus P Blackbird Turdus merula R,B,P,W Fieldfare Turdus pilaris W , P Song Thrush Turdus philomelos R,B,W,P Redwing Turdus iliacus W , P Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus R,B,P Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia P Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus S,B,P

omarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus P .rctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus P ,ong-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus 25.9.88, 28.9.88 ireat Skua Catharacta skua P lediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus RW,P ,ittle Gull Larus minutus RW,P •bine's Gull Larus sabini 12.6.88 llack-headed Gull Larus ridibundus R , W , P Common Gull Larus canus W , P •esser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus P lerring Gull Larus argentatus W , P ilaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus RW Jreat Black-backed Gull Larus marinus W , P Littiwake Rissa tridactyla W , P andwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis S,P loseate Tern Sterna dougallii 6.10.89 Common Tern Sterna hirundo S,P Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea P ittle Tern Sterna albifrons S,P Hack Tern Chlidonias niger P juillemot Una aalge W , P tazorbill A lea torda W , P little Auk A lie alle W , P fuffin Fratercula arctica RW,RP 'alias's Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus V s (1888 invasion) 'eral Pigeon Columba livia R,B itock Dove Columba oenas R,B,P Voodpigeon Columba palumbus R,B,W,P 'ollared Dove Streptopelia decaocto R,B rurtle Dove Streptopelia turtur S,B,P iinged-necked Parakeet Psittacula krameri F Cuckoo Cuculus canorus S,B,P 3arn Owl Tyto alba W rawny Owl Strix aluco R,B -ong-eared Owl Asia otus P ihort-eared Owl Asio flammeus W , P [engmalm's Owl Aegolius Junereus 30.10.01 (two)

Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus S,B,P Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina RP Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata (B) Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria RP Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca S,B,P Whitethroat Sylvia communis S,B,P Garden Warbler Sylvia borin S,B,P Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla S,B,P Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inomatus V Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix RP Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita S,B,P Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus S,B,P Goldcrest Regulus regulus P Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus P Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata S,B,P Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca P Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus RP Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus R,B Marsh Tit Parus palustris P Coal Tit Parus ater P Blue Tit Parus caeruleus R,B,P Great Tit Parus major R,B Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio RP Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor RP • Jay Garrulus glandarius P Magpie Pica pica R,B Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes 19.10.22 Jackdaw Corvus monedula R , P , W Rook Corvus frugilegus R , P , W Carrion Crow Corvus corone R,P,W Starling Sturnus vulgaris R,B,P,W House Sparrow Passer domesticus R,B,P

iwift Apus apus S,B,P Cingfisher Alcedo atthis R,B,W 3ee-eater Merops apiaster 16.8.67 ioopoe Upupa epops 5.5.83, 13.10.90 Wryneck Jynx torquilla P jreen Woodpecker Picus viridis W , P 3reat Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major P SVoodlark Lullula arborea 4.10.80 Skylark Alauda arvensis B , R , W , P Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris RW,RP Sand Martin Riparia riparia S,P Swallow Hirundo rustica S,B,P Red-rumped S w a l l o w Hirundo daurica 21-25.11.87, 4.5.89 House Martin Delichon urbica S,B,P rawny Pipit Anthus campestris 7.5.89 Iree Pipit Anthus trivialis P Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis R,B,P

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Tree Sparrow Passer montanus P Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs R,B,W,P Brambling Fringilla montifringilla W , P Greenfinch Carduelis chloris R,B,W,P Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis R,B,P Siskin Carduelis spinus P Linnet Carduelis cannabina B,P Twite Carduelis flavirostris W , P Redpoll Carduelis flammea P Arctic Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni 26.11.90

Crossbill Loxia curvirostra V Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus 2.6.91* Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula R,B,P Hawfmch Coccothraustes coccothraustes V Lapland Bunting Calcarius lapponicus R W , P Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis W , P Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella R,B,P Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus R,B,P,W Com Bunting Miliaria calandra P

Key: R — Resident; B — Breeder; (B) — Has bred; W — Winter Visitor; S — Summer Visitor; RW — Rare Winter Visitor; P — Passage Migrant; RP — Rare Passage Migrant; V — Vagrant; F — Feral Wanderer; * — Subject to acceptance by the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee.

Further Studies on Bearded Tits at Walberswick by Mark O'Brien and Derek Eaton Dingle Bird Club has been ringing Bearded Tits Panurus biarmicus at Walberswick since 19^9. A total of 5,255 birds had been ringed up until 1980, the results of which have been used in the analysis of plumage and eye colour variation (Pearson 1966) and moult and its relation to eruptive activity (Pearson 1975). In the 1980s trapping of Bearded Tits was much reduced as the club concentrated on other projects (eg Thompson 1990) which resulted in only 350 Bearded Tits being ringed between 1981 and 1987. In 1989, the club decided to increase efforts to trap in the reedbeds, initially for a period of three years, with the intention of looking at population size, productivity and age-related movements. This article is intended to introduce the aims of the project and to show some initial findings from the first two years. Ringing efforts were concentrated in two areas — reedbed west of Dingle Great Hill (O.S. Grid Ref. TM480731), with net lanes predominantly in old, uncut reed around pools, and reedbed around Dingle Little Hill (O.S. Grid Ref. TM487732) with net lanes again mainly in old reed, crossing old dykes, etc. A total of 20 Visits was made to Dingle Great Hill in 1989, between June lOth and Aug. 6th, mostly in early morning, whilst, in 1990, seven visits to Dingle Great Hill reeds were made during the second fortnight of July and twelve visits to Dingle Little Hill reeds between early August and mid-September. A total of 195 birds (50 adults and 145 juvs) was ringed in 1989 and 452 birds (56 adults, 356 juvs and 40 of unknown age) in 1990. Average trapping rates were 0.75 juvs and 0.3 adults per 100 foot of net per hour in 1989 and 1.78 juvs and 0.3 adults per 100 foot of net per hour in 1990. The apparent increase in trapping rates of juvs in 1990 is presumably due to the fact that a higher proportion of the netting time occurred later in the year when more of the young were fledged. One of the problems with ringing Bearded Tits is that as the season progresses so more of the birds of the year complete their post-juvenile moult and become indistinguishable from adults (Svensson 1984).


One of the products of intensive ringing studies is that a proportion of the birds ringed is recaptured on later visits. In 1989, 30 of the 145 juvs and eight of the 50 adults were subsequently retrapped. The proportions in 1990 were 113 of the 356 juvs and seven of the 56 adults. No individuai bird was caught on more than four separate occasions. The exact proportion of marked birds on any one visit or during any one period can give an idea of the size of the population from which birds are being ringed. For instance, in late July 1989, 27 adults were captured, three of which had already been ringed. Up until that period 16 adults had already been ringed. The Lincoln (or Peterson) Index (Southwood 1978) predicts that if three in 27 of the trapped birds were ringed and that if prior to this 16 birds had been ringed, then the population could be estimated as (27/3) x 16, or 144 birds. A similar analysis for adults in 1990 estimâtes a total of 131 birds. Bearded Tits breed through until late August or early September, so it is likely that these estimâtes refer to the number of breeding birds that use the ringing area either to nest or to collect food for their young. Breeding birds will travel a considérable distance to find food for their young (Bibby 1983). The Lincoln Index can also be used to calculate the number of juvs. In 1989, the number of juvs in late July was estimated as being 400. This increased to 1,089 birds in early August (although this was based on rather few early August captures). Figures for the same time periods in 1990 were 511 and 903 birds respectively. After fledging, juvs form flocks and move around the whole reedbed, so this could be a reasonable estimate of the total production of strongly flying juvs in the Walberswick reedbed up to these dates. Further investigation, possibly by observing the proportions of ringed birds at différent sites within the reedbed would be very useful. These estimâtes of numbers have been calculated using a very simple mark-recapture index. The Lincoln Index makes a number of assumptions about the populations being ringed — e.g. we are dealing with a closed population with no births or deaths during the survey period and with ail birds having an equal probability of being captured. More sophisticated multiple-capture indices, e.g. Seber-Jolly method (Southwood 1978) allow some of these assumptions to be varied. We hope to use these to produce a more realistic picture of Bearded Tit numbers and productivity at Walberswick in each year. In addition to providing estimâtes of populations being surveyed within a year, multiplecapture techniques can be used to estimate survival rates from one year to the next. These techniques require a number of consecutive years with detailed capture information. To date, with only two years data, ail we can say is that a total of 13 birds ringed in 1989 was recaptured in 1990. Ail but two of these were ringed as juvs in 1989. Controls of Bearded Tits ringed at Walberswick in 1989 and 1990 have, so far, been disappointing. Two birds, both ringed on Aug. 4th 1990 as juvs, were controlied at Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire on Nov. lOth 1990. One bird, caught at Walberswick, June lOth 1989, had been ringed at Icklesham, Sussex, Jan. 16th 1989. The Bearded Tit is a scarce breeding bird in Great Britain, warranting inclusion in the Red Data Book of British Birds (Batten et al 1990). The latest population estimate (O'Sullivan 1976) indicated that about 65% of the birds bred in the reedbeds of Norfolk and Suffolk, the main sites being Walberswick, Minsmere and the Norfolk Broads. Numbers are very susceptible to cold winters. Indeed, at the time of writing (June 1991), less than ten pairs are considered to be breeding in the whole of the reedbed at Walberswick (D. Pearson pers coirmi). A similar decline appears to have occurred at Minsmere (G. Welch pers comrri), but not in the North Norfolk reedbeds (G. Tyler pers comrri). It is hoped to catch birds again in 1991 after which we shall assess the effectiveness of the ringing programme and consider how best to progress. 13


Acknowledgements: We should like to thank Captain Watt for allowing us to catch birds in his reedbed. Also to all other members of Dingle Bird Club involved in ringing in the reedbeds, particularly Tony Thompson who initiated much of the ringing. Thanks also to Dr Dave Pearson and Glen Tyler for constructive comments on a previous draft. References: Batten, L. A., Bibby, C. J., Clement, P.,Elliott, G. D., & Porter, R. F. 1990. Red Data Birds in Britain. London. T. & A. D. Poyser. Bibby, C. J. 1983. Studies of Palearctic Birds 186 Bearded Tit. Brit. Birds 76: 549-563. O'Sullivan, J. M . , 1976. Bearded Tits in Britain and Ireland, 1966-74. Brit. Birds. 69: 473-489. Pearson, D. J. 1966. Observations on the iris colour of the Bearded Tit. Bird Study 13: 328-330. Pearson, D. J. 1975. Moult and its relation to eruptive activity in the Bearded Reedling. Bird Study 22: 205-227. Southwood, T. R. E. 1978. Ecological Methods. Chaman and Hall. Svensson, L. 1984. Identification Guide to European Passerines. Stockholm. Thompson, A. 1990. Dingle Hills, Walberswick Constant Effort Site Scheme, 1986-1989. Suffolk Birds 39: 25-26.

Mark O'Brien, 80 Florence Road, Pake field, Lowestoft. Derek Eaton, "Hillcrest", The Smere, Reydon, Southwold IP18 6SP.

Mute Swans in Suffolk 1990 by Mick Wright Summary The 1990 National census of Mute Swans Cygnus olor revealed 131 breeding pairs and in the region of 600 non-breeding birds in Suffolk. The breeding population has apparently changed by less than 5% since 1977. Introduction In the late 1970s and early 1980s, research indicated that between 3,000-4,000 Mute Swans were dying each year of lead poisoning (Goode 1981). The ingestation of anglers' fishing weights was thought to be responsible for the deaths. As a result of public concern, pressure from the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) led to the weights being banned in 1987 after considerable debate with the angling lobby. According to the National Wildfowl Count index for the Mute Swan, this ban led to an apparent recovery in the British population of the species in 1987/88 and 1988/89 (Salmon, Prys-Jones & Kirby 1988, 1989). As a consequence, a census was organised by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to discover where, and to what extent, swan numbers had responded to the ban. This report documents the Suffolk census results for 1990 and compares the findings with the 1977 County Survey organised by the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group (SOG). Methods The methods were broadly similar to those used by the SOG in 1977 in respect to lOKm squares and river valley coverage. All suitable habitat in every lOKm square was searched at least once between April 1st and May 31st 1990. For each lOKm square, two data forms were completed, one for territorial birds, the other for non-breeders, giving details of localities, dates and numbers of the birds present. For territorial birds additional data on breeding status for each pair 14


was required i.e. holding territory, on nest, with cygnets or failed breeders. The co-ordinated April BoEE' count was used as an accurate assessment of the number of non-breeders frequenting the tidal reaches of Suffolk's estuaries. Results All suitable habitat in Suffolk was searched for Mute Swans, except for those areas shown in Fig. 1. The number of pairs recorded, either on territory, with a nest or with cygnets amounted to 131 (a few additional records of breeding birds found outside the census period have been included in this figure). The number of non-breeding birds was found to be around 611. The majority of the breeding birds were located in the coastal strip, tidal estuaries and the Waveney and Stour river valleys (Fig. 1). Most of the non-breeders were found on the four principal southern estuaries (Fig. 2). There were several areas where breeding birds were present at an above average density. These included the Stour between Cattawade and Sudbury, the Waveney between Beccles and Fritton, the Aide/Ore complex and the Orwell. The following codes were used to define the observations of those pairs considered to be breeding: a. pair on territory, but without nest — T b. pair with nest — N c. pair with cygnets — B Out of a sample of 107 pairs 33% were observed with cygnets (Table 1).

1 pair 2 pairs 3 pairs 4 pairs Searched — none found Not censused

I

0 •

\ M •

8

'

• •

y

9

s y

••

• Jt

)

•<

• •

• • *

A

• • i

3

»i t i

\ • •

*

•#f • • i • • J P

• ^ • y

3

m l * .

5

5

Fig. 1: Mute Swan pairs to tetrad level.

15


3 individuals 2 individuals 1 individuai Non-breeding birds Searched â&#x20AC;&#x201D; none found Not censused

Fig. 2: Locations of non-breeding Mute Swans.

Table 1. Categorised observations of breeding pairs of Mute Swans in Suffolk. Category T N B

Pairs 42 30 35 107

Total sample

% of sample 39 28 33

Broad areas of habitat where Mute Swans were found breeding were also recorded. As expected, every pair was associated with a wetland habitat and over 50% of the pairs favoured rivers. Table 2. Habitat where Mute Swans were found breeding in Suffolk in 1990. Habitat Tidal estuary Non-tidal rivers Grazing marsh/meadows Dykes Gravel pits Lakes/reservoirs/ponds T O T A L SAMPLE

Pairs 25 30 13 15 5 19 107

The problem of accurately assessing the total population of non-breeders, because of their ability to move about during the census period, was largely overcome by using the Birds of Estuaries Enquiry co-ordinated count for April. All the large non-breeding herds were counted in this way (Table 3). 16


Table 3. Birds of Estuaries Enquiry co-ordinated count of non-breeding Mute Swans for Apr. 8th 1990. 124 54 60 108 346

Stour Orwell Deben Aide/Ore TOTAL

Discussion The correspondence generated by this census of Mute Swans clearly illustrâtes the resolve and enjoyment of the fieldworkers. Actual censusing techniques ranged widely and included canoe, yacht, aeroplane, cycle and Shank's pony. The decline of the Mute Swan, through lead poisoning, in many lowland areas of Britain has been well documented. Petrins (NCC 1981) confirmed that 3,000-3,500 Mute Swans were dying annually in Britain from this single cause. In Suffolk, however, due to a lack of information, it has not been possible to establish a true picture with regard to lead poisoning. Data on the size of the County's breeding population, prior to 1977, are also scarce. On a regional basis (Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk), the increases noted between 1955-56 and 1978 continued through to 1983 (Ogilvie 1986). National breeding surveys were carried out in 1955-56, 1961, 1978, 1983 and 1990. According the Ogilvie (1986), the coverage achieved in Suffolk, for the censuses between 1955 and 1983, was as follows: 1955-56 Patchy coverage especially in the north (The Suffolk Bird Report published totals of 66 pairs and 466 non-breeders). 1961 Census not carried out in Suffolk. 1978 Not properly surveyed. 1983 56% coverage. In 1977, in addition to the national surveys, the SOG organised a census of Mute Swans breeding in Suffolk. By achieving around 98% coverage, the Group set an excellent base with which the 1990 census and any future census can be compared. Marsh (1979) concluded that the Suffolk breeding population during 1977 was in the région of 125 pairs. In comparison with the 1990 census, which found a minimum of 131 breeding pairs, a small increase of around 5% is evident. However, after making allowances for the poor coverage of the Waveney in 1977, a small decrease of around 5% is found. Although there may well have been slight différences between, and interprétation of, the methods between the two censuses it still appears that the breeding population over the past 15 years has remained virtually unaltered. Since 1977, changes have occurred in the numbers breeding locally. For example, in 1977, the second most populated area was a five mile Stretch of the Deben estuary, between Waldringfield and Bromeswell, which held 16 nests (Marsh 1979), but the 1990 census found only four breeding pairs in this area. Probably the most significant change has occurred on the upper reaches of the Stour where in 1977 there were 17 nests (including a colony of 11 pairs) compared with only three in 1990. Whether the decline in the number of pairs breeding on tidal reaches of the Stour and Deben is related to public pressure as more people access sea walls and saltmarsh, or due to a hidden cause through pollutants affecting their basic food requirements, is for spéculation. The number breeding on the Stour, inland from Cattawade to Nayland, has increased to 12 pairs. The highest concentration of breeding pairs was found on a Stretch of the River Waveney, where 18 pairs were located on the Suffolk side alone. Changes have also occurred within the Aide/Ore complex of estuaries, Grid Reference TM45, where the population has increased by 100%, from eight pairs (1977) to 16 pairs (1990). The 1977 census did not survey non-breeding birds, although Marsh (1979) gave figures for summering herds of 175 and 75 for the Stour and Deben respectively. The corresponding figures from the 1990 census were 124 (Stour) and 60 (Deben) which both indicate a decline 17


athough it is difficult to conclude the County trend. Salmon et al (1988 & 1989) found a marked increase in the number of wintering Mute Swans both in 1987/88 & 1988/89. In Suffolk, however, the number wintering annually since 1987 appears to have been very stable although the distribution of swans has changed. Numbers on the Stour and Aide complex appear to be declining, on the Deben they are reasonably stable and on the Orwell they are increasing. Table 4. Peak numbers of wintering Mute Swans in Suffolk. Stour Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Average maxima

87/88 270 176 100 54

88/89 202 203 138 58

89/90 233 141 109 99

150

150

146

Acknowledgements I should like to thank Steve Piotrowski and Philip Murphy for proof reading and offering helpful comments on the draft. Thanks also to Bob Warren (County Recorder) for additional records. Finally my sincere thanks to the following fieldworkers who were already committed to Atlas work, but found extra endeavour to census the Mute Swan: T. Bamber, W. Burrows, C. Beardall, T. Bennet, R. Bigg, B. Brown, M. Cowley, D. Eaton, F. Elliston. R. Etheridge, D. Ford, J. Garstang, D. Gibbs, N. Gibbons, J. Giazebrook, B. Goldsmith, F. Goymore, C. Gregory, P. Gowen, C. Jakes, W. Last, D. Leonard., P. McAnulty, M. Marsh, N. Mason, G. McGhee, A. Miller, G. Moore, P. Murphy, J. Mynot, A. Nairn, J. Neighbour, R. Parfitt, T. Parker, O. Parker, J. Partridge, S. Piotrowski, N. Rayment, M. Richardson, N. Skinner, D. Steel, B. Thompson, J. Turner, P. Walton, R. West and P. Wilson.

References Goode, D. 1981. Report of the Nature Conservancy Council's Working Group on lead poisoning in swans. NCC, London. Marsh, M. 1979. 1977 Mute Swan Survey. Suffolk Ornithologists' Group Bulletin 36: 9-11. Ogilvie, M. A. 1981. The Mute Swan in Britain, 1978. Bird Study 28: 87-106. Perrins, C. M. & Ogilvie, M. A. 1981. The study of the Abbotsbury Mute Swans. Wildfowl 32: 35-47. Salmon, D. G., Prys-Jones, R. P. & Kirby, J. S. 1988. Wildfowl and Wader counts 1987-88. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge. Salmon, D. G., Prys-Jones, R. P. & Kirby, J. S. 1989. Wildfowl and Wader counts 1988-89. Wildfowl <6 Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge.

Mick Wright, 15 Avondale Road, Ipswich IP3 9JT

18


Breeding Seabirds in Suffolk by M i c k W r i g h t a n d Ray W a t e r s

Summary: The current breeding status of gulls and terns in Suffolk is as follows: The Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus population appears to be stable at around 2,500 pairs. The small colony of Common Gulls Larus canus tenuously holds on to the breeding site on Orfordness. By contrast, the breeding population of Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus on Orfordness continues to increase at approximately 1,000 pairs per annum and now (1990) stands at 8,000 pairs. Herring Gulls Larus argentatus on the other hand appear to have peaked in 1986 at 3,400 pairs. Breeding by Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus has been confined to sporadic attempts since 1959 and the Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus has yet to be added to the County's list of breeding birds. Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis currently total about 100 pairs and Common Terns Sterna hirundo also nest in similar numbers while the last confirmed breeding occurrence by Arctic Terns Sternaparadìsaea was in 1984. Little Terns Sterna albifrons have, in recent years, been the most abundant tern species, with a breeding population of about 200 pairs.

Introduction: This paper comprises separate accounts for each of Suffolk's seabirds, except for Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, which has been regularly investigated (Brown 1986 & 1990). The future of the Orfordness colony of large gulls is discussed separately. One other species of seabird has recently bred in Suffolk, namely the Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis, but this species is not discussed here. The data on which this paper is based has been extracted from various sources, notably •Operation Seafarer' in 1969-70, 'The Seabird Colony Register' in 1985-87 and the County Bird Reports. Unfortunately, the information presented in earlier reports is often incomplete or vague due to their quality or lack of submitted records. It is known that the reported size of a colony does depend on the observer involved and non-breeders have been observed daily at breeding colonies thus complicating the situation further (Lloyd, Tasker & Partridge 1991). Ail of our species of gull and tern are subject to a wide variety of factors that may affect their breeding population in Suffolk. In summary, these include mortality during the winter and passage periods, movements into and out of Suffolk, conditions at the breeding site (e.g. habitat, disturbance, flooding and weather) as well as fledging success. Fledging success can be linked to food supply, prédation and disturbance. As mentioned in Lloyd (1991) on several occasions, these factors are not well understood in a national context. Theories about particular species in Suffolk do exist and many are mentioned under the separate species' accounts. The controversial policy of culling gulls, to safeguard other species, is explored under the Orfordness gull section. More accurate monitoring of Suffolk's seabirds, together with further research, is essential if we are to properly conserve this most heavily watched group of birds.

The Gulls on Orfordness Through preconceived opinion, large gulls are often seen as 'villains of the peace' although firm scientific evidence of their harming other species rarely exists. Large gulls, apart from being scavengers, do predate eggs and chicks, as well as pirating their food. Evidence of serious damage by gulls to other nesting birds, however, is scarce (Thomas 1972), although their pirating of food certainly affects the breeding productivity of Puffins 19


Fratercula arctica in Newfoundland (Nettleship 1972). Gulls have been held responsible for the decline of breeding terns at a number of colonies and have been culled on largely circumstantial evidence (Lloyd et al 1991 citing Nisbet 1973, Lloyd et al 1975, Thomas 1982). On the Isle of May, in the Firth of Forth, after ten years of culling, Common Terns once again resumed breeding (Lloyd et al 1991), but Wanless (1988) drew attention to other factors that may have contributed to the terns' disappearance from the island in the first place. He cited variation in local food stocks and vegetation changes, due to the declining Rabbit population. The repeated culling of large breeding gulls has led to some colonies disappearing, often resulting in habitat changes as vegetation grew more quickly (Lloyd et al 1991). On Horse Island, off the Ayrshire coast, the reduction of large gulls was accompanied by the disappearance of terns themselves although Monaghan and Zonfrillo (1986) considered that other unrelated factors were probably involved. Culling of larger gulls, for whatever reason, has not always attained the desired outcome. This may be due to the culling being justified on flimsy circumstantial evidence from another colony, rather than on any scientific basis. At the large and increasing colony of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Orfordness it may be only a matter of time before widespread control measures are introduced. Sweeping statements condemning the gulls, often by people who have not even visited the site, are frequent. Various reasons for culling are given such as the gulls causing the shingle spit to become vegetated and predating Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta or nearby Little, Sandwich and Common Tern colonies. Sometimes fear is expressed regarding the spread of diseases because of the gulls' association with rubbish-tips and reservoirs. There is very little evidence of gulls predating birds on Orfordness. Thomas et al (1982) stated that the gulls did not seem to have affected the breeding success of Little Terns and that there was little predation of the Avocet chicks on Havergate and most of this predation was by immature gulls. Certainly, with Little Tern colonies, there is very little evidence of predation and it appears that providing the size of the colony is over about 24 pairs the colony is likely to survive. In large Little Tern colonies any wandering gull chick, along with any adults, is forcefully repelled. At one particular colony, adjacent to the gull colony, predation was not observed at any time during the visits made over three seasons. In fact, the gull colony was said to act as a protection mechanism for the terns against Kestrel Falco tinnunculus predation (Catchpole & West in litt. 1989). In 1990, the mixed colony stood at around 10,500 pairs plus several thousand non-breeders and immature birds and is potentially a serious threat to other breeding birds. The real problem, however, is the expansionism shown by the gulls which, by taking up an increasing area of Orfordness, automatically reduces the number of sites available for other species. This was the case for Little Terns in 1976 (Thomas et al 1982) and again in 1989 and 1990. As to the large gulls causing their breeding grounds to become vegetated, it would be extremely difficult to substantiate, considering the dynamic nature of their nesting habitats. With regard to the future of Orfordness, the area owned by the Ministry of Defence is liable to be sold (the southern portion is already a National Nature Reserve). Therefore, in the near future, changes are undoubtedly going to occur. The potential to increase the numbers and diversity of breeding birds, by controlling the water table, improving the reedbeds, returning arable areas back to grassland and reintroducing grazing on the salt pastures, is enormous. Improving and managing these habitats over a period of time may. in effect, be the criteria for restricting the breeding range of the large gulls. Hopefully, Orfordness will remain as an outstanding wildlife area rather than a holiday resort dreamt up by an entrepreneur. A beach littered with deckchairs instead of nesting gulls must not become a reality.


BLACK-HEADED GULL International and British status — Lloyd, Tasker and Partridge (1991) estimated the world breeding population of Black-headed Gulls to be about 1.5 million pairs. Breeding is confined to the Palearctic région although Brown and Nettleship (1984) suggest that this species may soon colonise North America. In Britain, during the 19th Century, there was a widespread decrease in the breeding population and J. E. Harting in 1884 considered that the species was facing extinction (Gurney 1919). However, the first national census (organised by the British Trust for Ornithology) in 1938 found that numbers were increasing. A repeat census in 1958 found a further increase of 27% and both 'Operation Seafarer' and 'The Seabird Colony Register' found that further expansion had taken place (Table 1).

Table 1: Numbers of Black-headed Gulls breeding in England and Wales 1938-1987. Year 1938 1958 1973 1985-87

Number of pairs 35,000- 40,000 46,000- 51,000 100,175-110,189 97,700-126,000

Source Marchant (1952) Gribble (1962) Gribble (1976) Lloyd et al (1991)

Status and distribution in Sujfolk — According to Ticehurst (1932) only one breeding colony, at Wangford (West Suffolk), was known up to the early 1850s. Thereafter, a few birds were said to have bred at Covehithe, Thorpe Fen and the Black Boum, Euston. It was not until 1927 that Ticehurst found one, possibly two, pairs breeding in Blythburgh Fen and by 1931 a colony of 24 pairs had become established there. Payn (1978) went on to write that this particular colony, although moving for a time to Corporation Marsh, Dunwich, continued to flourish up to 1942 when it numbered about fifty pairs. By 1958, the number of breeding pairs in Suffolk had substantially increased to 5,070 (Cramp et al 1974). However, Gribble (1962) stated that there was a maximum of 2,102 pairs in 1958 but an entry in Pat Banks' diary for 1958 states that between 4,000 and 5,000 pairs bred at Havergate, which substantiates the figures of Cramp et al. The upward trend in the number of new areas being colonised continued as clearly shown by the 1969 national census. The 1973 census showed an increase in the number of pairs breeding, but at fewer sites than in 1969. The results from the latest national census (The Seabird Colony Register) found 2,496 pairs involving 11 colonies. Despite colonies varying in number, and control at two main sites, the Black-headed Gull appears to be maintaining a reasonably stable population in Suffolk (Table 2).

Table 2: The total number of colonies (c) and pairs (n) of Black-headed Gulls recorded in Suffolk by the national censuses and the County census of 1990. 1938 1958 c n e n 1 50 5 5070 * Operation Seafarer § Seabird Colony Register

1969* e 12

n 2153

1973 e 8

n 3221

e

1985/87§ n 11 2496

1990 e 8

n 2677

When comparing the number of coastal breeding Black-headed Gulls located by 'Operation Seafarer' (1969) with those found by the 'Seabird Colony Register' (1985-87), an increase of 13% in the national population is evident. In Suffolk there was an increase of 16% (Table 3). 21


Table 3: The coastal breeding population of Black-headed Gulls as recorded by national censuses. 1969 Operation Seafarer 1985-87 Seabird Colony Register (pairs) Percentage change

Britain & Ireland 74,600 84,200 +13%

Suffolk 2,153 2,496 +16%

The Black-headed Gull is a colonial species, preferring to nest in Suffolk on saltmarshes on the coast and estuaries, although they regularly nest inland on the Bury Beet Factory settling ponds. After the great fenland floods in 1947, Black-headed Gulls were recorded breeding near Lakenheath in Spruce trees (Vine & Sergeant 1948). However, in 1990 less than 1% of the County's breeding population bred inland. Breeding has been recorded at no fewer than 25 sites since 1927, of which 12 can be considered to be current colonies (Table 4). Prior to 1985 the majority of colonies were not monitored on a yearly basis. Consequently, there are relatively few accurate estimâtes of breeding numbers and even fewer assessments on breeding success, the two notable exceptions being Havergate and Minsmere. Fig. 1 shows changes at these two colonies over the past 15 years. Table 4: Breeding locations of Black-headed Gull showing colony size for 1985 and 1990. *Bawdsey *Blythburgh *Butley + Bury B.F.Ponds *Erwarton *Falkenham Havergate *King's Fleet Minsmere *Orfordness *Sudbourne, Stanny Saltings *Waldringfield §TOTAL NO. OF PAIRS

1985 50 c600 c800 —

50 c450 225 cl50 130 119 0 c600 c3200

1990 0 c700 25 25 —

20 1300 0 300 7 250/300 0 c2700

§ Numbers rounded to nearest 100 * Saltmarsh colonies + Inland colony

Gribble (1976) suggested that the création and wardening of nature reserves was the main reason behind the increase in the number of Black-headed Gulls. In Suffolk, the main colony was at Havergate during the 1950s and 1960s, peaking at around 5,000 pairs in 1958. It was during this period that new colonies were founded, so it is not unreasonable to suggest, therefore, that initially Havergate provided the nucleus from which other sites were founded as is probably the current case with the Avocet. Control methods at both Havergate and Minsmere were introduced at a very early stage of the colonies' existence, in order to safeguard other species for which the reserves were established. The control method usually employed is nest-raking (three times at ten day intervais), although in latter years eggs have been injected with formalin. One of the aims of nest-raking, apart from Controlling numbers and to limit colony extension, is to delay the breeding cycle of the gulls. It is recognised that Sandwich Terns benefit from breeding in close proximity with Black-headed Gulls, although the exact détails of this relationship are far from understood (see Sandwich Tern section). Most of Suffolk's colonies, however, are outside reserves and most are on saltmarsh. As a conséquence the breeding birds are subject to increasing public interference and 22


Plate 4: Purple Heron. This juvenile at Shotley is only the second to occur in Suffolk during November.

Plate S: Black Stork. This immature photographed at Iken proved to be very elusive to many observers.


disturbance from water-based leisure pursuits. Naturai prédation obviously occurs, but is seldom reported. However, on one occasion, on King's Fleet saltings in 1985, Steve Piotrowski and Mick Wright found a Fox's larder, which contained 17 eggs and nine dead young. Five of the dead young had been ringed on a previous visit. The following year no gulls bred at this site. On Orfordness, prédation by larger gulls possibly reduces the fledging success of Blackheaded Gull colonies. Gribble (1976) and Lloyd et al (1991) state that various forms of disturbance and prédation cause colonies of less than 50 pairs to desert. It is likely that this was the cause of the recent decline at Orfordness. In 1985, there were 119 pairs (five colonies), but by 1990 there were only seven pairs. At one Suffolk site a small colony of Black-headed Gulls breeding on an area of saltmarsh was almost certainly displaced by Avocets. Fi

§

1

Black-headed Gull PAIRS (Thousandsl

There has been extensive egg-collecting in the past and at the present time large scale, licensed commercial egg-collecting stili occurs in some parts of Britain. This does not seem to have been a problem in Suffolk, although Payn (1978) wrote that egg robbing and disturbance were the reason behind the demise of the Blythburgh Fen colony. An entry in Pat Bank's diary (1960-70) said that egg-collecting and tides prevented anything but negligible breeding success on the saltings of the Butley Estuary. The greatest naturai hazard is liable to occur during May when spring tides usually cover the saltings, thus washing out the nests. Subséquent spring tides during June and July often take their toll through the drowning of chicks and the nests of late breeders. It seems probable that inundation of certain saltmarshes by spring tides gives rise to colonies fluctuating in size between years and to poor breeding success. For example, King's Fleet and Falkenham saltings, on the Deben, held cl50 and c450 pairs respectively in 1985, but in the following year no breeding took place due to high tides covering the saltmarsh. The colony on the Blyth Estuary was washed out twice by high tides in 1990 (Suffolk Birds 1990). Table 4 gives some indication of the changes that can occur at saltmarsh colonies. 23


The trend appears to be downwards with regard to those populations breeding on the saltmarshes of the Deben and Butley Rivers (Table 5). For the past five years high tides have, at criticai periods of the breeding cycle, affected the gulls. It is likely, therefore, that these high tides and/or the increased disturbance may be responsible for the decline at these sites. Düring the same period, however, the colony nesting on the Blyth Estuary remained remarkably constant at around 600 pairs and in 1989 125 pairs recolonised Stanny Saltings at Sudbourne, on the Aide Estuary. Table 5: The number of Black-headed Gull pairs breeding on saltmarsh of the Deben and Butley Rivers between 1985 and 1990. 1985 c800 50 c450 cl50 c600

Butley Bawdsey Falkenham King's Fleet Waldringfield ? = no information

1986 428 84 0 0

?

1987 400 350 10 0 350

1988 235 0 0

? ?

1989 300 3 0 45 3

1990 25 0 20 ? 0

Despite the above mentioned hazards and the marked decline in numbers breeding on certain saltmarshes, the population in Suffolk overall appears to be reasonably stable at around 2,500 pairs, although the trend may be downwards. COMMON GULL International and British status — The Common Gull breeds in a broad band from north west Europe to north west Canada., The world population is over 500,000 pairs (Lloyd et al 1991). Most Common Gulls in Britain breed in Scotland, mainly inland, on the west coast and on the islands of Orkney and Shetland. The trae population in Britain and Ireland has never been established, although Sharrock (1976) estimated the total breeding population to be about 50,000 pairs. This figure was based on an average density of 50 pairs/lOKm square recorded during the BTO/IWC Atlas survey 1968-72. Lloyd et al (1991) estimated the inland population and, together with the results of the Seabird Colony Register (1985-87), calculated the British and Irish population to be around 70,000 pairs. The number of breeding Common Gulls on the coasts of Britain and Ireland during Operation Seafarer (1969-70) numbered 12,425 pairs (Cramp et al 1974). The latest census, the Seabird Colony Register (1985-87), found 15,700 pairs, an increase of 26%. These figures indicate that about 75% of British Common Gulls nest inland. Status and Distribution in Suffolk — The County's first breeding record came in 1972 from Minsmere where a single pair successfully produced chicks, but failed to rear them to the fledging stage. This was followed by another failed breeding attempi at Minsmere the next year. A number of birds oversummered on Orfordness in 1979, where breeding was suspected (Piotrowski in litt. 1979) and they possibly bred at another coastal site, ' 'but no proof was received ' ' (Suffolk Birds 1979). The first authenticated breeding colony was discovered in 1980 when eight pairs were found on Orfordness. The Seabird Colony Register census (1985-87) recorded a maximum of 23 pairs (Table 6). Table 6: Numbers of pairs of Common Gulls breeding on Orfordness 1980-1990 1980 8

1981 10

1983 10

1984 30

1985 20

1986 23

1987 10

1988 25

1989 8

1990 11

Operation Seafarer (1969-70) found that coastal breeding colonies were small, with most containing only a handful of pairs. The largest reported British colony was of 320 pairs 24


(Cramp et al 1974). The Orfordness Common Gulls nest on shingle, with sparse vegetation surrounded by breeding Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls. A few pairs of larger gulls nest amongst the Common Gulls at the periphery of the colony. There is no evidence to suggest that the large gulls predate the eggs or chicks of the Common Gull. Information on fledging success is minimal and for most years the outcome is unknown. In 1988, 25 pairs bred but they suffered total failure (LBO 1988). This disastrous season was followed by the most dramatic decline since the colony began with only eight pairs breeding in 1989. LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL International and British status â&#x20AC;&#x201D; A Palearctic breeding bird comprising five subspecies. The three subspecies which breed only in Europe total 205,000 pairs (Lloyd et al 1991). Nothing is known of the population sizes of the other two subspecies that nest in eastern USSR. During this century the Lesser Black-backed Gull has increased its numbers and range. The total population in Britain and Ireland is estimated to be around 88,000 pairs (Lloyd et al 1991). Coastal breeding colonies surveyed in Britain and Ireland during 1969/70 and 1985/87 showed an increase of 29% from 50,100 to 64,400 pairs. Status and Distribution in Suffolk â&#x20AC;&#x201D; In 1954, a pair was seen displaying and copulating at Minsmere, but did not stay to breed. The first authenticated breeding by Lesser Blackbacked Gulls in Suffolk occurred on Havergate in 1957 when one pair hatched three chicks. The following year two pairs bred. Thereafter, breeding was discouraged for the sake of the Avocets. In 1968, a large mixed colony of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (100 pairs) and Herring Gulls (40 pairs) was found on Orfordness by officers of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). According to Payn (1978), Reg Partridge knew of this colony's existence five years previously when there were just three pairs of Herring Gulls. The results of a study by Thomas et al (1982) on Lesser Black-backed Gulls breeding on Orfordness showed that numbers increased steadily between 1968 (100 pairs) and 1981 (1,500 pairs). Using Chabrzyk & Coulson's (1976) figures for first year and adult survival rates and Harris's (1970) fledging rate he concluded that net immigration must have occurred every year excepting 1980 and 1981. A different source gave somewhat different figures for the population size between 1979 and 1981 (Table 7). Continued monitoring since this period suggests that the figures quoted by Thomas may well have been underestimates. No matter which figure is closer to the actual population, there has clearly been a massive and dramatic increase in the colony size since its inception in 1968. Since 1986, the breeding population has been increasing by about 1,000 pairs per annum and now stands at a staggering 8,000 pairs. There seems to be no indication that the rate of increase will slow down, at least in the near future.

Table 7: Numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls breeding on Orfordness 1968-1990 as published in Suffolk Bird Reports (Thomas et al in italics). Approx. no. of p a i r s

1968 100

1969 100

1973 200

1974 450

1975 400

1976 1977 800 10000

1979 800 1200

1980 1000 2500

1981 1500 4000

1984 5000

1986 5000

1987 6000 7000

1988 6000 7000

1990 8000

The gulls nest on the beach, shingle hinterland (resulting from sea defence work), saltmarsh dominated by Sea Purslane Halimioneportulacoides and extensive salt pastures. 25


The colony benefits from no culling of adults or control of nests. Only very recently (1987) have the few hundred pairs that nest opposite Havergate had their nests raked. The public are excluded by the Ministry of Defence and Foxes are absent which results in disturbance and predation being very low. Adults, whether Lesser or Herring Gulls, cause the greatest mortality through killing young chicks which stray into the wrong territory. There are obviously other factors involved, but it is evident that the Orfordness colony has increased by much more than the national coastal population (3,262% compared to 29%) (Table 8). Table 8: The total coastal breeding population of Lesser Black-backed Gulls as recorded by national censuses. 1969 Operation Seafarer (pairs) 1985-87 Seabird Colony Register (pairs)

Britain & Ireland 50,100 64,400

Suffolk 150 5,043

Rubbish tips and the fishing industry are the two main sources of food. The gulls on Orfordness are obviously exploiting a food source although details of their diet are unknown, However, Lesser Black-backed Gulls are frequenting rubbish tips much more than they used to and moreover, there are more examples of adults with botulism on the breeding grounds. Thomas et al (1982) found that between 1968 and 1981 adults at Orfordness fed their chicks largely on cereal grains and fish. HERRING GULL International and British status â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Herring Gull has a circumpolar breeding distribution of probably almost two million pairs (Lloyd et al 1991). The numbers breeding in Britain and Ireland increased at an estimated 10-13% per annum from at least the 1940s up to the mid 1970s (Chabrzyk and Coulson 1976). Lloyd et al (1991) estimates the population in Britain and Ireland to be around 200,000 pairs.

A marked downward trend in the breeding population was evident at coastal colonies between 1969-70 and 1985-87. Operation Seafarer (1969/70) found over 335,000 pairs compared with 180,000 pairs in the period 1985/87. 26


Status in Suffolk â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Breeding was first recorded in 1958 when two pairs nested on Havergate, where nesting also took place in 1959 and 1968 (Payn 1978). At Minsmere, between 1-3 pairs bred each year from 1966 to 1972. Breeding on Orfordness was first recorded in 1963 when three pairs were present. By 1968, there were 40 pairs nesting with Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Orfordness. Due to the expanding nature of the colony and the close proximity of Havergate and its breeding Avocets the RSPB monitored the colony during the period 1968 to 1981. During this period the number of breeding pairs increased significantly from 40 pairs in 1968 to 2,000 pairs in 1981 (Thomas et al 1982). The greatest increase occurred between 1968 and 1973 and Thomas et al concluded that massive immigration of breeding birds had taken place (see Lesser Black-backed Gull section). The only indication as to the source of these immigrants is through a chick ringed in the Netherlands and recovered on Orfordness. The Herring Gull population appears to have peaked in 1986 with around 3,400 pairs and subsequently decreased to around 2,500 pairs by 1990 (Table 9). Table 9: Number of pairs of Herring Gulls breeding on Orfordness 1963-1990 as published in Suffolk Bird Reports (Thomas et al in italics) Appro*, no.

1963 3

1968 40

1969 200

1973 1250

1974 950

1975 1050

1976 1350

1977 1300

of pairs

1980 1200

1981 2000

2500 2500

1979 1350

2000

1984 1600

1986 3400

1987 2300

1988 2300

2800

2800

1990 2500

There has been a downward trend in the number of Herring Gulls in almost all parts of Britain and Ireland since 1969 with the main exception being the Suffolk colony on Orfordness (Table 10). Table 10: The total coastal breeding population of Herring Gulls as recorded by national censuses. Britain & Ireland 335,100 190,900

1969 Operation Seafarer (pairs) 1985-87 Seabird Colony Register (pairs)

Suffolk 151 3,390

Around 1980, the Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull populations were about the same. Although Orfordness affords the same advantages for both species (see Lesser Blackbacked Gull section), the number of Herring Gulls did not increase in the eighties at the same rate as Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The reason for this is open to speculation. One cause may be botulism poisoning, killing adult birds during the breeding season, which in turn would affect fledging rates. The dramatic decline in the numbers of breeding Herring Gulls at all main colonies in SW Wales can be clearly linked to adults dying in the breeding season through botulism poisoning (Sutcliffe 1986). MEDITERRANEAN GULL Britain's first breeding bird was present at Needs Oar Point, Hampshire in 1968 (Lloyd et al 1991) and since then Mediterranean Gulls have regularly attempted to breed. In Suffolk, two full summer plumage adults were seen displaying to each other during the spring of 1977 at Lowestoft (Payn 1978). A pair was also reported as apparently holding territory at Minsmere in 1980. This species is being reported in Suffolk in ever-increasing numbers and in all months of the year. For six consecutive years, between 1985 and 1990, over-summering has occurred. In 1986, a pair of adults attempted to nest at Havergate, but were driven away by Black-headed Gulls. This is the first recorded occasion that breeding has been attempted in Suffolk and has given rise to speculation that this species will soon be added to the County's list of breeding birds. 27


GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL Most of the Great Black-backed Gulls present in Suffolk during the summer months are non-breeders. Ticehurst (1932), recorded a flock of 200 that spent the summer on Orfordness and he considered that this species was the commonest of ali the gulls during the summer period. In the coastal stretch, between the estuaries of the Aide and Butley, there were very few immature birds during March and Aprii (Banks 1971). A literature search (Suffolk Bird Reports) found that there was a scarcity of records of over-summering birds. Payn (1978) stated that a number of immatures and a few adults remain on the coast throughout the summer. Breeding by this species in Suffolk has been reported only very occasionally. On Havergate Island, sporadic breeding attempts were made between 1959 and 1976 (Marsh 1976). A few pairs were said to be nesting on Orfordness in 1977 (Payn 1978) and a pair or two were seen at one site during the summer of 1980 with at least one pair nesting (Suffolk Birds 1980). In 1985, one pair probably bred on Orfordness. SANDWICH TERN International and British status â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The world population is around 200,000 pairs, including about 50,000 pairs on the eastern coast of the USA. Approximately 130,000 pairs nest in Europe, with colonies in nearly ail countries, but over half of the population is in the USSR. In the 1985-87 census, around 18,000 pairs were recorded in Britain and Ireland. The previous census, in 1969-70, produced around 12,000 pairs. The birds are concentrated in relatively few very large colonies e.g. Scolt Head (3,000 pairs), Blakeney (1,000 pairs) (both in Norfolk) and the Farne Islands (3,500 pairs). The habitat favoured for breeding is low islands, sand banks, shingle spits, on or near the coast, in sait-water lagoons or on islands in inland lakes (Lloyd et al 1991). Many ringing recoveries of British-bred birds have shown that they winter off the coast of West Africa. Also demonstrated is the fact that less than half of our birds in their second and third summers return to the colonies to breed. Status in Suffolk â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Ticehurst (1932) stated that only scattered records were reported for the Suffolk coast until 1890. After 1890, the Sandwich Tern became more regular in Suffolk with an occasionai record of confirmed breeding, but Payn (1978) reported that no breeding occurred between 1921 and 1950. Since 1950, Sandwich Terns have only nested in two colonies in Suffolk, namely Minsmere and Havergate. The Havergate colony started in 1951 and from 1953 to 1959 it contained between 100 and 300 pairs. The size of these two colonies since 1960 is shown in Fig. 2. This strongly suggests that in some years birds shift from Minsmere to Havergate (or vice versa). This movement between the two colonies is mentioned by Lloyd et al (1991). In brief, the Minsmere colony started in 1965, enjoyed its most successful period in the early 1970s and had died out by 1979. In contrast to Minsmere, the Havergate colony was almost non-existent between 1965 and 1974 with its most successful periods being the early 1960s and late 1970s. The maximum size reached by each colony was remarkably similar; nearly 750 pairs at Minsmere (1974) and 800 pairs at Havergate (1962). Factors likely to affect the size of the two Suffolk colonies have already been mentioned in the introduction. Unfortunately, we have insufficient information to examine the effect of many of these factors. One further likely cause of decline in the size of either colony is a disastrous breeding season in the previous summer. At both colonies a season when the number of young terns fledged per pair was low was always followed by a decline in the colony size during the following season. Since Sandwich Terns do not breed in their first summer this decline in colony size is not caused by reduced recruitment to the 28


breeding stock. However, successful breeding seasons at both colonies were not necessarily followed by an increase in colony size the following summer. The most productive season recorded at either colony was in 1967, at Minsmere, when 700 pairs fledged 1,000 young i.e. an average of 1.4 fledged young per pair.

Sandwich Tern PAIRS

On four occasions very low breeding success was attributed to prĂŠdation by Stoats, Rats or various species of gull. As well as prĂŠdation, food supply, disturbance and weather conditions during the nesting season are likely to influence chick mortality, but unfortunately adequate data are not available to investigate this further. At Minsmere and Havergate a significant positive relationship was also found between the size of the Sandwich Tern colony and the size of the adjacent Black-headed Gull colony (Spearman test significant at 2% level). Put simply it seems that larger Sandwich Tern colonies tend to occur alongside larger Black-headed Gull colonies (also found by Lloyd et al 1991). Sandwich Terns settle to nest after Black-headed Gull colonies have been formed, so it does not seem that Black-headed Gulls are attracted to large numbers of Sandwich Terns but rather the reverse. Perhaps the gulls help to ward off predators from both gulls and terns. However, at both Minsmere and Havergate the fledging success of the Sandwich Terns tended to be worse when the Black-headed Gull colony was large 29


(Spearman test significant at 2% level). Maybe Sandwich Tern colonies produce less young per pair when their colony is larger. This could be due to a greater proportion of younger, inexperienced and less successful breeders being present, which could reduce the overall fledging rate of the Sandwich Terns. The national Sandwich Tern population has been accurately estimated on two occasions. The 1969-70 and 1985-87 national surveys showed an overall increase of around 50% in the number of Sandwich Terns breeding in the British Isles over this period. In contrast, the figures from Suffolk suggest little change over the same period. In fact, if one examines the Suffolk counts over all years a definite decline is indicated from the 1960s and early 1970s to the late 1970s and 1980s (average Suffolk population 1960-74 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; c450 pairs compared with cl70 between 1975 and 1990). In Norfolk, numbers also changed little between the two major national surveys, but in Northumberland the population doubled over this same period, so it is possible that there was some movement from East Anglia to Northumberland. Lloyd et al (1991) suggest that the national increase in breeding numbers was caused by increased wardening on a national scale which may have masked an underlying downward trend in our national population. Many more years of careful study are needed to understand this species. COMMON TERN International and British status â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Common Terns nest in all continents bar Australasia and Antarctica. The world population level is not known precisely, but it is thought to be between 250,000 and 500,000 pairs. The USSR holds well over 100,000 pairs. Rather smaller numbers breed in Europe with Sweden, Norway, Britain and Holland holding the largest populations. In Britain, around 15,000 pairs were counted in both national censuses in 1969-70 and 1985-87. Colonies are found throughout the British and Irish coastline, but since 1969 only three colonies have held more than 1,000 pairs. Ringing recoveries indicate that most British birds winter off West Africa, but not as far south as our Sandwich Terns. Status in Suffolk â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Ticehurst (1932) reported that "Of recent years the Common Tern has not nested anywhere on the Suffolk coast except at Orfordness ' ' and that the colony was "inn flourishing state in 1867and is so still". At the time of writing Ticehurst estimated that the colony comprised of nearly 1,500 pairs. He believed storms or very hot weather could, on occasions, cause high mortality of chicks, but mentioned that he had never observed damage by gulls. The most important colonies of Common Tern in recent years have been at Minsmere and Havergate. If one includes North Weir Point and Orford birds with the Havergate colony (both are less than two miles away) only the colonies at Minsmere and Havergate have held in excess of 40 pairs since at least 1953. At most, smaller colonies elsewhere hold only one third of the Suffolk population between them in any one year and usually much less. The numbers at these smaller colonies frequently go unreported, but during the two national surveys they contributed around 10% of the total number of pairs recorded in Suffolk in 1969 and around 25% in 1986. The colony at Minsmere was established in 1962 and grew steadily and rapidly to reach a peak of 400 pairs in 1971. Its decline was similarly steady, dropping to below 50 pairs by 1982, since when numbers have been well below even this figure. The timing of the growth and decline of this colony resembles that of the Sandwich Tern colony at Minsmere, although numbers of the latter species fluctuated more widely and their decline was more rapid and severe. The Common Tern colony at Havergate began in 1953, since when it has remained within 25 and 125 pairs. During the period when the Minsmere colony was large (1965-80) Havergate was at rather a low level. As at Minsmere these changes in the fortunes of the Common Tern colony at Havergate resemble those of Sandwich Tern,


although the variation from year to year is much greater for the latter species. DĂźring Minsmere's most successful period, i.e. 1965-80, smaller colonies were never recorded and yet many records exist both before and after this period. These changes over the years suggest there is some movement between Common Tern colonies in Suffolk, as there is for Sandwich Tern. The maximum fledging success recorded in Suffolk is 1.3 young per pair, recorded at Havergate in 1982. As with Sandwich Tern, poor breeding success is often followed by a decline in colony size the next year. Surprisingly, the Havergate colony in 1960 was double that in 1959 despite no young being raised in the latter year. However, 1959 was reported as being a year of good breeding success away from Havergate. PrĂŠdation is stated as being responsible for low fledging success on six occasions (Suffolk Bird Reports) with Rats, Stoats, large gulls and Black-headed Gulls thought to have been responsible. As with Sandwich Terns a productive breeding season was often followed by an increase in colony size the following summer and again this could not be caused by an increased recruitment of first year birds (see Sandwich Tern). Fi

s3

Common Tern PAIRS

The national survey in 1985-87 recorded a 20% decline in the number of British breeding Common Terns since 1969. Suffolk suffered a massive 65% decrease during this period and in Norfolk and Lincolnshire the decline was respectively 60% and 30%. In contrast, Essex was exceptional in England, in dramatically increasing by 900%, although a few counties in the south-east of England did show large but less massive increases. It is possible, of course, that birds moved from Suffolk to Essex during this period, but no evidence of this was found. Lloyd et al (1991) do not refer to any major factors which may have affected Common Tern numbers over recent decades. In Suffolk, Sandwich and Common 31


Tern colonies have fluctuated in very similar ways over the past 40 years. No such similarity is apparent for our national populations, although less evidence is available. All this suggests that local effects at Minsmere and Havergate (where both species are concentrated) may have played a large part in determining the fate of their colonies. ARCTIC TERN International and British status — The Arctic Tern breeds in a circumpolar band that extends as far south as France and Massachusetts (USA). The world population is estimated at around 1,000,000 pairs, although almost a million may breed in both Cañada and Greenland. The USSR and Alaska also hold 100,000 pairs each. Britain and Scandinavia each hold about 80,000 pairs with only about 20,000 pairs in the rest of Europe. Ringing recoveries show that British birds certainly travel as far south as South Africa, although it is generally believed that many winter even further south. Breeding does not occur until the third summer although first summer birds have been noted on the breeding grounds. In Britain, Arctic Terns mainly nest in the Shetland and Orkney Islands. Apart from 4,500 pairs in Northumberland, less than 100 pairs nest in the whole of England. The national census of 1985-87 produced a total of about 80,000 pairs, which is approximately 50% more than found in the previous census of 1969-70. Status in Suffolk — The Arctic Tern has never been more than an extremely rare breeding species in Suffolk and the situation is unlikely to change in the near future. The first authenticated breeding took place in 1970 at Havergate. Apart from a mixed Common and Arctic Tern pair at Minsmere in 1974, breeding has only been recorded at Havergate. All breeding records are shown in Table 11. Table 11: Number of pairs of Arctic Terns breeding at Havergate. Year Pairs Fledged

1970 1972 1973 1974 1975 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 2 1 1 3 1 2 2 2 3 2 2 2 2 ? ? 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 2 0 1

LITTLE TERN International and British status — The Little Tern breeds in Asia, Africa and Europe. The bulk of the world population of 70,000-100,000 pairs is in the USSR. Around 20,000 pairs nest in Europe with Spain, Greece and Italy holding large populations. Britain and Ireland also hold significant numbers with 2,800 pairs reported in 1985-87 (Lloyd et al 1991). The previous census in 1969 produced a total of 2,000 pairs. Colonies are concentrated in the south of England. Only two British bred birds have been recovered in West Africa, which may indícate that few of our birds winter there. Status in Suffolk — Ticehurst (1932) refers to the Covehithe area as the main colony in Suffolk at the start of the century. Up to 50 pairs nested there with a further 20 or so at Easton Bavents and Dunwich. With a further 70 pairs along the coast between Minsmere and Thorpeness, the total county population must have exceeded 150 pairs. Small colonies were present along most of the coast. Even 60 years ago disturbance was quoted as being a major problem for Little Terns. It can be difficult to decide whether Little Terns nesting along a stretch of coast comprise one large colony or several smaller ones. However, it does appear that Little Tern colonies are far more dispersed than those of the Common Tern. At least 19 sites have been named as hosting Little Tern colonies in Suffolk Bird Reports, compared with about ten for Common and Sandwich Terns. The scattered nature of Suffolk's Little Tern population makes it difficult to assess the occasional records as presented in the County reports. In some years, only the total is given with no breakdown by site. This problem is further


illustrated by comparing the figure of 67 pairs found in 1969 (Operation Seafarer) with the reported total for other years around this period. Between 1956 and 1978, no higher figure than 67 was published. The national survey of 1985-87 (Seabird Colony Register) found 356 pairs in Suffolk. This is an all-time high and over 300 pairs have in fact only been found in one year since (1988). It would appear that often the Little Tern numbers published in our County Reports are underestimates mainly due to lack of recording. There is, however, strong evidence that numbers in Suffolk have increased over the past five years. Prior to 1986, County totals of more than 100 pairs were reported in only four years, the maximum number being 137. From 1986 to 1990 however, reported totals for Suffolk were 221, 328, 209, 222 and 244 pairs respectively. By far the largest colony in recent years has been on Orfordness with over 100 pairs in 1987 and 1988. Other sizeable colonies have existed at Minsmere, Benacre/Easton Bavents and the Felixstowe 'promontory'. On a few occasions each of these three colonies has held over twenty pairs but, unfortunately, for most years no data are available. Only the Minsmere and Felixstowe colonies were regularly reported before the mid-1980s. At Minsmere, colonies of well over 20 pairs were reported in the mid-1950s and again in the early 1980s. These large colonies were mainly on the beach. Smaller numbers have nested on Minsmere's Scrape, usually when only small numbers were on the beach. The Felixstowe area (Fagbury, Felixstowe Dock, Landguard) has been regularly counted since the mid-1970s and numbers did not exceed 30 pairs until 1990. In most years the total number of pairs in the Felixstowe area was below 20, but in 1990 57 pairs were recorded with 50 of these at Felixstowe Docks. During the period when the Landguard colony was at its smallest, i.e. 1984-87, the Felixstowe Dock colony first established itself. This suggests that Little Terns may shift their colonies from one year to another, at least over short distances. This was certainly the case with the birds nesting at Felixstowe Dock, where after each successive development the terns moved as well. Similar movements had been noted previously at Benacre in 1986 (Suffolk Birds). Thomas (1982), in fact, suggests that movements can occur between nearby counties. The fledging success of Little Terns has rarely been reliably reported in Suffolk, but in 1982 and 1990 an average of about 0.5 young was fledged per pair in the County's colonies. This maximum figure has been exceeded at Felixstowe Docks in 1990 when each pair raised an average of 0.7 young. Lloyd et al (1991) report that the colony at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk,averaged a fledging rate of around 1.25 young per pair from 1988-90. Reported causes of heavy chick mortality have often included human disturbances of various types, predation by Foxes, Rats and dogs as well as high-tides and rain. Changes in the nesting habitat, e.g. the ground becoming too steep, have often caused the terns to leave traditional colonies. Of all these factors disturbance is the most often quoted as wreaking havoc on our most unprotected tern and often one instance on a crucial date during the breeding cycle can be disastrous. Very little data is available to examine the effect of a poor breeding season on the size of the colony in the following year. Only two pieces of evidence exist and on both these occasions a particularly high fledging success was followed by a large increase in the colony size the following summer. As with the other terns, Little Terns do not breed in their first summer, so this increase was not due to an influx of birds reared during the previous breeding season. In Suffolk, the national surveys of 1969-70 and 1985-87 suggest an increase of over 300% during the intervening years. In Essex and Lincolnshire, increases of over 100% were found, but in Norfolk, the increase was only 10%. This compares with a 40% increase for the British Isles as a whole. According to the later survey Suffolk holds over 10% and 31 % of the British and Irish and East Anglian populations respectively (similar figures


are given by Wright in litt.). Suffolk holds a greater proportion of the Britsh population of Little Tern than for Sandwich or Common Terns. It is therefore unfortunate that our records are much more incomplete for this species, the smallest of our terns. Acknowledgements: We are grateful for the comments and data from Peter Catchpole, John Partridge, Ian Robertson, Mark Tusker, Rodney West, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Seabird Group. Special thanks to Malcolm Cavanagh for the loan of Pat Bank's diary and to Steve Piotrowski and Philip Murphy for their comments on the draft. Our thanks also to the following fieldworkers involved in the 'The Seabird Colony Register': Brian Brown, Trevor Charlton, the late John Longhurst, Alan Miller, John Partridge, Cliff Waller and personnel from Landguard Bird Observatory.

References: Banks, P. A. 1971. Diary 1960-70. Unpublished. Brown, B. J. 1986. A History of the Kittiwake in Suffolk. Suffolk Birds 1984 Brown, B. J. 1990. Further notes on the Kittiwake in Suffolk. Suffolk Birds 39: 21-23. Brown, R. G. B. & Nettleship, D. N. 1984. The seabirds of northeastern North America; their present status and conservation requirements, pp 85-100 in Croxall, P. P., Evans, P. G. H. & Scrieber, R. W. (eds) Status and conservation of the world's seabirds. ICBP Tech. Pub. No. 2. Cambridge Chabryzk, G. & Coulson, J. C. 1976. Survival and recruitment in the Herring Gull. J.Anim. Ecol. 44: 187-203. Cramp, S., Bourne, W. R. P. & Saunders, D. 1974. The seabirds of Britain and Ireland. Collins, London. Gribble, F. C. 1962. Census of Black-headed Gull colonies in England and Wales, 1958. Bird Study 9: 56-71. Gribble, F. C. 1976. A census of Black-headed Gull colonies. Bird Study. 23: 135-145. Gurney, J. H. 1919. Breeding stations of the Black-headed Gull in the British Isles. Trans. Norfolk Nat. Soc. 10: 416-447. Harris, M. P. 1970. Rates and causes of increases of some Black-headed Gull populations. Bird Study 17: 325-335. Hollom, P. A. 1940. Report on the 1938 survey of Black-headed Gull colonies. Brit. Birds 33: 202-221, 230-244. Lloyd, C., Tasker, M. L. and Partridge, K. 1991. The status of seabirds in Britain and Ireland T. & A. D. Poyser., London. Lloyd, C. S., Bibby, C. J. & Everett, M. J. 1975. Breeding terns in Britain and Ireland in 1964-74. Brit. Birds 68: 221-237. Marchant, S. 1952. The status of the Black-headed Gull colony at Ravensglass. Brit. Birds 45: 22-27. Marsh, M. 1976. The Gulls of Suffolk. Suffolk Ornithologists Group Bulletin 23: 6-10. Monaghan, P. & Zonfrillo, B. 1986. Population dynamics of seabirds breeding in the Firth of Clyde. Proc. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh 90B: 363-375. Nettleship, D. N. 1972. Breeding success of the Common Puffin (Fratercula arctica, L.) on different habitats at Great Island, Newfoundland. Ecol. Mon. 42: 239-268. Nisbet, I. C. T. Terns in Massachusetts: present numbers and historical changes. Bird-Banding 44: 27-55. Payn, W. H. 1978. The birds of Suffolk Ancient House Publishing, Ipswich. Sharrock, J. T. R. (ed) 1976. The atlas of breeding birds in Britain and Ireland. British Trust for Ornithology and Irish Wildbird Conservancy, Tring and Dublin. Sutcliffe, S. J. 1986. Changes in the gull populations of SW Wales. Bird Study 33: 91-97. Thomas, G. J., Partridge, J., Wolstenholme, R. S., Richards, P., Everett, M. J. & Cadbury, C. J. 1982. The increase and feeding habits of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Orfordness. Suffolk. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc 18: 277-285. Thomas, G. T. 1982. Breeding terns in Britain and Ireland, 1975-79. Seabird Report 6: 59-69. Ticehurst, C. B. 1932. A History of the Birds of Suffolk. London. Vine, A. E. & Sergeant, D. E. 1948. Arboreal nesting of Black-headed Gull colony. Brit. Birds. 41: 158-159. Wanless, S. 1988. The colonisation of the Isle of May by Common Terns and Arctic Terns. Scot. Birds. 15: 1-8.

Mick Wright, 15 Avondale Road, Ipswich IP3 9JT. Ray Waters, c/o BTO, The Nunnery, Nunnery Place, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU. 34


1 9 8 9 / 9 0 Suffolk River Valley ESA Winter Bird Survey by T. J. Holzer Introduction: The designation of the Suffolk river valleys as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (SRV ESA) by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1988 was recognition of the aesthetic and wildlife value of this landscape. Almost all of Suffolk's coastal grazing marshes lie within the SRV ESA boundary, and the scheme provides the opportunity to retain and improve this habitat for wildlife, as well as reinstating grasslands which have been ploughed and drained in recent decades. Part of the wildlfe interest of these coastal grazing marshes is the support they give to wintering birds and, in particular, to flocks of wildfowl and waders. In response to the SRV ESA initiative the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC), in co-operation with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Estuaries Project, undertook, during the winter of 1989/90, an intensive survey, the principal aim of which was to establish the relative importance of selected areas of coastal grasslands for wintering birds. A scoring system based on species' diversity and rarity was devised for comparison of 21 sites. Using this system nine of the 21 sites had above average scores and four sites of outstanding importance for wintering wildfowl and waders were identified. These are Minsmere and Kessingland Levels, Southwold Town Marshes and Sudbourne 'A' Marsh (see location map, Fig. 1).

Methods: Although the SRV ESA boundary extends some way inland, attention was focused on grasslands lying within the coastal belt with 21 well-defined sites totalling 1,759 hectares being selected for survey (see Fig. 1). These included sites already known to be of importance, sites thought most likely to be influenced by ESA regulations and grasslands reinstated as a result of the introduction of the ESA scheme. Only one site, Shotley Marshes, amounting to 6% of the total study area, did not fall within the SRV ESA boundary. All wildfowl and waders were included in the survey with other species worthy of note, such as raptors, thrush flocks, etc. being recorded where they occurred. Data collection involved up to six visits for each site spaced evenly throughout a three month study period from December to the beginning of March. All relevant species were counted as accurately as possible and other details likely to have affected distribution were recorded. Weather conditions throughout the winter period were generally very mild with occasional torrential rainfall and persistent strong winds. Meteorological observations at Landguard Pt, Felixstowe, recorded minimum air temperatures of below zero on only two dates during the study period, with mean minimum air temperatures of 4.2, 4.7 and 5.2°C for December, January and February respectively. Results: Table 1 shows the peak and mean counts of the 23 most significant species of wildfowl and waders for the 21 sites examined. Of these, only Gad wall reached a level of national importance (1% of the total estimated British wintering population) with a maximum of 50 individuals being recorded on Southwold Town Marshes. The highest counts of Greylag Geese at Southwold Town Marshes and Minsmere Level and Canada Geese at Kessingland Level exceeded 1 % of the peak 1988/89 winter counts of these species for Great Britain 35


and, regardless of their ferai origin, these geese are becoming an increasingly important part of the county's avifauna. Snow Bunting, which is not included in Table 1, also reached a level of national significance with a flock of some 120 birds remaining at Sudbourne Marshes throughout the winter. Evaluation: In order to compare the relative ornithological importance of the 21 sites a scoring system was devised which takes into account species' rarity as well as diversity. Each species was given an index weighted according to the size of the estimated British wintering population. The rarer a species, the higher its index. Summation of the indices of species occurring at a site gives a score easily measured against that of another site. British wintering population sizes have been calculated from the 1 % qualifying levels for national importance (Salmon et al 1989), except in the case of Greylag and Canada Geese where the peak 1988/89 British wintering counts were used (Salmon et al 1989), and Moorhen, where the estimated British wintering population was taken from Guidelines for the Selection of Biological SSSIs (NCC 1989). Ferai Barnacle Geese and Snipe have been omitted from the scoring system as no population estimâtes are available for these species. Table 2 illustrâtes the 21 sites arranged in score order and where the highest mean winter counts of the 23 species listed in Table 1 were recorded. Discussion: Exceptionally mild weather conditions during the survey period almost certainly influenced the results in terms of numbers and overall behaviour of birds. Although Gadwall was the only species in Table 1 to reach a level of national significance, County bird reports for the years 1986 to 1988 show that Bewick's Swan, White-fronted Goose, Brent Goose and Teal also reached levels of national significance at these grassland sites in past winters. These reports also show considérable yearly fluctuations in the numbers of other wildfowl and wader species. Such trends can be attributed to factors such as severe weather and breeding success, but insufficient detail is available to ascertain whether these fluctuations would alter the order of importance illustrated by Table 2. Although the scoring system used in Table 2 does not take absolute numbers of individuals into account, the order of importance is substantiated by the mean winter counts. Highest mean counts for 17 of the 23 species from Table 1 occur at those sites with the top seven scores. Récognition must, however, be given to those sites with lower scores, but which support significant numbers of perhaps only one species. Shotley Marshes, for example, has a below average score and yet this site is regularly grazed by significant numbers of Brent Geese. Likewise, Union Marshes, on the Blyth, has one of the lowest scores, but Shelduck made more use of this site than any other. The majority of the sites are situated directly beside, or very close to one of the County's estuaries which, mainly through regulär 'Birds of Estuaries Enquiry' counts, have had their importance recognised for many wildfowl and wader species (Wright 1989). Although most of these grasslands are included in this regulär survey work, count figures tend to be lumped together with those relating specifically to the estuaries with the precise rôle of the grasslands therefore being unknown. The winter survey has helped to illustrate the relative importance of these grazing marshes and observations relating to the exchange of birds between estuary and grassland highlight the intrinsic rôle played by some of the sites in the estuarine system. Some effort, in the form of night-time visits, was made to ascertain whether the usage of the study area after dark was significantly différent to that recorded during conventional daytime counts. One night visit revealed a dramatic discrepancy with the équivalent day counts at the same site. This concerned a section of the Minsmere Level where six daytime counts failed to reach double figures, and yet during a night visit which fell between the 36


Fig. 1. Site number

1

2 3 4 5

6 7

8 9

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

20

21

Site name Kessingland Level Wren Valley Wang Valley Southwold, Buss Creek Southwold, Town Marshes Reydon Marshes Blythburgh, Union Marsh Minsmere Level Sizewell Belts Aldeburgh, Church Fm Marshes Aldeburgh, Town Marshes Aldeburgh, Hazelwood Marshes Snape Marsh Iken Marsh Sudbourne ' A ' Marsh Sudbourne 'B' Marsh Boyton Marshes Cauldwell Hall Marsh Oxley Marsh Shotley Marsh Cattawade Marsh

last two daytime counts, an estimated 700 ducks of six species were recorded. This figure exceeded the peak Minsmere Level count of all duck species. Other night Visits recorded the addition of birds to a site at or after dusk, but these involved much smaller numbers. Evidence was also found during day counts which suggested the heavy use of some grasslands where bird numbers recorded during daytime counts were very low. This again points to night-time activity which could be of significance in evaluating a site's importance, but which would not have been detected during daytime counts. Clearly it would be useful to repeat this survey to establish whether the picture revealed is indicative of a consistent situation. Furthermore, evidence that supports a diffĂŠrence in day/night usage of some grasslands demonstrates the need to investigate the nocturnal behaviour of select species. Such information is essential if accurate ĂŠvaluations of this habitat are to be made. Acknowledgements : Thanks are due to John Shackles (NCC) and Dr Charles Beardall (SWT), for their advice throughout the survey. Also to Rodney West, Mick Wright and Daniel Clark for their assistance in the field work, and all landowners and gamekeepers who kindly gave permission for access onto private land.

References: Nature Conservancy Council. 1989. Guidelines for the selection ofbiological SSSIs NCC, Peterborough. Salmon, D. G., Prys-Jones, R. P. and Kirby, J. S. 1989. Wildfowl and Wader Counts 1988-1989. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. w n g h t , M. T. 1989. Suffolk Species Report 1988/89. Suffolk Estuaries Report 3: 31-37.

Tim Holzer, Hill Farm House, Thurlton, Norwich NR14 6QE. 37


Table 1: Peak and mean counts of the 23 most significant species of wildfowl and wader for sites 1 to 21. The peak count for each site is the upper figure in each row, the lower figure showing the mean count for the three month winter period (see Fig. 1 for site locations). Site Mute Swan Bewick's Swan Bean Goose White-fronted Goose Greylag Goose Canada Goose Bamacle Goose

1 5 3.0

2 2 0.4

3 2 1.5

4 8 3.8

5 6 3.8

6 12 8.8

7 2 1.8

13 2.2

7 2.3 6 3.3

15 7 4 1.0

88 37.3

421 316.2 34 20

2 0.4

— —

14 2.8 65 13.0

121 41.3 152 61.3

— — —

8 26 19.0 17 3.8 5 1.3 49 11.8 182 122 270 175.8 4 0.7

9 8 6.4

Wigeon Gadwall Teal Mallard Shoveler

1 0.2 28 20 18 4.7 14 6.3 92 58

5 1.8 39 13.2 43 17.4 95 60

20 7.5 15 8

Tufted Duck Moorhen Coot Oystercatcher Lapwing Dunlin Snipe Curlew Redshank

2 0.3 31 223 4 2.5

_ 3 0.6 2 1.4 6 2.4

— —

84 63 91 66.5 —

_

4 1.3 57 35.3 9 5.5

383 89.3

_

8 2.3

5 1.3 6 3.7 85 38.2 50 25.3 1 0.2 5 1.8 70 54.8 5 3.2 12 2 213 43.7

26 12.5

46 24.3

48 22.8 4 0.7 i

3 1.2 —

14 3.5 5 1.3 50 11.2 106 35.8 78 46 8 2.5 4 0.7 89 66.3 24 4.7 17 3.4 564 199 234 39 117 51.7 —

_

Q

2 0.4

11 16 7.8

12 —

13 1 0.3

14 4 2.8

— — —

7 3.6 2 0.4

-

— — —

21 15.8 2 0.4 1 0.2 13 6.2

17 2.8 41 17.7

— — — —

— —

25 112 17.4 68.6 66 58 39.2 36 — 1 — 0.2

54 42.8 2 1.2

41 23.4 2 0.6

_

14 5.2 15 3 —

53 39.3 47 15.8 26

49 14.5

— —

98 33.4

21 11.2 3 0.8

3 1

2 1 — —

1 0.3

_

38 2 13.5 0.7 1 173 0 . 3 72.3 — 23 — 4.3 56 254 16.5 48.8 35 276 15 70.3 — 26 — 4.3

_

Brent Goose Shelduck

10 6 4.4

— —

30 12.3

38 19.2 1 0.2

1 0.4

_

91 71.2 —

— — — — — —

7 2 —

_

17 2 0.4

18 2 1.0

19

— —

16

_

20 5 1.7

21 29 17.5

1 0.7

_ _

_

_

2 0.7

_ _

2 1.0 62 31

_

65 14.2

19 4.6

-

— —

— —

17 2.8

32 8.2 200 38.8 1 0.2 10 2.3 12 4.3 10 2.8

4 1.8

— —

4 2.3 6 3.5

5 1.2

_

25 390 25 103.5 4 5 1.7 1.3 — 5 — 1.2 — 2 — 0.3 46 10 23.8 4 98 14 75.5 7.5

— —

3 1.5 — — —

4 1.3 15 6.8

5 0.8 33 11.5

320 — 115.7 94 16 14 23.7 — — — — 4 — — — — 1.3 — 4 20 2 1 — 0.8 3.8 0.5 0.2 — 56 68 56 9 — 2.8 34.3 40.3 51.5 24 24 4 18 32 5.6 1.8 10.5 16.5 6.8 — — — 19 11 — — — 4.2 4.2 5 216 25 548 112 1.6 31.3 135.6 4.3 274 — 1 — — — — — — — 0.2 — 1 9 117 8 — 5.5 0.2 3.8 44.2 — 30 47 28 65 8.6 18.7 16.2 26.8 a 14

4 2

-

5 3.5 13 3.8

8 1.3 11 4.7 37 16.3

470 109

10 3.5 6 1 6 1 443 256.8

U) 5 — — — —

99 56

7 2.5 1 0.3 4

30 13

10 4.8 20 3.8

19 5.0

2 0.3 — 14 — 2.7 — 171 — 43.3 — 7 — 1.2 5 49 2.3 16.7 1 32 0.5 13.3 1R —

_ _

15 8 2.5 45 14.3 I 0.2 2 0.3

4 5 0.8 2.3 45 167 16.8 109.2 3

1 0.5 21 15

6 1.6

— —


Table 2: Winter bird survey sites showing species' rarity and diversity score and the localities where the highest mean winter counts of the 23 species were recorded. Score 33

Site Minsmere Level

29 27 27 24 24 24 22 21 17 16 16 15 15 14 12.5 11.5 9.5 7 5 5

Kessingland Level Southwold, Town Marsh Sudbourne 'A' Marsh Oxley Marsh Aldeburgh, Church Fm Marsh Aldeburgh, Hazelwood Marsh Southwold, Buss Creek Marsh Cauldwell Hall Marsh Wang Valley Shotley Marshes Snape Marsh Wren Valley Reydon Marsh Iken Marsh Cattawade Marsh Boyton Marsh Union Marsh Sizewell Belts Aldeburgh, Town Marshes Sudbourne 'B' Marsh

v

39

Highest mean winter counts Mute Swan, White-fronted & Greylag Geese, Wigeon, Shoveler Canada & Barnacle Geese Moorhen, Dunlin, Snipe Bewick's Swan, Curlew Mallard, Tufted Duck, Oystercatcher Bean Goose Redshank Teal, Oystercatcher Brent Goose Gadwall

Coot, Lapwing Shelduck


WEATHER TRENDS AND THEIR EFFECT ON THE COUNTY'S AVIFAUNA, 1990 by John H. Grant (Based on the monthly reports by Ken Blowers, weather correspondent for the EastAnglian Daily Times Co Ltd.)

WINTER: January, February,

March.

Just how warm was January? The answer lay in the soil . . . for those keeping a weather eye on Suffolk noted that, at all depths, soil temperatures were the highest ever recorded in the County for the month. At Broom's Barn, Higham, it was the first January for 40 years with no air frost and there were only nine slight ground frosts.

Chart B — March On Mar. I8th East Anglian temperatures reached 69°F (21 °C) — higher on that day than in Athens or on the Mediterranean Sea.

Chart A — February Warm southerly winds gave 28 days with temperatures above the seasonal average of44°F (7°C). On Feb. 23rd, the temperature reached 62°F (17°C).

The mildness, emphasised by some recorders claiming that it was the wärmest January for 70 years, was offset a little by the unsettled nature of the month. Indeed, the most dramatic feature of January was its severe gale on 25th when considerable structural damage was caused to many buildings and RAF Wattisham's record of an 84mph gust topped the corresponding figure for the infamous storm of October 16th, 1987. Structural damage was also caused to a rookery at Shotley Gate which had been in use for a least 35 years, but which was deserted after the storms. The gale was also responsible for an unseasonal northward movement of 300 Kittiwakes off Southwold. 40


With such general balminess, however, it was hardly surprising that there was an almost total lack of species usually referred to as "hard weather" visitors. There was a general scarcity of divers, grey geese and sawbills, and the paucity was typified by there being only two Long-tailed Ducks reported. On the other side of the coin, species such as Lapwing remained with us to make the most of the conditions. The prize bird of the winter has to be the majestic White-tailed Eagle which frequented the Minsmere/Walberswick area, but as to whether its occurrence was influenced by the weather is open to speculation. Mild March's theme was one of early arrivals, with Suffolk's earliest Little Ringed Plover at Alton Water on 10th, its earliest Cuckoo at Wickhambrook on 14th, and the County's second and third earliest Swifts arriving at Minsmere, 21st, and Sizewell, 24th. There were three further Swift records during the month and, following February's extraordinary House Martin, Sand Martin and Wheatear occurrences there were 11 other records of the former and an early influx, from 11th, of the latter. Other pioneers included the County's earliest ever Sedge Warbler, 24th and the earliest Ring Ouzels since 1982 at Lowestoft and Easton Bavents on 19th. Surprisingly, however, there was only one March Swallow, which was at Haverhill on 20th. In addition to these forerunners of summer, some species were induced to start breeding earlier than usual. Records received included those of a brooding Great Crested Grebe, prospecting Canada Geese, four young Moorhens at Martlesham and, less abnormally, Collared Doves getting down to what comes naturally.

SPRING: April, May, June. In contrast, April was a mainly cold month with a series of depressions crossing the British Isles. North-easterly winds, so strongly hoped for in the autumn, are not so productive in spring, but they occurred with some frequency to ensure that what is sometimes a rush of summer migrants was, in this case, more like a trickle. Weather-watchers traced a strong smell of ' 'gas ' ' which was reported widely over East Anglia on 21st to a pollution source in the Ruhr, Germany, thus giving an indication of the airflow prevalent at around this time. Hardly surprisingly, there were several records of winter visitors lingering with us in the cold spell. Such species included winter thrushes, Brambling and raptors. Only at the beginning and the very end of April were there anything like warm spells. Brief though it was, the early warmth prompted some arrivals. In the Lackford and Lark Valley areas, for example. Sandwich Terns, Little Gulls, Greenshank and Willow Warblers were noted. Yet more contrast to April's shivers was provided by an intense anticyclone of 1041 millibars, initially centred over the North Sea and later moving eastwards to a position near Denmark. It got May off to a wonderful start. Its first five days were virtually cloudless and sunshine hours in some places totalled an abnormal, but very welcome, 70 hours. In Ipswich, the temperature reached 80°F (27°C), about 20°F above the early May average and recording at Broom's Barn, Higham, revealed the warmest spring period for 42 years. In such heat it was a case of the darling buds of May, for a considerable crop of scarce and rare southern species ventured north to us drifting in from the Continent on winds with an easterly component. Suffolk's share of a major national influx of Black Terns included 500 at Lackford between 2nd and 6th, one of the year's two Little Egrets appeared at this time and other early to mid-May 'overshoots' were a Night Heron, Black Kite, Red-rumped Swallow, several Hoopoes and three Ortolan Buntings. In marked contrast, June broke up the weather's settled nature, with depressions dominating the scene and temperatures often dipping below the seasonal average. Although there was measurable rain in Ipswich on eight of the first ten days of June, a perspective was provided by a Sudbury observer who recorded a total rainfall of only 9.92 inches


in the first six months of the year . . . the lowest since the drought of 1976. At Preston St Mary, June was the first month for a year with a mean temperature below average and no British weather station, which reported to the Meteorological Office, recorded a temperature in excess of 79°F (26°C).

Suffolk's unsettled weather was generally unwelcoming for any southern vagrant and the month drifted by without great excitement, except for the lucky two observers who heard and saw the County's first Great Reed Warbler since 1976 singing at Iken on 14th and the throng which assembled for a male Red-headed Bunting at Felixstowe on the following day. The effect of such weather on our breeding birds is a more complex issue, but some observers remarked on the scarcity of species such as Spotted Flycatchers and House Martins and the populations of the common-or-garden Blue Tits and Great Tits appeared to be at a very low ebb.

SUMMER: July, August,

September.

Sunny and dry, July brought a return to more settled conditions. In some places, the period May 1st to July 31st was the driest since 1921 and top sunshine figures recorded were 279.9 hours at Levington, 255.6 hours at Cavendish and 250.8 hours at Broom's Barn, Higham. The drought was beginning to be a serious topic of conversation among birdwatchers and observers referred to a consequent decrease in thrush populations, for example. However, low water levels at reservoirs and lakes provided temporary stop-over habitat for a diverse selection of waders, several of which occurred at inland localities. As ever, the swings and roundabouts of nature were at work and, whereas wader-watchers were well rewarded, a dominance of south-westerly winds denied seawatchers of much excitement in this and every other month of the year. Generated by anticyclones mainly to the east, August temperatures soared and Suffolk was often hotter than Cairo, Bangkok or New Delhi. The sweltering heatwave was the hottest and sunniest this century and in the Bury St Edmunds area, for example, the highest temperatures ever recorded occurred on August 3rd, when 99.8°F (37.7°C) was reported at a number of places. Records were also tumbling at other localities. Beccles experienced its warmest month since 1963 and, for the first time, its temperatures reached an average of 68°F (20°C) on every day. Not surprisingly, the drought was not broken. However, the month's rainfall totals were variable, ranging from 0.78 inches at Earl Stonham to 2.39 inches in Melbourne Road, Ipswich. 42


Some observers remarked upon the early departure of summer visitors and a theory emerged that such species took advantage of August's exceptionally warm weather to quickly put on fat and migrate. What is certain, however, is that there was a marked absence of birds whose arrival could be said to be directly related to weather conditions. This was particularly noticeable in relation to seawatching and the old adage ' 'Good weather, bad birds, bad weather, good birds" rang especially true. September gave us a relatively high frequency of chilly north, north-easterly and northwesterly winds, mainly due to the influence of high pressure systems over the eastern Atlantic. Correspondingly, seabird action saw a marked, if rather patchy, increase. For example, an old Caribbean hurricane tracked east across the Atlantic in the form of an intense depression on 7th, bringing a mixed bag of seabird species, and another intense depression passing to the north of Britain on 21st produced the highlight of the autumn in the form of Suffolk's second Great Shearwater, on the following day. Rainfall was still below average, however, and this probably accounted for the lack of grounded migrant passerines usually noted at sites such as Landguard and Lowestoft.

Chart C — September Simplified weather Charts for Sept. lOth, 14th, 21st and 25th revealing theflow during the month.

WINTER: October, November,

of cool winds into the British

Isles

December.

A generally mild October, in which the long-term average temperature of 57°F (14°C) was exceeded on 23 days at Ipswich, was dominated, rather unusually, by south-easterly winds. This was the scenario for the most part, apart from an unsettled first week, when periods of rain broke the mould not only of October, but seemingly of much of the year. A late flurry of wind and rain also broke the mould later in the month, with Ipswich, for example, experiencing continuous rain from 07.00-15.00 hrs on 26th when a depression in the Irish Sea transferred slowly east. Conditions were largely unfavourable for seawatching and there was precious little other action to keep observers enthusiastic. A few 'windows' in the gloom of a disappointing month did appear however. For example, a brief spell of north to northeasterly winds on 8th was enough to encourage a noticeable movement, including such diverse species as Barnacle Geese, a Barred Warbler, four Cranes and a reasonable selection of seabirds. Another such 'window' opened in mid-month when winds backed to the east, triggering arrivals of thrushes, Goldcrests, a Hoopoe and, very surprisingly, a Purple Heron. A mixed bag of conditions in November even included some rain to speak of. Showers developed widely in the early part of the month as a deep depression over Sweden brought cold air into the British Isles, but on 26th and 27th rainfall totals shot up with just over 43


an inch falling at a number of localities Sandwiched between these two periods was a speli which was dominated by a west to south westerly airflow with temperatures rising cor respondingly to, at times, 60°F (16°C). Late in the month, however, temperatures struggle* to reach 46°F (8°C), but there was generali;/ the lowest number of air frosts since Novembe 1984. The north-westerly winds in the first week of the month produced a movement of Little Auks and the first of a welcome pro cession of Waxwings, but the month passed by with only a trickle of winter visitors and interest centred mainly around Southwold's Deser Wheatear. December was depression-dominated and some periods of appreciable rain eased out drought, albeit only temporarily. Measurable rain feil on every day from 12th to 22nd, includ Chart D ing a continuous 24-hour speli on 13th. At the The Chart shows the mild south-westerfy airstreams, very start of this wet period a severe north but, at that tinte, the jetstream (high-level winds) westerly gale caused flooding along much of over the British Isles reached 180 mph. On Nov. the Suffolk coast and, although the 12th itself 16th & 17th the temperature rose to 60°F (16°C), was disappointing for seabirds, the following which is the normal temperature for early May! day saw the County's Little Auk record well and truly beaten when 567 flew north off South wold in seven hours. The succession of December depressions continued, bringing relatively mild temperatures. Surprisingly, therefore, there were influxes, albeit only minor ones, of species such as

Long-tailed Ducks and grey geese. Less surprisingly were the reports of overwintering Chiffchaffs and the mildness also prompted a Little Stint to "stay behind". J. H. Grant, 39 School Road, Sudbourne, Woodbridge. 44


The 1990 Suffolk Birci Report INTRODUCTION The systematic list of species has been written by the Editorial Committee, headed by the Editor, Steve Piotrowski, using data collated by the County Recorder, Bob Warren. Committee members are the authors for the species grouped below: Divers to Shag : John Cawston HĂŠrons, swans & geese : Mike Marsh Ducks : Malcolm Wright Raptors, gamebirds & crakes : Derek Moore Plovers/sandpipers : Mick Wright/Rodney West Skuas, gulls, terns & auks : John Cawston Near-passerines : John Grant Larks to Dunnock : Brian Small Thrushes : Rex Beecroft Warblers : Philip Murphy Tits to sparrows : Brian Thompson Finches & buntings : Rob Macklin Appendices : Steve Piotrowski The order and nomenclature follow the ' 'British Birds " list of ' 'The Birds of the Western Palearctic". Ali records refer to a single bird unless otherwise stated. Subspecies are listed under the main species heading, which includes the scientific name. With scarcer species ali records are listed under the Parish followed by exact location, if known. The exception to this is at the river estuaries and larger, well-known sites 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. Unless otherwise stated, the tabulated sets of counts are the highest day-counts for each locality, with each figure representing the maximum number of birds feeding or roosting at that particular site during the month. Grand totals are given where the data is exclusively that derived from the co-ordinated, single-day counts conducted in conjunction with the Birds of Estuaries Enquiry (BoEE). A dashed entry indicates that no data was received. Counts from N. Aldeburgh include Thorpeness Meare, Church Fm Marshes, North Warren and the seashore between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh; the Aide/Ore includes the river complex of the Aide, Ore, Orford and Butley as well as Orfordness, Gedgrave Reservoir and Havergate Island; the Orwell includes Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin and Bourne Park Water Meadows and the Stour includes the Essex side of the estuary. Where lowwater counts are given they are generally carried out on the spring tide two weeks after the high-water count. The following abbreviations are used in the systematic list: cr = male, Ă&#x2021; = iemale, ad- = adult; imm. = immature; juv. = juvenile; ecl. = duck/drake of indiscernible age and/or sex due to being in eclipse plumage; f.s.p. = bird in full summer plumage, nr = near; ind. = including; G.P. = gravel pit; R = river, Pt = point, W.R. = Wildfowl Reserve, Ind. Est. = Industriai Estate, res. = reservoir, fm = farm, pk = park, pr(s) = pair(s) and N = bird(s) Aying north, S = south, etc. We are in the fortunate position of having data for a number of years from a crosssection of geographically well spread habitats throughout the County. It is to the credit of those observers who have persevered with such intense studies as the Common Bird Census (CBC), Constant Effort Site (CES) and transect counts, that this information is available for our own use. Such data is invaluable when monitoring locai declines/increases of common species. The centres of such activity lie at Dingle Hills, Walberswick; Minsmere; 45


North Warren, Aldeburgh; Belstead; Valley Fm, Coddenham; the Stour Valley (Cavendish to Long Melford), Newbourne Springs; Bourne Park, Ipswich; Wolves Wood, Hadleigh/ Aldham; Haverhill; Lackford Wildfowl Reserve and Redgrave and Lopham Fens. Field workers involved in CBC, CES or other survey work are urged to forward summaries of their observations to the County Recorder at the end of the breeding season. Contributors are requested to be specific especially when detailing observations of the commoner breeding species. All records come under the scrutiny of the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee (SORC) (see page 4) and for rare or scarce species verification is sought â&#x20AC;&#x201D; i.e. photographs, field sketches, witnesses, sound recordings (for calling or singing birds) and written descriptions. The SORC's policy for vagrants, classified as national rarities, is clear; records should be channelled through the County Recorder to be considered by the British Birds Rarities Committee. Its decisions are accepted by SORC, with few exceptions. F i v e a d d i t i o n a l s p e c i e s , f o r m e r l y national rarities, h a v e b e e n a d d e d to t h e list of birds w h e r e written descriptions should a c c o m p a n y reports. T h e s e a r e : Little E g r e t , Surf Scoter, B e e - e a t e r , W o o d c h a t S h r i k e and P a l l a s ' s W a r b l e r . T h e full list is as f o l l o w s : Black-throated and Great Northern Divers; Red-necked, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes; all shearwaters; Storm and Leach's Petrels; Little Egret; Purple Heron; White Stork; Bean and Pink footed Geese; Red-crested Pochard; Ferruginous Duck; Surf Scoter; Honey Buzzard; Red Kite; Montagu's Harrier; Goshawk; Rough-legged Buzzard; Peregrine; Quail; Spotted Crake; Corncrake; Crane; Kentish Plover; Dotterel; Temminck's Stint; Pectoral Sandpiper; Buff-breasted Sandpiper; all phalaropes; Pomarine and Long-tailed Skuas; Sabine's, Ring-billed and Iceland Gulls; Roseate Tern; Black Guillemot; Puffin; Bee-eater; Hoopoe; Richard's, Tawny and Water Pipits; Dipper; Bluethroat; Savi's, Aquatic, Marsh, Hippolais, Dartford, Barred, Pallas's and Yellow-browed Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatcher; Woodchat Shrike; 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.

The full Suffolk bird list was published in Suffolk Birds 1990. 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 were considered unacceptable 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, ' 'Birding World " or ' 'British Birds ' ' for which further details were not forthcoming. It does not include records still under consideration. Observers are reminded that Suffolk works to Watsonian vice-county boundaries, taking in areas that are now administered 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 Brey don Water. A map of the County of Suffolk can be found on the inner cover. Records for the previous year, received after Jan. 31st, cannot be guaranteed inclusion in that year's report. Please forward 1992's records to P. W. Murphy, The County Recorder, 24, Henstead Gardens, Ipswich IP3 9LN (records up to, and including, 1991 to Bob Warren, 37 Dellwood Avenue, Felixstowe, Suffolk IP11 9HW). A tribute to Bob Warren On your behalf, I should like to thank Bob Warren for twelve invaluable years' service to ornithological recording in Suffolk. Bob was first persuaded by Philip Murphy to become his successor as SOG East Branch Recorder back in January 1979 and soon after inheriting the County's 'wild west', from SOG's West Branch Recorder, he took on the role of County Recorder. The task has grown considerably since those early days, but Bob has tackled this with relish and it is through his meticulous book-keeping that we are able to present such a thorough Annual Report today. Bob has unselfishly considered his, and our, future 46


and, as he is now in his seventies, has decided it is time to close his files whilst stili in good health. This does not mean that observers are excused the chore of sending in records, nor does it mean that Bob will play no further part in the birdwatching scene. Bob has successfully bounced the job back into Philip's capable hands and will help him through nny early problems. In this technological âge we will be making use of the computer at • ne Suffolk Biological Records Centre, where the master-files will be prepared, leaving Philip with the onerous task of sorting the records and chasing those of you who fail to abmit descriptions of the species mentioned above, despite our repeated pleas.

Acknowledgements Again, we must thank the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the SOG, Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO), and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) for providing records from their logs. My personal thanks go to ali the members of the SORC who gave up many hours of their time to prepare extensive comments on earlier drafts of this report. Mick Wright has forwarded detailed information on Grey Héron, Little Tern and Woodlark, which has been used in this report, and has administered the BoEE counts. Thanks are due to Ken and Jean Garrod and Fred and Bea Elliston for assisting with the proof-reading. rinally, we thank you, the observers, for submitting your field notes, since without them tms report would not have been feasible. 47


SYSTEMATIC LIST RED-THROATED DIVER Gavia stellata A third consecutive mild winter once again kept offshore numbers low. The highest counts from the early part of the year were 138 off Minsmere, Jan. 14th and 50 off Benacrt , Feb. 18th. A single bird remained on the Orwell throughout January. Singles off Landguard, Mar. 11th and north off Southwold, Apr. 20th, were the only spring records. An adult in f.s.p. off Dunwich/Walberswick, July 27th was an early returning bird, but autumn passage did not really commence until Sept. 9th, when two flew north off Covehithe. As autumn turned to winter numbers were again low and the highest count was 64 north off Southwold, Dec. 13th. Two birds frequented the Orwell estuary from Nov. 18th onwards into December.

BLACK-THROATED DIVER Gavia arctica An average year with about 14 birds reported. Most records involved birds moving offshore, with seawatchers having a particularly good time during the autumn and early second winter periods. The only bird to frequent freshwater was at Alton Water. All records are listed: Corton: f.s.p. Sept. 10th (probably Covehithe bird). Lowestoft: f.s.p. Sept. 25th (probably Covehithe bird), N Nov. 4th. Benacre: S Dec. 29th. Covehithe: offshore, f.s.p. Sept 1st (County's earliest autumn record), 7th, 8th, 25th & 28th. Southwold: S Nov. 24th, S Dec. 1st. Dunwich: S Dec 2nd. Minsmere: two Feb. 18th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, N Nov. 4th, 7th & S 8th, S Nov. 17th, N & S Nov. 20th, Dec. 11th & 14th. Wherstead: R.Orwell, Dec. 14th. Alton Water: Mar. 3rd to 18th.

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavia immer With only four records received, this handsome bird remains an impressive County rarity. Fortunately, a long-staying individual frequented the Ipswich Wet Dock, where it obliged observers with views at close quarters. It was regularly seen eating crabs. All records are listed: Lowestoft: N.Denes, offshore, Oct. 22nd (JHG). Southwold: S Nov. 4th (WJB, JMC). Aldeburgh: Slaughden, R.Alde, Feb. 4th (MM). Ipswich: Upper Orwell, first winter, Jan. 29th to Mar. 3rd (ABo, SHP et al).

LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis For a species that can be extremely secretive during the breeding season, it is very pleasing to have had at least 59 pairs reported from 33 sites. Despite these excellent numbers it would seem that breeding success is difficult to evaluate, as only 23 young were reported. Lackford W.R. held the largest breeding population with six pairs and their success was probably reflected in the high count of 20 there during September, although perhaps numbers were swollen by passage birds. The Deben again proved to be the County's premier wintering site attaining counts in both January and December of 80+ for the second successive year. Elsewhere, winter 48


counts were not particularly impressive; 20 Ipswich Docks, Dec. 6th was the highest count achieved at any single locality. Lake Lothing N.Aldeburgh Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Lackford

J 4

F 6

5 84 8 3 13

5 24 7 1 14

M 5 3 3 15 3 NIL 7

A —

3 1 15 7 1 20

1 1 4 2 6

3 —

2 NIL 17

0 5 3 4 32 4 1 18

S

A 2

N 1 4 5 27 13 1 10

D 6 3 6 87 23 NIL 18

GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus An impressive 83 pairs were reported from 17 sites during the spring and summer months. Of these, 47 pairs were at Alton Water, where the birds suffered due to disturbance and rising water levels in the spring and as a consequence breeding was not proven. At least 26 young were fledged from the remaining sites. Winter period counts were rather low, but Alton Water generally maintained higher numbers than any of the estuaries. Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

J 3 3 23 72 48 14

F 1 2 23 32 122 14

M 3 3 34 17 151 30

A 1 1 5 30 99 16

A NIL —

12 23 104 —

S 1 1 24 147 136 12

O 1 1 13 200 112 16

N 2 5 32 107 119 16

D 2 13 53 52 101 22

RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena A total of eleven birds was r e c o r d e d during the y e a r , but probably as a result of extremely mild winter p e r i o d s , only f o u r w e r e noted o n the e s t u a r i e s o r f r e s h w a t e r . Weybread: G.P., Nov. 11th to Dec. 1st (PVV). Orwell: Ipswich Docks/Woolverstone, Jan. 14th to Feb. 24th (K & JG, MM et al); Shotley, Oct. 21st (PWM). Alton Water: Dec. 29th (JT).

All other r e c o r d s w e r e of b i r d s o f f s h o r e , d u e almost certainly to i n c r e a s e d s e a w a t c h i n g . Lowestoft: Ness Pt, S Oct. 22nd (JHG), N Nov. 5th (JHG), N Dec. 13th (BJB).

Covehithe: two N Nov. 14th (GJJ). Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, S Nov. 8th (MM, NO), S Dec. 12th (MM, NO).

49


SLAVONIAN GREBE Podiceps auritus N o n e w e r e seen in either passage periods. All five individuals reported w e r e noted during t h e w i n t e r m o n t h s and f r o m fairly p r e d i c t a b l e localities. Walberswick: Sole Bay, Dec. 1st (MM, SHP). Deben: Waldringfield, February (DF, MDC), Falkenham Creek, Dec. 16th to 18th (PN, MTW) Orwell: Woolverstone, Mar. 11th (CAB, K & JG). Stour: Holbrook Bay, Dec. 16th (JAT, JS).

BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis Five birds were recorded during the year, which is an improvement on 1989 when only two were found (one of them dead). Unusually though, none were seen on spring passage and all the records came in the autumn and second winter periods. Three were noted during seawatches. Lowestoft: Ness Pt, two S Oct. 23rd (JHG). Southwold: N Dec. 12th (JMC). Snape: Snape Bridge, Dec. 28th into 1991 (SHP). Laokford: Aug. 12th to 14th (CJJ, RMB).

FULMAR Fulmarus glacialis Birds were present during the summer months at three suitable nesting sites, but there were no chicks reared for the second successive year. The Bawdsey site was occupied from Jan. 12th, the earliest return ever, and by May 18th the ledges held ten pairs. Sadly, all of the birds disappeared in mid-July and a predateti Fulmar's egg, at the base of the cliff, was the only clue to the cause of their sudden departure Up to three birds again occupied ledges at Dunwich Cliffs, this year from early May to July, but egg-laying has yet to take place. Prospecting was noted at cliffs behind the Spa Gardens, Felixstowe, where birds flew to and fro low over observers' heads. Notable offshore movements began in the spring with 40 north off Landguard, Apr. 20th and 30 north off Lowestoft, May 21st. Rather surprisingly May proved to be the best month of the year, with a total of 108 birds recorded. Autumn seawatching was very disappointing, with 18 off Southwold, Aug. 19th being the highest count made. The last notable movement of the year came on Dec. 16th when 15 flew north off Southwold during a strong southeasterly gale. Five birds had returned to the Bawdsey Cliffs by Dec. 28th, the earliest return ever, exceeding the record set in January by 15 days. GREAT SHEARWATER Puffinus gravis In an a u t u m n w h i c h w a s g e n e r a l l y p o o r f o r s e a w a t c h i n g , S u f f o l k m a n a g e d to p r o d u c e only its s e c o n d and third r e c o r d s e v e r of this s u p e r b S o u t h Atlantic s h e a r w a t e r , a l t h o u g h , both r e c o r d s a l m o s t certainly r e f e r to t h e s a m e i n d i v i d u a l . Lowestoft: Ness Pt, N (17.20-17.30 hrs) Sept. 22nd (BJB, TMB, ACE). Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, (15.00 to 15.25 hrs & again 15.40 hrs) Sept. 22nd (NO, SHP, JZ et al).

The shearwater was first noticed fearlessly fishing around the stern of a small fishing boat in the company of a Gannet and a mass of gulls. The bird followed the boat into the Orwell estuary until it entered port, at Harwich, Essex, after which the bird alighted in mid-stream to spend some ten minutes bathing, giving excellent views to its gathering band of admirers, before flying off northwards. At Lowestoft, the bird flew north off Ness Pt (about 500m offshore) turning back past the Point twice before continuing north and out of sight. With each turn it moved further out (to nearer 1,000m) and chased gulls feeding at the sewer outlet. The gulls response was to fly upwards in panic, similar to when a skua 'attacks'. 50


m

late 6: Adult male Scaup at Wherstead.

Plate 7: Barnacle Goose at Cavenham. There was an influx of wild birds in January.

Plate 8: Male Long-tailed Duck at Wool verstone.


f i a t e V: J u v e n i l e L i t t l e - R i n g e d P i o v e r at T r i m l e y M a r s h e s .

P l a t e 10: T e m m i n c k ' s S t i n t s w e r e r e c o r d e d at W a l b e r s w i c k and M i n s m e r e .

Plate 11: B r e e d i n g L a p w i n g at B u r y St E d m u n d s Beet F a c t o r y p o n d s .


SOOTY SHEARWATER Puffinus griseus Although numbers were down on 1989's record year, this exciting seabird is now firmly established as a regular late-summer and autumn migrant off the Suffolk coast. About 49 individuals were noted, the first north off Covehithe, Aug. 5th (WJB, JMC) and thereafter, it was recorded offshore on another 20 dates up to Oct. 21st, when two flew north off Southwold (JMC, DRN). The highest counts of the autumn came from Covehithe, with 11 south Sept. 7th in a ten minute period, during force six/seven northeasterly winds (SHP), and six north there, Sept. 9th (JMC, DM). Monthly totals were: a s o 1

45

3

MANX SHEARWATER Puffinus puffinus The total of 47 birds recorded during the year is only equal to the previous year's best single day-count! Five north off Covehithe, July 6th, were the first reported for the year, but calm weather during August ensured that the species remained rather scarce until September when frequent strong northwesterly winds provided the bulk of the year's records. The highest count made was ten north off Covehithe, Sept. 7th. The last of the year was off Southwold, Oct. 21st. Monthly totals were: J 7

a 3

s

o

29

8

LEACH'S PETREL Oceanodroma leucorhoa In an autumn when about 2,750 were reported in British waters (Nightingale & Allsopp, 1991), Suffolk's share was most disappointing with just a single record. Covehithe: N Oct. 15th (RW). PETREL Sp. Oceanodroma sp. Lowestoft: Ness Pt, Sewage Outfall, S Sept. 25th (EWP, CSW et al).

This large, dark-rumped petrel which flew south over the outfall in the early afternoon, was a little larger than a Leach's Petrel, but appeared wholly blackish above and below and very long winged. There had previously been eight records of this type of petrel in the North Sea since ยก989 (generally believed to be Swinhoe's Storm Petrel O. monorhis), but their identity has still to be resolved. GANNET Sula bassana Monthly totals from all sites were: J 43

F

M 7

A 3

M 29

57

J 13

250

J 116

A 1133

S

O 385

N 13

D 7

A good year with over 2,000 birds recorded. January's total is unusual as the species is relatively scarce off Suffolk at this time of year. A significant proportion of the month's total occurred on Jan. 25th, a day of severe force eight/nine south to southwesterly gales, when 30 moved north off Southwold. Spring passage was unremarkable with no high counts reported. April and May were 'he best months. A good mid-summer count came during July when 107 flew north off Covehithe on 22nd. About half the year's total was counted in September with peaks of 121 off Covehithe, 51


Sept. 8th and 225 north off Benacre, Sept. 22nd. Strong northerly passage was noted off Ness Pt, Lowestoft on Sept. 20th and 26th with respective counts of 63 in an hour and

30 in 30 minutes. The highest single day count came during October, when 242 flew north at Southwold, Oct. 21st. CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Long Melford Lackford

J 21 35 73 61 155 153 110 5 12

F 4 8 75 73 141 74 44 4 14

M 9 13 57 64 147 105 54 5 14

A 10 29 55 64 88 84 48 1 4

M

J

J

10 33 44 90

23

12

44

53

20

2 1

6

_ —

_ —

2

A

— —

5

_

109 1 4

S 33 20 69 40 69 101 95 —

8

O —

28 57 98 137 109 70 2 21

N 22 9 75 25 182 103 92 3 19

D 14 18 84 72 97 116 358 7 24

As in most years, the Orwell and Stour estuaries held the bulk of the County's wintering population, but Alton Water continues to develop as an important roosting and feeding site for this species. The accumulative total for the main sites in December amounts to 790, which is the County's highest ever, and was boosted by the concentration of 358 on Alton Water, which in itself is Suffolk's record gathering. Numbers continue to increase at inland localities with Lackford achieving a maximum count of 24 during December. Dispersal from the Abberton breeding colony (Essex) was proved by an immature bearing an orange colour-ring at Lackford W.R. from Aug. 15th onwards. SHAG Phalacrocorax aristotelis About 35 individuals were reported from ten localities. Lowestoft, as usual, held the best wintering numbers, with maximum counts of five during January and six Dec. 16th. Elsewhere, singles were noted at Southwold during January, Felixstowe in March and December and two at Orfordness and Benacre, Dec. 14th and 29th, respectively. 52


Spring passage was noted at Landguard with one north Apr. 24th & two north May 5th. An interesting summer record is of an immature off Landguard, July 31 st. Up to seven birds were recorded during the autumn, the highest count being a flock of three imms south off Covehithe, Oct. 9th. There were two inland records; one at Lackford, Nov. 6th and a second winter bird found dead at Suffolk Water Pk, Bramford, Mar. 16th. Ali sites

J 6

F

M 3

A 2

M 4

5

J NIL

1

J NIL

A

S 2

O 3

N 2

D 13

BITTERN Botaurus stellaris Unfortunately, the slight increase in the number of 'booming' O" ce noted in the last two summers was not maintained. Only nine were reported at three localities, compared with 12 in 1988 and 1989.

There were no reports away from the breeding sites, probably due to the mildness of the winter periods. NIGHT HERON Nycticorax nycticorax Southwold: Buss Creek, ad. May 13th to 20th (PW et al).

A typical date for the species which has now occurred in the County in four of the last five years. LITTLE EGRET Egretta garzetta Two records, and yet again a long-stayer in the Havergate area. Minsmere: May 16th (CS). Orford: Havergate Island, Aug. 2nd to l l t h (NCG et al).

Additionally, an egret flying south at Landguard, Aug. 29th, was probably of this species, but the briefness of the views did not allow a positive identification. 53


GREY HERON Ardea cinerea The 1990 BTO sample census reporteci a total of between 176 and 184 occupied nests in 14 heronries. Site Wild Carr, Worlingham North Cove Henham Sudbourne Blackheath Methersgate Ramsholt Woolverstone Stutton Stoke-by-Nayland Stanstead Long Melford Little Wratting Thurlow Livermere West Stow Euston Brandon TOTAL

No. of occupied nests 4-5 1 12-15 3 14 23 6 18-22 38 â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

10 NIL 1 2 2 13 15 14 176-184

These figures indicate that the Suffolk breeding population has increased for the third successive year and show an increase of 39% and 7% on the totals for 1988 and 1989 respectively. It is possible that the number of occupied nests was higher as no data were received for the Stoke-by-Nayland heronry and there were unconfirmed reports of breeding at Redgrave. At the latter locality a large gathering was noted in July and August, peaking at 80 Aug. 5th. Immigrants, seen arriving from the sea, were noted at Covehithe, Nov. 2nd; Southwold. four Oct. 13th; Bawdsey, Sept. 30th and Landguard, seven Sept. 1 lth and one Oct. 8th. Observations made at Lackford W.R. highlighted the varied diet of this species. One was seen to trap a brood of Gadwall ducklings under a waterside bush, where it eventually caught and ate ali but one. Other tasty morsels on the menu were a long-dead Rat and a Little Grebe.

PURPLE HERON Ardea purpurea There were three records, the last of which involved a late and particularly obliging individuai which frequented an area of saltmarsh on the banks of the Orwell. Observers were given rare opportunities to gain prolonged views of this usually secretive species. It equals Suffolk's latest ever record which had been set at Minsmere in 1968. Benacre: Aug. 8th (per CSW). Middleton: ad. May 31st (DC). Shotley: Hares Creek/Colton Creek area, juv. Oct. 15th to Nov. 3rd.(TH et al). GREAT WHITE EGRET Egretta alba Lakenheath: Joist Fen area, July 27th & 29th and Aug. 4th (PD, JS, JMG). The fourth County record and the first away from Minsmere. This is almost certainly the well-travelled individuai which frequented a number of Norfolk sites between July 2nd and Aug. 4th. 54


BLACK STORK Ciconia nigra One of the highlights of the year was the prolonged stay of a juv. Black Stork on the Suffolk coast, the County's tenth record. Although its stay was prolonged, it proved to be very mobile and elusive and many observers were given the run-around. It first appeared in the Hundred River Valley, between the villages of Hulver and Ellough, at 19.30 hrs on July 28th, and was believed to have been the same individual which had been present at Barnwell, Northamptonshire, until 08.30 hrs the same day (cf Birding World 3: 225). Next day it was briefly in the Ellough/Sotterley area, then at Benacre and Kessingland Levels before being seen as far south as Hemley on the R. Deben.

Between Aug. 4th and 8th it was regularly observed in the Iken/Snape area of the R. Aide, where it was sometimes seen on the mudflats. There was then a gap of nine days when it was not reported in Suffolk. It reappeared in Suffolk on Aug. 17th and was seen occasionally, mainly in the Benacre and Blythburgh areas, to Aug. 21st. It then went missing for a further nine-day period, during which time, what was assumed to have been the same bird, flew over the Kennington Oval, Surrey, (cf Birding World 3: 260) during the Test Match between England and India, Aug. 25th, and was at Old Hall Marshes and Hamford Water in Essex, on Aug. 25th and 26th respectively. It was again seen in Suffolk from Aug. 30th with last sighting at Benacre, Sept. 1st. 55


A full list of the Suffolk sightings is as follows: Ellough/Sotterley: July 28th & 29th (MP et al). Mutford: Aug. 31st. Benacre/Kessingland: July 29th, Aug. 17th, 20th & 30th, Sept. 1st. Stoven: Aug. 8th. Wangford: Aug. 18th. Rey don: Aug. 21st. Blythburgh: Aug. 19th, 21st & 31st. Walberswick/Dunwich: S Aug. 17th. Minsmere: Aug. 4th, 6th, 8th & 17th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Aug. 1st. Snape/Iken: intermittently Aug. 4th to 8th. Bromeswell: Aug. 21st. Hemley: July 29th. Bawdsey: Aug. 8th.

There was much speculation as to whether more than one bird was involved in the above sightings, based primarily on observers' differing interpretations of plumage and bare part colouration, and also on the long distances between feeding and roosting sites. Descriptions of the bill colour were bewildering e.g. "dark, red at base", "pink-red", "red", "pinkish yellow", "greyish-green", "yellow-khaki", "very bright red", etc. If we were assessing the number of birds on these observations alone we would be looking for a flock! Investigations have revealed that times of sightings did not overlap.

SPOONBILL Platalea leucorodia An excellent number of records including the first West Suffolk record since the 19th Century (see Babington, 1884-86). Beccles: Jan. 18th. Benacre: N May 7th, July 22nd. Southwold: Buss Creek, Mar. 15th. Walberswick: June 26th and July 25th to 29th. Minsmere: Mar. 10th, Apr. 5th, intermittently Apr. 14th to May 20th with second bird May 12th. three May 29th to June 1st, June 27th to July 1st. Orfordness: Apr. 8th. Great Livermere: Livermere Park, Apr. 28th & 29th, four May 6th. The Beccles bird was presumably the same as that wintering on the Norfolk side of Breydon Water.

MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor Carlton Col. Minsmere N.Aldeburgh Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 142 41

F 101 34

M 100 38

141 89 24 188

95 86 50 233

133 109 23 190

A 56 37 10 99 82 63 140

M

J

!

A

S

39

24 —

29 34

20

13 28

_

10 34 59 63 100 207

_ 98

-

28 27 81 169

O 50 15 36 29 74 80 166

N 74 30 8 62 100 74 191

D 73 27 9 77 96 94 207

Three other sites reported herds of more than 20: Lakenheath, 40 Feb. 24th; Lake Lothing, 27 Aug. 16th and Kessingland Levels, 21 Dec. 11th. Results from the national survey conducted by the BTO gave a County breeding population of 131 pairs. This compares with 115 pairs located in the 1977 survey. When comparing results it must be remembered that in the earlier survey there was incomplete coverage in the Lowestoft area, Waveney Valley and upper Stour and no coverage north of Fritton/ Lound. The 1990 survey also located a total of 600 over-summering, non-breeding birds. 56


BEWICK'S SWAN Cygnus columbianus The exceptionally large flock at Kenny Hill, Mildenhall, at the end of 1989 was still present in early January, when up to 1,300 were counted. Apart from this flock, the only other sizable herd present in the first winter period was in the Waveney Valley, which held 80 in January and up to 122 in February. All other reports refer to 1-15 birds with the exception of 30 at Kessingland, Feb. 17th and 40 NE over Felixstowe, Mar. 1st. The last bird of the winter was seen on Mar. 17th at King's Fleet, Falkenham. Autumn migration began with two in from the sea at Southwold and one S with Brent Geese off Landguard, Oct. 13th. Other flocks seen coming in off the sea included 26 at Kessingland, Oct. 23rd, 44 at Landguard, Nov. 3rd and 54 at Southwold, Nov. 4th. Also during this period there were 32 at Minsmere, Oct. 22nd, 25 at Iken, Nov. 3rd and 49 on Benacre Broad, Nov. 5th. Wintering numbers were generally low, the largest flocks being: 60 Kenny Hill, Dec. 5th, 32 Orford, Dec. 27th and 25 Southwold, Dec. 1st. WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus All r e c o r d s a r e listed. O f p a r t i c u l a r n o t e is the l a r g e f l o c k seen o v e r H e n g r a v e and t w o at Kessingland S l u i c e o n the e a r l y date of Sept. 18th. Beccles: nine E Nov. 8th; Shipmeadow, 11 with 170 Bewick's Dec. 18th. Benacre/Kessingland: two Feb. 11th, Sept. 18th and throughout December. Southwold: two in from sea Oct. 13th. Dunwich: nine in from sea Dec. 6th. Falkenham: King's Fleet area, two from late 1989 to Mar. 11th. Alton Water: one over Dec. 9th. Bramford: Suffollk Water Pk, from late 1989 to Feb. 15th.

Timworth: one over Oct. 7th. Hengrave: 40 W Nov. 3rd. Mildenhall: Kenny Hill, three Jan 1st.

BEAN GOOSE Anser fabalis During the first winter period groups of up to six birds were noted at eight coastal localities. However, with no overlap in dates it is likely that many of the reports refer to the same individuals. Kessingland: Kessingland Levels, six Feb. 11th to 16th. Dunwich: five over Mar. 4th.

Minsmere: Jan. 26th. Aldeburgh: Church Fm Marshes, three Jan. 27th. Sudbourne: Sudbourne Marshes, two Jan. 7th.

Boyton: four S Jan. 14th. Falkenham: Mar. 18th. December produced a further three records: Leiston: Eastbridge, two Dec. 30th. Aldeburgh: Church Fm Marshes, Dec. 23rd & 24th.

Falkenham: five Dec. 4th. Additionally, a presumed feral bird was present with Canada Geese at Lackford G.P., Dec. 3rd. PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus Very few were present in the first winter period, the only records being: four north off Benacre, Feb. 11th, three over Lackford W.R., Mar. 10th and singles at Kessingland Levels, Feb. 11th to 16th and Minsmere/Eastbridge, Jan. 7th and Apr. 3rd to 14th. There was a much better showing in the second winter period commencing with four inland at Lackford W.R., Sept. 22nd. These birds were present up to mid-morning feeding 57


on a stubble field with Greylag Geese and had probably overshot the Norfolk wintering grounds, where a general arrival had been noted the same day. No further records were received until late November, when there was a small influx — eight, Minsmere, 23rd; three south, Felixstowe, 24th and five at Livermere, 25th to Dec. 4th. Despite this influx wintering numbers were very low with only 1-2, some possibly feral, at five localities. A known feral bird with a yellow ring was present at Lackford W.R., July/December. WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser albifrons A very poor year for this species with no flock managing to reach three figures. Sudbourne Marshes, one of the County's traditional wintering sites managed a paltry maximum of four throughout the year. Sudbourne has been predominately arable, but during the summer of 1989 a substantial proportion was reinstated to grassland. During the first winter period the largest flock occurred at Minsmere, where up to 25 in January built up to a peak of 86 Feb. 18th, with 55 still present Mar. 8th, after which there was a rapid departure with the last birds seen Mar. 12th. On the day of the peak count, Feb. 18th, there were also reports of 44 south at Walberswick, 70 south at Thorpeness and 11 at Butley, indicating an influx into the County. Apart from up to 24 at Southwold in January, no other group exceeded nine birds. Two early returning birds appeared at Easton Bavents, Sept. 13th, remaining in the area until Oct. 11th. The next report was not until Nov. 11th, after which groups of up to 18 birds were noted at a handful of coastal sites. Additionally, 45 flew south over Beccles, Nov. 24th, 55 north off Covehithe, Dec. 13th and six were at Livermere, Nov. 25th to Dec. 4th, coinciding with the arrival of five Pink-footed Geese. There was a report of a bird showing characteristics of the Greenland race A. a.flavirostris at Burgh Castle, Dec. 1st. LESSÈR WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser erythropus Six feral birds were reported as follows: Flixton: G.P., June 30th and July 22nd. Weybread: June 10th and Dec. 12th (same as Flixton bird). Alton Water: ad. throughout year joined by a second ad. Apr. 1st and October/December. Lackford: W . R . , three July 4th to 6th.

GREYLAG GOOSE Anser anser Counts from the main sites were as follows: Benacre Minsmere N.Aldeburgh Alton Water Lackford

J I 200 —

146 1

F —

56 10 106 28

M

35

J 1 60

J 1 32

A 94 137

40

174

178 54

A

M

-

108

12

105 7

67 5

_

S

_

170 1 206 63

O —

219 82 185 2

N

D

50 106 167 72

110 110 209 62

Other counts received included: 150 Burgh Castle, Dec. 1st, 150 Southwold, Dec. 8th and 65 Livermere Aug. 11th. Allowing for possible duplication, counts suggest a December population of 650-800 birds. Breeding was confirmed at nine sites: Easton Broad (one brood), Walpole (one brood), Walberswick (eight broods), Minsmere (four broods), Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin (two broods), Alton Water (three broods), Leavenheath (one brood), Lackford (two broods) and Livermere (eight broods). The total of 30 broods is a record for the County — are we on the verge of a population explosion? 58


SNOW GOOSE Anser

caerulescens

All r e c o r d s , p r e s u m a b l y r e f e r r i n g to feral b i r d s , a r e s h o w n . Boyton: Boyton Marshes, Jan. 6th. Lackford: W.R., 'blue-phase' two February/March, single Sept. 9th and Dec. 8th, 'white-phase' Dec. 21st. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, 'blue-phase' four Jan. 1st, two Mar. 23rd, singles June 3rd and Nov. 25th. Great Barton: Barton Mere, 'white-phase' pr nesting on island May 27th (outcome unknown).

CANADA GOOSE Branta canadensis Counts from main sites were as follows: J Benacre Minsmere N.AIdeburgh Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Gipping Valley Long Melford Lark/Blackbourn

F

M 188

A 25 51

90

235 30 261 194 52 364 1 152 180 491

169

_

185 169 86 153 1 40 116 400

243 132 2 266 11

219 84 73 281 9

M —

J 488 29 50

J 500 12

A

155

3

7 40

69

109 146 13 100 77 633

_

50

74

240

_

28 324

63 —

S

O

3 186 347 10 117 96 80

110 201 538 157 40 28 350

84 400

186 353

N 700 31 226 177 248 18 4 462 140 288 800

D 1100 76 220 219 93 59

NIL 512 45 289 850

Figures for the Lark/Blackbourn represent peak monthly counts from either Ixworth (Micklemere), Ixworth Thorpe, Livermere, West Stow or Lackford W.R., whichever is the larger. Co-ordinated counts in this area has revealed a wintering population in excess of 2,000 birds. Other three figure counts were made at Kessingland, 200 Dec. 30th; Southwold, 200 Dec. 5th; Mendham, 100 Feb. 10th and Carlton Colville, 200 September. At least 71 breeding pairs were located at 21 localities, but this is hardly a true picture of the breeding population as no figures were received from a number of known breeding areas. By far the largest concentration was at Lackford, where 26 broods were noted. In April, a colour-ringed bird from Breckland was present at Benacre and is the first confirmed interchange between our West Suffolk and coastal flocks. Another interesting sighting was of a lost bird wandering around the car park outside the Suffolk College in Ipswich, Aug. 7th, but by far the most bizarre report of the year concerned a Canada Goose setting light to a stubble field! The unfortunate individual struck high-voltage cables crossing fields at Carlton Colville and when its body hit the ground it set the field ablaze.

BARNACLE GOOSE Branta leucopsis As usual, the status of many of the birds reported is confused by the presence of a number of feral birds. Feral flocks at Kessingland and Lound, which also contains a number of Canada x Barnacle Goose hybrids, numbered 32 Mar. 2nd and 35 Nov. 1st. Birds from this flock were almost certainly involved in the reports of 20 Benacre Broad, Aug. 30th and 20 Minsmere, Sept. 1st. Elsewhere, groups of 1-4, usually with Canadas, were noted at a further 20 localities. Early in the year, two flocks appeared at the same time as an influx into Essex and can safely be assumed to refer to genuine wild birds: 17-18 Trimley Marshes, Jan. 1st t0 13th and 45 King's Fleet, Falkenham, Jan. 11th. Other records, which were considered to have involved wild birds, included seven in from the sea at Landguard, Nov. 6th, seven Livermere, Jan. 1st and 24 at the same locality, Nov. 25th. 59


Additionally, on Oct. 8th, there were 22 on Island Mere, Minsmere and 25 north at Covehithe and Lowestoft. Although these were probably birds from the Kessingland flock. it is worth noting that the next day a group of 15, which included birds which had been colour-ringed at Spitsbergen, appeared on the Norfolk coast. BRENT GOOSE Branla bernicla Figures from the BoEE counts were as follows: Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 79 900 20 961

F 65 1800 117 1252

M 22 NIL 172 1163

A 6 1 7 619

S NIL NIL 7 104

O 103 52 277 1322

N 107 631 445 967

D 74 1557 810 1179

TOTALS

1960

3234

1357

633

111

1754

2150

3620

With considerable movement between the estuaries, particularly between the Deben and Orwell, counts often exceeded the figures shown in the table. Fortunately, the total breeding failure of 1989 was not repeated and flocks late in the year comprised up to 50% juvs. Very few were feeding away from the main estuaries; however, one feeding in a field, inland at Ellough, Jan. 13th is worthy of note. Most birds had departed by the end of April, with only four records in May. Unseasond birds were present at Benacre, June 27th and Aug. 5th; Walberswick, July 1st and 14th; Minsmere, July 9th and 11th and two north Aug. 19th and Trimley Marshes, Aug. 17th and 26th. Autumn passage commenced with a single north off Covehithe, Sept. 8th. Monthly totals of southerly passage off Landguard were: September — 295; October — 17,029 and November — 231, with peak days being Oct. 13th — 4,482 and Oct. 21st — 7,015. On the latter date a min. of 10,000 was estimated to have passed south off Minsmere. The only record of the pale-bellied race B.b.hrota was an adult present at King's Fleet, Falkenham, from Nov. 7th to the end of the year. More exciting was the occurrence of the first 'Black Brant', the North American and East Siberian race B.b.nigricans, in the County since 1982. One present at Breydon Water from Nov. 6th to the end of the year, was frequently seen at Burgh Castle on the Suffolk side of the estuary. RED-BREASTED GOOSE Brama ruficollis T h e adult e s c a p e e , first n o t e d in N o v e m b e r 1986, r e m a i n e d in t h e C o u n t y until t h e end of J u l y , u s u a l l y associating w i t h C a n a d a o r f e r a l B a r n a c l e G e e s e flocks. Kessingland: with Barnacles & Canadas Jan. 21st to Apr. 29th. Benacre: Apr. 29th. Weybread: with Canadas July 7th to 29th.

EGYPTIAN GOOSE Alopochen aegyptiacus R e c o r d s w e r e r e c e i v e d f r o m 14 coastal sites, m a i n l y in t h e n o r t h - e a s t w i t h i n five miles of L o w e s t o f t , a n d six inland sites, m a i n l y in t h e L i v e r m e r e / I x w o r t h a r e a s . C o u n t s of over five c a m e f r o m f o u r sites: Lound: 13 Aug. 27th, 15 Sept. 3rd, 23 Oct. 10th. Carlton Marshes: six September. Ixworth Thorpe: 20 Sept. 16th. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, seven Jan. 13th & May 27th, 12 Oct. 16th, 25 Nov. 25th & Dec. 3rd.

Breeding was recorded from the following sites: Lound: pr with four young Apr. 29th, pr with seven imms Aug. 27th. Sotterley: Sotterley Pk, pr with one young Mar. 29th. Euston: pr nested. Ixworth Thorpe: ad. with five young Apr. 24th, pr with 12 young May 23rd. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, pr with six young June 17th.

60


RUDDY SHELDUCK Tadorna ferruginea M o s t , if not all, of t h e f o l l o w i n g p r o b a b l y relate t o e s c a p e d b i r d s . Lowestoft: Ness Pt, S with Shelduck, Oct. 22nd (see also Landguard). Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, S with Shelduck, Oct. 23rd. Needham Market: Feb. 11th. Long Melford: with Canada Geese, Oct. 13th to 21st. Ixworth Thorpe: ad. 9 Nov. 8th. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, one/two regularly recorded throughout the year. Lackford: W.R., Jan. 13th and May 5th.

SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna The lack of coastal movements in the first winter period was typified by Landguard's meagre monthly totals: January — 7 south; February 10 south and March 21 north, 28 south. Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 409 29 860 720 1014 1704

F 447 60 1128 911 960 1752

M 537 46 861 1120 1104 1576

A 476 48 1213 984 995 1101

A —

10 63 —

55 —

S 106 16 205 64 8 120

0 —

50 543 299 164 559

N 852 16 836 573 649 1337

D 683 33 1283 976 785 1100

Breeding t o o k p l a c e all a l o n g t h e coastal strip and e s t u a r i e s . Inland b r e e d i n g w a s c o n f i r m e d at: Ixworth Thorpe: pr with 14 young May 29th. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, a min. of 120 ducklings. Lackford: W.R., ad. with ten young May 16th, total 20 fledged from seven broods. Four prs used

artificial nesting burrows. Cavenham: G.P., brood of five June 3rd.

On the coast the largest number of young seen was 44 on the R.Orwell, June 28th. Most autumn records came from Landguard, but the highest daily count came from Minsmere. Minsmere: 1,000 S Oct. 21st. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, August — 31 S; September — 16 N, 118 S; October — 6 N, 1259 S; November — 8 N, 49 S; December — 25 S.

MANDARIN Aix galericulata The only records received were: East Bergholt: Flatford Mill, pinioned cr Feb. 5th onwards, joined by 9 Dec. 31st. Great Livermere: Livermere Park, cr Mar. 23rd. Lackford: R.Lark, eel. cr July 18th; W. R., cr Aug. 13th joined by 9 Aug. 14th, pr W Sept. 3rd, 9 Sept. l l t h a n d D e c . 1st.

WIGEON Anas penelope No movements of significance were noted in the early months apart from 140 south off Walberswick, Jan. 5th. Blyth Minsmere N.Aldeburgh Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 360 350 —

3216 1263 780 2333

F 196 350 —

966 570 385 1845

M 411 248 —

539 140 286 945

S 7 45 3 1274 135 534 1389

O —

1868 4 2129 399 671 731

N 191 700 41 1465 697 759 867

D 934 400 232 2083 1304 1023 2471

Breeding was proven at Minsmere, where separate broods of one and three young were seen in July. This is the first proven breeding in Suffolk since 1981, when two pairs raised five young, also at Minsmere. 61


Inland, 100 were at Livermere, Jan. 7th, 23 at Lackford in January and 30 at the Micklemere, Ixworth, Feb. 11th. A Lowestoft observer described autumn passage as "dreadful", but Landguard logged totals of 526 south in September and 2,452 south in October. The day of heaviest passage was Oct. 21st, when 5,000 passed south off Minsmere.

GADWALL Anas streperà Benacre Minsmere Aide/Ore Alton Water Lackford Livermere

F

J 10 27 4 10 320 2

M

78 2 7 75 —

A

_

_

66 17 13 46 10

48 31 2 55 20

S 2 96 2 4 110

O 2 75 6 10 115

_

N

_

D

42 6 16 144

26 NIL 40 93 35

The January count at Lackford is the highest ever concentration at any one site in the County. Other counts of note were 50, Ixworth Thorpe, Sept. 8th; 50, Botany Bay, Feb. 24th; 20, Church Fm Marshes, Aldeburgh, Dec. 29th and 20 Southwold, Dec. 28th. An excellent breeding season was recorded at Lackford, with 22 broods seen and a "high fledging rate". Other cases of successful breeding were noted at Minsmere, where an estimated 24 prs nested, Southwold ( 9 with seven young), Middleton ( ç with seven young), Barrow ( ç with five young), on the R.Lark at Cavenham (four broods) and near Mildenhall (three broods).

TEAL Anas crecca Benacre Blyth Minsmere N.Aldeburgh Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

J 460 19 590 —

1695 100 91 418 9 94

F —

72 640 20 160 182 30 418 27 99

M 45 50 288 2 79 84 47 96 23 30

S 90 1 228 10 751 25 50 117 64 166

O 350 —

530 34 875 120 153 65 100 317

N 300 22 532 103 995 275 496 41 140 240

D 900 1024 709 423 1533 254 1506 355 200 403

Other counts of 100 or more came from Barsham, 100 Feb. 10th, and Lakenheath 120 Feb. 24th. The North Aldeburgh count involved birds on the Church Fm Marshes. The December count for the Orwell consisted almost entirely of birds on the new Trimley Marshes Reserve which held 1,000 on Dec. 1st and increased to at least 1,500 by Dec. 11th. Along with the national trend (Lack 1986), the County's wintering population has increased dramatically in recent years, typified by the December total (ca 7,500), which is more than double that of 1988 and 1989 and treble that of 1983 to 1987. The creation of new wetland habitats at Aldeburgh, Trimley St Mary and Lackford has undoubtedly aided the species' recovery and it seems likely that the Teal is more prolific today than at any time this century. The RSPB estimated 70 pairs summering at Minsmere, but only a few young were seen. The only other site where breeding was confirmed was Lackford, where four broods occurred on the reserve's new 'scrape'. Southerly autumn passage totals off Landguard were: 228 August, 229 September, 403 October and 32 November. Off Southwold 100 flew south Dec. 13th. 62


MALLARD Anas Benacre Blyth Minsmere Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

platyrhynchos F

J 60 113 237 1390 222 732 1455 215 150

M 25 37 101 447 278 299 293 160 50

66 180 691 178 335 924 323 32

A 294

A 10 16 104 322 180 142 133 98

S 67

164 302 143 243 624 276 647

97

_

108 —

318 198

_

0 229

N —

63 157 861 161 377 501 335 196

700 719 169 251 249 288 650

D —

128 381 1313 333 723 1332 265 199

A total of 105 broods of young was recorded from 34 sites, but this undoubtedly represents only a fraction of the true picture. Included in this total were six broods at Alton Water, 32 at Lackford, seven at West Stow, eight at Livermere and ten on the R. Lark near Cavenham. Minsmere held an estimated 52 pairs. A total of 1,400 at Flixton G.P. in June appeared to be part of a rear and release Programme. Small numbers were occasionally noted off Landguard where 99 flew south in October. PINTAIL Anas acuta Benacre Minsmere Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

i 2 2 117 52 506 182

F

M

13 13 57 350 133

3 16 23 87 54

S 6 4 6 2 108 48

O 7 140 21 73 195 105

N 6 1 56 81 238 90

D —

1 85 33 426 224

Away from the above sites the only counts in excess of ten were 120 Breydon Water, Jan. 14th and 11 Trimley Reserve, Sept. 29th. The only inland records carne from Lackford and Livermere, where 1-3 were present intermittently in both winter periods. At one inland site a 9 was Seen entering possible nesting cover during May, but breeding was not proven. Birds returned to Minsmere as early as July 2Ist, to Lackford by Aug. 6th and to Trimley Marshes by Aug. 7th. The highest inland, autumn count was five at Lackford, Sept. 8th. Southerly autumn passage was logged at Landguard with 86 in September, 348 in October and 21 in November. ''ARCANEY Anas querquedula A pair, at Minsmere on the early date of Mar. 1 Ith, was followed by two at Benacre Broad and a er at Southwold, both on 18th. During April and May pairs or single er er were seen at seven coastal and two Breckland sites, but there were no June records and no suggestion of breeding. At sea a pair flew south off Landguard, Apr. 13th and a er south Dunwich, May 13th. The only July record was of two at Minsmere on 18th. Autumn records carne from: Benacre: Aug. 12th. Minsmere: 9 Aug. 17th & 23rd, two Aug. 18th, three Aug. 29th. Lackford: W. R., pr early August, 9 Aug. 15th to 21st, juv. Sept. 14th to 18th, juv seen again Oct. Ist and on the late date of Oct. 23rd, which equals the County's latest ever.

SHOVELER Anas clypeata This is another beneficiary of the new wetland habitats (see Teal) with numbers sharply P on previous years. A dramatic increase was noted at Lackford, where the previous highest count for the site had been 85 on Dee. 30th 1989, and at Church Fm Marshes, Aldeburgh where 31 Oct. 31st increased to 40 Nov. 20th and 102 Dee. 16th. Apart from the above, the only counts to exceed ten were Dunwich, 50 Oct. 28th; Walberswick, 12 U

63


Benacre Blyth Minsmere N.Aldeburgh Aide/Ore Stour Alton Water Lackford

J 4

F

M

60

68 1 6 7 1 107

14 57 1 11

25 39 20 111

A 2 8 62

13

70

20

30

10 245

A 12 —

_

67

29

49

S 30 NIL 20

O 1 —

50 31 2 5 15 188

N —

NIL 38 40 8 6 38 169

D 15 NIL 47 102 23 45 30 131

Mar. 16th and 34 Aug. 20th; Trimley Marshes, 20 Sept. 29th and 55 Dec. 3rd; Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, 40 Dec. 25th and Livermere, 20 May 11th and 70 Dec. 16tl.

Breeding was proven at only four sites: Reydon, two ducklings June 17th; Walberswick, three broods containing 15 young; Minsmere, where an estimated 23 pairs summered, but yielding just two broods, and Livermere, where at least two broods were seen. Birds were seen throughout the summer at Lackford but breeding was not proven. Southerly autumn passage at Landguard was just discernible with four August, 11 September and 19 October. RED-CRESTED POCHARD Netta rufina Some of the following are certainly escapees, but others may well be wild birds. Weybread: G.P., cr (very tame) from 1989 to at least July 21st. Melton: Wilford Bridge G.P., cr June 20th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, S Sept. 5th (first site record). Alton Water: 9 /imm. Sept. 2nd & 3rd.

Ipswich: Christchurch Pk, pr (free flying cr) had a brood of nine, but only one survived. Ixworth Thorpe: cr Jan. 1st.

Lackford: W.R., 9 from 1989 was joined by cr Jan. 13th, both were present to Mar. 12th and the cr lingered to Apr. 6th, July 29th, 9 Aug. 19th, Sept. 6th & 7th, Nov. 30th and Dec. 1st. 64


POCHARD Aythya ferina J 75 6 86 35

Benacre Minsmere Orwell Alton Water Thorington St. Lackford

F

M

20 13 29

13 4 1

A

S 1 NIL NIL NIL

2 NIL NIL

98

147

48

14

14

N 39 NIL 10 17

0 4 3 NIL 9 69 37

D 30 2 66 40 59 182

72

Numbers wintering were well down, perhaps due to three successive mild winters. Other counts over 25 were: 35 Cavenham Pits, Jan. 13th, 60 Bramford Pits, Nov. 11th, 46 Wilford Bridge G.P, Melton, Dec. 23rd and 31 Deben estuary, Dec. 16th BoEE count. Breeding was proven at only three sites and at one of these two broods totalling 13 ducklings were seen. Landguard noted 58 south during October and 27 south November. FERRUGINOUS DUCK Aythya nyroca A 9 (possibly pinioned) on the R.Stour at Long Melford from Feb. 9th until July 2nd was considered to be an escapee. It was relocated 1 'A miles away, Oct. 11th, and was still present at the year's end. TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula Benacre Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Thorington St. Lackford

F

M

A 2 7 128 8 105 8

J 66 10 6 5 66 87

-

18 23 28 94 78

9 43 37 121

185

160

100

103

S 10 NIL 12 33 42 11

A — —

10 —

75 4 —

222

243

0 4 NIL —

42 4 25 62 138

N —

NIL 85 44 51 17 —

183

D 15 4 47 32 91 135 73 153

Lackford achieved its highest count of the year in August, which perhaps reflects a good breeding season. Away from the above sites no other counts reached 100. Breeding was confirmed at 15 sites with a total of 50 broods seen, but this undoubtedly understates the true position. A total of 29 broods at Lackford is a record for the site. Birds showing hybrid characteristics of this species with close relatives were recorded from: Lowestoft: Lake Lothing, x Pochard, May 29th. Benacre: Benacre Broad, x Scaup, c & ç July 13th, three Aug. 4th, two Aug. 11th. Ipswich: Ipswich Docks, x Pochard, Dec. 6th. Trimley St Mary: Trimley Marshes, x Pochard, Dec. 18th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, x Pochard, Dec. 17th. Lackford: W. R., x Pochard, Aug. 18th.

SCAUP Aythya marila In the first w i n t e r p e r i o d the s p e c i e s w a s seen only at t w o sites. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, two cr cr & ç from Jan. 1st, joined by a second 9 6th to 14th, 12 Jan. 17th.

Haverhill: Flood Pk, two o-cf & 9 Feb. 12th to 16th. In the second winter period birds were more widespread. S Benacre Deben Orwell Alton Water

o 3

— _ —

N —

— _ —

7 3 1 1

D 4 — 2 1

Single birds were also seen at Lowestoft, Sept. 24th, Covehithe Broad, Nov. 4th and inland, a 9 was at Lackford, Oct. 24th. 65


At sea four south off Southwold, Oct. 5th, one north Nov. 4th and eight south Nov 25th. Three south Landguard, Nov. 11th and three north Minsmere, Dec. 13th. EIDER Somateria moltissima As usual, all records came from the sea and estuaries. The figures in the following table show the accumulative monthly sightings from each of the selected points and, as can be seen, the species was more numerous during the autumn and second winter period. Most records refer to movements, although some, such as those on the Orwell estuary, wert semi-resident feeding flocks. J Lowestoft Benacre/Covehithe Southwold Minsmere Aldeburgh Orwell Landguard

A 4 4

S 18 26 21

11

0 4 5 8 4 7

-

-

12

33

— —

7 —

2

F —

3

M

_

5

N 68 6 98 7 3 17

D 2 8 42 11 4 5 18

In addition, single birds or flocks of up to 12 were seen from five other coastal sites The only summer records involved 1-3 birds off Minsmere, May 12th; Felixstowe, May 19th and Landguard, June 20th. A particularly strong movement was noted towards the end of November, which included 49 south off Southwold, 25th and 18, 20 and 13 north off Ness Pt, Lowestoft on 27th 28th and 29th respectively. The last three counts were completed during 30-45 minute early-morning seawatches. An oiled bird was on Southwold beach, Dec. 1st. On the Orwell, off Nacton, three 9 Ç , Nov. 30th, were harassed by Herring Gulls whenever they surfaced after dives. Acts of piracy, similar to that described and first documented by Ingolfsson (1969), are now often witnessed, with Eiders, Common Scoter;, and Long-tailed Ducks the most frequent victims. LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis There were just two records in the first winter period: Minsmere: offshore, o- Mar. 4th. Orwell: Ipswich Docks/Woolverstone, cr Jan. 1st to Feb. 16th.

In the second winter period records came from: Lowestoft: Ness Pt, N Nov. 5th, three S Nov. 10th. Benacre: Benacre Pits, Nov. 1st, three Nov. 3rd.

Thorpeness: offshore, 9 Nov. 17th. Orwell: Ipswich Docks/Shotley, up to four from Nov. 8th increasing to 12 in December (a County record flock).

COMMON SCOTER Melanina nigra Coast:

J 250

F 8

M 30

A 2

M 200

J 49

J 343

A 6

120

S O N 200 150

D 100

The above figures are the maximum monthly counts from any point on the Suffolk coast. The 343 in July occurred on 26th, a day of heavy southerly passage off Landguard. Away from salt-water the only record was of three on Alton Water, Apr. 1st. VELVET SCOTER Melanina fusca In a r a t h e r p o o r y e a r , m o s t of the r e c o r d s c a m e in t h e s e c o n d w i n t e r p e r i o d . Lowestoft: Ness Pt, N Nov. 5th, two N Nov. 27th, N Nov. 28th. Benacre/Covehithe: 9 S Oct. 28th, N Nov. 10th, three N Dec. 1st, Dec. 11th. Southwold: a S Sept. 16th, N Nov. 4th, four S Nov. 24th, Nov. 26th, two N Dec. 1st. Dunwich: Sole Bay, 20 with Common Scoter flock, Mar. 22nd. Orwell: Freston/Woolverstone, 9 Oct. 25th, three Nov. 25th, Dec. 2nd, three Dec. 3rd & 4th.

66


GOLDENEYE Bucephala clangula Benacre Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

J 1 31 34 66 59 9 7

F 1 10 28 71 61 4 11

M

A

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

5 6 33 19 2 20

NIL NIL NIL NIL NIL 5

0 2 NIL NIL 3 3 1 6

N 4 NIL 14 90 28 2 7

D 1 17 90 106 116 7 9

Widely recorded on estuaries and inland waters away from the above sites, but no other count exceeded ten, except those on passage. Last of the spring was at Lackford, Apr. 23rd, and there were no more records until two on the sea at Covehithe, Oct. 8th. Southerly autumn passage included 15 off Corton and 13 off Thorpeness, Oct. 21st, and two October and nine November off Landguard.

SMEW Mergus albellus W i t h both w i n t e r p e r i o d s b e i n g m i l d t h e r e w e r e j u s t t h r e e r e c o r d s of this small sawbill: Benacre: redhead Nov. 25th.

Dunwich: cr S Nov. 4th. Minsmere: redhead Nov. 8th.

67


RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator Benacre Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 1 1 6 6 9

F

M 1 1 NIL 2 12

NIL NIL 11 15

O 3 NIL NIL NIL NIL

N 8 NIL 2 6 2

D 2 NIL NIL 8 9

In t h e first half of t h e y e a r , t h e r e w e r e additional r e c o r d s f r o m :

Minsmere: offshore, Jan. 1st.

Benacre: six ç ç N May 19th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, two S Mar. 28th, two N May 2nd, S May 30th. O t h e r r e c o r d s later in t h e y e a r c a m e f r o m :

Lowestoft: Ness Pt, two S Dec. 8th, N Dec. 13th. Southwold: N Sept. 16th, two Oct. 21st, seven N Nov. 4th, N Dec. 13th.

Minsmere: 40 S Oct. 21st. Thorpeness: three S Oct. 21st, S Nov. 24th.

Aldeburgh: N Nov. 4th. Hollesley: Shingle Street Lagoons, 9 July 8th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, 33 S October, two S Nov. 24th, N Dec. 6th. Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, ç / i m m . Oct. 4th (the only inland record).

GOOSANDER Mergus merganser Benacre Alton Water Lackford

J — — 6

F — 1 9

M — — 9

N — — -

D 1 — 8

O t h e r r e c o r d s in the first w i n t e r p e r i o d w e r e f r o m : Barsham: R.Waveney, two January. Minsmere: three Jan. 30th. Euston: Euston Pk Lakes, three c r c r , 9 Jan. 26th.

A red-head, flying north off Covehithe, May 20th, is the County's first May record since 1987, when one lingered at Cattawade. L a t e in t h e y e a r :

Lowestoft: Harbour, 9 Dec. 16th.

Benacre: 9 Dec. 29th. Covehithe: S Dec. 11th. Southwold: N Dec. 13th. Minsmere: Nov. 12th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, two red-heads from R.Orwell then N Dec. 26th. Bramford: Suffolk Water Pk, two red-heads Nov. 11th to 18th and Dec. 24th to 31st.

Great Thurlow: Thurlow Lake, two Dec. 7th. Lackford: W . R . , two cr a Dec. 5th increasing to eight by end of year.

RUDDY DUCK Oxyura jamaicensis Not recorded in Suffolk before 1976, this naturalised North American stifftail continues to show signs of increasing and spreading. Breeding was confirmed at three sites. Walberswick: Westwood Marsh, pr displaying April, two prs present during May and June, pr with three ducklings, July.

Minsmere: O" May 6th. Weybread: G.P., 9/imm. Oct. 3rd. Melton: Wilford Bridge G . P . , 9 Mar. 1st to May 25th (one observer noted that it terrorised the local Mallards), imm. cr Dec. 23rd to 1991.

Freston: R.Orwell, 9 Nov. 15th. Alton Water: 9/imm. Oct. 16th to 29th. Stoke-by-Nayland: Thorington St Res., Sept. 10th to 22nd and Oct. 4th (first for the site).

68


Ixworth Thorpe: pr displaying Mar. 30th, four prs from Apr. 5th, five (three cr a) May 15th, two young seen later; R.Blackbourne, imm. November found dead Dec. 18th. Livermere: cr Feb. 21st and thereafter many records throughout spring and summer with a maximum of 16 in May (site record), one possibly two broods contained in a creche of nine young.

Hengrave: cr June 17th. Lackford: W.R., two Feb. 10th, pr from Apr. 19th, second cr from Apr, 28th, display seen into May, 9 disappeared June leaving two c r c r , one July, three August, up to five September, two October, single November and December.

BLACK KITE Milvus migrans Records of this species continue to increase and Suffolk was visited by three individuals: Kessingland/Benacre: Apr. 29th (RW). Easton Bavents: June 16th (RW). Wantisden: Staverton Pk, May 6th (MM, SHP).

These three birds take the number of Suffolk records to 13 and the species has now been observed in the County in four successive springs. RED KITE Milvus milvus Many records were received involving at least four birds. In March, in the Herringswell and Brandon areas, an individual was seen bearing a wing-tag, which showed that it was of Welsh origin, having been ringed as a fledgling in 1989 (MRM). This bird subsequently oversummered and was noted at several Breckland sites (AJP). The f o l l o w i n g set of r e c o r d s r e f e r s to p a s s a g e or w i n t e r i n g b i r d s : Walberswick: Westwood Marsh, Oct. 24th and Dec. 30th. Minsmere: Oct. 28th. Boyton: Dec. 31st. Felixstowe: Felixstowe Ferry, Dec. 31st. Stoke-by-Nayland: Thorington Street, Mar. 16th.

Kedington: Dec. 22nd. Haughley: Dec. 29th. WHITE-TAILED EAGLE Haliaeetus albicilla A single bird, aged as a third winter, accounts for the following records: Walberswick: Westwood Marsh, Mar. 11th (AG).

Minsmere: Feb. 2nd (KJB, RMB, DKU), Feb. 15th and Mar. 12th (RSPB). Sightings by non-birdwatchers (farmers, gamekeepers etc.) of a huge raptor passing over Corton, Pakefield, Reydon and Wantisden, during the same period, probably refer to this individual. In the 65 years between its extinction as a British breeding species in 1916 (Cramp & Simmons, 1980) and 1981, this magnificent raptor frequented Suffolk in only four years (1931, 1934, 1958 and 1962) (Ticehurst 1932, Payn 1978). However, following the national 'rend, there has since been a steady increase in occurrences and during 1982 to 1990 this eagle visited Suffolk in six out of the nine years. There has been some speculation as to whether the reintroduction programme in the Scottish Highlands is responsible for the upsurge in records, but most authorities consider the link to lie with the increase in populations in Scandinavia and the Baltic States (Dymond, Fraser & Gantlett, 1989). Evidence to support this view lies with one ringed as a nestling â&#x20AC;˘n Germany and found shot in Norfolk in 1984 and the colour-ringed bird that frequented Suffolk during the winter of 1988/89 (the origin of the latter is still to be determined although 11 is not from Scottish reintroduction stock). MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosa The amazing upturn in the species' fortunes continues with breeding taking place at 12 sites at which a record 35 nests produced at least 95 flying young. Data were not received 69


for five nests and, bearing in mind the above average of 3.2 young per nest, the actual number of young produced is likely to have been around 110. Most birds were confined to the coastal strip from the Norfolk border to the Deben, but one pair returned to a former inland breeding site after an absence of some years. Away from the nesting areas, sightings were received as follows: Weybread: juv. July 29th. Thornham Magna: 9 hunting over plantation May 19th. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, several observations in May and one in June. Lackford: W. R., รง May 1st, June 6th and Aug. 30th.

Wintering birds were reported from four sites, although there was almost certainly some interchange between them and it is likely that no more than three birds were involved in either period: Reydon: รง January to March. Walberswick: Westwood Marsh, two ร‡ 9 & imm. Cf January to early March, three 9 9 / i m m s Nov. 3rd to 1991. Minsmere: two 9 9 January & February, three 9 9 / i m m s . December.

Hollesley: Shingle Street, cr Feb. 18th.

When comparing the wintering birds with the number of flying young, simple mathematics tells us that there was a general exodus, involving approximately 150 birds, in late summer and autumn. Birds ringed as nestlings at Minsmere have been recovered in Portugal, Morocco and Mauritania (cf Suffolk Ringing Reports) and so a southerly dispersal of most of our birds is likely. It is therefore surprising that the species was not more obvious on passage, especially when the Norfolk and Cambridgeshire birds are also taken into account. The only definite migrants were as follows: Benacre/Covehithe: offshore, juv. being mobbed by Herring Gulls Nov. 11th. Felixstowe: high SW Aug. 18th; Landguard Pt, a N Mar. 11th, juv. in off sea then S Aug. 10th, in off sea then N Sept. 8th.

Shotley: Oct. 22nd. Lidgate/Cowlinge: Sept. 2nd. HEN HARRIER Circus cyaneus A maximum of 24 was located at seven roost sites between January and the end of March A ring-tail at North Warren on Sept. 19th was the first of the autumn and subsequently a total of 13 was found roosting at four sites. Records received were predominantly from the coastal strip and the Brecks, but this species was regularly found in the extreme southwest of the County at Stradishall Airfield. MONTAGU'S HARRIER Circus pygargus There were three typical spring reports as follows: Dunwich: cr May 5th (DD). Theberton: cr May 7th (MDC, BC). Minsmere: 9 May 24th (CAW).

GOSHAWK Accipiter gentilis Only two breeding territories were reported and no information was received of any fledged young. A cr was observed at Iken, Aug. 5th and a 9 was noted in the Walberswick/Minsmere area Oct. 15th to 28th. SPARROWHAWK Accipiter nisus The present national population trend has recently been described as ' 'sustained recovery from earlier major decline probably now completed" (Marchant, Hudson, Carter and Whittington 1990). From records received it seems that Suffolk certainly fits into this trend and that there is a steady increase in breeding birds. Potential territories were identified 70


in over 35 areas and some of these may have contained more than one pair. Confirmed breeding was only noted however, in nine cases. Several records were received of this exciting hawk chasing passerines, whilst the parish of Darmsden seems to contain an individual with a taste for woodpeckers; one dropped a live Green Woodpecker when disturbed by the observer (see also Suffolk Birds 1990 p.53). This observation is particularly interesting as out of 9,390 prey items examined by Newton (1986) only 0.01% involved Green Woodpeckers (one individual). A Q chased two Green Sandpipers at Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, Dec. 30th and at Lackford W.R. a Wood Sandpiper was taken before the eyes of its admiring watchers, May 2nd. COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buteo Four records of wintering birds were received between Jan. 1st and Feb. 17th from three sites and, thereafter, a total of 14 passage migrants was logged between Mar. 8th and May 28th. Oulton: Fisher Row, Mar. 30th, Apr. 1st. Kessingland: Jan. 1st. Benacre: two SW Mar. 17th. South Cove: Mar. 8th. Wantisden: Jan. 19th, Feb. 17th. Minsmere: Feb. 10th, Apr. 13th, two May 7th, May 28th. Kedington: SW Mar. 30th. Haverhill: NE Mar. 31st, E Apr. 1st. Bury St Edmunds: dark bird May 9th. Cavenham: very dark ad. mobbed by crows May 13th. The first autumn bird located was at Boy ton, Sept. 1st and a further four were noted at scattered localities between Sept. 13th and Oct. 24th. In December, five records from four coastal sites probably refer to two individuals. Lowestoft: London Rd, N Dec. 8th. Benacre: Sept. 26th, Dec. 8th, N Dec. 9th. Covehithe: Dec. 11th. Hinton: Oct. 24th. Minsmere: Oct. 19th, Dec. N 23rd. Boyton: Sept. 1st. West Stow: King's Forest, Oct. 2nd. ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus There were six records as follows: Fritton/Belton: Nov. 25th and Dec. 1st. Dunwich: Shore Pools, Nov. 3rd. Aldeburgh: Mar. 24th. Butley/Wantisden: Butley River/Staverton, Feb. 18th and Nov. 2nd to 1991, two Dec. 23rd. Falkenham: Red House Fm, Dec. 5th. Elveden: Berner's Heath, Mar. 25th. OSPREY Pandion haliaetus Up to two birds regularly frequented one site during the summer. These were assumed t0 be non-breeding and some consideration is being given to erecting an artificial nest in the future in the hope that similar occurrences might encourage colonisation. Artificial nest sites have worked successfully in the United States and more recently in Scotland (Poole 1989). All other records as follows: Spring Lound/Benacre/Walberswick/Dunwich: May 5th. Minsmere: May 7th. 71


Wantisden: Staverton Pk, June 15th. Melton: May 20th. Alton Water/Holbrook: May 27th. Haverhill: May 4th. Bury St Edmunds: May 9th. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, May 13th Pakenham: NE May 14th. Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, two Apr. 29th. Lakenheath: May 27th. Autumn Walpole/Covehithe: July 28th. Easton Bavents: Sept. 18th. Dunwich/Westleton: Aug. 4th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Sept. 18th (see Easton Bavents). Levington: Aug. 17th. Alton Water: Aug. 1st. Ixworth Thorpe: Sept. 8th. Lackford: W.R., Aug. 4th & 5th.

KESTREL Falco tinnunculus Only 25 breeding pairs were noted at 17 sites. A complete albino was observed at Carlton Marshes, Feb. 26th. When scraps of food were thrown onto the car park at Minsmere, on Dec. 2nd, a Brown Rat proceeded to make a meal of them only for itself to become the meal of a Kestrel seconds later. At Southwold Harbour, Jan. 23rd, one took bread being thrown out for gulls. It was not seen to actually eat the bread, but did hold it in its talons and tear off small morsels.

MERLIN Falco columbarius In the early part of the year 16 were reported from 13 sites and these included one at Brantham with a red ring on its right leg. South Cove: Mar. 8th. Minsmere: North Marsh, Jan. 27th. Aide/Ore: Sudbourne Marshes, intermittently from Jan. 11th to Feb. 11th; Gedgrave, two Apr. 4th; Boyton Marshes, Jan. 14th & 19th. Great/Little Bealings: รง Jan. 7th & 18th, Feb. 12th & 23rd. Felixstowe: Felixstowe Ferry, two Feb. 16th. Brantham: รง/imm. with red ring Feb. 1st. HaverhiU/Kedington: cr January to Mar 10th. Lackford: W.R., cr Jan. 17th, รง Jan. 21st, Mar. 4th & 16th. Elveden: cr Jan. 6th, Feb. 24th, Mar. 10th, Apr. 7th. Lakenheath: Botany Bay, Feb. 24th. The first bird of the autumn was at Aldeburgh, Sept. 19th and, subsequently, 23 were located at 17 sites. There was a distinct movement from mid- to late-October, when individuals were noted flying south well out at sea. Carlton Colville: Carlton Marshes, December. Kessingland: Kessingland Levels, Dec. 8th. Benacre/Covehithe: S Oct. 15th & 21st, Dec. 29th. Dunwich: Nov. 3rd, Dec. 22nd. Aldringham/Aideburgh: North Warren/Church Fm Marshes, cr Sept. 19th & 21st. Aide/Ore: Sudbourne Marshes, Nov. 5th, Dec. 4th; Gedgrave, cr Dec. 27th; Butley Mills, Nov. 11thSutton: Sutton Common, รง Nov. 4th. Felixstowe: Felixstowe Ferry, two Dec. 31st; Landguard Pt, singles S Oct. 9th, 15th, 21st & 28th. 72


Trimley St M a r y : Trimley Marshes, Nov. 16th, Dec. 23rd. Haughley: by A45, Dec. 8th. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, Dec. 16th. Cavenham: Cavenham Heath, O" Nov. 24th.

HOBBY Falco subbuteo A continued effort of searching for this species in the breeding season resulted in the location of 13 pairs. Of these, ten pairs reared a minimum of 16 flying young. Records received suggest that many more could be present. The first migrant was noted at Aldeburgh, Apr. 26th, and during the summer months there were numerous records from about 50 sites. The last of the year was at Southwold, Oct. 17th. PEREGRINE Falco peregrinus Another good year which suggests that this exhilarating bird may once again be a feature of Suffolk winters. All records as follows: Lowestoft: Corton Rd, "seen to flop down on to shed roof" Sept. U t h ; Ness Pt, S Oct. 22nd. Beccles: eating Snipe, Dec. 24th. Benacre: over Broad Oct. 24th. outhwold/Blythburgh/Walberswick: Oct. 22nd to Nov. 18th. Aldeburgh: Church Fm Marshes, cr in off sea and over marshes, Apr. 10th. Gedgrave: imm. cr Dec. 16th. Trimley St M a r y : Trimley Marshes, regular during December. Harkstead: Mar. 11th.

It is worth noting that a large falcon wearing jesses which frequented the Mayday Fm, Brandon area on Mar. 23rd was considered by most observers to have been a Saker F. cherrug.

RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE Alectoris rufa As reported in 1989 very few pure pairs remain. Would observers in future please indicate whether their records refer to definite Red-legged Partridges? As often happens wandering birds entered built up areas including one on a school roof in Lowestoft, Apr. 6th. GREY PARTRIDGE Perdix perdix Apparently still in decline with records received from only 37 localities. QUAIL Coturnix coturnix Reports received from three locations as follows: Shotley: calling from barley field, June 20th (MP). Alton W a t e r : up to three birds calling from June 9th until July 8th (MM, SHP et al). I akenheath: calling from a barley field, July 24th (AB).

PHEASANT Phasianus colchicus Albinos were reported from Walberswick (two), Nacton, Wantisden, Falkenham, Long Melford, Little Glemham and Reydon and melanistic individuals were seen at Walberswick: and Bury St Edmunds. A cr hurtling south over Landguard Pt, Mar. 18th, is only the third record there in ten years â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a drift migrant perhaps? GOLDEN PHEASANT Chrysolophus pictus Breckland reports were received from Thetford Forest, King's Forest, Santon Downham, Wordwell and West Stow. A cr at Melton, Oct. 23rd, was obviously not part of the established feral population. 73


LADY AMHERST'S PHEASANT Chrysolophus amherstiae The Herrings well ct noted in previous years was recorded on Feb. 25th, May 27 th and Nov. 25th. WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus Reported from only 26 sites and positive breeding was evidenced at only two of these. A migrant was watched in the trapping area at Landguard Pt, Jan. 4th.

MOORHEN Gallinula chloropus Reports were received from widespread localities, particularly in winter. The highest count came from Church Fm Marshes, Aldeburgh, where flooded meadows in late autumn attracted large feeding flocks which reached a maximum of 107 Dec. 28th. Minsmere N. Aldeburgh Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water

J 62

F 62

M 70

16 12 85 81 4 13

19 NIL 53 64 30

25 NIL 58 33 36

A

S

46 7 36 24 18

48 NIL 36 14 24

O 14 8 11 22 26 9 23

N 8 67 6 NIL 55 51 12

D 22 107 5 NIL 20 4 7

At Minsmere, one was seen to climb the stem of a Bullrush and pull off beakfuls of downy head, June 26th. COOT Fulica atra The total of 36 pairs, reported nesting at three sites including 14 at Walberswick and 17 at Lackford W. R., must represent only a very small fraction of the County's breeding population. A high count of 210 July 31st at Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin probably indicates good breeding success at this site, but otherwise, excepting those shown in the table, the only large flock encountered was 150 on Redgrave Lake, Jan. 30th. Oulton Broad Minsmere N.Aldeburgh Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

J 95 20

F 35 35

M 37 34

23

86 140 91 14 216

70 59 58 34 84

31

69 356 116 15 266 600

123 194 117 NIL 266 —

A

A

4 NIL 107 225

S

2 23 58 88 NIL 131 340

0 91 23 4 19 103 11 3 139 —

N 38 29 3 38 88 7 8 161 262

D 74 25 84 38 132 32 1 222 303

CRANE Grus grus Kessingland/Benacre/Southwold: ad. Apr. 29th (WGDL, LT). Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, four N Oct. 8th (NO, CPSR).

In recent years, the Crane has become an annual visitor to the County, but the last flock of more than three birds occurred in 1977, when a party of 26 flew S over East Bergholt, Oct. 16th, to be seen later at two sites in Essex (Rogers 1978). With the semi-resident group in Norfolk Broadland peaking at nine in 1988 (cf Norfolk Bird & Mammal Report, 1988), the possibility of individuals regularly wandering from there cannot be ruled out. 1980 North Stow: six together, Nov. 2nd. Although previously published (cf Suffolk Birds 1980), there is no trace of the details being submitted for consideration by BBRC and therefore the record is deleted from the County's files. 74


OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus Breeding records were not comprehensive along the coastal strip, although a full census was carried out on Orfordness, where a total of 67 pairs was recorded holding territory during the early part of the breeding season. Three pairs were confirmed as breeding in the Breck and a pair was displaying at Flixton G.P. in the Waveney Valley, June 10th. A passage bird at Ness Pt, Lowestoft, Sept. 11th, had been ringed in Teesmouth, July 1983 — the ring number was read through a telescope. Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 2 78 137 453 792

F 60 286 342 726 1156

M 153 462 268 635 618

A 116 593 269 408 480

TOTALS

1462

2570

2136

1866

A

215 537

S 19 23 160 288 1006

812

1496

60 —

0 2 149 157 1042

N 4 38 100 305 896

D 12 NIL 150 446 609

1350

1343

1217

Autumn passage peaked during August when Landguard logged 325 south. AVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta A total of 177 breeding pairs produced 51 young at eight localities. Many sites suffered from the effects of the summer drought, some drying out completely resulting in total desertion. This was typified by the problems on Minsmere's Scrape, where dry weather upset the delicate balance between freshwater and brine, accelerating salinity levels and causing a corresponding fall in the invertebrate population. The subsequent lack of food undoubtedly took its toll on nesting Avocets, which produced a mere 23 young from 102 breeding attempts. Uncontrolled sites fared much worse. The dramatic increase in the wintering population however, continues, with the total of 721 on the Aide complex in January, being a record for the County. Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben

J NIL NIL 721 35

F NIL 1 443 1

M 33 70 181 2

A 23 115 336 1

TOTALS

756

445

286

475

A

S

7 513 NIL

0 4 NIL 636 NIL

N 26 NIL 626 30

D 23 NIL 555 47

390

520

640

682

625

!

374

There were no records away from the coast and estuaries. The increase in the wintering populations resulted in birds seen more frequently on passage. Landguard logged five in August and singles in both September and October, but the largest total was of 20 south off Covehithe, Oct. 21st. STONE CURLEW Burhinus oedicnemus Birds were back in the Suffolk Breck from Mar. 10th, where 47 pairs fledged 42 young (in Breckland as a whole, Norfolk/Suffolk, there was an estimated 87 pairs from which

e

84 breeding pairs were located). These included a pair which reared four juvs from a double brood, noted in Suffolk for the first time. Normally a second brood produces just the single chick. 75


Away from the Breck, birds were found at three sites, but successful breeding was proven at only one, where two chicks were hatched and one reached maturity. A migrant, seen flying low over Alton Water, Sept. 14th (RT), is the first record for the site. Post breeding gatherings of 34 Aug. 16th and 11 Oct. 14th were noted close to their Breckland breeding sites. LITTLE RINGED PLOVER Charadrius dubius A good breeding season with a total of 33 pairs at ten sites and another six at a further three, where they possibly bred. This is the highest number of pairs ever published for Suffolk, although it was probably exceeded in 1980 when breeding took place at 21 sites, but no breakdown in breeding numbers was given. Totals in 1990 included an impressive 12 pairs at one site and five at another. Passage numbers were generally low, but did include up to nine at Alton Water and eight at Minsmere during August. An early bird was present at Alton Water on Mar. 10th (WJB), which is the County's earliest ever, and was followed by another at Lackford W.R. the next day (PVH, CJJ). RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula The BoEE counts show a significant passage movement in September, with the total for the Suffolk estuaries of 1,764 being the highest on record, easily surpassing the previous record of 1,321 in Sept. 1984. Both the Orwell and Stour hold nationally significant numbers of Ringed Plovers on passage and for wintering populations. The North Aldeburgh counts are the monthly maxima of birds frequenting the Church Fm Marshes nature reserve. Blyth N.Aldeburgh Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water

J 3 —

32 24 221 321 230

F NIL —

87 NIL 181 222 96

M NIL

A 7

A

_

20 4 40 122 18

54 7 28 30 2

66 278 360 136 35

S 84 40 179 400 505 530 26

O

_ 63 43 75 200 146 111

N 4 44 62 100 65 385 239

D 158 36 14 150 42 357 217

The comparatively recent phenomenon of birds roosting several kilometres away from the estuaries on which they feed continues, with new roosts found on a field of short grass on Sutton Heath (see also Dunlin), totalling 105 Oct. 31st and 120 Dec. 4th (2 l / 2 Km from Deben Estuary) and another near Park Farm Felixstowe, 100 Nov. 1st (2'/2Km from Deben Estuary). The established roost in fields adjacent to the A12/A1152 roundabout, at Hasketon. held 68 Jan. 28th (2'/2Km from Deben Estuary) and those at Alton Water are shown in the table (1 ViKm from Stour Estuary). Breeding records received were very scattered and must underplay the true number of breeding pairs in Suffolk. Ten pairs were recorded from the whole of Orfordness, which is probably an accurate figure although an alarmingly low one! Inland breeding was recorded at Lackford (one pair), Livermere (one pair) and Ixworth Thorpe (two pairs). Eight at Walberswick, May 11th, showed characters of the Arctic race C.h.tundrae KENTISH PLOVER Charadrius alexandrinus This is a species in decline in some areas of its range (Cramp & Simmons, 1983). The three coastal spring records this year, were as follows: Benacre: o• Apr. 25th & 26th (RW). Walberswick: Tinker's Marsh, 9 May 3rd (CSW). Minsmere: cr May 4th (IR).

76


DOTTEREL Charadrius morinellus After no records in 1989, the only report is of one which stayed for just ten minutes at Landguard Pt, before being chased away by the local Ringed Plovers. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, first summer May 1st (MM, SHP, NO). GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis apricaria This species was widespread throughout the winter with peak numbers occurring at many sites in January. All flocks of over 500 birds are listed below: Carlton Colville: 650 (February). Worlingworth area: 2,100 (February), 2,850 (November), 3,000 (December). Otley: 560 (January). Falkenham: King's Fleet, 510 (December). Newton Green: 2,000 (January). Leavenheath: 500 (December). Cavendish: 800 (January). Ixworth: 2,500 (December). Stanton: 850 (December). Depden: Depden Green, 550 (October). The last spring bird was at Aldeburgh, June 3rd and the first autumn arrival at Landguard, July 7th. One at Trimley Marshes, June 15th to 17th presumably oversummered in the area. Birds showing characteristics of the northern race P. a. altifrons were recorded at Cavendish/Long Melford, Dec. 19th & 21st and Higham (R.Stour), Mar. 28th. The races can only be distinguished in summer plumage and for this to be retained until December is unusual. GREY PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola The number of Grey Plovers wintering on the Suffolk estuaries remains high and reflects the national trend. The total January count for all the estuaries of 2,988 is the highest monthly figure since 3,336 in March 1985. In addition, the figure of 2,473 on the Stour in January is a record site total for Suffolk. Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 1 152 162 200 2473

F 8 4 125 350 1762

M 8 23 198 178 1751

A 1 7 4 2 83

2988

2249

2158

97

A

69 321

S 64 121 24 73 1692

406

1974

16 —

0 232 391 33 970

N 26 218 -109 71 1948

D 18 71 272 274 1163

1626

2372

1798

Inland, one associated with Golden Plovers at Haverhill in January and passage birds w ere noted in May at Worlingworth, four on 1st, Lakenheath, four on 2nd and Lackford, two on 3rd. In the autumn, ones and twos were recorded at Lackford on five dates between J uly 8th and Nov. 4th and one flew SE over Claydon, July 27th. Peak southerly passage occurred in August; on 15th Landguard recorded 156 and on 19th there were counts of 29 off Southwold; 53 off Minsmere; 50 off Bawdsey and 245 °ff Landguard. LAPWING Vanellus vanellus The species winters in large flocks in many parts of Suffolk, but the BoEE monthly its demonstrate the importance of the river estuaries. Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 769 4635 2625 510 1295

F 615 2886 2469 1714 1240

M 376 415 79 NIL 102

A 38 307 21 12 802

TOTALS

9834

8924

972

1180

77

A

9 19

S 18 443 412 400 42

269

1315

_ 241

_

210 512 119 122

N 69 2117 2236 1279 657

D 1296 1729 2924 607 460

1033

6458

7016

0

_


Apart from those in or around estuaries, flocks exceeding 2,000 were noted mostly in central and west Suffolk as follows: Eye: airfield, 2,000 (January). Worlingworth: 9,100 (December). Claydon: 10,000 (December). Levington: 2,000 (January). Ipswich: 2,000 (December). Holton St Mary: 2,000 (December). Hadleigh: 2,000 (November/December). Newton: Newton Green, 3,000 (January). Ixworth: 5,000 (December). Mildenhall: Kenny Hill, 3,500 (January). Due to lack of reporting, breeding success is difficult to assess with reports of only 22 pairs from nine sites. The first autumn migrants were noted at Felixstowe on June 6th. KNOT Calidris canutus 1 Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

NIL 100 300 1693

F NIL NIL 400 836

M NIL NIL 250 100

A 16 NIL NIL 55

TOTALS

2093

1236

348

71

NIL 3

S 18 7 NIL 3

O NIL 131 NIL 60

N 5 NIL NIL 894

D NIL NIL NIL 2417

11

28

191

899

2417 D 265 265 2417

A 8 —

Also of note was a high tide roost of 820 at Brantham, Jan. 14th. Orwell Stour

J 725 1830

F 255 1962

M 40 43

A NIL 99

L.W. T O T A L H.W T O T A L

2555 1853

2217 1036

83 350

99 55

O 8

NIL

32

N 15 2807

NIL 3

32 3

8 60

2822 894

A —

S

Spring passage was light with few sightings of more than one or two birds at a time, but 14 were on the Dun wich Shore Pools, May 5 th. Landguard logged 14 north, May 2nd. One bird was seen at Lackford, May 3rd. Six coastal sites recorded birds during July including three on the R.Blyth, 14th; seven at Shingle Street, 31st and 16 S off Landguard on 28th. Southerly movements were noted off Landguard with monthly totals of: 32 (August), 39 (September) and 40 (October). There were no inland autumn records. Late in the year, the species was almost absent at traditional feeding areas on the Orwell, but was plentiful on the Stour which achieved a record high-tide count in December. SANDERLING Calidris alba The first winter period produced a number of records for coastal sites with 40 at Fagbury. Jan. 29th, being the year's largest flock. Lowestoft Benacre Minsmere Orwell

J 6 2 —

40

F 5 2 —

2

M 1 3

_ 4

A

M

2 2

9 10

J 2

J —

1 —

A 4 4 1

S

O

N 1

2

1

1 —

3

Elsewhere, there were two at Southwold, Jan. 7th and four at Gorleston, Feb. 17th. Spring passage peaked in May and was most evident at Minsmere and Benacre. Parties of 1-5 were noted at ten other coastal sites. There were several inland spring observations which included singles at Lackford G.P., Apr. 28th, Weybread G.P., May 7th and two at Cavenham G.P., May 12th. Two mid-summer birds were at Benacre, June 17th. Autumn migrants were recorded from July 21st and passage peaked on Aug. 19th, when 22 flew south off Landguard. By the year's end up to seven were present at Lowestoft 78


LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta Very few records for the spring period indicate a light movement along the East Anglian coast. Birds were recorded in May at Minsmere on 3rd, 16th (two), and 20th and Benacre on 20th. One bird seen in the Long Melford area, May lOth, is the first record for the area (BP). The autumn movement south was more pronounced, with reports from a dozen coastal sites and two inland, although large groups were not involved. The first returning birds were seen in late July at Gedgrave Res., 23rd (two) and Trimley Marshes, 25th (two). Larger groups were recorded in September with 15 at Minsmere, 6th and six at Alton Water, 28th. Benacre Minsmere Aide/Ore Orwell Alton Water Lackford/Livermere

J 1 1 2

A NIL 3 1

2

l

NIL 1

1 4

S 2 15 NIL 4 6 3

0 4 3 1 5 2 1

N NIL NIL NIL 1 1 NIL

D 1 NIL NIL 1 1 NIL

There were more October records than usuai with reports from nine sites including five at Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin and four at Benacre, 4th. Late birds were recorded at Benacre, Dec. 3rd; Alton Water, Nov. 22nd to 25th and again Dec. 19th; two were at Loompit Lake until Nov. lOth and one individuai remained there into 1991. Inland autumn passage was above average. At Lackford, singles were present on five dates between July 26th and Oct. 16th and two on Aug. 23rd. Four were at Livermere, Aug. 9th and three Sept. 8th with one remaining to Sept. 16th. TEMMINCK'S STINT Calidris temminckii Three records, two on spring passage and one in autumn, were noted at the County's two principal sites for the species: Walberswick: Tinker's Marsh, May 3rd (CSW).

Minsmere: May 13th (SD et al), ad. Aug. 30th to Sept. 4th (IR et al).

WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER Calidris fuscicollis Minsmere: ad. Aug. 24th to 30th (SG et al).

Two reports of this Nearctic species from Minsmere in consecutive years bring the County total to 13. 79


RAIRD'S SANDPIPER Calidris bairdii Benacre: Benacre Broad, juv. Sept. 23rd (B & JS et al).

A fourth County record and the first since 1977. The third was also a juv. beside Benacre Broad. PECTORAL SANDPIPER Calidris melanotos A rather poor showing involving only two individuals, at the newly-constructed nature reserve, adjacent to the expanding Felixstowe Docks. These are the first records for the Orwell estuary in a year when Minsmere missed out for the first time since 1980, when the species failed to appear in the County. Trimley St M a r y : Trimley Marshes Reserve, July 25th to 30th, joined by a second July 31st, both remaining to Aug. 3rd, single to Aug. 9th (RCB, NO et al).

CURLEW SANDPIPER Calidris ferruginea A typical spring movement in May saw birds at Levington, 5th; Benacre, 6th; Minsmere, 9th and 25th to 27th and Walberswick, 15th and two 16th & 17th. Two early returning, or possibly oversummering, birds were at Trimley Marshes, June 18th. Mid-July saw the commencement of the main phase of return passage and by the month's end totals had quickly increased to reach the autumn maxima of 29, Minsmere, 21st and 14, Gedgrave, 23rd. Peak August totals were ten, Minsmere, 1st and Havergate, 11th and the highest figure in September was nine, Alton Water, 3rd and 4th. Seawatching in September produced seven north off Covehithe, 7th and six south off Landguard, 23rd. The final sightings on the coast occurred in October with singles at Iken, 1st and Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, 4th. Inland, Lackford W.R. hosted a moulting adult Aug. 5th and a juv. Sept. 30th to Oct. 4th. PURPLE SANDPIPER Calidris maritima Monthly maxima at Lowestoft, the species' principal site in Suffolk, were below average: J 16

F 21

M

A 14

M 15

J 2

NIL

J NIL

NIL

A

S 2

O 5

N 21

D 14

Elsewhere, during the January/March period there were reports from Landguard (three), Southwold (two) and Benacre. Birds lingered at Ness Pt to May 12th, when one also visited Minsmere. The first autumn bird was at Walberswick, Aug. 26th and during the autumn and early winter period the Lowestoft site, as usual, figured prominently with a maximum of 21 birds, Nov. 22nd. Up to four were at Landguard, Oct. 28th & 29th and single birds frequented the groynes at Pakefield and Southwold in December. DUNLIN Calidris alpina The BoEE joint estuaries' January peak of 34,835 is the highest total for any month since 1984. This welcome increase is probably in response to the milder winter conditions during 1989/90. Movement away from the wintering areas started in February on most estuaries, although the Orwell appeared to hold most of its birds until March. Spring passage was relatively inconspicuous, although 155 were still on the Orwell in May, 125 were at Felixstowe Ferry, May 1st and Minsmere achieved a peak of 26 May 2nd. J Benacre Blyth Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stoyr Alton Water Lackford

1281 40 3617 3848 9933 16116 NIL NIL

F 40 422 135 585 2310 8166 9446 NIL NIL

M 57 750 125 1504 936 1711 4111 NIL 6

A 15 275 54 1204 442 20 802 NIL 2

80

A 50 —

125 332

_

254 775 7 3

S 200 584 100 2885 825 689 2505 42 5

O 80 —

225 2673 2691 774 9774 80 2

N 100 1238 31 3447 2499 2075 9587 182 NIL

D —

882 65 1428 2035 4027 10350 19 NIL


Dunlin at Trimley Marshes.

Plate 13: Little Stints were reported from 13 sites. One remained at Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin into 1991.

Hate 14: This adult Stilt Sandpiper at Trimley Marshes was enjoyed by many observers W August.


Plate 15: Short-eared Owl at Cavenham. Very low numbers of this species were repor ;d in the second winter period.

Plate 16: This German-Ringed Mediterranean Gull has now frequented Felixstowe seafront for four successive winters.


Co-ordinated low water totals for the Orwell and Stour were: A

Orwell Stour

J 8275 15834

F 5930 11255

M 1930 3110

A 117 1496

319

850

L.W. TOTAL H.W. TOTAL

24159 26049

17185 17614

5040 5832

1613 822

319 1029

850 3194

O 2219

S —

2219 10548

N 5894 14457

D 5308

20351 11672

5308 14377

Very early autumn birds were seen at Minsmere with three on July 1st and Benacre, one on June 24th and two July 1st, whilst Walberswick had a flock of 18 on July 14th. The new RSPB reserve at Church Fm, Aldeburgh is already attracting roosting Dunlin in significant numbers and a peak of 600 was recorded there on Dec. 31st. Equally interesting was a flock of 150 birds seen probing the short turf of the picnic site at Sutton Heath, Oct. 31st (see also Ringed Plover) and approximately 1,000 birds roosted at this site, Dec. 4th. A good smattering of inland records shows the extent of overland passage. Up to seven passed through Haverhill, Lakenheath, Lackford and Bury St Edmunds B.F., in May. Flixton G.P. had one bird on June 10th, whilst Framlingham Mere and Weybread G.P. both had single birds on July 22nd. Monthly maxima in the autumn at Lackford were July (three), August (three), September (five), October (two) and November (two). Southerly passage included 500 at Southwold Nov. 24th and 1,678 off Landguard in October. STILT SANDPIPER Micropalama himantopus Trimley St Mary: T r i m l e y M a r s h e s , a d . A u g . 7 t h t o

19th ( S H P et

al).

This transatlantic vagrant had only been recorded in Britain on 22 previous occasions is is Suffolk's third record.

a n d th

81


RUFF Philomachus pugnax The only winter record was at Minsmere, Feb. 25th. Spring passage was noted from late March with peak numbers occurring in May at three main sites; Southwold, Walberswick and Minsmere. Southwold was the principal site with four Mar. 26th, six Mar. 30th, a monthly max. of 16 Apr. 7th, 40 9 ç May 3rd, 26 May 6th and 32 May 7th. Minsmere's monthly maxima were four Mar. 28th, 18 Apr. 30th and 20 May 5th. The largest number recorded at Walberswick was ten May 1st. There were no records of birds lekking and none oversummered. The first returning birds were noted from mid-July and involved 15 coastal localities. Totals included 28 at Minsmere, July 28th, eight North Warren, Aug. 3rd and four Sept. 26th and ten Orfordness, Sept. 23rd. The last of the year was at Minsmere, Oct. 10th. Inland reports came from Lakenheath Washes where a max. of 43 was recorded on May 2nd and singles were also at Livermere and Sproughton in May. At Lackford, birds were observed during both passage periods with a max. of eight May 1st and one to three birds on 16 dates between July 27th and Oct. 1st. Four were associating with Golden Plover at Tannington, Sept. 2nd.

JACK SNIPE Lymnocryptes minimus Reports of one to five birds at seven sites were received for the first winter period. At Lackford, up to five were present in January, three Alton Water, Jan. 1st and singles at Shingle Street, Minsmere, Bourne Pk (Ipswich), Martlesham Creek and Haverhill. In the second winter period there was a marked improvement in the number of observations with the first of the returning birds being noted at King's Fleet, Sept. 23rd. Reports were received from 14 coastal sites and involved 40 birds. The highest number recorded was 12 at Hollesley in October. Birds were present throughout the winter period at Levington with up to eight Nov. 7th and 9th and at Bourne Pk, Ipswich, with a max. of five Nov. 3rd. At Minsmere, there were up to six in October and at Church Fm Marshes. Aldeburgh, up to eight Sept. 29th. Ones and twos were noted at Southwold, Walberswick. Dunwich, Sudbourne, Kirton Creek, King's Fleet, Fagbury and Alton Water. Unusually, there were no birds recorded on Shotley Marshes (MP). The only inland records for the second winter period came from Lackford where up to four were noted on Oct. 27th and Dec. 12th. Another indication of the increased presence of this unobtrusive bird is that two ringing groups caught and ringed 21 birds at sites where none had been caught in previous years (CP&C, LBO).

SNIPE Gallinago gallinago In both winter periods numbers were significantly down on the previous year's totals. e.g. at Shotley Marshes the wintering numbers were the lowest ever recorded (MP) J Benacre Blyth Minsmere N.Aldeburgh Aide/Ore De ben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

1 154 78 47 17 40 30 32

F 40 2 140 91 16 28 105 21 29

-

M 60 5 160 15 5 37 109 34 21 7

A 40 NIL 15 —

13 5 15 9 NIL 7

A

S

1 8 53 15 14 21 8 28 7

20 —

16

_

3 1 12 13

O —

1 20 85 NIL 7 30 10 25 2

N 173 1 150 96 5 8 75 15 12 —

D 170 NIL 50 220 33 29 13 5 16 25

The counts for N. Aldeburgh involve birds on the RSPB's new reserve at Church Fm Marshes. 82


The sequential winter and summer drought conditions are drastically affecting the feeding habitat at many sites and as a result ¡t is assumed that birds are being torced to move elsewhere to find suitable feeding grounds. WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticóla Records of roding birds were received from only eight sites, which does not reflect the true breeding population. Reports included three at the King's Forest, Mar. 4th, three at Lackford between April and June, three Mildenhall, May lOth and several records involving one or two birds in the Walberswick/Dunwich area. Two or three breeding birds were also reported from Cavenham. The species is undoubtedly under-recorded during the winter periods, as is borne out by reports from only 14 sites, of which most involved single birds. Reports of more than one individual carne from: Gt Bealings, two Jan. lst, Gt Bradley and two Feb. 23rd. In the King's Forest most stands held 1-2 birds (JR, OD). Coastal migrants were observed at Southwold, three Oct. 2ist; Aldeburgh, Oct. 21 st &24th; Landguard, from Oct. I3th to Nov. 5th; Fagbury Cliff, Trimley St Mary, Oct. 20th to Nov. 3rd and at Walberswick and Felixstowe where single birds were seen to fly in off the sea, Nov. lst. BLACK-TAILED G O D W I T Limosa

limosa

Two pairs were observed displaying at one site, but there was no confirmation that nesting took place. A breeding attempt at a second site failed and presumably it was these birds that had moved to a third site nearby, where display flight was noted.

at

Numbers continued to increase on ali the County's estuaries. The peak monthly counts principal sites were: Blyth Minsmere Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J NIL NIL 22 NIL 1 1692

F NIL NIL 48 17 17 1734

M 1 30 69 55 NIL 683

A 136 111 503 208 NIL 83

83

A —

15 49 —

51 679

S 1 2 49 66 143 852

0 90 366 247 800 1124

N 21 NIL 312 142 400 2372

D 160 NIL 248 50 20 1845


The figure of 2,372 on the Stour in November is a new County record, beating that set on the same estuary in 1989, when there were 2,077 present. Low-tide counts on the Stour and Orwell were as follows with the corresponding BoEE High Water totals for comparison: Orwell Stour L. Tide TOTAL H. Tide TOTAL

J 1 846

F 22 2088

M 6 396

A NIL 169

599

1034

847 1693

2110 1751

402 683

169 83

599 730

1034 995

A —

S

_

O 700 —

700 1444

N 398 2220

D 25

2618 2422

25 1851

-

The species' West European wintering population has increased dramatically in recent years and, as a result, the qualifying level for international importance has been revised from 400 to 700 (Smit and Piersma, 1989). Despite this large increase, the Stour's average maxima, over a five year period, are well above the level required and, in fact, the estuar) is the second most important in Britain for this species after the Ribble. For the second year in succession a specially co-ordinated count of ail Suffolk's estuaries, along with the key ones in North Essex, took place and produced a total of 2,357 birds. (Stour 2,189, Deben 30 and Hamford Water 138). In 1991, this count will be extended to include all the wintering sites within the two counties, thus enabling an assessmentto be made of the total population. Other notable sightings included 168 at Melton, July 3Ist; c300 at Snape/Iken Aug. 7th and Dec. 21st; c800 at Hare's Creek, R. Orwell, Oct. lOth; 65 on Trimley Marshes, Sept. 14th, 150 at Levington, Sept. 9th and 40 south past Walberswick, Dee. Ist BAR-TAILED G O D W I T Limosa lapponica Observations of wintering birds were scarce. Maxima included 20 on the Aide/Ore in January, 18 on the Stour in February, five on the Blyth also in January and two south off Landguard, Dee. 12th. Spring passage commenced in early March with peak numbers occurring late April/early May. Notable gatherings were 25 at Benacre, Apr. 29th and 40+ there, May Ist, c50 at Walberswick, May 5th, 33 at Minsmere, Apr. 30th and 37 in Holbrook Bay, Apr. 22nd Excellent numbers were reported from Southwold Town Marshes with 41 May Ist, 60 May 7th and 122 May 8th. Southerly passage was evident at Landguard from June 20th and throughout July and August with monthly totals of six, 11 and 103 respectively. The peak day-count was achieved on Aug. 19th, when 65 moved south offshore. Fewer birds were reported at their regular feeding stations during this period, e.g. Minsmere recorded only 1-3 individuáis. There were three other observations of note: 22 at Levington July 31st, 39 south at Southwold. Sept. Ist and c40 at Snape, Oct. 8th. The only inland reports were reeeived from Lackford with spring and autumn maxima of ten May 4th and seven July 18th.

W H I M B R E L Numenius phaeopus The first spring bird was noted at Lackford, Apr. 9th, followed by sightings at Landguard. which included two south Apr. 19th & 20th and a peak of 35 Apr. 29th. During May reports were widespread from the coastal région; peak totals included 61 north o" Landguard, 2nd; 14 at Thorpeness, 5th; 16 south off Southwold, 6th; 11 over Aldeburgh 12th and 22 at Minsmere, 12th. Minsmere recorded the first returning bird on June 23rd, but thereafter autumn passage was light with no appréciable numbers being reported. The largest gatherings were noted at Church Fm Marshes, Aldeburgh, where there were flocks of 11 July 21st, 14 Aug- 8ttl and 11 Aug. 23rd. Elsewhere, 11 were on Southwold's Town Marshes, Aug. 8th, slX 84


were at Levington July 18th and seven July 22nd and eight were at Shingle Street, Aug. llih. The highest offshore movements were 17 at Lowestoft, July 15th and 21 at Landguard, Seot. 2nd. CURLEW Numenius arquata Maximum monthly counts w e r e : Biyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 58 395 491 560 871

F 7 529 491 611 1857

M 57 449 732 633 621

A 39 399 662 470 524

TOTALS

2375

3495

2492

2094

A

207 480

S 52 859 774 478 962

1032

3125

345 —

0 316 719 825 573

N 7 297 429 666 640

D 42 236 355 394 421

2433

2039

1448

Co-ordinated Low Water counts on the Stour and Orwell were as follows with corresponding High Water totals for comparison. Orwell Stour

J 654 1113

F 246 772

M 450 1088

A 99 168

628

799

L. Water TOTAL H. Water TOTAL

1767 1431

1018 2468

1538 1254

267 994

628 687

799 1440

A

_

S -

O 450 —

450 1398

N 548 715

D 726

1263 1306

726 815

The wintering population in Suffolk continues to increase. The counts show the Stour to regularly support nationally important numbers. Other notable sightings include 500 Breydon Water, Jan. 14th and 160 Trimley Marshes, July 28th. Seawatching at Landguard produced 308 south during June, 273 south in July and 33 south in August. A minimum of ten pairs was noted breeding on the Suffolk Breck. SPOTTED REDSHANK Tringa erythropus

Singles at Walberswick, Jan. 20th, Sudbourne, Dec. 16th and Hemley Dec. 9th, were me only winter records. 85


Monthly maxima at the County's principal sites were as follows: Benacre Walberswick Minsmere

J — 1 NIL

F — NIL NIL

M — 2 1

A

M 2 — 6

J 1 9 25

6 5 15

J — 1 73

A

S 1 2 90

— 34 36

O — — 1

N — 2 NIL

D — NIL

Spring passage, involving only a small number of birds, was noted between mid-March and the end of May. Düring this period birds were recorded from nine sites. Returning birds were first noted at Iken, June 15th and Benacre and Walberswick, June 17th. Minsmere recorded a County Record gathering for the second year in succession, with a peak count of 90 Aug. 5th to 7th. The species was well represented at inland sites, particularly on May 2nd. Lackford experienced its best year ever with an annual record total of 11 birds. Records were received as follows: Bury St Edmunds: B.F., three May 2nd. G r e a t L i v e r m e r e : Livermere Park, three M a y 2nd. L a c k f o r d : W i l d f o w l R e s e r v e , t h r e e A p r . 3 0 t h , t w o M a y I s t , f o u r M a y 2 n d , s i n g l e s M a y 4 t h , June 27th, two A u g . 4th & 5th, single Aug. 28th. L a k e n h e a t h : Lakenheath Washes, two May 2nd.

REDSHANK Tringa totanus Blyth Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J 329 1131 1006 1243 514

F 375 822 1122 1243 1123

M 863 1339 766 911 1185

A 393 550 1074 179 473

TOTALS

4223

4685

5064

2669

A

125 924

S 242 1408 1423 1285 1611

1585

5969

536 —

1318 2214 626 815

N 855 1628 1191 1574 1011

D 572 807 857 634 732

4973

6259

3602

O —

Low-water counts on the Stour and Orwell were as follows with the corresponding Higl Vater totals for comparison: Orwell Stour

J I486 855

F 1799 1043

M 1162 940

A 733 263

A

865

1418

L. Water T O T A L S

2341

2842

2102

996

865

1418

H. Water T O T A L S

1757

2366

2096

652

1049

2896

_

S —

N 1630 1183

D 1184

1367

2813

1184

1441

2585

1366

O 1367 —

BoEE counters have found that counting Redshank at High Water can be extremely difficult, and has led to apparent erratic fluctuations in the population of wintering b i r d s . Smit & Piersma (1989) have concluded that two populations can be distinguished w i t h i n the area of the East Atlantic Flyway. For each of these they suggest a revised qualifyin? level for international importance of 1,500 birds (an average which has to be m a i n t a i n e d over a five year period); despite this lower figure and on the basis of BoEE counts, both the Stour and Orwell now fall below the international qualifying level. However, lowwater counts on the Orwell regularly peak above this level. There was a high figure count of 1,400 birds, reported from Wherstead Strand, on the R. Orwell, Mar. 20th. This is a good number for a small portion of the estuary.

GREENSHANK Tringa nebularia The only wintering birds recorded were singles on the Stour during BoEE counts in January and November. The first spring passage bird was seen at Lackford W.R. on Apr. 2nd. By the end of April birds had been recorded at six coastal sites, including six Benacre, 29th and again at Lackford where four were present on 30th. Records for May were widespread and included notable gatherings of ten at Lackford, 3rd; three at Bramford G.P., 5th and 20 at Benacre, 6th. 86


An early returning bird was seen at Walberswick, June 17th and thereafter reports were widespread from both inland and coastal sites. Appreciable numbers included nine at Minsmere, July 4th; 25 south off Landguard, July 28th, ten Trimley Marshes, Aug. 8th, ten at Melton, Aug. 10th, ten at Walberswick, Aug. 26th and eight at Butley Creek, Sept. 11th. The BoEE totals on the Stour for August and September were 34 and 62 respectively.

GREEN SANDPIPER Tringa ochropus Wintering records involved a minimum of 33 individuals at 16 localities in January/February including eight Needham Market, Jan. 2nd. In November/December there was a minimum of 36 birds at 19 sites including six at Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, Nov. 14th and 30th. Spring passage, recorded in many parts of the County, mainly involved sightings of 1-2 birds, the highest number being four at Lackford, Apr. 13th. The autumn p a s s a g e p e r i o d w a s m u c h better and reports w e r e m o r e w i d e s p r e a d with reasonable n u m b e r s b e i n g r e c o r d e d as follows: Minsmere: ten Aug. 6th & 30th. Sudbourne: Sudbourae Marshes, seven Aug. 20th. Framlingham: The Mere, five Aug. 2nd & 5th. Trimley St M a r y : Trimley Marshes, ten July 28th and Aug. 1st. Alton Water: daily from July 5th with monthly peaks of 16 July, 19 August and 12 September & October.

Sproughton: B.F.Ponds, nine Aug. 12th. Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, maxima of 13 July, 18 August.

WOOD SANDPIPER Tringa glareola A good spring with at least 15 b i r d s being seen at eight sites as f o l l o w s :

Easton Bavents: S May 9th Southwold: two May 9th to 12th, single May 14th. Walberswick: Tinker's Marsh, May 9th.

Minsmere: May 1st & 5th, two May 7th & 11th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, three (two displaying) May 2nd, N May 3rd.

Haverhill: May 8th to 19th. Lackford: W.R., two Apr. 28th, two May 2nd, single May 11th & 12th. Lakenheath: Lakenheath Washes, May 7th, two May 18th. One of the L a c k f o r d b i r d s , p r e s e n t o n M a y 2 n d , fell victim to a 9

Sparrowhawk.

The first of the autumn were noted at Walberswick and Minsmere, July 22nd and the latter site also produced the last of the year, Oct. 13th. All autumn records are listed as follows: Walberswick: July 22nd. Minsmere: singles on four days in July from 22nd, single Aug. 1st & 30th, two Aug. 5th & 18th, single Sept. 23rd and Oct. 13th. Middleton: Middleton Lake, July 29th. Framlingham: The Mere, July 29th and Aug. 2nd. "lixstowe: Cobbold's Pt, S Sept. 9th. Irimley St Mary: Trimley Marshes, two July 28th & 29th, Aug. 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th & 18th and Sept. 9th. Holbrook: Holbrook Creek, Aug. 27th.

Alton Water: July 26th to 29th, Aug. 2nd and Sept. 3rd. Livermere: Livermere Park, Aug. 26th.

87


COMMON SANDPIPER Actitis hypoleucos Benacre Minsmere Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Gipping Val. Lackford

J 1 NIL NIL NIL NIL 1 1 NIL

F 1 NIL NIL NIL NIL 1 1 NIL

M 1 1 NIL NIL NIL 1 1 NIL

A 1 1 2 NIL 1 1 1 1

M 4 2 10 2 6 4 1 6

J NIL NIL NIL NIL NIL NIL NIL 1

J 5 20 6 5 15 16 2 7

A 4 10 5 2 12 9 6 7

S 1 5 3 5 2 10 NIL 3

O NIL NIL NIL NIL NIL NIL NIL NIL

N NIL NIL NIL NIL NIL 2 1 NIL

D NIL NIL NIL NIL 1 2 1 NIL

Overwintering was reported at Benacre, Minsmere, Alton Water and Bramford G.P. between January and March and Trimley Marshes, Bramford G.P. and Alton Water (two) in November and December. Although the wintering sites already mentioned had single birds at the end of March/ beginning of April, spring passage was not evident until Apr. 14th, when singles were noted at Ixworth Thorpe and Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin. There were no large gatherings reported, the highest figures being nine at Church Fm Marshes, Aldeburgh, May 5th and five at Loompit Lake, May 4th. Autumn passage was much better with records from no fewer than 46 sites. The highest counts included the following: Trimley St Mary: Trimley Marshes, 15 July 28th, ten Aug. 2nd. Levington: 13 July 26th.

Sproughton: B.F.Ponds, six Aug. 12th.

TURNSTONE Arenaria interpres Maximum monthly counts were: Orwell Stour Alton Water

J 209 187 159

F 373 250 46

M 322 100 NIL

A 136 81 1

A 288 184 1

S 458 365 NIL

O 283 181 NIL

N 294 282 136

D 406 158 19

TOTALS

555

669

422

218

473

823

464

712

583

The September counts for the Orwell (458) and Stour (365) indicate the importance of these two estuaries during the autumn passage period. Other notable numbers were 84 Falkenham, Sept. 26th, 20 roosting on a wrecked boat at Lake Lothing, Lowestoft, Mar. 11th, 70 Levington, Apr. 22nd, 100 Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, Dec. 12th and 200 Holbrook Bay, Sept. 25th. Inland reports were received from Lakenheath Washes, four May 5th; Lackford, two May 4th, Weybread G.P., May 7th and Livermere, May 5th.

RED-NECKED PHALAROPE Phalaropus lobatus Only one record received: Minsmere: juv. Aug. 22nd (SMe et al).

GREY PHALAROPE Phalaropus fulicarius Three records of singles and, as usual, all from the autumn period: Lowestoft: Ness Pt, on sea then S Aug. 9th (TMB, BJB). Covehithe: S and then on sea Oct. 8th (WJB, JMC). Orwell: Levington, Nov. 11th (PC); Faghury, (presumably same as Levington bird) Nov. 13th (MTW) The Lowestoft individual was in non-breeding plumage and is the County's earliest autumn record. Suffolk has only one other August record involving a bird at Bury St Edmunds B.F. ponds in 1970 (Payn 1977). 88


J

OMARINE SKUA Stercorarius pomarinus In what was a poor autumn for this species in the North Sea Suffolk managed a quite respectable total of about 20 individuals between August and November. All records involved 1-2 birds. There were no winter or spring occurrences. Lowestoft: Ness Pt, two Aug. 4th, Sept. 2nd, imm. Sept. 7th.

Wakefield: juv. Oct. 30th. Benacre: N Nov. 5th. ovehithe: two Sept. 7th, two (ad. & imm.) Oct. Uth. Southwold: imms. N & S (different birds) Aug. 19th, S Sept. 7th, N Oct. 17th, two N Oct. 21st, N Nov. 4th & 24th.

Minsmere: N Sept. 19th Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, N. Sept. 22nd, two N Oct. 21st.

The bird at Lowestoft, Sept. 2nd, was seen to drown an adult Herring Gull, having grabbed it in flight, and then proceded to feed on its unfortunate victim, whilst drifting south on the tide. Monthly sightings were: a 5

s

o 4

6

N 3

ARCTIC SKUA Stercorarius parasiticus Rather surprisingly, January provided the first record of the year, when one was off South wold, 28th (MM). Only three birds were noted on spring passage, two N off Southwold, Apr. 20th and a straggler north off Landguard, June 10th Over 220 birds were recorded during the autumn period, between Aug. 5th and November 25th. The largest movements occurred in September, with the highest counts during or after strong northwesterly winds. These were: Benacre: 25 N Sept. 22nd. Covehithe: 23 S Sept. 7th, nine N & five S Sept. 9th.

Monthly sightings were: J 1

F NIL

M NIL

A 2

M NIL

J 1

J NIL

A 44

S 135

O 36

N 13

D NIL

LONG-TAILED SKUA Stercorarius longicaudus Only one this year, but it is the 11th record in the last four years. Covehithe: ad. S Sept. 1st (MM, SHP).

Records for the past four decades in Suffolk are shown below. 1951-60

1961-70

1971-80

1981-90

NIL

2

2

13

The large increase in records in the past ten years is undoubtedly due to our better understanding of the identification of the species and a marked increase in seawatching.

GREAT SKUA Stercorarius skua A total of 51 birds was recorded during the year. On Apr. 20th, poor visibility offshore and strong northeasterly winds produced a small but still marked passage of this species off the Suffolk coast. Ten flew north off Southwold 111 an hour, in the early morning, and a single north at Corton, mid-morning. Autumn passage was much less dramatic and commenced in July with two north off Covehithe, 22nd. September was the best autumn month, with the highest counts being four south off Southwold, Sept. 7th and four north off Benacre, Sept. 22nd. 89


The last of the year involved an individual which chased Teal over Minsmere's Scrape on Dec. 23rd and was on Island Mere the next day. A 11

M NIL

J NIL

i 2

a 4

s 24

o 7

N 2

D 1

MEDITERRANEAN GULL Larus melanocephalus A mass of records was received from 16 sites. However, it is very difficult to accurately assess the true Suffolk population as many birds probably move from site to site. The table below shows the monthly totals: J 3 1 2 2 _

Lowestoft Benacre Minsmere Felixstowe Inland

F 2 1 1 2 _

M 2 NIL 2 2

A 2 NIL 1 1

M NIL NIL 2 1

A 2 NIL NIL 2 i

J 2 1 2 3

_

S 2 NIL NIL 2 _

O 2 NIL NIL 2 _

N 2 NIL 2 2 _ _

D 3 NIL 1 2 i

The Minsmere records include those seen around Sizewell Rigs and the Felixstowe records those on the lower Orwell estuary. The inland birds involve one in second winter plumage at Beccles, Apr. 4th, an adult at Bramford Pits, Dec. 12th to 31st and an adult at Lackford, (first for the site), July 12th. The wintering population is likely to have been in the region of 12 birds in both winter periods. No breeding behaviour was noted during the spring and summer months, but a presumed hybrid between this species and a Black-headed Gull was noted on the Trimley Marshes, Aug. 10th. L I T T L E GULL Larus minutus A mild first winter period saw this species present along the coast in larger numbers than usual for the first two months of the year. The warm water outfall at Sizewell Power Station was the favoured site, where a maximum of 11 occurred, Feb. 14th. A rare variant, close to first winter plumage, was seen at Sizewell Rigs, Mar. 4th. The bird showed completely black upperwings and a grey mantle (JMC) (see Macmillan Field Guide to Bird Identification pi 10). Spring passage was fairly light, peaking in May, when a total of 27 birds was recorded. There was a notable inland passage with Livermere and Lackford producing respective peaks of five Apr. 1st and six May 4th. Ones and twos were noted along the coast between Benacre and Landguard during the summer months. Autumn passage was unremarkable until October and November, when southerly movements involved 240 individuals. Highest counts were: Covehithe: 20 S Oct. 15th. Southwold: 35 S Oct. 21st, 29 S Oct. 22nd, 52 S Nov. 24th, 15 N Dec. 13th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, 87 S, 3 N Oct. 23rd. The December movement off Southwold was the last of the year. Monthly sighting were as follows: J 4

F 15

M 3

A 5

M 21

J 4

J 5

A 10

S 26

O 193

N 58

D 18

SABINE'S GULL Larus sabini Although it was not a particularly remarkable year for this attractive and highly pelagic gull, many Suffolk birders were at last very pleased to be able to add this species to their County lists. An adult in f.s.p. could be seen perched on the groynes at Ness Pt for two consecutive evenings. Lowestoft: North Beach/Ness Pt, ad. f.s.p. Sept. 23rd & 24th (NJS, RWi et al), juv. Sept. 24th & 25th (RF, PG et al). Covehithe: juv. N Sept. 25th & 30th (EWP, SHP, BS). 90


These occurrences followed a period of strong northwesterly winds during Sept. 21st & >2nd and all records are likely to involve the two individuals seen at Lowestoft.

BLACK-HEADED GULL Lams ridibundus An unusually-plumaged bird with a pure white mantle and milky-brown inner primaries was noted in the Ipswich Wet Dock, Feb. 11th. The highest single count of the year came from Lackford, where 10,000 birds were roosting at the end of December. The largest movement was noted off Landguard, where 1,150 moved south, Oct. 13th. J Blyth Aide Minsmere Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

778 —

1126 842 1179 194

_

F 2000 648 1000 1272 706 695 162 —

M 2000 1845 —

1048 864 942 145

J

A 1700 1804

_

1187 653 468

905

1840

S 450 3016 1100 1045 2051

A

314

285

N 960 878 100 1300 475

0 —

991 500 1037 424 —

848 486

343 585 2000 10000

254 6000

D 400 1130

Two ringed birds were found dead at Bramford. Both had been ringed as nestlings, one in Lithuania and the other in Switzerland in 1989 and 1983 respectively (see also Ringing Report). Breeding data were received from the following eight colonies: Blythburgh: c 700 prs. Mmsmere: 300 breeding attempts, producing 100 young. Sudbourne: R.Alde, 250-300 prs. Orford: Havergate Island, 1,300 prs producing only 20 young — predated by large gulls and Stoats; Orfordness, seven prs. Butley River: 25 prs (a dramatic reduction from 300 in 1989). Deben: Falkenham Creek, 20 prs. Bury St Edmunds: B.F. ponds, 25 prs during May.

COMMON GULL Larus canus There were about 18 pairs on Orfordness during the breeding season, but only two juveniles were seen. The highest count of the year came from Alton Water, where 776 were present on Nov. 18th. Monthly counts are listed as follows: Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

J 5 16 55 25 11 133 183

F 36 4 22 46 101 96

V 41 38 63 65 347 68 —

A NIL 8 2 18 12 13

M

A

_ _ 8 3

12

_

11 —

S 10 10 28 24

O —

23 15 6

40

83

N 27 15 37 20 —

776 —

D 5 46 27 55 —

232 —

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus fuscus Along with the Herring Gull, very few records were received away from the estuaries. Typically, there was a build up in numbers on the Aide, with birds returning to their Wordness breeding colony, but the bulk of the wintering population was around Lackford, where huge gull flocks arrive at dusk, from the nearby Landfill Site, to bathe and roost. Small numbers were present during the winter months on the landfill sites at Foxhall and Bramford. 91


J 9 5 2 12 3 40

Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour Alton Water Lackford

F 3 7 6 6 NIL

_

M 1769 38 2 13 NIL

A 3561 32 8 8

47

S 3 42 19

O 98 17 2

N 197 6 5

A 603 —

1 —

1 —

4 7

Lackford's Landfill site was probably responsible for the high summer count of 239 July 20th. A full census of the Orfordness gull colonies was completed which revealed 8,223 peirs of this species (LBO). Six records concerning the Scandinavian race L.f. intermedius were received; the highsst counts being 18 at Pakefield Landfill Site, Mar. 7th and three at Minsmere, Feb. 11th. It would be interesting to receive more records of the above race as it is suspected that it passes through the County in much larger numbers than are ever reported, particularly during March and April. HERRING GULL Larus argentatus A total of 2,515 breeding pairs was located on Orfordness, as part of the breeding gull census for that site (LBO). This is very close to recent estimates (cf Suffolk Birds 1989), although the 23% of the colony as a whole (10,738 birds), represents an actual decrease in the proportion of Herring Gulls to Lesser Black-backs. The ratio was formerly put at 1:3, in favour of the latter, and it is now 1:4. Aide Deben Orwell Stour

J 1460 341 14 75

F 498 100 26 20

M 887 205 10 38

A 1589 98 8 22

M — —

5 —

A 242

_ 8 7

S 144 62 43

O 236 83 40

N 795 98 52 —

D 156 186 55 —

This species is still very much under-recorded with few records away from the estuaries and we urge all observers to submit counts of sizable gatherings e.g. large roosts at landfill sites, to enable the true population to be assessed. T h r e e y e l l o w - l e g g e d individuals w e r e r e p o r t e d , all s h o w i n g c h a r a c t e r s of the race

L.a.michahellis,

as follows:

Pakefield: Landfdl Site, two ads Jan. 31st. Bramford: Suffolk Water Pk, third summer Mar. 26th. T h e r e w e r e t w o sizeable counts of the nominate race L.a.argentatus, which breeds around the Baltic c o a s t s f r o m D e n m a r k , north into F i n l a n d . T h e s e w e r e : Pakefleld: Landfill Site, 50 Jan. 31st. Bramford: Landfill Site, 25 Jan. 16th.

ICELAND GULL Larus glaucoides A very poor year with the site-faithful Felixstowe individual accounting for the only records. It has now chosen this SE Suffolk site as its wintering quarters for eight successive years. Felixstowe: Cobbold's Pt to Landguard Pt, ad. 1989 to May 15th and again from Nov. 2nd to 1991 P r e s u m a b l y , it w a s the F e l i x s t o w e b i r d noted at K i n g ' s Fleet N o v . 8th.

GLAUCOUS GULL Larus hyperboreus Sadly, 1990 was to be the last year that the regular Felixstowe Ferry adult was presentAlthough in residence during the first winter period, it failed to appear in the autumnIt was a rather mediocre year for the species with only 4-5 individuals. Lowestoft: Ness Pt, first winter Jan. 21st & 26th.

92


Minsmere: Island Mere, ad. Apr. 22nd (possibly Felixstowe bird); Scrape, first summer Apr. 22nd. Aldeburgh: Church Fm Marshes, second winter Dec. 23rd. Felixstowe: Felixstowe Ferry, ad. Jan. 1st to Apr. 21st. The F e l i x s t o w e b i r d w a s o b s e r v e d f o o t - p a d d l i n g o n the golf c o u r s e , F e b . 7th.

GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus marinus Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

J NIL 207 20 42 49

F 42 88 27 8 10

M 8 58 14 —

8

A NIL 25 24

A —

12 —

25 27

16

S 17 98 28 26 —

0 102 50 29

N 9 193 22 17

D 37 76 35 27

The above table clearly shows the wintering population of this gull peaking in January/February, with the autumn months of September, October and November being the main period of passage and arrival of wintering birds in the County. The highest counts of the year came from Lowestoft, where c500 were present on Sept. 25th and Bramford Landfill Site where 310 roosted on an adjacent field, Dec. 26th. K I T T I W A K E Rissa

tridactyla

It is pleasing to see that the Lowestoft breeding population increased compared with last year, which was affected by vandalism. Clearly the birds have made a rapid recovery since losing their traditional breeding site, the South Pier Pavilion, in the winter of 1989 (Brown 1990). Purpose-built wall Quay below wall Pier End Pier Side S.L P. oil-rig TOTALS

No of nests 41 12 33 6 20 112

Successful 30 4 27 3 16 80

Young raised 44 7 47 6 30 134

Peak offshore movements were noted as follows: Covehithe: 350 N Aug. 5th. Southwold: 300 N Jan. 25th, 496 N Oct. 21st, 300 S Nov. 24th.

The large movement in January is most unusual for the time of year, as most Kittiwakes spend the winter months well offshore. SANDWICH TERN Sterna sandvicensis The first of the year was a single at Minsmere, Mar. 18th, and, thereafter, spring passage was very light with the highest count being a mere 27 at Minsmere, Apr. 3rd. Lackford W.R. logged five birds; three Apr. 1st and singles Apr. 30th and May 7th. A total of 80 pairs nested on Havergate Island, but prédation by Stoats and large gulls limited fledging success and only 20 young were raised. This site has held the monopoly °n the County's breeding colonies since they last nested at Minsmere in 1978 (lone pairs attempted to nest there in 1984 & 1985, but without success). However, an encouraging s, gn for the future was of five pairs attempting to establish a small colony on The Scrape e arly in the season, although this was soon abandoned. Autumn passage peaked during late August and early September. The highest counts came from Landguard, with 38 south Aug. 30th and 69 south Sept. 2nd. The year's final sighting was at Benacre, Oct. 27th. ROSEATE TERN Sterna dougallii A very g o o d y e a r f o r this b e a u t i f u l t e r n , with f o u r r e c o r d s .

Covehithe: ad. N May 20th (per CSW). 93


Minsmere: ad. July 11th (IR). Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, ad. in moult Sept. 9th (ABo).

Alton Water: ad. with 30 Common Terns, Aug. 2nd (SHP). T h e Alton W a t e r and L a n d g u a r d b i r d s a r e the first f o r their r e s p e c t i v e sites.

COMMON T E R N Sterna hirundo The first of the year was at Minsmere, Apr. 3rd. Spring passage peaked during the first ten days of May, when some particularly impressive counts were obtained. At Landguard 210 and 104 flew north on May 2nd & 3rd respectively. Inland, at Lackford 125 moved east, May 3rd and 40 were counted at Alton Water, May 8th. Reports of breeding birds and their success were depressingly low, with 16 pairs at Minsmere producing only eight fledglings and Havergate hosting 120 pairs from which a meagre 40 birds fledged. Stoats and large gulls again were responsible for prĂŠdation of the colony at the latter site. Autumn passage was at its height in late August, when 100 were feeding around the Sizewell Rigs, Aug. 20th. The largest counts however, again came from Landguard, with 215 south Aug. 19th and 128 south Aug. 30th. A very late juv. frequented the Sizewell Rigs in early November and was last reported at Minsmere on 6th. ARCTIC T E R N Sterna paradisaea A rather poor year with the number of reports during passage periods being particularly low. Spring passage was very light indeed, with only ten reported. Three flew north at Landguard, May 2nd, two were off Benacre May 9th and three off Ness Pt, Lowestoft, May 21st. There were singles at Minsmere in April and May. The first autumn migrant was a juv. at Benacre, July 26th which was followed by a meagre flow to mid-October. The highest counts were as follows: Covehithe: six N Sept. 9th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, seven S Aug. 19th, 13 S Oct. 3rd.

Again, no breeding reports were received; the last successful breeding in Suffolk occurred on Havergate Island in 1984. LITTLE T E R N Sterna albifrons There was a welcome increase in the number of breeding pairs and the number of young raised, although the colonies were again not without their problems. A total of 244 pairs produced a minimum of 118 young (222 and 79 in 1989). The following table shows the numbers and success at each locality (key: p = pairs, f = no. of fledged young): Kessingland Benacre Covehithe Easton Bavents Walberswick Minsmere Sizewell Orfordness Landguard Felixstowe Docks Trimley Levington

P 25 32 26 54 11 25 20 55 7 50 10 1

f NIL 1 2 26 14 NIL NIL 30 1 33 11 NIL

TOTALS

316

118

The number of pairs has been adjusted to take into account the interchange of failed pairs moving from one colony to another which gives a revised total of 244 pairs. The 94


conservation of the species in Suffolk is extremely important as the 1990 adjusted totals represent 10% and 31% of the UK and East Anglian populations respectively (Wright and Waters anted). The fencing of colonies at popular beaches often helps with the species' success, but this year these areas met with almost complete failure. Fishermen's bonfires accounted for the total loss of colonies at Orfordness and Landguard a four-wheel vehicle through another. Human disturbance also accounted for the failure of the Kessingland colony, a high tide washed out those at Benacre, a Fox raided the Covehithe colony, for the second successive year, and Black-headed Gulls predated those on Minsmere's Scrape. A happier note came from Trimley Marshes Nature Reserve, where a shingle island completed as late as April, was occupied by ten pairs in early June and produced 11 young. The first spring migrant was at Minsmere, Apr. 19th. There were three inland records during May: at Lackford 1st and 2nd again 6th and at Livermere, 5th. Autumn passage was light with the highest count coming from Landguard, with 35 Aug. 9th, and the last of the year moved south on Sept. 9th. BLACK TERN Chlidonias niger An excellent y e a r with a s p e c t a c u l a r r e c o r d m o v e m e n t in early M a y w h e n as m a n y as 600 birds p a s s e d t h r o u g h the C o u n t y . N o t e d at 16 sites w i t h p e a k c o u n t s as f o l l o w s : Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, 22 N May 2nd, 16 N May 3rd. Alton Water: 20 May 5th. Lackford: W.R., 126 May 2nd, 149 May 3rd, 53 May 4th, 1-8 May 5th to 30th. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, 29 May 2nd, 20 May 3rd, 18 May 4th, 1-9 May 6th to 13th.

Redgrave: 30 May 2nd. The Lackford birds began to arrive from the west shortly after dawn. There were only a few at first, but numbers gradually built up throughout the day to reach a peak during the afternoon and early evening. At dusk, large groups formed and climbed higher and higher before departing to the east. One at Lackford, June 13th, was the only mid-summer record. Autumn passage was comparatively light, commencing with a single at Lackford, Aug. 5th. Thereafter, mainly ones and twos were counted along the coast between Benacre and Landguard. Nine south off Landguard, Aug. 28th. was the largest count of the autumn and finally one south there Oct. 15th was the last of the year. GUILLEMOT Una aalge

There were no large influxes of this auk during the winter months and no serious incidents °f oiling. Two overwintered on the Orwell estuary during the early part of the year and 95


by mid-December the same estuary held three. There were some large auk movements (see auk sp.) during the autumn, but most w ere well out to sea and specific identification was not possible. Some birds ventured close enough inshore on Oct. 7th when 132 off this species were noted moving N off Covehi he.

RAZORBILL Alca torda A poor year with only 39 birds noted offshore. The largest count was 16 N off Covehithe, Oct. 17th. A bird found dead at Felixstowe, July 27th had been ringed as a nestling on the sea cliffs at Berriedale (near Wick), Highland Region, June 30th 1984. LITTLE AUK Alle alle An outstanding year for this tiny visitor from the high Arctic. An oiled bird, picked up at Lowestoft, Mar. 2nd, was the only record for the first half of the year. During autumn and early winter though, nearly 1,000 were reported from Oct. 21st, when three were seen off South wold. The main movements occurred in early November and December, with peak counts as follows: Benacre: 27 N Nov. 3rd and 59 N Nov. 4th. Southwold: 567 N (in 6>/i hrs) Dec. 13th (County Record), 301 N (in 2 hrs) Dec. 28th. The November and Dec. 13th counts were made during strong northerly winds. The late December count however, was rather unexpected as the winds were force five/six southerlies, with excellent visibility. Three birds fishing amongst the moorings at Levington Marina, on the Orwell estuary, Dec. 3rd, was an unusual occurrence; one of these, which delighted many observers with its underwater display, was last seen there on Dec. 16th. Bearing in mind the large numbers close inshore there were surprisingly few records of 'wrecked' individuals inland. One flew north over Shipmeadow, near Beccles, and then alighted on the R. Waveney, Nov. 3rd and another was found alive on the weighbridge at Bury St Edmunds sugar beet plant in late November, but subsequently died (underweight?).

PUFFIN Fratercula arctica The County's best recorded year with 19 live birds reported. One found dead at Bawdsey, Jan. 13th (PCa) was the only winter record. In the spring singles flew north off Southwold and Landguard, Apr. 20th (same bird perhaps?) (JMC, NO). Autumn passage was excellent, again peaking between late September and early October. Ail records are listed: Lowestoft: Ness Pt, imm. N Nov. 4th (BJB). Covehithe: four N Sept. 15th (WJB, MM, EWP), N Sept. 20th (AR), three N Sept. 21st (WJB), six N Oct. 8th (JMC). Southwold: N Dec. 12th (JMC). Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, S Oct. 15th (NO).

AUK SP. Large autumn and early winter movements were noted as follows: Covehithe: 141 N Oct. 8th. Southwold: 37 N Dec. 13th and 724 N in two hrs Dec 16th (County Record). 96


STOCK DOVE Columba oenas Perhaps this species is actually becoming scarcer in Suffolk after all. Despite comments in successive issues of Suffolk Birds to the effect that observers' records probably do not reflect the true status, we are again left with surprisingly few records. The number of parishes in which the species was reportedly present was again struggling to rise beyond about 35 and only two gatherings could be described as anything like large: at Tuddenham, in ยก.he Breck, the 170 seen on Feb. 17th was by far the largest flock of the year, followed by Minsmere's record count of 61 on arable fields, Feb. 24th. There was also a paucity of references to breeding and two observers made ominous remarks on the species' status: in the Cavendish/Long Melford area, where there were occasional sightings of one or two downy young, it was said to remain at a "low level" and at Ixworth there were said to have been ' 'very few seen all year ' '. The now traditional trickle of autumn migrants through Landguard continued, with 13 south Nov. 1st and 14 south the following day. WOODPIGEON Columba palumbus Improvisation in nesting behaviour was noted at Long Melford and Orfordness. At the former location two nests were found on metal structures amid factory steelwork and at the virtually treeless latter site a nest containing one egg was found on the ground. Two winter flocks of 1,000 were noted at Long Melford and Minsmere, on Jan. 21st and Feb. 25th respectively and there were more spectacular movements noted than in previous years. For example, 2,158 passed south during November at Landguard, a site at which totals of about 700 had moved south on both Oct. 29th & 30th. Also part of this autumnal movement was a total of 650 flying south at Bawdsey on Nov. 1st, although there is undoubtedly some duplication here with Landguard's total for the month. COLLARED DOVE Streptopelia decaocto The year's largest reported flock was c80 in Normanston Pk, Lowestoft, Nov. 12th, although there were "50+ " at Sink Fm, Eyke, Jan. 10th. The extermination campaign mounted by food manufacturers in the Lowestoft and Ipswich Dock areas has been successful and gone are the days of the four-figure flocks of the late 1970s. One observer commented that there had been a ' 'slow decline ' ' in breeding numbers in his Felixstowe study area in the last five years and, judging by the size of our flocks, this pioneering species is continuing to experience decline. TURTLE DOVE Streptopelia turtur First noted Apr. 16th, at North Warren, where a total of 11 pairs was subsequently reported in what appears to have been a generally satisfactory breeding season across the County. For example, the species was present at 27 sites in Haverhill alone and comments from other observers were, for the most part, encouraging. There were, however, two reports indicating local declines, with Walberswick holding just three pairs, their lowest number on record and "very few" being seen at Aldeburgh. Post-breeding gatherings again featured strongly in the reports received, there being 165 on wires at Long Melford, Aug. 12th, the day after 73 were seen at Tunstall. There w ere three October records: Leiston cum Sizewell: Eastbridge, 12th. Felixstowe: Peewit Hill, 12th; Landguard Pt, 19th. WNG-NECKED PARAKEET Psittacula krameri There is something undeniably bizarre about this species in Suffolk, with an aura of โ€ขhe absurd exemplified by at least one, probably two, entering a chimney in central Ipswich during April, although there was no subsequent suggestion of breeding. 97


The 18 records from 13 sites represent a marked increase over recent years. Most records were concentrated in the period mid-August to mid-October. It is difficult to interpret trends of movements in the records, but one came in off the sea at Ness Pt, Lowestoft, Oct. 23rd, two headed strongly south over Westwood Marshes, Walberswick, Oct. 26th and another north at Covehithe, Nov. 11th. Observers should be aware of other species of parakeets which could be mistaken as Ringed-necked. Distant views of parakeets in flight should be treated with caution, as in recent years the similarly-structured Alexandrine Parakeet P. eupatria has been present in the County (see Appendix II). C U C K O O Cuculus canorus Spurious reports of the first Cuckoo of the year are sometimes nothing more than nonnaturalists' cliches, but this year's first, on Mar. 14th, Wickhambrook (PN), is accepted as a record-breaker, it being the County's earliest arrival on record. It coincided with the early arrivals of other returning summer visitors during an unseasonably balmy spell of weather. It was followed by reports of at least two others before March was out (Long Melford, Mar. 15th and Haverhill Mar. 15th & 17th) and the species appeared to be generally widespread during its infamously unconventional breeding cycle, with the proviso that observers in the Darmsden and Martlesham areas reported that ' 'far fewer bred than ever before" and "numbers seem well down", respectively. Two at Minsmere, Sept. 26th, were the last accepted records for the year. BARN O W L Tyto alba Suffolk is almost certainly one of the country's most important strongholds for this specie^ and on-going survey work on the County's breeding avifauna will go a long way to establishing our precise Barn Owl population. As it is, we are left to guesstimate from rather sketchy details in observers' notes, in which confirmed breeding refers to about 15 pairs. However, sightings again came from approaching 100 parishes, so it can be safely assumed that the breeding numbers are far in excess of those mentioned in records supplied to us. A pair raised three young at Santon Downham, which is the first breeding record for 20 years. Sadly, road casualty reports again featured highly in observers' submissions, with at least eight being reported. These included four in the Southwold/Reydon area, where a fifth was found seriously injured. Competition with Kestrels, which hunt the same grassland habitats, but normally at differing times of day, was demonstrated at Carlton Marshes, where a Barn Owl was "mugged" of its catch by an adult Kestrel. One trapped at Landguard, Nov. 15th, probably refers to a local wanderer, although Barn Owl activity was again noted in the vicinity of storage sheds on the Felixstowe Docks. EAGLE O W L Bubo bubo One of the most bizarre events of the year involved an owl, initially thought to be a Long-eared Owl, which had unexpectedly stationed itself in a Felixstowe garden. Local ornithologist (MJ) was invited to view the bird and upon his arrival was astonished to find an Eagle Owl sitting on the lawn. First noted at 07.30 hrs, on Nov. 22nd, it had gone by 13.00 hrs the same day. It allowed a close approach to within 6-7 metres. The owl is undoubtedly an escapee, although there were no reports in the local press of one being lost, as is usually the case when involving such valuable exotics. L I T T L E O W L Athene noctua A slump in the number of records received compared to the previous year â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 64 sites as opposed to 80 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; may well reflect differing levels of observer coverage rather than 98


I opulation changes. Three corpses were found: a probable road casualty at Chillesford, July 23rd, one dead under a tree, Gt Bealings, May 28th and, less conventionally, one in water-butt on Aug. 17th at Campsea Ashe, a parish in which at least three pairs bred. Possible migrants were reported from Landguard, Oct. 8th to 14th, on seven days in November and throughout December. TAWNY O W L Strix aluco Reports were received of 90 pairs at 77 localities, which is about the average for recent years. At least three reports however, indicated a decline. One, from Brent Eleigh, said the species was heard "much less than in previous years", another, from Barton Mills, said numbers were "much reduced this year" and Minsmere's population fell from 13 territories in 1989 to 11 in 1990. The long-staying 9 , first noted at Landguard in October 1989, was present at the site throughout the year. Its pellet remains showed that it had diversified its diet from Rats (ci Suffolk Birds 1990) to include the following bird species: Swallow, Blackbird, Reed and Willow Warblers, Goldcrest, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch and Linnet. The capture and consumption of birds by Tawny Owls is not unsual. According to Mikkola (1983) 10.2% of the vertebrate diet consisted of birds, based on 10,936 prey items, although he gives no breakdown of species. The capture of birds as agile as Swallows, however, is particularly intriguing and we can only assume that the victims are pounced on whilst at roost. LONG-EARED O W L Asia otus Breeding was confirmed at nine sites, four on the Sandling Heaths and five in the Breck. In both areas it is almost certain that other pairs went about their business undetected. A grim, recurring theme in observers' notes, unfortunately, was one of death. One was killed on the Bungay by-pass, Apr. 4th, another succumbed to unknown causes on North Cove Marshes, Mar. 11th and another was found dead, on Dec. 27th, at a site previously used for breeding.

Records which almost certainly referred to spring passage birds were of singles at Benacre, Pr. 10th, North Warren, Apr. 20th and Manor Terrace, Felixstowe, May 4th. The annual autumn influx was particularly noticeable around mid-October with the 13th, In particular, being a day to remember. On this date, three came in off the sea at Southwold, 'he same, or another trio, were found in the town's gardens and others were at Benacre A

99


(in off sea), Minsmere,Landguard and Sizewell (flushed from the dunes). A single, at Landguard on Sept. 12th was only the site's second record for that month, but in October there were new arrivals daily, being noted on 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 13th, 14th (two), 17th, 19th and 22nd. The last bird arrived on board the MVAdvisor Douglas and was later seen hunt ng around the containers on the vessel's deck as it entered port. Immigration continued to mid-November with singles at Gunton, 11th; North Warren 6th; Landguard, 4th and Fagbury Cliff, 4th & 10th. The nearest we came to recording a communal winter roost was the two on an unspecif ied date at Great Bealings. Otherwise, there were singles in both winter periods at Lowestoft and one at Lavenham, Nov. 8th, may have been about to overwinter as there have been previous winter roost records from this area. SHORT-EARED O W L Asio flammeus Records came from a meagre tally of about 20 sites in the first winter period, when the maximum was only the three which spent much of the period on Carlton Marshes. The species improved its showing in April and May when a sprinkling of spring passage birds supplemented numbers. The lack of mid-summer records reflects a possible absence as a breeding species, although a pair or two could, perhaps, have been unobtrusively present. As was the case with the preceding species, a mid-October influx was noted, but, apparently, immigrants were mostly transient visitors for there was a remarkable paucity of records in the second winter period. Only two December records were received, for example, and involved singles at Orfordness, 5th, and Blythburgh, 23rd. NIGHTJAR Caprimulgus europaeus The first to be noted were two at Minsmere, May 7th. An estimate of our breeding numbers would be risky business, given the sketchy nature of observers' records. The only figures of substance received referred to 18 in a Walberswick/Dunwich study area, most of which were on clear-felled forestry zones, 24 at Minsmere (40 in 1989), and 19 in Rendlesham Forest. A total of 23 adults was captured as part of ringing studies in the latter area. In the Suffolk Breck there was no census, although the population was thought to have remained stable (111 in 1989). In the absence of detailed figures, somewhat off-beat records may be of interest. An apparently very tardy <J was ringed at Landguard, June 8th and the year's latest record, at Blaxhall, Sept. 15th, raised an intriguing question. It was flushed by two dogs and would otherwise have gone unrecorded â&#x20AC;&#x201D; perhaps in common with others of its kind which linger with us to unknown dates. Once churring has stopped the species is far from obtrusive and latest dates are mostly dependent on pure chance. SWIFT A pus apus A positively balmy spell in March provided Suffolk's second and third earliest records â&#x20AC;&#x201D; at Minsmere, 21st and Sizewell 24th. Other March records were of one at Aldeburgh. 25th and two at Haverhill, 30th. More conventional records followed in the warm late April period, commencing with at least one at Landguard, 23rd. The first mass arrival was of 100 at Minsmere, May 7th, increasing to 160 there by 13th. A spectacular south-westerly movement took place over the Felixstowe area in unsettled weather in the first nine days of July and included 16,000 on 1st and 12,860 on 5th. During this movement, on 4th, birds were noted roosting at dusk on metal gantries in Hall s Aggregates yard, Landguard. Departure from breeding sites was noted in the first ten days of August and the year s last record was at Martlesham, Oct. 26th. 100


A cautionary tale came from Alton Water where two aberrant birds were seen on May 8th. Both had much white in their plumage and must have set the observer's pulse racing, at least momentarily. KINGFISHER Alcedo atthis Even a conservative interpretation of observers' notes shows that about 100 sites provided records, so the strong recovery, which has been taking place with the help of mild winters in recent years, happily continued. The recovery is exemplified by the high total of 20 recorded on a R. Deben BoEE count, Aug. 23rd. In only about 12 instances did observers refer to breeding, be it 'possible' or 'confirmed', and this surely does not even remotely approach the actual level of the species' population in the County. Migration' was noted at Landguard, with one over the site, July 26th and at Lowestoft, where one flew purposely northwards, offshore, past Ness Pt., and out of sight, Sept. 9th. BEE-EATER Merops apiaster Aideburgh: Church Fm Marshes, May 26th (JAD). Suffolk's 25th record and, as with virtually all of the previous 24, was 'over in a flash'. HOOPOE Upupa epops The most interesting record received was of two in a north Suffolk Willow scrub, with plenty of potentially suitable nesting holes, on May 10th. They were engaged in crest raising, but were unfortunately not seen subsequently. An average crop of spring migrants was condensed into the first nine days of May as follows: Benacre: 1st & 6th. Bawdsey: 9th. Felixstowe: Church Rd, 4th to 6th Stowmarket: 5th to 8th. There was only one autumn record: Southwold: Gun Hill, Oct. 13th. WRYNECK .lynx torquilla As with the previous species, spring records were condensed into a short period in early May: Benacre: May 6th & 7th. Walberswick: Westwood Marsh, May 3rd and 6th. Dunwich: Dunwich Heath, May 4th & 5th. Aideburgh: North Warren, May 5th & 6th. Bawdsey: nr Quay, May 12th. Autumn passage was similarly scant and short-lived: Sternfield: garden lawn, Aug. 16th to 19th. Dunwich: Sept. 8th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, Aug. 30th to Sept. 4th. 'pswich: Playford Rd, Sept. 4th. Harkstead: garden lawn, two feeding on ants Sept. 13th to 15th. A belated record was received: 1989 Aideburgh North Warren, May 7th. GREEN W O O D P E C K E R Picus viridis The number of sites referred to in observers' records was about 89 and this continued a recent series of totals which show very little fluctuation, e.g., 88 in 1986, 85 in 1987, 101


87 in 1988 and 92 in 1989. There was a slight increase in territories at Minsmere from 14 in 1989 to 17 in 1990. Evidence of juvenile dispersai was given by records at Landguard, Aug. Ist and two Aug. 7th. GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos major Indication of a possible decline is given by the réduction from 1989's total of about 130 sites occupied, to about 87 in the year under review. Whether the alarm bells should ring, or if this is merely a fluctuation in observer coverage remains unclear and no conclusions can yet be drawn, but watch this space. The 18 territories at Minsmere were exactly the same as 1989. Landguard again provided evidence of autumn dispersai, with singles on Aug. 4th, Oct. 4th and Oct. 14th. LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos minor Records were received from about 61 sites, which compares reasonably well with the corresponding figures of 64 in 1989, 55 in 1988, 65 in 1987 and 60 in 1986. Minsmere's population remained stable at nine pairs. The only noteworthy reference in observers' records related to one at Landguard, Sept. 14th, which is the first to have been seen at the site since 1987, when one was ringed on the virtually coincidental date of Sept. 15th. WOODLARK Lullula arborea A substantial increase was noted in the East Suffolk coastal belt where there were 78 territories (37 in 1989) of which 16 were on heathland, 58 in productive forest and four in non-productive forest. It would appear that the species is fulfilling the potential of the large increase in habitat within the area created by the October 1987 'hurricane' and subséquent clearance. Of the 83 er er recorded for Breckland as a whole, c45 were in Suffolk — indicating a much more modest increase. This gives a total of 123 territories in Suffolk. Suffolk Breckland Coastal Belt TOTALS

1986 28 25/26 53/54

1987 26 24 50

1988 31 (16) (47)

1989 37 37 74

1990 45 78 123

Interchange between the Breckland and coastal breeding populations was evidenced by the presence of two colour-ringed birds both ringed as chicks in Breckland in 1989 and seen holding territory in Spring 1990 (see Ringing Report). The only passage birds recorded were at Benacre Pits, May 7th (per CSW), two south at Bawdsey, Oct. 4th (HRB) and another at Landguard, Nov. 5th (NO). Overwintering occurred at a minimum of two sites: Coastal breeding site: throughout January (CGRB).

Worlingworth: amongst Skylark flock on arable land Dec. 27th & 28th (BS). SKYLARK Alauda arvensis The first winter period appeared uneventful with only three large flocks being reported. These were at Hoxne, 300 Jan. 20th, Minsmere, 112 Feb. Ist and Cavendish/Long Melford, clOO Jan. 4th. Breeding numbers were generally higher than last year and included: Minsmere: 61 territories. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 36 territories. Coddenham: Valley Farm CBC, 21 territories (17 in 1988 & 19 in 1989). Autumn passage showed a good influx on Oct. 13th when several hundred were seen 102


to fly in from the sea: S- uthwold: 306 Oct. 13th. \ insmere: 257 S in five hrs Oct. 13th. T iorpeness: 183 Oct. 13th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, 2,335 S October, incl. 853 S 13th. SHORE LARK Eremophila alpestris Single reports in spring and autumn echo the decline in the Scandinavian breeding population (Cramp, 1988) of which Britain's wintering birds form a part (Lack, 1986). Both of the following records probably refer to passage birds. B nacre/Kessingland: Mar. 21st (CAB). Dunwich/Walberswick: Shore Pools, Nov. 7th (TN). SAND MARTIN Riparìa riparia Two birds seen at Bawdsey Cliffs on Feb. 21st (MAH) are the earliest ever recorded in Suffolk — the previous earliest date was Mar. 9th in 1989. The main influx, from Mar. 11th, was also early, but progressed slowly until 30 at Lackford, Apr. 3rd and 200 at Minsmere, Apr. 24th. The following table shows how breeding numbers fluctuate from year to year, but a clearer picture would emerge if more colonies were monitored on a regular basis. Observers are urged to keep a watch on their local colony and report on progress, with comparisons with past years if available. 1985 Dunwich Minsmere Lackford

11

_

1986

1987

1988

_

366

140 128

1989 400 13 320

1990 75 60 196

Generally, breeding numbers appeared to be average and counts from other colonies were received as follows: Covehithe: Cliffs, 275 nest holes. Bramford: G.P., 70 "active holes. Autumn passage at Landguard included 790 south in August (330 south Aug. 8th) and '890 south in September (685 south Sept. 3rd). Elsewhere, there were 215 at Alton Water, Aug. 19th and 200 at Levington, July 19th. The last two birds of the year were reported from Shotley on Oct. 28th. SWALLOW Hirundo rustica A late spring passage, the only March record coming from Haverhill on 20th and the main arrival not occurring until Apr. 23rd. Breeding numbers remained steady, but several sites reported good success. A detailed report from Benhall showed that 14 first broods produced 37 young and seven second broods 21 young. Autumn passage was light with the September and October maxima at Landguard being 1 1,368 south (7,000 south Sept. 2nd) and 1,394 south respectively. A large roost at Lackford W.R. on Sept. 2nd was estimated at 700 — 1,000. A strong late October passage included 186 birds in the last week and continued into November when 50 were reported. The last were two at Church Fm Marshes, Aldeburgh, Nov. 18th. Albino/leucistic birds were recorded at Snape, Aug. 28th and Landguard, Sept. 3rd. R

ED-RUMPED SWALLOW Hirundo daurica Three records concerning two birds take the Suffolk total for this species to nine records °ften birds and followed the recent upturn in numbers nationally. Reydon: Reydon Smear, May 8th (DRE). "aiberswick: Westwood Marsh, Apr. 13th (CSW). Minsmere: Apr. 13th & 14th (DRN et al) — same bird as above. 103


The Minsmere/Walberswick bird only put in very brief appearances. On Apr. 13th it was seen at 17.00 hrs at Minsmere and 18..30 hrs at Walberswick and then back at Minsmere at 08.20 hrs the next day. H O U S E M A R T I N Delichon

urbica

A remarkably early record came from Capei St Mary, Feb. 24th (PRG), bettering Suffolk's previous earliest, Mar. 15th 1972, by 19 days. Six records of 11 birds were received for Mar. 22nd & 23rd, but the main arrival took place from Apr. 25th. Opinions on breeding success varied. Some observers stated that there were "fewer birds this year", while others reported that the species had "recoveredfrom the low numbers of 1989. " At Felixstowe, a pair had apparently started nest-building for the first time in August, but their success was not noted. Observations from Landguard showed passage involving 10,962 south in September and 2,557 south, 64 north in October. There were 27 birds seen in November, the latest being on 17th with six at Lowestsoft and seven at Aldeburgh. TREE PIPIT Anthus trivialis The only March report involved a bird at Minsmere on 29th (JMC). The main arrival did not take place until mid-April with several scattered reports indicating that birds were moving straight through to their breeding grounds, e.g. 20 were seen in clear-fells al Thetford Forest, Apr. 25th. Detailed breeding records show a slight decline in numbers at well-monitored sites, e.g. nine pairs at a Walberswick/Dunwich study area, (11 in 1989), 16 pairs at Minsmere (20 in 1989) and only two or three pairs at King's Forest. Autumn passage at Landguard was quiet, ending on Sept. 16th, but a late bird was noted at South wold, Oct. 13th (JMC). M E A D O W PIPIT Anthus

pratensis

A quiet first winter period, with low numbers recorded at numerous sites, the peak being 60-70 at Levington Research Station, Jan. 11th. Very few breeding reports were received, presumably due to under-recording, the exception being 24 territories at Minsmere which was about normal. Autumn passage at Landguard started slowly in late August, but increased in September when a strong southerly movement was noted: 1,551 were recorded in September (314 on 20th) followed by 1,012 in October and 120 in November. Observers in the Felixstowe/Trimley area reported the ' 'highest wintering numbers for six years ' ', including

a flock of 300, first noted Sept. 30th, which remained until the end of the year with numbers fluctuating between 40 in November and 200-300 on Dec. 31st. ROCK PIPIT Anthus

petrosus

Early first winter numbers were fairly low. The maximum count was 15 Jan. 14th as part of the Deben BoEE study, falling to 14 Feb. 11th and six Mar. 11th. The last report of the spring came from Benacre Pits, Mar. 28th. A mid-summer record came from Lowestoft South Pier, June 1st, which is the firs' County record for this month (ACE). A good second winter period started with passage at Landguard from Sept. 17th, peaking at 56 in October and 12 in November. Reports were also received from 22 sites, the maximum being 13 at Southwold. Inland reports came from Bramford Pits, Mar. 4th and Lackford, Oct. 3rd to 10thIt was a very good year for birds showing characters of the race A.p.littoralis from Fennoscandia and NW Russia, indicating either a genuine increase in numbers or greater familiarisation with the distinctive field characters of this race, particularly in spring, or both 104


Benacre: two Mar. 28th, two Dec. 28th (CAB). Southwold: Feb. 11th, four Nov. 15th, two Nov. 29th, six Dec. 2nd, 13 Dec. 16th, five Dec. 22nd & 23rd (JMC). Sidbourne: Sudbourne Marshes, two Mar. 11th (ASK).

WATER PIPIT Anthus spinoletta The increase in records continues with good numbers reported in both winter periods. The latest spring report came from Minsmere, Apr. 20th. Returning birds were noted again at Minsmere from Oct. 26th. Benacre: regularly noted throughout November and December.

Easton Bavents: Dec. 2nd & 3rd. Southwold: Nov. 3rd, 11th. 28th & Dec. 6th. Walberswick: Dec. 28th (three wintered). Minsmere: January — max. of three; February — eight on 9th; March — regular, peaking at four 26th; April — regularly noted to 20th with max. of three on 1st (two f.s.p. 20th); October — three 26th, November — nine 11th, then seen regularly to year's end — two Dec. 5th & 23rd. Orford: Orfordness, Apr. 8th. Alton W a t e r : Apr. 12th. Sproughton: Apr. 1st.

YELLOW WAGTAIL Motacilla flava A very early report from Flempton, Mar. 8th is the County's earliest since 1942 (MS), but this did not signify an early influx. Records increased slowly until Apr. 10th, when the main arrival started e.g. first noted at Minsmere Apr. 10th, Landguard Apr. 13th and both Lackford W.R. and Church Fm Marshes, Aldeburgh, Apr. 14th. A good increase in numbers was recorded during the breeding season, with reports coming from 23 sites — compared with nine in 1989 — but the exact numbers of pairs and success were noted at few localities. Flocks peaked in late summer, with 150 amongst cattle in July and August at Trimley Marshes and 300 roosting in reedbeds at Holbrook Creek, Aug. 26th to 28th and 100 there Sept. 8th. A fair passage in late August and early September was noted at Landguard, reaching 47 Aug. 22nd and 69 Aug. 28th. The last report came from Iken, Oct. 13th. The seven records, involving ten individuals, of the nominate Blue-headed Wagtail M.f.flava refer to spring birds, apart from one at Landguard, Aug. 28th. Four were seen together at Shingle Street, May 6th (MDC). A cr showing characteristics of the race M.f.thunbergi, the Grey-headed Wagtail, was seen at N.Denes, Lowestoft, May 2nd (JHG). A cr showing the plumage features of 'Syke's' Wagtail M.f.beema was noted at Alton Water, June 9th with a 9 and two juvs (MM). This bird is almost certainly a M.f.flava hybrid with other races. GREY WAGTAIL Motacilla cinerea A pleasing increase in reports with records from 79 sites, 27 early in the year until April and 40 in the late year period from mid-September. Breeding was confirmed for 15 pairs, and a further ten birds frequented suitable habitat during the summer months. The species was much more obvious on passage particularly in the autumn.The main Periods of movement were March, mid-June (probably as a result of juvenile dispersal) an d from mid-August to late October. The following set of records show the extent of these movements: Lowestoft: N.Denes, Oct. 22nd; Sparrow's Nest Gardens, Oct. 14th. Benacre: Mar. 4th & 17th, June 11th, two June 27th & 30th, two Aug. 12th, four Aug. 26th.

Easton Bavents: July 11th & 15th, S Aug. 30th. 105


Southwold: S Oct. 25th, Sept. 17th. Dunwich: three trapped Sept. 28th. Minsmere: Mar. 21st & 29th, Sept. 14th & 30th, Oct. 13th & 14th. Leiston cum Sizewell: Sizewell Beach, Oct. 13th. Aldeburgh: North Warren/Church Fm Marshes, June 3rd, July 29th, Sept. 8th & 17th. Campsea Ash: Aug. 27th & 28th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, Mar. 11th & 31st, juv. June 26th, singles S Aug. 29th, Sept. 17th, 22nd, 26th, 28th, 29th & 30th. two S Oct. 1st, three Oct. 7th, singles Oct. 11th, 14th, 21st, Nov. 5th. Levington: Lagoon, three juvs. Aug. 3rd. Alton Water: three Sept. 15th, Oct. 3rd, 21st & 29th.

PIED WAGTAIL Motacilla alba There was a paucity of records for this species, with reports from only 24 sites. In the early part of the year roosts of over 40 were noted at six sites, with the maximum being 100 on a factory roof at Long Melford in February. Notable post-breeding gatherings were few with 110 at Holbrook Creek in September and October, being the largest (see Yellow Wagtail). A total of 189 moved S at Landguard during October. Records of the nominate race M. a. alba came from 14 localities with a total of 27 birds between Mar. 17th and May 11th. An atypical summer report was of a cr at Benacre Cliffs, June 11th and in the autumn three were seen at three sites with the last report being on Aug. 30th at Dunwich. WAXWING Bombycilla garrulus The first winter period saw a small influx involving at least 19 individuals. Most reports came in January with a max. of seven at Woodbridge, 16th; in addition there were two behind Felixstowe Post Office 5th to 25th and two Lowestoft 10th to 20th. The last of the first winter period was at Woodbridge, Mar. 3rd. The second winter period saw a major irruption, involving a minimum of 174 birds and including one flock of 60 in the Lowestoft/Pakefield/ Oulton area. The first report came from Walberswick, Oct. 28th, but the majority arrived from Nov. 11th. Corton: four (seen to feed on Sycamore seeds) Nov. 22nd. Blundeston/Oulton/Lowestoft/Pakefield: five Nov. 13th, up to 60 Nov. 11th to 1990. Benacre/Covehithe: five Dec. 21st & 22nd. Walberswick: Oct. 28th. Dunwich: Nov. 4th. Minsmere: two Nov. 8th & 14th, four Dec. 16th. Leiston: 22 Dec. 21st, four Dec. 23rd. Shottisham: two Dec. 16th. Felixstowe: Cliff Rd, 13 Nov. 20th, seven Nov. 21st.

Brantham: Ind. Est., five Nov. 27th. Ixworth Thorpe: Abbey Fm, Dec. 16th. Lackford: Nov. 29th. Brockley: Brockley Green, two Dec. 5th.

106


As can be seen, the majority of records came from the coastal belt, with only a handful noted inland. There was obvious interchange between sites and some birds appeared to be simply moving through in late November and early December. WREN Troglodytes

troglodytes

Breeding levels were similar to last year: ' 'a slight decrease ' ' was noted at Valley Fm, Coddenham CBC, where 30 territories were located (34 in 1989), and 47 pairs were reported from North Warren, Aldeburgh. Two pairs utilised nest boxes at Cavendish/Long Melford. At Haverhill, singing was noted in floodlighting throughout January and February. DUNNOCK Prunella modularis Reports of breeding included 20 pairs at North Warren and a slight decrease to 17 territories (25 in 1989) at the Coddenham CBC site. An unusual report involved a pair nesting in a cauliflower on a Felixstowe allotment. Autumn migration at Landguard was poor, occurring mainly in late September/early October and peaking at 33 south Sept. 23rd and 30 south Sept. 30th. ROBIN Erithacus rubecula Unusual song reports were of one singing through the night in a floodlit area at Haverhill during January and February and another uttering a perfect imitation of a Blackcap on Hollesley Common on Feb.23rd. At Landguard, small spring movements of returning birds included one trapped on Mar. 17th bearing a Belgian ring. A count of breeding territories at Valley Fm, Coddenham, totalled 13 (same as 1989) and 14 pairs were recorded at North Warren, Aldeburgh. Robins are renowned for adopting unusual nesting sites, but one at Felixstowe nesting m a redundant iced drinks machine 'took the biscuit' â&#x20AC;&#x201D; or should we say 'drink'? Five chicks were successfully fledged. Autumn passage was evident from mid-September at Landguard with 20 Sept. 15th and Sept. 22nd. The main passage was relatively small compared with other years and occurred in mid-October: Lowestoft a r e a : "high numbers Sparrow's Nest Gardens"

j E Coastal area: "increase noted" Oct. 18th. jouthwold: clOO Oct. 18th. Dunwich: "falls" Oct. 13th & 18th. Leiston/Thorpeness: 25 Oct. 21st. Bavvdsey: "increases" Oct. 18th & 25th. 'elixstowe: Landguard Pt, max. 100 Oct. 18th. â&#x20AC;˘ fltnley St M a r y : Fagbury Cliff, 8 0 + Oct. 25th.

107

Oct. 18th.


NIGHTINGALE Luscinia megarhynchos The first of the year was a singing cr at Minsmere, Apr. 15th quickly followed by others mostly in the coastal belt. The first inWest Suffolk was at Cavenham Heath, Apr. 20th. Singing cr a totalled 173 (184 in 1989) including only 20 at Minsmere by May 4th (62 in 1989). Generally, the overall population appears to be steady, but with local annual variations. 1986 150

1987 170

1988 180

1989 184

1990 173

As usual, late summer records were sparse with singles only at Hollesley, Aug. 11th and Landguard, Aug. 9th and 25th to 27th with one at Landguard, Sept. 3rd, the first September site record since 1986. BLUETHROAT Luscinia svecica Two splendid cr cr of the red-spotted race L.s.svecica were seen in the Lowestoft area in mid-May. Lowestoft: The Denes, cr May 13th, second cr 19th (DB, RW et al).

These are the 19th and 20th spring records for the County during the last decade, although only five have occurred since 1985. 1981 Spring

1982 1

1983 2

1984 3

1985 4

1986 5

-

1987 2

1988 1

1989 -

1990 2

BLACK REDSTART Phoenicurus ochruros With no records of overwintering birds, the first of the year was a cr at Maidenhall Estate, Ipswich, Mar. 12th to 13th and other single crcr, on Mar. 13th at Landguard and the Tolly Cobbold Sports Ground, Ipswich. These were followed by singles at Covehithe, Mar. 17th, Minsmere, Mar. 20th and Lowestoft, Mar. 22nd.

Reports during the late spring and summer indicated definite or probable breeding by eight pairs with a possible total of 13 pairs (eight and 19 respectively in 1989). Lowestoft: at least two pairs. Dunwich: singles May 14th & 24th. Leiston: Sizewell Nuclear Power Station, two pairs bred. Aldeburgh: singing cr May, believed breeding. Ipswich: singing o1, May. Felixstowe: Docks/Landguard Pt, up to six singing cr cr April to July; at least three prs bred.

Most records were of autumn passage birds with reports from 14 coastal or estuarmi sites, mainly in mid-October. Peak counts received were from South wold, seven Oct. 20th. Felixstowe Coastguard Station, seven Oct. 20th and at Landguard, nine Sept. 26th and eight Oct. 18th. There were no reports from West Suffolk, the furthest inland report being of one al Worlingworth, Nov. 20th. Latest record was of a single bird at Benacre, Dec. 29th, remaining there into 199' 108


P ite 17: Kingfisher at Ixworth Thorpe. This species is, happily, making a strong recovery ai er a series of mild winters.

P a,e ' 18: Sand Martins at Minsmere. First reported on Feb. 21st at Bawdsey, the earliest county record.


Plate 19: House Martin. A remarkably early bird was noted on Feb. 24th at Capel St Mary.

Plate 20: Wren. A species whose numb rs fluctuate greatly depending on the sevei ty of the winter.


REDSTART Phoenicurus phoenicurus Reported territories overall were disappointingly down to only 44 (67 in 1989), although this apparent reduction is probably due to under-recording/reporting at certain main sites: Waiberswick/Dunwich: 12 pairs (eight in 1989). Minsmere: 18 territories (16 in 1989). Tunstall: Tunstall Forest, two singing o" cr. Wantisden: Staverton Pk. four (25 in 1989). Hollesley: Lower Hollesley Common, pr with three juvs, June 17th; Upper Hollesley Common, nest in Birch stump. Sutton: Sutton Common, two juvs Aug. 2nd. Haverhill: pr bred, three juvs seen. Breck: one observer considers "numbers in forest stable "(14 in 1989), although we have confirmed breeding for only one pair. The first spring record was of a cr at Landguard, Apr. 13th followed by singles at Walberswick and Minsmere, Apr. 17th. A light spring passage continued at Landguard with single birds on six dates in April and six in May to 22nd. Autumn migrants were noted at Landguard from Aug. 23rd with most records at this and other coastal sites during mid- to late-September. Peak counts were of six at Landguard, Sept. 16th and five there on Sept. 22nd. The last bird was recorded at Fagbury Cliff, Trimley St Mary, Oct. 20th. WHINCHAT SaxĂ­cola rubetra There were no reports of nesting from the coastal strip. However, the species maintained its tenuous foothold in the Breck with the main site holding between nine and 15 pairs and a single pair elsewhere (seven pairs at four sites in 1989). Spring passage was again sparse, commencing with a cr at Landguard, Apr. 22nd, which was followed by a very light coastal movement of mostly single birds to May 26th mainly in the Dunwich/Minsmere area. Three were at Landguard, May 13th. Autumn movements were evident from Aug. 13th, when there were reports from Sudbourne and Landguard. Numbers peaked dramatically during Aug. 21st to midSeptember involving no less than 21 sites. Peak counts were: Minsmere: at least 15 Sept. 9th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, eight Sept. 3rd; Church Fm Marshes, 16 Aug. 28th. Trimley St Mary: Trimley Marshes, nine Aug. 21st. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, nine Aug. 29th. Up to four birds were still present at Easton Bavents, Oct. 4th, but otherwise the handful of October records refers to singletons at coastal sites with the last at Minsmere, Oct. 28th. STONECHAT SaxĂ­cola torquata An excellent year with confirmed breeding or established territories at 22 sites (14 in 1^89) in the coastal belt between Benacre and the Deben Estuary. One pair certainly had 'wo broods. Ten pairs were recorded in the Minsmere/Sizewell area (five in 1989). There Were again no breeding reports from Suffolk Breckland. Unusual reports were: Dunwich: Dunwich Heath, aberrant bird sporting a notable supercilium similar to Whinchat, early May (per BJB). Minsmere: peak of 16 Mar. 30th. Pswich: cr taking Leatheijackets on an allotment, Feb. 2nd, whilst the observer was digging. Wintering birds were recorded at 21 sites on the coastal strip from Oulton Broad to elixstowe Ferry and inland at Cavenham Heath. W

WEATEAR Oenanthe oenanthe The County's earliest record involved ao r at Lakenheath Airfield, Feb. 25th (LCu). Next reports were not until Mar. 11th when singles were at Dunwich, Trimley St Mary 109


and Eriswell, but numbers did not increase significantly until Mar. 22nd, when ten were at Benacre, 19 at Landguard, Mar. 24th and 11 at Minsmere and 12 at Sizewell, Mar. 25th. Spring movements continued to mid-May with a main peak during Apr. 18th & 19th, when up to 25 were at Landguard. Breeding was confirmed at two coastal sites and possibly at five others, two of which were in West Suffolk. Again, observers are urged to report all breeding activity to facilitate more accurate monitoring. Early August saw the first signs of return passage, and the first sizable numbers were 13 at Aldeburgh, Aug. 16th, ten at Trimley Marshes, Aug. 17th and 15 at Landguard, Aug. 20th. The largest autumn count was also at Landguard, with 23 Aug. 29th. It was noted at numerous sites, mostly coastal, throughout September and October, although inland records included one at Wortham Ling, Aug. 11th & 12th, two Little Blakenham, Aug. 30th, and singles at Stowmarket, Sept. 16th and Long Melford, Sept. 25th and Oct. 19th. November sightings were at six sites, including two on Trimley Marshes, 10th and the last at Levington 24th, the County's second latest ever. A bird at Carlton Marshes, Nov. 1st, was seen to be pecking at the glass door of the Reserve Centre. Birds showing characters of the Greenland race O.o.leucorrhoa were noted at Dunwich, two May 5th, Gunton, Sept. 15th, North Denes, Lowestoft, Sept. 15th and Oct. 7th and Sizewell, two Oct. 13th. DESERT WHEATEAR Oenanthe deserti An obliging individual spent a few early-winter days feeding on insects on the seawall and beach area, immediately north of Southwold, much to the satisfaction of its many admirers. Easton Bavents: N. Beach/Southend Warren, juv. 9 Nov. 29th to Dec. 4th (DRE et al).

The bird was in unusual plumage showing a distinct pink flush to the rump. This is only the second record for the County. RING O U Z E L Turdus torquatus An excellent spring passage involving 20 sites, mostly coastal, and commencing with one at Lowestoft and two at Easton Bavents, Mar. 19th, which are the earliest arrivals in the County since 1982. Other March reports were of singles at Easton Bavents, Mar 22nd and Southwold the next day. The species was most conspicuous at Minsmere, where it was noted almost daily from Apr. 23rd to May 14th, peaking at eight on Apr. 28th Although most birds had passed through the County by May 12th, one at Minsmere lingered on until June 15th.

Records from West Suffolk included a single at Haverhill, Apr. 8th to 30th, two there Apr. 22nd and one on 'plough' at Wortham Ling, Apr. 7th to 9th. 110


The return autumn movement involving 11 coastal or estuarine sites, commenced with a single at Hollesley, Sept. 15th and five at Landguard, Sept. 16th. Most reports were from mid- to late-October, with a peak day on Oct. 19th, when six were at Minsmere, four at Southwold, three at Landguard and two at Lowestoft. Four were also at Landguard, Oct. 14th and Oct. 20th. '-ate records were of one at Landguard, Nov. 1st and one with Fieldfares at Waldringfield Nov. 9th. BLACKBIRD Turdus merula The first song was noted in Ipswich, Feb. 5th and was obviously a 'local' bird whereas the only spring flock recorded, 54 birds occupying a football pitch at Haverhill. Drought conditions throughout the summer gave a tough time for nesting birds and fledging success was low. Breeding surveys recorded 29 territories at Valley Farm, Coddenham (38 in 1989), 15 pairs at North Warren, Aldeburgh, and up to 12 pairs at Landguard. A heavy autumn passage was noted particularly in mid-October and again in early November. NE Suffolk: heavy passage mid-October. Oulton Broad: "very high numbers" Nov. 11th. Kessingland: Sewage Farm, 200 Oct. 13th.

Aldringham cum Thorpe: 45 Oct. 21st. Felixstowe: The Grove, 25 Nov. 15th, 61 Nov. 29th; Landguard Pt, 100 Oct. 13th & 20th, 70 Oct. 21st, 100 Nov. 4th, 60 Nov. 5th, 45 Nov. 6th. Ipswich: heavy nocturnal passage, Oct. 19th.

FIELDFARE Turdus pilaris Many large flocks of up to 400 birds were reported during the January to April period in both East and West Suffolk, but the largest concentration however, was a huge flock of c3,000 birds in orchards at Hadleigh, Jan. 14th. Presumably the apples didn't last long! Counts at Great Bradley in January show a movement through the area — 4th (34), 8th (35), 9th (120), 11th/12th (400), 20th (52) and 21st (30).

Thereafter, the h i g h e s t c o u n t s in the first half of the y e a r w e r e : Lound: 300 Mar. 3rd.

»udbourne: 400 Feb. 20th. ^artlesham: 375 Feb. 25th. tnsweU: Foxhole Heath, 250 Apr. 1st. federn "huge flock" Mar. 10th. " ° r t h a m : Wortham Ling, 300 Apr. 1st to 7th.

Ill


By May numbers were down to ones and twos at Minsmere, North Warren, Landguard and Long Melford with the last at Minsmere, May 7th. Autumn passage started very slowly with two August records; five over North Cove, 26th and one at Landguard, 29th. The species was scarce throughout September with only six reports of mainly singles from 14th. The main influxes commenced on Oct. 7th, when 30 were at Benhall and 40 north-west over Witnesham, and on Oct. 8th, when 800 passed south in two hours at Worlingham, 108 arrived from the sea at Landguard, 300 west at Ipswich, 200 at Coddenham and ' 'smallflocks all day ' ' at Martlesham. Numbers quickly increased with peak counts as follows: Dunwich: 500 Oct. 21st. Minsmere: 2,750 Oct. 22nd. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 300 Oct. 19th. Worlingworth: cl,100 W (07.30-08.30 hrs) Oct. 9th.

Bawdsey: 475 S in two hrs Oct. 19th, 200 S Nov. 1st. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, 300 Oct. 19th. Witnesham: "100s passed SE all day" Oct. 22nd.

East Bergholt: Fiatford, 300 Nov. 12th. Monk's Eleigh: 300 Nov. 8th. Lackford: 600 Nov. 4th. Thereafter, there was an obvious decrease and numbers were relatively low in December, although 100 were present at Fressingfield on 25th. S O N G T H R U S H Turdus

philomelos

Some evidence of returning migrants was shown by small groups in coastal areas such as ten at Benacre Pits, Mar. 2nd and 27 on a playing field at Chelmondiston the same day. Small 'falls' were also noted at Landguard with 15 Apr. 12th and 30 Apr. 20th. A pair nested on the engine of a van at Stowmarket â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a somewhat unusual site for this species! Minsmere held 20 territories (29 in 1989), four pairs bred at North Warren, four at Valley Farm, Coddenham (five in 1989) and three at Landguard. The main influx of autumn immigrants was noted at Lowestoft and Landguard from Oct. 13th to 23rd. R E D W I N G Turdus

iliacus

First winter gatherings were evenly scattered throughout the County with the largest flocks being 136 at Long Melford, Jan. 1st and 100 at Flatford, Jan. 29th. Returning spring passage was more obviously pronounced from Mar. 8th with a number of flocks of up to 50 recorded. At Lackford, 13 flocks totalling 254 birds headed west. Mar. 11th, with smaller numbers in the last week of March. Nocturnal passage was noted over Ipswich and South wold and Ipswich in mid-March. Mainly coastal groups in early April included 40 at North Cove 2nd and 16 still at Minsmere, 12th. The last of the spring was at Walberswick, May 19th. The predictable autumn influxes began in October, with 305 north-west over Pakenham. 8th and c900 west over Worlingworth, between 07.30-08.30 hrs, the next day. Heavy passage was also noted at Beccles and Ipswich, 12th and again between 18th and 21st at Lowestoft (where many tired birds had landed around the town), Beccles, Southwold. Minsmere (300+), Ipswich and Landguard (150). Numbers in November and December were much reduced except for a minor peak ot 150 at Landguard, Nov. 11th. M I S T L E T H R U S H Turdus

viscivorus

Peak counts included 25 at Minsmere, Feb. 16th, 28 at North Warren, July 1st and 41 at North Warren, Sept. 9th and 30 Westwood Lodge, Blythburgh. Sept. 4th. An early breeding record was of a pair and two nearly-fledged young at Martlesham Heath, Feb. 5th. Minsmere held 15 territories (ten in 1989). 112


CETTI'S WARBLER CettĂŹa ceni It is encouraging to report further consolidation of this species' presence at its remaining strongholds. Oulton: Fisher Row, at least four and possibly six were present. Carlton Colville: Ivy Fm, singing ct May 16th & 18th. Minsmere: A maximum of three singing e r o - in April.

It should be borne in mind that, as this species is polygamous (Ibis 124:288-301), the number of breeding pairs could have been higher than the total of singing cr cr. T h e species w a s r e c o r d e d a w a y f r o m t h e p r i n c i p a l sites as f o l l o w s : Walberswick: Westwood Marsh, singing Oct. 20th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, single July 15th. Reydon: Potter's Bridge, Oct. 29th.

GRASSHOPPER WARBLER Locustella naevia The totals of 46 singing males at 14 sites are well below the 1989 figures (71 and 23 respectively). Coastal populations included 19 at Minsmere and eight at Walberswick (24 and nine respectively in 1989). Away from the coastal region birds were found at Haverhill (two), Lackford (two), Cavenham and Thornham. Passage migrants were at Landguard on May 8th and Sept. 1st. SAVI'S WARBLER Locustella luscinioides An encouraging year with the first proven breeding since 1986 and a return to 'Site C', well away from the coast, where a bird had been present in May 1988. Walberswick: Westwood Marsh, 'reeling' Apr. 23rd. Minsmere: ad. & two juvs in late July indicate probable breeding, although surprisingly no 'reelers' were heard. Site C: at least one, and possibly two, present during the summer.

Site D: "reeling" c , May 16th and 18th. SEDGE WARBLER Acrocephalus

schoenobaenus

Another excellent breeding season with further increases in population levels. Principal figures of singing a oâ&#x20AC;˘ (followed by the 1989 totals where available) were at Minsmere, 162 (130); Cavendish/Long Melford, 48 (47); Lackford, 41; Shotley Marshes, 40 (47); North Warren, Aldeburgh, 37; Haverhill, 32 (24) and Alton Water, 17. 113


An exceptionally early bird was noted at Minsmere, Mar. 24th and is the County's earliest ever, beating the previous date of Mar. 27th set in 1890 and equalled in 1981. Two more occurred at this site on Mar. 29th, but the general arrival did not take place until the fourth week of April. A very light spring passage was recorded between Apr. 20th and May 20th at Landguard to where the first autumn bird had returned by July 20th and migration peaked at six on Aug. 23rd. Very few were noted in September and the only October bird occurred at Fagbury Cliff, Trimley St Mary on 12th. Finally, an exceptionally late bird was in the Sluice bushes at Minsmere, Nov. 6th (RSPB). MARSH WARBLER Acrocephalus palustris The County's four previous records had all been in late spring, but this year witnessed the first autumn records. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, juv. trapped July 28th (MM, NO et al).

Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliffs, Oct. 20th to 23rd (MM et al).

REED WARBLER Acrocephalus scirpaceus Widespread increases in the breeding population were reported. Principal totals of singing cr cr (followed by the 1989 figures where available) were from Minsmere, 84 (55); Shotley Marshes, 55 (40); North Warren, 33; Cavendish/Long Melford, 21 (17) and Lackford, 15. The first arrival was at Minsmere Apr. 14th, but there were no more until Apr. 23rd. A light spring passage at Landguard from May 7th peaked at four on May 14th and continued until June 18th; autumn birds had returned to this site by as early as July 2nd and 19th, but autumn movements did not peak until early September, with five on 3rd. The final reports of the year were in October, at Landguard 12th and Fagbury Cliffs, Trimley St Mary, 18th to 21st. GREAT REED WARBLER Acrocephalus arundinaceus The County's sixth record occurred almost exactly 14 years after the fifth which was on June 13th, 1976. Iken: Iken Picnic Site, in song June 14th (GCB, DJP).

Despite much searching, this guttural songster still remains missing from most personal Suffolk lists — this bird showed itself only to the two initialled observers. BARRED WARBLER Sylvia nisoria This year's total of four is the best showing since 1981. Lowestoft: North Denes, Oct. 8th (JHG, PJR). Easton Bavents: Southend Warren, Sept. 12th to 18th (DRE et al). Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, Oct. 2nd (HRB, MJB, NO et al). Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, Sept. 23rd (WJB et al). The Lowestoft and Landguard birds are the first October records since 1986. As a matter of interest, another typically scarce autumn species, the Icterine Warbler, failed to occur here for the first time since 1967. LESSER WHITETHROAT Sylvia curruca There was evidence of a decrease in the breeding population and in the number of passage migrants. Breeding season reports were received from about 30 sites (40 in 1989). Individual site totals of pairs included Minsmere — 25 (34 in 1989); Haverhill — eight; North Warren — seven and Cavendish/Long Melford — two (decrease). However, the species was described as ' 'numerous ' ' in the Waveney Valley in June and the total of seven pairs at Belstead is a record for the area. 114


The number of passage birds trapped in a garden at Dunwich declined from 53 in 1989 to 21. Likewise, spring passage totals at Landguard were well below those of 1989 with a maximum day-total of only five, May 5th (30 in 1989). Autumn passage peaked in late August with eight, Landguard, 23rd and again late September when there were 14, Landguard, 22nd; ten, Fagbury Cliffs, Trimley St Mary, 23rd and six, Benacre, 24th. Landguard recorded migrants up to Oct. 12th, but at nearby Fagbury Cliffs two lingered from Oct. 12th to Nov. 1st with one remaining to Nov. 8th - this is the latest recorded date in Suffolk this ccntury. W H I T E T H R O A T Sylvia

communis

Very few were reported before the fourth week of April when there was a surge of arrivals which included 12 at Landguard, 26th. Passage continued during May with maximum totals o f t e n , Benacre, 7th and nine, Landguard, 10th. Comparison with 1989 breeding totals reveals evidence of an even higher population although, at Minsmere, the increase was only from 76 pairs up to 79 pairs. Significant totals of pairs elsewhere (followed by the 1989 figure where available) were from Haverhill - 39 (24); North Warren, Aldeburgh — 26 (22); Valley Farm, Coddenham — 1 8 ( 1 4 ) ; Cavendish/Long Melford — 17 (16); Alton Water — 16 (12) and Belstead 16. There was an early autumn peak of eight at Landguard, Aug. 25th, but it was not until the fourth week of September that the season's highest totals occurred, with 12, Landguard, 22nd and 15, Fagbury Cliff, Trimley St Mary, 23rd. There were still five at Fagbury Cliff as late as Oct. 18th and one lingered at this site until Nov. 10th, the County's fourth latest ever (see Lesser Whitethroat). GARDEN W A R B L E R Sylvia

barin

April records came from six sites. Landguard recorded a notable arrival of 18 on May 7th and passage continued at this site until June 11th, involving at least 37 birds. At Minsmere and Haverhill there was a 24% increase in the recorded breeding population. The total of breeding pairs increased by 10 up to 52 at Minsmere and by four up to 21 at Haverhill. Census results from other sites also revealed a general increase; the more notable totals (followed by the 1989 figure where available) came from North Warren. Aldeburgh — 17 (9); Cavendish/Long Melford — 11 (7); Wolves Wood, Hadleigh/Aldham - 10 and Lackford — 9. Autumn passage from July 28th was generally on a low scale. At a Dunwich ringing site only 34 migrants were ringed this year compared with 63 in 1989. There were eight at Landguard, Aug. 26th, but the maximum autumn total occurred on Sept. 23rd when c20 were at Fagbury Cliff, Trimley St Mary. As many as seven were still at Fagbury Cliff, Oct. 7th and the last bird of the autumn was seen there on Oct. 18th. B L A C K C A P Sylvia

atricapilla

Singles were noted in January at Felixstowe (two sites) and Ipswich and in February at Haverhill. Birds were at ten sites in March from 17th and reports became widespread from mid-April. Coastal passage peaked at Landguard with 15 Apr. 26th and ten May 14th. Further increases in the breeding population came to light as a result of thorough census w °rk; totals of pairs at the principal sites (followed by the 1989 figures in brackets where available) were Minsmere — 82 (62); Haverhill — 47 (42); Cavendish/Long Melford — 24 (15); Valley Farm, Coddenham — 6 (5) North Warren, Aldeburgh — 15; Lackford - 13 and Wolves Wood, Aldham/Hadleigh — 12. The period from late September to mid-October witnessed the main phase of autumn Passage. The two principal sites were Landguard with ten Sept. 22nd and six Oct. 15th and Fagbury Cliffs, Trimley St Mary where there were 30 on both Sept. 23rd and Oct. 115


18th. Coastal migrants were noted at five sites in November with a maximum of five, Fagbury Cliffs, lst. The only December record involved a male in a Holbrook garden on 27th. GREENISH WARBLER Phylloscopus

trochiloides

Late August is the prime time for this Eurasian species to occur in Britain and so it proved this year with a well-watched bird in coastal bushes south of Minsmere for four days over the Bank Holiday period. Leiston cum Sizewell: Minsmere Sluice to Sizewell, Aug. 27th to 30th (BS et al).

This is the third County record, the first two having occurred in early September in 1981 and 1986. PALLAS'S WARBLER Phylloscopus proregulus Two late autumn records bring the County total to 19 before the species ceases to have national rarity status. Benacre: Long Covert, Dec. lst and 2nd (RCS et al). Dunwich: Greyfriars, trapped Nov. 4th (Sir AGH et al).

The Benacre bird was unusually late and is the County's second latest ever. YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER Phylloscopus inornatus Suffolk's share of Britain's approximate autumn of total 200 (Brit. Birds 84:140) was a rather paltry four, of which three were in September and one in October. Lowestoft: Warrenhouse Wood, Sept. 28th (PG).

Benacre: Sept. 13th (CAB). Southwold: Churchyard, Sept. 15th to 19th (AH et al); Harbour caravan site, Oct. 14th (JMC et al)-

The Benacre bird has the distinction of being the earliest arrival in Suffolk since 1915. 116


WOOD WARBLER Phylloscopus sibilatrix Rather unexpectedly the main area of activity this year was in the north-west, between Thetford and Brandon, where up to seven singing cr cr were located and two pairs bred with unknown success. Additional singing c cr in the Brecks were at Cavenham Heath and West Stow and in the south-west up to three cr a were found in the Haverhill area. There were nine singing cr a in the coastal region but all soon moved on and there was no evidence of breeding. Landguard recorded passage birds in May on 9th, 10th and 15th — on this latter date there were also arrivals at Corton, Lowestoft and Minsmere. Autumn passage birds have come to be expected at Landguard in August and this year was no exception with sightings of two on both 1st and 23rd. However, the County's latest ever sightings were provided by birds at Bawdsey and Chelmondiston, both on Sept. 12th.

CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita Reported up to mid-February from Great Bealings, Minsmere and Haverhill. In such an early spring, late February birds could have been immigrants; there were sightings at Lowestoft, 24th and Shotley, in full song, 28th. One was singing at Kedington, Mar. 4th and sightings became widespread from the second week of March, with peak counts of 36, Minsmere, Mar. 29th and 15, Thorpeness, Mar. 24th. A generally undistinguished spring passage at Landguard saw peaks of six Apr. 26th and seven May 5th — movements continued at this site to June 23rd. All other breeding season reports are eclipsed by those from Minsmere where 135 pairs were located, an increase of 34% on the 1989 figure of 101 pairs. Figures from other sites (followed by the 1989 figures where available) were North Warren, Aldeburgh — 24(12); Haverhill — 23 (25); Belstead - 21 and Wolves Wood, Aldham/Hadleigh - 13. Following some juvenile dispersal in July, autumn movements commenced at Landguard in early September to peak at 20 on 23rd. The largest October totals occurred at Fagbury Cliff, Trimley St Mary with 10 on 22nd and 24th. Most of the November reports (from 11 sites) probably referred to overwintering birds and at least 11 were found in December, including one singing at Woolverstone, 29th. There were several reports of birds showing characteristics of one or other of the northern races. Birds at Haverhill, Jan. 21st to Feb. 15th and Southwold Apr. 2nd were of either the Siberian race tristis or the Scandinavian and Russian race abietinus. Birds showing characteristics of tristis were at Landguard, Apr. 26th and Oct. 22nd, Fagbury Cliff, Oct. 23rd and Kessingland Sewage Farm, Dec. 23rd (two). The only claim of abietinus was from Fagbury Cliff, Oct. 21st.

WILLOW WARBLER Phylloscopus trochilus The first report of wintering since 1984/85 is of one in a Reydon garden, Feb. 18th a nd 20th (MSF) — it had probably been present since at least Jan. 22nd. The first spring sightings were as early as Mar. 18th at Alton Water and Lavenham hut, given the mild weather that prevailed at that time, it is surprising that there were March reports from only seven sites (25 in 1989). There was a widespread arrival from the third week of April. Spring passage at Landguard continued until June 10th, but the peak figure of 40 occurred there on Apr. 28th — May 'otals at this site included 30 on 7th and 20 on 10th. Site surveys revealed population levels generally akin to those of 1989. Totals of pairs at the principal sites (followed by the 1989 figure where available) were Minsmere — 2l ? (222); Haverhill — 83 (78); Belstead — 35; Cavendish/Long Melford — 33 (23): Lackford — 22; North Warren, Aldeburgh — 20 (16); Wolves Wood, Hadleigh/Aldham - 20 and Valley Farm, Coddenham — 11 (11). 117


The first autumn birds had reached Landguard by July 27th and movements peaked there in the third and fourth weeks of August with 40 on 19th and 23rd. September totals were lower, but an influx late in the month resulted in there being 25 at Landguard, 22nd. There were few October records with the latest being at Corton, 22nd (two) and North Warren, Aldeburgh, 25th. Figures from a Dunwich ringing site indicated lower combined passage totals this year with 99 being ringed compared with 153 in 1989. One at Southwold, Apr. 19th showed characteristics of the Scandinavian and Russian race P.t.acredula. GOLDCREST Regulus regulus During the mild first winter period 47 were counted in the King's Forest, Jan. 2nd and song was noted at Brantham from as early as Jan. 21st. Spring migration was dominated by reports from Landguard where the site's earliest ever spring migrant was recorded on Feb. 23rd followed by two next day. The March maximum was six on 15th and the spring peak of 20 was present on Apr. 1st. One to three were subsequently noted intermittently until May 11th. Few breeding records were received. At Minsmere a decrease was recorded with 47 pairs being located (66 in 1989). The first autumn arrival was at Landguard, Sept. 12th, but it was not until late October that a large scale arrival took place under the influence of an easterly airflow across the North Sea. Peak totals, predictably all at coastal sites, were as follows: Lowestoft: Sparrow's Nest/Belle Vue Park, "very large numbers 23rd. Southwold: 50 14th, 300 18th. Minsmere: 80+ 19th. Bawdsey: Bawdsey Manor, "100s present of which 161 were ringed" 25th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, 70 21st, 100 22nd and 23rd, 70 24th; month's ringing total — 314. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, month's ringing total — 104. Migrants were recorded at Landguard until Nov. 21st. FIRECREST Regulus ignicapillus At the beginning of the year wintering birds were located at Dunwich (two), Corton and Mayday Farm, Brandon. Spring migrants occurred on the coast between Mar. 17th and May 21st. Numbers were lower than in 1989 with reports from seven sites totalling about 54 (70 in 1989). Maximum site totals were four, Minsmere, Apr. 2nd and three, Landguard, May 10th. There were no breeding season reports from suitable areas in the coastal region, but in the west of the County two cr a and a 9 were at one site, May 25th, but with no evidence of breeding. Autumn reports came from 13 sites. An early arrival at Landguard Aug. 30th is the first site record for that month. There was a scattering of sightings in September and Landguard's peak day-total of seven was on Oct. 2nd. However, at least 50 of this autumn's excellent total of 75 occurred in the second half of October in conjunction with mass arrivals of Goldcrests. Site totals during this two week period included Landguard — ten; S o u t h w o l d — seven; Lowestoft — six and Fagbury Cliff, Trimley St Mary — six. Away from the coast, a first year female was ringed at Benhall, Oct. 29th. Wintering birds were found in December at Blythburgh, Dunwich and Oulton Broad. J 4

F

M 3

A 18

M 17

9

J

J

A

S 1

9

6

0

O

N 6

D 3

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER Muscicapa striata For the sixth year in succession there were no April records. The first report was from Minsmere, May 3rd, with the general arrival taking place during the fourth week of May118


At least 25 passed through Landguard during May 7th to June 7th with a peak of five on May 24th. A Dunwich ringing site recorded migrants up to June 9th. Local increases in the breeding population were recorded at Haverhill 22 prs (17 in 1989) and at Benhall, but the overall impression is of the species being much scarcer than in 1989. Decreases were reported from Minsmere (only six pairs), Cavendish/Long Melford (ten pairs — "a substantial decrease"), Brent Eleigh, Lackford and Lowestoft. One bred successfully in a House Martin's nest at Woolverstone. Post-breeding concentrations included 15, West Stow, Aug. 22nd and 14, Grundisburgh, Sept. 1st. Coastal autumn passage from mid-August was generally on a low scale, possibly reflecting a poor breeding season. At a Dunwich ringing site only 37 migrants were recorded compared with 66 in 1989. There were more October records than usual however, with reports from six sites including the County's latest ever, at Clamp House Marshes, Shotley, 27th to 29th (DC, JAG, RP1). RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER Ficedula parva Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, trapped Oct. 8th (MJa, SHP et al). Landguard's fifth record occurred on a typical date and takes the County total to 30. PIED FLYCATCHER Ficedula hypoleuca Spring passage was very poor, being restricted to cr cr at Lowestoft, May 10th and 12th and Alton Water, May 20th. Autumn passage from Aug. 2nd (Bawdsey) was more impressive with reports from 11 sites, all of them coastal, totalling about 80 individuals. Movements peaked in late August with seven, Landguard, 29th; five, Lowestoft, 29th; four, Bawdsey, 30th and four, Fagbury Cliff, Trimley St Mary, 31st. Landguard only recorded two in September, but Lowestoft came to the fore with at least 13 during the month. There were late October records at Dunwich, 18th and Southwold, 23rd. J -

F —

M -

A 1

M 3

J -

J -

A

S 52

24

O 2

N —

D —

BEARDED TIT Panurus biarmicus Although a third mild winter period in succession was experienced, the numbers of this species may have declined. During the winter months the species was noted at ten localities, on the coastal strip, and included groups of four at Carlton Marshes, five at Levington and singles at Sudbourne Marshes and Bourne Pk, Ipswich. Overall, the species was recorded from 22 sites, although breeding was only confirmed at four and suspected at another. The highest count was 64 at Easton Broad during May. Indicators of coastal dispersal were seen in October, with reports from Corton Cliffs, 22nd (ad. 9 ); Orford, 14th (two); Martlesham Creek, 19th (five) and Trimley Marshes, '3th (four) & 24th (one). For the second year running there was a record from West Suffolk w here a single occurred by the R. Blackbourne near Ixworth, Oct. 26th & 27th. LONG-TAILED TIT Aegithalos caudatus The succession of mild winters has obviously helped this species to increase its numbers as once again successful breeding has been widely reported from all parts of the County. Minsmere recorded 56 territories (45 in 1989 and 30 in 1988). A very high count of 90 birds was recorded at Sutton Heath on July 31st; these birds made up half the total of a mixed tit-flock. A total of 61 birds were caught at three ringing sites near Ipswich, between July and October, whereas the same degree of effort at these sites in 1988 and 1989 had yielded 30 and 39 respectively (BGT). 119


M A R S H T I T Parus

palustris

This is another species which appears to be increasing in established areas and reappearing at former breeding sites. Overall, reports were from 36 sites (40 in 1989). Minsmere held 32 territories (19 in 1989) and single territories were noted at the Valley Farm, Coddenham and Newbourne Springs CBC sites, where the species was absent in 1989. One at Great Barton was the first there for three years and another observer reported that Marsh Tits were more numerous than Great or Blue Tits along the Sailor's Path (Snape to Aldeburgh) on May 2nd. W I L L O W T I T Parus

montanus

Although one observer reports that the species is less common than previously in the Cavendish/Long Melford area, it is possible that the decline in numbers has halted. It was reported from 24 sites (30 in 1989) with breeding proven at three and probable at two others. The majority of records came from well inland and tended to be towards the SW of the County. BGT reported that in 15 years of ringing around the Ipswich area he has yet to catch a Willow Tit, but regularly catches them at an inland site near Kersey. One showing characteristics of the race P.m.borealis was noted at Worlingworth, Nov. 10th (see pl45). C O A L T I T Parus

ater

This species is plentiful in coniferous plantations, but is represented in small numbers throughout the County. The two largest counts were 27 reported from the King's Forest, Sept. 8th and 20+ feeding on Beech-mast at Hollesley Common, Oct. 15th. The only breeding records were from Minsmere, (40 territories), North Warren, Staverton Park and Long Melford. B L U E T I T Parus

caeruleus

An abundant species widely distributed throughout the County and perhaps it is for this reason that so few observers submit sightings. A flock of 23 visited a garden in Ipswich, Aug. 19th. A total of 12 pairs was reported breeding at North Warren and the Valley Farm, Coddenham and Newbourne Springs CBC sites held 14 and ten territories respectively. G R E A T T I T Parus

major

There is probably some cause for concern over this species as its numbers have certainly dropped in the areas from where we have received reports. Typical reports were: Felixstowe: "drastic drop in number in woods" Newbourne: Newbourne Springs CBC site, five territories (seven in 1989). C o d d e n h a m : Valley Farm CBC site, eight territories (12 in 1989).

The following table shows the ringing returns from sites where coverage, from year to year, is relatively constant. Dunwich Bawdsey Landguard Newbourne Springs Bourne Park CES

19 146 150 4

1989 94 17 63 85 4

TOTALS

319

263

1988 â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

1990 48 (AH) 19 (HRB) 19 (LBO) 97 (BGT) 1 (LBO) 184

At Minsmere, 36 of the 181 nest-boxes were occupied by Great Tits of which 30 fledged young. 120


Observers are requested to keep a close watch on this species and make comparisons with past years if possible. N U T H A T C H Sitta

europaea

Another widespread, but thinly distributed species. Up to four were reported mainly in the eastern half of the County, with a higher count of at least eight in Chantry Park, Ipswich on Apr. 1st. Definite breeding records were reported from Minsmere, Felixstowe, Ipswich and Melton. It was absent at Bawdsey Manor, where it has previously been regularly recorded as a breeding species. T R E E C R E E P E R Certhia

familiaris

An ubiquitous species, reported from all parts of the County, but usually in ones and twos. Only on two occasions were three recorded together, at Cockfield, Mar. 27th, and Holbrook, Mar. 9th. Minsmere held 32 territories (26 in 1989) and four breeding pairs were reported from Haverhill. A bird found sitting on a red serviette outside the Butley Oyster P.H., June 20th, was picked up and released in nearby woods where it immediately started feeding. One at Landguard, Aug. 3rd, is only the third record for the site. P E N D U L I N E T I T Remiz

pendulinus

CD

TO

m

Following the spate of records at Minsmere in 1989, the first ever for the County, another o* occurred in almost the same patch of Greater Reedmace as was favoured in the previous year. Unlike last year's well-watched individuals however, this bird's stay was all too brief and it was seen by only a few observers. Minsmere: cr Apr. 4th (CAB, JHG, RJP, RW et al). GOLDEN ORIOLE Oriolus oriolus Four birds, three cr cr and a 9 , were seen at the traditional site on May 20th and a pair was observed nest-building on May 27th. Up to three individuals were heard calling â&#x20AC;˘in suitable breeding habitat at a second site, May 19th. Spring migrants were noted at Normanston Pk, Lowestoft, two cr cr May 10th (both few off towards coast); Minsmere, May 9th & 26th and North Warren, Aldeburgh, singing v May 31st. I" recent editions of Suffolk Birds we have published details of Golden Orioles breeding at an ' unconnected site ' '. The SORC no longer consider these records acceptable due to the apparent unsuitability of the habitat and the lack of any independent confirmation. Relunctantly, these records have now been deleted from the files, although site details will remain confidential (see Appendix HI). Ed.

121


R E D - B A C K E D S H R I K E Lanius

collurio

Once again there was no evidence of breeding, although single day records of cr or, at two former breeding sites in late May, gave a glimmer of hope. A cr was present at St Helen's Picnic Site, just over the County border in Norfolk from May 16th until June 30th. This bird frequently crossed the river into Santon Downham on the Suffolk side and on one occasion a pair, seen flying over the village and later at St Helen's, was chased off by the lone resident or. Compared with last year's high numbers, autumn passage was mediocre with only five records, all from SE Suffolk: Aldeburgh: North Warren/Church Fm Marshes, 9 Sept. 17th to 26th. Hollesley: Shingle Street, juv. trapped Sept. 8th. Felixstowe: Peewit Hill, Oct. 9th & 10th; Landguard Pt, juv. Sept. 3rd to 6th (trapped 4th). Tattingstone: Alton Water Res., juv. Sept. 13th. G R E A T G R E Y S H R I K E Lanius excubitor C a r l t o n Colville: Mutford Wood, Jan. 28th, intermittently in February to 23rd. M i n s m e r e : Oct. 21st (IR). W a n t i s d e n : Staverton, Jan. 28th. Trimley St M a r y : A45 interchange, Dec. 3rd. B r a n d o n / W a n g f o r d / L a k e n h e a t h : Mayday Fm Forest Trail, 1989 to Apr. 4th, at least four together Mar. 18th (RH, HV), single Nov. 4th to 1991.

The species has taken up territory near the Mayday Fm trail for the past six winters. Over the years, it has delighted many thousands of observers and we have learnt much about its habits. Two incidents, worthy of note, include the shrike catching a dragonfly and impaling it on a twig in early November and, in December, eating a Greenfinch. The wintering bird was one of four in the area in March, which were probably passage birds. At the time a minimum of six was present in Thetford Forest (Norfolk included). 122


JAY Garrulus glandarius A species which is widely spread throughout the County, but commands little interest judging by observers' notes, with only nine records received. One in the Cavendish area, Feb. 14th, was the first record there for nearly two years. Another was present in north Felixstowe, where it is considered to be very much a rarity, from May 21st until June 23rd. A flock of 16 was recorded in the King's Forest, Nov. 20th. MAGPIE Pica pica This species still seems to be on the increase and the following large gatherings were recorded: Carlton Colville: Carlton Marsh, 14 Oct. 27th. Walberswick: 32, roosting in Blackthorn, Feb. 18th. Minsmere: 58 Jan. 11th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 51 Oct. 9th. Hollesley: Shingle Street, 41 Apr. 12th. Sutton: Sutton Common, 27 Jan. 10th. Hadleigh/Aldham: Wolves Wood, 47 Dec. 3rd. Lackford: W.R., 21 Sept. 24th. Tuddenham St Mary: Tuddenham Fen, 33 June 1st. Two flying in from the sea at Landguard, Mar. 11th, were probably immigrants. JACKDAW Corvus monedula A flock of 500 was seen in the Barton Mills area, Oct. 22nd. Individuals showing characters of the race C.m. monedula were noted on Kessingland Levels, Feb. 11th to Mar. 2nd; Rushmere (nr Lowestoft), Mar. 4th and Beccles, Mar. 7th to 10th.

ROOK Corvus frugilegus Many rookeries were reported, some containing a good number of nests, with the largest being 60 at High Pt Prison, Stradishall, 50 at Kedington and 55 at Little Wratting. All 15 nests in the rookery at Shotley Gate were destroyed in the gales during January. The birds did not return to this site, which had been used for at least 35 years. The largest flock reported contained 1,000 birds at Great Bealings. Coastal immigration was reported from Landguard, Mar. 17th to Apr. 29th and again Sept. 18th to Nov. 14th and from Southwold, Oct. 15th. CARRION CROW Corvus corone A total of 280 birds was counted at Wherstead Strand, Nov. 18th. A partial albino was seen at Oulton Marshes, Aug. 20th. The observer reported that the wings were almost completely white with a black bar. A pair attempted to nest on one of the floodlighting pylons at Felixstowe Dock, but dock workers removed the nest for safety reasons. One was watched taking Red-legged Partridge chicks at nearby Landguard, June 26th. On Nov. 15th in Holywells Park in Ipswich one was observed dancing around a Hedgehog uttering excited cries. The observer could not tell if it was aggressive or playful behaviour (see Warren, 1991). There were only two records of Hooded Crow C.c.cornix: Kessingland/Benacre: Dec. 8th to 28th (CAB, RCS). Minsmere: Oct. 15th (DI). 123


S T A R L I N G Sturmis

vulgaris

The two largest winter roosts were of 10,000 at Nacton Industrial Estate, Ipswich, Oct. 2nd & 3rd and 6,000 at Shotley Gate during the second winter period. Winter migrants flying in from the sea were reported throughout the period September to November from many coastal locations. The numbers of individuals reported coming in ranged up to 350. The greatest influx was during the first week in November. A white-headed individual was present in a garden at Witneshatn from January to September and an all white bird was reported from Acton in March. H O U S E S P A R R O W Passer

domesticus

A report from the Hepworth area suggests that this species is decreasing in that part of the County, with an observer recording a reduction in the number of birds around his house from 20-40 to only one or two (KC). A report from the Cavendish/Long Melford area also suggests that the species is possibly less common than previously. A southerly passage from Sept. 23rd was noted at Landguard and 355 birds were recorded moving south there during October with a maximum of 131 on 10th. T R E E S P A R R O W Passer

montanus

This species seems to have a rather irregular status and distribution throughout the County, declining in some areas, but increasing, or at least holding its own, in others. The largest flocks reported were 120 at Needham Market, Feb. 11th and 120 at Alderton on Dec. 12th. Other flock sizes reported were 47 at Tuddenham (west), Jan. 30th, 40 at Camps Heath, Oulton, Feb. 4th, 60 in the Aldeburgh/Thorpeness area Apr. 4th and 75 and 39 at Worlingworth on Apr. 5th and the end of December respectively. A report from the Cavendish/Long Melford area stated that wintering birds had declined severely. A pair held territory at the Valley Farm, Coddenham CBC site, where it was recorded as present in 1989, three pairs were at Newbourne Springs, after an absence of five years, and 20 pairs bred in the Worlingworth area. At Mutford, a pair used the former nesting chamber of a woodpecker and at Walpole a nest box was used. Juveniles were seen in the Cavendish/Long Melford area but, elsewhere, there were few reports of successful breeding. There were negative reports from some areas: M i n s m e r e : "no evidence of breeding. " S u t t o n : "none seen in old pines this year, completing B a r t o n Mills: "none this year. "

the sharp decline of this breeding

colony.

Autumn passage peaked at Landguard on Oct. 8th when 108 flew south. C H A F F I N C H Fringilla

coelebs

Peak first winter flocks were 270 Cavenham Park, Jan. 27th; 110 Minsmere, Feb. 11th; 100+ Pinmill, Feb. 26th and 140 Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, Mar. 29th. A small southerly movement at Landguard between Mar. 3rd and 21st involved 117 birds with a peak of 90 on 21st. An increase to 43 territories was recorded at Valley Farm, Coddenham (39 in 1989) and 18 territories were located at North Warren. Autumn -passage occurred throughout October and November at Landguard and South wold: South wold: 2 0 + in off the sea on Oct. 13th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, 371 S October with peak of 105 2nd; 77 S November.

Continuing mild weather produced low numbers in the second winter period with peaks of only 100 on Beech-mast at Beacon Hill, Ipswich, Nov. 26th; 100 C a v e n d i s h / L o n g Melford in December and clOO Levington, Dec. 6th and 16th. 124


a

Plate 22: Desert Wheatear. This obliging individuai was at Easton Bavents in late November and into December.

Plate 23: Robin at the nest

Plate 24: Wheatear. Breeding was confirmed at a total of seven sites.


Plate 25: Whitethroat feeding young.

E

D Q c

to Plate 26: Reed Warbier. Widespread increases in the breeding populations were reported.

in

Plate 27: Chiffchaff.


1 RAMBLING Fringilla montifringilla Recorded in very low numbers from only 13 sites in the first winter period. Peak counts were 11 Corton Woods, Jan. 20th; four Iken, Jan. 1st and four King's Forest, Jan. 2nd. Spring passage was noted at four sites in April with a f.s.p c at Southwold, Apr. 19th. The last bird was at Eastbridge, May 7th. There was a much better showing in the second winter period after the first arrival on Oct. 2nd at Landguard, where a total of 24 flew S in October and ten were on the reserve, Oct. 21st. Elsewhere, peak counts were 80 Corton Woods, Oct. 22nd; c30 Iken Hall, Dec. 9th and 60 Chantry Park, Ipswich, Dec. 19th. In the Breck, the species was reported to be generally more common compared with recent winters, with peak counts of 20 Icknield Way, West Stow and 37 Icklingham. GREENFINCH Carduelis chloris Peak early year flocks were 300 Minsmere, Jan. 27th; c700 Sudbourne Marshes, Feb. 20th; 100+ Church Farm Marshes, Aldeburgh, Mar. 11th; c400 in mixed flock at Newdelight Walks, Hinton, Apr. 15th and clOO Long Melford, Apr. 21st. Spring passage at Landguard was generally lower than in previous years with up to 50 throughout March, an April peak day-count of 40 (16th) and 20/30 daily in May. Autumn passage was recorded at Southwold with 70 south in an hour, Sept. 23rd and at Landguard with 180 south Sept. 3rd; 1,352 south in October and 479 south during November incl. 131 on 1st and 130 2nd. Elsewhere, late year peaks included 150+ Reydon Marshes, Sept. 23rd; 400 Cavendish/ Long Melford during October; c200 Friston, Oct. 1st; 140 Wantisden, Nov. 11th; 200 Alton Water, Dec. 16th and cllO North Denes, Lowestoft, Dec. 27th. GOLDFINCH Carduelis carduelis Low early year numbers with the largest counts being 60 Minsmere, Feb. 5th and 80 Covehithe, Mar. 26th. Observers at Benacre counted 150 south in 15 mins Apr. 26th, but Landguard witnessed the bulk of the recorded spring passage, with 989 south in April, incl. 110 on 23rd and 115 on 29th, then 595 south in May, max. 115 on 3rd. August flocks included up to 60 Minsmere, 62 North Warren, 120 Barham and 150 Lackford W.R. Coastal passage reached its peak in September/October with 170 south Southwold, Sept. 23rd and 143 south Oct. 4th. Further south, at North Warren, there were 190 south Sept. 23rd and 220 south Sept. 29th. Landguard reported 3,159 in September, 6,174 in October and 821 in November with peak daily counts of 628 Sept. 29th, 1,252 Oct. 2nd and 188 Nov. 1st. The species remained relatively scarce in the second winter period with 8 0 + Benacre, Dec. 21st the only flock of note. SISKIN Carduelis spinus Widely reported in the first winter period although only in small numbers, there were Peak counts 52 Lackford W.R. in January, 70 Minsmere January/February, c l 2 0 Santon D ownham, Feb. 4th and 75 Upper Hollesley Common, Mar. 26th. The species was recorded coming to bird feeders at Ipswich, Gt Welnetham, Haverhill and Lowestoft. Scant breeding information was received: Minsmere: in suitable breeding habitat May 1st. Rendlesham: Tangham Farm, three juvs Aug. 24th. 125


There were no reports of breeding in the Breck (see letter on page 164). Landguard reported three south in late September, 11 south October and 50 in the first half of November. Peak late year counts were 80 Lackford W.R., December; 35 Livermere, Dec. 16th and 50 Minsmere, Dec. 15th. LINNET Carduelis cannabina This species was extremely scarce in the first winter period with the only reported groups being of 36 Minsmere, Feb. 2nd & 11th and 40 Normanston Park, Lowestoft during February increasing to 80 Mar. 3rd. Coastal spring passage from Feb. 22nd was recorded at a number of sites: Minsmere: 75 Mar. 29th; 248 in April, max. 150 on 2nd; 60 May 7th. Aldeburgh: Church Farm Marshes, 40 Mar. 10th, 50 Mar. 11th, 100 Apr. 14th & 200 Apr. 17th.

Snape: 50 Mar. 23rd. Iken: 100 Apr. 23rd. Felixstowe: Eastward Ho, 80 Apr. 19th; Landguard Pt, 104 in March, max 72 S on 22nd; 1,465 S in April, max. 245 on 15th & 165 on 19th.

Breeding reports were received from Landguard (50+ prs), Minsmere (39 prs â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 35 in 1989), Valley Farm, Coddenham (eight prs â&#x20AC;&#x201D; same as 1989) and North Warren (five prs). Autumn passage was reported from 12 sites, notably 1,200 Trimley Marshes, Aug. 31st & 500 Sept. 21st; 150 North Warren, Sept. 18th and 270 Felixstowe Docks, Sept. 6th. Landguard recorded passage from Aug. 28th with 2,713 south in September, max. 835 on 23rd; 4,169 in October, max. 876 on 6th and 209 in November, max. 64 on 2nd. Peak late winter flocks were 45 Martlesham, Nov. 30th and 40 Alton Water, Dec. 16th. T W I T E Carduelis flavirostris Feeding flocks were recorded at nine sites in the first winter period up to Mar. 29th. The major sites were: Walberswick: Shore Pools, peak of 60 Jan 5th.

Southwold: Dunes, 15 Mar. 29th. Boyton: Boyton Marshes, 32 Jan. 27th.

Trimley St Mary: Trimley Marshes, 20 Jan. 14th. Levington: Levington Creek, 25 Jan. 8th.

Returning birds were noted at 14 sites from Oct. 7th with larger numbers reported than earlier in the year. Peak counts were: Dunwich: Shore Pools, 80 Nov. 6th. Aldeburgh: Slaughden Quay, 30 Dec. 24th.

Sudbourne: Sudbourne Marshes, 30 Nov. 9th. Deben: BoEE count, 35 Oct. 21st, 92 Nov. 18th, 30 Dec. 16th; Falkenham Creek, c80 Nov. 25th, 30 Dec. 12th. Levington: Levington Creek, from Oct. 7th to year's end, peak 100 Dec. 30th.

REDPOLL Carduelis flammea The species was widely reported in the first winter period, but only in very small numbers. Peak counts were 20 Worlingham, Jan. 11th; 25 Belstead Brook, Ipswich, Feb. 6th; a mixed flock of 100 with Siskins, Thorpeness Meare, Feb. 17th and 40 Beccles, Mar. 28th. Minsmere reported the species as being very scarce with a peak of only 12 on Mar. 10th. A very light southerly passage was recorded at Landguard during April/May. During the summer months confirmed or probable breeding was reported from only 17 localities, with seven pairs at Minsmere. A pair bred successfully by the front door of a house in Upperfield Drive, Felixstowe. Light autumn passage was noted at Landguard in September followed by 36 south m October and 27 south November. 126


Generally scarce again in the late winter period with 150 Sutton Common, Dec. 13th being the only flock of any consequence. ARCTIC REDPOLL Carduelis hornemanni mthwold: cr Nov. 11th (MF, AR, TS et al). This individual came as a surprise to its observers who were seawatching in the clifftop shelter at Southwold, during gale-force, north-easterly winds and heavy rain. Their quest was for distant sea-birds, so such a rare passerine at a range of six metres was totally unexpected. CROSSBILL Loxia curvirostra Very scarce in the first winter period with records only from Mayday Farm, King's Forest and Hollesley. A large scale irruption occurred from mid-June with birds reported from 33 localities across the County. A o - , at Landguard on June 23rd, heralded a steady stream through the site to July 22nd, which totalled 21 birds. A flock of 23 came in from the sea at Covehithe, Sept. 2nd, whilst well-watched flocks fed on berries. Woolly Aphids and Apple leaves at Lowestoft (max. 15), Reydon (max. 16), Southwold (max. 11) and Minsmere (max. 13). Elsewhere, 30 flew over Purdis Heath, June 16th and five were in Bridge Wood, by the R. Orwell, Sept. 9th. In the Breck ' 'unprecedented numbers ' ' were reported in the Thetford Forest area from July, with huge flocks, holding around 200 birds each, at Santon Downham, Oct. 15th (RH) and Wangford Warren, Nov. 19th to 24th (SHP). There were 14 at Great Barton, Aug. 27th and 35 at Livermere, Dec. 5th. PARROT CROSSBILL Loxia pytyopsittacus Thetford Forest played host to a small group of birds in the second winter period, which were seen by many observers. Brandon: Mayday Farm, 12 Nov. 19th; nine Nov. 20th, one Nov. 21st, four Nov. 24th, cr 9 Nov. 25th, four Nov. 30th.

SCARLET ROSEFINCH Carpodacus erythrinus Easton Bavents: imm. Nov. 15th (DRE).

This is the fourth record for Suffolk, the second for the autumn, and on an exceptionally late date. Another individual, alongside the above bird, was also thought to be of this species, but insufficient details were obtained for this to be confirmed. BULLFINCH Pyrrhula pyrrhula Breeding numbers incl. 36 territories at Minsmere (25 in 1989) and four pairs at North Warren. Peak winter counts were 15 Minsmere, Jan. 7th and ten Nacton, Dec. 4th. HAWFINCH Coccothraustes coccothraustes Recorded from 11 localities with peak winter gatherings of ten Sproughton, Feb. 24th and Mar. 7th and five Dunwich, Mar. 31st. Breeding reports were from five sites although it was only proved at Henham and Hengrave. The Henham birds nested high in a Holm Oak Quercus ilex and young were being fed in late May. 127


LAPLAND BUNTING Calcarius lapponicus Up to 50 Sudbourne Marshes throughout January (DC, JHG, SHP et al) is a new County record total, but by Feb. 20th only one remained. A single at Minsmere, Jan. 22nd is the only other record for the first winter period. The first birds on return passage were at Landguard and Easton Bavents, Sept. 23rd and were then recorded from a further seven coastal sites during the second winter period. Numbers did not match those during the early part of the year with peaks of 12 at Trimky Marshes, Dec. 15th, and Sudbourne Marshes, Dec. 28th. A bird found at Campsea Ashe, away from the immediate vicinity of the coastline, Nov. 22nd, is an unusual record (MDC). SNOW BUNTING Plectrophenax nivalis The species was reported from 11 sites in the first winter period with Sudbourne dominating the picture. Principal flocks were: Benacre/Covehithe: 30 Jan. 1st & 9th, 40 Jan. 28th. Minsmere: 30 Mar. 5th. Sudbourne: Sudbourne Marshes, 200 Jan. 1st to 7th; 100 Jan. 20th/21st.

The last record of the winter was four at Sizewell, Mar. 25th. Numbers in the second winter period were lower than usual after the arrival of two Minsmere, Oct. 10th. Peak counts were: Kessingland: 50 Dec. 5th. Benacre/Covehithe: 30 Nov. 29th, 27 Dec. 8th. Dunwich/Walberswick: Shore Pools, 25 Dec. 6th. Sudbourne: Sudbourne Marshes, 30 Nov. 9th. Orfordness: 47 Dec. 16th. Hollesley: Shingle Street, 30 Nov. 15th. Felixstowe: Felixstowe Ferry, 27 Nov. 21st.

ORTOLAN BUNTING Emberiza hortulana

A minimum of seven birds passed through the County, which is the highest annual total since the ' 'Great Fall" of 1965 when ten occurred. The species was recorded at two spring localities and a multiple arrival at Landguard in September. Lowestoft: Normanston Park, 9 May 11th to 15th (ACE et al); North Denes/The Oval, May 20W (PG et al). Minsmere: North Wall, cr May 3rd to 5th. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, four (possibly six), Sept. 23rd (MM, N O et al). T h e M i n s m e r e b i r d w a s e x t r e m e l y c o n f i d i n g , b u t t h o s e at L o w e s t o f t w e r e m o r e elusive

128


YELLOWHAMMER Emberiza citrinella Peak first winter period counts were 185 Minsmere, Jan. 23rd, 100+ Ellough, Jan. 30th and 120 Needham Market, Feb. 11th. A very late flock of 17 Cavendish/Long Melford in late May. The breeding population at Minsmere remained constant at 68 territories and at Valley Farm, Coddenham with 30 territories. North Warren reported 11 pairs. A small southerly, autumn movement at Landguard involved ten October birds and seven in November up to 11th. No late winter flocks were reported.

REED BUNTING Emberiza schoeniclus No large flocks reported with the largest counts being: 36 on stubble, Minsmere, Jan. 27th; 20 with Yellowhammers, Ellough, Jan. 30th; 20 Bramford Pits, Feb. 28th and 20 + North Warren, Mar. 11th. Breeding reports were from Minsmere with 31 territories, and North Warren, with six pairs. At least three singing cy er were present in huge Rape fields, Withersfield, May 26th and breeding confirmed in arable crops at Polstead. Autumn passage at Landguard consisted of 26 September, 57 October and 10 November, mainly moving south. The peak late winter period flock was of only 16 Martlesham Creek, Oct. 19th.

CORN BUNTING Miliaria calandra Maximum first winter period counts were 25 Sudbourne, Jan. 1st; 12 Felixstowe, Jan. 5th and 30 Chelmondiston, Feb. 9th. Probable breeding occurred at 14 localities with six sites at Haverhill and four pairs each at Trimley Marshes and Shotley. The second winter period saw a huge gathering at Trimley Marshes with 98 Nov. 22nd and a peak of 105 Dec. 3rd. The next highest count was of only eight at Aldeburgh, Dec. 23rd.

APPENDIX I -

CATERGORY D SPECIES

GREATER FLAMINGO Phoenicopterus ruber The following batch of records are likely to refer to just one individual. Its arrival caused some excitement at the prospect of this being a genuine vagrant, fuelled by rumours of wild birds turning up in Holland. The latter has yet to be confirmed. Southwold: Boating Lake, Nov. 2nd.

Walberswick/Dunwich: Oct. 10th, Nov. 3rd, 6th & 28th & Dec. 2nd & 12th. Minsmere: juv. Oct. 7th & 8th, ad. Dec. 13th & 22nd. A|

de: Snape, Nov. 17th; Cliff Reach, Oct. 12th to 16th. Felixstowe: Felixstowe Ferry, Oct. 8th; Landguard Pt, S Oct. 8th.

RED-HEADED BUNTING Emberiza bruniceps Felixstowe: Gulpher Rd, singing cr June 15th (MM et al). 15,89 Lowestoft: North of Warrenhouse Wood, Sept. 14th (DJH).

The Felixstowe individual is the County's ninth record. 129


APPENDIX n -

ESCAPEES

Another assortment of exotics, some of which must have brought a tear to the eyes of their captors once their escape had been realised. As in previous issues of Suffolk Birds the native range and status precede the record of each species, with references taken from Clements (1981) unless otherwise stated. Flamingo sp. Phoenicopterus sp. Walberswick/Dunwich: four Nov. 26th. Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis Restricted to the southern South American countries. Benacre: June 26th. Orford: Havergate, Apr. 29th. One of the most commonly kept exotics in zoological collections and a frequent escapee. Black Swan Cygnus atratus Resident in Australia, including Tasmania, and introduced to New Zealand. Leiston: Minsmere Levels, with Mute Swans Mar. 19th & 23rd. Wickham Market: with Mute Swans Feb. 10th, dead under power lines Feb. 25th. Falkenham: King's Fleet, Jan. 1st to 14th. Bramford: Suffolk Water Park, Jan. 5th to March. Chinese (Swan) Goose Anser cygnoides Widely distributed throughout the Eastern Palearctic. Kessingland: Kessingland Levels, Feb. 11th to 14th. Melton: Amenity Site, Apr. 30th. Long Melford: with Canadas Nov. 17th to 19th. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, Oct. 16th.

Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, Sept. 1st intermittently to end of year. Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus Resident in central Asia to India and Burma. Minsmere: Apr. 22nd to May. Alton Water: Jan. 28th.

Kedington: flying over Feb. 26th. Emperor Goose Anser canagicus Northeast Siberia to coastal western Alaska. Great Livermere: Livermere Pk, Dec. 3rd.

Hawaiian Goose Branta sandvicensis Endemic to the island of Hawaii and introduced to Mauai. An endangered species with no more than 20 individuals surviving in 1950 (Owen, 1980). A successful rear and release programme in Hawaii has since boosted the population to a reasonably secure level. Lowestoft: Kirkley Fen Pk, full-winged and unringed, 1990 to Feb. 3rd; Normanston Pk/Leathes Ham, Feb. 9th to 13th. Cape Shelduck Tadorna cana Resident in South Africa (Cape Province, Orange Free State, Transvaal). Levington: Oct. 27th. 130


Chiloe Wigeon Anas sibilalrix Resident f r o m s o u t h e r n Brazil t o T i e r r a del F u e g o a n d t h e F a l k l a n d I s l a n d s . Tiimley St M a r y : Trimley Marhes, Dec. 1st. Lackford: Wildfowl Reserve, Aug. 21st & 22nd.

Sj'cckled Teal Anas flavirostris Widespread in South America. Lsckford: Wildfowl Reserve, July 31st to Aug. 18th, Oct. 20th.

Bahama Pintail Anas bahamensis Widespread in South America and West Indies. W ybread: G.P., one with Red-crested Pochard June 10th.

Common Peafowl Pavo cristatus Trimley St M a r y : Fagbury Cliff, Nov. 13th.

Diamond Dove Geopelia cuneata W i d e s p r e a d in t h e s a v a n n a s of A u s t r a l i a . Lowestoft: garden (captured and taken to Yarmouth Butterfly House), Oct. 1st.

Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus Gulf of Guinea islands to Kenya, Tanzania. Felixstowe: garden, August. Parakeet sp. Psittacula sp. Lowestoft: Gunton Drive, feeding on Crab Apples Oct. 19th & Nov. 11th. Oulton Broad: with Starlings Dec. 12th. Felixstowe: Marsh Lane, green bird Nov. 22nd.

Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus W i d e s p r e a d in A u s t r a l i a . Minsmere: June 17th. Melton: Sept. 9th. Martlesham: Aug. 16th. Kesgrave: June 23rd. Felixstowe: Hamilton Rd, early March, June 4th; Landguard, well offshore Oct. 7th. Levington: Mar. 27th.

Ipswich: Christchurch Pk, Jan. 20th. Sproughton: cr Mar. 7th.

An increasingly frequent escapee. Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea Himalayas of Pakistan to Szechwan, Burma, Tonkin. Lowestoft: Gunton Drive, Aug. 8th.

Green Singing Finch Serinus mozambicus Widespread in Africa south of the Sahara. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, ce รง Aug. 4th to at least Sept 14th; Docks (Trinity Terminal), end Aug. Trimley St M a r y : Fagbury Cliff, intermittently Aug. 13th to 29th

The above set of records refer to the same individuals, which were widely seen in the Felixstowe Docks area. At Landguard one took 'nesting material' into a Tammerisk bush 0n Sept. 2nd. 131


Zebra Finch Poephila guttata Dry open woodlands throughout Australia. Lowestoft: Aug. 8th, another Aug. 11th.

Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus Widespread Ethiopian region. Botesdale: coming to bird-table, Dec. 30th to 1991.

Black-headed (Village) Weaver Ploceus cucullatus Widespread in Africa south of Sahara. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, ce Aug. 9th, another Oct. 6th.

Purple Glossy Starling Lamprotornis purpureus Africa from Senegal to the Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. Felixstowe: Landguard Pt, Aug. 12th & 19th; Coronation Drive, Aug. 14th.

Hill Myna Gracula religiosa Widespread in Oriental region mainland and islands. Dunwich: Greyfriars, Aug. 8th.

In addition, there were usual reports of Muscovy Ducks, Canaries and Budgerigars. 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. Records marked with an asterisk have been withdrawn by the observer. 1990 Records: Great Northern Diver: Southwold, two Jan. 7th; Minsmere, Nov. 9th; Holbrook/Alton Water, May 5th. Slavonian Grebe: Sizewell, Dec. 9th; Alton Water, Dec. 4th. Little Egret: Benacre, May 5th. Purple Heron: Minsmere, June 6th. Black Stork: Covehithe, Sept. 12th; Pink-footed Goose: 30 S Thorpeness, Nov. 24th; Black Kite: * Leisten: June 11th. Red Kite: Woodbridge, Jan. 13th. Montagu's Harrier: Kelsale cum Carlton, cr May 24th; Minsmere, May 24th. Goshawk: Benacre. er Mar. 3rd & 24th. Rough-legged Buzzard: Southwold, Apr. 23rd; Minsmere: June 17th & Oct 25th. Walberswick, two Nov. 26th, one Dec. 27th. Red-footed Falcon: Oulton, Apr. 23rd. Merlin: RAF Woodbridge, Aug. 31st; Peregrine: Reydon: Mar. 26th, Brantham, Feb. 16th, Tangham, Oct 1st. Crane: Reydon, Aug. 18th. Pacific Golden Plover: »Walberswick, July. Temminck's Stint: Haverhill, May 9th to 12th; Wood Sandpiper: Minsmere, Apr. 13th. Pomarine Skua: Minsmere. July 9th & Aug. 18th. Skua sp.: Minsmere, Feb. 19th. Mediterranean Gull: Haverhill, ad. Jan. 21st & Mar. 3rd. Ring-billed Gull: Felixstowe Ferry, Jan. 6th. Iceland Gull: Pakefield, November Sandwich Tern: Landguard, Jan. 27th. Gull-billed Tern: Felixstowe Ferry, Sept. 29th. Sooty Tern: Bawdsey, May 24th. Cuckoo: Bucklesham, Mar. 18th; Tunstall Common, calling, Oct. 14th. Scop s Owl: Upper Weybread, calling June. Swift: Snape, four Feb. 16th. Bee-eater: »Southwold: M a y 15th; Elmswell: "late spring"; Ipswich: July 20th; Rushmere St Andrew, Sept. 6th & 7th. H o o ^ : Corton, Apr. 16th. Wryneck: Kessingland, Apr. 18th. Sand Martin: Bawdsey, two Feb. I»»Richard's Pipit: Benacre, Oct. 12th. Tree Pipit: King's Forest, Mar. 9th; Benacre, two Mar. 21st. Water Pipit: Beccles, two flying over, Mar. 20th; Minsmere, nine Nov. 10th. Waxwing: Minsmere, flying over, Jan. 3rd. Whinchat: Minsmere, Mar. 30th; Shipmeadow, Nov. 26th. Icterine Warbler. *Hadleigh area, first half of May; Dunwich, Aug. 15th, Thorpeness, Sept. 9th. Barred Warbler.

132


Eastbridge, Aug. 29th. Arctic Warbler: Haverhill, Oct. 11th. Yellow-browed Warbler: Fagbury Cliff, Oct. 20th. Golden Oriole: Site A, up to four oâ&#x20AC;¢ a May to July. Red-backed Shrike: Alton Water, June 10th; Hooded Crow: Kessingland, Feb. 17th; Pakefield, Mar. 21st. Serin: Chelmondiston, Apr. 25th; Haverhill, pr Apr. 20th to May 9th. Scarlet Rosefinch: Trimley Marshes, cr June 15th.

1989 Records: Golden Oriole: Site A, two prs bred. 1988 Records: Hiioded Merganser: Ixworth, May 7th. White-tailed Eagle: Minsmere, May 10th. Golden Oriole: Site A, three prs bred.

Black Stork roosting at Ellough. APPENDIX IV INDEX OF SCIENTIFIC NAMES OF NON-AVIAN SPECIES MENTIONED IN TEXT Mammals: Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus; Stoat Mustela erminea\ Fox Vulpes vulpes. Insects: Woolly Aphid Erisoma lanigerum\ Dragonfly Anisoptera sp. Plauts:

Sycamore Acer pseudopiatanus; Beech Fagus sylvatica-, Apple Malus domesticus; Cauliflower; Brassica oleracea var. botrytis; Rape Brassica napus\ Great Reedmace Typha ktifolia; Barley Hordeum sp. 133


EARLIEST AND LATEST DATES OF SUMMER MIGRANTS SPECIES Garganey Osprey Hobby Stone Curlew Little Ringed Plover§ Whimbrel Wood Sandpiper Sandwich Tern Common Tern Arctic Tern Little Tern Black Tern Turtle Dove Cuckoo§ Nightjar Swift Wryneck Sand Martin§ Swallow House Martin§ Tree Pipit Yellow Wagtail Nightingale Redstart Whinchat Wheatear§ Ring Ouzel Grasshopper Warbler Sedge Warbler§ Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler Wood Warbler* Willow Warbler# Spotted Flycatcher* Pied Flycatcher Red-backed Shrike

Date Mar. 11th Apr. 28th Apr. 26th Mar. 10th Mar. 10th Apr. 9th Apr. 28th Mar. 18th Apr. 3rd Apr. 23rd Apr. 19th May 1st Apr. 16th Mar. 14th May 7th Mar. 21st May 3rd Feb. 21st Mar. 20th Feb. 24th Mar. 29th Mar. 8th Apr. 15 th Apr. 13th Apr. 22nd Feb. 25th Mar. 19th Apr. 17th Mar. 24th Apr. 14th Apr. 20th Apr. 14th Apr. 23rd Apr. 29th Mar. 18th May 3rd May 10th May 16th

ARRIVALS Locality Minsmere Lackford Aldeburgh Breckland Alton Water Lackford Lackford Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere/Trimley/Lackford North Warren Wickhambrook Minsmere Minsmere Walberswick Bawdsey Haverhill Capel St Mary Minsmere Flempton Minsmere Landguard Landguard Lakenheath Lowestoft/Easton Bavents Walberswick Minsmere Minsmere North Warren Minsmere Minsmere/Wherstead Oulton Alton Water/Lavenham Minsmere Lowestoft Santon Downham

Date Oct. 23rd Sept. 18th Oct. 17th Oct. 14th Sept. 21st Oct. 17th Oct. 13th Oct. 27th Nov. 6th Oct. 15th Sept. 8th Oct. 15th Oct. 19th Sept. 26th Sept. 15th Oct. 26th Sept. 15th Oct. 28th Nov. 18th Nov. 17th Oct. 13th Oct. 13th Sept. 3rd Oct. 20th Oct. 28th Nov. 24th Nov. 9th Sept. 1st Nov. 6th Oct. 21st Nov. 8th Nov. 10th Oct. 18th Sept. 12th Oct. 25th Oct. 29th Oct. 23rd Oct. 10th

DEPARTURES Locality Lackford Easton Bavents/Aldeburgh Southwold Breckland Alton Water Landguard Minsmere Benacre Minsmere Sizewell Landguard Landguard Landguard Minsmere Blaxhall Minsmere Harks tead Shotley Aldeburgh Lowestoft/Aldeburgh Southwold Iken Landguard Fagbury Minsmere Levington Waldringfield Landguard Minsmere Fagbury Fagbury Fagbury Fagbury Bawdsey/Chelmondiston North Warren Shotley Southwold Felixstowe

Notes: # See details of overwintering bird. § Earliest for Suffolk. * Latest for Suffolk.

References: B a b i n g t o n , C . 1 8 8 4 - 8 6 . Catalogue of the B r o w n , B . J . 1 9 9 0 . F u r t h e r n o t e s o n the C l e m e n t s , J . 1 9 8 1 . Birds of the World: a C r a m p , S. & S i m m o n s , K . E . L . 1 9 8 3 . The Press.

Birds of Suffolk. London. K i t t i w a k e in S u f f o l k . Suffolk Birds 3 9 : 2 1 - 2 3 . checklist. London. birds of the Western Palearctic. V o l . 3. O x f o r d University

D y m o n d , J . N . , F r a s e r , P . A . & G a n t l e t t , S. J . M . 1 9 8 9 . Rare birds in Britain and Ireland. Carlton. I n g o l f s s o n , A . 1 9 6 9 . B e h a v i o u r o f g u l l s r o b b i n g E i d e r s . Bird Study 1 6 : 4 5 - 5 2 . L a c k , P . 1 9 8 6 . The Atlas of wintering birds in Britain and Ireland P o y s e r . A v o n . M a r c h a n t , J . H . , H u d s o n , R . , C a r t e r , S. P . & W h i t t i n g t o n , P . 1 9 9 0 . Population Trends in British Breeding Birds. Tring. M i k k o l a , H . 1 9 8 3 . Owls of Europe. Carlton. N e w t o n , I . 1 9 8 6 . The Sparrowhawk. Carlton. N i g h t i n g a l e , B . & A l l s o p p , K . 1 9 9 1 . S e a s o n a l R e p o r t s . Brit.

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84: 98-105.


Payn, W . H. 1978. The birds of Suffolk. London. Poole, A. F. 1989. Ospreys — A natural and unnatural history Cambridge. Rogers, M. J. 1978. Report on rare birds in Great Britain in 1977. Brit. Birds 71: 481-532. Smit, C. J. & Piersma, T. 1989. Numbers, mid-winter distribution and migrations of wader populations using the East Anglian Flyway. 24-63. In: Boyd, H. & Pirot, J. Y. (Eds) Flyways and reserve networks for waterbirds. IWRB Spec. Pubi. 9, Slimbridge. Ticehurst, C. B. 1932. A history of the birds of Suffolk. London. Warren, R. G. 1991. Effect of Hedgehog on Carrion Crow. Suffolk Ornithologists Group Bulletin 90:22.

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 — Eds. S. Abbott, T. Addnell, D. M. Archer, J. Arnold, J. S. Austin, Mrs. K. Austin, J. R. Askins. D. B. Baker, N. J. Banham, M. F. M. Bamford, W . A. Baston, Dr. C. Beardall, J. Bedford, H. R. Beecroft, Mrs. M. J. Beecroft, R. C. Beecroft, P. Beeson, Rev. G. Bell, R. Belson, R. Biddle, S. Bishop, L. T. Bloomfield, A. Botwright (ABo), C. G. R. Bowden, W. J. Brame, K. J. Brett, British Trust for Ornithology, B. J. Brown, J. Brown, M. Brown, S. G. Brown, R. M. Brown, T. M. Brown, J. A. Brydson, A. L. Bull, M. Bunn, M. Busby, H. M . Butcher, C. A. Buttle. N. Cant, K. B. Carlisle, Catchpole, Cockram and Peters Ringing Group, P. Catchpole, G. Cavey, J. M. Cawston, J. Chaplin, F. S. Cheney, K. J. Chittleborough, J. M. Church, R. E. Clarke, Mrs. A. E. Cobb, Mrs. E. Coe, M. A. Cook, Mrs. J. Cook, C. A. Cornish, W . R. Cornish, T. Craven, M . D. Crewe, D. Croxson, L. Cumming (LCu), F. A. Currie, C. G. D. Curtis. C. Darby, J. A. Davies, D. Davison, E. V. Davison, S. Dean, D. A. Dorling, O. G. Douglas, J. W . Drake, S. Dumican.

H. W . Dockerill, P. Dolton,

A. C. Easton, D . R. Eaton, S. Edwards, M. Elliott, F. E. Elliston, Mrs. B. E. Elliston. R- Fairhead, R. Fay, D. Finch, Dr. M . H . J. Finch, J. Flecknoe, M . Forbes, Dr. Foster, S. Fryett, C. Fulcher, J. E. Fulcher, D. Fuller. Mrs. H. K. Gamer, R. W . H. Garner, C. Garnham, Mrs. J. D. Garrod, K. W. Garrod, J. Garstang, D J. Gibbs, P. Gill, S. Gillings, J. A. Glazebrook, R. H. Glover, S. R. Goddard, A. Gooding, R J. G o v e t t , P. R. G o w e n , A . J. G r a h a m , S. A. G r a h a m , J. H. G r a n t , N . C . G r e e n , A. M. Gregory, G . Grieco, H. Guppy. D - J. Hall, M . A. Hall, J. Halliday, Mrs. H a m m o n d , P. J. Harper, B. Harrington, B. Hart, Mrs. M. Hart, P. V. Harvey, J. B. Higgott, D. R. Hobby, M r . Hobden, R. Hoblyn, T. Holzer, A. Hubbard, A. Hughes, Sir A. G. Hurrell.

Ipswich Borough p

K. Keeble, c

Council Park Ranger

Service,

Ipswich Museum,

D. Ireland.

- lackson, C. A. Jacobs, C. J. Jakes, M . James, M r . Jenkins, G. J. Jobson, D. P. Johnson. M r s . L. F. Kellow,

C. Kemp,

A. S. Kennedy,

T . P. Kerridge,

D r . T. Kerry,

- A. E. Kirtland, B. R. Knight, J. Knights.

Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, D. J. Lampard, Landguard Bird Observatory, A. J. Last, W . A. Last, B - Lawson, M . Lawson, W . G. D. Legge, J. Levene (JLe), D . Liley, S. Ling. A- Mackley, R. N. Macklin, A. Mann, J. H. Marchant, S. J. Marginson, D. C. Marsh, M . Marsh, N Marsh, Dr. A. Martin, J. R. Martin, R. Martin, N. J. Mason, P. Mason, B. McCarthy, Miss M, Mckerness, S. Mesquita, D . R. Miller, J. Minihane, M r s . J. V. Mitchell, D. M o o r e , D - R. Moore, M . R. Morley, C. E. Morris, G. Mortimer, P. W . Murphy. P- Napthine,

T N

C . R. Naunton,

J. Neale,

D. R. Newton,

M r s . M . Newton,

P. H. Newport,

Nightingale, P. C. Noaks. - Odin, A. J. Osborne.

M- Packard, A. R. J. Paine, M . Parker, R. M . Patient, E. W . Patrick, W . H. Payn, J. Pearce™ggins, B. A. Pearson, D. J. Pearson, W . E. L. Peart, G. Pensorson, I. Peters, S. H. Piotrowski, R Plowman, A. Pope, A. J. Prater, R. J. Price.

135


J. L. Raincock, B. Ranner, E. M. Ransome, J. E. Ransome, P. J. Ransome, Mrs. A. Ravenscroft, Rev. C. M. Reed, B. E. Ridout, D. A. Riley, A. Riseborough, Mrs. M. Rivers, M. D. Robertson, I. Robinson, E. W. G. Rose, Sqn. Ldr. D. R. Rothery, J. C. Roughton, Sir J. Rowley, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, R. D. Ruffell, C. P. S. Ruffles. C. Seagrave, J. Seeker, J. D. Shackles, A. Shoote, Mrs. P. Shott, Mr. Simpson, Dr. N. J. Skinner, B. Small, P. Small, D. F. Smith, R. C. Smith, M. Snoxhall, J. Sorensen, J. N. Stedman, P. Steggall, R. Stewart, His Hon. Judge D. Stinson, Suffolk Biological Records Centre, Suffolk Ornithologists' Group, Suffolk Wildlife Trust,, J. Summers, R. Swindin. M. Thomas, Mrs. A. Thompson, B. G. Thompson, W. E. Thompson, J. Thorogood, N. G. Thorpe, D. Tindell, R. Tomlinson, L. Townsend, Mrs. D. C. Tozer, R. B. Tozer, Miss Tratt, R. Tuck, J. A. Turner, L. Turner, D. Tutt. D. K. Underwood. Mrs. Van Der Wicken, J. Vane, H. Vaughan, I. M. Vaughan, P. V. Vincent. Mrs. Wakefield, R. Waiden, C. A. Walker, C. S. Waller, I. R. Walsh, Mrs. G. Warren, N. Warren, R. B. Warren, Rev. R. G. Warren, R. J. Waters, E. H. Webb, L. Webb, Mrs. A. Welch, A. E. Welch, B. Wentworth, A. Westcott, R. West, N. Whitehouse, P. Whittaker, P. H. Wilkinson, P. Wilson, R. Wincup, Mrs. Woodham-Smith, B. Woodhouse, J. Woolfries, M. Wright, M. T. Wright. S. Youell. J. Zantboer.

Rarities in Suffolk 1990 by S t e v e Piotrowski It was a decade ago that Suffolk last failed to add a new species to its County list, but in the intervening period new birds have been turning up with amazing regularity. In the past nine years there have been no less than 23 additions: 1981 — Oriental Pratincole, *Lark Sparrow, Greater Sand Plover. 1982 — Red-throated Pipit, White-crowned Black Wheatear. 1983 — Red-breasted Goose. 1984 — Great White Egret, Thrush Nightingale, River Warbler. 1985 — Black-winged Pratincole, Ring-billed Gull, Water Pipit§, Collared Flycatcher. 1986 — Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Marsh Warbler, Subalpine Warbler. 1987 — Red-rumped Swallow, Desert Wheatear, Dusky Warbler. 1988 — Cattle Egret, Paddyfteld Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo. 1989 — Penduline Tit. * Admitted to Cat. D (see Piotrowski 1990), but currently under review. § Previously recorded in Suffolk, but granted full specific status, by the British Ornithological Union Records Committee, during that year. After such a glut of new birds, Suffolk was perhaps due for a blank year, as 1990 turned out to be. For the rarity hunter however, it was hardly a dull year. There were two County 'seconds': Great Shearwater and Desert Wheatear; four 'thirds': Great Shearwater, Stilt Sandpiper, Greenish Warbler and Penduline Tit (assuming two records in 1989), three 'fourths': Great White Egret, Baird's Sandpiper and Scarlet Rosefinch and a 'fifth': Marsh Warbler. Two species, not seen in Suffolk for several years, were a Black Stork and a Great Ree" Warbler with the former delighting several hundred observers, but the latter only its two finders. 136


Along with those already mentioned, there was a good selection of national rarities. These included Night Heron, Little Egret (two), Black Kite (three), White-tailed Eagle, White-rumped Sandpiper, Bee-eater, Red-rumped Swallow (three), Pallas's Warbler (two), Parrot Crossbill and Arctic Redpoll. County rarities included two Purple Herons, three Montagu's Harriers, three Kentish Plovers, a Dotterel, three Temminck's Stints, two Pectoral Sandpipers, a Red-necked Phalarope, three Grey Phalaropes, a Long-tailed Skua, four Sabine's Gulls, an Iceland Gull, four Roseate Terns, seven Hoopoes, two Shore Larks, two Bluethroats, two Marsh Warblers, four Barred Warblers, four Yellow-browed Warblers, a Red-breasted Flycatcher and seven Ortolan Buntings. Mention should also be made of the Red-headed Bunting, which caused a great deal of interest due to the possibilty of the species attaining the status of a genuine vagrant (Cat. A) in the future. Generally, it is policy to publish the descriptions of the first five records for the County and others if of local interest. With so many vagrants being noted in 1990 however, we have been forced to omit descriptions of Pendutone Tit (Suffolk's third) and Marsh Warbler (Suffolk's fifth). Descriptions of Arctic Redpoll and Parrot Crossbill are included as they are considered to be of particular interest. GREAT SHEARWATER - 'SECOND' FOR SUFFOLK At 15.00 hrs, on Saturday Sept. 22nd 1990, I was seawatching from Landguard Bird Observatory, Felixstowe, in the company of Steve Piotrowski, Collin Ruffles and Justin Zantboer with our attention focused on a juvenile Gannet Sula bassana feeding amongst a melee of gulls behind an incoming trawler close inshore. As I scanned through the flock with my binoculars I suddenly realised that a shearwater was also present. With some excitement I shouted "large shearwater" and quickly transferred to my telescope. After a few moments of panic all those present were soon onto the bird. My immediate thoughts were of Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, but after noting a black cap, white throat and contrasting upper and underparts, we all agreed that it was a Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis. The bird continued to follow the boat as it rounded Landguard Pt, scrounging offal, which was being tossed overboard, fearlessly competing with the large gulls. Mike Marsh, who had timed his afternoon visit to the Observatory to perfection, arrived on the scene to join the assembled admirers. We watched the bird follow the boat into the mouth of the Orwell and onward towards Harwich, Essex. At a point in mid-estuary the bird alighted on the water surface to bathe and preen before flying back and forth over the river. It then headed back to open water flying leisurely in a northern direction very close to Landguard Pt between the jetty and jetty-marker. The bird was under observation for some 30 minutes, occasionally at extremely close range. The following details were noted: Shape: Basically a large shearwater with stiff, long narrow pointed wings. Upperparts: dark-brown w 'th a dark black cap which appeared to be separated from the neck by an incomplete white collar. Tail: black which was separated from the uppertail coverts and rump by a barely visible extremely narrow white band (it was the lack of a distinct white rump that led me to suspect Cory's Shearwater ® the first instance). Underparts: pure clean white except for a very obvious shoulder patch on the neck and sides, dirty brown patchy markings on the belly and black under tail. The white underwing had a dark trailing edge and wing-tips, brown lines across the wing on the boundaries between the underwing coverts and between the coverts and primaries/secondaries. Some dark markings were älso present on the axillaries. Soft Parts: the bill was black and the legs and feet were flesh coloured.

Nigel Odin, c/o Landguard Bird Observatory, Landguard Pt, View Point Rd, Felixstowe. GREAT SHEARWATER — 'THIRD' FOR SUFFOLK Shortly after 17.00 hrs on Saturday Sept. 22nd 1990,1 received a telephone message about a Great Shearwater which had been seen off Landguard Pt at 15.00 hrs that day. I contacted B. J. Brown and, as 137


it was too late to travel to Felixstowe and we were unaware as to whether the bird had flown off or settled on the sea, BJB suggested that Ness Pt Sewage Outfall was worth an inspection. Taking his advice, I arrived at the Point at 17.20 hrs and immediately began scanning the sea. At 17.25 hrs, my attention was drawn to a bird gliding low over the water with its wings level. Inspection with binoculars revealed an obvious shearwater distinctly larger than a Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus, but like that species in being dark above and white below. The breast and belly were visible, thus eliminating Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus. The bird was flying with very leisurely wing-beats interspersed with periods of gliding and appeared to be heading for the outfall itself. As it did so I noted the following: Upperparts: Very dark blackish brown forehead and crown, the lower edge of which was extremely clear cut and extended down to at least eye-level. The eye was not visible being lost against the dark brown lores and ear-coverts. The dark-brown extended from the crown tapering towards the nape, though it did not appear to join up with the white collar. The remainder of the upperparts were uniform dark brown, though not as intensely dark as on the crown. Underparts: Being low over the water and only flapping its wings leisurely, interspersed with gliding, I did not see the underwing very well except to say that the flight feathers were dark and the underwing coverts (apart from the dark leading edge) seemed largely white. The underbody at this stage appeared uniformly white from throat to vent (but see later).

Despite much concentration I could not make out any white (or even pale) markings on the uppertail coverts or rump. This was rather disappointing as I thought this was one of the most distinctive aspects of the plumage of Great Shearwater, which I now suspected the bird to be. As the shearwater approached the outfall pandemonium broke out amongst the smaller gulls, causing them to take avoiding action, flying high into the sky much as they do for a skua. Many of the larger gulls stayed put though. At this greater distance I switched to my telescope on 20x magnification and followed its flight northwards. At all times its flight was very leisurely. As it continued northwards and banked slightly showing its underparts, its right wing caught the sun clearly revealing two broad rows of pale secondary coverts contrasting with the rest of the underwing. I also noted a dusky patch on the belly/vent area. It was diffused rather than clear cut and shaped like a rounded off oval. I followed the bird as it continued northwards until I lost it behind the groynes of the North Beach. I returned via the Coastguard Station where I met BJB, together with his wife Christine and son Timothy, who had also seen the bird. Comparing notes, BJB was able to confirm that he had observed black streaks on the underwing coverts, a feature I had failed to note due to the angle of the bird's flight. A. C. Easton, 65 Stevens Street, Lowestoft NR32 2JF The two records almost certainly refer to the same bird. Suffolk's first record involved an individual off Minsmere during the severe gales of Sept. 5th 1982. By entering Essex waters the Felixstowe individual becomes the first record for that county â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Ed. GREAT W H I T E E G R E T - ' F O U R T H ' FOR SUFFOLK On the afternoon of Aug 4th, I was sitting with J. M. Garner by the north bank of the Little Ouse River, at a point where the County boundary crosses the river just west of Joist Fen, Lakenheath. At 14.40 hrs, a number of birds flew up from an area upstream including Grey Herons Ardea cinerea, Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and various ducks, plus a large all-white 'heron After circling round briefly it landed out of view. We walked a short distance along the flood-bank and could then see into a pool on the south side of the river that was excavate to provide the soil for the banks. We immediately noted the long, slender neck in amongst the reed and Willowherb. The bird was watched through a telescope (25x) until it too 138


off and landed in the middle of the pool. We had to walk a short distance along the bank to see it well and identified the bird as a Great White Egret Egretta alba. It remained in view until 15.20 hrs and when disturbed by a passing craft it flew westwards passing into Norfolk. It was nearly down to ground level when it was finally lost from view in an area of Decoy Farm. T h e f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n w a s taken: Size/structure: Overall size similar to that of accompanying Grey Héron, but slender and much thinner neck gave a more elegant appearance. When standing in the open a much thinner body than Grey Heron with neck folded down in a snake-like manner. Plumage: ali white. Soft Parts: legs black with feet the same colour. Bill medium yellow, no contrast bewteen mandibles, but with very dark tip. Flight action: not as stiff as Grey Heron in that the angle at the carpai joint changed during each wingbeat whereas in the Grey Heron this was fixed. The length of leg extending beyond the tail was much longer than in Grey Heron, perhaps by a factor of two. Wings more fingered and less rounded than Grey Heron.

Peter Dolton, 3 Adeane Meadow, Mundford, Thetford 1P26 5DU. This is Suffolk's fourth record and the first for West Suffolk. The first frequented the Minsmere/Walberswick area from July 15th to Sept. 27th 1984, the second in the same area from Oct. 6th to 20th 1985 and the third also at Minsmere from Sept. 25th to Oct. 12th 1989 — Ed. BAIRD'S SANDPIPER - 'FOURTH' FOR SUFFOLK I was birdwatching with my wife Janet from the hide beside Benacre Broad. when I noticed a group of five waders on the seaward shore of the Broad. I identified three Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin. The other bird was smaller and straightaway I had thoughts of Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii.

Not wishing to announce a positive identification to the dozen or so other birdwatchers Présent, I left to get a closer look. On doing so I was able to confirm my tentative thoughts. The bird was in fresh, juvenile plumage and I took the following description: 139


Size: smaller than Dunlin with an attenuateti rear end; shape rather similar to White-rumped Sandpiper C.fiiscicollis, with a distinct feeding action — subtly différent from White-rumped in being less crouching. Occasionally adopted rather upright posture. From front or rear distinctive 'fiat', squashed shape of bird likened to a boat. Head: rather domed with steep forehead; forehead and crown washed warm buff streaked much darker with black. Nape washed buff, more finely streaked than crown, but streaking strengthening towards mantle. Supercilium distinct in front of eye — joining bill — and just behind eye, becoming less prominent towards the rear due to faint markings; curved lower edge contrasting with dark ear-coverts. Chin and throat unmarked clean white. Streaking of hindneck curving round onto sides of neck. Upperparts: mantle feathers centre black, fringed with white to form distinct pale Unes — with a slighdy more prominent white line bordering the mantle and scapulars. The latter were distinctly shaped and marked, being warm basally darkened through to a black subterminal area and tipped broadly with white (see illustration). Plumage features forming a rather 'scaley' pattern. Lower rear scapulars generally paler, but with a darker central line and less prominent dark sub-terminal area — due to loosening some lower scapulars had some white at the base. Wings: mediancoverts slighdy greyish brown, edged buff, but tipped white; tertials also had similar pattern; primaries black, extending by two tips beyond the tail — clOmm — producing an attenuated rear end. In flight, showed faint white wing-bar and dark centred, but pale bordered, tail, uppertail coverts and rump. Underparts: breast lightly streaked on inner and upper area, but marks strengthening almost to spots on lower edge and breast-sides. These plus a buff wash produced a neat pectoral band. Rest of underparts clean white. Bare-parts: legs black, quite prominent above knee; bill short, black down-curved — much shorter than Dunlin. Eye dark. Call: a soft 'soapy' call, transcribed as " t r r p " — seemingly produced in groups af four "trrp, trrp, trrp, t r r p " .

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This is the fourth record for Suffolk and the first for 13 years. The County's first was at Havergate from Sept. 4th to 18th 1965, the second at Minsmere from Aug. 30th to Sept. 13th 1967 and the third also beside Benacre Broad from Sept. 7th to 18th 1977 — Ed. STILT SANDPIPER - 'THIRD' FOR SUFFOLK On August 7th 1990,1 had cycled to the Trimley Marshes, with my wife Ann, to observe the small, high-tide roost which regularly congregated in front of one of the hides. Scanning through a group of juvenile Redshank Tringa totanus, I noted a smaller bird running into the group from the rightIt stretched its neck and then ran back behind an island. It was intermediate in size between Dunlin Calidris alpina and Redshank, showing a dark grey-brown back, white belly, dark streaking around neck and upper-breast, prominent supercilia meeting over bill, and barring 140


on lower flanks. The most striking feature however, was a long bill noticeably drooped at its tip. Even with this brief view I suspected Stilt Sandpiper Micropalama himantopus. A Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fiiscus swooped low over the pools causing the Redshank to suddenly take flight together with the bird in question. I noted a white rump and grey tati which added further weight to my diagnosis. The bird circled the reserve a couple of times before dropping behind an earth-bund to an area not visible from the hide. After a 20 minute wait the bird returned and landed behind a shingle island showing occasionally and fleetingly as it fed with two Dunlin. I was able to note its bright yellow legs, dark eye-stripe and a pair of distinctive white/cream lines on its back forming a vee. Its feeding behaviour was reminiscent of Snipe Gallinago gallinago, energetically probing its long bill into the mud. I concluded that it was indeed a Stilt Sandpiper and returned to Landguard Bird Observatory to discuss my observations with Nigel Odin (LBO Ranger) and consult the text books which he had on site. I returned to Trimley Reserve with NO, Roger Beecroft (Reserve Warden) and Collin Ruffles and relocated the bird by the edge of a lagoon. It was initially standing asleep beside a Ruff Philomachus pugnax, but soon flew to feed beside a Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea. From RCB's Landrover we were able to watch the bird at close quarters. The following description is derived from notes taken during the two visits: Shape: small sandpiper with long legs and neck with long bill ( l ' A x width of head) noticeably drooping at tip; wing tips slightly longer than tail. Head: crown — streaked dark-brown, some hint of rufous tone; prominent cream supercilia meeting over bill; dark-brown eye-stripe becoming rufous behind eye showing as a reddish spot on ear-coverts. Upperparts: nape — streaked dark-brown; mantle and scapulars — patterned by position of new and old feathers — new feathers grey, old black with pale fringes; old feathers positioned on lesser/median coverts to give the impression of 'vees' on back at some angles; rump and upper tail-coverts white with some indistinct barring; tail grey. Underparts: neck and upper-breast — distinctly streaked running to upper-flanks; lower flanks, belly and under-tail coverts — barred black. Soft Parts: legs and feet — bright yellow; iris — black. bill — black.

Düring its stay, the bird was superbly photographed by Jack Levene, and an example shown in plate 14. It remained at Trimley to at least August 19th and was seen by hundreds °f observers. ls

141


The two previous records for Suffolk were both at Minsmere, July 27th to 29th 1969 and May 4th to lOth 1985. Steve Piotrowski, 18 Cobham Road, Ipswich IP3 9JD. DESERT WHEATEAR - 'SECOND' FOR SUFFOLK The bird was first located on the beach at Easton Bavents, on Nov. 29th 1990, as it flew from perches on small posís surrounding 'tetrapod block' sea defences, down to the ground and returning to perch. I watched the bird from a distance of about 50m with binoculars and tentatively identified it as a Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti, initially because of its all dark tail, but I was not 100% certain because it had a very prominent buffish-red rump and upper-tail coverts, with only the merest suggestion of white between these and the tail. Unfortunately, I had to leave, so reported the bird to my local contacts as a probable Desert Wheatear, although 1 could not confidently discount the possibility of it being a Red-rumped Wheatear O. moesta. My only previous experience of Desert Wheatear was the male at Landguard in October 1987.1 returned to the site the next morning with my 'scope, having read-up on both species beforehand from Cramp (1988). I was then certain that it was a Desert Wheatear and took the following description: Size/structure/actions: about size of Wheatear O. oenanthe, but sometimes appearing thick-necked and large headed. Typical upright stance of a chat when perched, slightly more horizontal bearing on ground where it moved with a fast hopping gait. When perched it frequently opened and drooped its wings. Fed by flycatching and searching amongst beach litter. Aggressively chased Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba also present, but ignored Rock/Meadow Pipits Anthus petrosus/pratensis. Plumage: Overall a plain sandy-brown colour. Head: slightly darker/greyish tinge to the crown; chin and throat slightly paler. Narrow palé eye-ring and very faint, short, palé supercilium. Upperparts: mantle and back buff to greyish buff, but the rump very obviously demarcated, being a prominent buff/red colour fading to buff/off-white towards the tail, which was uniform dark, almost black. There was a very fine white line between the tail and rump, which was only noticeable when the bird was in flight and viewed from the rear. Wings: flight-feathers darker than rest of wing, very finely bordered buff All the wing-coverts were broadly edged buff, fading to grey on the carpal coverts. The broad palé edges to the coverts formed a large palé patch on the wing extending from the carpal joint to the greater coverts. The alula was only very finely bordered buff and stood out prominently as a dark patch surrounded by the paler area as described. In flight, the underside of the flight feathers appeared palé contrasting with the axillaries which were dark (but not black as in Pied Wheatear O. pleschanka) All the wing feathers were very abraded. Underparts: Warmer buff on the breast fading to a palé colour towards the vent. Bare Parts: Bill — fine and black. Legs — black.

The bird was subsequently seen by probably more than 300 people during its week-long stay up until Dec. 4th. It never moved from the same small patch of beach and blocks at the foot of the low sandy cliff. Derek Eaton, "Hillcrest",

The Smere, Reydon, near Southwold IP18 6SP.

This is the second record for Suffolk, the first having been a male at Landguard Pt, Felixstowe, from Oct. 20th to 24th 1987 — Ed. GREENISH WARBLER - 'THIRD' FOR SUFFOLK On a visit to Minsmere, on August 27th, I decided to 'work' the area of bushes from The Sluice southwards towards Sizewell, with the hope of finding something interesting. At 11.45hrs, I heard a cali, which immediately reminded me of a Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides, coming from a group of Sallow, Bramble and Birch about a kilometre south of The Sluice. After a wait of 15 minutes the bird appeared on the edge of a Sallow, where it fed for another 15 minutes. I was able to note all the specific features and confirm my initial identification. I hurried back to The Sluice where Dale Newton and others were standing and notified them of the bird. After an interminable 40 minute wait, the bird finally started calling and appeared. 142


sat down and made notes whilst those patient enough followed its progress. On August 29th, I watched the bird again for an hour in a clump of Birches 400m south of the original location. In softer light and with more prolonged views, I was able to add to the features I had previously noted: Size/shape: similar to Chiffchaff P. collybita, but stronger-bodied and seemingly stockier. Head: crown and nape olive-green with distinctive grey 'bloom' — in strong sunlight this contrasted with a more olive-green mantle and scapulars, but in more subdued light this was less well marked. Supercilium long, joining above bill, flaring behind eye and terminating in a weak 'flick'; its basic colouration was yellow-cream, but in strong light the flare behind the eye more yellow. Eyestripe darker olive than crown, weakest in front of eye. Prominent eye, strong bill, pale 'face', chin and throat — rather reminiscent of Bonelli's Warbler P. bonelli, particularly from below. Ear-coverts lightly mottled. Wings: lesser and median coverts olive, concolourous with scapulars; greater coverts olive, but the four (on left wing) and three (on right) outers tipped with cream — broadest on the most outer, lessening towards the inners. Tertials and secondaries olive, with faintly brighter fringes — not particularly forming a wing-panel. Short primary projection. Dark alula. Rump/tail: olive, tail slightly forked with feathers fringed paler green-yellow. Underparts: clean white, like Yellow-browed Warbler P.inomatus, but with a dusky cream wash on the upper flanks most noticeable in flatter light. Bareparts: legs flesh, brightest in strong light, but with slight greyish cast in duller light; bill stronger than Chiffchaff, with dark horn upper mandible and flesh-yellow lower. Call: very distinctive, disyllabic; transcribed as 'tsree-reep' or 'trrist-yip', with the chirrup-like tone of a sparrow. Luckily when I first located the bird on the 27th it was very vociferous. I aged the bird as a first winter on the freshness of all the wing feathers, with no signs of wear. It remained in the area until Aug. 30th.

Brian Small, 20 Willow Green, Worlingworth, Woodbridge IP13 7HX. This is the third record for Suffolk. The first was also in Minsmere's Sluice Bushes, Sept. 1st 1981 and the second at the Sparrow's Nest Gradens, Lowestoft, Sept. 20th to 22nd 1986 - Ed. PARROT CROSSBILLS I was birdwatching along the Mayday Farm trail at Brandon on Nov. 20th 1990, when I spotted a flock of large finches in a pine tree, close to the Bl 106, at the start of the access drive to some cottages. The birds were obviously Crossbill sp. and upon closer examination with the telescope all proved to have large, heavy bills. The top edge of the upper mandible was straighter than in Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra giving an impression of a low fore-head, especially in the males. The lower mandibles bulged slightly before curving up to the tip, thus giving the bill a broad profile. No obvious crossing could be observed i.e. the lower mandible did not protrude above the upper and the bill colour was dark grey. The birds were 'chunkier' than L. curvirostra this being especially noticeable in flight. The males were red with darker wings, the females greyish-green with greyer head and mantle. The birds were watched feeding on pine-cones for about ten minutes, then five moved to the tips of the uppermost twigs, allowing time to ascertain that they were all of the same species, before flying into another group of trees. A few moments later the remaining four birds (two cr cr, two 9 9 ) moved onto tips of twigs again allowing easier observation. They flew off in pairs (cr 9 ) in different directions, calling loudly. The flight call (given repeatedly) was a "yop" note rounder, louder and lower-toned than L.curvirostra. I concluded that the birds were Parrot Crossbills L. pytyopsittacus. Despite further searching for some time the birds could not be relocated. A party of twelve Parrot Crossbills had been reported in the vicinity on the previous day (19th). A

- Howe, 12 Bury Road, Hengrave, Bury St Edmunds IP28 6LS.

ARCTIC REDPOLL On Nov. 26th 1990, A. Butcher, M. Forbes, T. Shields and I were seawatching from the shelter at the northern end of Southwold, during storm-force 143


northeasterly winds, when TS drew our attention to a small passerine about six metres away on the ground. It flew a short distance to the outside branches of a Tamarisk (Tama ix anglica) bush at a height of six metres above ground-level. The bird was then viewed from behind and, drooping its wings to preen, it exposed a large area of pure white on its lower upperparts. It became apparent that we were watching an Arctic Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni. I took the following description: Head: forehead and feathers around bill loose pure white giving an impression of a plain 'hoar-frosted' face; fore-crown feathers were wet and dishevelled appearing dark-brown/blackish rather than showing any red. Crown and nape whitish-grey ground colour, the crown streaked blackish. Chin black, throat, ear-coverts white, a very pale tawny-brown wash surrounding the ear-coverts. Upperparts: mantle and scapulars light tawny brown on a ground colour of greyish-white, with darker greyish brown lines running down mantle. Coverts greyish brown, medians and greaters edged white and showing as two prominent wing-bars. Tertials black edged white. Back — rump pure white, large and obvious, from the base of the tail to at least the bases of the tertials, the rump clearly showing a pinkish wash with no spots or streaks. Tail: dark, greyish-brown edged off-white. Underparts: Pure white extending to lower flanks, with faint and sparse light-grey streaking on upper flanks. Breast showing a very faint pinkish flush. Bare parts: bill straw yellow, appearing short. Legs dark-brown, blackish.

While the bird was showing it gave excellent views of its back and rump. The extent or absence of streaking on the undertail coverts was not noted before the bird disappeared into the centre of the Tamarisk. Despite much searching the bird was never seen again. We were all certain that the bird was an Arctic Redpoll and due to the pinkish wash we sexed the bird as a male. A. Riseborough,

35 Annandale Drive, Beccles,

Suffolk.

This is the sixth record for Suffolk (12 birds) and the first since 1986. The first record was a of pair at Lowestoft Denes, Oct. 19th 1953, followed by six at Bungay Common. Mar. 9th 1962 and singles at Lowestoft, Oct. 20th 1965, Oulton Broad, Nov. 5th 1972 and Benacre Feb. 18th 1986 — Ed. Reference: Cramp. S. (Ed) 1988. The Birds of the Western Palearctic Vol. 5. Oxford. Piotrowski, S. H. 1990. Suffolk Bird List Suffolk Birds 39:118-122.

Steve Piotrowski, 18 Cobham Road, Ipswich IP3 9JD.

NOTES WATER RAIL CATCHING AND KILLING WATER SHREW At about 08.30 hrs on Feb. 13th 1991, during a prolonged cold spell, I visited contractors carrying out dykework at Westwood Marsh, Walberswick N.N.R. They were widening and deepening a dyke, which involved breaking the ice and forming a 45° slope of unfrozen soil. T h e levelled spoil attracted a number of birds, including Water Rails Rallus aquaticus. which boldly walked about searching for food. One had died and another was feeding on the corpse. As I watched this act of cannibalism, the bird suddenly abandoned its mea and dashed after a Water Shrew Neomys fodiens, which appeared on an adjacent bank. The shrew was adeptly caught and held by the rail near its bill-tip. The bird released the shrew and quickly stabbed at it with open mandibles (held about 15mm apart at their tips) before deftly recatching the unfortunate animal. This release/capture process was repeate on numerous occasions, over several minutes, and each time as the shrew attempted make its escape a quick snatch by the rail resulted in recapture. On one occasion the shrew dived into the water but, pursued by the rail, it was soon apprehended and carried o


to a piece of floating ice. The rail normally seized its victim by the tail, but sometimes by loose fur. Its speed and accuracy were remarkable. During one escapade the shrew made it to the far bank, but was soon recaught and, after enduring another half-minute of chase and capture, it became exhausted. At this point the rail began stabbing the shrew vith its bill closed. It took about 20 to 30 stabs to kill the animal, after which it was picked up and swallowed whole. Cliff Waller, Angel Cottage, Blythburgh,

Suffolk.

GREY HERON VERSUS STOAT On Feb. 17th 1991, I was walking the river bank at Boyton Marshes in the company of Nick Green and Adam Kennedy in search of a Bittern Botaurus stellaris which had been seen about an hour earlier. There had been heavy snow falls in the previous two weeks, followed by a slow thaw. The ground was still frozen, but most of the snow had disappeared except for a few drifts against banks and hedges. Our attention was drawn to a Grey Heron Ardea cinerea flying about 15m above ground level by a distant copse. It had a brilliant white object clamped tightly in its bill, and my initial thoughts were that it was carrying a piece of ice. The heron alighted in a meadow, dropped the mystery object, and began to stab at it with its bill, at the same time prancing quickly around to encircle it. The white object suddenly sprang to life, flipping upwards repeatedly. At this stage our thoughts were that it was a fish, a Bream Abramis brama perhaps. We hurriedly set up our telescopes and soon realised that the prey was a Stoat Mustela erminea in full ermine. As well as taking evasive action the Stoat seemed to be countering by biting at the heron's head or neck. After about half a minute it ran down the bank of a nearby dyke and made its escape. Stoats in ermine are an unusual sight in Suffolk and to see one in such macabre circumstances is quite extraordinary. Whether or not the Stoat, in such an immaculate white coat, was more susceptible to attack than it would have been in its normal, better camouflaged, dress is a matter for speculation. Steve Piotrowski, 18 Cobham Road, Ipswich IP3 9JD. WILLOW TIT SHOWING CHARACTERS OF THE RACE Parus montanus borealis On Nov. 10th 1990, at 08.00hrs, whilst birdwatching at Worlingworth, I found a Willow Tit, a species which I wasn't too surprised to see as I had recorded one on two previous occasions at this locality. Upon closer examination however, this bird showed the distinctive characteristics of the race P.m.borealis being basically paler and larger than normal. The bird was present in a small area of Birch and Alder all day, but not subsequently, and was quite tame. I made a few sketches and took the following description. The bird was very different from the British race P.m. kleinschmidti and notable for: (i) Its large size — only marginally smaller than female Great Tit P. major, which was alongside. (ii) Its very pale appearance, with a grey mantle and white cheek patches and underparts. (iii) A pure white wing-panel, formed by white fringes to the secondaries — there was also a faint wing-bar formed by pale fringes and tips to the greater coverts. (iv) Very pale edges to the tail feathers. (v) A total lack of any brown or buff tones, except for a faint pink suffusion along the upper flanks. The bird called loudly "zzee, zzee, zzee", and also a plaintive "seeoo seeoo seeoo". This is the County's second record of a bird showing characters of this race, the first having been at Minsmere, Sept. 15th & 16th 1974 (Payn 1978). The race P.m.borealis occurs throughout Northern Scandinavia and North-west Russia, hut, like the Mealy Redpoll Carduelis flammea flammea, tends to be a geographical, clinal variant — increasing in size and pallidity to the north. 145


• HryfUfrytk

rfhtb,

ihcclcí /mtf

:JrrrPy

•Mwtz

fr jWnvk^.

/yyyrt

i

¡wyty

.

^

y/hrí*.

Reference Payn, W. H. 1978. The Birds of Suffolk.

Ipswich.

Brian Small, 20 Willow Green, Worlingworth, Framlingham,

Woodbridge.

COMMON SANDPIPER SHOWING SIMILARITIES TO SPOTTED SANDPIPER During the early afternoon of Aug. 22nd 1990, W.J.Brame discovered a small Actitis Sandpiper at Alton Water. The bird was repeatedly disturbed by people walking along the water's edge, but initial views showed that it had a very short tail and somewhat yellowish legs — two apparent features of Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia. That evening, together with WJB, J. M. Cawston, E. W. Patrick and S. H. Piotrowski, I visited Alton Water and the sandpiper in question was soon found feeding near Lemon's Hill Bridge. First impressions showed that it did indeed appear quite different from an accompanying Common Sandpiper A. hypoleucos. The tail was very short, falling near to the wing-tip and this gave the bird a dumpy, fat-bodied appearance, quite distinct from typical Common Sandpipers. Our hopes of Spotted Sandpiper became dashed though when we realised that the bird was an adult (lacking the barred coverts and palé fringed seapulars of a juvenile). This fact alone ruled out Spotted as all adults, this early in the autumn, would show some trace of spotting on the underparts. Had this Common Sandpiper arrived in October or November, I am sure identification would not have been straightforward. The bird was still present the following day, when WJB, JMC and EWP were able to watch it in better light and confirm the previous evening's views. The following summary of the bird's characteristics is based on my notes on 22nd, which were improved greatly by JMC's observations on 23rd: In size the bird was perhaps just marginally smaller than the accompanying Common Sandpiper, looking shorter necked, dumpier and fatter-bodied with a noticeably short tail. The shortness of this bird s tail was presumably due to moult or damage of some kind. The bilí was short and straight appearing slightly shorter than the nearby Common Sandpiper's bilí and was wholly dark-grey in colour, except for a tiny area of horn colour at the base of the lower mandible. The bird showed a prominent eyering, but the supercilium was rather faint. The upperparts were a dark, earthy-brown colour, lacking any greyish tones. The wing coverts appeared virtually unmarked and the tertials were surprisingly plain looking, only showing dark sub-terminal markings on the lowest of these feathers. In flight, the wing-bar appeared faint on the primaries, but was more obvious on the secondaries. The sides of the tail were distinctly white. Leg colour was difficult to evalúate as they were frequently covered in mud, but at times they did appear more yellowish than usual.

On plumage characters the bird was clearly a Common Sandpiper, although separation from winter plumage Spotted Sandpiper is no easy matter. Adult Spotted Sandpipers seen in Britain usually retain some spots on the underparts until at least late October. Full winter

/

146


plumage adults are best identified by structural diffĂŠrences which include a more pot-bellied, flatter-backed appearance as well as the short tail, which barely extends beyond die primary tips. Plumage diffĂŠrences from Common Sandpiper include a more prominent supercilium, completely unmarked tertials (winter plumage Common Sandpiper shows notches on the edges of these feathers) and perhaps slightly more contrasting wing-coverts. The bill of most Spotted Sandpipers is bi-coloured, having a fleshy coloured base with a darker tip, unlike the wholly grey-looking bill of the Common Sandpiper. The legs of most Spotted Sandpipers are usually yellower than those of Common Sandpiper, but some are duller and thus more like Common. In flight, the Spotted's wing-bar is narrower than the Common's on the secondaries; the secondaries themselves are darker and contrast with a narrow white trailing edge to the wing. The outer-tail feathers of Spotted are barred towards the edge and are therefore less white looking than Common. The aim of this note is not to go into great depth about identification of the two species, but merely to point out the pitfall provided by short-tailed Common Sandpipers. Shorttailed Common Sandpipers by their very nature may look surprisingly like a Spotted Sandpiper, but a carefiil check of all plumage characters should enable an accurate identification to be made. No mention has been made here of juveniles of either species as this would be beyond the scope and relevance of this paper. Acknowledgements I should like to thank W.J.Brame for finding and pointing out this bird and J.M.Cawston whose detailed notes provided the basis for this report.

S. Ling, 20 Stonechat Road, Ipswich IP2 OSA.


Obituary HAROLD JENNER - A GREAT NATURALIST (1921-1990) by R. W . Blacker

The death of Harold Jenner on June 3rd 1990 has severed the last link with the great local naturalists such as Arthur Patterson and Claud Ticehurst and, more recently, Ted Ellis and Robin Harrison. Harold was brought up with a great interest in natural history encouraged and guided by his father, Ted Jenner, and their life-long friends Fred Cook of Lowestoft and Philip Rumbelow from Yarmouth. Like them, he was a self-taught naturalist interested in all aspects of nature, learning by careful observation and recording everything in detail, long before the advent of handy field guides for every kind of plant and animal. He was trained as an electrician, but soon after completing his apprenticeship at the age of 18, war broke out and he joined the Royal Navy serving on minesweepers in the North Atlantic. This widened his horizons and added some exotic Caribbean species to his collection. After the war he worked for a time on a farm at Corton, which gave daily opportunities for observing the local wildlife. For a short period in 1953 he served as cook on the MAFF's research vessel "Sir Lancelot", not with culinary ambitions, but with the desire to observe the autumn bird migration across the North Sea. The crew member who made unwise remarks about Harold's interest in dead birds may not have been aware that Starling soup got onto the menu as a result! Eventually, in February 1957, he joined the staff of the MAFF Fisheries Laboratory, at Pakefield, as an industrial handyman/artist. His arrival made a noticeable improvement in the quality of the illustrations in the Laboratory's publications and had an even greater impact on material used for exhibitions. Harold was an accomplished taxidermist, preserving many of the bird and mammal specimens he found as beautifully prepared skins. Before his Ministry interview he tried, for the first time, to stuff a fish and, to make it a real challenge, he chose a small John Dory not a tough-skinned Sole or Dogfish. Needless to say, he produced a very life-like specimen at his interview. Later he developed his own technique of making moulds from fish specimens and the resulting models, meticulously painted scale by scale, look as though they would swim away. He was just as good at looking after live animals and at his home he tended many injured birds and mammals from Little and Tawny Owls, and other birds of prey, to Hedgehogs and Coypus. In the 1940s, he acquired a dilapidated marshman's cottage at Herringfleet with, to quote his own description from a Lowestoft Field Club report, "about an acre of bracken, heather, nettles, bramble, alder, damson, kitchen garden and flowers, bordered on three sides by pine woods and on the other by marshes. ' ' This was his beloved "Wilderness ' '. The old cottage was gradually rebuilt and extended with the help of his friend George O s b o r n e It was there that he eventually made his home and, sadly, died. Whatever he was doing. Harold always kept his daily record of natural history observations. His detailed records of nearly everything that grew, crawled or flew around "The Wilderness" must be comparable with Ted Ellis's observations at Wheatfen or even Gilbert White's Natural History of Selbourne, and I am assured that they will be preserved. In 1946, Harold was one of the founder members of the Lowestoft and North Suffolk Field Naturalists' Club â&#x20AC;&#x201D; now usually called the Lowestoft Field Club. He was a member of the Committee from the start, Chairman from 1956 to 1958 and, for many years, was one of the recorders for the Field Club Report. The annual reports reveal the scope o Harold's observations and energies: his annual autumn/winter tidemark reports of dead birds compiled from weekly walks covering the coast from Gorleston to Benacre entalle 148


marly 150 miles of beach walking; his initials appear after the first report of the return o f nesting Avocets to Minsmere; he contributed many records of bats in the area and his records of lepidoptera from Herringfleet show how the butterfly population has declined. Harold provided the drawing of the Marsh Harrier which adorns the cover of the Field Club Reports: it will always be a reminder of a great naturalist. R. W. Blacker, 2 Hubbards Ave, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR32 4LD

It should be noted that Harold was responsible for at least two additions to the County birdlist. He saw Suffolk's first Arctic Redpolls, a pair on the Lowestoft Denes on Oct. '9th 1953, and then Suffolk's one and only White-throated Sparrow, which visited "The Wilderness" on Nov. 16th 1968 and stayed until it died on Jan. 1st 1969. The sparrow's corpse was carefully skinned by Harold and sent away to the British Birds Rarities Committee to verify the record. Unfortunately, Harold had difficulty retrieving his specimen and, when finally returned, it was found to be badly damaged, leaving him somewhat disillusioned, with respect to the BBRC. This certainly meant that two potential 'Suffolk firsts', a Killdeer on Walberswick shore-pools and a Surf Scoter amongst the scoter flock off Pakefield, were not submitted for official acceptence â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Ed. 149


Landguard Bird Observatory 1990 by Mike C r e w e

1990 was another interesting year. Nigel Odin returned for a second year to warden the Observatory as part of his duties as the Landguard Peninsula Ranger. This post is a new one, organised and financed by the "Landguard Forum", whose membership comprises representatives of English Heritage, Felixstowe Dock & Railway Company, Felixstowe Historic and Museum Society, Felixstowe Town Council, Harwich Harbour Authority. LBO, Suffolk Coastal District Council, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT), with the latter responsible for administration. The early winter period produced little of note with the uneventful weather no doubt responsible for the dearth of birds offshore, although a few records of interest during March included eight Shags passing through and a cr Marsh Harrier flying north. There were also occasional sightings of up to three Purple Sandpipers on the Point and a Water Rail was seen in the Observatory compound in January. Winter records of Kittiwakes continue to increase and there were single sightings of adult Mediterranean and Iceland Gulls and Landguard's first February record of Little Gull. One of the most unexpected records was the sight of a cr Pheasant careering across the Observatory compound in March. Thrush movements this spring were almost non-existent with the highest day count of Fieldfares being just nine during January and "fall" counts of Blackbirds peaked at just 25 on two dates in March. A spell of fine, spring weather resulted in the site's earliest record of Sand Martin and the joint earliest record for Chiffchaff. March also produced a good run of records of several species including Black Redstart, Firecrest and Wheatear with the latter reaching a peak of 19. A total of 27 Long-tailed Tits was logged and with good numbers of this species also reported from Dungeness and Spurn Observatories in March there seems to have been a fairly widespread movement of the species at this time. Incidental records included two Rock Pipits, two Grey Wagtails, three Mistle Thrushes, six Siskins and a Brambling during March with a small southerly passage of Wood Pigeons at the month's end. The mild winter was kind to those species which tend to succumb during cold spells and this was reflected by regular counts of up to four Wrens and higher than usual numbers of Robins successfully wintering in the area. A cr Blackcap was also present in early January. Offshore passage continued to be uninspiring during the spring period as far as numbers were concerned but there was a good range of species recorded, albeit in just ones and twos. Three more Shags were noted and six Gannets passed by. Unseasonably late duck movements included three Red-breasted Mergansers during May and small numbers of Common Scoter. A pair of Garganey flying south in mid-April is the first record of this species for the site. Wader movements included two Purple Sandpipers in April and occasional sightings of Sanderling. The best wader of the year was a Dotterel which appeared all too briefly on the first day of May. Bar-tailed Godwit passage was light and day-counts of Whimbrel were generally in single figures, but there was a good day-count of 70. Curlew passage gave day-counts in double figures during mid-April and there was a second, even bigger southerly movement during late June and July of adult birds returning to the estuaries to moult. May produced a light passage of Greenshanks and occasional Turnstones and Common Sandpipers while June provided the only spring Arctic Skua of the year and an adult Little Gull. Most sightings of the Felixstowe Iceland Gull occurred in early Aprilwhich is usual for Landguard, but a sighting of the bird on May 15th was exceptionally late. Tern passage was generally light with movements of Common Terns heaviest in early May, when a short but notable passage of Black Terns also occurred. A Guillemot flying N in May was an unseasonable record, but was surpassed by a Puffin in April, a very rare species at Landguard. 150


Plate 28: Immature male Crossbill at Southwold. This bird was part of an influx into coastal Suffolk.

E D

o Piate 29: Chaffinch. A total of 371 passed through Landguard in October.

Piate 30: Hawfinch at West Stow. Breeding was reported at only five sites.


Plate 31: Treecreeper.

Plate 32: Ortolan Bunting at Minsmere.

Plate 33: Red-headed Bunting. 1 singing male frequented hedgerows Felixstowe on a single day in June.


Many summer migrants appeared during April with hirundines, pipits and wagtails showing a trend of single arrivals during the second week of the month and the main arrival during the last week. Warblers were later in putting in an appearance with most species not being noted until the final week of April although Willow Warblers were a little earlier and produced reasonable day counts at the end of the month. A total of 16 Firecrests was logged during the period and May produced a Grasshopper Warbler and two Wood Warblers. Chats were in short supply during April with just one Whinchat and six Redstarts recorded, while only a single Nightingale was trapped.Wheatears appeared in reasonable numbers with a maximum day-count of 25. Four Ring Ouzels were noted in April and four more during May. Reed Warbler passage was extremely poor with just 11 birds during May and the same number in June, but the passage of commoner warbler species was fairly good, with a notable fall of 18 Garden Warblers in early May. Six more Redstarts and eight Whinchats occurred during May and the same month produced late records of Fieldfare and Redwing during the first week. Spotted Flycatcher movements were steady but uneventful. Wagtail movements included four White Wagtails and Turtle Doves trickled through after the first bird in late April with a highest day-count of 18. Two Swifts in late April were followed by a steady flow during May and June, but only five Cuckoos occurred during the period. The highlight of the spring was undoubtedly the cr Nightjar that was trapped and ringed in early June. Finch movements during the spring period were about normal with Goldfinch day counts in excess of 100 on several dates in late April and Linnet numbers peaking about ten days earlier. There was a light passage of Redpolls with single figures on 11 dates during April and May and four Siskins and four Bramblings were noted. A ct Crossbill in late June was to be the start of a notable run of this species, part of a major influx into Britain. Eight to ten pairs of Ringed Plovers were present and breeding success appeared to be good, despite much disturbance, and prĂŠdation by Carrion Crows and Kestrels; Little Terns fared a lot worse with only one chick observed reaching the flying stage. July often produces a few surprises and this year was no exception. A Coot on the river was an unexpected record of a species which is rare at Landguard. Offshore movements began to pick up with more interesting records including Gannets and a remarkable count of 343 Common Scoter, while wader highlights included a good passage of Curlew and an unprecedented record of a flock of 25 Greenshank. Most of the expected wader species continued to pass through in reasonable numbers throughout the autumn with other highlights including six Avocets, four Ruff and good day-counts of four Little Ringed Plovers and 156 Grey Plovers in August and six Curlew Sandpipers in September. August provided records of three Little Gulls and a Great Skua while August and September produced a respectable total of 30 Arctic Skuas. Another seven Little Gulls were noted during September. Interesting tern records included a day-count of 215 Common Terns south in August and totals of 29 Arctic Terns, mainly during August, and 15 Black Terns. A Red-crested Pochard passing south in September was a new species for the site, as was a Great Shearwater (see article on page 137). Raptor records included single Marsh Harriers during August and September, two Sparrowhawks in September and two Hobbies in August. Swift movements during bad weather in early July were quite remarkable with large southerly counts of 16,000 and 12,860 on two dates. Three Green Woodpeckers and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were noted in early August and a Wryneck occurred during late August and early September. Early September produced the largest hirundine movements and Yellow Wagtail passage peaked during late August with a maximum day-count of 69 while a good passage of at least nine Grey Wagtails took place in late September. Redstarts and Whinchats were ever present throughout the second half of August and most of September with maximum day counts of six Redstarts and nine Whinchats, but only three Nightingales were noted, mirroring the poor spring for this species. Black Redstarts seemed to fare well as a breeding 151


species with a maximum day count of 10 during early July being well before any passage birds were likely to be about. September provided six Ring Ouzels and an out-of-season Fieldfare appeared in late August. Warbler passage was generally uneventful with reasonable numbers of the commoner species passing through and more unusual records including four Wood Warblers in August and a Grasshopper Warbler in early September. The warbler highlight was the site's second Marsh Warbler, trapped in late July. Spotted Flycatchers drifted through in small numbers and were almost matched in number by Pied Flycatchers with the latter species providing a good day total of seven in late August. Seven Firecrests were noted from late August to late September and a Treecreeper was trapped and ringed in early August, the site's third record. A Red-backed Shrike also put in an appearance with one present for four days in early September. Finch movements picked up well in late September with the daily maximum counts being 835 Linnets south and 628 Goldfinches There was also a handful of Redpolls, three Siskins and more Crossbills. During September 26 Reed Buntings were logged and there was a totally unexpected mass arrival of four Ortolan Buntings. Late September through to early November is usually the busiest time at Landguarci Offshore movements for the three month period from October provided a respectable list of interesting records including totals of 36 Red-throated Divers, two Manx Shearwaters, 56 Gannets, 18 Arctic Skuas, two Pomarine Skuas, a Great Skua and several records of Black-throated Divers. In early November, a flock of 44 Bewick's Swans flew in off the sea and a single Red-necked Grebe passed by, with another in early December. October 13th proved to be the day to be sea-watching at Landguard with selected totals being 4,482 Brent Geese, 400 Shelduck, 424 Wigeon, 56 Pintail, 366 Lapwing, 1,150 Black-headed Gulls and smaller numbers of many other species. October 21st also produced good counts with, most notably, 17 Gannets, 7,015 Brent Geese, 836 Wigeon, 129 Pintail and 31 Kittiwakes. Raptors were not generally noteworthy but two Hen Harriers and two Sparrowhawks passed through and a total of four Merlins was logged. Wader records were very much low key with a handful of migrant Woodcocks passing through and the occasional Purple Sandpiper on the Point. Gulls, too, were unnoteworthy with the exception of Little Gulls which passed through in higher numbers than usual and included a record day-count of 90. The usual trickle of auks took place with most identifiable birds being Guillemots but two Razorbills were noted and another Puffin passed by. Little Auks occurred in reasonable numbers with nine during November and one in December. An excellent year for Black Terns was concluded with another two in mid-October. The autumn passage of Wood Pigeons was short but noteworthy with higher counts at the end of October and early November including a maximum day-count of 1,713. Autumn is also the peak time for owl movements at Landguard and all five commoner species were noted with at least one Little Owl setting up residence until the end of the year and a respectable count of 11 Long-eared Owls passing through. The Tawny Owl that turned up in October 1989 suddenly disappeared in late October, but briefly revisited the site in mid-November. Ones and twos of most summer migrants kept drifting through unti! around the middle of October after which Blackcap and Chiffchaff were the only warblers recorded. Firecrests were present throughout most of October with a peak day-count of seven. Black Redstarts hung on well into November and a late bird in mid-December was probably planning on wintering in the area. Occasional Swallows and House Martins were noted in the first half of November. Chats followed a similar trend to warblers with the last Whinchat in mid-October and Wheatears hanging on to the month's end. A lone Stonechat noted on the first day of November was the only site record of the year. Ring Ouzels numbered 11 during October with a late bird in early November. Meadow Pip11 movements peaked in early October and Rock Pipit passage peaked about a week later with counts of six on several dates. Skylark passage was striking in mid-October with a highest day count of 853 and a Woodlark was a good find in early November.


Thrush movements are generally the highlight of a gocxi autumn at east coast observatories but this year was unimpressive with Blackbird counts exceeding 100 on only three dates and the highest Redwing count being 150 on just two dates. A " f a l l " of 300 Fieldfares in mid-October was a little more encouraging but this was to be the only arrivai of any significance. Robins managed 100 on just one date in October. The autumn was not without ìts specialities with highlights including an immature Barred Warbler and a Red-breasted Flycatcher.

With Tree Sparrows being far from common in the county it is interesting to speculate from where the birds passing through Landguard in the autumn origínate. Among this year's movements was a count of 103 in early October. Starling numbers increased during late October and early November with a day peak of 4,000. Goldfinch migration peaked at 1,252 south on October 2nd while totals of less common finches included 58 Brambling, 63 Siskins, 19 Twite and 63 Redpolls during October and November. Crossbills continued to pass through with singles in October and November and there was a trickle of Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer records. Single Lapland Buntings were noted on two dates in October and two flew south in early November. Snow Buntings put in a better than average showing with records from early November. Non-ornithological records put up some contenders for the title of highlight of the year with a particularly notable event being the discovery of the carcass of a Fin Whale Balaenoptera physalus in the harbour on September 2nd. Another highlight was the massive increase in the number of individuáis of the rare Stinking Goosefoot Chenopodium vulvaria. This was entirely due to management work carried out on an area adjacent to the Bird Observatory fence. Mike Crewe, 11 Orwell Court, California, Woodbridge IP12 4DS 153


LANDGUARD 1978-1990

TABLE I: BIRDS RINGED Species Manx Shearwater Storm Petrel Mute Swan Teal Sparrowhawk Kestrel Hobby Red-legged Partridge Water Rail Moorhen Oystercatcher Ringed Piover Golden Piover Purple Sandpiper Woodcock Whimbrel Common Sandpiper Turnstone Arctic Skua Mediterranean Gull Black-headed Gull Common Gull Little Tern Little Auk Wood Pigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Cuckoo Yellow-billed Cuckoo Barn Owl Little Owl Tawny 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

Total 1990 0 0 0 0 1 6 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 22 14 3 0 0 1 1 0 3 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 1 2 106 22 2 6 0 0 1 0 107 145 337 0 3 0 12 16 10 0 29

Grand Total 1978-90 1 1 2 1 6 15 1 15 1 2 1 60 2 1 18 1 2 3 1 1 13 4 28 2 58 151 29 26 1 2 3 1 28 2 6 6 12 8 10 2 37 10 2000 1016 45 323 1 7 2 7 612 1464 2107 1 58 3 316 302 71 4 242

Desert Wheatear Ring Ouzel Blackbird Fieldfare Song Thrush Redwing Mistle Thrush Cetti's Warbier Grasshopper Warbier Paddyfield Warbier Sedge Warbier 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 Greenfinch Goldfinch Siskin Linnet Redpoll Crossbill Bullfinch Hawfinch Snow Bunting Yellowhammer Ortolan Bunting Little Bunting Reed Bunting TOTAL

154

0 5 558 9 154 65 0 0 0 0 41 1 46 0 0 0 1 49 77 57 123 0 0 0 5 108 344 403 33 38 1 14 27 0 0 0 34 19 1 1 0 0 0 70 222 4 39 5 1233 154 0 514 6 8 4 0 0 1 1 0 0 5337

1 51 4167 61 2124 464 13 1 6 1 249 2 398 14 1 4 8 464 647 667 1238 4 12 1 34 924 3415 1587 190 398 3 306 173 1 2 18 965 545 3 6 2 2 1 1552 1850 61 672 124 11114 1184 13 3831 70 g 74 â&#x20AC;¢3

J 2

152 4 2 22 49066


Suffolk Ringing Report by Steve Piotrowski and Reg Clarke In the past five years Suffolk's annual ringing totals have remained remarkably consistent, varying only from 23,484 in 1986 to 1989's peak of 25,819. Following a substantial increase in the cost of rings however, it remains to be seen whether this effort will be maintained in the future. Economics has forced ringers to think hard about the species they ring. For example, this year's total of 25,484 means that Suffolk's ringers have paid out an incredible ÂŁ2,500 on rings alone. In consequence, resident breeding species such as Wrens, Dunnocks, Blue Tits and House Sparrows are more often released unringed, except when they form part of special studies such as Constant Effort Sites (CES) which are subject to refunds. Despite the consistency of the annual totals, 1990 was hardly spectacular with regard to rarities. There were no additions to the County's ringing list and the only nationally rare species ringed was a Pallas's Warbler at Dunwich in November. Autumn is the season in which we expect to find a vagrant or two in the nets, but this year unfavourable winds meant that these were scarce. Three Wrynecks, five Ring Ouzels, two Red-backed Shrikes, single Marsh and Barred Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Ortolan Bunting were the prizes amongst a relatively poor crop of passage migrants. One of the few highlights was an irruption of Crossbills, noted at many coastal localities from mid-June onwards, of which ten were ringed. It was a year of mixed fortunes for wader ringing with a total of 982 birds of 20 species ringed. Redshank, in particular, were well down in numbers, but there were respectable totals of Curlew Sandpipers (15) and Jack Snipe (18). Single Little Stint and Ruff, species rarely encountered by Suffolk ringers, were also trapped. There was a marked decrease in the number of gulls ringed, which was principally due to adverse conditions at Bramford Landfill. This former quarry has almost reached its capacity, with regard to waste disposal, and in consequence cannon-netting opportunities have been curtailed. As gulls are long-lived however, more and more recoveries are received each year, boosted by the growing number of observers, throughout Europe, that read ring numbers in the field. A remarkable effort by the Dingle Bird Club resulted in 458 Bearded Tits being ringed, as part of their special study, and a substantial increase in the number of Tree Pipits is due almost entirely to the efforts of Roy Thatcher ringing in Tunstall Forest. CES studies continued at Redgrave and Lopham Fens and at Bourne Park, Ipswich, but those at Newbourne Springs and Dingle Hills, Westleton, were abandoned. In 1990, all recoveries of Suffolk-ringed birds were confined to the Northern Hemisphere with the most notable being Britain's furthest ever Nightjar, which was captured alive in Morocco. A Skylark, ringed in Belgium and found dead near Stowmarket, is only the third foreign-ringed bird, of that species, to be recovered in Britain. The most distant recovery involved a Sand Martin, ringed at Dunwich, and recovered in Senegal, West Africa, some 2,300Km away. The third Suffolk Ringers meeting was held on Apr. 28th 1991 at Landguard Bird Observatory. It was well attended by ringers from various parts of the County. The meeting, which will hopefully become an annual event, provided an opportunity for ringers to discuss plans for the year, especially the projects which involved many of those present. The Suffolk Sand Martin Survey was the first item on the agenda. Many of the Suffolk colonies are visited by ringers, so they are ideally placed to monitor the County's population. A brief report from an expedition to Senegal was presented. The expedition involved many ringers from Europe and those from Suffolk were encouraged to consider joining future trips, and also aim at catching trans-Saharan migrants which might have been ringed in West 155


Africa. Information on wildfowl trapping techniques was given to increase the efficiency of duck ringing in Suffolk. The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust was encouraging more ringing to take place as the numbers of these birds ringed had decreased in recent years. The next meeting will be held at the Marlborough Hotel, Sea Road, Felixstowe on Mar 11th 1992, from 19.30 hrs. All ringers, active in Suffolk, are welcome to attend. Ringing totals for 1991 (for Suffolk) can be brought to the meeting for inclusion in Suffolk Birds Those unable to attend this meeting are requested to forward a copy of their ringing returns together with any interesting recoveries, to Mike Marsh, 5 Ennerdale Close, Felixstowe, Suffolk.

Selected List of Recoveries Arrangement of entry:

Recoveries are arranged by species; ringing details 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 N O T represent years Interpretation is as follows: 1 Pullus ( = nestling or chick) 2 Fully grown, year of hatching unknown 3 Hatched during calendar year of ringing 4 Hatched before calendar year of ringing, but exact year unknown 5 Hatched during previous calendar year 6 Hatched before previous calendar year, but exact year unknown 8 Hatched three or more calendar years before year of ringing cr = male; $ = female v Caught or trapped, released with ring vv Ring number read in the field, or sight record of identifiable colour ring(s) vB Breeding where recaptured + Shot or killed by man x Found dead xF Found freshly dead or dying xL Found long dead

Sex: Manner of recovery:

0 /?/ *

Shag Phalacrocorax 1258520 1 vv

Caught or trapped alive and not released Manner of recovery unknown Exact locality witheld

aristotelis 20.06.89 16.09.89

vv 18.12.89 vv 07.01.90 This bird spent much of the winter extraordinary behaviour (Piotrowski Gorleston.

Isle of May: 5 6 ° l l ' N 02°33'W (Fife Region) Southwold Harbour: 52°19'N 01°41'E (Suffolk) 510Km SE Gorleston-on-Sea: 52°34'N 01 °44'E(Suffolk) Southwold Harbour: 52° 19'N 01 °41'E (Suffolk) in Southwold Harbour, where it amazed observers with its 1990). Our intrepid traveller was also seen onboard a ship at

Mute Swan Cygnus olor Z18342

49 vv

12.12.87 01.??.90

Bourne Park, Ipswich: 52°01'N 01 °09'E (Suffolk) Station Lake, Needham Market: 52°09'N 01°04'E (Suffolk) 16Km NNW This bird was present throughout the summer and raised five cygnets.

156


Teal Anas crecca

EP70408

39 xF

05.11.89 Hollesley: 52°03'N 01°26'E (Suffolk) 13.01.90 Warrington: 53°22'N 02°40'W (Cheshire) 316Km WNW

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

FV30423

06.05.77 23.01.90 23.02.86 27.03.90

Terrington: 52°48'N 00°18'E (Norfolk) Boyton: 52°04'N 01°29'E (Suffolk) 114Km SE FR85068 Fagbury: 51°58'N 01°18'E (Suffolk) Oosterbroek: 52°26'N 04°41'E (Nord-Holland) NETHERLANDS 235Km ENE FV30423 is reaching a fair age at 13 years, but is only half way to the British record, which currently stands at nearly 26 years (Mead and Clark 1990). FR85068 is the second Orwell-ringed bird to be recovered in Holland. Dunlin Calidris alpina

NS65155

3 v v 3 v 3

12.11.85 08.08.88 26.07.90 12.11.85 23.07.90 08.08.82

Ramsholt: 52°01'N 01°23'E (Suffolk) Ottenby: 56°12'N 16°24'E (Oland) SWEDEN Freiston: 52°56'N 00°05'E (Lincolnshire) 129Km NW NS65113 Ramsholt: 52°01'N 01°23'E (Suffolk) Butterwick: 52°58'N 00°07'E (Lincolnshire) 130 NW SUM Great Aynov Island: 69°50'N 31°35'E 396403 (Murmansk) U.S.S.R v 27.10.89 Brantham: 51°58'N 01°03'E (Suffolk) 2,549Km SSW SUM 3 13.08.84 Great Aynov Island: 69°50'N 31°35'E 159709 (Murmansk) U.S.S.R v 24.11.85 Fagbury: 51 °58'N 01° 18'E (Suffolk) 2,539Km SSW NS65155 and NS65113 were ringed on the same day and both showed a reasonably early return to the Wash. Presumably they finished their winter moult there and then moved on to their preferred wintering area. The multiple recovery of the former illustrates the migration path followed by the species. An indication of the origins of our wintering birds is shown by the two belated Russian controls, although their journey is likely to have already started when first trapped. In addition, there were two birds bearing Polish rings, one Finnish and one German. Suffolk-ringed birds were controlled on autumn passage in Germany, Sweden (two) and Poland (two). Redshank Tringa totanus

DN64224

4

17.02.89 Freston: 52°01'N OriO'E (Suffolk) 15.06.90 Gardakot, Vidvikursveit: 64°54'N 19°15'W (Skagafjarder) ICELAND 1,851 Km NW o DS37646 6 02.02.85 Fagbury: 51°58'N 01 18'E (Suffolk) xF 22.03.90 Scoughall, nr Dunbar 56°02'N 02°37'W (Lothian Region) SCOTLAND 521Km NNW DN64224 is Landguard Ringing Group's first Icelandic recovery. DS37646 is the second Fagburyringed bird to be recovered in Scotland, perhaps indicating that the destinations of all three birds were the same. However, the journey of DS37646 was dramatically cut short when it fell victim to a Sparrowhawk. +

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus

He 5089283

1

17.06.85 Langenwerder, Wismar: 54°02'N 11°30'E (Rostock) GERMANY vv 31.12.90 Felixstowe: 51 °58'N 01 °20'E 717Km WSW This bird has now frequented Felixstowe seafront for four successive winters. It oversummered in 1988 and 1989. Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

DFH 5223180 ESI

1 xF 3

28.05.83 Speicherkoog: 54°06'N 08°58'E (Nord Schwyz) SWITZERLAND 09.12.89 Bramford Pits: 52°06'N 01 °05'E (Suffolk) 571KmW 26.12.86 Sarinena: 41°47'N 01°10'W (Huesca) SPAIN 157


5011063 ED59127

28.11.88 Gorleston-on-Sea: 52°34' 01°44'E (Suffolk) l,207Km N 21.07.88 Butley: 52°05'N 01°30'E (Suffolk) X 03.02.90 Cork City Lough: 51°53'N 08°29'W (Cork) EIRE 683Km W EN78737 6 11.01.87 Ipswich: 52°04'N 01°10'E (Suffolk) V 12.04.88 Ruissa Lon: (Turku-Pori) FINLAND xF 20.04.90 Svendborg: 55°04'N 10°38'E (Fyn) DENMARK 708Km ENE EP44591 5 11.02.89 Bramford Landfill: 52°06'N 01°05'E (Suffolk) xF 20.07.90 Ayskoski, Tervo: 63°01'N 26°41'E (Kuopio) FINLAND l,938Km NE ESI5011063 is the first Spanish-ringed bird to be recovered in Britain. It was ringed just south of the Pyrenees nearer to the Mediterranean coast than the Atlantic. The Swiss-ringed bird is only the fifth for Britain. In recent years, the rings of a considerable number of Black-headed Gulls have been read in the field. These indicate large movements to and from the Baltic region, Scandinavia and the Low Countries These include a number of individuals which have returned to the same Suffolk localities for their third and fourth successive winters. vv

1

Common Gull Larus canus

DFH 5282557

6c

11.04.86 Heiligenhafen: 54°22'N 10°59'E (Schleswig-Holstein) GERMANY vv 31.10.90 Felixstowe: 51 °58'N 01 °21'E 695Km WSW This is the fourth successive winter that this site-faithful individual has returned to Felixstowe seafront. In addition, a Norwegian-ringed bird, present at Lowestoft in November 1988, was seen there again in January 1990. Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus GG41152 1 05.07.87 Orfordness: 52°05'N 01°35'E (Suffolk) xF 19.04.90 Moliets: 43°51'N 01°21'W (Landes) FRANCE 940Km S GG41337 1 05.07.87 Orfordness: 52°05'N 01°35'E (Suffolk) xF 19.10.90 Tan-tan: 28°26'N 11°06'W MOROCCO 2,832Km SSW GG44484 1 30.06.90 Orfordness: 52°05'N 01°35'E (Suffolk) xF 06.11.90 Sidi Ouassel: 32°16'N 09°15'W (Safi) MOROCCO 2,371 SSW GG49285 1 08.07.89 Orfordness: 52°05'N 01°35'E (Suffolk) /?/ 12.04.90 Kenitra: 34°20'N 06°34W MOROCCO 2,077Km S GG63533 1 08.07.89 Orfordness: 52°05'N 01°35'E (Suffolk) xF 19.11.90 Safi: 32°18'N 09°14'W MOROCCO GG63882 1 30.06.90 Orfordness: 52°05'N 01°35'E (Suffolk) v 26.11.90 Hadjout: 36°31'N 02°25'E (Alger) ALGERIA l,731Km JC GH36799 1 28.06.87 Orfordness: 52°05'N 0r35'E (Suffolk) V 08.02.89 Woumen: 50°59'N 02°52'E (West-Viaanderen) BELGIUM 151Km SE This batch of recoveries clearly illustrates the wintering quarters of Suffolk-reared Lesser Black-backed Gulls. In total, w,e have details of 14 Orfordness-ringed birds that have been recovered in North-west Africa. GH36799 was probably an early returning bird. Herring Gull Larus argentatus YY5197 8 31.07.79 Seaton Carew Tip: 54°40'N 01°11'W (Cleveland) v 13.01.90 Bramford Landfill: 52°06'N 01°05'E (Suffolk) 322Km SSE GG40502 05.12.87 Foxhall: 52°03'N 01°16'E (Suffolk) 3 xF 05.06.90 Saltburn: 54°35'N 00°58'W (Cleveland) 318Km NNW YY5197 was at least three years old when ringed making it at least 15 when controlled at Bramford. 158


Long-eared Owl Asio otos GJ95479 3012.10.88 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) x 15.01.90 Ramsey: 51 °55'N 01° 13'E (Essex) 7Km WSW This is Landguard's second Long-eared Owl to be ringed on autumn passage and subsequently recovered in south-east England during the winter months. Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus XH79387 1 25.07.88 Wangford Warren: 52°25'N 00°37'E (Suffolk) () 05.05.90 Safi: 32° 18'N 09° 14'W MOROCCO 2,395Km SSW This is Britain's most distant Nightjar recovery. Woodlark Lullula arborea E894152 2 or 07.09.89 Methwold Warren: 52°30'N 00°34'E (Norfolk) vv 29.03.90 Rendlesham Forest: 52°05'N 01°25'E (Suffolk) 74Km SE VC86433 1er 03.05.89 Thetford Forest: 52°30'N 00°40'E (Norfolk) vv 13.03.90 Dunwich Forest: 52°17'N 01°38'E(Suffolk) 68Km ESE The origins of both birds were determined by their colour-rings, which proves interchange between the Breckland and coastal breeding populations. Skylark Alauda 8LB 4 31V850 x

arvensis 11.11.89

Middelkerke: 51°11'N 02°49'E (West-Vlaanderen) B E L G I U M 04.02.90 Kenton, Stowmarket: 52°15'N 01°13'E (Suffolk) 162Km WNW This recovery is quite extraordinary, being only the third foreign-ringed Skylark to be found in Britain. The previous two were both from Holland (Mead & Clark 1987).

Sand Martin Riparia riparia F878561

3

08.08.90

Drumbeg Sand Quarry, nr Drymen: 56°03'N 04°26'W (Central Region) S C O T L A N D v 10.09.90 Icklesham: 50°55'N 00°41'E (Sussex) v 12.09.90 Holbrook: 51°55'N O r i l ' E (Suffolk) 583Km SE F997674 3 17.06.90 Preston, Newton Abbot: 50°34'N 03°37'W (Devon) v 03.08.90 Levington: 52°00'N 01°16'E (Suffolk) 374Km ENE E677663 3J 15.07.90 Levington: 52°00'N 01° 16'E (Suffolk) v 03.01.91 Pare National Du Djoudj (Fleuve): 16°25'N 16°18'W S E N E G A L 4,249Km SSW F869686 3J 27.07.90 Dunwich: 52° 16'N 01 °37'E (Suffolk) v 10.03.91 Pare National Du Djoudj (Fleuve): 16°25'N 16°18'W S E N E G A L 4,289Km SSW Evidence of trans-Saharan migration is shown by the two recoveries in Senegal. Ripples from Rye Bay Ringing Group's massive ringing project at Icklesham, Sussex, where 24,000 Sand Martins were ringed in 1990 alone (R. C. Beecroft per comm.), were felt in Suffolk, with interchange noted at several sites. The multiple recovery of F878561 is interesting as the bird had flown a fair way south before deciding to head back north.

Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba E784339

3 v

29.07.90 Cantley: 52°34'N 01°30'E (Norfolk) 03.09.90 Dunwich: 52°16'N 01°37'E (Suffolk) 34Km S

Dunnock Prunella modularis C621059 3 12.09.90 Bawdsey: 51 °59'N 01 °25'E (Suffolk) v 27.09.90 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) 9Km SW F361739 3J 14.06.90 Bawdsey: 51°59'N 01 °25'E (Suffolk) v 27.09.90 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) 9Km SW These two recoveries show that this relatively sedentary species is capable of at least flying across M estuary as wide as the R.Deben and 'coasting' a few kilometres. Both birds were controlled on a day when ten additional, newly-arrived Dunnocks were ringed at Landguard indicating a small

159


movement through the site. Landguard's only previous Dunnock control involved a bird from St Osyth Essex. Robin Erithacus rubecula E675994 5 27.03.89 xF 14.02.90

Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) Emmeloord: 52°43'N 05°45'E (Ijsselmeerpolders) N E T H E R L A N D S 313Km E N E F410011 3 19.10.90 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) V 21.10.90 Icklesham: 50°55'N 00°41'E (Sussex) 121Km SSW BLB 3 27.09.89 Wetteren: 51°00'N 0 3 ° 5 3 ' E 3226561 (Oost-vlaanderen) N E T H E R L A N D S V 18.03.90 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) 206Km WNW DKC 4 17.03.90 Christianso: 55°19'N 15°12'E (Bornholm) D E N M A R K 9H56564 V 17.10.90 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 0 1 ° 1 9 ' E (Suffolk) 988Km WSW F706509 3 28.12.89 Martlesham Heath: 52°03'N 01°16'E (Suffolk) xF 11.03.90 Blakeney, Holt: 52°57'N 01°00'E (Norfolk) 102Km N E675994 was found dead in the grill oi a car and we have assumed that the driver had not just vacated a Cross-Channel ferry. Blackbird Turdus DKC 39 8794065 V RB66759 39 +

merula 30.09.86 11.03.89 03.10.87 15.12.90

Blavand: 55°33'N 15°42'E (Jylland) D E N M A R K Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) 599Km SW Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) Baie D'authie Sud: 50°22'N 01°35'E (Somme) FRANCE 175Km S RC41198 3 cr 25.10.88 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 0 1 ° 1 9 ' E (Suffolk) xF 30.01.90 Regna, North Finspang: 58°54'N 15°42'E (Ostergotland) S W E D E N l,190Km NE RC41894 06.11.89 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 0 1 ° 1 9 ' E (Suffolk) 39 + 02.11.90 Nieuwe Waterweg, Rozenburgh: 51°55' 04°14'E (ZuidHolland) N E T H E R L A N D S 200Km E An apparent change in wintering quarters is shown by the recovery of RC41198.

Song Thrush Turdus phdomelos RV77681

3 +

Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) Villefranque: 43°26'N 0 1 ° 2 7 ' W (Pyrenees-Atlantiques) F R A N C E 967Km SSW Landguard's second recovery from this area of Southern France was shot, as happens to so many birds in France. Redwing Turdus RV77551 3 x

03.10.90 01.11.90

iliacus 08.10.89 08.07.90

Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01° 19'E (Suffolk) Pyhankoski, Merijarvi: 6 4 ° 2 1 ' N 2 4 ° 2 5 ' E (Oulu) F I N L A N D 1,922Km NE Since 1980, two Finnish-ringed Redwings have been recovered in Suffolk, but this is the first to go the other way. It was found during the breeding season but had to be destroyed after being found in a fishing trap.

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus H064801

3 10.08.90 Walberswick: 52° 18'N 01 ° 3 8 ' E (Suffolk) v 25.08.90 Hollesley: 52°03'N 0 1 ° 3 0 ' E (Suffolk) 31Km SSW A leisurely journey down the Suffolk coast.

Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus B762772

3 v

19.08.88 08.08.90

Hollesley: 52°03'N 0 1 ° 2 6 ' E (Suffolk) Icklesham: 50°55'N 0 0 ° 4 1 ' E (Sussex) 136Km SSW

160


• Whitethroat Sylvia curruca E677418 3 16.09.89 v 13.05.90

Whitethroat Sylvia E671658 4? v xF

Landguard Point: 51 °56'N 01 °19'E (Suffolk) Hagworthingham: 53°12'N 00°00'E (Lincolnshire) 166Km NNW

communis 28.04.88 23.08.88 29.05.90

Landguard Point: 51 °56'N 01° 19'E (Suffolk) Spurn Point: 53°35'N 00°06'E (Humberside) Spurn Point: 53°35'N 00°06'E (Humberside) 201Km NNW Ringed on passage and controlled on its presumed breeding grounds.

Garden Warbier Sylvia borin F148941

3 v

'

02.09,89 19.05.90

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus FRP 3 PC5590 v

Hollesley: 52°03'N 01 °26'E (Suffolk) Reedham: 52°33'N 01 °34'E (Norfolk) 56Km N

collybita 03.08.89 10.05.90

Sacy-le-Grand: 49°21'N 02°33'E (Oise) F R A N C E Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) 300Km NNW The date, and age of the bird, suggests that it was originally captured in the area in which it was bred.

Willow Warbier Phylloscopus trochilus 3P5892

11.04.88 12.04.90

3R7794

29.08.89 19.08.90

Goldcrest Regulus PLG 3 er LB65067

Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) St Alban's Head: 50°35'N 02°03'W (Dorset) 278Km WSW Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) Glenbuck Loch: 55°31'N 03°58'W (Strathclyde) S C O T L A N D 528Km NW

regulus

Stacja Bukowo-Kopan: 54°28'N 16°25'E (Koszalin) P O L A N D V 27.10.89 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) 1.043KM WSW 4a NLA 05.10.89 Eendenkooi Buren: 53°27'N 05°50'E L09122 (Ameland) N E T H E R L A N D S V 18.10.89 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) 348Km WSW 8N0706 3 er 30.10.88 Walberswick: 52°18'N 01°38'E (Suffolk) V 27.10.90 Gibraltar Point: 53°06'N 00°20'E (Lincolnshire) 125Km NW LB65067 is only the fifth Polish-ringed Goldcrest to be recovered in Britain and if we assume it left Poland immediately after being ringed and arrived in Britain just before it was controlled, it covered a distance of 55Km/day. The Dutch control was also part of a substantial westerly drift during October 1989. 8N0706 had attained the noteworthy age of two years. Bearded Tit Panurus H064595 3 er

08.10.89

biarmicus 04.08.90 10.11.90

Walberswick: 52°18'N 01°38'E (Suffolk) Sawbridgeworth Marsh: 51°49'N 00°10'E (Hertfordshire) 114Km WSW H064597 04.08.90 Walberswick: 52°18'N 01°38'E (Suffolk) 39 10.11.90 Sawbridgeworth Marsh: 51°49'N 00°10'E (Hertfordshire) V 114Km WSW A fairly typical movement. These two birds were ringed within minutes of each other and were controlled together at the same time. V

161


G r e a t Tit Parus major E898292 39 24.10.88 Pensthorpe, Fakenham: 52°49'N 00°52'E (Norfolk) v 27.03.89 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) 103Km SSE Any movement by this supposedly sedentary species of over lOOKm is noteworthy. Starling Sturnus vulgaris RB73194 5ct 15.03.86 Ipswich: 52°04'N 01° 10'E (Suffolk) x 24.04.86 Himky: 55°56'N 37°16'E (Moscow) U . S . S . R . 2,394Km E This clearly illustrates from how far east some of our wintering birds originate. Greenfinch Carduelis chloris VC03063 39 14.11.89 Dwyran: 53°09'N 04° 19'W (Anglesey) W A L E S v 19.04.90 Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) 404Km ESE With around 3,000 Greenfinches ringed in Suffolk each year, it is perhaps not surprising that the number of recoveries reaches three figures. The one shown is the most distant. Linnet Carduelis cannabina E676696 3J <y 17.07.89 18.04.90 4 E951839 29.04.89 xF 15.04.90

Landguard Point: 51°56'N 01°19'E (Suffolk) Sandwich Bay: 51°16'N 01°23'E (Kent) 74Km S Dunwich: 52°16'N 0 I ° 3 7 ' E (Suffolk) Precise location unknown: 42°49'N 02°44'W (Alava) SPAIN 1,099Km SSW E951839 is Suffolk's third Spanish recovery in the space of three years. Redpoll Carduelis DFR 29 BX29123 v 6a F238749 X

flammea 18.01.89

F493479

07.05.89 02.01.89 17.05.90

3J 30.07.89 V 09.04.90 The German-ringed bird was of the bird travelled further.

Albersweiler, Suedl: 49°13'N 08°02'E (Rheinland-Pfalz & Hessen) G E R M A N Y Landguard Point: 51 °56'N 01 ° 19'E (Suffolk) 562Km WNW Westleton: 52°15'N 01°33'E (Suffolk) Crawhead, Ellon: 57°23'N 02°01'W (Grampian Region) S C O T L A N D 614Km NNW Threestoneburn: 55°29'N 02°02'W (Northumberland) Sutton Heath: 52°03'N 01°26'E (Suffolk) 444Km SSE

Acknowledgements: We should like to thank Mike Marsh for his help in collating this report, Chris Mead, Philip Murphy and Nigel Odin, for their comments on the draft, and Max Andrew for his help with the table. Data was received from the following ringers/ringing groups, active during 1990, which has been used to form the basis of this report: Rex & Roger Beecroft, Catchpole, Cockram and Peters Ringing Group, Mike Crewe, Dingle Bird Club, Sir Anthony Hurrell, Landguard Bird Observatory Dr Peter McAnulty, Derek Moore, Roy Thatcher, Brian Thompson, Cliff Waller, Lyn Webb and Mick Wright.

References: Mead, C. J. & Clark, J. A. 1987. Report on Bird-ringing for 1987. Ring. & Migr. 8: 135-200. Mead, C. J. & Clark, J. A. 1990. Report on Bird-ringing for 1989. Ring. & Migr. 11: 137-176. Piotrowski, S. H. 1990. A fishy story. The Harrier 87: 12-13.

Steve Piotrowski, 18 Cobham Road, Ipswich IP3 9JD. Reg Clarke, 6 Nelson Road, Ipswich IP4 4DS.

162


TABLE n : SYSTEMATIC LIST OF SPECIES AND TOTALS OF BIRDS RINGED IN SUFFOLK, 1990 Speeles Mute Swan Canada Goose Shelduck Teal Mallard Marsh Harrier Sparrowhawk Kestrel Moorhen Coot Oystercatcher Avocet Ringed Piover Grey Piover Lapwing Knot Little Stint Curlew Sandpiper Dunlin Ruff Jack Snipe Snipe Woodcock Black-tailed Godwit Whimbrel Curlew Redshank Grcenshank Green Sandpiper Turnstone Black-headed Gull Common Gull Lsr. Blk-bkd. Gull Herring Gull Gt. Blk-bkd. Gull Little Tern Guillemot Stock Dove Woodpigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Cuckoo

Total 2 2 6 31 14 34 19 28 2 2 22 6 42 17 29 1 1 15 826 1 18 30 3 1 1 12 35 6 9 23 348 8 777 238 21 32 1 3 34 22 9 1

Species

Total

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 Yellow Wagtail Grey Wagtail Pied Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Nightingale Black Redstart Redstart Whinchat Wheatear Ring Ouzel Blackbird Fieldfare Song Thrush Redwing Mistle Thrush G'hopper Warbier Sedge Warbier Marsh Warbier Reed Warbier Barred Warbier Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat

163

4 1 3 3 50 1 13 3 12 15 6 26 50 1302 544 595 167 37 155 4 126 657 719 935 16 14 31 23 36 5 331 11 378 87 27 10 346 1 711 1 214 517

Species

Total

Garden Warbier Blackcap Pallas's Warbier 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 Jackdaw Starling House Sparrow Tree Sparrow Chaffinch Brambling Greenftnch Goldfinch Siskin Linnet Twite Redpoll Crossbill Bullfinch Hawftnch Yellowhammer Ortolan Bunting Reed Bunting GRAND TOTAL

197 595 1 6 525 911 1052 45 152 1 17 458 434 40 32 85 1461 713 21 91 2 31 11 2 754 273 10 493 27 3289 417 23 846 8 132 10 286 1 39 1 73 25484


LETTERS SISKINS BREEDING IN BRECKLAND Having read the check-list in Suffolk Birds 1990 I am left with the feeling that you are not entirely happy with my statement that the Siskin is a common breeder in Thetford Foresti Although I have little statistical evidence to back up that statement, I am nevertheless confident that it is so. We are ail aware of how common the species is during the winter, but that is certainly not the end of the story. I hear singing cr Siskins in many locations continually ali through the summer, so much so that I don't bother to note them down. In my garden I consider them to be one of the commonest birds most of the year round, attracted by a mature Larch tree and drinking avidly at the bird bath. From July onwards each year, small groups containing both adults and juveniles visit the garden regularly and I just don't believe that these have come from further afield than the forest. I have not infrequently seen Siskins carrying nest material, but don't normally follow them up. On the two occasions that I have, I managed to find a nest each time â&#x20AC;&#x201D; one 50 feet up in a Scots Pine and the other 70 feet up in a Douglas Fir. It would be interesting to spend a season finding Siskins nests, but I'm not going to volunteer for it! Finally, I remember a ringer setting up mist-nets at a fire-tank near Mayday Farm some years ago in late July and catching juvenile Siskins in high numbers. Food for thought! Ron Hoblyn, HĂŠron Lodge, Santon Downham, Brandon, Suffolk IP27 OTW. 164


SUFFOLK NATURALISTA 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 receive 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 Page Editorial. S. H. Piotrowski 5 A Guide to Birding in Southwold. Stuart Ling & John Cawston 7 Further Studies on Bearded Tits at Walberswick. Mark O'Brien & Derek Eaton ....12 Mute Swans in Suffolk 1990. Mick Wright 14 Breeding Seabirds in Suffolk. Mick Wright & Ray Waters 19 1989/90 Suffolk Ri ver Valley ESA Winter Bird Survey. T. J. Holzer 35 Weather Trends and their effect on the County's avifauna, 1990. John H. Grant 40 The 1990 Suffolk Bird Report 45 Rarities in Suffolk 1990 Steve Piotrowski 136 Great Shearwater. Nigel Odin 137 Great Shearwater. A. C. Easton 137 Great White Egret. Peter Dolton 138 Baird's Sandpiper. Brian Small 139 Stilt Sandpiper. Steve Piotrowski 140 Desert Wheatear. Derek Eaton 141 Greenish Warbler. Brian Small 142 Parrot Crossbill. A. Howe 143 Arctic Redpoll. A. Riseborough 144 Notes 145 Water Rail catching and killing Water Shrew. Cliff Waller 145 Grey Heron versus Stoat. Steve Piotrowski 145 Willow Tit showing characters of the race Parus montanus borealis. Brian Small 145 Common Sandpiper showing similarity to Spotted Sandpiper. S. Ling 146 Obituary: Harold Jenner — a great naturalist (1921-1990) R. W. Blacker 148 Landguard Bird Observatory 1990. Mike Crewe 150 Suffolk Ringing Report. Steve Piotrowski & Reg Clarke 155 Letters: Siskins breeding in Breckland. Ron Hoblyn 164

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