• 1993 Bird Report
• Wintering Avocets
• Radar Tracking
• Ringing Report
• Roof-nesting Terns
• Guide to recording
West Area Recorder: Colin Jakes, Yewtree Cottage, 16, The Street, GAZELEY, NEWMARKET CB8 8RD Tel: 0 6 3 8 7 5 0 2 3 9
North-East Area Recorder: Dick Waiden, 21, Kilbrack, BECCLES NR34 9SH Tel: 0 5 0 2 - 7 1 3 5 2 1
South-East Area Recorder: Michael James, 2 9 6 , Walton High Street, FELIXSTOWE IP11 9EB oo Tel: 0 3 9 4 - 2 7 6 5 4 0
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SUFFOLK BIRDS 1994 VOL. 4 3 incorporating the County Bird Report of 1993
Editor M . D. Crewe Assistant Editor P. W. Murphy
Published by SUFFOLK NATURALISTS' SOCIETY
Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH ÂŠ The Suffolk Naturalists' Society 1994 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.
The SNS is a Registered Charity No. 206084.
Printed by Healeys, 55 Fore Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1JL. 2
CONTENTS Page Editorial Mike Crewe 5 Obituary: Arthur Westcott Adrian Botwright 6 A study of the Wintering Population of Avocets on the Aide Estuary R Perkins .. 7 Radar Tracking of Migrant Birds Mike Crewe 15 Roof Nesting by Common Terns in Lowestoft Andrew Easton 18 The Exceptional Passage of Raptors at Minsmere in September 1993 Ian Robinson 20 Weather trends and their effect on the County's avifauna, 1993 Adam Bimpson.... 23 The 1993 Suffolk Bird Report 26 List of Contributors 149 Earliest and latest dates of summer migrants 151 Notes: Merlin harassing Sparrowhawk Mike Crewe 152 Grey Phalaropes feeding on scraps Colin Jacobs 152 Leucistic Sparrowhawk Richard Smith 152 Goldfinch x Linnet hybrid Mike Crewe 153 Nuthatch nest in church Mike Crewe 153 Rarities in Suffolk 1993 Mike Crewe 154 Yellow-breasted Bunting Paul Kitchener 155 Blyth's Reed Warbler Steve Piotrowski 156 Arctic Warbler Mike Crewe 157 Black-headed Bunting Mrs J. Halls 158 Semipalmated Sandpiper Nigel Odin 158 Black-winged Pratincole T. R. Dean 159 Ring-billed Gull Mike Crewe 160 A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk 162 Suffolk Ringing Report Mike Marsh 165
List of Colour Illustrations Plate No.
I. 2 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8 9 10 11 12 13. 14. 15
24 24 25 25 56 56 57 57 57 80 80 81 81 81 112
Ipswich Power Station Mike Crewe Benacre/Covehithe Mike Crewe Common Terns Andrew Easton Radar Screen Roger Beecrofi Red-billed Tropicbird Roger Beecroft Spoonbill Neil Murphy Barnacle Gecsc Andrew Easton White fronted Geese Clive Naunton Pochard Stan Dumican Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid Andrew Oystercatcher Stan Dumican Baird's Sandpiper Clive Naunton Little Stints Clive Naunton Black-tailed Godwit Clive Naunton Grey Phalaropc Rohin Chittenden
Plate No 16. 17 18. 19 20 21 22. 23. 24. 25 26. 27. 28. 29. 30
Little Auks Clive Naunioii Yellow-legged Gull Clive Naunton Iceland Gull Clive Saunt,m Cuckoo Stan Dumican Jay Stan Dumican Woodlark Clive Naunton Whcatear Stan Dumican Fagbury Cliff Mike Crewe Blyth's Reed Warbler Mike McDonnell Arctic Warbler Mike Crewe Yellow-breasted Bunting Dave Stewart Red-headed Bunting Neil Murphy Goldfinch x Linnet hybrid Mike Crewe Vitelline Masked Weaver Peter Napthine Nuthatch nest site Mike Crewe
The copyright remains that of the photographers.
Facing Page 112 112 112 113 113 136 136 136 137 160 ยก60 161 161 161
Notice to Contributors Suffolk Birds is an annual publication of records, notes and papers on all aspects of Suffolk ornithology. Except for records and field descriptions submitted through the County Recorder, all 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 presentation, especially in relation to references and tables. Where relevant, nomenclature (English and scientific) and order should follow Dr K. H. Voous's List of Recent Holarctic Bird Species. Manuscripts should 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 alterations must be confined to corrections of printer's errors. The cost of any other alterations may be charged to the author. In certain circumstances, the Editor may be able to accept papers on computer disc. Photographs and line drawings are required to complement 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 and £5 for each drawing. Every possible effort 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 that loss or damage occur. Prints (6" x 4") 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 Editor. Authors may wish to illustrate their own articles but this will be subject to the illustrations being of the standard required by the Editor, and the decision on such matters will rest with him. Material submitted for publication should be sent to the Editor no later than March 1st of each year. Authors of main papers may request up to five free copies of the journal. Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee: Chair: Dr Anne Brenchlev Area County Recorders: Colin Jakes, Richard Waiden, Michael James Secretary: David Walsh Other Committee Members: Mike Crewe, Mike Marsh, Derek Moore, Dr. David Pearson, Steve Piotrowski, Brian Small, Geoff Welch, Malcolm Wright
ADDRESSES Papers, notes, drawings and photographs: The Editor ( S u f f o l k Birds), The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH. Records: As indicated on inside front cover. Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee — information: The Secretary, SORC, c/o The Museum, High Street. Ipswich IP1 3QH.
EDITORIAL Which Way Now? It is with regret that I have to announce my premature departure as Editor of Suffolk Birds. After just two years, a change in my work circumstances has meant a change of address and a lack of spare time, resulting in my being unable to give the amount of time necessary to produce a Bird Report of the standard which is expected in Suffolk. Sadly, this change of Editorship has come at a time when Suffolk ornithology (in line with much of the rest of Britain) appears to be at a crossroads. Over the past fi ve years or so, it has become increasingly more difficult to prise records out of the County's observers. Repeated requests for notes or détails of unusual sightings have been largely ignored, to be followed by damning comments on the Bird Report and the various Records Committees when the claimed sightings are not published. Résistance to writing descriptions, coupled with a cavalier attitude to common species is beginning to affect our knowledge of the County's avifauna and the value of the information contained in the Bird Report. Rare birds are, in contrast, treated with great reverence and much (heated) debate often ensues to ensure that. regardless of any actual facts, the birds are accepted as genuine vagrants so that they can be "ticked o f f ' (although even origin appears to be becoming less important as those who have gone beyond help pour time and money into chasing known escapees!). With a few notable exceptions, the information on Suffolk's common breeding species is coming from observers who live away from the immediate coast, where the Iure of rarity chasing is less of a temptation. Much valuable information has come from studies of local birds in and around such areas as Long Melford, Glemsford, Lackford, Stowmarket, Boxford, Brent Eleigh and Walsham-le-Willows and the Editor of this report will be forever indebted to the observers involved. Coverage remains far from complete, however, and many species remain grossly under-recorded throughout much of the County. On occasion there does appear to be genuine concern for the welfare of birds. Stronglyworded disagreements on the ethics of ringing continue to fili the letters columns of the national birdwatching magazines. However, in many cases a dislike for ringing can be put down to the individuai having missed a rare bird in the past because ringers did not broadcast news of the bird or, in one recent instance, because the individuai could not make as much money trying to sell photographs of birds with rings on! Hardly putting the bird's welfare first. Similarly, when under close scrutiny by antagonists, it seems foolhardy for ringers to be seen to be pursuing a rare bird, solely to get a ring on its leg. There is much important information coming from the County's ringers, without which Suffolk Birds would be far from complete — it would be a shame to see this information lost purely because of différences of opinion. Where do we go from here? The County appears to be in need of an injection of good humour and bonhomie. Goodwill and a greater tolerance and understanding of each other's interests and différences would make for a more friendly atmosphère. Greater support of the local Bird Club would help to pull people together and give everyone a chance to pool resources and ideas and really show that there is genuine concern for both our common and our rare birds. An organised 'task force' of birders could carry out a sériés of local surveys, monitor rare breeding species, and encourage and assist the up-and-coming birders of the future. In between ail this vital activity, there will stili be time to nip off and see the occasionai rarity — the icing on the cake, not the bread and butter of birding, surely. For now, the County needs a new Report Editor, who in turn needs the support of an enthusiastic army of observers. Any takers?
Obituary Arthur Westcott 1912-1994 Adrian
On February 25th 1994 we were ali saddened by the rather sudden death of Arthur Westcott who had been a familiar figure to so many of Suffolk's birdwatchers since the 1960s. Born and educated locally in Ipswich, he went on to work with Ransomes, Sims & Jeffries before joining Shell Petroleum at Cliff Quay. Then carne the intervention of the Second World War when he joined as a Flight Navigator with the Royal Air Force. On surviving this period he then took up teaching mathematics back in Ipswich, initially at Copleston School and then at Northgate School. He was also to meet Diana whom he subsequently married and who was to become his Constant companion for the rest of his life. However, due to ili health he was advised to retire early and this opened up the opportunity for him to more vigorously pursue one of his hobbies, ornithology. To myself, though, and scores of other colleagues who knew him well, Arthur was not just a birdwatcher. He was readily able to converse on so many diverse subjects, various sports being among his favourite topics. Therefore it was not surprising to learn that he was also a member of MENSA. Minsmere was always one of his favourite Suffolk haunts and it was here that he was instrumentai in organising working parties. In later years his "birding" territories ranged worldwide and although inevitably tiring by now, that drive and infectious enthusiasm never deserted him. Arthur is survived by his wife Diana, son Richard who also teaches, and daughter Jo, an accomplished musician. 6
A Study of the Wintering Population of Avocets on the Aide Estuary Rupert Perkins
1. Introduction In 1947 the Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta recolonised Britain as a breeding bird with subsequent annual breeding on Havergate Island, and on the Minsmere Levels from 1963. The success of the breeding populations at these sites and the expansion to others in eastern England has been well studied (Cadbury et al., 1989; Cadbury and Olney, 1978; Hill, 1988). Also in 1947 the Avocet began to overwinter regularly in Britain, with four birds on the Tamar and Tavy estuaries, Devon (Reay, 1988). The number of birds increased, with six main sites used since 1981 (Batten et al., 1990). Of these sites the Aide estuary, Suffolk holds the largest population, averaging over 700 birds as a peak count for the last five winters (BoEE data). However, apart from a study on the Tamar (Reay, 1988), little work has been published on wintering Avocets. This report summarises a final year degree project which studied the wintering Avocets near Iken Cliff on the Aide estuary. The aims of the study were as follows: to determine the time budget of the birds at different tide states; to measure feeding success and rate; to monitor changes in flock size at different tide states; to monitor interactive behaviour between birds, and to sample invertebrate populations in feeding Ă¤nd non-feeding areas. 2. Methods For a sixteen week period over the 1993/94 winter, observations were made on the Avocet flock frequenting the Aide estuary near Iken Cliff (TM405 565). The winter was split into four study periods, each of four weeks duration, from November Ist to February 2Ist. DĂźring every week four tide states, each of two hours duration, were studied: high, low, falling and rising tides. Within each tide state observations were made on time budget, feeding, flock size and interactive behaviour. 2.1 Time Budget. The numbers of birds in 11 activity categories were recorded. For simplicity, only resting, feeding in water, feeding on mud, and "other" are discussed here. " O t h e r " refers mainly to locomotory activity and preening. Over the two hours, the number of birds in each category was recorded every five minutes. This was converted to a percentage of the total 7
flock present and averaged for each tide state. These data enabled a time budget to be constructed for each tide state in each study period. 2.2 Feeding Data. Birds fed using a single scything stroke back and forth once, interspersed with picking. This was termed Double Scything/Picking (DS/P). Twenty birds were randomly selected each visit and feeding measurements were taken. For feeding in water, the number of DS/P strokes in 30 seconds (feeding rate) and the percentage of strokes successful (feeding success) were recorded. For feeding on mud, the number of strokes in ten steps (feeding rate) and the percentage of strokes successful (feeding success)were recorded. ValĂşes were compared with daily mean temperature recorded on a max/min thermometer in Alderton village. 2.3 Flock Size. The peak number of birds observed within each tide state was recorded each visit and compared between tide states and the progress of winter. 2.4 Interactive Behaviour. The frequency and form of interspecific (between species) and intraspecific (within species) activity were noted. 2.5 Invertebrate Sampling. Invertebrate populations were sampled from a feeding area and a non-feeding area on December 2nd 1993. Areas were chosen with comparable location and topography. Samples were taken by dragging a pond net through water and surface sediment to imitate feeding by the Avocets. Twenty samples from each area were returned to the laboratory where they were sieved and each taxon collected was identified and counted. Data were compared between the two areas.
3. Results 3.1 BoEE Data Data for the six main wintering sites, Aide/Ore complex; Tamar complex; Exe; Hamford Water; Greater Thames and Poole Harbour, are shown in Fig. 1. Prior to 1980 populations fluctuated with no obvious overall increase. However, in the 1980s all six populations showed a fairly steady rise in the number of wintering birds, the most dramatic being on the Aide estuary complex. This site is the first British estuary to reach the level required for international importance, with its mean peak winter count for the last five winters exceeding 700 individuals. The origins of the birds are not fully known. Colour-ringed birds were noted during the study, one of which was identified as being of Dutch origin, having been ringed as a pullus at Maassvlakte in 1991 (van-Swelm, pers. comm.). 3.2 Time Budget Data Data are summarised in Fig. 2. Most noticeable is the dominance of resting, except on the rising tide when feeding in water was most common. At high tide, resting consisted mainly of communal swimming roosts during which the birds remained in head-up stance, not sleeping or pseudo-sleeping. As water levels fell, birds would move onto island edges to form mixed species roosts. Such roosts were extremely restless, with frequent flights and resumption of swimming. At other tide states, resting involved standing on bare mud or in shallow water, usually in the middle regions of the estuary and with little mixing with other species. 8
3 4 STUDY PERIOD
FIGURE 2: TIME BUDGET DATA FOR THE FOUR TIDE STATES OVER THE FOUR STUDY PERIODS RESTING (CLEARI. FEEDING IN WATER (DIAGONALI
FEEDING ON M U D (BLACK). OTHER (VERTICALI.
B G U K 1 POPULATION CHANCE AT THE SX M A N W W T E W « SITES BOEE DATA RtOM THE ITO
Feeding in water appears to be the preferred feeding method, especially on the rising tide when it was the dominant activity. Feeding on mud was only common on the low tide and was never seen on the high tide, despite exposed feeding areas being available on several visits. In general it would appear that birds used both feeding in water, and to a lesser extent, on mud, but did not feed for all available time and with no clear pattern in time spent feeding. An expected increase in feeding time with the progress of winter was not apparent. Communal feeding, using the typical rapid scything motion, was only noted at a single locality and only occurred on the low tide. This suggests a possible locai population of prey type suited to this feeding technique. 3.3 Feeding Data Feeding success was generally high, especially when feeding on mud. Values of 60% to 80% were typical in water and 70% to 90% when feeding on mud. Feeding rate was rapid. In water, 30 to 40 strokes a minute were typical and on mud, between two and five strokes for every ten steps made. Typically, ten steps when feeding on mud would take six to eight seconds. Feeding success and rate varied with temperature. When feeding in water, success increased with rising temperature up to 6°C and then decreased above 7°C as shown in Fig. 3. Feeding rate in water varied similarly, increasing up to 4°C and declining above 5°C. On mud, no low temperature data were obtained. However, both success and rate declined at temperatures above 4°C as shown in Fig. 4. 9
FIGURE 3: FEEDING SUCCESS I - • > AND RATE I - - »1 IN WATER
FIGURE 4: FEEDING SUCCESS I - »1 AND RATE 1 - -
No trend was observed for the number of birds feeding with changing temperature. The percentage of the flock feeding varied erratically at the same temperature. For example, at 7°C values of 13%, 36% and 83% were obtained on the same tide state. Feeding was also analysed for variation between study periods (data not shown here). When feeding in water, success decreased on the rising and falling tides by about 20% over the four periods, but increased by a similar amount on the high tide. On mud, success was maintained at a high value at low tide of about 80% to 90% and increased on the rising tide from 60% to about 90%. Thus, overall success varied little. Feeding rate increased significantly in water on the high, falling and rising tides. On mud the rate increased on both the low and rising tides. A comparison of feeding data between tide states (data not shown here) showed three points of interest. Firstly, success was lowest in water on the rising tide, when this activity was most common (see Fig. 2). Secondly, feeding in water was most successful on the falling tide. Thirdly, feeding success on mud was always greatest on the low tide. Feeding rate never varied significantly. 3.4 Flock Size The peak flock size counts for the high and low tides are shown in Fig. 5. As in previous years, counts increased during the winter to peak in late January. A count of 701 was the highest obtained, on January 25th, maintaining the site's average peak winter count for the last fi ve years of over 700. As expected the data show that estuary use varies over the tidal regime. At high tide, the counts were greatest as the birds were pushed up the estuary on the rising water. At low tide, birds would often be absent for at least some of the low tide period, and peak counts were far lower than at high tide. On rising and falling tides, intermediate values were obtained that were significantly lower than at high tide. 3.5 Interactive Behaviour Both interspecific and intraspecific behaviour were rare. Of the former, 13 instances were observed of which 11 involved gull chases, mainly by Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus. The other occasions involved a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus and, surprisingly, a Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena. Intraspecific behaviour was observed on 11 occasions. This was mainly of passive avoidance during roosting. Aggressive behaviour, involving running and stabbing with the bill, occurred on three occasions, with the attacked bird retreating unharmed. 10
aoo TOO •oo M 500 * 400 u O 300 ,
tHRtf WttK ANO ftfUOVMMOO
FIGURE 5: FLOCK SIZE VARIATION OVER WINTER A T HIGH A N D LOW TIDE
3.6 Invertebrate Data The numbers of each taxon of invertebrate identified in the samples from the feeding and non-feeding areas are summarised in Table 1. Values are low, probably due to the sampling method used. Abundance was highest in the feeding area, significantly so for Macoma, Corophium, Nereis and Tubificidae. Taxa Hydrobia Oslracods Macoma Scrobicularia Tubificidae Nereis Corophium Palaemonetes sp. Foraminifera
Feeding Area 540 ±56.5 1205 ± 153.5 100±11.0 1 ±0.5 540 ± 45.5 135 ±20.5 15 ± 3 . 0 0.5 ± 0.5 550 ±72.0
Non-feeding Area 515 ±44.5 775 ± 93.0 50 ± 6 . 5 3 ± 1.4 210 ±22.5 70 ± 9 . 5 5 ±2.0 Nil Nil
Table 1: Invertebrate populations in a feeding area compared with a non-feeding Mean values with standard errors, per square metre of sediment surface area.
4. Discussion The three main findings of the study were the dominance of resting, including swimming at high tide, the high feeding success and feeding rate which were temperature related, and the varied use of the estuary at différent tide states. Swimming at the high tide roost has also been noted for the Tamar Avocets (Keay, 1988) and may be a distinct advantage for the species. It is probably significantly more energetically favourable than roosting in nervous, tightly packed mixed species roosts on the little available bare ground. Feeding was clearly the next most common activity. Feeding in water was dominant on the rising tide, presumably due to increased invertebrate activity stimulated by the rising water. Feeding on mud was common at low tide when the most productive feeding areas would have been available. Thus the ability of the birds to feed on mud as well as in water may be another competitive advantage to the Avocet. Feeding and resting were also the commonest activities for the Tamar Avocets, with 54% and 45% of observations respectively (Reay, 1988). This demonstrates not only the importance of adequate feeding to meet the 11
birds' calorific requirements, but also the importance of resting in the time budget to conserve energy. The variation of feeding success and rate agreed well with data for shore plovers (Pienkowski, 1981; Pienkowski, 1983; Symondse/a/., 1984) although other species such as the Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica and Curlew Numenius arquata showed no change in feeding rates between 10°C and 2°C (GossCustard et al., 1977). The initial rise in success and rate with increasing temperature is thought to be due to increased invertebrate activity making feeding easier. The decline at higher températures is possibly due to more selective feeding with larger, more costeffective prey items being of increasing availability. This increases handling time and so reduces feeding rate and birds may discard smaller items in search of larger ones. The maintenance of high levels of feeding success as winter progressed suggests abundant prey which is not being over-grazed at this site. Other sites are known to be affected by waterfowl feeding, such as The Wash where 14% to 43% of the invertebrate standing crop is taken over winter (Goss-Custard, 1977a). The increased feeding rate implies a greater feeding requirement in late winter, probably due to increasing metabolic requirements in order to keep warm, and the loss of nutritional reserves. The lower success of feeding in water on the rising tide is surprising as this is when this activity was dominant. It may be due to interference between feeding birds, or birds being forced into less productive areas where feeding is less successful. Redshank Tringa lotanus showed decreasing feeding success as bird density increased (Goss-Custard, 1977b), probably due to birds being forced into less profitable areas as preferred areas were already full. Feeding in water was most successful on the falling tide, presumably when bird density was not a problem as birds moved out of the study area. Invertebrate activity would stili have been high whilst the water covered the feeding areas used. Feeding success on mud was always highest on the low tide, again probably due to the most profitable feeding areas being available. The theory of preferred feeding areas is supported by the invertebrate data. Invertebrates were more abundant in the feeding area, significantly so for Corophium, Nereis and Tubificidae which are known prey items for Avocets (Cramp and Simmons, 1983). The values obtained were far lower than expected (see Prater, 1981), probably due to the sampling method used. Sediment cores would have produced higher values. The variation in flock size gives an indication of the use of the estuary by the birds. Such information has conservation implications when considering threatened sites and their importance for différent wader species. The high tide counts were significantly the largest. with birds leaving the site on the falling tide to resuit in the lowest counts at low tide, returning again on the rising tide. The birds were often forced to roost at high tide, and remained site faithful to the study area, highlighting the importance of a relatively undisturbed roost site. The birds ranged more widely at lower water levels, probably to use preferred feeding sites outside the study area. Such behaviour has been noted for species such as Knot Calidris canutus (Symonds et al., 1984). However, some birds remained throughout the tidal cycle, which reduces energy costs of flying or walking to feeding areas elsewhere. Such behaviour is noted for species such as Redshank (Symonds et al., 1984). The significant increase over winter at high tide to 701 on January 25th. agréés with previous years' trends (Piotrowski, 1993) and indicates a graduai influx of birds as winter progresses. This could be a return of Suffolk breeding birds from more southerly wintering grounds, or it may involve Continental birds returning to pre-migratory feeding grounds. enabling an earlier return to breeding grounds in Europe. Such behaviour has been suggested for Grey Piover Pluvialis squatarola returning to Teesmouth in January on their northerly migration (Evans, 1981). The occurrence of a Dutch colour-ringed bird and the possible
populations of each species wintering in the county on a given date. However, fluctuations in numbers due to changing weather patterns will affect totals and higher counts are given in the text after the table where appropriate. Counts from North Warren include Thorpeness Meare, Church Farm Marshes and the shoreline between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh; the Aide/Ore Estuary includes the complex of the Aide, Ore and Butley rivers as well as Orfordness, Gedgrave reservoir and Havergate Island; and the Orwell includes Trimley Marshes, Loompit Lake and Bourne Park Water Meadows. Counts from the Stour all refer solely to the Suffolk side of the estuary. The larger part of the report, particularly for the more common species, is based upon ad hoc records. Data of that type are influenced by the distribution of birdwatchers, the weather and other factors that result in imperfections. We are nonetheless indebted to those observers who have persevered with other studies, such as Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), Constant Effort Sites (CES) and transect counts and for making the results available for use. A summary of the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is given for all those species for which meaningful data are available. See 'A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk' elsewhere in this Report for information on submission of records. The following dĂŠfinitions are intended as a guide to the relative status of each species: Very common: Occurs in large numbers in suitable habitat and season. Common: Occurs regularly or widely distributed in suitable habitat. Fairly common: Occurs in small numbers in suitable habitat and season. Uncommon: Occurs annually in small numbers. Scarce: One or two records each year or restricted to specific habitats. Rare: Occurs less than annually. Very rare: Less than 15 records in past 30 years. Accidentai: Less than three records in past 30 years. Included in the status description is a note if the species is included in either the Red or the Amber List of 'Birds of Conservation Concern '. This is a paper jointly produced by the leading bird conservation organisations in the UK. See Suffolk Bird Report Vol.47:6-10 for further dĂŠtails. The following abbreviations are used in ad. = adult imm. = immature juv. = juvenile FMD = Foot & Mouth Disease N = bird(s) Aying north s = bird(s) Aying south WM = Water Meadow CP = Country Park SW = Sewage Works
systematic list: GP GC Ind. Est. = NNR = R res. = WP WR
gravel pit Golf Course industriai estate National Nature Reserve River reservoir Water Park Wildfowl Reserve
strategies of estuarine organisms. (ed. Jones, N. V. and Wolf, W. J.), pp275-290. Plenum Press, New York and London. Goss-Custard, J. D. 1977a. Predator responses and prey mortality in Redshank Tringa totanus(L.) and a preferred prey Corophium volutatoiiPallas). J.Anim.Ecol., 46 pp21-35. Goss-Custard, J. D. 1977b. The ecology of The Wash 3. Density related behaviour and the possible effects of a loss of feeding grounds on wading birds (Charadrii). J.Appl.Ecol., 14 pp721-739. Goss-Custard, J. D., Jenyon, R. A., Jones, R. E., Newberry, P. E. & Williams, R. le B. 1977. The ecology of The Wash 2. Seasonal Variation in the feeding ability of wading birds (Charadrii). J.Appl.Ecol., 14 pp70I-719. Hill, D. 1988. Population dynamics of the Avocet Recurvirostra avosena breeding in Britain J. Anim.Ecol., J7pp669-683. Pienkowski, M. W. 1981. How foraging plovers cope with environmental effects on invertebrate behaviour and availability. In Feeding and survival strategies of estuarine organisms. (ed. Jones, N. V. and Wolf, W. J.), ppl79-192. Plenum Press, New York and London. Pienkowski, M.W. 1983. The effects of environmental conditions on feeding rates and prey selection of shore plovers. Ornis Scand., 14 pp227-238. Piotrowski, S. H. 1993 (ed.). Suffolk Birds: species systematic list. Suffolk Birds 1992 pp67-68. Prater, A. J. 1981. Estuary birds of Britain and Ireland. Poyser, Calton. Reay, P. 1988. The Tamar Avocets. Caradon Field and Natural History Club and Dept. of Biol. Sei., Plymouth Polytechnic. Symonds, F. L., Langslow, D. R. & Pienkowski, M. W. 1984. Movements of wintering shorebirds within the Firth of Fรถrth: species differences in usage of an intertidal complex. Biol. Cons. 28 ppl87-215. Rupert Perkins,
Radar Tracking of Migrant Birds Mike Crewe Background Düring March 1993, the Royal Air Force (RAF) temporarily reopened its opérations at the former RAF base at Bawdsey. The purpose of this was to begin new studies into the tracking of birds by radar. The former RAF station was, until three years ago, used as part of the country's air defence system, with missiles stationed at the site. It was chosen by Professor Robert Watson-Watt as the site to develop the original concept of radar in the 1930s. The recent study had come about due to increasing worries within the RAF over the number of bird-strikes that have been occurring. For example, in 1961, a flock of Starlings hit an aircraft flying over the USA, causing it to crash with ali 62 people on board being killed. The Civil Aviation Authority monitore ali reports of collisions between aircraft and birds throughout the United Kingdom and each year there are, on average, more than 400 bird-strikes. Of the 40% of ali reported incidents which are caused by collisions with gulls and geese, at least half are the resuit of impacts with Black-headed Gulls. The most vulnerable aircraft are low-flying and, in particular, jumbo jets with large engines. Over the yeare, radar has been developed and fine-tuned so that any small airborne items are filtered out by computers before the radar echo is reproduced on the screen. Such items are referred to as 'clutter' and can also be caused by wind-blown tree tops, wave tops at sea and large moving objects such as lorries and ships. Clutter can be a problem for radar operatore as it can obscure the screen and make aircraft tracking difficult. However, clutter is often caused by flocks of birds, particularly during migration periods and the RAF is now aware that there is a need to identify such flocks as an aid to preventing birdstrikes. The identification of bird flocks on radar is far more advanced in the Netherlands where the Royal Dutch Air Force (RDAF) has been researching the problem for much longer. The whole of the Netherlands is now covered by a network of RDAF tracking stations and ali bases are sent regulär up-to-date printouts of bird movements. They may even recommend suspending flying on day s of heavy migration. The Bawdsey Study The Dutch research forms the basis of the studies by the RAF, which is testing whether mobile portable radar units can be used to track migrating birds. RAF Bawdsey was chosen as a suitable site to carry out such studies, and two locai birdwatchers, Mike Crewe and Roger Beecroft, were enlisted to help. The intention was to try to correlate the movements on the radar screen with what could be seen to be happening visually. The birdwatchers were used on a daily basis throughout March 1993, from around 06.00 hrs to 14.00 hrs. Their first task was to walk the surrounding area to evaluate the number of migrant passerines present — mainly thrushes, pipits and finches — as an indication of any ovemight movement. The rest of the time was then spent watching the skies eastward over the sea from the missile base and recording bird movements. Any groups of birds were logged with time and direction of travel, and an estimate of distance was made. These data were recorded on standard sheets and then made available to the RAF personnel for comparison with the radar readings. A mobile field téléphoné was also used as a link between the birdwatchers and the radar room as a way of providing immediate information on the larger bird movements. The trial provided some interesting information and showed that migrating birds could be monitored, once radar operatore had learned to identify the 15
distinctive tracks they create on a radar screen. The majority of visible bird movement during March at Bawdsey was provided by Lesser Black-backed Gulls moving north towards their breeding grounds from more southerly wintering localities. These provided a relatively slow and large target on which the radar operators could concentrate, and produced useful information. However, from an ornithological point of view, it was far more educational to discover that the radar was picking up a major movement of birds heading north-eastwards on days when no visible migration was evident. This was highlighted on March 22nd by the events detailed below, which are based on notes taken by M. Crewe at the time. The Bawdsey Results As mentioned above, we soon discovered that the tracking of migrating birds by radar was indeed possible. The highlight, from an ornithological viewpoint, came on March 22nd when birds could be seen to be responding to adverse weather conditions. On that particular day, the early morning weather was dull and overcast. Few grounded migrants were noted in the area with, for example, only five Meadow Pipits noted in the old missile compound. As we were able to overlay a map of the coastline on the radar screen, we could identify a general movement of echo returns in a northerly direction over the sea (gulls) and in a more easterly direction over land (unknown source). These were all of the type of trace that we had identified as being typical of migrating birds. This was based on the size of the returns and the speed and general behaviour of the targets. Birds moving close to the coast, in a north-easterly direction, showed a marked swing to the East upon reaching Orfordness, where the coastline changes its general direction. Around 09.45hrs, rain moved across the area from the West, with the heaviest showers showing up well on the radar screen, enabling us to track its progress. As the rain moved over the area, all birds heading North offshore rapidly turned North-west and headed in towards the coast and those heading East over the land disappeared from the screen. A quick look at the immediate area during the heaviest rain produced a count of 30 Meadow Pipits on the ground and four more were seen dropping down from the low cloud and mist, clearly showing that migrating birds were being grounded by the bad weather. At around 10.20 hrs, shortly after the rain had passed away, a dramatic exoduf of birds was seen on the radar screen in the area of Orfordness. Echo returns were appearing on the screen and heading due East, out to sea. Smaller numbers were also departing from other sections of the coastline and another visual check outside shortly afterwards revealed that ali the pipits had gone. The corrĂŠlation between what we were able to see on the radar screen and the events taking place outside provided the best evidence we could obtain to show that it is possible to track birds successfully using radar. It is encouraging that it appeared to be possible to track birds as small as Meadow Pipits, just 14cm long, although we were probably getting echoes from loose parties of birds rather than single individuals.However, this is more than adequate for the purpose of locating birds as an aid to preventing bird-strikes by aircraft. It is also of interest to note that once we had confirmed the appearance of migrating birds on the radar screen, we were able to note that the majority of migration was taking place too high to be seen by the naked eye (or even binoculars) and, even on the heaviest days, if the weather was clear, there was no obvious movement visible to the casual observer. From an ornithological viewpoint it was interesting to note the direction of movement displayed by the migrating birds on the radar screen. Birds heading for the Continent appeared to be prepared to follow the coastline as it headed north-eastwards but, when reaching Orfordness, where the coast turns almost due North, they made the dĂŠcision to turn eastwards and head out to sea. Conversely, any birds moving further out at sea
(involving birds heading North, rather than East) were seen to be heading north-westwards until reaching Orfordness when they turned northwards to follow the coast. This second point was further confirmed during trips in light aircraft from Ipswich Airport as part of the study. Visual observations confirmed that Gannets were following this course which, from a local viewpoint is interesting and may well explain why seawatches from further north in the County are far more productive than at sites such as Bawdsey and Landguard. The birds are presumably flying round the Kent coast and then cutting diagonally across the southern North Sea from Foreness Point to regain the coastline at Orfordness or thereabouts. How they achieve this is still open to speculation. The exercise was deemed to be a success, both for the RAF personnel, who gained valuable information on identifying bird movements on radar, and for the local birdwatchers who gained an insight into the movements of migratory birds along the Suffolk coast, as well as a basic understanding of how to use a mobile civil aviation radar unit! The photograph opposite p.25 illustrates the remarkable exodus of birds from Orfordness after the rain on March 22nd 1993. M. D. Crewe, 3 Anglenook Cottages, Bury Road, Great Barton, Suffolk IP31 2SJ.
Suffolk Bird Report 2004 G R E Y L A G G O O S E Anser anser Common resident from feral stock. Amber List. Categories A, C and E. Estimates of the population of wintering birds of this species across the county have increased from 650-800 in 1991-1992 to 2500 in 2002 and possibly more in 2003. It is quite likely that the population is continuing to increase. Interchange between sites certainly exists and this makes establishing the exact total tricky. Nor is it clear as to the extent to which Greylag Geese roam away from their wintering grounds. For example, local movement in large numbers is common enough between Livermere Lake, Mickle Mere and Lackford Lakes, especially when birds are disturbed from Livermere Lake by shooting, but it seems that Greylag Geese are not as mobile and far-reaching as Canada Geese. However, a post-breeding and post-moult flock at Livermere Lake of 1017 on August 19th probably involved most of the West Suffolk birds and this is a record total for the west of the county. The county record total is 1150 at Loompit Lake, January 19th 2000. The BBS found Peak monthly counts at selected sites: Greylag Geese on Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec 17% of the 41 ; - 236 318 " . - .. , .Benacre Broad squares surveyed i Minsmere 100 75 .96 (3% in 1995, 11% in North Warren 60 225 100 27 220 295 121 246 with a 27 - n p a 2000), Havergate Island 2 20 264 combined total of 35 Orfordness 136 2 2 19 2 127 304 61 — Aide/Ore Estuary 40 200 131 257 351 350 birds. There were Deben Estuary 87 20 6 345 0 285 63 breeding records 374 394 Orwell Estuary 177 326 382 475 involving 337 gosStour Estuary 36 23 101 46 1 14 31 43 lings, but this is Trimley Marshes 300 j «Ì 635 258 612 457 clearly an underAlton Water 310 430 69 145 221 120 228 estimate, as large Livermere Lake 775 336 357 133 653 885 600 370 areas of the county _ - 672 J ' i s - i 704 500 are Lackford Lakes 619 218 unrecorded. Mickle Merc 500 110 116 85 277 232 550 500 Greylag Geese conNunnery Lakes 250 118 56 20 64 224 96 329 tinue to prosper at the expense of other species; they are adaptable and will build a nest in places that other feral geese would not use. Small parties of wild Greylags have occurred in the county from time to time and have been identified by neck-collars and rings that were placed on them abroad. There were no instances of this in 2004, but three in over the sea at Landguard Point, November 4th, are of obvious interest, as were two other flocks there, of 26 south, December 3rd and 33 south on the following day. CANADA G O O S E Branta canadensis Common resident. Categories A, C and E. The Canada Goose remains widespread and numerous but there seems to be little doubt that it is continuing to decline as a breeding bird. The 28 broods that were reported in 2004 are surely an underestimate of the real situation but, nevertheless, loss of nest sites and control measures are taking their toll on numbers. In 1989 it was estimated that the county population was ca.5000 and while it remains difficult to assess the total population accurately, it seems probable that the population has peaked. The BBS found Canada Geese in 20% of the 41 squares surveyed (11% in 1995, 26% in 2000), with a combined total of 202 birds. The large wintering flocks of the 1980s in west Suffolk are no more, although 20
chicks. The roof corrugations also afford a crouching chick more cover than a flat beach. The only disadvantage I can think of is that the roof corrugations may channel rain water through the nest, risking the eggs and chicks becoming chilled. I believe that Common Terns have been nesting undetected at this site for several years. Since at least 1986 Common Terns have regularly been present in Lowestoft Harbour during the summer, with juveniles being fed there during late summer and autumn. References: Cramp, S. (ed.) 1985. The birds of the western palearctic, Vol. 4 Oxford. Hakala, T. & Jokinen, M. 1971. Pesiva kalatiirapopulaatio tehdashallin katolla (with English summary) Ornis Fennica 48: 135-137. A. C. Easton,
65 Stevens Street, Lowestoft,
The Exceptional Passage of Raptors at Minsmere in September 1993 Ian Robinson
Atypical weather patterns during September 1993 produced a remarkable passage of raptors at Minsmere, involving over 50 birds of seven species. Remarkably, the passage was only witnessed at Minsmere and where the birds went afterwards is open to speculation. Sept. 16th 1993 started off as a normal day for staff on the RSPB Minsmere Reserve. The weather was rather unsettled and the accompanying charts help to illustrate the dominant weather patterns at the time. The dying remnants of Hurricane Floyd drifted east across the Atlantic as a series of deep depressions and induced a strong easterly wind which backed north-easterly on the night of Sept. 15th. The winds over northern Europe had been east to south-east since Sept. 8th and were originating from Russia. It is likely that the events at Minsmere involved birds that had drifted west to the north of a stationary front that lay across Denmark and Poland between Sept. 9th and 12th. This front was replaced by another, associated with the Atlantic depressions, from Sept. 13th to 16th. At Minsmere, ground speed on Sept. 16th was NE force 4-5 and fronts moving in from the west were breaking over the coast. During the afternoon, there were three extremely heavy cloudbursts, lasting between five and twenty minutes each. Most of the raptors were seen prior to these showers. An RSPB training course was being held at Minsmere on this day, and one of the course members, Paul Fisher from RSPB Snettisham, saw the first Honey Buzzard Pemis apivorus, thought to be an immature bird, circling over the grain store at around 11.15hrs. Other staff were alerted to the bird's presence over the radio network, and a group gathered in the south-east corner of the new car park. The bird was soon found by the group and watched circling over the area between Island Mere and the Reception Centre. It eventually moved off southwards. Always the optimist, I scanned around for more birds but was more than a little surprised to find an Osprey Pandion haliaetus, female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus and two Common Buzzards Buteo buteo, circling high and to the east of the Reception Centre. These birds were quickly followed by two Honey Buzzards, passing to the west of the new car park, one passing quickly through, the other lingering over the grain store, circling 20
for several minutes. The Osprey, Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzards were still visible to the east but were slowly drifting south. Once again, frantic radio messages relayed the information to other observers on site. We were already beginning to realise that something unusual was happening, and jokingly referred to the Rough-legged Buzzard Buteo lagopus passage of 45 birds on Oct. 22nd 1974, wondering if we could beat this number of raptors in a day. Meanwhile, the wind was picking up and the rain-laden clouds to the north-west were moving nearer at an alarming rate. Following hot on the heels of the Honey Buzzard over the grain store, another raptor was seen approaching rapidly from the north. It was only about 20 métrés above the ground and in active flight without gliding. When it was at a range of about 100 métrés, its " j i z z " gave it away as being a Black Kite Milvus migrans. This bird was an immature, the pale feather edgings, especially on the wings, overall paler tones and distinctive pale face markings being apparent, along with the distinctive outline (carpai joint held forward and forked tail). Amazingly, the next bird to appear was another Black Kite, this time an adult moving south more slowly and at a higher altitude (approx. 60m). This bird was more obliging and ail observers (including those on the training course, which had corne to an unscheduled hait!) had time to enjoy the bird. The first of the heavy showers was now upon us and we retreated to the reserve office. Here we managed to get a quick bite to eat whilst peering through the window to see if any birds were still passing through. As soon as the shower was over, we all gathered outside, ready for the next birds to appear! Something of a lull followed, but vigilance was maintained as another band of dark clouds was looming to the north-west. We were guessing that the birds were being pushed in from the east, meeting the fronts moving in from the west, and being forced down and to the south. The presence of this bank of cloud to the west thus raised our hopes that more raptors would appear; we were proved right when three Common Buzzards and a Honey Buzzard drifted quickly south. This group was then followed by what proved to be the largest group of the day. Once again I was scanning the skies and this time found a group of four buzzards, circling to the north-west on a thermal; I alerted the other observers and we began the identification process. The next 30 minutes were interesting as the group of birds slowly edged closer and the number increased to nine! It took some time before everyone was happy with the identification of ali the birds, with some heated interchange over the airwaves between people viewing the birds from différent parts of the reserve. Eventually it was agreed that there were six Honey Buzzards and three Common Buzzards present. We later found out that Doug Ireland, Senior Warden at Minsmere and instructor on the training course, had seen more Kestrels Falco tinnunculus than usuai perched on the fence surrounding the plantation between Tree Hide and Island Mere; from other sightings on the reserve, a minimum of 17 Kestrels was considered to have gone through during the day. Sparrowhawks Accipiter nisus were also seen circling over the reserve and drifting south, the exact number not being determined, but there were noticeably more present than usuai. I did not see ali of the raptors that passed through and we conferred with staff working on other parts of the reserve, away from the grain store/Reception Centre area. After much discussion we agreed that, during the course of a four hour period, we had amassed a total of two Black Kites, two Ospreys, at least five Marsh Harriers, 11 Common Buzzards, 11 Honey Buzzards, 17+ Kestrels and at least ten Sparrowhawks. Whether these unusual weather patterns had anything to do with movements of other birds such as Grey Wagtails Motacilla cinerea (we had an unprecedented number of sightings on the reserve during the autumn) and Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis is unknown but they may have been a contributory factor. I feel I should apologise to the National Trust at Dunwich Heath, with whom we share the radio network, for hogging the air waves for four hours during the afternoon — but I'm sure they had a good laugh at the heated interchanges that went on during the day! 21
Weather maps for September 12th to 17th ai 12.00 GMT.
(Readers should note that a number of the birds mentioned in this article are subject to acceptance by either SORC or BBRC. At the time of going to print, the Honey Biczard sightings have been accepted by SORC but we await news of the Black Kites from BBRC. due to late submission of the records. The outcome will be published in the next ĂŠdition o/Suffolk Birds â€” Ed.). 22 24
Weather trends and their effect on the County's avifauna, 1993 Adam
January: The month started in a similar vein to the end of 1992 — chilly! However, the arctic grip did not last for long with the only snow of the period being followed by a 14°F rise in temperature, as the winds swung round south-westerly. The month was dull with a weather station at Cavendish recording the dullest January for 14 years. Birders also had to contend with wet conditions that gave measurable rain on 20 days. The persistence of mild but unsettled weather did not give rise to significant numbers of harsh-weather species. Grebes had a good showing with all five species represented but other hard-weather species were scarce. More unusual birds were confined to a Black Brant and the long-staying Dartford Warbler. February: The month can be summed up in three words — dry and dull. Some districts recorded less than 30 hours of sun for the whole month. Such was the presence of overcast conditions that RAF Wattisham had its gloomiest February for 26 years, and a nine day period when the sun did not show at all. The domination of high pressure maintained dry conditions with only a third of an inch (8.5mm) of rain measured up to the 26th. All was not well towards the month's end when the County recorded its worst flooding for 15 years as a result of storm force winds. This was followed by a period of arctic conditions with 3.5 inches (88mm) of snow recorded at the EADT weather station in Ipswich. Mild conditions again led to a fairly uninspiring month in ornithological terms. An influx of White-fronted and Bean Geese was of particular note with the former species doubling its numbers in less than a month. In addition to this influx, and other long staying birds, the highlight was the County's third Ring-billed Gull. March: Last month's dry conditions persisted with some areas having the driest March since 1976. After a cold start with some rapidly melting snow, warmer weather set in with a southerly air stream. This enabled the year's first spring migrants to reach the County before mid-month. Landguard recorded its earliest ever Sand Martin on the 13th which undoubtedly enjoyed basking in a month which had 35 hours of sun over the expected average. Migration came to an abrupt halt with the onset of chilly northerly winds during the last ten days, continuing the anticyclonic nature to the weather. A Chiffchaff of the Siberian race tristis was an excellent find and probably felt at home in conditions more akin to October. Gradually a more normal weather pattern was established with south-easterly winds producing another run of migrants during the last four or five days of the month. April: With the first wave of migration well under way, April continued to provide suitable conditions for birds and birders alike. April was entirely frost-free and the temperature peaked at 77°F (25°C) on the last day of the month. Ornithological activity greatly increased throughout the month with good numbers of common spring migrants although there were the usual lingering winter visitors. Midmonth saw the arrival of the first spring rarity in the shape of a Serin, but it was the latter part of the month which produced the best array of birds. The particularly warm end to the month allowed a good selection of raptors to appear including a Black Kite. More early-summer specials included a Black-winged Stilt and the County's first Subalpine Warbler away from the coast. Amongst the common species, Cavenham Heath reported its earliest Nightjar for over 100 years. 23
May: Proof, if needed, that the British spring weather can never be trusted came with the rapid disappearance of the warm weather, only to be replaced with migration-inhibiting cold north-easterly winds. The hindrance to migrants was well illustrated by the arrival of large numbers of Turtle Doves as soon as the cold spell ended. Thankfully, overall the month was warm, reaching 73째F (23째C) in Ipswich on the 11th and returning migrants did not suffer poor breeding conditions for long. Brooms Barn, Barrow recorded measurable rainfall on only 12 days. Temperatures were also raised amongst the County's birders as May produced its traditionally excellent show of birds. Highlights during the first half of the month were an early Greenish Warbler and the County's third Semipalmated Sandpiper. The last ten days proved equally productive with Little Egret, Bluethroat and two Beeeaters alongside a superb showing of warblers including two Marsh, Icterine, the everpresent Dartford and, remarkably, three more Subalpine Warblers. Other good records included a Common Rosefinch and a handful of Wrynecks. June: As is usual in June while the birding cooled off, temperatures continued to rise, albeit in two stages. An unsettled start rapidly gave way to a very warm period with a maximum temperature of 79째F (26째C) and 14 hours of sun on the 7th. Unsettled conditions then returned, but the ten days of measurable rain were not enough to push the month's rainfall total above the long-term average. A ridge of high pressure brought dry but cooler weather as anticyclonic conditions prevailed. Early June produced a Roseate Tern and a Red-breasted Flycatcher although the month as a whole was quiet. However, the early summer conditions were not unfavourable for the success of our breeding species; indeed the conditions in 1993 appeared to have been an improvement on the last couple of years when so much of the early summer weather was bordering on the atrocious. July: In contrast to the glorious hot patches of June, the month was unsettled due to westerly weather patterns that tracked in from the Atlantic. These conditions persisted throughout the month and any period of lasting high temperatures failed to materialise. Some thundery outbreaks gave rise to a varied rainfall with some parts of the County recording nearly twice the average for July. The month was relatively uneventful for the County's birdwatchers; Minsmere held the monopoly on rarities with a male Penduline Tit and three Pectoral Sandpipers. Breeding success was taken to an extreme by one pair of Moorhens which was on its fourth brood in July. Ringing activity began to pick up wandering summer migrants, mostly involving juveniles exploring before departure. August: Meteorologists considered volcanic activity to be the most likely cause of the summer's unsettled weather. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in The Philippines was thought to have reduced temperatures globally and generally disrupted normal weather patterns. Like July, August lacked any real warm days, this being the second summer in succession where Britain has not benefited from the influence of high pressure systems. Ornithological activity was fairly low, mainly involving the start of autumn sea passage and a continuation of wader migration. Highlights included single Honey Buzzard and Icterine Warbler and a long-staying Little Egret. September: After an uninspiring August, Suffolk's birdwatchers must have been unprepared for the remarkable weather and birds that occurred this month. Suffolk experienced its wettest September since 1976 and recorded the lowest temperatures for over a century for that period of the year. The month was dull with Brooms Barn recording its second dullest September on record. This mixed bag of weather was to give rise to an absolutely superb month with some outstanding birds turning up. An elusive but eventually well-watched Black-winged Pratincole opened the proceedings whilst seawatchers produced a bumper crop over a two day period including Manx and
S 1: Over-wintering Peregrines could be affected by the loss of Ipswich Power Station and its attendant Ferai Pigeons.
2: The coast at Benacre/Covehithe suffered serious ĂŠrosion during storms in February.
3: Common Terns were proved to be breeding on a factory roof in Lowestoft.
4: Radar screen showing the departure of emigrating birds from the Suffolk coast around Orfordness on March 22nd 1993. The traces show the direction of travel. At bottom right birds moving north along the coast. At top right birds leaving the coast eastward.
Sooty Shearwaters, Leach's Petrels and Sabine's Gull. The most dramatic event of the month was the remarkable raptor movement over Minsmere on 16th which involved doublefigure counts of Honey and Common Buzzards with two Black Kites and two Ospreys also involved. Amongst several unexpected passerines there were three County " f i r s t s " . These came in the shape of Blyth's Reed and Arctic Warblers at Fagbury and a Yellow-breasted Bunting at Landguard. The supporting cast included Rose-coloured Starling, Barred and Yellowbrowed Warblers and Red-breasted Flycatcher. October: Compared with September, this was a relatively quiet month. October was generally cold and wet with exceptionally heavy rain towards the end of the month causing widespread flooding. Theberton recorded 5.04 inches (128mm) over a three day period contributing to a monthly total of 11.16 inches (283mm), a remarkable 520% above the average. Good birding continued into the first week with a Blyth's Reed Warbler at Fagbury, the second there in just over two weeks. Other species included a Bluethroat, Yellowbrowed Warbler and some late summer migrants, most notably the County's latest ever Wood and Grasshopper Warblers. Seawatching produced a Sabine's Gull and Long-tailed Skua with a small movement of Little Auks and a good run of Puffins later in the month, possibly pushed down ahead of some colder weather. Breeding successes were reflected in large movements of Blue Tits and Siskins around the County. November: There was to be no respite from the cold weather with November gripping the County with the coldest autumn weather for 41 years. November is renowned as a Pallas's Warbler month and this year was no exception with five being found, all during the first week of the month. Widespread snow arrived on the 21st, borne on winds from Siberia and the wintry conditions were reflected by the County's birds with wildfowl numbers building up significantly. Careful searching through the large number of Teal at Benacre Broad revealed the presence of an American Green-winged Teal in their midst. Also of interest was the appearance of a Black-bellied Dipper and two Waxwings. Conditions did not deter all summer migrants and a handful of House Martins and Swallows lingered along with more unusual occurrences of Nightingale and Turtle Dove. Siskins continued to move in substantial numbers, no doubt spurred on by the wintry weather. Thrush numbers built up to respectable totals from early on in the month. Would the recent run of winter birds and cold weather produce the widely predicted hard winter? December: The icy grip of November gave way to unsettled conditions, and so vanished all thoughts of an early hard spell. Again the month was wet with some reports indicating twice the normal rainfall. The predominantly westerly weather patterns kept temperatures generally mild, with abnormally high temperatures (15Â°C) recorded mid-month at Belstead Hall. Overall the long-term average of 7Â°C was exceeded on 18 days. At Iken the mild winter was doing the Avocet flock no harm and over 400 were present. As usual with mild spells, birding was fairly quiet. Good wildfowl numbers were maintained but few raptors were reported although they did include a single Rough-legged Buzzard. A Grey Phalarope remained in Lowestoft Harbour from 21st onwards and diver numbers built up slowly with at least 700 Red-throated Divers noted offshore at the month's end. So ended an eventful year with birdwatchers being content with an abundance of good birds and the ground straining to cope with an overabundance of water! Adam Bimpson,
11 Butley Close, Ipswich,
The 1 993 Suffolk Birci Report Introduction to the systematic list The systematic list of species and its appendices have largely been written by the Editor and Assistant Editor, using data collated by the County Recorder, Philip Murphy and entered onto computer at the Ipswich Museum. Additional assistance was given in writing some sections and thanks are extended to Adam Bimpson for Divers to Geese; Stuart Ling for the near-passerines; Nigel Odin for the thrushes/chats and warblers/flycatchers sections and Rob Macklin for finches to buntings. The order and nomenclature follow the Birding World Complete List of The Birds of the Western Palearctic which in turn follows Dr K. H. Voous's List ofRecent Holarctic Bird Species with any more recent altĂŠrations. Ail records refer to a single bird unless otherwise stated. Subspecies are listed under the main species' heading, which includes the scientific Ăąame. With scarcer species, ail records are listed under the parish followed by a more 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 Walberswick NNR, Minsmere, Orfordness, Alton Water etc. 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 for some waterfowl and waders are from the co-ordinated WeBS (formerly BoEE) counts. Using such co-ordinated data instead of maximum counts gives a better idea of the populations of each species wintering in the County on a given date. However, fluctuations in numbers due to changing weather patterns will affect totals and higher counts are given in the text after the table where appropriate. A dashed entry indicates that no figure was received. Counts from North Warren include Thorpeness Meare, Church Farm Marshes and the seashore between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh; the Aide/Ore includes the complex of the Aide, Ore and Butley rivers as well as Orfordness, Gedgrave Reservoir and Havergate Island; the Orwell includes Trimley Marshes, Loompit Lake and Bourne Park Water Meadows and the Stour includes the Essex side of the estuary. In the past, we have been in the fortunate position of having data for a number of years from a cross-section of geographically well spread sites 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 use. Such data are invaluable when monitoring any local population changes in common species. However, the number of sites appears to be on the decline at present and observers are encouraged to get involved in such work by contacting the BTO at their Thetford headquarters. Fieldworkers 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. Important: two important points should be borne in mind when using any data from the 1993 systematic list. Firstly, it is regrettable that, for the first time, we were not allowed access to the WeBS data relating to the Blyth estuary for the second winter period. The inclusion of such data in a County Report is only of value if it is complete, and can be compared from year to year. It is to be hoped that this is a temporary hitch which will not recur in future years. Secondly, when comparing territory counts of common birds, it should be noted that the figures for Minsmere are artificially high. The figures for 1993 were achieved by counting a much larger area than had previously been the case, and are thus not comparable with previous years. With precious little Common Bird Census data from the County as it is, we surely can't afford to lose another site.
The rr cr 9 ad. imm. juv. N. S.
following abbreviations are used in the systematic list: = male. molo Ci P = rìrav = G.P. = Gravel Pit. = iemale. Ind. Est. = Industriai Estate. = adult. NNR = National Nature Reserve, = immature. R. = River. = juvenile. res. = reservoir. = bird(s) Aying north. W.P. = Water Park. = bird(s) Aying south. W.R. = Wildfowl Reserve
The following définitions are intended as a guide to the relative status of each species: Abundant: Occurs in large numbers in suitable habitat and season. Common: Occurs regularly or widely distributed in suitable habitat. Fairly Common: Occurs in small numbers in suitable habitat and season. Uncommon: Occurs annually in small numbers. Scarce: One or two records each year or restricted to specific habitats. Rare: Occurs less than annually. Very Rare: Less than 15 records in past 30 years. Accidentai: Less than three records in past 30 years. Submission and assessment of records All records come under the scrutiny of the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee (SORC) and for rare or scarce species vérification is sought — i.e. photographs, field sketches, witnesses, sound recordings (for calling or singing birds) and (most importantly) 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 (BBRC). Its décisions are accepted by SORC, with few exceptions. For a full list of species which are considered by the SORC, see A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk pages 162-164. The committee may also request further détails regarding any other species that, in the opinion of the committee, is out of context, in terms of season, habitat or numbers. 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 having been 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 détails were not forthcoming. It does not include records still under considération. 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 Breydon Water. We have retained these original boundaries as we feel that sensible comparison of data can only be made from year to year if the recording area is kept constant and does not keep changing size and shape. Other variables, such as the greater number of observers now present in the field, are beyond our control, but we should at least try to record data as accurately as we are able. To aid the inputting of data at Ipswich Museum, we would request observers to submit their records monthly. We also suggest that the following format is followed: (a) Location (precise place name from the Ordnance Survey Map plus parish if ambiguous). (b) O.S. Grid Reference if available (six figures if possible, but a minimum of four). (c) Species. (d) Date. 27
(e) (f) (g) (h) (i)
Name and address of observer. Sex/age — cr, ç>, juv., etc. Abundance — count numbers, frequency, etc. Type of record — dead, ringed, etc. Comments.
If submitting a list of records for one particular site, please put all details at the top of the list and annotate with sex and/or abundance. Records for 1994 should be submitted to the regional recorders as explained on the inside front cover of this report. If in doubt, any incidental records from casual or visiting observers can all be sent to Colin Jakes who will channel records to the appropriate recorder. In order that we can produce Suffolk Birds in reasonable time, we regret that any records received after Jan. 31st cannot be guaranteed inclusion in that year's Report. Acknowledgements The Editor would like to personally thank all those involved with the production of this report. Particular thanks go to the RSPB and SWT reserve wardens for making data available from their reserves, in particular details of commoner species; to the sub-editors of the various sections of the checklist for their hard work and to Philip Murphy and Mike Marsh for their valued help and guidance. Thanks also go to all those observers who found time to submit their sightings accurately and on time.
SYSTEMATIC LIST RED-THROATED DIVER Gavia stellata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. After the noticeable increase in 1992 in wintering numbers off the Suffolk coast, 1993 produced an even greater increase, with highest counts up around 100% on the previous year. Counts of wintering flocks off our coastline have been too random for accurate comparisons between years to be made. However, there has certainly been a dramatic increase in numbers in recent years with single flocks off favoured sites such as Minsmere and Benacre now outnumbering total counts for the whole coastal strip made ten years ago. The most significant counts during 1993 came from Minsmere where numbers peaked at 650, Jan. 31st and 700, Dec. 21st; both counts in themselves being higher than the total coastal counts of previous years. This increase may be due to a number of factors, including improved breeding success, movements in response to weather conditions or — most likely in this case — the availability of food supplies, particularly Sprat shoals. All counts of 200 or more birds during both winter periods in 1993 are listed below: Benacre/Covehithe: 200 Feb. 1st; 228 S. Dec. 5th; 366 Dec. 24th. Walberswick: 200 Jan. 28th. Minsmere: 400 Jan. 9th; 360 Jan. 30th; 650 Jan. 31st; 200 Feb. 1st; 700 Dec. 27th. The last bird of the spring flew north off Southwold, May 9th and the first returning birds of autumn were two south off Minsmere and one north off Corton, Sept. 4th. Autumn was generally rather quiet with no sizeable counts until December (see above). The only records away from the immediate coast and estuaries involved singles on Alton Water from Dec. 30th 1992 to Jan. 30th (oiled), Mar. 30th (oiled) and Dec. 16th and an oiled bird on Kirkley Fen, Lowestoft, Jan. 25th and 26th. The estuaries produced a handful of mainly sick or oiled birds with reports from the Aide, Jan. 3rd, 7th (two) and 28
16th, Mar. 4th, Nov. 22nd and Dec. 21st and 25th (two); Butley River, Jan. 1st and 17th; Deben, Nov. 25th and Orwell, Dec. 19th and 23rd. BLACK-THROATED DIVER Gavia árctico Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. An average year for this species with about 14 birds reported. The second winter period produced the majority of the records with the usual mix of one-day and long staying individuals. Away from the coast, reports were restricted to just two sites, with Alton Water producing the highest count of three individiuals, including an unseasonable partialsummer plumaged bird. Benacre: offshore Dec. 30th. Covehithe: offshore Oct. 23rd to 25th. Minsmere: up to two offshore, Jan. 13th to Feb. 6th; S. Feb. 21st; offshore Oct. 20th to 24th, Nov. 20th; S. Nov. 26th; two offshore Dec. 31st. Wherstead: River Orwell, Nov. 22nd. Alton Water: first-winter, Nov. 26th to end of year, joined by another first-winter, Dec. 18th to 28th and a third in partial summer plumage, Dec. 25th to end of year. GREAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavia immer Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. The 1993 total was the same as that of the previous year with a total of six individuals being recorded, mainly in the second winter period. The only long-stayer was a first-winter bird which ranged throughout the upper Orwell estuary. Covehithe: N. offshore Dec. 14th (PJD). Minsmere: Jan. 23rd and 24th; N. Sept. 27th (per IR). Aldeburgh: Slaughden, imm. Dec. 25th (MLC). Felixstowe: Landguard, one on sea and one S. Nov. 21st (per LBO). Orwell Estuary: first-winter, Dec. 11th to end of year (CGDC et al.). The bird which flew north off Minsmere on Sept. 27th was in full summer plumage. LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. J F M A A S O N D — — — Lake Lothing* 21 8 17 14 13 22 ? ? ? ? ? — Blyth 3 12 4 — — Aide/Ore 4 13 3 1 9 5 8 — Deben 36 32 48 12 15 6 17 87 — Orwell 9 21 28 3 22 17 7 18 Alton Water 0 0 1 1 3 5 2 0 2 Stour 0 0 12 6 2 0 0 0 13 Lackford W.R.* 0 1 1 2 6 2 2 2 2 * Monthly maxima (Lake Lothing includes Oulton Broad) Reports of breeding pairs were significantly up on last year from 41 to 55 pairs, including eight pairs at Minsmere and 15 pairs at North Warren. This species can be very secretive in the breeding season and fluctuations are likely to be due to observer coverage. The Orwell and Deben consistently recorded the highest non-breeding counts, mostly from traditional gathering sites around Ipswich Docks, with a peak count of 26, Mar. 6th and Kyson Point, Woodbridge with a maximum of 22, Jan. 15th. Loompit Lake, Trimley St. Martin also regularly held good numbers including 20 on Oct. 3rd. Elsewhere, 15 were on the Blyth Estuary, Jan. 1st and 15 at Bramford W.P., Oct. 7th. An interesting observation involved the report of one which was caught by a Pike at Lackford W.R., Oct. 19th but managed to escape after a struggle. 29
GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. N D A A S O J F M — — 4 1 4 0 Aide/Ore 0 0 15 — 0 2 3 31 Deben 1 8 2 5 — 24 7 36 73 Orwell 16 21 30 11 107 85 99 Alton Water 81 137 103 79 77 86 104 184 250 55 Stour 21 28 10 107 23 — — — 12 7 6 7 Lackford W.R.* 3 7 *Monthly maxima This species remains under-recorded with only 69 pairs (60 in 1992, 93 in 1991) reported during the breeding season, of which 35 were at Alton Water. However, the species remains widespread in the County and counts from other sites included 16 pairs in the Gipping Valley. The breeding season of this species is very protracted and early young were reported from Lound Waterworks where three chicks, about ten days old, were seen on Mar. 30th. Alton Water also dominated the reports of wintering birds and counts on non-WeBS days peaked at 210 on Nov. 29th. Of the estuaries, the Orwell regularly held the highest numbers with most birds favouring the upper reaches (see table above), although the peak estuary count was of 250 on the Stour in October. The traditional offshore wintering areas continued to hold high numbers with Covehithe producing a new offshore County record of 200 on Feb. 22nd, just beating last year's peak count of 180 off Dunwich. Counts off Minsmere peaked at 114 in both January and February and 130 were recorded off Benacre at the end of January. RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. An average showing with eleven birds reported, although it is difficult to assess any degree of overlap with the Minsmere sightings. The long-staying birds on the Orwell and at Melton were much appreciated, although the former could be elusive. Benacre: offshore, Feb. 27th. Minsmere: singles S. Oct. 18th, 22nd and 23rd. Melton: Melton G.P., Jan. 28th to Mar. 6th. Felixstowe: Landguard, S. Sept. 30th; S. Nov. 18th. Orwell Estuary: from 1992 to Feb. 6th; Dec. 15th to end of year. Alton Water: Jan. 24th. Stutton: Stour estuary, Oct. 17th. The records between September and November all involved passage birds. Totals for the previous ten years are as follows: 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 7 12 12 18 13 17 11 24 8 11 SLAVONIAN GREBE Podiceps auritus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. The total of ten birds, mostly in the second winter period, represented an average showing. Benacre: Benacre Broad, Oct. 24th to Nov. 2nd. Aldeburgh: River Aide, Jan. 4th; Dec. 13th (probably same as Orford bird). Orford: River Ore, Nov. 21st (probably same as Aldeburgh bird). Ramsholt: River Deben, Dec. 24th. Woolverstone: Orwell estuary, Dec. 11th. Alton Water: two Jan. 5th, one remaining to Jan. 24th; Nov. 12th to end of year. Holbrook: Stour estuary, Nov. 6th. Weybread: Weybread G.P., Feb.20th to Mar. 10th. 30
Totals for the previous ten years are as follows: 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 10 16 9 8 6 6 5
BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Although a poor showing by the County's rarest grebe, long-stayers allowed many observers to enjoy the species. The River Orwell continues to be a regulär wintering site, although birds range widely and can be difficult to locate. Woodbridge: Feb. 7th. Orwell Estuary: various sites, two from 1992 to Mar. 7th; Dee. 30th to end of year. Totals for the previous ten years are as follows: 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 3 5 12 5 6 2 5 8 8 4 (note that the 1993 total includes two birds from 1992) FULMAR Fulmarus glacialis Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. Most of the early reports involved birds at or around Bawdsey, where numbers had increased to 15 by Feb. 24th following the initial return to the site on Dec. 18th 1992. Numbers there reached 40 by late Aprii, continuing the trend of increasing numbers over the last ten years since breeding was first recorded: 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 2 10 13 14 22 20 28 20 32 38 Breeding was again attempted at Bawdsey, but as in previous years, Fox prédation prevented any success. Indeed, there were no reports from this site after July 3rd when evidence of prédation was found. The preventive methods installed continue to be ineffective as
the site's inaccessibility (to humans at least) makes maintenance of protective fencing difficult. The only winter records received from elsewhere involved two south off Kessingland, Jan. 30th and one north off Southwold, Feb. 22nd. Spring movements were widely reported with three counts exceeding 20 birds, involving 41 and 23 south off Landguard, Apr. 17th and 18th respectively and 52 north off Southwold, May 9th. The autumn was generally quiet, although seawatching off Southwold during September produced a good run of records, peaking at 15 north and 69 south on 12th. No records were received after Oct. 28th. Away from the immediate coast there were three records; singles were located over Loompit Lake, Apr. 15th and Wherstead Strand on the River Orwell, July 25th. More remarkably, one circled for some ten minutes over Cavenham Heath in West Suffolk before flying off towards Lackford on Mar. 4th. SOOTY SHEARWATER Puffinus griseus Uncommon passage migrant. There was an increase in numbers on the previous year with a minimum of 47 individuals reported. The bulk of the records fell in the first half of September, a period which saw the biggest movements of seabirds in 1993. However, the highest single day count came later with a report of nine north off Southwold, Oct. 14th. Records spanned from Aug. 27th to Oct. 23rd as follows: Benacre/Covehithe: N. Aug. 30th (DCM); N. Sept. 12th (DKU). Minsmere: three N. Sept. 7th; seven N. Sept. 8th; four N. Sept. 13th (per DF). Leiston: Sizewell, N. Sept. 7th; N. Sept. 13th (MLC). Southwold: N. Aug. 27th (RW); at least 12 N. and one S. Sept. 7th to 12th (many obs.); two N. Sept. 19th (BS, RW); nine N. Oct. 14th (RW); N. Oct. 23rd (SJL.RW). Aldeburgh: four S. Sept. 13th (RNM). MANX SHEARWATER Puffinus puffinus Uncommon passage migrant. A remarkable year for the lack of records, especially when compared with the number of Sooty Shearwaters passing our coastline. No more than eight birds were rĂŠported, representing one of the worst years on record for this species. Benacre/Covehithe: two S. Aug. 24th; N. Oct. 22nd. Southwold: N. Sept. 8th; N. Sept. 10th; two N. Sept. 12th. Minsmere: S. Oct. 7th. LEACH'S PETREL Oceanodroma leucorhoa Scarce passage migrant. A minimum of eight birds was reported, most falling in the seawatchers' 'purple patch' in early September: Lowestoft: Ness Point, S. Sept. 13th (SAG). Southwold: four S. Sept. 12th (WJB, SJL, DCM et al.); singles Oct. 22nd and 23rd (JMC). Minsmere: S. Sept. 13th (SP). [RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD Phaethon aethereus One of the most interesting finds of the year in the County was the discovery of a corpse of this species, washed up on the estuary shore at Landguard, on Feb. 17th. Sadly, overwhelming evidence, including the presence of certain types of oil on the bird's feathers, and the fact that it proved to be of the Indian Ocean race indicus, weighed heavily against the possibility of the bird having arrived of its own accord. The general concensus is that the bird had probably died on board a ship and simply been swept overboard once the 32
ship had docked and was being cleaned. The bird cannot be admitted to Category D4 of the British list as a genuine tideline corpse as it is considered unlikely that it arrived alive, or naturally, in British waters. The skin and part of the skeleton of the bird, which proved to be an immature female, have been preserved at Ipswich Museum. For a more detailed account of this occurrence see Brit. Birds 87: 488-491, October 1994.] GANNET Morus bassanus Common passage migrant. A good year with a minimum of 1,164 birds being recorded, mostly in September. Monthly totals offshore were as follows: J F M A M J J A S O N D 3 24 15 20 23 17 68 254 666 54 18 2 The pattern of occurrences is typical with a handful of winter records, building slowly through the spring, then the bulk of sightings coming during the southward migration in autumn. It is perhaps interesting to note that many of the largest day counts fell in the period from Aug. 25th to Sept. 5th, i.e. prior to the peak passage period for other sea birds. The highest day count from Southwold, the best watched site, involved 152 north and 38 south on Sept. 4th. Other notable counts included 74 north off Ness Point, Lowestoft, Sept. 3rd; 46 north, Aldeburgh, Sept. 13th and 42 north, Covehithe, July 24th. An oiled immature found on Lowestoft North Beach, Oct. 16th was rescued and taken to an animal hospital. CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. D F M A A S O N J — — — — Lake Lothing* 19 17 23 31 — — — Benacre* 65 7 8 6 17 36 ? ? ? ? ? — Blyth 8 14 4 — — 64 Aide/Ore 42 33 42 65 42 50 — Deben 24 58 71 65 27 33 47 29 — Orwell 66 47 60 110 88 115 65 98 Alton Water 48 85 37 5 6 10 24 50 85 Stour 67 135 62 42 38 28 47 143 71 — Lackford W.R.* 14 16 29 52 48 39 25 10 'Monthly maxima Alton Water consistently produced the highest counts for a single site with numbers peaking at 140, Nov. 29th. Counts at other regular roost sites produced peaks of 80 on Sizewell Rig, Sept. 7th and 62 at Melton, Aug. 13th whilst on the Orwell, 54 were counted roosting on a single moored boat at Nacton, Jan. 24th. The origins of our birds appear to be mixed. From observations of ringed birds, at least one bird from Abberton Reservoir, Essex was in the Lowestoft area from June to November and an individual wearing a Welsh ring was at Leathes Ham, Lowestoft, Aug. 30th. Two birds wearing orange colour-rings were reported in July from Benacre Broad where an Abberton-ringed bird was present, Aug. 25th to 28th. Wintering birds also included a good proportion of Continental birds with many individuals attaining large amounts of white feathering on the head in the spring before they departed. This species is certainly on the increase in the County and perhaps we could see an extension of the Abberton Reservoir tree-nesting colony in Essex becoming established in Suffolk. Although trees have been deliberately removed at Loompit Lake to try to prevent roosting Cormorants from settling in the area, we have so far not witnessed some of the barbaric behaviour executed against this species in other parts of the country. It almost beggars belief that people release fish into open water in an attempt to make money, only
to become surprised when fish-eating birds turn up to exploit this wealth of food and do what comes naturally.
SHAG Phalacrocorax aristotelis Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant.
An excellent year for this species with good numbers present during both winter periods. The now regular localities at Ipswich Docks and Lowestoft Harbour held the highest numbers but there was also a scattering of reports from other coastal sites. At Lowestoft, at least nine birds were present during both winter periods, particularly favouring the Kittiwake wall as a roost site. Non-breeding immatures remained well into summer with five still present. May 24th and three on June 28th. With suitable, if limited, breeding habitat in the area, this trend is worth monitoring closely. Birds ranged widely in the Lowestoft area during the winter with reports of up to seven on Lake Lothing and five on the South Beach. Such reports imply that there may well have been double figures present in the area. At Ipswich Docks, up to two were present in January and February, with one remaining to Mar. 30th and two were there, Dec. 19th with four on Dec. 31st. As well as those on the Upper Orwell/Ipswich Docks the estuaries produced reports of individuals at Trimley Marshes, Oct. 6th, on the River Aide, Dec. 21st and on the River Deben where one was roosting on the jetty at Waldringfield, Jan. 27th. In West Suffolk, an immature was at Lackford W.R., Jan. 25th to Feb. 4th; it then moved to West Stow Country Park where it remained to Feb. 14th. Additionally one was seen on Alton Water, Mar. 2nd. Virtually all birds that turn up in Suffolk are immatures, but adults were reported from Lowestoft Harbour, Mar. 24th and on the sea off Thorpeness, Dec. 17th. Autumn passage off Landguard was noted between Sept. 6th and Nov. 16th during which time 15 were recorded; movements peaked on Oct. 10th when two flew north and three south. Monthly totals are as follows, but note that there is some overlap, caused by the presence of several long-staying individuals: J F M A M J J A S O N D 21 16 3 1 8 3 0 0 7 21 7 22 It is interesting to note that until recently, this was a "description species" in the County! 34
Suffolk Bird Report 2004 2000), with a combined total of 97 birds. Breeding was confirmed at only four sites, with all but one being on the coast. On Orfordness, the species was recorded in every month except June and October, but apparently did not breed there. This species is struggling to survive at Landguard, with only five birds at the start of the year, dropping to three by the end; only one brood of chicks was recorded and none of these survived. GREY PARTRIDGE
PerdixperdLx Formerly common resident, now localised. Red List. Catégories A, C and E. With reports received from only 32 sites, this species remains scarce. The BBS found Grey Partridge in 12% of the 41 squares surveyed (8% in 1995, 18% in 2000), with a combined total of 12 birds. Only two records oí confirmed breeding were received, from Weybread Gravel Pits and Wyken Hall, where there were probably eight nesting pairs and 44 were recorded following the breeding season. There was one report of birds reared for shooting, a flock of 40 at Nunnery Lakes, September 27th. A further 12 reports were received of pairs present during the breeding season, Grey Partridge Peter Beeson although no evidence of breeding was reported. The next largest counts came from: Ramsholt: 14, Feb.l5th. Troston: ten, Dec.óth. Culford/Ingham: 25, Dec.Ist and 2nd. C O M M O N QUAIL Coturnix coturnix Scarce summer visitor and passage migrant. Red List. A slightly improved year for this secretive species, with eight reports received. There were no Quail Mark Cornisti records of confirmed breeding. The Landguard bird is only the second for the site, the first having been recorded there on May 23rd 1994. Breydon Water: calling, Jun.5th. Minsmere: calling briefly, Jun.IOth. Landguard: May 2nd. Harkstead: calling repeatedly, May 21st. Barnhamcross Common: calling at 02.40am, while the observer was moth trapping., Jun.l7th. Livermere Lake: flushed from set-aside by Great Livermere church, Jul.25th. Groton: Castlings Heath, calling, Jun.25th. Lakenheath Fen: calling, Jul.31st. C O M M O N PHEASANT Phasianus colchicus Very common resident; numbers augmented by releases. Catégories C and E. Reports of this extremely common species were received from only ten sites. Although few breeding records were received, they ranged from the Ipswich Borough Cemetery (2-3 pairs) to the wilds of Orfordness, where eight broods were noted. The BBS found this species in 85% of the 41 squares surveyed (89% in 1995, 87% in 2000), with a combined 58
GREY HERON Ardea cinerea Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour
J 11 8 5 22 3
F 9 9 28 4 8
M 3 16 32 14 10
A — —
14 10 2
14 30 3 8
13 22 9 15
N ? 12 4 0 8
D 7 15 14 15 8
The highest numbers from independent observers came from the Orwell where a regular high tide roost in fields at Wherstead Strand peaked at 20 on Jan. 16th. Other doublefigure counts included 17 at Woolverstone, May 25th with 15 there, Mar. 26th and 13 roosting in a field at Shotley, Sept. 20th. Away from the Orwell, other high counts included 18 at Henham, Mar. 11th and 16 there Apr. 15th. Landguard noted wandering birds throughout the year and included two coming in off the sea on June 27th and another in off the sea in October. Breeding details are given below: Site Wild Carr, Worlingham North Cove Henham Sudbourne Blackheath, Friston Methersgate, Sutton Ramsholt Woolverstone Stutton Stoke-by-Nayland Stanstead Little Wratting Thurlow Livermere West Stow Euston Brandon
No. of occupied nests 1992 1991 — 3-5 — — 0 1 18-20 13-17 15 — — 4 13-14 10-12 12-15 24-25 21-26 9-11 7 6 5-6 16-18 13-15 13-16 21 25-27 34 1993
0 16 7 15
14 11 11
9-10 2 4 0 13 15 14
TOTAL 137-150 123-141 163-168 One was reported standing on a house roof in Felixstowe in both January and December. Perhaps this was a good vantage point to scan for garden fish ponds! SPOONBILL Platalea leocorodia Uncommon passage migrant. Now increasingly oversummers; has overwintered. Benacre: Benacre Broad, Apr. 25th; May 28th. Covehithe: Covehithe Broad, two June 18th. Walberswick: Tinker's Marshes, May 19th (colour-ringed). Westwood Marshes: two Apr. 20th. Minsmere: three Apr. 20th to 24th; four Apr. 25th; one Apr. 26th and 27th; up to two in May; three June 2nd; six June 6th; one July 3rd. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Mar. 31st to Apr. 1st. Trimley Marshes: Apr. 27th to 29th; two Apr. 30th to May 2nd; two May 8th. Shotley: two May 9th. Lackford W.R.: Apr. 8th. The only other occurrences in West Suffolk during this century were at Livermere Lake in late April and early May 1990.
We await news of colour-ringed birds at Walberswick and Minsmere which are believed to be of Dutch origin. Although a good spread of records, the once hoped-for breeding records look unlikely to materialise as the years go by and the County continues to attract 'the usual numbers at the usual sites'.
M U T E SWAN Cygnus olor Common resident. J F M A A S O N D Blyth — 11 4 — ? ? ? ? ? Minsmere* 28 23 16 9 7 16 28 24 28 North Warren* 17 17 20 20 55 53 52 22 25 Aide/Ore 108 98 103 — 30 38 69 57 Deben 30 92 74 81 39 95 91 121 Orwell 129 129 101 81 128 26 57 94 Stour 121 108 94 77 98 15 157 112 84 * Monthly maxima (note that North Warren includes Thorpeness Meare). The largest wintering herd was reported from Falkenham Marshes which peaked at 128, Jan. 16th and 110, Dec. 12th, contributing greatly to the Deben counts in the table above (presumably the flock was elsewhere on the day of the January WeBS count). This herd causes many sleepless nights for local farmers who regularly chase the birds off their fields. Other high counts from individual sites included 57, Peto's Marsh, Oulton, Mar. 6th; 30, Suffolk W.P., Bramford, Nov. 25th; 83, Freston, Feb. 20th and 64, Wherstead Strand, Jan. 16th. At least 55 breeding pairs were reported. Success was variable with three pairs raising young at Glemsford and at nearby Long Melford, two pairs reared a total of 13 young. Three pairs on King's Fleet, Felixstowe, raised 16 young but at Leathes Ham, Lowestoft, a pair which raised eight young, lost six when they were almost full grown. Only four pairs were found along the Gipping Valley lakes and pits and North Warren managed to attract three pairs, of which only one was successful. In contrast, Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove, held eight pairs. One of a brood of four juveniles on Oulton Broad in June was of the 'Polish' type.
B E W I C K ' S SWAN Cygnus columbianus Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. During both winter periods, the largest herds were as follows: Shipmeadow: 160 in late January; 50 Dec. 30th. Minsmere: 134 Feb. 16th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 40 Feb. 19th. Town Marshes, 61 Feb. 6th. Mildenhall: Kenny Hill, 72 Dec. 4th. Shippea Hill, 439 Dec. 14th. The flock at Shippea Hill, Mildenhall was most likely to have been part of the Ouse Washes population. In addition, birds on the move included flocks of 110 over Beccles and 23 over Thetford, Feb. 16th and 25 east over Lackford W.R., Mar. 14th. There is evidence in the records above to suggest that a notable influx took place in February. Reports of gatherings came from many other coastal sites but all involved smaller numbers than those above and flocks were transitory and soon moved on. Birds departed rapidly in the early part of the year with the Lackford flock mentioned above being the last report of the spring. October reports, from 21st, included 22 at North Cove on 22nd and 32 at Hazlewood Marshes, Friston/Aldeburgh, on 31st. Birds were seen flying in from over the sea at 37
Landguard, Oct. 23rd (three), Benacre, Nov. 16th (19) and Felixstowe Ferry, Nov. 22nd (12). Individuals sporting blue neck-collars were at Town Marshes, Aldeburgh, Jan 7th and Shipmeadow, Dec. 18th to 24th (see SOG Bulletin 99: 18-19). W H O O P E R S W A N Cygnus cygnus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. A fairly typical year involving a scattering of single-figure parties and one double-figure count. Birds usually associated with herds of Bewick's Swans and the majority of records fell in the first winter period: Kessingland: Levels, three Jan. 10th to Mar. 7th. Benacre: five N. Jan. 1st. Southwold: Town Marshes, four in flight Mar. 5th. Leiston: two in flight Jan. 2nd. Aldeburgh: Town Marshes, from 1992 to Mar. 23rd, max. seven Jan. 9th; one Apr. 18th. North Warren, six Jan. 19th (same as Town Marshes birds); May 3rd. Falkenham: Falkenham Marshes, ad. from 1992 to Apr. 20th. Holbrook: Holbrook Bay, six W. Jan. 1st. Lackford: two E. Mar. 7th; seven E. Mar. 17th. Cavenham: Cavenham Heath, 11 Jan. 20th to 23rd. Tuddenham St. Mary: four Jan. 27th. Barton Mills: six Jan. 18th. The lingering Falkenham bird may perhaps have been sick and unable to migrate; it could also have been responsible for the May record at North Warren. The second winter period produced fewer records: Minsmere: singles Oct. 30th and Nov. 11th. Orford: Havergate Island, three Nov. 26th. Aldeburgh: six flying over the town, Dec. 10th. North Warren, six Nov. 16th and Dec. 8th; seven Dec. 30th. Falkenham: Falkenham Marshes, ad. Dec. 5th to end of year. Trimley Marshes: two in flight Nov. 3rd. Alton Water: five S. Oct. 31st. B E A N G O O S E Anser fabalis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. A scattering of small parties along the coast during the first winter period gave many observers the opportunity to study these birds. Some were rather distant but others were sufficiently approachable to identify the race involved. Typically, most were A. f . fabalis but a few of the smaller A. f . rossicus were also found. Gisleham: Jan. 1st and 2nd. Reydon: Reydon Marshes, four Feb. 17th; nine Feb. 20th; seven Feb. 21st. Southwold: Town Marshes, Feb. 23rd to Mar. 5th (identified as rossicus by some observers). Leiston: Eastbridge Marshes, two Feb. 21st to 23rd. Aldeburgh: two fabalis Feb. 18th. North Warren, fabalis Feb. 16th; three rossicus Feb. 21st to 24th and Mar. 1st to 14th. The second winter period produced fewer records and birds passed through more quickly. The dates show an influx of passage birds during November, perhaps displaced by hard weather on the Continent. Lound: Waterworks, Nov. 6th. Covehithe: Covehithe Broad, Nov. 15th. Aldeburgh: Slaughden, three W. Dec. 13th. Boyton: Boyton Marshes, eight rossicus Nov. 26th.
Bawdsey: Shingle Street, two Nov. 7th. Falkenham: Falkenham Marshes, 22 fabalis Dec. 5th and 12th. Exning: Nov. 29th. The flock of 22 at Falkenham is the largest gathering in the County since 23 at Burgh Castle, Feb. 10th 1989. Escaped birds were reported from Lackford W.R., Dec. 21st; Levington/Loompit Lake/ Trimley Marshes, Mar. 7th to 17th and Weybread G . P . , June 1st. It is possible that the bird at Lound Waterworks (see above) was also of feral origin, but its timing coincided with an influx of this species. PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Considering the large numbers that occur in north and west Norfolk, the scarcity of this species in Suffolk is more than a little surprising. Birds believed to be of wild origin were reported as follows: South Cove: seven Dec. 31st. Reydon: Reydon Marshes, two Feb. 15th to 20th (same as Southwold birds). Southwold: Town Marshes, two Feb. 22nd (same as Reydon birds). Leiston: Eastbridge Marshes, Jan. 1st. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Oct. 17th to 23rd; two Oct. 24th and Nov. 7th; Nov. 22nd. Orford: Orfordness, 62 S. Dec. 31st. Boyton: Boyton Marshes, 22 Dec. 21st; 23 Dec. 31st flew off NW. Some of the above records have been given the benefit of the doubt as regards their origin. At least one escapee Pinkfoot ranges over the Havergate/Boyton/Orford area and may have been responsible for some of the single bird sightings above. Escaped birds were reported from Alton Water, Jan. 3rd; Causeway Lake, Baylham, Apr. 3rd; Boyton Marshes, Nov. 6th; Great Blakenham, May 29th; Livermere Lake, Apr. 3rd and Sept. 9th; Havergate Island, Jan. 16th; Lackford W . R . , May 18th; Trimley 39
Thorpeness: Jul.31st; three, Aug.22nd; two Aug.28th and 29th; three, Sep. 1st; Sep.7th and 25th; singles south, Oct. 9th and 10th; Nov.7th and 28th. Orford: Orfordness, Sep. 10th. Felixstowe: Landguard, singles, Sep.25th, Oct.2nd and 10th. MANX S H E A R W A T E R Puffinus
Uncommon passage migrant. Amber list. The total of 48 individuals (including one found dead) is well down on the 84 in 2003, with the first on June 2nd at Kessingland and the last an exceptionally late bird at Southwold, 22nd December (the previous latest Suffolk date was December 2nd, in 1987 and 2003). Numbers peaked at 16 in June, with 12 in September and 13 in October. All sightings are listed: Lowestoft: Ness Point, singles north, Oct.8th, 9th and 10th. Kessingland: three, Jun.2nd; eight, Jun.24th; three north, four south, Sep; singles, Oct.9th and 11th. Southwold: two, Aug.22nd; singles Sep.30th, Oct.8th, 9th and 10th and Dec.22nd (B.J.Small). Walberswick: Tinkers Marshes, Jul. 17th. Minsmere: north, Oct.28th. Thorpeness: Jun.l5th; two, Jun.l8th; Jun.l9th, 23rd and 24th; Jul.25th; Oct.9th and 28th. Orford: Orfordness, south, Sep. 18th. Bawdsey: south, Oct.29th. Felixstowe: Landguard, singles north, Jul.7th and Oct. 10th. Stour Estuary: single seen from Erwarton Bay, flying towards Harwich, then returning up-river ten minutes later, Sep. 13th (T.C.Nicholson). Long Melford: Sep. 15th (D.K.Underwood). Barnhamcross Common: one found dead, Sep.24th. These are the first records for west Suffolk since 1988 (Wortham, September 8th). FIELD NOTE
Manx Shearwaters have a habit of turning up in odd places inland and getting themselves into trouble, often after autumn gales. Their legs are set far back on their bodies (for swimming) and with their long wings they have difficulty getting airborne from flat ground. Goodness knows what the bird at Tinker's Marshes on July 17th was doing - it was reported as "shearing over hedges, heading east". The bird at Long Melford in September was fortunate; it was "rescued from the road by Tesco's supermarket and released onto the River Stour", the one at Barnhamcross Common nine days later was less fortunate presumably it had landed on the Common and perished before it was found by anyone. Various observers
E U R O P E A N S T O R M - P E T R E L Hydrobates
Rare passage migrant. Amber list. The extraordinary tape-luring of the two birds at Covehithe was described in The Harrier as the event of the year' and a full account of the capture was given (The Harrier 139: 34). The three others seen were significant in their own right, following a blank year for this species in 2003. Covehithe: two caught and ringed at night, Aug.22nd (C.Carter et al). Southwold: three north, Oct.lOth (16.00, 17.00 and 18.05; R.Drew, D.A.Fairhurst, B.J.Small etat). L E A C H ' S S T O R M - P E T R E L Oceanodroma
Rare passage migrant. Amber list. A very good year (following the record total of up to 40 in 2003), with up to 22 birds seen (all but two between October 9th and 16th). Prior to 2003, the previous annual maximum 44
G R E Y L A G G O O S E Anser anser Common resident from feral stock. J D F M A A S O N ? ? 7 7 ? — Blyth 0 17 0 — — Minsmere* 180 120 122 120 66 132 142 — North Warren* 208 32 120 13 9 67 172 220 — — Aide/Ore 0 35 80 1 0 10 35 — — Deben 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 — Orwell 1 0 61 4 41 75 21 36 239 243 259 Alton Water 2 200 74 48 0 216 Stour 0 0 2 2 0 24 0 0 0 Lackford W.R.* 85 1 7 20 106 131 108 175 141 * Monthly maxima The table above may appear to show a fluctuating population but in fact, numbers are relatively stable with apparent changes in number due to flock movements. The largest non-WeBS count at any of the above localities was 250, Alton Water, June 28th. Highest counts away from the above resorts included 146, Benacre Broad, Aug. 28th; 120, Walberswick, Dec. 30th; 100, Covehithe Broad in October and December and 77, South wold Town Marshes, Feb. 25 th. Few breeding birds were reported, although pairs can be surprisingly elusive at this time. At the main localities, 13 pairs raised at least 60 young at Minsmere; three pairs raised eight young at Trimley Marshes and five pairs raised 19 young at Lackford W.R. Other counts involved two pairs at the Gipping Valley Pits and single pairs at Livermere Lake, Ixworth Thorpe, Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Course and Benacre Broad. At the latter site, one pair raised 13 young but this exceptional total is probably the result of two females laying in the same nest.
CANADA G O O S E Brama Very common resident.
J F M A A N S 0 D ? ? ? ? ? Blyth — 14 51 3 North Warren* 325 368 44 51 174 240 385 310 355 — Aide/Ore 141 221 386 94 532 524 96 0 — Deben 108 106 103 86 74 168 104 78 Orwell 14 13 46 37 233 2 104 16 Alton Water 0 4 0 3 20 32 246 0 0 Stour 408 803 318 183 430 41 205 445 254 — — — Long Melford* 221 143 166 200 198 — Lackford W.R.* 234 229 350 400 625 650 281 * Monthly maxima Highest winter counts away from the above sites included 750, Livermere Lake, Oct. 17th and 240, Kessingland Levels, Jan. 10th. Large counts were also received during late summer when birds gathered into flocks to moult. Flocks were recorded at all the major wetland resorts along the coast and in the river valleys. Reports from less regularly watched localities included 610, Livermere Lake, Aug. 30th; 206, Redgrave Lake, July 12th; 175, Suffolk W.P., Bramford, Aug. 21st and 100, River Deben, Wickham Market, Aug. 30th. Few breeding pairs were reported but counts of young birds at breeding sites included 120 at Havergate Island; 80 at Lackford W.R.; 62 at the Gipping Valley pits; 50 at Minsmere; 29 at Trimley Marshes; 24 at Levington; 21 at Long Melford and 18 at Lound Waterworks. Additionally, 20 pairs were located at Bury St Edmunds Beet Factory. 41
The count on the Aide/Ore Estuary in December is high. The following records are also notable: Sizewell: 190 at roost, Dec.27th. Thorpeness: 78 north and 190 south, Jan.4th; 76 north and 195 south, Dec.31st. Havergate Island: 200, Jan.l5th; 140, Dec.14th. E U R O P E A N S H A G Phalacrocorax
Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. At least 20 birds in the first winter period, and 16 in the second, mostly from the regular sites, apart from the one inland record. The August record at Hamilton Dock is notable. Lowestoft: Lake Lothing, four, Jan.2nd; five, Jan. 11th; four, Feb. 1st; singles, Nov.20thand Dec. 18th, and two, Dec.30th. "Kittiwake wall", maximum of 11, Jan.24th. Hamilton Dock, singles, Aug.9th and Dec.28th. Minsmere: offshore, Feb. 16th. Sizewell: one, freshly dead, Jan.9th; two, Nov. 14th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Feb.lรณth. Orfordness: Feb. 11th; four, Nov.21st; Nov.23rd. Kelixstowe: Landguard, Feb.5th and 7th; imm. dead Dec.28th; confiding imm. Dec.30th. Irimley Marshes: Feb.28th. Ipswich: Docks, two, Jan.25th to 27th; three, Feb.22nd; four, Dec.12th. Stour Estuary: Stutton Mill, two, Dec.31st. West Stow: Country Park, first winter, Jan.3rd, GREAT BITTERN Botaurus stellaris Slowly increasing breeding population, scarce resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. Red List. This was an encouraging and successful year for this species. The British population continues to rise, with a total of 55 booming males found in 2004. The Suffolk total of 19 booming males, therefore, represents 34% of the national population. Nine booming males was located at Minsmere (eight in 2003) and one of the nine nests there was a second brood (RSPB). Other breeding records were received from Site A: four booming males; three nests, all apparently successful. Site B: one booming male. Site C: one booming male; a single nest failed. Site D: three booming males throughout the season. Great Bittern Peter Beeson Site E: one male and two females. The male boomed regularly throughout the season. A female was considered to be making feeding flights on June 25th. Away from the coastal breeding areas Great Bitterns were seen at the following locations: Melton: Jan.28th. King's Fleet: Nov.21st. 58
past Landguard, Sept. 12th heralded the start of an offshore movement. Seawatchers reported a few high counts during the autumn which at Landguard included 5,645 S. during September, maximum 4,301 on 29th; 6,361 S. during October, maximum 2,101 on 14th and 1,472 S. during November, maximum 661 on 21st. The highest count from the north of the County involved 1,800 S. in 2Vi hours off Pakefield, Sept. 30th. Reports away from the coastal strip were predictably few. However, of interest are reports of three feeding in a field at Wortham in foggy weather, Feb. 13th; five at Boxford, Feb. 14th and six there the next day and one at Livermere Lake, Apr. 15th to 20th, moving to Lackford W . R . , Apr. 28th. The regular and well-watched flock at Falkenham was found to consist of around 30% juveniles in the second winter period. This figure represents a significant improvement on the previous winter when virtually no young birds could be found at all. This flock also produced the only reports of individuals of the pale-bellied race B. b. hrota, present from Jan. 22nd to Feb. 28th and from Dec. 5th to the year's end. An individual of the North American and East Siberian race B. b. nigricans colloquially known as Black Brant, was reported as follows: Falkenham/Felixstowe: King's Fleet area, Jan. 22nd to 24th (MM). EGYPTIAN GOOSE Alopochen aegyptiacus Locally fairly common resident. This species continues to hold its own in the County with populations in north-west and north-east Suffolk remaining stable, or perhaps showing a slight increase. Highest counts from regular sites included: Somerleyton: 97, Sept. 11th. Lound: Lound Waterworks, 15, Jan. 12th. Oulton Broad: 42, June 26th. Beccles: Beccles Marshes, four, Nov. 26th. Bungay: Bungay Marshes, 12, Mar. 28th. Weybread: Weybread G.P., five, July 11th and Aug. 24th. Lackford W.R.: up to four in Mar., May, Aug. and Nov. Gt./Lt. Livermere: Livermere Lake, 17, Aug. 4th. Ixworth Thorpe: eight, Feb. 28th. The count of 97 at Somerleyton is the County's largest ever recorded total. Smaller numbers were reported from many other sites close to those listed above, and 18 were on a field at Little Livermere, Dec. 1st. The only records away from the general areas above involved three, Wolsey Creek, Blythburgh, Apr. 4th; singles at Minsmere, Feb. 25th, North Warren, Apr. 10th and Southwold, Apr. 28th and two, Wickham Market, Mar. 29th. The small population at the latter site appears to be dying out. Records of pairs with young came from Fritton Decoy, Lound Waterworks, Kessingland, Somerleyton Marshes, Livermere Lake and Ixworth Thorpe whilst another pair at the latter site was found nesting 12 feet up in an Oak tree Unusual reports included what appeared to be an albino at Livermere Lake, May 2nd and a bird which resided on Lowestoft Denes from at least Jan. 2nd to Mar. 9th. RUDDY SHELDUCK Tadorna ferruginea Escapee. Records involving the same long-staying bird came from two locations: Minsmere: July 10th to Aug. 2nd. Orford: Havergate I., present during October to at least Nov. 21st. This individual has spent several years on the Suffolk coast, being seen most regularly at sites along the lower Aide/Ore estuary. 43
SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant.
N D A S O M A J F ? ? ? ? ? — 762 Blyth 619 695 62 61 10 6 16 39 41 Minsmere 83 32 — 532 408 1202 51 537 900 Aide/Ore 831 — 109 191 229 660 Deben 658 779 777 1124 — 148 698 1070 18 Orwell 1411 791 1245 423 120 276 1306 2010 2167 Stour 2272 2241 1856 702 — 5 1 3 8 22 Lackford W.R.* 19 4 8 3 140 106 Livermere Lake 91 95 — — — — Monthly maxima The above table shows the importance of the Suffolk river estuaries for this species. The largest single-site count was of 579 on the Orwell estuary at Wherstead Strand, Jan. 16th. Breeding reports were received from many sites along the coastal strip and counts of juveniles included 93 at Havergate Island (with 37 fledging), 48 at Minsmere, 33 on the Stour at Holbrook Bay and 27 at North Warren. Away from the immediate coast, 11 young were seen at Bramford G.P. and in the west of the County, six juveniles were on Livermere Lake, July 7th, seven at Mickle Mere, Ixworth, May 14th and at Lackford W.R. a total of eight young fledged from four broods. A pair was found nesting in an old straw stack at Ixworth Thorpe, May 8th. The regular autumn passage off Landguard, involving birds returning from moulting grounds, was generally rather uneventful with totals of three north and four south in September and 16 north and 91 south in October. November produced a total of 877 south but the bulk of these occurred during hard weather over a two day period when 294 passed south on Nov. 21st and a further 317 on 22nd. The latter date also produced a count of 100 north off Benacre, and at the same site, 200 flew north on Nov. 15th. MANDARIN Aix galericulata An uncommon visitor. All records are as follows: Felixstowe: Cobbold's Point, 9 Oct. 7th. Gt./Lt. Livermere: Livermere Lake, pair Jan. 1st. Lackford W.R.: pair Jan. 1st; pair Dec. 4th and 5th. Mildenhall: Jubilee Field, cr Mar. 10th. Great Saxham: pair Mar. 20th and 21st. Weybread: River Waveney, cr May 19th. There is always the possibility that some of the Suffolk records involve prospecting birds 44
from the British breeding population. However, many of the County's records involve rather tame individuals and birds often appear in association with Wood Ducks, as was the case with the Great Saxham pair, suggesting a dubious origin. The Felixstowe record must have come as a surprise to the observer who found the bird on the beach; it allowed an approach to within six feet before flying off northwards. W I G E O N Anas penelope Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. S J F M A A O N D 7 ? ? ? ? — Blyth 1348 835 732 Minsmere* 300 206 84 20 8 151 620 450 600 North Warren* 1000 630 470 6 0 55 340 1320 2500 — — Aide/Ore 2812 1390 2487 272 2404 1523 3318 — Deben 1 947 663 838 47 306 415 1672 — Orwell 977 770 1006 0 131 526 724 2543 — — — _ Alton Water* 103 96 24 63 42 Stour 3757 2007 1450 55 1919 1892 1847 2721 * Monthly maxima Figures in the above table show the populations in both winter periods to be up on figures for the previous year. There are certainly good numbers of this species wintering in the County and, taking into account the differing sizes of the estuaries, the Aide/Ore remains a favoured area, with its species-rich saltmarsh vegetation providing good feeding for Wigeon. Highest flock counts from single locations included 2,500, North Warren, Dec. 26th; 2,000, Trimley Marshes, Dec. 12th; 1,241, Long Reach, Friston, Dec. 7th; 1,000, Havergate I., Jan. 10th and 900, Hazlewood Marshes, Feb. 23rd. Southerly autumn passage began with three off Benacre, Aug. 31st and was generally rather quiet with no notable 'big days'. Regular recording of southerly passage at Landguard produced monthly totals of 507 during Sept., max. 212 on 29th; 696 during Oct., max. 157 on 23rd and 643 during Nov., max. 290on21st. Autumn passage off Benacre peaked at 400 north, Nov. 22nd. Records from the west of the County included a maximum of 82 at Livermere Lake, Nov. 29th; a maximum of 23 at Lackford W.R., Sept. 14th; ten at Ixworth Thorpe on Mar. 11th and nine at Boxford, Feb. 20th to 22nd. No proof of breeding was achieved but reports of birds continued well into June and included three, Benacre Broad; seven, Minsmere; four, Havergate Island; two, Holbrook Bay and one, Trimley Marshes where up to four were present in July. GADWALL Anas streperà Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. A S O N D A J F M ? ? ? ? ? — Blyth 0 0 9 40 112 65 35 35 Minsmere 41 56 36 135 47 40 73 32 North Warren 28 49 47 60 40 — — 0 6 21 8 Aide/Ore 14 0 10 — 0 0 0 0 Deben 2 2 0 0 — 23 7 5 52 Orwell 0 5 2 0 — 5 16 8 Alton Water 0 16 15 2 6 50 42 131 150 32 Lackford W.R.* 34 200 — — Monthly maxima In addition to the figures above, higher counts included 120, Livermere Lake, Nov. 29th; 80, Loompit Lake, Nov. 28th; 71, Sizewell Marshes, Sept. 20th; 51, Trimley 45
Marshes, Nov. 9th; 50, Benacre Broad, Jan. 8th; 42, Havergate I., Nov. 20th and 27, Alton Water, Jan. 1st. A preference for freshwater sites shows up strongly in the figures and the west of the County continues to hold important numbers. Records of successful breeding came from Minsmere; Sizewell Marshes; Havergate I.; Trimley Marshes; Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin; Alton Water and Ixworth Thorpe; although most of these sites held just a single pair, at Minsmere six pairs reared 48 young. Elsewhere during the breeding season there were seven pairs at North WarrenSoutherly autumn passage off Landguard totalled just nine birds in the period from Aug. 15th to Nov. 21st with a maximum of four, Sept. 29th. TEAL Anas crecca Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. D O M A A S N J F — — — 64 116 450 425 21 Benacre Broad 600 ? ? ? ? 7 — Blyth 247 233 115 106 646 1400 1000 400 Minsmere 600 214 157 53 43 110 470 232 910 North Warren 580 580 530 130 — — 894 1061 86 566 1162 2054 Aide/Ore 1197 — 34 157 271 Deben 72 74 2 13 126 — 104 114 41 Orwell 173 40 18 128 516 9 4 0 2 1 4 Alton Water 63 5 2 198 Stour 46 119 99 254 331 284 329 42 36 Lackford W.R.* 47 86 25 69 70 110 — : Monthly maxima Additional site totals include 2,000, Orfordness, Nov. 29th; 1,073, Havergate I., Dec. 21st and 800, Trimley Marshes, Dec. 1st. The table above shows a typical set of results, with good totals on freshmarsh sites during the winter, but a drop to rather meagre numbers during the summer. Although Teal can be difficult to locate whilst rearing young, the fact that young were reported from just two sites does imply that the spccics is not faring too well as a breeding species in the County. Fortunately, the winter population looks healthy, with good numbers arriving here from northern and eastern Europe. Autumn passage totals were lower than in 1992 with regular observations at Landguard providing monthly totals of southerly passage involving 211 in Sept., max. 75 on 29th; 141 in Oct., max. 47 on 23rd and 595 in Nov., max. 553 on 21st. As can be seen, the hard weather movements of Nov. 21st produced the only significant count of the autumn. Regular offshore counts were not received from any other site, although 100 passed north off Benacre on Nov. 22nd as part of a hard weather movement (see Shelduck and Wigeon). An individual showing characteristics of the North American race A. c. carolinensis was reported as follows; Benacre: Benacre Broad, c Nov. 13th to the year's end (RWi et al.). This is the twelfth County record of this subspecies. It tested the patience of many observers by associating with hundreds of its European congeners. MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. J Benacre Broad Blyth Minsmere North Warren
146 400 163
94 118 162
21 90 133
A 37 ? 150 108
? 300 158
? 600 154
N 150 7 67 57
D 168 ? 254 109
J F M A A S O D N — — Aide/Ore 893 280 523 87 365 330 741 — Deben 203 127 169 150 156 67 112 259 — Orwell 397 235 170 91 277 361 273 489 Alton Water 197 133 116 65 180 145 174 188 192 Stour 572 304 368 84 95 131 549 269 493 — — — Lackford W.R.* 440 208 194 200 350 560 * Monthly maxima Highest counts from other sites included 560, Oulton Broad/Lake Lothing, Jan. 10th with 530 there, Mar. 7th and 2,500, Livermere Lake, Sept. 5th. It should be remembered that large numbers are artificially bred and released for shooting at the latter site. Breeding season reports from the more important sites included at least 20 females with young at Minsmere; 23 pairs, North Warren; 18 pairs, Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove; 12-16 pairs, Trimley Marshes and 11 pairs, Sizewell Marshes. A nest with 21 eggs was found in long grass near the town car park, Orford; no doubt more than one female was involved. PINTAIL Anas acuta Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. M A 0 D J F A s N ? ? ? ? 7 — Blyth 167 96 3 North Warren 0 0 5 2 10 45 43 5 0 — — Aide/Ore 73 8 260 12 317 305 195 — 0 75 Deben 124 33 70 1 9 0 137 Orwell 340 79 136 0 30 79 321 71 197 Stour 224 380 9 0 117 502 38 The Orwell estuary, particularly the area around Freston and Nacton, remains the best place to see good numbers of Pintail in Suffolk. Highest counts received from single sites included 200, Levington Creek, Oct. 30th; 111, Freston, Jan. 3rd and 104 there, Feb. 14th; 113, Havergate I., Oct. 13th; 118, Minsmere (a high total for this site) during Oct. and 73, Trimley Marshes, Jan. 11th. At Lackford W.R., reports involved two, Jan. 29th and 30th, Mar. 8th and Sept. 30th, a surprise count of 14, Nov. 7th and one, Dec. 5th. The species remains very scarce in West Suffolk and the only reports away from Lackford involved singles at Boxford, Feb. 17th to 20th; Glemsford Mar. 3rd and Livermere Lake, Jan 1st and Sept. 12th. A male and female were present at Minsmere throughout the summer months but breeding was not suspected. Other singles were reported in the County during July, perhaps relating to early returning failed breeders. A pair was found breeding at a site in the west of the County but it seems likely that wild birds were not involved. Passage off Landguard in the autumn was unimpressive with a total of 185 birds south, max. 54 on Sept. 29th. GARGANEY Anas querquedula Uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. An above average spring with several coastal marshes receiving multiple arrivals of this super little duck: Westwood Marshes: cr May 19th. Minsmere: pair, Mar. 13th to 17th and second cr, Mar. 15th; 9 Mar. 27th; up to two c cr and one $ throughout April; three cr cr throughout May; 9 May 25th; 9 June 9th; cr June 20th; two crcr June 21st; cr July 4th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 9 , two Cf cr June 4th to 6th; cf June 7th. Iken: Iken Marshes, pair Apr. 18th. 47
tv ( ^
Trimley Marshes: three ctct, two ç ç Mar. 17th; pair Mar. 26th; CT May 8th and 28th. Great Blakenham: ct May 18th. Lackford W.R.: ct Apr. 24th. Lakenheath: CT May 8th. The late summer and autumn periods were more typical and involved records of a juvenile at Trimley Marshes, July 27th and Aug. 2nd and a late female at Minsmere, Oct. 24th and 25th. Total bird-days were as follows: M A 19 73
SHOVELER Anas clypeata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon resident. F M A J A S N D 0 ? ? ? ? ? — Blyth 5 4 11 Minsmere 47 36 86 35 28 47 69 132 110 184 North Warren 123 185 5 23 26 119 112 131 — — Alde/Ore 37 3 13 4 5 13 40 — — Deben 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 — Orwell 7 8 15 7 4 39 2 9 Alton Water 5 0 0 0 2 9 12 20 0 Stour 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 7 34 16 Lackford W.R.* — — 14 87 124 79 81 * Monthly maxima The shallow freshwater habitats of the RSPB reserves at Minsmere and North Warren prove irrésistible to this species. The increase in numbers at the latter location is ali the more impressive given the fact that it is a relatively new site. Additional counts included 61, Thorpeness Meare, Nov. 30th and 40 there, Feb. 22nd; 60, Livermere Lake, Nov. 21st and 42, Alton Water, Jan. Ist (non-WeBS count day). Summer records came from several sites but proof of breeding was only achieved at 48
Minsmere (one pair), Trimley Marshes (three broods seen) and Ixworth Thorpe (one brood). Light autumn passage off Landguard produced a total of 59 birds passing south.
RED-CRESTED POCHARD Netta rufina Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. An average showing with the bulk of the records falling in January. A total of six birds seems to have been involved: Minsmere: two 9 9 Sept. 17th. Trimley Marshes: Jan. 18th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, 9 Jan. 2nd. Alton Water: 9 Jan. 1st to 16th, Feb. 19th, Mar. 3rd to 8th and Apr. 5th. Gt./Lt. Livermere: cf Livermere Lake, Jan. 1st to 3rd. Lackford W.R.: 9 Nov. 8th to 13th. The Livermere bird had been present at Lackford at the end of 1992 and the run of records at Alton Water is likely to refer to a single, rather elusive, individual. The annual totals of individuals over recent years (omitting obvious escapees) are as follows: 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1 4 3 5 7 13 5 6 There is likely to be some duplication caused by individuals returning to regular wintering grounds each year. This may well be the case at Lackford where winter records have become annual in recent years. POCHARD Aythya ferina Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. F M N D J A A S O Minsmere 51 55 64 50 23 18 26 13 7 â€” Orwell 38 140 64 5 25 31 166 2 Alton Water 256 64 47 22 0 130 144 0 6 Lackford W.R.* 130 61 31 47 103 200 8 3 â€” Monthly maxima Numbers at Alton Water on non-WeBS count days peaked at 422, Jan. 6th and 217, Nov. 29th. The above locations represent the main sites for this species in the County, although lower counts were received from many other smaller waterways. The reservoir on the Trimley Marshes reserve is becoming a regular site for this species with a maximum count of 155 there, Dec. 9th. The Pochard remains a very scarce breeding species in Suffolk, although odd pairs are easily overlooked. Three pairs raised a total of 15 young at Minsmere and single females were observed with young at Benacre Pits;Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin; Livermere Lake and Ixworth Thorpe. Single-figure counts were reported passing south offshore on several dates during the autumn and Landguard reported a total of 81 south, peaking at 20 on Nov. 21st. Aythya hybrids Male Pochard x Tufted Duck hybrids were reported as follows: Lowestoft: Leathes Ham/Oulton Broad, from Nov. 1992 to Apr. 21st; Nov. 6th and 7th. Stoke-by-Nayland: Thorington Street Res., Mar. 11th to 15th. Lackford W.R.: Oct. 8th and Nov. 16th. A male Scaup x Tufted Duck hybrid was reported as follows: Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness Meare, Feb. 18th. 49
TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. S A N D O A M F J — — 10 65 0 28 7 23 97 Aide/Ore 44 1 2 0 0 20 Deben 26 12 13 — 35 101 49 46 155 72 139 Orwell 47 142 182 325 125 170 324 111 98 13 Alton Water — 40 28 25 30 32 62 40 Bramford* 60 122 — 146 165 150 201 210 Lackford W.R.* * Monthly maxima Highest counts from regular locations included 517, Alton Water, Jan. 6th (non-WeBS count day); 163, Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, Jan. 29th; 113, Trimley Marshes, Jan. 29th and 52, Weybread Pits, Jan. 3rd. All other sites held lower numbers. Breeding season reports came from 17 widely scattered locations. This represents gross under-recording of this common breeding species which will patronise the smallest of farm reservoirs and ponds; perhaps it is time for a County-wide survey of this species? Twenty broods were present at Lackford W.R., July 5th. Autumn passage off Landguard was meagre with a total of just 57 passing south during October and November, of which 48 were recorded on Nov. 21st during hard weather. SCAUP Aythya marila Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. This species was present in the County in reasonable numbers during both winter periods. Records came from eleven sites during January to March as follows: Oulton: Fisher Row, cr Jan. 7th. Benacre: Benacre Broad, ç Jan. 6th to 10th and two on 9th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness Meare, er Feb. 18th to 20th. Iken: Aide estuary, ç Jan. 19th. Orford: Havergate I., Mar. 7th. Trimley Marshes: Feb. 19th to Mar. 7th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, cr from 1992 throughout Jan.; two cr cr Feb. 24th to Mar. 6th; 9 Jan. 4th. Levington: two cr cr Mar. 7th. Freston/Wherstead: Orwell estuary, five ç ç Feb. 1st to at least 7th; two ç 9 at least Feb. 18th to 24th. Alton Water: up to five 9 9 and one cr during Jan; two 9 9 Mar. 2nd. A late male was present at Minsmere, Apr. 29th to May 3rd. The second winter period produced higher numbers, with a noticeable influx during November, although most birds soon moved on: Lowestoft: Hamilton Dock, six Oct. 31st. Benacre: Benacre Broad, present from Nov. 2nd, max. 25 Nov. 23rd but decreasing to five in Dec. Southwold: Town Marshes, 9 Oct. 14th. Boating Lake, four Nov. 6th and 7th. Minsmere: up to four on The Scrape throughout Nov. Iken: Aide estuary, ten Nov. 15th to 20th at least. Orford: Havergate I., two 9 9 Dec. 7th to 12th. Felixstowe: Landguard, N. Oct. 23rd; six N. Nov. 21st; two S. Dec. 28th; cr on sea Oct. 31st. Trimley Marshes: three Oct. 19th; one throughout Nov. increasing to four, Dec. 8th to 12th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, nine cr cr, five 9 9 Nov. 28th; cr and up to four 9 9 throughout Dec. Shotley: Orwell estuary, 13 Nov. 23rd. Nacton: Orwell estuary, 12 Nov. 11th; 15 Nov. 30th. Alton Water: four 9 9 Nov. 21st, decreasing to one, Nov. 29th. Holbrook: Holbrook Bay, three, Nov. 16th. Lackford W.R.: Oct. 10th. 50
EIDER Somateria mollissima Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few non-breeders oversummer. Numbers of this species have been generally rather low in recent years with the bulk of reports relating to single birds on the river estuaries. 1993 did, however, provide a flurry of offshore activity in the autumn. During the first winter/spring period up to nine were off Kessingland/Covehithe, up to three were on the lower Orwell estuary and two in the Ness Point/Lake Lothing area of Lowestoft. A somewhat amusing report involved the sight of a female Eider being hustled out of the way by workmen in The Ravine, Lowestoft, Jan. 9th. The usual handful of oversummering non-breeders was recorded and included up to four at Benacre, an immature male on the River Orwell at Trimley St Mary and other singles at Havergate Island, May 13th to 25th; Kessingland, May 16th to 19th and Lowestoft Harbour throughout the period. A moulting male well up the River Blyth at Blythburgh, Sept. 7th had presumably summered in the area and five were on the sea off Landguard, Sept. 15th. Offshore movements were widely reported during the latter part of the year with the bulk of records being in October and November as follows: Lowestoft: 15 N. Oct. 24th. Benacre: 14 N. Oct. 24th; singles N. Oct. 25th and 30th; 30 N. Nov. 20th. Covehithe: 54 N. and 16 S. during Oct., max. 21 N. on 20th. Southwold: three N. Sept. 12th; three N. Oct. 23rd; five N. Oct. 24th. Minsmere: 14 N. Oct. 24th; 54 S. Nov. 19th; six N. Nov. 20th; four N. Dec. 2nd. Aldeburgh: one S. Sept. 13th; 45 N. in Oct., max. 23 on 25th; 16 S. Oct. 31st; two N. Nov. 20th; 11 N. Nov. 21st. Orford: Orfordness, 11 S. Nov. 21st. Felixstowe: Landguard, 24 N. and 34 S. during Oct., max. 30 S. on 24th; 44 N. and 133 S. during Nov., max. 70 S. on 23rd; two S, Dec. 18th. Small numbers remained throughout the second winter period with up to two on Benacre Broad and singles at Lowestoft Harbour and on the estuaries at Blythburgh, Felixstowe Ferry, Iken and Havergate Island. One roamed along most of the Orwell estuary throughout the period with eight there on Dec. 24th and other reports included one, Island Mere, Minsmere, Nov. 22nd; four, River Ore, Orford, Nov. 21st; one off Landguard Point, Dec. 6th to 11th and two off Kessingland, Dec. 30th. In the west of the County, a female/immature Eider at Lackford W.R., Oct. 31st, constitutes the first site record and coincided with an influx of the species into several other inland sites in England (e.g. three in West Norfolk, four Ouse Washes and one Bedfordshire). Suffolk's only other inland record of this species occurred at Hawstead on Oct. 14th 1976. LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. The annual totals of individuals over recent years are as follows: 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 10 10 c.68 36 22 52 17 25 The beginnings of a regular wintering flock on the upper Orwell estuary seem to have come to a halt with no more than two birds being reported from this location during 1993. However, the total of 25 in the County is still a good number. All records are as follows: Benacre: Broad and pits, 9 /imm. S. Mar. 10th; 9 /imm. Nov. 11th to end of year, joined by second 9 from Dec. 30th; oâ€˘ Nov. 21st. Covehithe: N. Nov. 6th (presumed same as Southwold bird). Southwold: N. Nov. 6th (presumed same as Covehithe bird). Minsmere: S. Oct. 7th; nine offshore Dec. 12th. 51
Felixstowe: Landguard, five N. Dec. 27th (single flock). Trimley Marshes: <?/imm. Dec. 1st to 14th. Freston/Woolverstone: Orwell estuary, Jan. 3rd to at least 30th; two Feb. 14th. Alton Water: Feb. 20th. COMMON SCOTER Melanina nigra Common non-breeding resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. The regular feeding flocks off the Suffolk coast seem to be a thing of the past and there was no repeat of last year's large gathering off Kessingland. Feeding flocks during the first winter period were almost non-existent and the only reports involved up to 20 off Kessingland and three off Covehithe. Spring reports were no better, with 28 off Covehithe, Apr. 12th and seven north off Bawdsey during March. Landguard Bird Observatory logged 17 north, May 3rd and two north, May 11th. A flock of 130 unexpectedly appeared off Dunwich, June 27th and July produced counts of 43 off Minsmere on 30th and 15 off Walberswick on 31st. After a gradual increase in numbers passing offshore during August, numbers reached their peak during September and into October and this period produced the bulk of the year's records. Selected higher counts were as follows: Lowestoft: 80 S. Sept. 13th; 22 S. Oct. 13th; 70 N. Oct. 23rd; 30 S. Nov. 17th. Benacre: 15 N. Oct. 24th. Covehithe: 185 S. Oct. 22nd; 151 N. and 25 S. Oct. 23rd; 120 S. Nov. 20th. Southwold: 32 S. during Aug.; 21 N. and 190 S. during Sept., max. 150 S. on 12th; 82 N. and 20 S. Oct. 23rd. Minsmere: 800 S. in two hours, Oct. 23rd. Leiston: Sizewell, 325 S. Sept. 13th. Aldeburgh: 85 S. Sept. 4th; 362 S. Sept. 13th; 20 on sea, Oct. 24th. Felixstowe: Landguard, four N. and 25 S. during July; nine N. and 18 S. during Aug.; 3 N. and 194 S. during Sept., max. 55 S. on 12th; 136 N. and 110 S. during Oct., max. 95 N. and 13 S. on 23rd; 15 N. and 45 S. during Nov., max. 32 S. on 16th. Apart from those offshore, there were few other reports; singles were on Benacre Broad, Aug. 5th to at least Nov. 11th and the River Orwell, Shotley/Trimley, July 13th and Dec. 12th. The only inland report this year concerned a spring migrant male at Lackford W.R., Apr. 10th to 17th. VELVET SCOTER Melanina fusca Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. A very poor year, especially after the increase in sightings over the past two years. All but one report involved just one or two birds: Kessingland: cr Dec. 30th. Covehithe: 15 Mar. 7th; two N. Nov. 6th; singles S. Dec. 18th and 30th. Southwold: two N. Oct. 26th. Walberswick: cr July 31st. Minsmere: two offshore Nov. 22nd. Felixstowe: Landguard, N. Oct. 15th; S. Oct. 16th. The annual totals of individuals reported over recent years are given below. There may be much duplication caused by birds moving up and down the coast during the winter: 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 48 44 37 73 42 154 125 27 GOLDENEYE Bucephala clangula Common winter visitor and passage migrant. 52
Benacre Broad* Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Stour Lackford W.R.*
J 6 6 10 24 4 26 16
F 3 8 26 44 17 50 16
M 2 4 49 38 16 95 20
0 0 0 0 15
0 0 0
s 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
o 5 1 0 1 2 9 7
N 11 0 1 21 0 25 11
D 11 10 30 60 9 102 10
* Monthly maxima Higher counts on non-WeBS days included 101, River Orwell, Nacton/Freston, Jan. 21st; 25, River Orwell, Freston, Oct. 31st; 20, Alton Water, Dec. 3rd; 15, River Aide, Iken, Nov. 20th and 15, Loompit Lake, Jan. 4th. During the first winter period, the species was well recorded with the bulk of reports coming from regular wintering spots on the Orwell estuary, Alton Water, Benacre Broad and Lackford W . R . Few birds lingered in the spring and the only records involved three at Lackford W . R . to Apr. 17th; one on the River Deben at Shottisham, Apr. 17th and one at Suffolk W . P . , Bramford to May 15th. There were then no reports at all until October when a scattering of birds appeared to begin the build-up of the wintering population. Numbers during the second winter period were generally lower than the first winter period, although this is not unusual. This species is rather scarce in the west of the County and, apart from regular counts at Lackford W . R . , the only reports involved up to three at Livermere Lake during January. Other non-coastal/estuarine sightings included singles at Weybread G . P . , Feb. 24th and Framlingham Mere, Oct. 29th. Landguard logged an autumn total of one north and 41 south with a maximum day count of 17 south, Oct. 14th. S M E W Mergus albellus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. A reasonable year for the species, although most records involved single birds. One or two stayed long enough in the north of the County to be enjoyed by many observers. All records are as follows: Lound: Waterworks, redhead Dec. 15th to 24th, two on 24th. Benacre: Benacre Broad, cr and two redheads Jan. 6th to 10th; one redhead to Jan. 31st; redhead Dec. 28th. Walberswick: redhead Jan. 21st. Minsmere: redhead Jan. 9th to Feb. 14th; redhead Dec. 6th to 8th. Framlingham: Framlingham Mere, two redheads Oct. 29th (one an imm. cr). Lackford W.R.: redhead Dec. 3rd. The annual totals of individuals over recent years are as follows: 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 30 70+ 6 5 3 83 3 11 This species is an excellent indicator of the severity of winter weather. RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. M A J F — Aide/Ore 0 0 3 Deben 0 0 0 0 Orwell 18 0 9 7 Stour 1 13 1 29 53
_ — —
S 1 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 1
N 1 1 0 0
D 2 0 8 22
The wide, deep channels of the Orwell and Stour remain the best sites to see this species in the County. The highest counts from single locations included 28, Stour Estuary, Erwarton, Mar. 7th; 11, River Orwell, Trimley St. Mary, Feb. 10th and 15, Holbrook Bay, Nov. 23rd. Smaller numbers came from many other coastal sites, although most were short-stayers. Nine were around Havergate Island, Nov. 20th. Offshore movements involved mainly ones and twos and were most widely reported during March/April and October/November. Peak movements provided counts of 12 N. and eight S. off Benacre during November, 13 S. off Landguard during April and 23 S. there during November. Reports from less typical locations included two on Island Mere, Minsmere, Nov. 7th and singles at North Warren Jan. 12th; Oulton Broad, Jan. 3rd; Lackford W.R., Feb. 15th and on a shore pool at Bawdsey, Oct. 31st. Unseasonable sightings in the Levington/Chelmondiston area of the River Orwell involved one between May 22nd and 26th and two on July 30th. GOOSANDER Mergus merganser Locally fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Lackford W.R. once again provided the only regular run of reports but there was a good scattering of sightings involving passage birds, mainly during the second winter period but few of these birds stayed for very long. The first winter period provided the following: Lound: Waterworks, cr Jan. 8th to 17th. Beccles: River Waveney, o' Jan. 17th. Minsmere: redhead Feb. 6th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, redhead Jan. 13th to 17th â€” possibly the same flying S. Jan. 21st. Alton Water: redhead Jan. 30th to Feb. 19th, two on latter date. Lackford W.R.: monthly max. of nine in Jan., 16 in Feb., 11 in Mar.; last seen Mar. 15th. Weybread: Weybread G.P., cr Jan. 6th and 16th. Movements of birds in the spring produced an unusual report of a male flying west over Knettishall airfield, Mar. 3rd and a redhead at Livermere Lake, Apr. 2nd to 19th. The second winter period saw a notable movement of single birds through the area during late November and provided the following reports: Benacre: Benacre Broad, seven redheads Oct. 30th. Covehithe: four S. Nov. 23rd. Minsmere: cr on The Scrape, Nov. 23rd. Aldeburgh: North Warren, cr and six redheads on cleared fen, Oct. 30th; redhead, Nov. 27th. Iken: River Aide, a Nov. 15th. Felixstowe: Landguard, one on sea, Oct. 24th; three N. and five S. during Nov. Alton Water: two redheads Nov. 29th. Ipswich: Docks, redhead Nov. 29th. Battisford: cr (lying NW, Nov. 22nd. Lackford W.R.: redhead Oct. 31st; up to eight in Nov. and nine in Dec. RUDDY DUCK Oxyura jamaicensis Uncommon resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. In Suffolk, this species has not shown the dramatic increase that has been experienced in other counties, and the species still remains faithful to just one site. Occasional reports came from a further eight sites. At Livermere Lake, the highest count received was of 15 birds on Apr. 17th. Most of the high counts came in April when the species was most visible during courtship. Birds dispersed from the site during the shooting season later in the year. Late breeding at Livermere Lake/Ampton Water was evidenced by two broods (of four and three) during September. 54
The species was also reported during nearly every month of the year at Lackford W.R. with a maximum of five, Jan. 1st to 6th. It seems likely that this could be the next site to hold breeding birds. Reports from all other sites were as follows: Minsmere: oâ€˘ June 28th to July 24th. Framlingham: Framlingham Mere, 9 Aug. 17th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, cr Jan. 1st to Mar. 2nd. Alton Water: cr Jan. 3rd to 30th. Stoke-by-Nayland: Thorington Street Res., two 9 9 Aug. 6th. Ixworth Thorpe: a Apr. 26th; two cr cr May 10th. Weybread: Weybread G.P., 9 Jan. 3rd. HONEY BUZZARD Pernis apivorus Rare passage migrant. Once again a good selection of records, continuing a welcome increase in sightings in the County. Covehithe: S. along coast Sept. 14th (SPa). Southwold: in off sea Sept. 16th (JAD). Dunwich: June 4th (CRN). Minsmere: N. May 28th (GRW et al.); singles June 5th (GRW) and Aug. 30th (NL); 11 S. Sept. 16th (IR et al.). Felixstowe: Felixstowe Docks, S.W. Sept. 23rd (MM) Barnham: Barnhamcross Common, S.E. Sept. 18th (DRM, MTW). Market Weston: N. Aug. 7th (JDW, DEB). The record of 11 birds passing south over Minsmere on Sept. 16th is without precedent in the County since at least 1881 and must have been a remarkable sight, reminiscent of raptor passage on the Continent (see report on p.20). The run of mid-summer birds was not continued in 1993 but the number of autumn passage birds was good compensation. B L A C K K I T E Milvus
Rare overshooting migrant from the Continent. After blank years in 1991 and 1992, the run of records continued with a typically brief spring bird, followed by two birds with the movement of Honey Buzzards in September. Minsmere: two S. Sept. 16th (IR et al.). Aldeburgh: North Warren, Apr. 22nd (RNM). Potentially the 14th to 16th County records, but note that the Minsmere birds await acceptance, due to the late submission of the record. RED KITE Milvus milvus Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Dunwich: June 27th (CRN). Minsmere: singles Mar. 27th, Apr. 1st and Nov. 22nd (DF, IR et al.). Aldeburgh: North Warren, Dec. 11th (RNM). Trimley Marshes: N.W. over SWT reserve Oct. 16th (AFr, Mrs SS). Newmarket: Apr. 22nd (LPB) Lackford W.R.: Mar. 14th (Mrs DR). A typical set of records involving spring and autumn passage birds and one or two winter wanderers. The Newmarket record is particularly intriguing, involving a radio-tagged bird which was located by a radio-tracker looking for an escaped Goshawk. 1992 Benacre: Apr. 22nd (RCS). 55
MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosa Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. A few overwinter. The good fortunes of this species continue unabated; a concerted effort to get an accurate account of breeding numbers would be greatly welcomed. During the first winter period, the only reports in January involved female/immatures at Minsmere, Sudbourne and Westwood Marshes (two) and by Feb. 27th the latter site held two females and an immature male. During March, up to five were at Minsmere and single birds were reported from at least eight other coastal sites. Six birds were back at Westwood Marshes by Apr. 5th and records of single passage birds continued to be received throughout April and into May by which time birds were settling down to breed. Few breeding records have been received away from traditional localities. However, the general feeling is of a continued spread of pairs into marginal habitats close to coastal estuaries although breeding fortunes were mixed. Minsmere staff reported three males and seven females raising 17 young from six broods, at Walberswick six nests produced 20 young and at another coastal site, 18 young were raised from five nests. Benacre birds fared worse, however, with two nests located but no young fledged. A general southerly movement of birds was noted from mid-August and continued into September. By October however, most birds had left the County and reports involved single juveniles flying over Fagbury Cliff, Trimley St Mary on Oct. 3rd and the Norman Gwatkin Reserve, Henham, Oct. 22nd. But for one flying NE over Beccles, Dec. 9th, all further records were confined to Benacre, Walberswick, Minsmere and North Warren with the latter site providing single birds on single dates in October, November and December. Highest counts of early-winter gatherings included four at Benacre, Nov. 20th; five at Westwood Marshes, Nov. 6th and four at Minsmere, Dec. 4th. In the west of the County, the number of reports was rather disappointing. At least one pair appears to have bred in the fens but other records all related to passage birds with singles at Icklingham, Apr. 13th; Lackford July 23rd and Sept. 7th; Risby, Aug. 12th and Livermere Lake, Sept. 11th and 12th. HEN HARRIER Circus cyaneus Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. The first winter period saw a good spread of sightings with reports of one to two birds coming from 23 coastal and five inland (mainly Breckland) sites. Spring passage was evidenced by a slight increase in sightings during March and several April reports. Records of individuals after the middle of April included singles at Eastbridge Apr. 17th; Benacre Broad and Kingsfleet, Felixstowe May 2nd; Westwood Marshes, May 3rd; Minsmere, May 8th; Gisleham, May 13th and Ixworth Thorpe, May 15th. Whilst some of these records may refer to the same individuals, this run of records serves to remind observers that a harrier in May should not be assumed to be a Montagu's. The first autumn individuals were reported from Shingle Street, Sept. 19th and Benacre Broad, Sept. 20th but sightings were then few until a general increase in mid-November. The second winter period proved to be rather quiet for this species with most reports involving one to three birds at traditional sites on the coast and in Breckland. The only higher counts involved the fine sight of eight birds, including five adult males, coming in to roost at Westwood Marshes on Dec. 18th and five birds going to roost at a traditional Breckland site, Dec. 19th. Other sightings of particular interest in late autumn included a ringtail in off the sea at Benacre, Oct. 24th and an adult male which flew over the A14 trunk road at Risby, Nov. 29th. MONTAGU'S HARRIER Circus pygargus Scarce passage migrant. Formerly bred. A poor year for this species with just one accepted record:
6: Colour-ringing of Spoonbills in The Netherlands has helped to throw light on the movements of birds such as this individual at Minsmere.
7: This ringed Barnacle Goose, over-summering with feral birds at Fritton Country Park, proved to have originated from wild stock in Sweden.
8: Good numbers of White-fronted Geese appeared during both winter periods.
9: Female Pochard on nest in West Suffolk.
Trimley Marshes: ringtail May 14th and 15th (MM, NO et al.). This bird was seen by few people as it appeared in the late afternoon and was seen very briefly, leaving the area, early the following morning. A small breeding population has become established in Norfolk but there has been no corresponding increase in sightings in Suffolk. Unidentified harriers Circus sp. Unidentified ringtail Montagu's/Hen Harriers, were reported as follows: Sudbourne: June 13th. Sproughton: May 5th. GOSHAWK Accipiter gentilis Scarce resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Breeding season reports came from at least five sites, involving six pairs. Reports of wandering birds also came from a handful of other sites and included singles at Wangford (East), Apr. 15th; Barton Mills, Aug. 18th; Onehouse, Nov. 10th; Darsham, Nov. 17th and Minsmere where there were several sightings in March, April and September. Once again, several records have been lost due to insufficient details being submitted. S P A R R O W H A W K Accipiter nisus Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. The spread of this fabulous and entertaining species continues unabated. Records were received from a minimum of 121 parishes with an increasing breeding population being boosted by immigrants from the Continent during the winter. Proof of immigration included a report of one being mobbed by gulls as it came in off the sea at Benacre, Apr. 18th and an impressive run of sightings at Landguard where singles were noted on nine dates during the spring between Mar. 16th and May 18th and one to two birds on 23 dates during the autumn. Landguard sightings continued with singles on six dates during November/ December and at nearby Fagbury Cliff, six individuals were trapped during the autumn migration period. The most unusual observation of the year involved a bird apparently raiding bins in a Leiston garden, Aug. 12th. The bird was startled and flew into an upstairs window, was temporarily stunned and then flew off down a side alley. (It is perhaps most likely that this bird had been pursuing a House Sparrow â€” Ed.) It is a shame that this species is still being used as a scapegoat to explain the decline in songbirds due to Man's continued misuse of the countryside. C O M M O N BUZZARD Buteo buteo Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Records continue to increase in the County and it seems only a matter of time before breeding is eventually proven. The early part of the year provided several long-staying birds and once again, one appeared to be more or less resident in the Beccles area: Beccles/Worlingham: many dates from at least Feb. 22nd to June 22nd. Benacre: several dates between Mar. 7th and Apr. 21st; probably a different bird May 22nd. Thorington: Jan. 3rd to 5th and Mar. 7th. Westwood Marshes: Feb. 23rd and 25th. Dunwich: Dunwich Forest, Mar. 19th and 24th; two Apr. 14th. Minsmere: Apr. 30th; pale phase, Jan. 9th and Feb. 6th. Rendlesham Forest: Mar. 20th. Felixstowe: Landguard, N. May 12th. Trimley St. Martin: Loompit Lake, N. Feb. 17th. Stowmarket: Combs Lane, NE. Apr. 16th. 57
Pakenham: W. May 17th. Records during the autumn and second winter period involve the following: Lowestoft: Waveney Drive, S. Sept. 14th. Carlton Colville: Sept. 1st. Beccles/Worlingham: several dates during October. Benacre: Oct. 9th. Walberswick: Sept. 15th. Minsmere: singles Aug. 10th and Oct. 8th; 11 S. Sept. 16th. Eastbridge: two, Sept. 14th. Orford: Havergate I., July 22nd. Felixstowe: Landguard, Oct. 5th. Trimley Marshes: imm., Nov. 12th. Levington: Research Station, Oct. 27th. Brent Eleigh: Sept. 23rd. Norton: Sept. 11th. Gt/Lt Livermere: Livermere Lake, Sept. 12th and 13th. Lackford W.R.: July 29th and 31st; Sept. 1st; two Sept. 14th. An excellent autumn passage but a poor second winter period. The late summer/early autumn records are particularly interesting. The count at Minsmere on Sept. 16th was part of a major raptor movement on that day (see also Honey Buzzard and Black Kite). An active Suffolk birder can now expect to see this species annually in the County. ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. A poor year with no records from the 'traditional' Butley River area: Oulton: Peto's Marsh, Jan. 14th. Beccles: Beccles Marshes, several dates from 1992 to Feb. 28th. Minsmere: Dec. 19th. After a run of good years perhaps we had become complacent and almost expected to see this species annually. Let's hope this lull in records is short-lived! Unidentified buzzards Buteo/Pernis
Unidentified buzzards were reported as follows: Lowestoft: Ness Point, in off sea then S. Oct. 8th. Trimley Marshes: Nov. 28th. OSPREY Pandion haliaetus Uncommon passage migrant. As the breeding population in Scotland increases annually, so records have increased in Suffolk, although the late dates of some spring birds perhaps suggests a Scandinavian destination for many. However, 1993 was a poor year in the County with spring passage almost non-existent and no lingering birds to entertain the crowds: Minsmere: singles May 1st and 25th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, N. May 2nd. Orford: Havergate I., Apr. 21st. Wantisden: Staverton pools, June 25th. Sudbourne: carrying fish over village, June 10th. The latter two records perhaps refer to a single over-summering individual. Autumn passage was a little better, but again, there were no long-stayers: Minsmere: Sept. 12th to 15th with two on 13th; two S. Sept. 16th. Levington: Aug. 22nd. Holbrook: S.W. Sept. 15th. Raydon: Aug. 22nd. 58
Boxford: S.W. Oct. Ist. Pakenham: Oct. 16th. Lackford W.R.: Oct. 4th and 5th. 1992 Lowestoft: Lowestoft Harbour, Apr. 18th (per PWM) This late record involved a bird which was photographed, perched on a wooden post in Lowestoft Harbour â€” nearly the one that got away! KESTREL Falco tinnunculus Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Reported widely from across the County but the total of just 63 parishes from which records were received shows how under-recorded this species is when compared with the 121 parishes for which Sparrowhawk was reported. Four pairs were reported from the RSPB reserves at Minsmere and North Warren and CBC sites at Coddenham and Castle Marshes, Barnby/North Cove held a single pair each. Autumn migrants produced sightings of singles offshore at Aldeburgh, Sept. 13th and Felixstowe, Oct. 25th whilst Landguard Bird Observatory recorded a total of 19 south on 17 dates between July 25th and Oct. 17th. An interesting observation came from Shotley where five birds were observed hunting behind a plough in September (presumably a family party â€” Ed. ) MERLIN Falco columbarius Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. A good spread of records but many birds remained elusive and few, if any, sites could be relied upon to produce a sighting. The first winter period provided records from 12 coastal and eight inland sites with unexpected reports coming from Hadleigh, Haughley and Newmarket. The two latter sites produced sightings for observers driving along the A14 trunk road. Several late spring individuals were reported during April whilst May records involved singles at Chelmondiston on 2nd and Lowestoft on 16th. The latter bird was seen to fly out to sea and return. The autumn produced a flurry of passage birds with reports from seven coastal localities between Sept. 1st and Oct. 30th with one bird lingering for five days on Havergate Island. Predictably, most reports came from well-watched sites but Landguard Bird Observatory reported just three birds during the autumn period. The second winter period saw a reasonable number of reports with sightings from ten parishes, but all at coastal or near-coastal sites. See also note on p. 152. HOBBY Falco subbuteo Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. The increase in sightings of this super little falcon continues unabated and Suffolk birders can now expect to see several individuals in the course of the year. The first reports involved singles at Trimley Marshes, Apr. 22nd; Rendlesham Forest, Apr. 24th; Fagbury Cliff, Apr. 25th; Holbrook, Apr. 26th; Landguard and Combs Lane, Stowmarket, Apr. 27th and Minsmere, Apr. 29th. Late spring and summer records then came from no less than 68 parishes, spread right across the County. Whilst many of these birds may have been wandering non-breeders, several reports in the latter part of the summer included birds carrying prey or sightings of two or three birds together and circumstantial evidence points to an ever-growing breeding population. With numbers swollen by the year's offspring, many birds were reported throughout 59
the autumn migration period and a few lingering birds gave observers plenty of opportunity to enjoy the species. At Oulton, two birds spent some two weeks hawking insects in the evenings around St Michael's church during July and many local birders made regular trips to watch them. Hobbies were still fairly widespread during early October with reports coming from Brightwell and Lackford, 2nd; Dunwich and Bawdsey, 4th; Benacre Broad, 9th and Minsmere and Warrenhouse Wood, Lowestoft, 10th. A very interesting report involved a Hobby attempting to catch Linnets from overhead wires at Lackford. PEREGRINE Falco peregrinus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. At a time when we are all concerned about the plight of many of our once common bird species, it is almost embarrassing to be reporting increases in so many of our birds of prey. And yet once again, the Peregrine is another raptor which is occurring with increased regularity in Suffolk as a wintering species â€” time to get out those nestboxes perhaps! The first half of the year produced records as follows: Minsmere: singles Feb. 18th and Apr. 29th. Boyton/Butley: Jan. 7th. Trimley Marshes: singles Jan. 1st and 6th, Feb. 6th, Mar. 17th and Apr. 5th and 11th. Trimley St Martin: May 25th. Levington: Mar. 16th. Ipswich/Wherstead/Freston: Orwell estuary, from 1992 to Mar. 26th. Great Livermere: Apr. 11th. Autumn records began early with at least two birds appearing in late August. Records for the second half of the year are as follows: Minsmere: Aug. 29th; Dec. 21st. Aldeburgh: S. offshore harassing Common Terns, Sept. 13th. Felixstowe: Docks, Nov. 18th. Trimley Marshes: singles Aug. 31st, 11 dates during Sept., Oct. 1st and 6th and Dec. 8th, involving at least two birds. Ipswich/Wherstead: Orwell estuary, Dec. 16th. The south-east of the County holds a near-monopoly on this species with the wader-rich estuaries and Feral Pigeon flocks providing ample food for wintering Peregrines. RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE Alectoris rufa Pure birds rather rare at present but hybrids very common. Despite many requests for observers to submit details of sightings of pure Red-legs and Red-leg x Chukar hybrids, records are becoming even fewer. Perhaps people are being overwhelmed by the thought of having to try and sort these birds out! Disregarding precise identification for a moment, the bulk of records received involved counts of coveys. The largest numbers received involved counts of 34 at Stowmarket; 30, Landguard Common; 28, Long Melford and 24, Trimley Marshes. As hybrids infiltrated the County, pure Red-legs hung on in out-of-the-way places. After almost total hybridisation amongst 'wild' birds, it now seems that these places will also be the sites where hybrids hang on. A few observers reported the presence of pure Redlegs in north and central Suffolk and the Editor of this journal notes that pure Red-legged Partridges are now quite frequent on the Felixstowe peninsula. However, on the larger shooting estates of West Suffolk, not a single pure Red-legged Partridge could be located during a concerted effort to find them in 1993 (MDC pers. com,). At present, the Red-legged Partridge would appear to be a rather rare bird in the County and one must work hard to get the species on the year list. 60
GREY PARTRIDGE Perdu perdix Formerly common resident, now decreasing rapidly. A resurgence of interest in this species by the shooting fraternity has seen a welcome increase in reports and hopefully, changes due in set-aside laws may benefit these birds and help to increase the population. Reports came from at least 59 parishes across most of the County with a bias in sightings almost certainly due to the distribution of observers. An encouraging increase in covey sizes included counts of 30, Trimley Marshes; 20, Beccles Marshes; 15, Knodishall and Levington and 13, Pakenham. A good breeding season was reported from Shotley where three coveys, each containing up to 15 birds, were located. Several observers also reported birds from areas where they considered them to have been absent for many years or not recorded before; such reports came from Freston, Long Melford and Redlingfield. QUAIL Coturnix cotumix Scarce summer visitor and passage migrant. North-west Suffolk has become the area to see this species in the County in recent years and, once again, the bulk of the records came from that region: Shottisham: Shottisham Creek, calling, June 6th. Lakenheath: calling, June 13th and 14th; four calling, June 18th and July 12th; two calling, June 20th and 21st. One calling at a second site June 22nd. Elveden: two calling during June/July. Knettishall: calling, May 25th and 26th. Market Weston: calling, July 17th to 19th. PHEASANT Phasianus colchicus Very common resident. At regularly monitored sites, the numbers of territories, based on calling males, were two at Castle Marshes, Barnby/North Cove; eight, Valley Farm, Coddenham; 17, North Warren and 49, Sizewell. It is also interesting to note that eight 'pairs' bred on Havergate Island. The usual collection of records involving white birds was received, including one at Martlesham which appeared to be a pure albino. On Nov. 28th, a female Pheasant was seen strolling down Walton High Street, Felixstowe showing complete contempt for a nearby butcher's shop! GOLDEN PHEASANT Chrysolophus pictus Scarce resident. Records of this species appear to be at a low ebb but, with such an accomplished skulker, it is difficult to know if this is due to a genuine fall in numbers. Observers are requested to listen out for the distinctive double screech of this species when visiting Breckland. The following reports were received: Ieklingham/West Stow: King's Forest area, two cr cr Feb. 14th, Mar. 13th and Mar. 20th. Wordwell: two c o â€˘ Jan. 2nd and Mar. 21st. Brandon: Mayday Farm, up to five cr cr and two 9 9 reported. Knettishall: Rushford area, two cr cr Oct. 6th. As usual, most records came from the first winter period when the species is more vocal and easier to locate as the males are courting the females. WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus Fairly common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Reports came from 25 widely scattered sites, with the bulk of observations coming from 61
the coastal marshes. Highest figures received included an estimated 20 pairs at Minsmere (with at least ten young reared) and at least 16 at North Warren during November and December. Typically, the bulk of the sightings came during the winter months when, away from known breeding areas, there were regular reports from Leathes Ham, Lowestoft; Bourne Park, Ipswich; Flatford Mill; Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket and Lackford W.R. and single reports from several other locations. This increase in sightings is perhaps due to both a genuine increase in the number of birds present and the fact that they are easier to see at this time of year. Individual birds often appear in atypical habitats and probably involve transitory passage migrants. This year, such unexpected observations included singles at Landguard on May 4th and Nov. 23rd; two in Langer Park, Felixstowe, Mar. 20th and two at Kessingland Sewage Works, Apr. 10th. MOORHEN Gallínula chloropus Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. D O N F M A A S J — 42 38 60 120 94 80 63 65 North Warren — — 40 20 46 21 Aide/Ore 11 20 43 — 14 62 35 11 Deben 47 37 55 16 80 42 42 74 83 1 Orwell 37 66 0 9 8 16 63 35 37 19 19 Alton Water 25 Stour 21 22 55 20 25 11 11 20 WeBS survey results show a healthy population in the County, at least along the coastal strip. Higher counts from other localities include 80, Livermere Lake, Mar. 27th; 55, Mickle Mere, Ixworth, Feb. 10th and 40, Glemsford, Oct. 20th. High counts from regular sites such as Shotley Marshes and Trimley Marshes are included in the WeBs counts in the table above. During the breeding season, Minsmere and North Warren held 29 and 72 pairs respectively, although the former site reported low productivity due to prédation by Marsh Harriers. Most breeding season records of this species, however, highlight its ingenuity and high productivity and during 1993 such reports included a pair nest-building on a boat at Bourne Bridge, Ipswich whilst at the Suffolk Police Headquarters, Martlesham, a pair had raised four broods by July 27th. Offbeat behaviour by this species is a regular feature of bird reports and this year, an observer at Brent Eleigh noted a bird 20 feet up in an Alder tree and at the same locality, one was regularly seen climbing up to feed on a garden bird table. One at Landguard, May 10th is likely to have been of local origin but two there, Nov. 23rd coincided with the appearance of a Water Rail at the same site and were perhaps passage migrants. COOT Fúlica atra Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. J F M A A S ? ? — Blyth 80 82 14 231 235 240 North Warren 72 76 101 — Aide/Ore 84 127 178 42 — Deben 99 192 121 41 66 _ 402 Orwell 202 66 110 51 Alton Water 324 204 304 93 360 168 Stour 6 31 6 16 0 14 Lackford W.R.* 321 127 — — — — •Monthly maxima 62
96 128 94 458 206 18 329
88 31 39 521 181 12 278
D ? 165 46 114 589 301 8 254
Most of the birds recorded on the WeBS counts for the Orwell in the table above were on Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin. High counts from other localities included 250, Livermere Lake, Aug. 30th; 250, Mill River, Kirton, Dec. 23rd; 142, Oulton Broad/Oulton Marsh, Dec. 7th and 100, Suffolk W.P., Bramford, Dec. 5th. Counts of pairs from regularly monitored sites included 18, Castle Marshes, Barnby/North Cove; 32, North Warren; 15, Trimley Marshes and 13, Minsmere, although as with the preceding species, the latter site reported heavy prédation by Marsh Harriers.
OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Common resident. D A A S O N J F M ? ? ? ? ? — Blyth 86 127 176 — — 1 10 1 9 Aide/Ore 39 48 469 — 138 Deben 514 151 83 95 303 359 402 — 838 Orwell 725 948 531 654 511 236 932 Stour 1240 911 939 464 921 1085 1118 605 1327 Despite much loss of feeding habitat due to 'development' over the years, this species still manages to do reasonably well in the County and the estuaries continue to hold good wintering populations. During the breeding season, a good number of reports again came from West Suffolk with single pairs nesting at Brandon, Ixworth Thorpe and Livermere Lake and two pairs at Icklingham. Single pairs also bred at Weybread G.P. and in a working pit at Waldringfield. Breeding is not known to have occurred in the Gipping Valley but sightings there included one over Stowmarket, May 31st and up to four at Great Blakenham in mid-May. At Lowestoft, a pair was regularly observed on a roof where Common Terns were known to be breeding and may well have bred also. At the main coastal resorts, success was low, mainly because of heavy predation; 13 pairs attempted to breed at Havergate but only four young fledged; three pairs fledged a total of two young at Minsmere and six pairs at Trimley Marshes all failed at the egg stage. However, seven pairs at Levington managed to rear five young. Regular monitoring of offshore movements at Landguard produced uninspiring figures with the highest monthly totals of birds passing south being 164 in July and 299 in August.
BLACK-WINGED STILT Himantopus himantopus Very rare passage migrant. Records of this species continue to increase, both locally and nationally. Two in one year is encouraging and Trimley Marshes receives its second within a period of two years. Minsmere: flying high N. Apr. 22nd (DTI). Bawdsey: Shingle Street/East Lane, June 9th (PVH et al.). Trimley Marshes: June 10th and again, June 13th (same as Bawdsey bird) (MTW). The Bawdsey /Trimley bird was colour-ringed and enquiries revealed that at least two of these marked birds were in Britain at the time. Information is at present somewhat conflicting but it appears that the Suffolk individual had been present at Dungeness, Kent on June 8th 1993. A second bird was at Leighton Moss, Lancashire on June 4th to 6th and subsequently at Kidlington, Oxon, June 7th. All these sightings were originally thought to refer to a single bird, but it now seems that two individuals were involved. It is not clear which bird had been previously reported in the Netherlands in May 1993. 63
AVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. 1988/89 89/90 90/91 91/92 92/93 Ave. 514 Alde/Ore 721 729 946 (633) 727 Exe (Devon) 229 379 323 473 427 366 Hamford Water (Essex) 85 188 227 298 199 (0) Tamar (Cornwall) 90 185 168 182 240 231 Poole Harbour (Dorset) 144 65 122 175 290 159 Medway (Kent) (38) (136) 36 215 (188) 143 Thames 141 (40) 58 137 230 (37) Swale (Kent) (94) 36 (75) 136 88 (18) Blyth 34 73 164 72 33 59 Deben 10 34 48 54 141 57 — North Norfolk Marshes 13 110 93 56 54 The table above shows the ftve year averages for the main resorts (Waters and Cranswick 1993). From a Suffolk viewpoint (and nationally), these figures are very exciting as they show that the Aide has now become the first British estuary ever to reach International importance (five year average over 700) and the Blyth and Deben have joined the list of Nationally important sites (five year average over 50) for the first time. J F M A A S O N D 7 7 — Blyth 141 134 164 ? ? 110 — Alde/Ore 475 633 505 826 435 280 282 Deben 141 45 5 4 48 93 3 20 The figures for the Aide/Ore are a little disappointing when compared with the previous year. However, the winter was generally rather mild and it is possible that many birds remained on the Continent, although it seems that birds were continuing to arrive late in the year as an independent count at Iken, Dec. 28th revealed that 416 were present. It is also possible that the increasing wintering population on the Blyth involves birds from the River Aide. At Minsmere the first of the year arrived back early, on Feb. 13th and by the end of March, 117 were present. A total of 70 pairs hatched 107 young and 44 fledged from 22 broods. At Ha vergate Island, serious prédation by gulls continued to decimate the population with 90 pairs rearing just three young. The colony at Trimley Marshes fared better with 20 pairs rearing 40 young. Post-breeding dispersai produced a scattering of records from many coastal sites. A small flock at Benacre Broad slowly built up from 24 on June 12th to 44 by July 7th and up to five were at Levington Creek during July. A wintering population appears to be developing on the Deben estuary with 141 reported there in January and 93 on Dec. 12th. One was also at Levington Creek, Dec. 30th.
STONE-CURLEW Burhinus oedicnemus Locally fairly common summer visitor. The first report of the year came from one of the Breckland heaths where a single bird was found on Mar. 21 st. The West Suffolk population appears to be fairly stable with 48 pairs located (44 in 1992), although only 32 young fledged (41 in 1992) with prédation and poor weather both having an effect. This year's post-breeding gathering in Breckland peaked at 35 on Sept. 25th. At Minsmere, the work on developing suitable breeding habitat for this species received a boost when two birds were heard calling, Mar. 21st. The date, and the subséquent lack of sightings suggests that they were passage birds. However, if birds are regularly passing through in the spring, it lends hope to the possibility of future breeding at the site.
BLACK-WINGED PRATINCOLE Glareola nordmanni Accidental. Only the second record for the County, the first having been at Minsmere, July 5th 1985. Gt./Lt. Livermere: Livermere Lake and surrounding area, Sept. 6th to 12th (TRD.Mrs JD, TS etal.). A much-needed boost for many a County list after the brief stay of the previous bird. However, even this individual was difficult, and when not hawking for insects over the lake it remained impossible to locate until right at the end of its stay when it was found roosting in a field with Lapwings. There appears to be controversy over the ageing of the bird with certain inconsistences in the various descriptions. Photographs of the bird would appear to show a first-winter bird, moulting from juvenile plumage. At present the bird remains unaged in this journal. LITTLE RINGED PLOVER Charadrius dubius Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. After the first report from Lackford W . R . , Mar. 20th there appeared to be a small influx at the end of March with two at Cavenham Pits, 28th; five at Livermere Lake, 29th and singles at Minsmere, 21st, Barking, 27th and Trimley Marshes, 31st. Breeding season reports came from seven sites with a total of 12 pairs reported. This is probably an underestimate as several sites were not checked. Three pairs produced four broods at Lackford W . R . but predation and bad weather prevented any from fledging. Autumn passage was under way by early July when one appeared at Bridle Bottoms, Wantisden on a farm reservoir on 5th. The biggest numbers came from traditional sites with peak counts of 15 at Bramford G . P . , July 16th; seven, Trimley Marshes, Aug. 2nd and up to four at Minsmere during August. In addition to the Wantisden report, other less expected sites attracting birds included Boxford, where singles were present on July 8th and 29th to 30th and Landguard where one flew south on Aug. 15th and two north on 16th. Most birds departed promptly with only Trimley Marshes reporting any in September. At that site, singles were present on at least four dates to Sept. 16th with two present on 12th. RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. J F M A A S O N D ? ? ? ? ? — Blyth 5 10 2 — — Aide/Ore 42 43 37 109 50 8 49 — Deben 4 0 3 2 40 44 0 9 — Orwell 234 77 126 50 255 161 25 23 Alton Water 108 107 227 0 0 0 180 315 220 Stour 476 377 233 49 975 890 581 212 382 Spring passage passed with little comment, although counts at regularly monitored sites showed a small peak in early March with 30 at Benacre Broad, 31 on Havergate Island, 20 at Minsmere and 18 on Landguard Common. Birds heading for more northerly climes resulted in a second, smaller peak in May and birds of the race C. h. tundrae included 26, Wolsey Creek, Reydon, May 17th; five at Minsmere, May 26th and 11 on Southwold golf driving range, May 27th. Breeding season reports from the coast were few and success was low, due mainly to increasing human disturbance. The highest concentration reported was in the Levington area where 15 pairs reared ten young. At Landguard, just four pairs attempted to breed, compared with five in 1992, seven in 1991 and nine in 1990. The pressure at this site has increased immeasurably with improved public facilities and a positive attitude by the council towards encouraging recreational activities in the area. The banning of dogs on 65
Felixstowe's beaches during the summer has also had an adverse effect on this site. In the west of the County, breeding pairs were reported from four sites with single pairs at three of the sites, including a pair nesting in a Sugar Beet field. At the fourth site, Lackford W.R., three pairs raised four broods but only two young fledged. Birds were also recorded at seven additional potential breeding sites during the spring and summer in West Suffolk. Autumn movements were poorly reported. Landguard records showed a peak in August when 77 were logged passing south; the majority of this movement occurred on Aug. 15th when 55 flew south. Individual site totals during autumn passage included 187, Levington, Sept. 19th; 138, Havergate Island, Aug. 15th and 122, North Warren, Sept. 15th. KENTISH PLOVER Charadrius alexandrinus Rare passage migrant. Another single observer record, this time from a well-watched location, showing how diligence pays off. Minsmere: imm. Sept. 13th (JAG). DOTTEREL Charadrius morinellus Rare passage migrant. A single record which continues the recent trend. This is now a very rare bird in the County. Aldeburgh: imm. Aug. 22nd (Dr HG et al.). A southbound youngster which paused just long enough on the beach to be enjoyed by four lucky observers. GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis apricaria Common winter visitor and passage migrant Some sizeable flocks were reported early in the year, although many were in late February and March, suggesting that a build up of passage birds was responsible for the high numbers. The largest flocks included the following: Carlton Colville: 120 Jan. 6th; 150 Mar. 20th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 108 Feb. 5th. Felixstowe: Candlet, 150 Jan. 22nd. King's Fleet, 200 Jan. 24th. Trimley Marshes: 600 Feb. 25th; 700 Mar. 1st. Levington: 150 Jan. 30th. Metfield: 500 Jan. 10th; 1500 Jan. 31st. Great Waldingfield: 500 Jan. 9th to 11th. Risby: 500 Mar. 21st. Ingham: 80 Jan. 31st. Cavenham: Burner's Farm, 80 Feb. 14th. Tuddenham St Mary: 108 Feb. 7th. A movement of birds through the County in March and April produced the highest count when 2,000 were near Ixworth, Apr. 8th. Small numbers persisted well into May with six still at Trimley Marshes on May 24th and Havergate Island reported two on June 5th and one there on 6th. The first returning birds appeared in July with early singles at Trimley Marshes on 1st and Livermere Lake on 7th. Small parties then began to trickle through with three on Orfordness, July 17th and 16 on Havergate Island, July 28th. Small numbers were reported passing through the County during the autumn, with the first triple-figure count coming from Levington where 120 were present on Aug. 23rd. But for 250 at Worlingworth, Sept. 18th, numbers remained relatively low until the last three months of the year. During October to December, the largest flocks reported were as follows: Lowestoft: off Pinbush Rd, 216 Oct. 20th. 66
Carlton Colville: 200 Nov. 21st. Ellough: 129 Nov. 7th. Orford: Havergate Island, 137 Dec. 7th. Felixstowe: Candlet, 494 Nov. 21st. Trimley St Martin: 200 Oct. 19th; 688 Oct. 21st; 300 Nov. 11th. Stratton Hall: 150 Oct. 30th. Shotley: Shotley Marshes, 230 Dec. 6th. Barking: Barking Tye, 98 Oct. 25th. Stowmarket: 250 Oct. 29th; 350 Dec. 15th. Haughley: 100 Dec. 2nd. Metfield: 1000 Dec. 4th. Long Melford: 319 Nov. 21st. Gt/Lt Livermere: Livermere Lake, 120 Nov. 21st. Ixworth: 700 Oct. 26th; 1000 Dec. 10th. Worlingworth: 750 Nov. 15th. The recurrence of Nov. 21st in the dates above suggests that there was a major influx into the County around this time, and this date ties in with a spell of cold weather. The birds at Livermere Lake on that date were grouped together on a frozen section of the lake. An unusual sight was that of two accompanying a flock of Feral Pigeons over The Nunnery, Thetford, Sept. 23rd. GREY PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola Common winter visitor and passage migrant. F M A J — Blyth 3 92 18 — 34 Aide/Ore 103 1 Deben 79 13 212 51 Orwell 345 511 286 3 Stour 2704 3152 1906 1644
O ? 90 72 178 101 93 302 1419 2108 ?
N D ? ? 32 151 2 50 176 539 1671 2424
The Stour maintains International importance for this species with a five year average of 2,732 (Waters and Cranswick 1993). A good spring passage during May gave many observers the opportunity to enjoy this species in full summer plumage. Flocks of up to 35 were reported from many coastal locations at this time, but the only reports from West Suffolk during the spring involved singles at Livermere Lake, Apr. 28th and May 11th. Additional non-coastal sightings during the year were of singles at Lackford W.R., Feb. 13th, Feb. 16th and Nov. 7th and Weybread G.P., May 29th. Autumn movements began with a few front-runners in July, but exact dates were masked by the presence of apparently oversummering birds at Benacre Broad, Havergate Island and Fagbury Flats. However, 30 were already in Holbrook Bay by July 28th. Passage picked up in September and 440 were logged passing south off Southwold, Sept. 12th. Winter numbers peaked again from October and high counts at the latter end of the year included 331, Hemley, Oct. 20th and 200 roosting on the shingle island at the southern tip of Orfordness, Dec. 20th. L A P W I N G Vanetlus vanellus Very common resident, winter F J Benacre Broad* 510 362 Blyth 53 6335 North Warren* 630 1200 Aide/Ore 2800 1770 Deben 761 4101
visitor and passage migrant. S A M A — 1100 133 220 ? 7 — 2372 — 48 390 63 — 2295 60 444 1640 48 67
306 1325 183
D 1400 ? 7 330 1600 1238 2383 292 619 —
M A J F A S O N D — Orwell 807 0 244 24 104 26 129 549 Alton Water 750 546 680 1 20 18 77 80 185 Stour 2380 1813 3768 47 379 542 557 607 1309 * Monthly maxima In addition to the figures above, counts of over 500 birds during the two winter periods were as follows: Lowestoft: 1000 flying W. Dec. 3rd. Aldeburgh: Town Marshes, 3000 Dec. 13th. North Warren, 630 Jan. 28th; 1200 Feb. 16th; 1600 Dec. 31st. Friston: 607 Dec. 7th. Orford: Havergate Island, 2000 Feb. 10th; 600 Oct. 3rd. Waldringfield: 677 Oct. 15th. Falkenham: 700 Feb. 5th. Trimley St Martin/Levington: A45 area, 2000 Jan. 22nd; 1000 Jan. 29th; 800 Nov. 9th; 3000 Dec. 30th. Freston: 1893 Feb. 14th. Wherstead: Wherstead Strand, 1007 Jan. 16th; 1250 Oct. 31st; 1234 Dec. 5th. Brantham: 1122 Feb. 7th. Stowmarket: 600 Oct. 29th; 600 flying S.W. Dec. 13th. Haughley: 3000 Dec. 2nd. Great Waldingfield: 1000 Jan. 9th to 11th. Clare: 1000 Dec. 1st. Ingham: 1000 Feb. 19th. Tuddenham St. Mary: 1800 Feb. 7th. These figures appear to show a noticeable influx of birds during October, and a second influx in early December. During the breeding season, reports were rather scattered. At well-monitored sites, numbers involved five territories at Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove; 27 pairs at Minsmere which hatched 35 young (17 pairs in 1992); 45 pairs at North Warren which fledged 20 young (37 pairs in 1992); nine pairs at Lackford W.R. which reared four young and 29 pairs at Trimley Marshes. At other sites, Shotley Marshes held just two pairs, continuing a long term decline and four pairs reared ten young at Livermere Lake. Smaller numbers were widely reported from other sites across the County. As with many other wetland species, long-established sites appear to be showing poorer results than newer sites. As birds are squeezed into fewer and fewer suitable areas and we desperately try to keep the last remaining areas suitable for them, so the future looks more and more bleak. Direct emigration was noted at Southwold on Feb. 25th when 372 were counted flying east out to sea. KNOT Calidris canutus Locally common winter visitor and passage migrant. J F M A N D A S O ? ? ? ? ? — Blyth 0 0 13 — — Aide/Ore 0 150 1 7 7 6 5 — Deben 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 _ Orwell 200 400 1190 0 1 2 20 11 Stour 1796 2778 20 0 84 88 1033 2650 3 This species continues to prefer the deeper estuaries in the south of the County with the Orwell and Stour holding most of the birds. The movement of birds between the two sites makes an assessment of the numbers involved very difficult. In addition to the coordinated count figures above, high counts included 1,140 at Freston, Jan. 3rd and 780 there Feb. 20th; 1,450, Holbrook Bay, Jan 24th and 1,000 at Levington, Mar. 7th. During 68
cold weather on Jan. 4th, 112 flew south off Landguard and 15 south off Aldeburgh. Numbers fell away rapidly in March to leave the usual trickle of migrants at coastal sites during May. Autumn passage got under way in July with seven at Minsmere on 12th, followed by a more general arrival from around 17th. Inland, one appeared at Lackford W.R., July 20th to 22nd. Typically, single-figure counts were received from a handful of coastal sites until August when a larger southerly movement took place. Observers at Benacre logged 70 south on Aug. 15th and 12 on 28th whilst Landguard recorded 45 north on Aug. 22nd. At Southwold, seawatchers logged 450 south, Sept. 12th, on which date 60 flew south off Landguard. Winter numbers picked up late with most high counts coming in December. Highest flock counts received included 1,311, Brantham, Dec. 28th; 659, Wherstead Strand, Nov. 23rd; 632, Freston, Nov. 18th; 470, Iken Cliff, Dec. 18th and 239, River Deben, Felixstowe, Nov. 20th. SANDERLING Calidris alba Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. There were few reports away from the handful of traditional locations and it was these sites that provided all the double-figure counts. In the first winter period, highest numbers involved 14, Lowestoft South Pier roost, Feb. 13th; 13, Benacre Broad, Feb. 1st; 15, Fagbury Flats, Feb. 13th and nine, Kessingland, Jan. 31st. At less typical sites, two were at Landguard, Feb. 18th and one there on 21st; three flew south at Dunwich, Jan. 3rd; two south at Slaughden, Aldeburgh, Jan 4th and one at North Warren, Jan. 3rd. Spring passage brought a handful of birds to other locations. Four were at Minsmere, May 17th; one, Shotley, May 9th and one at Lackford W.R., May 10th. Offshore, one flew north off Southwold, Apr. 28th and nine south off Benacre, May 19th and Landguard logged ten north and two south during May. Also at this time, Benacre Broad held up to six birds and up to 14 were on the South Beach, Lowestoft. Autumn movements began in July with Landguard recording a total of 16 birds south from 4th. One at Benacre, July 18th increased to three by 26th and one was at Minsmere, July 23rd and 24th. However, autumn was generally disappointing for this species and it was the end of the year before numbers built up again to include 25 at Kessingland, Dec. 30th; 23, Lowestoft South Pier, Dec. 23rd and eight flying north off Benacre, Nov. 29th. SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER Calidris pusilla Accidental.
Suffolk's third record of this American vagrant and the first in spring. Trimley Marshes: May 13th and 14th (MM, NO, BS et al.). An excellent find with sharp eyes and good note-taking combining to identify a tricky individuai. Unfortunately the bird decided to depart on the Friday night and there were many long faces on the Saturday morning.
LITTLE STINT Calidrìs minuta Fairly common passage migrant. A very poor spring with Trimley Marshes almost holding a monopoly. At that site, singles were present, Apr. 20th and 26th and May 2nd then three, May 12th to 14th and two, May 15th. Elsewhere, singles were present in May at Benacre Broad on 12th and Livermere Lake on 17th. The autumn provided a complete contrast to the spring with good double-figure counts from the main resorts. The first individuai was reported from Havergate Island, July 19th to 23rd and numbers had built up to six at Minsmere by the end of July. Numbers continued to increase in August with those at Minsmere peaking at 24 on 30th but the highest counts carne in September and included 34 at Minsmere on lOth; 26, Southwold Town Marshes on 19th; 20, Tinker's Marshes, Walberswick on 6th; 12, Holbrook Bay on 22nd; six, Alton Water on 17th and 18th and five at Trimley Marshes during 14th to 17th. A flock of 16 at the back of Southwold Golf Course, Sept. 21st was presumably part of the Town Marshes gathering. Also of interest is the report from Landguard of eight flying south off there, Sept. lOth, including a single flock of seven birds. A few birds were also observed away from the coastal strip with singles at Bramford G.P. on Aug. 18th, Sept. 23rd and 29th and Oct. 7th; one at Boxford, Sept. Ist and two there on lOth and singles at Livermere Lake, Sept. 9th and Lackford W.R. Sept. 25th. Ringers trapping waders on the estuaries also profited from this large stint movement with singles trapped on the Butley River, Sept. 15th; Ramsholt, Sept. 28th and Brantham, Oct. 16th. A handful of other October records included two, Alton Water on 2nd; four, Minsmere on 1 Ith and singles at Havergate Island on 6th and Southwold on 13th. One was at Minsmere, Nov. 2Ist and one remained at Trimley Marshes throughout the winter and into the new year.
TEMMINCK'S STINT Calidrìs temminckii Uncommon passage migrant. A poor year with just two birds noted: Minsmere: May llth to 13th (IR). Trimley Marshes: May 14th (MTW). Totais for the last ten years are as follows: 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 5 5 8 6 1 4 3
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER Calidrìs bairdii Very rare visitor. 1990 Easton Bavents: Easton Broad, juv. Oct. 27th (CRN). This late addition to the 1990 systematic list constitutes the County's fifth record of this attractive little 'peep'. There is a possibility that this individuai is the same as that which appeared briefly at Benacre on Sept. 23rd of that year, but was flushed by motorcyclists. The records were accepted by BBRC as referring to different individuals. 70
gatherings in August involved 23, Minsmere, 3rd; 16, Benacre Broad, 10th and 13, < rfordness, 8th. Relatively few were noted after mid-August. Only five September reports \\L're received, with a maximum of nine on Orfordness, 5th. The only October record involved one on Havergate Island, 19th, which was probably the final bird of autumn passage. What is likely to have been the same sick or injured bird was noted at Holbrook Bay on the Stour Estuary on November 7th (E.W.Patrick), December 5th (D.and K Roberts) and December 12th (J.Steadman). i URASIAN C U R L E W Numenius arquatu ( iimmon winter visitor and passage migrant. A few pairs breed. Amber list. As in 2003, the maximum accumulated WeBS total occurred in January; in 2003 the combined figure for the five estuaries was just under 2900, whereas in 2004 the total was j u s t over 3050. There is undoubtedly much interchange between the Orwell and Stour Estuaries; totals on the Suffolk shore of the Stour Estuary are also probably dependent on the levels of disturbance on both sides of the river. The first "spring" The principal coastal and estuarine counts were; arrival was back in Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec the Suffolk Breck as Blvth Estuary 183 93 81 89 early as February Minsmere* 24 21 9 27 17 27 6th Although there North Warren* 36 26 27 27 26 2 3 was no proven Aide/Ore Estuar} 824 801 340 602 575 573 " breeding, birds were Orfordness* 368 162 47 148 13 29 28 35 591 444 378 466 300 625 73 present at a m i n i - Deben Estuary 604 537 637 368 568 762 mum of ten Orwell Estuary 500 300 300 600 500 350 potential / traditional Colton Creek 474 866 749 18 394 1125 308 790 breeding sites in the Stour Estuary Erwarton Bay 518 480 376 12 285 515 62 6 Suffolk Breck. A Seafield Bay 207 230 343 0 101 430 183 239 realistic assessment *monthly maxima of the data received (The Colton Creek totals are included in those for the Orwell Estuary and the Erwarton indicates a popula- Bay and Seafield Bay total are included in those for the Stour Estuary.) tion of about 15 Pairs, which was also the 2003 figure. In addition, passage birds were recorded at five sites m west Suffolk between February and May. The maximum totals were 13, Nunnery Lakes, Thetford, February 25th and four, Livermere Lake, May 21st. Well away from the traditional sites one was noted at Stradishall Airfield, March 3rd. A light northerly passage was noted off Landguard from March 2nd onwards into early May with totals of 22 in March, 36 in April and four in May. Southerly return movement was seen off Landguard from as early as June 2nd. Although estuarine totals remained relatively low in June and July, these months witnessed the maximum offshore southerly passage. The overall totals for June and July and the peak day-total at the principal sea-watching sites were: 'psingland: 440, June and 164, July, max. 128, Jun.27th. Thorpeness: 433, June and 253, July, max. 214, Jun.27th. Landguard: 266, June and 200, July, max. 131, Jul. 13th. ° n the estuaries, the maximum total in June was of 40 in Holbrook Bay, 29th, while in J ull,- *L 'y there were 161 in Holbrook Bay, 31st and 80 at North Warren, 9th. I lAugust ~ — witnessed increased gatherings on the estuaries, including 161 on Havergate not d • 8 t h ' U P t 0 1 4 8 0 n ° r f o r d n e s s d u r i n g t h e m o n t h a n d 1 0 0 ' Blythburgh, 28th. Two were e inland at Lakenheath Fen, August 22nd. The estuary totals for September-December 77
In addition to the figures above, high counts from single locations early in the year included 3,500, Levington, Jan. lOth and 5,500 there Mar. 7th; 3,000, Fagbury Flats during February; 2,123 at Freston, Jan. 3rd; 2,080, Holbrook Bay, Jan. 24th; 1,880, Wherstead Strand, Jan. 16th and 1,000, Hare's Creek, Shotley, Mar. 8th. Interestingly, wintering birds were also in the west of the County in January with up to nine birds at Lackford W.R. and one at Livermere Lake. During a speli of hard weather in early January, 250 flew south off Benacre on 3rd and 152 south off Landguard on 4th. Spring passage produced the usuai movement of birds up the coast and a handful of records from inland sites. Singles were at Lackford W.R. from May lOth to 16th and two on 13th and other singles were at Cavenham Pits, May 3rd; Great Blakenham Pits, May 9th to 12th and Mickle Mere, Ixworth, May lOth. Autumn passage was not widely reported but peak movements appeared to coincide with those of Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper with Minsmere counts peaking at 126, July 30th and 140, Aug. 3rd. At Benacre Broad, numbers peaked slightly later with 70 on Aug. 22nd and on the same date, numbers peaked at Havergate Island with 211. Away from the coast, singles were at Bramford G.P., July 18th, 19th and 23rd and Sept. 29th and two, Livermere Lake, July 19th and Sept. 9th and one there Aug. 7th. At Lackford W.R., birds were present between Sept. 17th and 25th with a maximum count of four on 24th. Later records there involved two, Oct. 31st and one on Dee. 2nd. Counts from Landguard confirmed a mediocre autumn passage with monthly totals of birds logged passing south including 64 in September, 125 in October and 91 in November. Winter gatherings built up early, from late September, with good numbers on the estuaries by October (see WeBS totals above). Highest counts at the end of the year included 1,974, R. Aide, Friston, Nov. 20th; 1,803, Brantham, Dee. 28th; 1,640, Wherstead Strand, Nov. 23rd; 1,000, Fagbury Flats, Dee. lst and 913, Havergate Island, Dee. 12th. BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER Limicola Very rare migrant.
The 13th record for the County and the first since an 'untwitchable' bird in 1987; thus, a welcome addition to many County lists. Minsmere: June lst and 2nd (HRW et al.). Despite being found by RSPB staff on a day when the reserve is closed to visitors, the bird remained in view from the public hide and was very obliging, if a little distant at times. Thanks are due to the reserve staff who were good enough to open the East Hide to allow observers a better view. 72
RUFF Philomachus pugnax Common passage migrant. A few oversummer and overwinter. A small wintering population on the coast provided a few early records with up to two at Minsmere in January; up to seven at Hazlewood Marshes in February; two, North Warren, Jan. 2nd, increasing to 12 by Feb. 16th and one at Walberswick, Feb. 21st. Numbers were already increasing by mid-March and throughout April as passage birds moved through the County. The highest counts were received in May and included 11 at Trimley Marshes, nine at North Warren and eight at Minsmere. In the west of the County there were seven at Lackford W.R., May 5th and two at Livermere Lake and one at Mickle Mere, Ixworth, May 11th. Five were at Livermere Lake on Apr. 2nd. Lekking birds were observed in suitable breeding habitat at both North Warren and Trimley Marshes but proof of breeding was not obtained. Autumn numbers began to build up from July and peaked at the main sites in August. Highest counts at this time included 50, Minsmere, Aug. 27th and 46, Trimley Marshes, Aug. 21st and 22nd with single-figure counts at many other coastal resorts. In September, migrants turned up at a few less typical locations, including up to three at Boxford; two, Bramford G.P.; seven, Felixstowe Golf Course; four in a recently ploughed field with Lapwings, Rickinghall Superior; up to two at Livermere Lake and one at Lackford W.R. Passage off Landguard in September involved four north on 4th and six south on 9th. Later reports included two in a field with Golden Plovers and Lapwings, Trimley St. Martin, Oct. 23rd and one with Golden Plovers, standing on ice on a frozen section of Livermere Lake, Nov. 21st. The only other October reports involved one south past Landguard on 2nd and two on Southwold Town Marshes on 10th. JACK SNIPE Lymnocryptes minimus Fairly common passage migrant and winter visitor.
During the first three months, reports of singles came from Dunwich, Minsmere, Sizewell, Orfordness, Havergate Island, Fagbury Flats, Levington (two sites) and Boxford. Higher totals included two at Bourne Park, Ipswich and up to five at Lackford W.R. but the most impressive counts came from Martlesham Creek where 16 were recorded, Jan. 30th and ten, Mar. 21st. Visits between these two dates could muster no more than two birds (which is the expected number for the site) so it is difficult to explain what was happening. It 73
is possible that there was an influx during cold weather in January (although this is not reflected in counts elsewhere) and that the March figure represents passage birds. April records almost certainly involved passage birds with up to two at Levington and Martlesham Creek and singles at Minsmere, North Warren and Trimley Marshes. The last bird of the spring was reported from the latter site on May 4th. Autumn reports began in September with singles at Hazlewood Marshes on 2nd, Livermere Lake on 16th, Lackford on 18th and Minsmere on 21st. During the last three months of the year, singles were reported from Lowestoft (two sites); Southwold Boating Lake; Minsmere; North Warren; Hazlewood Marshes; Iken Marshes and Mill River, Kirton. Higher counts involved two at Bourne Park and Lackford W.R; three at Levington Lagoon and up to four at Trimley Marshes. The bulk of reports came in October and presumably involved passage birds; of particular interest were the two at Lowestoft in that month, one of which was flushed from cover on the North Denes on 14th and the other discovered in a back garden in Selby Street on 6th, where it spent most of the day bobbing up and down under a Cotoneaster bush! The bird at Lackford in September was found feeding in a puddle on the Lackford to Cavenham road; it was caught easily and found to have a strained wing so was released at the nearby Wildfowl Reserve. SNIPE Gallinago gallinago Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Small numbers breed. J M A A O N D F S ? ? ? ? ? Blyth — 0 2 1 — — Aide/Ore 28 28 50 0 37 17 119 — Deben 7 22 0 2 10 16 9 6 — Orwell 42 34 58 4 9 35 0 40 Stour 14 26 85 32 4 2 2 31 46 The species was well-recorded during the year, but breeding numbers continue to decline. The first winter period saw a good spread of reports with highest counts involving 90, Martlesham Creek, Jan. 30th; 70, North Warren, Jan. 3rd; 50, Levington, Jan. 31st; 50, Bourne Park, Ipswich, Jan. 30th; 41, Brantham, Feb. 7th and 37, Minsmere, during February. These counts indicate that there is still a substantial wintering population in the County, although some sites held much lower totals with, for example, just three at Alton Water in February and a maximum count of 11 at Shotley Marshes, where a regular observer commented on the sad loss of the large flocks of the 1980s. Evidence of passage came during March when many sites received higher numbers and birds turned up in atypical places. Minsmere's population more than doubled to 80 whilst other counts included 100 at North Warren, Mar. 7th and 30, Trimley Marshes, Mar. 15th. Four were also found on the old golf course at Pakefield, Mar. 7th and in the west of the County, 27 were counted along the River Lark at West Row, Mildenhall, Mar. 9th. Breeding counts were rather depressing, but a full survey is probably needed to discover the true picture. Counts of pairs in suitable breeding habitat included nine, North Warren; eight, Needham Market; three, Brightwell; two, Barton Mills Water Meadows; and singles, Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove; Sizewell; Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket; Stone Street, Boxford and Brandonfields, Brandon. In addition, Minsmere reported six pairs present with at least three young hatched. Regular observations at Trimley Marshes revealed a slow build up of birds from late July, increasing to eight by Aug. 26th and 13 by Sept. 14th. Elsewhere, increases were reported from September and included 16 at North Warren, Sept. 7th and 20 at Somerleyton Marshes, Sept. 11th. Counts were rather low during October, but there was a definite increase in November, most notably from around 21st (when cold weather moved across the area). Counts during November included 17, Lackford W.R., 7th; 30, Beccles, 12th;
240, North Warren and 60, Boyton Marshes, 22nd; 60, Bourne Park, 27th and 100, Orfordness, 29th. A total of 21 was counted coming in off the sea at Landguard on 21st. Numbers tailed off again during December, but a visit to Framlingham Mere revealed an impressive 90 individuals present on 1st and 150 were on Southwold Town Marshes the same day; both counts perhaps still involved birds from the November influx. W O O D C O C K Scolopax rusticóla Fairly common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. The secretive habits of this species continue to make it difficult to census. During the first three months, reports came from 35 localities, spread across the whole County. Virtually all records involved single birds but up to six were at the Wolves Wood RSPB reserve and 20 in a copse at Shotley during January. Interestingly, the bulk of reports came in January and it seems that there may well have been a movement of this species at that time as three were noted at Landguard on Jan. 4th and a single there the following day. There was little evidence of a spring passage, although singles were at Landguard, Mar. 13th; Felixstowe Docks (dead), Mar. 23rd and Benacre Pits, Apr. 3rd. During the breeding season reports of roding birds included four, King's Forest (Wordwell section) and Mayday Farm, Brandon; two, Dunwich Forest, Wolves Wood and Knettishall Heath and singles, North Cove, Sizewell and North Warren. This is quite clearly a gross underestimate as roding birds can regularly be found in the forestry areas of Breckland and the Sandlings. The first autumn bird was reported from Landguard on Sept. 30th, an exceptionally early date for the site. During the last three months of the year, birds were reported from 26 localities with a coastal bias perhaps caused by observer distribution. There appeared to be peak influxes during both October and November. October records peaked late with singles at Pakefield Cliffs and Belle Vue Park, Lowestoft on 23rd and four at Fagbury Cliff and singles at Battisford, Combs and The Grove, Felixstowe on 24th. A smaller peak, involving mainly single birds occurred around Nov. 21st, in association with a spell of cold weather. Evidence of immigration in late December was provided by singles at Sizewell Beach on 21st and Landguard and Thorpeness Beach, both on 26th. At least 18 were noted at Shotley, Dec. 8th in the same copse where up to 20 had been present in January. BLACK-TAILED G O D W I T Limosa limosa Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. S O N D A A J F M 7 ? 7 ? ? Blyth 103 350 156 95 — — 55 8 176 26 14 32 36 Aide/Ore — 80 18 1 4 Deben 10 16 22 131 — 701 491 0 160 138 Orwell 371 383 331 806 1353 798 792 1889 Stour 301 402 70 1007 The Stour remains "Internationally Important" for this species with a current five year average maximum count of 1,672 (Waters and Cranswick 1993) making it the second most important British estuary, after the Swale in Kent, for wintering Black-tailed Godwits. Counts during the first winter period came mostly from the main resorts as listed in the table above. Movements between the Orwell and Stour make it difficult to interpret the figures, and of interest is a count of 559 on the Orwell at Woolverstone, Jan. 31st which far exceeds the WeBS counts in the table above. In addition to the above counts, a regular flock wintered on Town Marshes, Southwold and peaked at 154, Jan. 10th. Spring movements were not particularly noteworthy but of interest were singles in the west of the County at Lackford W.R., May 5th and Mickle Mere, Ixworth, May 10th and 11th. Passage birds at Minsmere peaked at 56, Apr. 15th. Sadly, there was no evidence 75
of breeding this year, although a bird was seen displaying on Apr. 22nd at the site where the species bred last year and large numbers remained at Trimley Marshes throughout the summer with maximum monthly counts of 90 in May, 110 in June and 100 in July. On the adjacent Fagbury Flats, 139 were present on July 3rd. Autumn movements resulted in a good build up of birds during August and September at the main resorts with counts including 150, Ham Creek, Friston, Aug. 2nd; 250, Iken Cliff, Aug. 23rd; 300, Trimley Marshes, Sept. 19th and 200, Wherstead Strand, Sept. 24th. In the west of the County, records involved two at Boxford, Aug. 2nd and two at Lackford W.R. Aug. 3rd. Interestingly, numbers at Minsmere remained comparatively low during this period and peaked later with 98 on Oct. 30th. Apart from seven at North Warren, Nov. 11th, all counts during November and December came from the larger estuaries which are covered by the WeBs counts above. The highest site count involved 307 on the Stour estuary at Brantham, Dec. 28th. BAR-TAILED GODWIT Limosa lapponica Fairly common passage migrant and locally fairly common winter visitor. F M A A N D J s O ? ? ? ? ? Blyth 5 4 1 — — — Aide/Ore 2 5 27 2 0 0 18 — Deben 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 — Orwell 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Stour 75 51 7 0 0 0 0 0 13 Returns from the WeBS counts provided fairly uninspiring reading with low numbers on all the main estuaries. During the first winter period, however, 30 were reported flying south off Landguard, Jan. 4th, perhaps indicating that birds had moved further south during the coldest period. On Feb. 20th, 25 were noted returning north off Landguard and singles were reported from Lackford W.R., Feb. 13th and 27th. After a quiet winter, spring passage was good, with many observers enjoying parties of birds in full summer plumage. Highest counts included 41, Benacre Broad and 44, Sudbourne, May 7th; 62, Orfordness and 30, Minsmere, May 8th; 113 on the south shore of Breydon Water and 45, Iken Marshes, May 9th and 70, Havergate Island and 30, Levington, May 11th. Singles were in the west of the County at Lackford W.R., May 2nd and 5th. With two at Benacre Broad, June 14th and up to two at Trimley Marshes and Havergate Island during June, it was difficult to spot the arrival of the first autumn birds. However, there was an increase in July with seven at Benacre Broad on 2nd, 11 south off Landguard during the month and singles on four dates from July 10th at Trimley Marshes. Autumn movements were generally very poor with the highest count from a single site involving a maximum of just eight birds at Havergate Island during August. However, the species featured strongly in the notable offshore passage of Sept. 12th when 457 were counted passing south off South wold. The second winter period again proved that Suffolk is not a favoured wintering area for the species, as exemplified by the WeBS counts above. WHIMBREL Numenius phaeopus Common passage migrant. Suffolk rarely seems to attract early Whimbrel so one at Martlesham Creek, Mar. 21st is particularly noteworthy. More typically, other birds were first reported from Shingle Street, Apr. 4th and Minsmere, Apr. 9th. Numbers then slowly increased until passage peaked between Apr. 20th and 26th and included up to ten daily at Havergate Island from 20th; 27, Inner Aide estuary, 21st; ten, Shotley Marshes, 23rd; 13, north over Fagbury
Cliff, 24th; 15, Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove, 25th and ten, North Warren, 26th. A second peak in early May produced highest counts of 20, Iken Marshes, 15, Shotley Marshes and 13, Trimley Marshes, all on 9th with lower counts at a number of other sites. Landguard logged a total of 102 north and 23 south between Apr. 16th and May 30th with maxima of 31 north on both May 10th and 11th. Spring passage in the west of the County produced seven north over Market Weston, May 10th; singles over Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, Apr. 23rd and Brettenham, May 8th and three at Lackford W . R . , Apr. 25th. Unlike the preceding species, Whimbrel featured reasonably well on autumn passage. Numbers peaked early with double-figure counts throughout the second half of July including 19, Benacre Broad, 17th; 20, Orfordness, 19th; ten, Minsmere, 27th and 30, Havergate Island, 30th. Havergate Island also attracted 17 on Aug. 4th and 13 on Aug. 22nd. Passage birds in the west of the County involved three at Barton Mills, July 28th; singles at Lackford W.R., July 18th and Aug. 8th and three there, July 28th and one over Thetford, Aug. 6th. Gipping Valley observations involved five west over Great Blakenham, July 23rd and birds over Stowmarket, July 19th and Aug. 2nd (two). Also of interest were singles over Brightwell, July 15th; Henstead Gardens, Ipswich, Aug. 7th (at 23.00hrs!) and eight on Felixstowe Golf Course, Aug. 4th. During autumn passage, Landguard recorded 49 south during July and 22 south during August. All birds moved quickly through the area and very few even lingered into September. The latest reports included singles at Benacre Broad, Sept. 3rd; Havergate Island, Sept. 12th and 14th; Trimley Marshes, Sept. 17th and Shotley Marshes, Sept. 19th.
CURLEW Numenius arquata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few pairs breed. O N D J F M A A S ? ? ? ? ? — Blyth 89 102 58 — — North Warren* 20 25 86 33 4 25 45 — 744 502 724 Aide/Ore 277 695 428 460 — Deben 850 246 755 1128 392 785 799 204 — 34 577 Orwell 591 459 715 624 690 89 Stour 834 1122 1139 830 1088 1227 208 853 947 * Max. monthly counts The highest counts received during the first winter period included 41, Boyton Marshes, Jan. 5th; 71, Trimley Marshes, Feb. 7th; 100, Sudbourne Marshes, Feb. 20th and 135, Hazlewood Marshes, Feb. 23rd. Interestingly, ali these counts came from coastal grazing marshes, a habitat much used by this species in Suffolk. Spring passage produced monthly totals at Landguard of 20 north during March and 23 north during Aprii whilst Havergate's counts peaked in Aprii with 51 on 4th. Elsewhere however, numbers peaked in March, as illustrated in the table above, and some very high counts came from the Orwell estuary, including 500, Hares Creek, Shotley, Mar. 8th and 300, Levington, Mar. 16th. The breeding season provided records from four separate localities in Breckland with a minimum of six pairs involved. Autumn passage began early with Landguard logging 56 south during June from 6th and double-figure counts came from a number of coastal sites by the end of the month, including 40 at Iken Cliff on 2Ist. Autumn numbers peaked during August and September with highest counts involving 150, Havergate Island, Aug. 8th and 95 there, Sept. 5th and 250, Hares Creek, Shotley, Aug. 26th. 77
SPOTTED REDSHANK Tringa erythropus Common passage migrant. A few occasionally overwinter. Small numbers continue to winter in the County with singles at Felixstowe Ferry throughout January; Iken, Feb. 6th and Walberswick, Feb. 27th. The latter bird was perhaps also responsible for a report of one on the Blyth estuary, Mar. 8th. Spring migration began with singles at Minsmere in March; North Warren, Mar. 17th and 20th and five, Benacre Broad, Mar. 27th. Spring passage proved to be something of a damp squib with no sites managing to record double-figures. Highest counts included six, Minsmere, Apr. 30th and five, Benacre Broad, May 7th. The only report from West Suffolk involved one at Lackford W.R., May 26th and 27th. Autumn passage was well under way by mid-June and numbers were immediately higher than in spring with at least 25 at Minsmere by June 28th. Numbers continued to increase and the highest counts reported included 70, Havergate Island, Sept. 13th and 54, Minsmere, July 31st with 55 there, Aug. 30th. Many other coastal sites reported single-figure counts. Numbers dropped off very rapidly before the end of September and the only October reports involved nine, Havergate Island, Oct. 29th; two, Southwold, Oct. 13th and one, North Warren, Oct. 17th. November records perhaps referred to birds intending to winter in the area and involved one at Benacre Broad on 19th and up to three at Havergate Island throughout the month. These latter birds were perhaps also responsible for a report of two on Orfordness, Nov. 14th.
REDSHANK Tringa totanus Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. J F M A A N D S O ? ? ? ? ? — Blyth 824 506 843 — — Aide/Ore 653 523 1226 310 1171 442 1494 — Deben 858 1200 707 538 849 344 381 992 — Orwell 716 237 573 178 1039 895 656 1216 444 864 1331 864 1344 977 1399 1002 1493 Stour The Aide and Deben are currently of International importance with five year averages of 1,571 and 1,520 respectively, whilst the Orwell and Stour are of National importance with five year averages of 1,316 and 1,235 respectively (Waters and Cranswick 1993). Highest counts from single locations during the first winter period included 300, Hares Creek, Shotley, Mar. 8th; 334, Freston, Feb. 20th; 160, Levington, Jan. 10th and 155, Havergate Island, Mar. 17th. Breeding birds were almost certainly under-recorded, but even so, breeding numbers are undoubtedly declining through loss of habitat. Coastal reserves are at least helping to redress any losses with 22 pairs hatching at least 43 young at Minsmere; 29 pairs at Trimley Marshes raised at least 30 young and 32 pairs were present at North Warren. Breeding pairs were also reported from Barton Mills Water Meadows (two); Bawdsey; Brandonfields, Brandon; Fagbury Flats (five); Fritton Marshes; Livermere Lake (two); Havergate Island (two); Mickle Mere, Ixworth (three); Lackford W.R. (two); Levington Lagoon (two); Shotley Marshes (four) and Sizewell (ten). Autumn movements passed with little comment, Landguard recording 106 south during July and just 37 south during August. However, far higher numbers were reported during October and November and included 500, Southwold Town Marshes, Oct. 13th and 14th; 450, Long Reach, Friston (Aide), Nov. 20th; 364, Havergate Island, Oct. 26th and 337, Wherstead Strand, Nov. 23rd. Landguard recorded 100 passing south during November, of which 64 passed south on 21st and 30 south on 22nd, associated with a sudden cold spell. Notable site totals in December included 411, Brantham, 28th; 420, Iken Cliff, 18th and 564, Wherstead Strand, 5th.
16. Swallows: a delightful aerial ballet.
17. House Martins: gathering mud for nest-building
W O O D SANDPIPER Tringa glareola Fairly common passage migrant. Traditionally more common in the autumn, this species produced no surprises, being somewhat scarce in spring but with more birds on autumn passage. Spring reports began with an early isolated individual at North Warren, Apr. 23rd with the rest of the sightings all coming in the first half of May. At Minsmere, two were present during May 6th to 8th and three on 10th with one then remaining to 14th. Singles were at North Warren, May 4th; Shingle Street, May 1st and Trimley Marshes on four dates between May 1st and 10th. Autumn passage was more noteworthy and can be summarised as follows: Minsmere: three July 22nd; two July 24th and Sept. 14th; singles regularly, July 23rd to Aug. 8th; Aug. 25th; Sept. 9th; Sept. 20th; Oct. 1st. Aldeburgh: North Warren, two July 19th; singles July 17th, 20th and 23rd. Trimley Marshes: singles July 16th, 24th and 31st; Aug. 1st and 9th and most dates from Aug. 16th to Sept. 10th. Lackford W.R.: July 21st; Aug. 29th to Sept. 11th.
T E R E K SANDPIPER Xenus cinereus Accidental. The Editor would like to apologise for the omission of this record from last year's report, despite including a photograph of it! 1992 Southwold: Boating Lake, May 27th (CRN). This constitutes the fourth record of this species for Suffolk and the first since one at Minsmere in 1981.
C O M M O N SANDPIPER A ait is hypoleucos Common passage migrant. A few overwinter. The only wintering bird early in the year was reported from Benacre Broad, Jan. 10th. Spring passage commenced with one at Lackford W.R., Apr. 8th but the species remained rather scarce during that month with reports from just 11 sites, although five were at Trimley Marshes, 29th. The species became more widespread in May but only the traditional sites held notable totals with highest counts of six, Weybread G.P., May 14th; up to eight at Minsmere during May; nine, Benacre Broad, May 28th; 13, Trimley Marshes, May 11th and an impressive 28 at Lackford W.R., May 10th. Typically, autumn movements generally involved larger numbers and several coastal sites were already attracting birds during the first week of July. Autumn numbers peaked at the main resorts as follows: Benacre: Benacre Broad, five July 24th and Aug. 4th; 11 Aug. 23rd. Minsmere: 15 July 30th; 14 Aug. 4th. Orford: Havergate Island, 16 Aug. 6th. Trimley Marshes: 15 July 29th; 15 Aug. 1st to 3rd. Bramford: Bramford G.P., seven July 18th; five Aug. 15th. Gt/Lt Livermere: Livermere Lake, five Aug. 15th. Lackford W.R.: seven Aug. 31st. Most birds had gone by the end of August with most September sightings involving one to two birds, although five were at Trimley Marshes, Sept. 12th and four were on the Blyth estuary, Sept. 7th and at Bramford G.P., Sept. 23rd. Reports after the end of September were few and involved singles at Havergate Island, Oct. 7th and Landguard, Oct. 2nd whilst one at Alton Water, Nov. 17th was perhaps intending to winter in the area. A one-legged individual was at Livermere Lake, July 12th. 80
à •e c 10: Male Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid at Oulton Broad.
11: Oystercatchers continue to do well as a breeding species in Breckland.
: This remarkably confiding Baird's Sandpiper at Easton Broad on October 27th 1990, revealed itself to just one lucky observer.
13: This group of Little Stints at South wold formed part of a major influx of the species during the autumn.
14: Black-tailed Godwits displayed again during the summer but breeding was not proven.
Winter records involved a first-winter north off Thorpeness, January 1st and one off Landguard, March 1st. Nine individuals were noted on spring passage northward between April 26th and May 28th, including four pale phase adults north together off Kessingland, May 11th. The species has indeed been proved to occur regularly off Suffolk in spring, mainly in early Pomarine Skua Peter Beeson May, the peak time at traditional sites such as Dungeness, Kent. An unusual midsummer record came from Thorpeness on June 23rd. A strong autumn passage was noted from August 3rd to November 29th, totalling 76 birds (57 in 2002, 59 in 2003), including a peak of 15 off Thorpeness, October 9th. ARCTIC SKUA Stercorarius parasiticus Common passage migrant. A few overwinter. Another good year with a total of 419 birds reported. The monthly distribution was as follows and the usual caveat applies that this will include an unknown degree of overlap in the sightings. Jan 7
An interesting set of January records came from Thorpeness, with six different individuals noted including an intermediate-type first-winter bird which lingered all month. Inland, three were seen at the RSPB reserve at Lakenheath Fen, May 11th. This is the first record of Arctic Skua in west Suffolk since one at Lakenheath Warren on May 29th 1984. Coastal spring passage produced 24 birds, mainly in late April/early May. A protracted autumn passage lasted from June 15th to November 19th and peaked at 22 off Southwold, September 23rd. The last of the year was noted off Thorpeness on December 30th. LONG-TAILED SKUA Stercorarius longicaudus Uncommon passage migrant. This species continued its upward trend of sightings with about 30 birds reported, further establishing its regular presence off Suffolk. The bird at Kessingland on June 10th is only the third-ever spring record for the county. All records are as follows: Corton: juv, south, Sep.23rd. Lowestoft: Ness Point, juv lingering offshore for 15 mins, Sep.24th. Kessingland: full adult north, 200 metres offshore, Jun.lOth; juv, south, Sep.6th; juv, north, Sep.7th; juv, south, Sep.23rd and two juvs, south, Oct. 10th. Reydon: Easton Bavents, south, Oct.lOth; north, Oct.l 1th. Southwold: juv, south, Sep.9th; juv, lingering, Sep. 10th; juv, south, Sep.23rd; north, Oct.lOth and juv, north, Oct.l 1th. Sizewell: grey juv lingering off rigs from 16.30-17.10 pm, Aug.31st. Thorpeness: four north, Oct.2nd; individuals south on Oct.9th, 17th and 28th (all un-aged). Felixstowe: Landguard Point, south, Sep. 10th and 25th; north, Oct.l 1th; five north, Oct.21st and south Oct.28th. GREAT SKUA Stercorarius skua Fairly common passage migrant. A few overwinter. Amber list. An average year with 130 birds reported, down from the 185 in 2003, which is the county record. 101
period produced reports of singles north off Landguard, Sept. 12th and 19th, south off Sizewell, Sept. 13th and two north off Aldeburgh, Sept. 13th. The second period produced three south off Landguard and one off Southwold, all on Oct. 13th. Monthly totals of sightings are as follows: J F M A M J J A S O N D 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 5 4 1 1 ARCTIC SKUA Stercorarius parasiticus Common passage migrant. An individual was reported off Kessingland, Jan 1st to at least 10th with another, or perhaps the same, off Minsmere on Jan. 6th. No more sightings occurred until offshore movements began in April but, as with Pomarine Skua, spring passage was almost nonexistent. The first individual passed north off Minsmere, Apr. 30th and was followed by reports of one north off Landguard, May 3rd and an individual which flew up the Orwell estuary over Trimley Marshes, May 10th. A small flurry of activity in June then produced four north off Landguard on 9th and another north there on 15th. Autumn passage was much heavier with numbers swollen by the year's youngsters. An adult off Dunwich on the atypical date of June 27th was perhaps a failed breeder returning early. Passage began with one off Minsmere and two south off Southwold on July 20th and continued steadily throughout the autumn. There was a rather random series of small peaks and troughs in the numbers of birds logged passing offshore, but the heaviest passage occurred on two dates in mid-September. On Sept. 12th, reports involved three N. off Covehithe; five N. and one S. off Southwold and five N. and two S. off Landguard. On Sept. 13th, seven flew S. off Aldeburgh; 12 off Southwold; three S. off Sizewell and five at Minsmere (inc. one over The Scrape). Also on 12th, an immature spent some time on the beach at Landguard, allowing close approach and giving many observers an opportunity to discuss and learn from its features. Other autumn passage peaks included two north and 19 south off Southwold, Aug. 22nd; ten off Minsmere, Sept. 3rd; eight north and ten south off Southwold, Sept. 4th and 20 off Southwold, Oct. 13th. Small numbers continued to be reported throughout October whilst November produced a sudden rush of reports mid-month with singles off Benacre/Covehithe on 14th and 15th; Ness Point, Lowestoft on 14th and five south off Southwold on 14th. During December, singles were reported from Benacre on 22nd and flying north off Landguard on 28th. An immature was watched pursuing Kittiwakes over the groynes at Ness Point, Lowestoft on Sept. 22nd. Unidentified skuas, presumably either Pomarine or Arctic, were reported off Kessingland, Jan. 1st and Shingle Street, Dec. 31st. LONG-TAILED SKUA Stercorarius longicaudus Scarce passage migrant. This much sought-after seabird had a lean year after the excesses of recent times and a return to its former scarcity must have made the lucky few observers more appreciative of their finds: Covehithe: two imms. Sept. 2nd (JAB); imm. Oct. 15th (PJD). Southwold: Oct. 23rd (JMC). Other birds are known to have occurred but have not been accepted yet by SORC due to lack of details submitted by observers. GREAT SKUA Stercorarius skua Fairly common passage migrant. A rather poor year for this species with the bulk of the reports falling in September and October. All records are as follows: 82
Covehithe: singles N. Sept. 12th and Oct. 22nd. Southwold: singles N. Sept. 9th and 14th and Oct. 23rd; three Sept. 13th; two Oct. 13th; S. Nov. 14th. Minsmere: singles May 11th and Sept. 3rd. Leiston: Sizewell, S. Sept. 13th. Aldeburgh: Slaughden, three S. Sept. 13th. Orford: Havergate I., July 8th. MEDITERRANEAN GULL Larus melanocephalus Uncommon resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. During the first winter period, a maximum of 14 birds was present, although this figure includes a few transitory birds which may have resulted in some duplication. There are signs that the increase in wintering individuals is slowing down and a look at the age of the birds involved reveals that there were one first-winter, six second-winters and seven adults. Thus the majority of birds appeared to be regular adults returning to traditional haunts with few young birds arriving to boost numbers. As in previous years, there was an increase in reports in the spring as birds passed through on their way to Baltic breeding grounds. Numbers were rather low, however, and most reports came from well-watched locations along the coast at Landguard, Minsmere, Benacre and Lowestoft. The summer months finally produced proof of breeding when a pair settled in a Blackheaded Gull colony and laid a single egg. Unfortunately, the egg was predated by Blackheaded Gulls, but let us hope that this will be the start of regular breeding by this species in the County. Regular reports of an adult in the Felixstowe area during the summer perhaps referred to a non-breeding, over-summering individual. Returning birds began to appear as early as mid-July with the Levington Marina individual reported from 13th. Other July reports involved singles at Benacre Broad, 9th; Ness Point, Lowestoft, 18th and Fagbury Cliff, 28th. A small number of birds was reported passing through during the autumn but numbers were again low and just eight birds appeared to be wintering in the County at the end of the year. Inland records are always of interest and Lackford W.R. attracted a second-winter bird, Feb. 13th to 21st and a first-winter bird, Oct. 18th to Nov. 16th. In both instances, the birds were appearing erratically at the evening gull roosts. Reports of a first-winter at Suffolk W.P., Bramford, Nov. 28th and an adult at Boxford, Dec. 5th are of interest, as are observations of one following a plough with Black-headed Gulls at Mutford, Sept. 2nd and one coming to feed on fat in a Felixstowe garden, Jan. 12th. LAUGHING GULL Larus atricilla At the request of the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee, the record of an individual at Wherstead/Felixstowe in 1977 has been reviewed by the British Birds Rarities Committee and is no longer considered to be adequately documented. As a result of this decision, this species is no longer on the Suffolk list. LITTLE GULL Larus minutus Fairly common passage migrant. Smaller numbers oversummer and overwinter. A handful of birds was found overwintering during the early part of the year and included an adult at Lowestoft, Feb. 3rd and a second-winter there, Feb. 20th. An exception to this lack of sightings occurred on Jan. 30th when two adults were at Minsmere and an observer at Kessingland recorded 15 flying south and six feeding offshore. An isolated sighting of an adult at Cobbold's Point, Felixstowe, Mar. 2nd may have involved a wintering bird starting to move north and the next reports involved the first passage birds at Lackford W.R. where there were two second-year birds, Mar. 28th and two adults the following day. Spring passage was very poor and involved reports of single 83
individuals from six sites, perhaps involving just seven birds. The records spanned from Apr. 2nd to June 18th with most sightings occurring in the first ten days of April. Autumn movements got under way with an individual at Benacre Broad on July 10th. Thereafter, the species was reported widely with September and October producing some good counts of birds passing south offshore. Numbers built up slowly in July with peaks of six at Benacre Broad, 28th; five, Lowestoft North Groynes, 29th and four in Holbrook Bay, 28th. August saw a continued increase with maximum counts of 15 at Benacre Broad, 21st and 13 at Lowestoft, 22nd. Offshore movements reached their peak during September and several observers enjoyed the sight of good numbers of these graceful birds passing by. Sept. 13th produced a notable passage and counts on that date (all passing south) included 22 off Aldeburgh, 20 off Ness Point, Lowestoft, 15 off Minsmere and 12 off Sizewell with six more around the outlet rig; however, the most impressive count came from Southwold where a protracted seawatch produced a total of 267 passing south. The latter site also produced counts of 13 north and 30 south on 12th and 23 south on 19th whilst additional totals off Lowestoft included 40 south on 8th, 24 north and 11 feeding offshore on 3rd and 25 offshore on 14th. October figures were somewhat lower than those in September but reasonable numbers remained to feed off the coast in the north of the County. Counts of these birds included 15 off Benacre, Oct. 9th and 14 off Ness Point, Lowestoft, Oct. 23rd. Other high counts during the latter end of the year included eight north off Covehithe on both Oct. 23rd and 24th and 11 north off Southwold, 23rd. Landguard recorded 51 north and ten south during October, peaking at 43 north on 2nd. Sightings in November were reported from seven coastal sites with a maximum of 23 south off Southwold, 14th. December produced reports of just a single bird off Benacre on 12th and 13th.
SABINE'S GULL Larus sabini Rare passage migrant. A better year than 1992 with four passage birds on typical dates. Covehithe: first-winter S., Oct. 2nd (SB). Southwold: juv. S., Sept. 12th (WJB, JMC); ad. and juv. N. Sept. 13th (JMC, SJL).
BLACK-HEADED GULL Larus ridibundus Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. A difficult species to comment on, except to say that the County holds a very healthy population, both of local breeding birds during the summer, and Baltic birds during the winter. Breeding colonies fared reasonably well, although the larger colonies suffered prĂŠdation by larger gulls. This was particularly the case at Havergate Island where 1,290 pairs raised just 241 young. At other sites, 67 pairs fledged 53 young at Minsmere, 30 pairs reared at least 24 young in the grounds of Bury Beet Factory and 12 pairs bred at Trimley Marshes. No information was received regarding the success of the 1,500 or so pairs on the Blyth estuary. The species may also have bred at Suffolk Wildlife Park, Kessingland where three juveniles were seen on June 22nd. The bulk of reports involved counts of birds at regular roost sites. Such counts peaked in January with 10,569 at Lackford W.R., 23rd and 4,500 at Sizewell, 24th. Also during January, daytime flocks included 1,500 on the Orwell estuary at Nacton and 500 feeding off Landguard. At the latter site, autumn movements produced a count of 2,360 passing south, Oct. 15th. The largest late-autumn roost at Lackford W.R. occurred on Oct. 26th when 9,000 were estimated to be present. 84
J F M A I) A S 0 N ? 7 Blyth — ? 7 7 89 2137 1172 Aide/Ore — _ 674 955 892 802 611 1485 1553 — Deben 1049 1761 1449 1581 2149 1359 663 666 Orwell _ 586 360 577 1245 771 846 1004 626 Alton Water 125 602 493 58 115 69 138 101 An amusing report involved a flock of about 120 feeding on a trailer of rejected Potato Waffles at the Bird's Eye Factory, Lowestoft! RING-BILLED GULL Larus delawarensis Very rare visitor. Although one would expect an American vagrant to be particularly rare on Britain's East coast, the speed with which this species has established itself as a regular visitor to our shores is excuse enough for Suffolk's birdwatchers to feel hard done by. Suffolk's third record of this species mirrored the previous two by only revealing itself to a single observer before disappearing without trace. Wherstead: River Orwell, first-winter Feb. 6th (MDC). This bird frustrated many would-be admirers by quickly losing itself amongst large numbers of gulls in a difficult part of the estuary to cover properly. Attempts to relocate it the following day were scuppered by thick fog. It is odd that none of the Suffolk records could be classed as typical. The species is showing a pattern in Britain of turning up in parks and on sports fields, often with mixed flocks of Common and Black-headed Gulls, whilst the three Suffolk records have involved two singles on the Orwell estuary and one in Lowestoft Harbour. This is still a much soughtafter species in Suffolk and observers may like to check local parks in Lowestoft, Felixstowe and Ipswich where gulls are known to gather regularly. COMMON GULL Larus canus Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few pairs breed. J F M A A N D S O 7 7 7 7 ? — Blyth 11 410 157 — — Aide/Ore 11 48 31 1 29 25 125 — Deben 16 173 43 19 3 1 25 13 — Orwell 14 21 22 7 2 2 13 91 — Alton Water 44 275 46) 59 16 88 68 0 Numbers during the first winter period were either low or poorly reported as the Recorder received details of few large gatherings. However, high counts did include 3,000 on the Orwell estuary at Nacton on Jan. 24th; 1,000 off Landguard on the same date and 500 at the regular roost at Lackford W.R., Feb. 15th. Passage birds boosted numbers during March with up to 500 on The Scrape at Minsmere on 14th and regular observations from Bawdsey provided peak counts of 22 north on 3rd and 83 north on 4th. Further movements in April produced the highest spring counts and included 175 at Benacre Broad, 73 at Havergate Island, 134 north off Southwold (28th) and 20 at Trimley Marshes. A gathering of mainly first-summer birds at Benacre Broad in early May peaked at 185 on 8th. The small breeding population on Orfordness continues to fluctuate but overall appears to be increasing. At least 25 pairs were located in 1993 and the species bred for the first time on nearby Havergate Island, where a single pair succeeded in rearing three young. Autumn movements were rather poorly documented but the first returning adult was reported from Felixstowe, July 8th. Landguard logged birds regularly from July 11th and 137 were in Felixstowe Docks by Aug. 19th. Interestingly, 12 were at Long Melford, July 22nd, perhaps indicating the start of overland passage. The Lackford W.R. gull roost contained 200 Common Gulls by Dec. 19th. 85
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus fuscus Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. A few overwinter. D N O A S A J F M ? ? 7 ? ? — Blyth 0 2 2 5 — — 28 9 11 Aide/Ore 0 2 809 — 0 24 3 17 14 Deben 3 13 0 — 4 4 3 44 23 Orwell 0 2 2 4 2 0 4 0 Alton Water 0 1 6 16 The WeBS counts continue to show a very small wintering population on the Suffolk estuaries. However, the wintering population in the west of the County continues to grow with numbers at the Lackford W.R. roost peaking at 218, Jan. 23rd and 400, Nov. 15th. Most other winter counts involved one to three birds, but 15 were in Seafield Bay, Stour estuary, Jan. 16th and seven at North Warren, Jan. lOth. Early March saw passage birds beginning to move north in earnest (e.g. 151 north off Bawdsey on 4th) and movements continued throughout Aprii and into early May, when larger numbers of individuals of the race L. f . intermedius were reported. Düring this time, numbers at Lackford W.R. peaked at 327 on Apr. 29th. The main breeding colony on Orfordness was estimated at 9,043 pairs, showing a continued increase in numbers. An overspill from the main colony resulted in seven pairs attempting to breed on Havergate Island; two pairs were successful and raised five young. At Trimley Marshes, a pair was observed nest-building and laid two eggs but these were predated. On the Blyth estuary, two adults appeared to be incubating in the large Blackheaded Gull colony there. Maximum monthly counts at Lackford W.R. between late spring and early autumn were 220 in May, 323 in June, 247 in July and 220 in August. Postbreeding dispersai passed with little comment, although one observer reported that 1,000 were at Livermere Lake on the relatively early date of July 7th. A leucistic bird was reported from Minsmere, Apr. 6th and a partial albino with 75% white wings was at Great Blakenham, Aug. 3rd. HERRING GULL Unis argentatus Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. J F M A A S O N D 7 ? ? 7 7 21 34 41 — Blyth — — 388 1283 2960 71 912 630 1389 Aide/Ore — 132 267 96 112 40 81 Deben 17 67 — 12 9 11 40 44 14 Orwell 21 14 Counts at regular winter roosts produced peaks of 750, Havergate Island, Jan. 20th; 600, Lackford W.R., Feb. 15th (likely to include some passage birds) and 1,150 at Sizewell, Jan. 24th.Movements in early March produced counts off Bawdsey of 235 north on 3rd and 320 north on 4th. Breeding numbers at Orfordness increased a little with an estimated 3,691 pairs present, but this is still well below the number of pairs of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Smaller numbers elsewhere mainly involved newly developing colonies with three pairs raising a total of seven young in Lowestoft Harbour and two pairs on Havergate Island, with one pair raising two young. An albinotic individual at Benacre Broad, Apr. 17th was initially thought to be a Glaucous Gull. All reports of yellow-legged individuals of the race L. a. michahellis were as follows: Mutford: two ads. following plough, Sept. 2nd. Southwold: first-winter from 1992 to Mar. 27th; second-winter Oct. 13th. Minsmere: ad. Jan. 20th; first-winter Feb. 5th and Mar. 13th; first-summer Apr. 16th; two ads. July 29th; second-summer and third-winter July 30th. 86
Leiston: Sizewell Rig, imm. June 15th. Aldeburgh: Slaughden, ad. Feb. 19th. Trimley St Martin: Thorpe Bay, ad. Apr. 4th. Lackford W.R.: ad. May 16th. Observers are reminded that the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee requires identification notes to support claims of these birds, at least until a pattern of occurrences is established. However, once again the current year's mixed bag failed to provide any pattern as yet.
ICELAND GULL Larus glaucoides Scarce winter visitor. A reasonable number of reports but mainly involving short-stayers: Lowestoft: Ness Point, second-winter Mar. 20th and 21st (NJS et al.). Lake Lothing, imm. flying W., Mar. 23rd presumed same as Ness Point bird (RCS). Southwold: second-winter Feb. 18th and 19th (CGDC); second-summer May 9th (WJB, JMC, EWP). Leiston: Sizewell Rig, second-winter Feb. 20th (MLC, EM et al.). Lackford W.R.: third-winter Feb. 14th to 21st (CJJ et al.), second-winter Mar. 16th (PVH, TPK, MSu). It is perhaps likely that all the coastal reports refer to just one individual, thus three birds were present in the County. The birds at Lackford are the first records of this species for West Suffolk. GLAUCOUS GULL Lams hyperboreus Scarce winter visitor. Now an extremely difficult species to find in the County with all reports involving oneday birds. Gone are the times when one could expect to see three or four together at Lowestoft! Benacre: second-winter S. offshore Mar. 20th (RCS). Minsmere: second-winter Jan. 31st (IR); first- and third-winter Mar. 27th (MLC, IR); second-winter Dec. 27th (DF). GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus marinus Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. S N D A A O F M J ? ? ? ? ? — 20 Blyth 8 9 — — — — — — 40 120 90 North Warren — — 132 106 159 46 60 Aide/Ore 104 2 4 5 6 7 2 2 Deben 4 10 6 15 8 5 4 0 Orwell 2 7 Poorly reported, but the WeBS figures show a good wintering population on the Aide/Ore estuary. Other counts of interest include 46 at Benacre Broad, Dec. 8th; 43, Carlton Colville, Dec. 10th and 24, Trimley Marshes, Sept. 19th. Counts at the roost at Lackford W.R. gave peak numbers of 48, Jan. 23rd and 52, Nov. 15th. Very few reports were received from Lowestoft Harbour which traditionally attracts large numbers of this species, but at least 300 adults were counted there on Nov. 24th. A few non-breeders oversummer each year and in June there were reports of 17 at Havergate Island and up to four at Landguard as well as a scattering of odd ones and twos at other coastal resorts. Spring passage off Bawdsey produced counts of 17 north, Mar. 3rd and 20 north, Mar. 4th. The only report of apparent autumn passage involved 63 south off Benacre, Aug. 15th. 87
K I T T I W A K E Rissa tridactyla Very common passage migrant. Smaller numbers breed and a few overwinter.
nbers at the Lowestoft colony but stili more figures for 1991.
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993
Successful nests 53 46 56
Total No. of nests 74 82 77 89 81 76 90 91 107 129 112 157 203 167
59 59 76 83 91 89 80 125 143 127
Fledged young 62-71 72 92 86 82 90 121 142 153 36* 134 197 233 196
* In 1989, the South Pier was demolished and 40 nests were vandalised. The birds also look a year lo get accustomed to the purpose-built wall.
Winter observations continued the trend of recent years with good numbers reported feeding offshore. Highest counts of birds offshore included 100, Kessingland, Jan. 30th; 600, Minsmere, Feb. 21st; 50, Aldeburgh, Feb. 21st and 120, Landguard, Jan. 24th. Movements of birds also produced a count of 140 north off Landguard, Feb. 21st. Off Southwold an estimated 6,000 Kittiwakes passed south in two hours on Jan. lOth (JMC). This latter figure represents the largest movement of this species ever recorded off the Suffolk coast. Spring passage was poorly reported with the only significant counts coming from Aldeburgh where 500 flew north on Feb. 27th and 242 north on Mar. Ist. Autumn passage was covered more thoroughly as the County's seawatchers got down to business. However, in general, passage was poor with only single-figure counts received from regularly watched sites at Landguard and Southwold. The biggest movements occurred in November, after the main seawatching 'season' had finished and were consequently 88
poorly documented. Highest counts involved 140 north in two hours off South wold, Nov. 6th and "Hundreds north" off Benacre, Nov. 15th. There was evidence of an influx in late December with 70 south off Covehithe on 31st and reports from Landguard of 130 on 28th and 100 on 30th. An oiled immature was at Lackford W.R. Mar. 5th to 8th. GULL-BILLED TERN Gelochelidon nilotica Very rare passage migrant. At the request of the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee, the record of one at Sizewell in May 1974 has been reviewed by the British Birds Rarities Committee and is no longer considered to be adequately documented. SANDWICH TERN Sterna sandvicensis Common summer visitor and passage migrant. Keen eyes pipped Havergate Island to the post this year with the first returning bird flying north off Felixstowe, Mar. 27th. Havergate first reported birds on Mar. 29th when 17 were present and 63 were noted there the next day. Numbers picked up slowly in early April but the latter end of the month saw a general influx with 353 on Havergate Island, Apr. 27th and 114 at Minsmere on the same date (there had only been eight at Minsmere on 25th). Late spring migrants included three inland at Causeway Lake, Baylham, May 28th. Despite good numbers utilising the site, no breeding occurred at Minsmere but at Havergate Island, 125 pairs fledged 98 young. Post-breeding dispersal usually produces a few records of birds in unexpected locations and one observer was pleased to be able to add the species to his 'garden list' when two flew north over Cobham Road, Ipswich, Aug. 17th. Autumn passage produced no significant movements and monthly totals at Landguard included 20 north and seven south in July; four north and 22 south in August and 15 north and 24 south in September. Birds were relatively early in leaving with Havergate's last record on Sept. 27th (two) and only a handful of coastal sightings followed. The only October report involved two at Landguard on 2nd. ROSEATE TERN Sterna dougallii Rare passage migrant. Two records involving birds on typical dates: Leiston: Sizewell, ad. Aug. 11th (MLC); presumed same Aug. 15th (RVAM). Orford: Havergate Island, June 4th (PJM). The numbers of individuals over the last decade are as follows: 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 3 2 0 2 1 2 4 2 3 2 COMMON TERN Sterna hirundo Common summer visitor and passage migrant. Records began with one at Sizewell Rig, Apr. 7th. This was to be an isolated individual for some two weeks until a general influx during the third week of the month. Highest counts later in April included 14 at Sizewell Rig and ten at Alton Water, 23rd and 20 at Trimley Marshes, 29th. Spring passage was generally uneventful with Landguard logging 112 north and five south during May and numbers moving through Lackford W.R. peaking at 15 on May 14th. Breeding colonies showed mixed fortunes. At Minsmere, the season was disastrous with just three pairs attempting to breed and no young being fledged at all. At the largest colonies, 30 pairs fledged 57 young at Trimley Marshes and at Havergate Island, 92 pairs fledged 89
60 young. The colonisation of new sites by this species is encouraging; one pair fledged three young at Sharmford Mere, Coddenham, providing the first ever breeding record for the Gipping Valley; three pairs raised up to six juveniles at Weybread G.P.; a single pair hatched two young on a muddy islet on Benacre Broad but were ousted by Oystercatchers, and proof of breeding was gained at Lake Lothing where a pair hatched three young on a nearby factory roof (see article on p. 18). First-year birds generally summer further south, so the report of one with 14 adults off Landguard, June 9th is interesting. Autumn movements were generally poorly documented. Landguard logged 33 north and 225 south during August and 70 north and 172 south during September with a peak of 100 south, Sept. 13th. Regular observations at Sizewell Rig provided peak counts of 120, Aug. 26th and 150, Aug. 27th. September numbers at that site peaked with 70 on 1st. The only significant offshore movement reported from elsewhere involved 189 south off Aldeburgh, Sept. 13th (the same date as Landguard's peak). Post-breeding movements produced a handful of records from the west of the County with singles at Lackford W.R. on three dates; Glemsford, July 8th and Livermere Lake, Sept. 8th. Counts in the Gipping Valley peaked at 11, Bramford G.P., July 19th. The only October reports involved one south off Aldeburgh on 2nd; three at Sizewell on 3rd and two at Minsmere on 9th. ARCTIC TERN Sterna paradisaea Fairly common passage migrant. Occasionally breeds. Spring reports spanned from Apr. 26th to May 27th and involved a total of just 13 birds as follows: Southwold: N. Apr. 28th. Minsmere: two Apr. 29th. Felixstowe: Cobbold's Point, two N. May 10th. Trimley Marshes: two Apr. 26th; two May 8th. Alton Water: May 13th. Bramford: Suffolk W.P., two May 13th. Lackford W.R.: singles May 13th and 14th and May 27th. The bulk of records fell, typically, between May 8th and 14th. In addition to these records, at least one was at Minsmere for several days in June and a pair bred at Havergate Island for the first time since 1984, fledging two young. Autumn numbers were predictably higher as the year's youngsters began to drift south. However, Sizewell Rig was the only site to produce any significant counts with birds present regularly from Aug. 9th to Sept. 13th and peaks of 16, Aug. 25th and 29, Aug. 27th. Elsewhere, the only counts of more than three birds involved four south off Aldeburgh, Sept. 13th and five off Ness Point, Lowestoft, Aug. 11th. Sept. 13th also produced two south off Sizewell and one off Southwold but the only reports after that date came from Minsmere, Oct. 8th; Ness Point, Oct. 9th and Southwold, Oct. 14th (three). The only autumn report from a non-coastal site involved one at Suffolk W.P., Bramford, July 6th. LITTLE TERN Sterna albifrons Common summer visitor and passage migrant. After one at Minsmere, Apr. 12th there was a general arrival from 20th with reports coming thick and fast after that date. Numbers were rather low with only single-figure counts away from breeding locations. Breeding season figures give cause for concern as most sites reported severe prédation of eggs and young. As this species is squeezed by human pressure into fewer and fewer sites, it becomes ever more easy for predators — mostly Kestrels, Foxes and gulls — to 90
take a heavy toll. The following table shows the numbers and success at each locality: Pairs Fledged Young Kessingland 1 0 Benacre 0 0 Covehithe 35 0 Easton Bavents 6 0 Minsmere 66 10 Landguard 1 0 ? Felixstowe Docks 6 Trimley 7 0 7 Shotley 1 TOTALS 123 10 In addition to the above, up to 50 were observed round the Felixstowe Docks/Fagbury Flats area and some at least may have bred there. No reports were received concerning the Orfordness colony (up to 86 pairs in 1992) but at least 120 were present at the southern end of the shingle spit, May 21st. A regular Felixstowe correspondent reported the lowest numbers around his area since he began keeping records there in 1985. With such a poor breeding season locally, numbers were, not surprisingly, low in the autumn. Very few were reported, although southerly autumn passage off Landguard involved 40 in July and 94 in August. The total for the whole of September involved singles at Havergate Island, 2nd and 3rd; Trimley Marshes, 6th; south off Aldeburgh, 13th and two south off Minsmere, 30th.
BLACK TERN Chlidonias niger Fairly common passage migrant. A good year for this species in the County with the inland water bodies receiving good numbers in the spring and a good, if somewhat protracted, autumn passage offshore. Three early birds in April were at Minsmere on 11th and 12th and Trimley Marshes on 24th. There were then no more records until May 1st when one appeared at Lackford W.R.. This bird was followed by a major influx over the next two weeks with the bulk of the birds reported between May 11th and 14th. Birds were present daily at many sites throughout this period with the highest counts being as follows: Minsmere: nine May 11th. Felixstowe: Felixstowe Marshes, four May 11th. Landguard, 11 N. May 11th; nine N. May 12th. Trimley Marshes: 22 May 11th; also 17 on 12th and 11 on 13th. Alton Water: eight May 12th and 13th. Bramford: Suffolk W.P., 12 May 13th. Gt./Lt. Livermere: Livermere Lake, 29 May 11th; 11 May 12th. Lackford W.R.: 85 May 11th; also ten on 10th and 14 on 12th. Redgrave/Botesdale: Redgrave Lake, 30 May 18th. Weybread: Weybread G.P.. 42 May 12th; also 40 on 11th, 20 on 12th and 18 on 13th. In addition, single birds were noted at Cavenham G.P., May 3rd; Benacre Broad and Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, May 11th and North Warren, May 15th â€” regular watchers at these sites must have felt hard done by! Few were reported after the flock at Redgrave Lake on May 18th, but there appeared to be a second, smaller influx late in the month with six at Alton Water, May 24th; one, Trimley Marshes, May 25th and two on 27th; one, WeybreadG.P., May 29th and two at Lackford W.R., May 27th. One was also at the latter site on June 8th and another at Havergate Island, June 24th was presumably a failed breeder returning south, or had perhaps summered in the area. The few July and August reports involved singles at Benacre, Aug. 19th and 28th; 91
Minsmere, July 18th and July 25th and 26th and Sizewell Rig, July 25th to 28th and Aug. 22nd. The bulk of autumn reports came in September as follows: Southwold: S. Sept. 12th; 20 S. Sept. 13th. Minsmere: present Sept. 10th to 18th, max. four on 13th; two Sept. 22nd, one remaining to 23rd. Leiston: Sizewell, present Sept. 9th to 21st, max. three 9th to 11th. Aldeburgh: 20 S. Sept. 13th. Felixstowe: Landguard, 13 S. Sept. 13th. Alton Water: two Sept. 18th. Weybread: Weybread G.P., two Sept. 12th The movements on Sept. 13th coincided with the peak passage of Common Terns. GUILLEMOT Uria aalge Common passage migrant and winter visitor.
As well as the usual scattering of individuals along the coast and on the main estuaries, a large wintering population was reported offshore in the north of the County. This produced peak counts of 300, Benacre, Jan. 30th and 100 there, Feb. 22nd and 300, Kessingland, Feb. 15th. There was an increase in reports of oiled birds during January with a total of at least 20 reported from several locations along the coast which included 11 at Aldeburgh on 15th. During February and March, further birds were found dead on the beaches, presumably from the same oiling incident. At least two were on the Orwell estuary between Ipswich Docks and Pinmill, Feb. 6th to Mar. 7th and one was on the Shore Pools at Dunwich, Jan. 16th. Spring was uneventful with few reports received. Late birds included two north off Southwold, May 9th and one in Ipswich Docks from April to at least May 13th. Autumn movements were similar to those in spring with few birds noted, except for 92
a short period in late October when reports involved 66 north off Covehithe, Oct. 22nd and 33 north there, Oct. 23rd, and 55 north off Minsmere, Oct. 22nd. In addition, 45 unidentified auks flying north off Southwold, and 40 north off Ness Point, Lowestoft, Oct. 23rd were presumably mostly this species. The large offshore gatherings of the first winter period were not repeated at the end of the year and the highest count received involved just 15 off Minsmere, Dec. 7th. One had returned to Ipswich Docks by Sept. 19th and what was probably a different bird was present there from Nov. 23rd to at least Dec. 19th. Two close inshore on the sea off Bawdsey, Mar. 3rd were repeatedly attacked by a firstwinter Great Black-backed Gull. RAZORBILL Alca torda Fairly common passage migrant and winter visitor. A rather poor year with only one report of more than five birds. During January, singles flew south off Minsmere on 5th and Kessingland on 30th and one flew north off Ness Point, Lowestoft on 16th. Twenty were reported passing south off Slaughden, Aldeburgh, Jan. 5th. After one north off Southwold, Mar. 3rd, a somewhat unseasonable individual was on the sea off Shingle Street, Aug. 22nd. October produced five north off Minsmere on 22nd and singles passed north off Southwold and Ness Point, Lowestoft the following day. Finally, two were offshore at Minsmere, Dec. 7th. A freshly dead individual was picked up at Easton Broad. June 4th. LITTLE AUK Alle alle Fairly common passage migrant and winter visitor. A disappointing year with all records confined to just three months. During the first winter period, seven flew south off Dunwich Cliff, Jan. 3rd and three were off Benacre, Jan. 23rd. During the main autumn period, all reports were as follows: Benacre: N. Oct 24th. Covehithe: N. Oct. 23rd; three N. Oct. 24th; N. Nov. 21st. Southwold: at least five N. Oct. 23rd; two N. Oct. 24th; N. Oct. 25th. Minsmere: five, Oct. 22nd; two S. Nov. 28th. Aldeburgh: N. Oct. 23rd; four N. Oct. 24th; two N. Nov. 21st. Felixstowe: Landguard, three N. Oct. 23rd; one drifting N. on sea, Oct. 26th (later seen near Felixstowe Pier). The records all fell within two distinct periods, between Oct. 22nd and 26th and between Nov. 21st and 28th. In addition, one was found dead on the River Waveney at Barsham on Oct. 14th. This report is interesting as it predates any movement noted offshore. PUFFIN Fratercula arctica Scarce passage migrant. An average year, although the present level of interest in seawatching continues to produce higher figures than were previously thought possible. All records are as follows: Lowestoft: Ness Point, singles N. Feb. 27th and Oct. 23rd. Southwold: Oct. 22nd. Minsmere: singles N. Jan. 9th and Oct. 22nd; two S. Feb. 21st. Aldeburgh: N. Oct. 23rd. In addition, singles were found dead at Lowestoft, Mar. 4th and on Southwold Denes, May 20th. Totals in recent years are as follows: 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 2 1 1 5 0 9 12 19 7 17 8 93
ROCK DOVE Columba livia Very common resident from feral stock. Once again it is not possible to assess the County 's population of this species as the twitchy attitude of many of the County's observers causes them to treat these interesting birds with contempt â€” Ed. STOCK DOVE Columba oenas Fairly common resident and passage migrant. Once again, this species was very poorly reported. Records were received from just over 30 sites but few of these related to breeding information. A continuing decline was noted at Felixstowe whilst six pairs at Minsmere was the highest breeding total reported from a single site. Away from the species' more regular haunts, birds were logged on eight dates at Landguard and included a maximum of three south, Oct. 15th and birds in off the sea on Oct. 27th (two) and Nov. 13th. These were the only instances of direct migration noted in the County during the year which is in direct contrast with the impressive passage that occurred in November 1992. The largest gathering of the year involved a flock of 100 at Boxford, Jan. 16th whilst other notable counts included 50, Boyton Marshes, Jan. 5th; 50, Bramford G.P., Aug. 25th; 50, Sutton, Sept. 21st; 49, Martlesham, Mar. 3rd; 46, Kessingland Levels, Dec. 11th and 39, Beccles Marshes, Apr. 15th. WOODPIGEON Columba palumbus Very common resident, passage migrant and winter visitor.
During the first winter period the largest flocks reported were 1,500, Thorpe Common, Trimley St Martin, Jan. 20th; 1,000, Woolpit, Jan. 16th; 500, Glemsford, Mar. 19th and 300, Great Bealings, Mar. 1st. As spring approached, 400 were still present at Boxford, Apr. 4th but reports of movements were restricted to Bawdsey, where 41 flew east out to sea, Mar. 11th, and Landguard, where a total of 90 flew south during March/April. Despite a paucity of breeding records, this species is clearly still doing well; indeed, at Brent Eleigh it was considered all too common by one observer. High concentrations of breeding pairs included 90 at Sizewell, 46 at North Warren, 20 at Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket and 12 at Landguard (eight in 1992). 94
Autumn movements were less spectacular than in some previous years with Landguard only recording totals of 189 flying south in October and 266 during November (1,101 south in November 1992). However, 200 were present at Landguard, Nov. 6th, at a time when 30-40 is the usual figure. The heaviest passage was recorded at Witnesham where 500 flew north, Nov. 6th and 200 east, Nov. 14th. During the latter part of the year, several large flocks were reported, the most notable of which were 2,000, Long Melford, Oct. 24th and 1,000 there. Dec. 4th; 800, Foxhall Tip, Nov. 28th; 500, Somerleyton Marshes, Dec. 11th; 500, Trimley Marshes, Oct. 25th; 420, Worlingworth, Nov. 14th and 400, Stowmarket, Nov. 3rd. COLLARED DOVE Streptopelia decaocto Common resident. Pigeons and doves clearly remain an uninspiring group for the County's birdwatchers as reports were only received from 12 sites around Suffolk for this species. Recent concern over a decline in numbers of this relative newcomer to our avifauna was allayed a little by news from Brent Eleigh where it was considered abundant, with numbers fully recovered after an apparent drop in 1992, and from Felixstowe where an improvement in numbers was recorded following a three year decline. The 30 pairs reported from Bury St Edmunds Beet Factory was by far the highest breeding total received for a single site. The only flocks of any note came largely from traditional localities with maximum counts of 256, Sluice Farm, Martlesham, Nov. 24th; 130, Worlingworth, Nov. 14th and 50, Searson's Farm, Trimley St Mary, Aug. 29th. No counts were received from Leathes Ham, Lowestoft where up to 500 were present in January 1992 and there was no direct evidence of migration this year. TURTLE DOVE Streptopelia turtur Common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first spring migrants were noted at Barton Mills and Hollesley, Apr. 10th, after which date reports were received from numerous sites across the County. Signs of visible migration were typically sparse but an impressive total of 90 flew west at Fagbury Cliff, May 18th and at Landguard, two flew north and 36 south between May 3rd and June 4th. Elsewhere, 60 had gathered at Minsmere by May 18th and 88 were at Rookery Farm, Snape, May 19th. During the breeding season, conflicting reports of population levels were received from well-monitored sites across the County. At Glemsford, numbers were considered to be above normal whilst at Felixstowe average numbers were recorded. However, at Brent Eleigh this species was considered less obvious than five years ago and only one pair was located at Valley Farm, Coddenham (four in 1992). The highest concentrations of breeding pairs came from the RSPB reserves with 19 pairs at Minsmere and 12 at North Warren. Notable gatherings were reported from several locations during the summer, the highest being 112, Glemsford, July 22nd; 51, Long Melford, July 29th; 50, Tunstall, June 13th; 40, Blaxhall Common, June 20th and 40, Levington, Aug. 11th. During autumn migration there were eleven records in September, mainly involving ones or twos but larger gatherings included 29, Little Livermere, Sept. 8th and 23, Worlingworth, Sept. 26th. There were no reports during October but a late migrant was found at Stowmarket on Nov. 11th. RING-NECKED PARAKEET Psittacula krameri Scarce resident. With perhaps only two birds involved in the five sightings, 1993 was the poorest year for some time. 95
Blythburgh: Westwood Lodge, Mar. 9th. Walberswick: Sallow Walk Covert, Jan. 1st. Minsmere: Mar. 15th. Brightwell: with Wood Pigeons, Nov. 14th and 20th. CUCKOO Cuculus canorus Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first of the year was noted at Hadleigh, Apr. 10th and this was quickly followed by numerous reports from across the County. Despite the difficulty in monitoring this species' .success, it remains a widespread bird; records were received from over 80 localities during the summer. Details of occupied territories included seven, North Warren; six, Holbrook Bay; six, King's Forest; four, Sizewell; three, Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove and two, Valley Farm, Coddenham. One juvenile was watched being fed by a Dunnock at Lackford W.R., June 5th and another was fed by a Blackcap at Sizewell, Aug. 16th. One rather unfortunate individual in Ipswich died after hitting the Commercial Union offices in the High Street, May 11th. During the autumn there were eighteen reports in August (including five at Stonebridge Marshes, Butley on 16th) and eight in September, up to the 23rd. In October, late birds were at Botesdale on 4th and Dunwich on 9th. The Botesdale bird was observed feeding on Large White Pieris brassicae caterpillars. BARN OWL Tyto alba Fairly common resident. During the course of the year, birds were reported from around 95 sites which is about average. In recent years the number of localities frequented by this species has ranged from a high of 146 in 1985 to a low of 70 in 1992 with around 100 sites being the average for most years in-between. It would seem from these figures that the population of Barn Owls in Suffolk remains fairly stable and yearly fluctuations may only be due to differing observer recording levels. Despite the widespread population of this species, confirmed breeding success remains poorly detected with just 11 pairs reported; however, it is likely that some observers keep known breeding sites quiet whilst others deliberately avoid potential breeding areas to minimise disturbance. Away from traditional localities, one at Southwold, May 21st was a rare sight there and Landguard logged wandering singles on Oct. 3rd and 7th and Nov. 27th. The origin of such birds is open to speculation, as is the number of individuals involved. Once again, the major roads in the County took their toll on the species with fatalities reported from Boxford, Kelsale, Martlesham (two), Nacton (two), Reydon, Trimley St Martin, Ubbeston, Wangford (E Suffolk) and Yoxford. LITTLE OWL Athene noctua Fairly common resident. The total of 92 sites from which this species was reported probably represents the highest number ever recorded in the County. However, without specific details of locations within parishes, it is difficult to be sure as to how many pairs this represents and is likely to be an underestimate. Nevertheless, an examination of the records over the past 12 years shows that reports of this species are clearly on the increase. As recently as 1982 the population was considered stable at 52 localities. Whether fluctuations in this, as well as many other, species are purely the result of observer coverage is a matter open to question. The general increase in sightings of this species was also reflected in breeding reports with a total of 20 pairs recorded of which at least eight were known to have been successful. 96
Post-juvenile dispersal in late summer and autumn was probably responsible for sightings of birds in Felixstowe Docks in June and from Landguard and nearby Adastral Close on six dates between Aug. 12th and Nov. 2nd. A report of five at Boyton, Sept. 2nd presumably involved a family party. Road casualties were found at Blythburgh, Hollesley, Levington, Tuddenham St Martin and Westleton. TAWNY OWL Strix aluco Common resident. The known distribution and population estimates for this species remain fairly stable with reports from 90 sites during the year â€” considerably more than the 66 in 1992. Confirmation of breeding came from just eleven localities, the highest concentration of territories being 13 at Minsmere, five at Sizewell, four at Shotley and three at North Warren. By far the most interesting breeding record of the year concerned a juvenile at Maidenhall Approach, Ipswich, Mar. 25th which was considered to be around five weeks old. This would indicate that the eggs of this pair were laid in January, an extremely early date. BWP states that '. . . few eggs laid before mid-March in Norway and Sweden, and season broadly similar through much of Europe and round Mediterranean . . .' What is assumed to be the regular female was again present at Landguard, where she was first noted in October 1989, for much of the year, although her appearances were rather sporadic during the summer. One individual had a lucky escape at Darsham, Feb. 14th, when, after striking the bonnet of a car in the early morning, it flew off, apparently unharmed. More alarming though, was the rather high total of 26 road casualties found across the County during the year. LONG-EARED OWL Asio otus Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. Being such a secretive species, it is once again difficult to form an opinion of the status of this owl based on the records received. The true status of this species has long been considered to be underestimated, so perhaps the only way to reach a more accurate assessment is for observers to visit their local woods at dusk during the summer and listen for the 'cooing' calls of adults or the 'squeaky gate' calls of young. During the first part of the year up to three roosted at Levington between Jan. 31st and Mar. 13th and singles were noted at Beccles, Apr. 5th; Flatford, Mar. 6th; Lower Raydon, Mar. 19th and Sutton Heath, where calling was heard from Mar. 8th. The only obvious sign of spring migration was provided by one at Felixstowe Docks, Mar. 19th. During the breeding season, reports were received from Flatford in Aug.; Fritton, where a juvenile was seen, Aug. 10th; Sutton Heath, where a pair bred and Tunstall Forest, where three juveniles were seen on June 29th. In addition, young birds were heard calling at Knettishall Heath; Butts Hill, Mildenhall and Westwood Marshes. For the second successive year autumn passage was very poor. The only reports came from Adastral Close, Felixstowe where two were present, Nov. 2nd with one remaining the following day, and Landguard where one was noted on Nov. 5th. The only second winter reports came from Flatford with a single present, Nov. 18th and two Nov. 24th. Two road casualties were found, both on the Al 1, at Barton Mills, Mar. 1st and How Hill, Icklingham, May 14th. SHORT-EARED OWL Asio flammeus Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. During the first three months of the year, 30 birds were reported from 17 sites, the majority of which were coastal. Most of these records involved sightings of ones or twos 97
but higher counts included five, Southwold Town Marshes, Feb. 28th; three, Fisher Row/Peto's Marsh, Oulton, during January and February and three, Aldeburgh Town Marshes, Jan. 1st. Several birds lingered at these wintering sites well into April and May during which time there were additional single-date reports from Ramsholt, Reydon, Shingle Street, Yoxford and Minsmere. Most of these records no doubt relate to migrants, a theory reinforced by the sighting of one coming in off the sea at Landguard, Apr. 14th. The last report of the spring was of a single at Southwold, May 27th. During the summer, the only sightings were of singles at Boyton, July 30th and perhaps the same bird on Havergate Island, Aug. 6th. Autumn passage commenced with a single at Minsmere, Sept. 11th, the only other record for that month coming from Trimley Marshes on 29th. During October, one was at North Warren on 3rd, up to two at Trimley Marshes from 14th and two at Minsmere on 31st. In addition, Landguard logged one in off the sea, Oct. 14th and one on the beach, Oct. 26th. Numbers remained very low during November and December with just nine birds located at eight sites, all being singles apart from two at Trimley Marshes. NIGHTJAR Caprimulgus europaeus Uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. Without the benefit of a full survey, reports of this species were somewhat scant. However, it seems safe to assume that the limited amount of data supplied does not represent a drop in the number of churring males. The highest number of territories reported from any one site was 28 at Minsmere, with a further 37 churring males in the Dunwich Forest/Westleton Heath area. The first birds of the year were reported from Cavenham Heath, Apr. 25th and Sutton Common, Apr. 29th; these are the first April reports since 1987. The Cavenham bird is the earliest arrival in the County since at least 1950, and possibly since 1876 when one was at Blaxhall on Apr. 8th. One at Minsmere, Sept. 2nd was the last heard churring. Following a similar report in 1992, one was observed feeding around the car park and adjacent set-aside field at Lackford W.R. between Aug. 14th and 16th. A freshly dead road casualty at Westleton, Sept. 12th was the year's final sighting. SWIFT Apus apus Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first report of the year came from Trimley Marshes, Apr. 22nd and a further 11 birds were noted at seven sites before the month's end. Typically, May provided a flood of records with major arrivals noted at Ipswich and Holbrook on 10th and one observer reported a "massive south-westerly movement in the north of the County" on 31st, although no more detailed information was given. High totals included 700, Alton Water, May 13th and 1,000 there on 31st; 1,000 passing slowly westwards over Lackford, May 18th with further counts of 1,000 coming from Lackford W.R. on May 27th and 31st. Elsewhere there were several reports of flocks ranging from 100 to 400 in size. At Landguard, 70 flew north and 558 south during May with a peak of 490 south on 31st and 728 north and 873 south in June with peaks of 344 north on 3rd and 431 south on 26th. Breeding season reports indicated average numbers in the Felixstowe and Glemsford areas. Several large feeding flocks were found during July including 600, Bramford G.P. on 10th; 500, Trimley Marshes on 27th and 300, Lackford on 9th. Autumn movements passed almost unnoticed apart from at Landguard where there were monthly totals of 1,243 north and 1,232 south in July, maximum 378 south on 24th and two north and 1,372 south in August, maximum 838 south on 10th. During September, a total of 77 individuals was recorded across the County, of which 35 passed south at
Landguard on ten dates. During October, singles were noted at Benacre, Fagbury Cliff, Landguard and Minsmere, all on 3rd, with three south at Landguard on 4th making the last sighting of the year. An aberrant individual over Lackford W.R., May 31st with a white throat and upper breast must have caused pulses to race, albeit briefly. KINGFISHER Alcedo atthis Fairly common resident. With reports from no less than 79 sites, spread throughout the whole County, this species appears to be surviving well with sightings coming from a wide variety of freshwater habitats. Of the 14 potential breeding pairs reported from a total of 11 sites, eight are known to have been successful. During the winter months, several reports involved birds utilising brackish coastal sites with observations from Wherstead Strand, Southwold Harbour, Walberswick Flats and Lake Lothing for example. Post-juvenile dispersal often produces records of birds in unusual locations and in September, one was seen in the churchyard at Aldeburgh on 23rd. Individuals were also noted at Fagbury Cliff, July 24th (trapped), Sept. 6th and Oct. 17th and at Landguard on Oct. 26th (trapped). BEE-EATER Merops apiaster Very rare visitor. Kessingland: Kessingland Beach, N. June 5th (RCS). Leiston: Sizewell, S. May 23rd (WJP). Orford: Orfordness, on wires then flew S.W. May 22nd (RCB). These three records, all on typical dates, take the County total to 32, of which eight have been in the 1990s. Once again, all of the records involved short-stayers and those birders who missed the Reydon individual in 1988 are still hoping to catch up with this species in Suffolk. HOOPOE Upupa epops Scarce passage migrant. Benacre: Pits and Denes area, Aug. 26th to Sept. 4th (many obs). Covehithe: Covehithe Cliffs, Oct. 28th (SA). Easton Bavents: Oct. 14th to 21st (many obs). Haverhill: Oct. 14th (AVC). For the first time since 1982 there were no spring records. The total of three (or four) autumn records is slightly below the annual average of 5.6 over the last ten years but the long-stayers were most welcome. The Haverhill observer, in particular, must have been pleased with such a good local find. WRYNECK Jynx torquilla Uncommon passage migrant. Formerly bred. The four spring records are about average for recent years: Lowestoft: Sparrow's Nest/Oval, May 16th and 17th. Minsmere: June 13th. Mildenhall: West Row Fen, May 3rd to 15th. Brandon: Mayday Farm, May 10th. Eleven were reported during the autumn, all between Sept. 5th and 28th, constituting the best autumn total since 1989. Easton Bavents: Southend Warren, Sept. 5th to 8th. Southwold: Denes, Sept. 15th to 20th. 99
Minsmere: Sept. 15th to 27th with two on 23rd. Leiston: Southfield Drive, Sept. 23rd to 25th. Hollesley: Sept. 17th (trapped). Bawdsey: Shingle Street, Sept. 19th. Felixstowe: Landguard, Sept. 16th to 21st. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, Sept. 15th (trapped). Great Bealings: Sept. 17th. Nowton: Sept. 8th to 13th. The table below shows the seasonal spread and total number of records over the previous ten years. 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 5 2 4 Spring 14 2 8 2 5 5 6 6 3 5 11 Autumn 28 5 11 26 6 25 30 11 8 7 15 TOTAL 42 11 13 34 8 It is encouraging to see some long-stayers as well as a good number of records away from the coast. With such an elusive species, and an obvious influx in mid-September, one wonders just how many went undetected.
GREEN WOODPECKER Picus viridis Common resident. There was a plethora of records of this species during 1993 with reports coming from 135 sites. This represents considerably better coverage than in 1992 and surpasses the 1991 total of 125 sites. The extremely vocal nature of woodpeckers no doubt increases the chances of their discovery. Although breeding was only reported from 11 localities, observations were widespread during the summer months and it is safe to assume that this species continues to do well. Birds were seen more frequently during 1993 at Brent Eleigh and an increase has been witnessed at Shotley following the storm of 1987 which decimated large tracts of woodland. At the well-monitored RSPB reserves there were 13 territories at Minsmere and ten at North Warren, although at Wolves Wood it is becoming scarce with just two records all year. Five pairs were located at Sizewell. The highest congregations noted during the year included seven, Tuddenham St Martin, Mar. 26th; six, Playford Hall, Aug. 9th and six in the dunes between Sizewell and Minsmere, Sept. 10th. Evidence of post-breeding dispersal came from Fagbury Cliff with records on nine dates between Aug. 1st and Oct. 26th, including two trapped, and at Landguard where singles were seen, July 25th, Aug. 4th and Oct. 24th.
GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos major Common resident. Reports were received from some 120 sites, showing an increase on the 90 in 1992 and approaching the 1991 and 1989 totals when there were records from 118 and 130 sites respectively. Despite confirmation of breeding only coming from ten sites, this species is obviously still faring well and does not appear to have been detrimentally affected in the long term by the effects of the 1987 storm. Indeed, many trees were damaged but left standing and this is likely to have created more rather than less habitat for this species. The highest concentrations of breeding pairs included 12 at Minsmere, six at North Warren and four at Sizewell, whilst notable counts included eight, Tunstall Forest, Apr. 13th; six, Ickworth Park, Feb. 7th and six, King's Forest, May 28th. Evidence of dispersal was provided by singles at Landguard, July 13th and 23rd and sightings on 16 dates at Fagbury Cliff between August and October. 100
LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos minor Uncommon resident. Following the apparent decline in numbers in recent years, it is pleasing to be able to report that this species was recorded from at least 73 sites during the year, a 50% increase on 1992 when birds were only reported from 48 locations. An analysis of the records submitted shows that birds are reappearing at old sites with, for example, one in Ferry Road, Felixstowe, Nov. 9th being the first seen there since 1990. Negative returns were reported from Bawdsey and Witnesham during the year by an observer who watches these areas regularly. However, a male was watched drumming near the old RAF missile site at Bawdsey by another observer on Mar. 20th. Despite the increase in sightings, breeding remained difficult to prove. The populations at the RSPB reserves remained at the same level as in 1992 with three pairs at Minsmere and singles at North Warren and Wolves Wood. During the course of the year wandering birds were regularly noted at Fagbury Cliff and Landguard. At the former site, birds were noted May 20th, throughout June and on 13 dates between August and Oct. 17th and it seems likely that the species bred somewhere in the vicinity. At Landguard, singles were noted, June 22nd, Aug. 3rd and Oct. 4th, making a bumper year for the species at the site. Of interest is the bird of Oct. 4th as it proved to have been ringed five weeks earlier at Fagbury Cliff on Aug. 30th. The most unfortunate record of the year concerned a juvenile at Levington, June 11th which was found dead in a water butt, a bizarre ending for a woodpecker. WOODLARK Lullula arborea Uncommon breeding species and scarce passage migrant. None were reported in the first winter period until Feb. 15th when one had returned to Minsmere; by Feb. 21st males were singing at three coastal sites. It would appear that this species still hasn't reached its optimum density in Suffolk as regular censusing continues to produce an increase in breeding numbers. Figures for the main coastal population are as follows: Suffolk Sandlings totals (supplied by BTO Regional Representative). Total Forest areas (sites) Heathland (sites) 1990 78 62 (3) 16 (6) 1991 43-47 (3) 16-18 (4) 59-65 1992 72-79 (3) 34 (11) 106-113 1993 118-131 70-81 (3) 48-50 (12) The number of singing males in Suffolk Breckland increased from a total of 76 in 1992 to 94 in 1993 which included five on heathland. A welcome increase in the north of the coastal strip was also reported and Minsmere's surveyors found 11 singing males. Breckland records included an interesting post-breeding flock of 22 birds near Icklingham, July 27th. On the coast, a gathering of up to 17 was present at Minsmere in late October. Away from the breeding areas, just three reports were received of migrants. Three were on Felixstowe Golf Course, Oct. 3rd and one flew south over Landguard the same day. Another individual was at the latter site, Oct. 18th. Reports from Minsmere that were perhaps unrelated to the site's breeding population involved singles south on Oct. 8th and 18th and two west on Oct. 17th. SKYLARK Alauda arvensis Very common resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. Mixed fortunes were reported for this species with numbers increasing in some areas and decreasing in others. In Breckland a noticeable increase in Skylarks was reported in 1993. Comments from observers included Elveden: "More birds present than for past 101
fiveyears"-, Eriswell: ' 'Numbers well up on previous two years ' ' and Icklingham: "Numbers up on previous two years". At Havergate Island, 15 pairs bred with many being doublebrooded. Other areas showed a continued decline with 13 territories at Valley Farm, Coddenham (15 in 1992); eight at Landguard (ten in 1992) and 15 at Minsmere (16 in 1992). Other censuses revealed 29 territories at Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove; 41 at North Warren (38 in 1992); 95 at Sizewell and 25 at Trimley Marshes. Winter numbers showed similar increases and decreases to those reported during the breeding season. A Polstead farmer reported that there were no birds at all on his land from January to April for the first recorded time and a visit to a once productive area at Sudbourne in February revealed just two birds, with ten there four days later. A few large counts were received however, and included 300, Barking Tye during November/ December; 200, Snape, Jan. 3rd; 120, Long Melford, Nov. 16th and 100 at Freston, Jan. 3rd; Chelmondiston, Nov. 13th; Little Livermere, Nov. 21st and Trimley Marshes, Nov. 21st. Spring passage passed unnoticed but during the autumn, Landguard reported a total of 924 birds passing south or coming in off the sea during October with 566 logged on Oct. 15th. Regular observations at Felixstowe Golf Course showed a marked increase in birds from Oct. 27th and at least 50 were on nearby Falkenham Marshes, Nov. 7th. SHORE LARK Eremophila alpestris Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. The recent scarcity of this species in the County continues. Reports were confined to just three sites as follows: Kessingland/Benacre: four to Jan. 1st from 1992, three remaining to Apr. 10th. Easton Bavents: Oct. 2nd. Aldeburgh: Slaughden, four S. Jan. 5th. Just one autumn bird and none during the second winter period makes depressing reading. It would be a shame to lose this enigmatic species from our wild coastline. SAND MARTIN Riparia riparia Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first reports of the year came in mid-March and involved two at Lackford W.R. and one at Landguard on 13th, the latter being the earliest ever for that site. Numbers had increased to eight at Lackford W.R. by 21st and other early records in March included singles at Loompit Lake and Minsmere on 16th; Trimley Marshes on 18th; Livermere Lake and Alton Water on 20th and North Warren and Dunwich (two) on 21st. After the initial vanguard of birds, numbers remained low until the second half of April when larger gatherings began to be reported which included 60 at Suffolk W.P., Bramford on 21st and 150 at Trimley Marshes on 22nd. The breeding season passed without much comment, although general observations implied a decrease in numbers. At Kesgrave, about 90 holes were occupied, representing a 50% decrease on 1992 and a similar decrease was reported from Dunwich. Counts of nest holes at some of the larger colonies included 701 at Covehithe Cliffs and 348 at Easton Bavents Cliffs. At Felixstowe, one observer considered local numbers to be the lowest in that area since 1984. Of interest was the report of 60 on the ground in a recently ploughed field at Needham Market, July 30th. It seems likely that these birds were taking up soil to gain valuable minerals. Autumn passage was protracted with gatherings building up from mid-August. An albino was noted at Trimley Marshes at this time on Aug. 5th. At Landguard, passage totals included 398 south during July; 457 south during August and 39 south during September. 102
A further five birds passed through there in October with the last on 9th. The last birds of the year involved two at Lackford W.R., Oct. 23rd and one at Peewit Hill, Felixstowe, Oct. 27th. SWALLOW Hirundo rustica Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first birds of the year are usually isolated individuals and it is normally some time before the bulk of the birds arrive. However, an early influx of a large number of birds in the first half of April ensured that a deluge of reports was received from across the County. The first sighting was of three at Havergate Island, Mar. 20th followed by further March reports of one at Minsmere on 22nd; singles almost daily at Lackford W.R. from 25th, with numbers building up to a peak of eight on 31st; one, Livermere Lake on 30th and six, Trimley Marshes on 31st. A general arrival then took place between Apr. 2nd and 12th with birds widely reported from many sites during this time. A good number of comments was received regarding the breeding season, although remarks varied so widely that a general assessment is very difficult. Some observers reported a good breeding season in their area with four pairs raising 31 young on Havergate Island and encouraging remarks received from Holbrook. At Benhall and Shotley, numbers were reported to be less than in 1992, but that had been a record year at both sites. However, a greater number of observers reported falling numbers and included "lowest numbers for 15years" (Glemsford); "regular two pairs did not return to breed" (Henstead) and ' 'numbers appeared low locally ' ' (Pakenham). Landguard reported only six pairs, compared with 12 in 1992. Despite an apparently poor breeding season, autumn passage was generally considered to be above average. Numbers built up well in September and included counts of 400, Livermere Lake on 14th and 300, North Warren on 17th. Southerly passage along the coast was well reported and produced a peak in early October with Felixstowe Golf Course producing counts of 500 south on 3rd and 200 south on 5th. Regular observations at Landguard provided the best counts of southerly passage during the autumn and involved 3,203 during August, max. 3,050 on 30th; 3,403 and 207 in off the sea during September, max. 580 on 20th and 507 on 19th and 985 during October, max. 261 on 3rd. Sightings of birds at Landguard continued into November with 23 counted on 4th and the last single reported on 12th. Overall, there were no less than 60 birds reported during November in the County, although there was perhaps some duplication due to loitering birds. All bar two reports came from coastal parishes, the exceptions being singles at Witnesham, Nov. 5th and The Nunnery, Thetford on Nov. 19th. The latter bird was the latest individual reported. An albino was reported from Laxfield, Sept. 21st and a leucistic bird, being pale sandy brown with a darker head, was at Walberswick, Aug. 30th. Two pairs bred in the boxes housing the hydraulic rams on the lock gates at Shotley Marina. HOUSE MARTIN Delichon urbica Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. A relatively early main influx mirrored the arrival of Swallows, although numbers were generally lower. The first reports involved three at Lackford W.R., Mar. 31st and one at Holbrook and two at Beccles, Apr. 5th. Small numbers trickled through during April, but no significant counts were received until May when 30 were at North Warren on 3rd, increasing to 50 by 15th and 400 at Alton Water on 13th. Fortunes during the breeding season appeared to be mixed with several observers considering numbers to have improved slightly in their areas. This included a report from Benhall where specially designed artificial nests contained 11 first broods, producing 41 103
young and eight second broods, producing 23 young. At least 60 pairs bred at the Bury St Edmunds Beet Factory; however, other observers reported continuing low numbers in their areas and there appears to be no sign yet of any significant increase. Autumn gatherings were noted as early as mid-July when 200 were counted on wires at Martlesham on 19th. As usual, the bulk of autumn passage reports came from Landguard where regular monitoring produced evidence of a good southerly passage. Monthly counts involved 803 during August, max. 625 on 30th; 5,104 and 1,062 in off the sea during September, max. 2,700 on 22nd and 341 during October, max. 141 on 3rd. As well as the 141 south on the latter date, a further 750 were estimated to be present, feeding on site, a remarkable total for so late in the season. Elsewhere, southerly movements included 1,000, Benacre, Sept. 20th; 630, North Warren, Sept. 20th and 300, Felixstowe Ferry, Oct. 3rd. As with Swallow, records continued throughout October from across the County and petered out in early November with reports of two at Lackford W.R. on 2nd, one at Trimley Marshes on 3rd and two at Landguard on 4th. TAWNY PIPIT Anthus campestris Rare passage migrant. This species remains a difficult bird to find in the County with many individuals disappearing soon after discovery. One wonders how many more go undiscovered as they quickly pass through. Felixstowe: Landguard, Sept. 16th (MM, NO et al.). Although more regular in recent years, numbers remain low. There have now been 31 individuals reported in the County. Annual totals over the last ten years are as follows: 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 3 1 0 0 1 2 0 3 2 1 TREE PIPIT Anthus trivialis Common summer visitor and passage migrant. Spring arrivals began with the report of one at Minsmere, Mar. 29th with other early birds on the coast including singles at Felixstowe, Apr. 2nd; Staverton Park, Apr. 8th and Walberswick, Apr. 9th. In the west of the County, earliest reports involved birds at King's Forest, Mayday Farm, Santon Downham and Wangford Warren, all on Apr. 10th. Reports were soon widespread in the traditional Breckland and Sandling breeding areas. Few counts of singing birds were received but observers did report 18 in Rendlesham Forest, Apr. 24th; 13, Minsmere (15 in 1992); nine, Hollesley Heath and six, Dunwich Forest. Autumn passage on the coast produced some good counts at Fagbury Cliff with the species daily present in double figures, Sept. 14th to 17th, peaking at 30 on 15th. Regular sightings there continued to Sept. 23rd. At nearby Landguard, numbers also peaked in mid-September with 14 on 14th and 15 on 15th and 16th. Observations at Minsmere peaked on Sept. 16th with 20 flying south. Additional records included an interesting report of one flying over Henstead Gardens, Ipswich with Meadow Pipits, Sept. 22nd and singles at Reydon, Sept. 17th; Benacre, Sept. 23rd and Peewit Hill, Felixstowe, Sept. 26th. The only October reports involved one at Felixstowe Golf Course on 3rd (temporarily raising the observer's hopes of the County's long-overdue first Olive-backed Pipit!) and Fagbury Cliff, where one trapped on 12th remained to 14th. MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. A relatively widespread and common species for which the bulk of reports received 104
generally related to passage migrants. The first winter period produced a few reasonable flocks with counts of 200, Aldringham, Feb. 7th; 100, Falkenham, Jan. 28th; 50, North Warren, Feb. 24th; 48, Dunwich Heath, Jan. 30th; 32, Sutton Hoo, Feb. 6th and 30, Barnhamcross Common, Feb. 12th. Spring passage got underway in March and resulted in a well-reported increase in numbers across the County. The highest flocks included 120, Alton Water on 19th; 105, North Warren on 19th; 100, Tangham on 16th; 100, Lound Waterworks on 29th and 60, Levington on 16th. Breeding season counts included 21 territories at Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove; four pairs at Landguard (four pairs in 1992); 11 territories at Minsmere (12 in 1992, 24 in 1990); 28 at North Warren (20 in 1992) and 32 at Sizewell. At Havergate Island 30 pairs enjoyed a good breeding season with some pairs double- and treblebrooded. Visible migration of this species was typically a feature of autumn days along the coast. Reports of flocks of up to 100 birds were widespread along the coast with the main passage taking place in mid-September, corresponding with the peak numbers of Tree Pipits. At Landguard, a total of 1,849 flew south during September with maximum counts of 330 on 18th, 282 on 21st and 306 on 29th. Regular observations at North Warren produced a peak in mid-September with 170 present on 17th and 150 on 18th and the latter date also produced a count of 100 south at Shingle Street. Landguard logged a further 553 south during October, peaking at 105 on 4th, whilst 70 were on Felixstowe Golf Course on 5th and 100 at Shingle Street on 26th. Numbers dropped rapidly at Landguard with just 84 south during November, and December counts there produced just single birds on six dates.
Flocks during the second winter period were either few, or poorly reported. The highest, and only double-figure, counts received were of 40, Falkenham, Dec. 22nd and 20, Trimley Marshes, Dec. 30th. It is pleasing to be able to report an increase in observations in West Suffolk and in the Gipping Valley, the latter region producing evidence of light overland passage between Sept. 29th and Oct. 9th with a maximum of 70 at Barking, Oct. 2nd. ROCK PIPIT Anthus petrosus Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Whilst admitting that more close scrutiny is required, general opinion appears to be swinging towards the belief that the bulk of Suffolk's wintering birds are of the highly migratory Scandinavian race A. p. littoralis. A few reports of the more sedentary British race A. p. petrosus were received and, typically, these all came from artificial rocky coastlines at Lowestoft and Southwold. The River Aide remains the stronghold of this species in the County with all the highest 105
counts coming from the extensive saltings on that estuary. The highest count was of 33 birds on the saltings at Slaughden, Aldeburgh, Dec. 25th. Elsewhere, the largest total was of nine birds at Trimley Marshes, Feb. 25th. A flurry of activity during March included several reports of littoralis birds in summer plumage on the coast; a single bird was present inland at Lackford W.R., Mar. 4th to 26th, but was not racially identifiable. An exceptional record involved one at Landguard, July 19th (NC) â€” the only previous Suffolk sightings in July were at Minsmere in 1950 and 1983. The first autumn arrivals were at Lowestoft, Sept. 14th and Easton Broad, Sept. 15th. During the autumn, Lackford W.R. excelled itself by attracting three Rock Pipits on Sept. 25th with two remaining to 29th. Southerly autumn passage at Landguard produced monthly totals of 27 during October but only three in November. WATER PIPIT Anthus spinoletta Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Although now regularly present in double figures at sites in Essex and Norfolk during the appropriate seasons, this species remains relatively scarce in Suffolk. Wintering individuals were reported from Benacre Broad, Feb. 1st and Dunwich Shore Pools, Feb. 20th and four were at North Warren, Jan. 3rd and one there, Jan. 19th. Up to five were at Minsmere during February. Spring passage began in March and all records are as follows: Kessingland: Mar. 27th. Minsmere: singles regularly. Mar. 20th to Apr. 3rd; two. Mar. 20th and 29th. Trimley Marshes: Mar. 8th to 13th; two. Mar. 17th; Apr. 10th. A rather poor showing with few, if any, 'accessible' birds. Individuals at Kessingland, Mar. 27th and at Minsmere, Mar. 24th were in summer plumage. Minsmere fared better in the autumn and second winter period; after the first autumn bird there on Sept. 29th, monthly sightings peaked with three during October, five during November and 11 during December. However, the only other reports involved singles at Covehithe Broad, Dec. 6th to 8th and Benacre Broad, Dec. 24th. YELLOW WAGTAIL Motacilla flava Common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first reports involved singles at Moulton, Mar. 26th and Trimley Marshes, Mar. 28th. Other early reports during the first few days of April included singles at Lound Waterworks and Shingle Street on 3rd and Lackford W.R. and Falkenham on 4th. Alton Water traditionally attracts early birds and an impressive count of 15 birds was made there on Apr. 3rd. Numbers at Alton Water slowly increased to peak at 30 on Apr. 14th. High counts from other sites during the spring included 45, Trimley Marshes, Apr. 22nd; 18, North Warren, Apr. 28th; 17, Southwold Town Marshes, Apr. 22nd; 11, Felixstowe Ferry, Apr. 26th; ten, Lowestoft, Apr. 21st; ten. Shingle Street, Apr. 10th and ten, Bramford G.P. May 11th and 21st. At Landguard, a total of 77 birds was logged passing south between Apr. 9th and May 23rd with peaks of ten on Apr. 21st and 12 on Apr. 22nd. Breeding season reports were rather sparse and it is difficult to assess the County population. Proof of breeding is easy with this species as parents carrying food for young are very vocal and easily found. Confirmed breeding reports came from just ten sites but there must be many more on the underwatched stretches of coastal marshes away from 'rarity hotspots'. The autumn build-up of birds began in late July and continued throughout August, at which time highest counts received included 50, Alton Water, July 11th; 30, Cavenham Heath, Aug. 29th and 25, Trimley Marshes, Aug. 10th. Later counts all came from the 106
coast and involved generally lower numbers. However, exceptions included 40, Felixstowe Golf Course, Sept. 12th and at least 20 at Landguard, Sept. 12th to 14th. Southerly passage at the latter site provided totals of 14 during July, 78 during August and 102 during September. The last two birds reported at Landguard flew south on Oct. 8th, whilst later records involved one at Minsmere, Oct. 9th and one in a garden in Gunton Drive, Lowestoft, Oct. 19th. Reports of other races of Yellow Wagtail were rather sparse in 1993. All records referred to males of the Blue-headed race M. f . flava as follows: Kessingland: Sewage Works, Apr. 24th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, May 2nd. Felixstowe: Landguard, Sept. 14th to 16th. Trimley Marshes: May 5th and 15th. Alton Water: Apr. 11th. Bramford: Suffolk W.P., in song, May 19th. GREY WAGTAIL Motacilla cinerea Fairly common resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. The relative scarcity of this species means that it is well reported, although if the current increase continues, records will probably tail off! Reports came from across the County throughout the year and birds were observed at a minimum of 67 sites with breeding strongly suspected or confirmed at 17 localities. Most breeding sites were on old brick or stone bridges with reports coming in of pairs nesting in the centre of at least three towns. The increasing breeding population is encouraging, but there are not enough local birds to have been responsible for the unexpectedly large passage movement along the coast in the autumn. At Minsmere, 110 birds were logged passing south between Sept. 11th and Oct. 31st with peaks of 15 on Sept. 20th and ten on Oct. 4th. At Landguard, 64 birds passed south between Sept. 12th and Nov. 5th with peaks of nine on Sept. 20th and Oct. 3rd and eight on Sept. 22nd. The correlation of dates between the two sites is remarkable and shows that the bulk of the passage took place in two distinct waves. Smaller counts of passage migrants from other coastal sites also confirmed this with the majority of reports falling between Sept. 20th and 26th, and Oct. 1st and 3rd. An inattentive adult was caught by a Stoat at Temple Bridge, Cavenham on May 28th. One was present at the ornamental pond within the County Hall complex in St. Helen's Street, Ipswich, Oct. 29th. PIED WAGTAIL Motacilla alba Very common resident, passage migrant and summer and winter visitor. Winter roost counts provided the bulk of reports of this species during the year. Several roosts were reported from urban areas where birds perhaps benefit from slightly higher temperatures created by the presence of warm buildings and electric lights. Such sites included counts of 160, Thurleston High School, Ipswich during January and February; 500, Teseo Car Park, Ipswich, Mar. 17th (see The Harrier 100:31) and 30, Turban Centre Car Park, Woodbridge, Nov. 1st. More 'natural' roosts in reedbed sites included 200, Levington, during March; 100, Livermere Lake, Mar. 13th; 100, Holbrook, Nov. 16th; 75, Westwood Marshes, Nov. 7th; 75, Bourne Park, Ipswich, Nov. 27th and 40, Glemsford, Mar. 9th. Feeding flocks at sewage and water works included 40 at Kessingland, Jan. 30th and 60 at Lound in March. No unusual nest sites were reported this year, although a pair appeared to be nesting on the offshore water outlet rig at Sizewell Power Station. Bury St Edmunds Beet Factory held at least ten breeding pairs. Spring passage was rather mediocre, but numbers in autumn were predictably higher and Landguard logged 331 south between Sept. 2nd and Nov. 12th with peaks of 44 on 107
Oct. 4th and 43 on Oct. 8th. Of interest is the comment from a regular Felixstowe observer who reported more than three times the previous record number of sightings in the area during August and September. There was a good spring passage of White Wagtails M. a. alba with records scattered throughout March, April and May. During March, singles were reported from Kessingland on 20th and 27th; North Warren on 21st; Sizewell on 25th and 26th; Lound Waterworks on 28th and Landguard on 31st. April produced a total of 20 birds at 11 sites, all along the coast with most reports falling in the first half of the month. May records involved eight birds at five sites, including a male inland at Lackford W.R. on 11th to 13th. An unseasonable bird was at Landguard, July 25th before autumn passage began in August with two at North Warren on 9th and one at Minsmere on 30th. During September, singles were at Landguard on five dates and two there on 16th and singles also in Felixstowe at Peewit Hill, Golf Road and Langer Park on 4th, 15th and 17th respectively. The only October report came from Lackford W.R. where one was present on 9th.
WAXWING Bombycilla garrulus Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor. Having been spoilt by good numbers in recent winters, this species was sadly missed in 1993 and it was difficult to remind ourselves that sightings of this gem of the taiga are a bonus and not the norm. The winter of 1992/93 produced no reports at all and the second winter period resulted in just two sightings. One flew north at Minsmere on Nov. 15th and the next day, Mrs Carter of Brettenham beat all the County's birders at their own game by finding one in her garden!
DIPPER Cinclus cinclus Rare winter visitor and passage migrant. Following quickly on the heels of the Belstead Brook, Ipswich bird in winter 1991/92, another individual of the Black-bellied Continental race, C. c. cinclus, was found totally independently by two observers on a small concrete boating lake â€” it pays to visit the most unlikely of places! Lowestoft: Kensington Gardens, Nov. 4th (ADB, SAH). Being unringed, this was clearly not the Belstead Brook bird.
WREN Troglodytes troglodytes Very common resident and passage migrant. This resilient little bird appears to be doing well after a series of generally mild winters. Breeding season counts of territories at well-monitored sites showed some dramatic increases when compared with those of 1992; they included 273 at Minsmere (170 in 1992); 163 at Sizewell; 123 at North Warren (59 in 1992); 21 at Valley Farm, Coddenham (17 in 1992); 15 at Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket and eight at Castle Marsh, Bamby/ North Cove. An excellent breeding season resulted in above average numbers passing through coastal ringing sites in the autumn. At Landguard, there was an obvious increase in numbers from Sept. 16th with peaks of 15 on Sept. 25th and 29th. October and November produced even higher numbers with a total of 102 ringed at Landguard between Oct. 1st and Nov. 19th, 82 (80%) of which were ringed between Oct. 3rd and 12th. A maximum day-count of 30 birds was logged there on Oct. 11th with up to 12 still present in December, the species normally being scarce at Landguard in winter. 108
DUNNOCK Prunella nodularis Very common resident and passage migrant. Reports were few but general opinion points to a very good breeding season. Regularly monitored sites produced territory counts of 94 at Minsmere (61 in 1992); 79 at North Warren (48 in 1992); 76 at Sizewell; 15 at Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket; 12 at Valley Farm, Coddenham (a slight decrease on last year) and ten at Landguard. At Havergate Island, one pair successfully raised ten young from two broods. Passage through Landguard produced peak-day counts of 50, Sept. 14th and 35, Oct. 3rd; on the latter date 19 were counted in coastal bushes at Thorpeness. At The Grove, Felixstowe, 30 were counted feeding on lying snow, Nov. 22nd. ROBIN Erithacus rubecula Very common resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. Counts of 17 individuals at North Warren and up to five at Landguard during the first winter period were both higher than expected for these sites at this time of year â€” it seems likely that the mild winter conditions persuaded higher numbers of Robins than usual to remain for the winter. Spring passage on the coast was only logged at Landguard from March to early May with a maximum of ten, Mar. 11th and Mar. 30th to Apr. 1st., although most of the 23 new birds ringed occurred between Apr. 12th and 17th. Encouraging population increases were noted at several regularly monitored sites and included a phenomenal 130 territories at Minsmere (86 in 1992), 76 at North Warren (42 in 1992) and 19 at Valley Farm, Coddenham (11 in 1992). Other surveys found 65 pairs at Sizewell and 12 territories at Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket. Juvenile dispersal was noted in August, but the main autumn migration occurred in the second half of September and October with stragglers still passing through in November. The only notable counts came from Landguard with 150, Sept. 30th and 60, Oct. 14th; up to 50 birds were present there daily from Oct. 1st to 4th and 49 were counted at North Warren, Oct. 3rd. Considering how well Landguard does for this species, it is perhaps surprising that Fagbury Cliff, just across the docks, receives much lower numbers; the site's maximum day-count was of only 35, Sept. 16th, but the total of 235 ringed there during September and October is, nonetheless, impressive. N I G H T I N G A L E Luscinia megarhynchos Fairly common summer visitor and scarce passage migrant. The first reports came in a little earlier than usual with singing males at Hadleigh (six), Market Weston (three), Lower Raydon and Minsmere on Apr. 10th and the following day at Barnhamcross Common. Records then came from a further 12 sites on 12th. Coastal sites record few spring passage birds as most seem to drop straight in to breeding areas. However, singles were at Landguard, Apr. 12th and 14th and May 28th. Records of migrants at Fagbury Cliff were obscured by the presence of a breeding pair and a second singing male but four individuals were ringed there during May and June. At well-monitored sites, the number of territories was down on the previous year with 23 at Minsmere (35 in 1992) and 14 at North Warren (19 in 1992). However, Valley Farm, Coddenham held two singing males after having none in 1992 and two were singing on Hollesley Heath where only one had been heard in each of the last seven years. Ten territories were noted at Wolves Wood. After mid-June, the only records came from the coastal strip: Benacre: Benacre Pits, Aug. 28th. Orford: Havergate I., Aug. 4th; Sept. 4th. Felixstowe: Landguard, July 17th and 31st; Aug. 15th. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, two trapped in July, eight in Aug., one Sept. 18th. At least three present to Oct. 15th and one to Nov. 19th. 109
The late Fagbury records are exceptional, although not unprecedented in the County. The November bird had been ringed at Fagbury on May 1st and it is perhaps debatable whether it ever successfully migrated. The saga of the site-faithful Bawdsey bird (Suffolk Birds 1993:109) continued into 1993 when it was retrapped on Apr. 22nd; since being initially trapped at this site in 1988 this individual is likely to have flown in the order of 50,000km during its migratory travels. The totals of singing males reported in recent years are as follows: 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 150 170 180 184 173 207 178 190 Allowing for fluctuations in recorder coverage, the population would appear to be fairly stable in the County. B L U E T H R O A T Luscinia svecica Scarce passage migrant.
Single spring and autumn records, both on typical dates and both moving through all too quickly: Felixstowe: Landguard, c of Red-spotted race L. s. svecica May 28th (many obs.). Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, imm. cr Oct. 3rd. (many obs.) Annual totals of birds in recent years are as follows: 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 3 4 5 0 2 1 2 2 2 1 2 B L A C K R E D S T A R T Phoenicurus ochruros Uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. A few overwinter. During the first winter period, birds were noted at Felixstowe Ferry from Jan. 2nd to Mar. 7th; Landguard, Jan. 18th (in song) and Feb. 17th; Waveney Drive, Lowestoft, Feb. 7th; Sizewell from Jan. 3rd, with two there, Feb. 21st and two at Bury Beet Factory, Jan. to Mar. These birds clouded the arrival of spring migrants a little, but the first passage birds probably accounted for reports of birds at Sizewell, Mar. 6th and 10th with more obvious migrants at Minsmere, Mar. 12th and Landguard and Lowestoft North Denes, Mar. 13th. Thereafter, records became more widespread throughout the spring passage period with highest counts at Landguard involving 17, Mar. 31st and 11, Apr. 1st and 2nd. As well as the expected coastal individuals, spring birds were reported from Gisleham, Mar. 20th; Glemsford, Mar. 26th and Apr. 7th; Playford, Mar. 29th; Polstead, Apr. 1st; Framsden, 110
Apr. 9th and Worlingworth, Mar. 30th and Apr. 19th to May 14th. Away from known breeding sites, interesting summer records involved singles at Havergate Island, June 1st and Dellwood Avenue sports ground, Felixstowe, June 24th. Breeding was noted as follows: Lowestoft: Commercial Road, pair feeding young, June 27th. Battery Green, pair, July 4th. Lake Lothing, in song, July 14th and 15th. Leiston: Sizewell, three pairs. Tunstall: Snape Maltings, pair with three young, July 19th. Felixstowe: Docks, five singing cr cr in June. Landguard, pair reared two broods on gravel yard jetty over water. Ipswich: singing males at St Lawrence's Church, Dial Lane, May 14th. Docks, May 1st and June 3rd. New Cut West, June 29th and Wolsey Street, June 26th. Bury St Edmunds: Beet Factory, three pairs reared four broods. With the British population estimated at between 80 and 120 territory holding males/pairs (Gibbons et al. 1993), Suffolk holds a significant percentage of the country's breeding population. The presence of breeding birds and their progeny obscured the passage of autumn migrants at some sites, but numbers at Landguard peaked at seven, Sept. 15th on which date nine were present within the Felixstowe Docks complex. After the report of a bird at Felixstowe Ferry on Nov. 12th, wintering birds were noted at North Denes ( 9 /imm.) and Ness Point ( er), Lowestoft, Nov. 20th; Adastral Close, Felixstowe, Dec. 14th; Sizewell, Dec. 20th and at least two around Ness Point and the harbour, Lowestoft at the end of the year. A male was present at Hill Farm, Boxford for three days in early December. R E D S T A R T Phoenicurus phoenicurus Uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. After the first bird at Hollesley on Apr. 4th, Landguard received birds from Apr. 9th to May 15th, max. three on four dates, then later singles, May 27th and 28th and June 5th. Passage birds in April and early May were also reported from Aldeburgh, Barnhamcross Common, Brent Eleigh, Fagbury Cliff, Fisher Row, Glemsford, Havergate Island, Lowestoft Oval and North Warren with a maximum of four at Fagbury Cliff, Apr. 26th. Later in May, singles were noted at Southwold on 21st, Shingle Street on 24th and Havergate Island on 28th. Reports from breeding areas involved: Blythburgh: Fen Covert, two singing c c ; Hinton Crossroads, cr June 22nd. Walberswick: Sallow Walk Covert, cr May 23rd. Minsmere: ten territories. Sudbourne: Watling Wood, singing cr, Apr. 18th. Wantisden: Staverton Park, three singing cr a . Hollesley: Hollesley Heath, three pairs; Upper Hollesley Common, cr June 15th. Sutton: Sutton Heath, two cr cr. El veden: Centreparc, cr Apr. 29th. Brandon: Country Park, two singing cr cr May 6th. The total of 27 singing males compares favourably with recent years (28 in 1991, 23 in 1992). Autumn passage was noted at a minimum of 33 sites from Aug. 16th. Single birds were generally the norm until mid-September when a notable influx took place. Between Sept. 14th and 28th birds were reported widely with highest counts as follows: Lowestoft: North Denes, five Sept. 14th; four Sept. 17th. Sparrow's Nest, four Sept. 18th. Gunton Cliffs, four Sept. 19th. Benacre: eight between village and coast, Sept. 18th. Easton Bavents: four Sept. 16th. Southwold: ten Sept. 15th. Ill
Aldeburgh: North Warren, five Sept. 17th. Bawdsey: five Sept. 17th. Felixstowe: Landguard, seven Sept. 16th; 15 Sept. 23rd; 12 Sept. 25th. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, 20 Sept. 14th; ten Sept. 15th and 16th; 30 Sept. 22nd; 15 Sept. 23rd. Counts of one to three birds came from many other localities and included singles in Berner's Street, Ipswich on Sept. 21st and Benhall, Sept. 23rd. The only report from the west of the County, however, was of one at Barnhamcross Common, Sept. 16th. Passage continued throughout the first half of October, including a late influx of five at Landguard on Oct. 14th with a fall of Robins and Goldcrests. Numbers tailed off later in the month but there were four November reports with singles at Landguard and Waveney Drive, Lowestoft on 3rd, Ashbocking on 4th and Fagbury Cliff on 6th. WHINCHAT SaxĂcola rubetra Common passage migrant. A few pairs breed. Spring passage began with singles at Gunton Sports Field, Lowestoft and Minsmere, Apr. 20th. Singles were reported from widely scattered localities, mainly along the coastal strip but also from Barking Tye, Apr. 21st; Barnhamcross Common, May 16th and Knettishall Airfield, May 16th. The most notable movement took place between May 10th and May 16th and included four at Benacre on 14th as well as one to three at many other coastal sites. A rather late spring bird was on Havergate Island, June 6th. Whinchats appear to be just about hanging on as a breeding species in the County, although it is a long time since a proper survey was carried out and it is possible that pairs are being missed. Breeding season reports involved pairs at two sites, although juveniles were only seen at one location. However, one observer considers that the Suffolk Breckland population of this species could be in the region of 12-15 pairs. Autumn passage commenced on Aug. 14th when one was at Benacre Broad. Numbers during the autumn were very good with higher counts including ten, Reydon Marshes, Sept. 8th; eight, Minsmere, Aug. 29th; seven, North Denes/Oval, Lowestoft, Sept. 14th; seven, North Warren, Sept. 20th; six, North Quay, Lowestoft, Aug. 28th; six, Falkenham, Aug. 30th and six, Fagbury Cliff, Sept. 14th. Smaller numbers were reported from many other sites along the coast, as far inland as Somerleyton Marshes, Barking and Melton. Reports from the west of the County involved six on Berner's Heath, Aug. 30th; four at Long Melford, Sept. 5th; four, Thetford Heath, Sept. 8th and one at Lackford, Sept. 18th. Reports after mid-October were few and involved singles at Aldeburgh, Oct. 17th; Trimley Marshes, Oct. 27th and Benacre, Nov. 1st. STONECHAT SaxĂcola torquata Fairly common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. At least 24 birds were found wintering in the County during January and February, mainly on the coastal strip and involving both pairs and single birds. There was a noticeable increase from around Mar. 20th with the arrival of the first spring birds, but passage was generally rather quiet. Breeding season reports were few but included 11 territories at Minsmere (seven in 1992); elsewhere, pairs were located on Dunwich Heath (four), Sizewell (three), Rendlesham Forest, Upper Hollesley Common and Westleton Heath. Reports of territorial pairs came from 21 sites in 1992 so the above figures for 1993 are very disappointing. However, the lack of birds is almost certainly due to a lack of reporting and the increase in numbers at Minsmere suggests that the species is doing well, at least along the coastal strip. Another mild winter produced a similar number of birds at the end of the year to that reported during January and February. A total of 38 birds was reported during November and December, although a fair proportion of the November birds did not remain into 112
15: This Grey Phalarope at Lowestoft delighted many observers during its protracted winter stay.
Little Auks off Easton Bavents.
17: First-winter Yellow-legged Gull (left) with two first-winter Herring Gulls at Southwold.
18: First-winter Iceland Gull at Southwold.
20: Jay at nest. A difficult species to observe during the breeding season.
December and were more likely to have been late migrants. There had been no reports from West Suffolk in 1992 but this year birds were located at Long Melford, Feb. 25th to Mar. 11th; King's Forest, Mar. 14th; Icklingham, Aug. 30th (two) and Cavenham Heath, Sept 16th and Dec. 21st (two). The only sighting reported from central Suffolk was of one at Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, Nov. 18th. WHEATEAR Oenanthe oenanthe Common passage migrant. A few pairs breed. The first Wheatears of the year were reported from Landguard and North Warren (three) on Mar. 14th, stopping the run of "firsts" from Lakenheath. Spring passage was rather mediocre, involving mainly single-figure counts. Exceptions included 16 at Landguard, Mar. 23rd and 12 at Benacre, May 13th. The bulk of reports came, predictably, from the coast, but inland sites had their share, especially during March and records included one, Mickfield, Mar. 17th; two, Hadleigh, Mar. 18th; six, Mildenhall, Mar. 20th; two, Knettishall Airfield, Mar. 24th; one, Walsham-le-Willows, Mar. 26th; one, Tannington, Apr. 1st; three, Long Melford, Apr. 20th; three, Barking Tye, Apr. 21st and one, Hinderclay, Apr. 25th. Records from Breckland sites may have included local breeders, and certainly some of the May reports referred to individuals of the Greenland race (O. o. leucorhoa). Breeding season reports were few: Orford: Orfordness, at least three pairs, one with three young, July 11th. Bawdsey: Shingle Street, adult with juv., July 17th. Felixstowe: Landguard, two pairs, one reared four young. Cavenham: Cavenham Heath, three pairs. Although a meagre showing, breeding appears to be getting more regular at Landguard once again and increased coverage on Orfordness in the future could throw more light on the numbers of birds present there. Although the species appears to have declined drastically in recent years in Breckland, both in Norfolk and Suffolk (e.g. the disappearance of a good breeding population at Weeting Heath), this is a much underwatched area, due to access difficulties and pairs are almost certainly being missed. Post-breeding juvenile dispersal in July produced reports of birds at Havergate Island on 7th, 9th and 10th; Benacre Denes on 8th; Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin on 20th and on four dates at Trimley Marshes. Autumn passage soon got under way and was heaviest in mid-September with notable counts of 20, Landguard on 12th; 45, North Denes, Lowestoft on 14th; 40, Benacre Denes, 25, Gunton Playing Fields, 25, Landguard, 17, Lowestoft Oval and 15, Southwold, all on 15th; 25, Easton Bavents, 30, Landguard and 12, Trimley Marshes on 16th; 15, Falkenham, 25, North Denes, Lowestoft and 19, North Warren on 17th and 25, Southwold, 19th. Very few were seen after the first week of October with the last records being at Landguard, Oct. 14th and Shingle Street, Oct. 23rd. RING OUZEL Turdus torquatus Fairly common passage migrant. Spring passage was noted from Apr. 9th to June 26th and involved at least 38 birds: Lound: Waterworks, Apr. 25th and 27th. Lowestoft: Kirkley Sports Field, Apr. 13th. Easton Bavents: two Apr. 25th, one remaining to May 3rd. Blythburgh: Westwood Lodge, Apr. 29th; May 2nd and 3rd. Westleton: Dingle Little Hill, Apr. 30th. Dunwich: Apr. 20th; May 2nd; May 3rd. Minsmere: Apr. 10th to 21st, two on 24th; three May 18th; June 26th. Leiston: Sizewell, Apr. 13th, 21st and 22nd. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Apr. 25th. 113
Bromeswell: Bromeswell Heath, Apr. 24th. Felixstowe: Landguard, Apr. 10th, 25th and 30th; May 1st, 10th to 13th with two on 13th. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, Apr. 24th; May 7th. Ipswich: Fishpond Covert, Apr. 23rd. Cavenham: Cavenham Heath, May 31st. Elveden: Litde Heath, two Apr. 9th. Thetford: Barnhamcross Common, three Apr. 15th with two on 16th and two on 21st. A good run of spring records with the bulk of birds arriving in the second half of April. The June record at Minsmere is interesting; was it a late spring bird or a failed breeder already heading back south? Autumn passage commenced with the first report on Sept. 17th and finished with a bird at Fagbury Cliff, Nov. 1st. Excellent numbers in and around south Felixstowe enabled many observers to enjoy this species during an above-average autumn passage: Pakefield: Oct. 23rd. Easton Bavents: Oct. 3rd. Westleton: Low Farm, Oct. 10th. Minsmere: present throughout Oct., max. five on 10th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Aldringham Walks, Oct. 8th. Bawdsey: Shingle Street, Oct. 9th and 26th. Felixstowe: Landguard, five Sept. 17th; noted on 35 bird-days between Sept. 25th and Oct. 31st, max. eight Oct. 14th. Peewit Hill, Sept. 22nd; Sept. 26th to Oct. 9th, max. ten on 29th; two Oct. 22nd. Old Felixstowe, Oct. 10th. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, present throughout Oct. from 3rd, max. five on 4th; Nov. 1st. Little Wenham: churchyard, Oct. 14th. Barton Mills: Oct. 7th. Two individuals were seen in gardens, one feeding on Yew berries at Barton Mills, Oct. 7th and one in Felixstowe, Oct. 10th. BLACKBIRD Turdus merula Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. The only notable counts early in the year involved a flock of 51 at North Warren, Jan. 6th and 58 in a field at Worlingworth, Feb. 14th. This latter flock may well have been a pre-emigration gathering since spring movements were reported from mid-February at Landguard where 30 were present on 14th. The peak of spring migration was on Mar. 11th when 20 were at Benacre, 20 at North Warren and 75 at Landguard. Breeding season counts revealed 17 territories at Valley Farm, Coddenham (19 in 1992); ten, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket; nine, Landguard (seven in 1992); 42, Minsmere (28 in 1992); 56, North Warren (52 in 1992) and 45, Sizewell. Autumn passage began in earnest a little earlier than expected with an influx of at least 150 birds at Landguard, Sept. 30th. However, October numbers were unexceptional with Landguard recording a peak count of only 70 on 23rd and counts of over 60 on a further five dates between Oct. 11th and Nov. 4th. Apart from 50 at Peewit Hill, Felixstowe, Oct. 1st and 36, Fagbury Cliff, Nov. 3rd no other site recorded a passage count of over 30 birds. Despite this lack of high figures, evidence of a steady flow of birds through the County was evidenced by the total of 267 ringed at Fagbury Cliff during October. A trickle of migrants continued to pass through Landguard into December but no counts were received of concentrations in the second winter period. Birds were seen catching newts at garden ponds in Felixstowe and Trimley St Mary. A male attempted to feed from a bone, hung up to attract tits, at Levington, Jan. 8th FIELDFARE Turdus pilaris Common winter visitor and passage migrant. There were no notably large flocks of Fieldfares reported in the early part of the year 114
but smaller gatherings were well distributed around the County and included 350, Westleton Common, Feb. 3rd; 300, Berner's Heath, Icklingham, Jan. 31st; 250, Beccles Marshes, Jan. 19th; 200, Rendlesham, Jan. 12th; 175, Market Weston, Feb. 23rd; 165, Bonny Wood, Barking, Feb. 16th; 120, Candlet, Trimley St Mary, Feb. 18th; 100, Long Melford, Jan. 11th and 100, Shrubland Park, Coddenham, Jan. 31st. Numbers present in March and the first half of April were distinctly higher as flocks gathered prior to departure for more northerly and easterly climes. Concentrations included 1,200 flying north-west over Barking Tye, Mar. 16th; 500, Hinderclay, Apr. 3rd; 400, Eye, Mar. 29th; 200, Eriswell, Mar. 20th; 200, Needham Market, Mar. 16th; 175, Lound Waterworks, Apr. 11th; 150, Cavenham Heath, Mar. 11th and 135, South Cove, Apr. 13th. Few lingered into the second half of April and the only May record was of one at Long Melford on 2nd. The first birds of the autumn were reported in September from Thetford Heath on 8th; Southwold on 11th and Tunstall Forest (four) on 12th with later September records from four other localities. Relatively few were noted in the first half of October apart from 200, Fagbury Cliff on 14th. A more general arrival occurred later in October and a distinct influx in early November with 450, Market Weston, Nov. 4th; 400, Long Melford, Nov. 6th; 300, Bawdsey, Nov. 3rd; 297, Sizewell Marshes, Nov. 2nd; 268, Candlet, Trimley St Mary, Nov. 5th; 250, Reydon, Nov. 8th; 200, Fagbury Cliff, Nov. 3rd; 195, North Warren, Nov. 2nd and 190, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, Oct. 29th. Smaller numbers were widely reported from many other locations. The bulk of these birds seemed to decide that Suffolk was not a good place to spend the winter as they moved quickly on. Numbers in late November and December were much lower and the only notable counts involved 800 flying south, Bawdsey, Dec. 2nd; 500 in old apple orchards, Raydon, Dec. 8th; 300 flying south-east over Witnesham, Nov. 28th; 200 flying north-west at Onehouse, Dec. 2nd; 200, Chelmondiston, Dec. 1st; 160, Barking Tye, Dec. 20th and 130 southwest over Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, Dec. 5th. With most high counts involving birds passing overhead, it seems likely that the bulk of these records referred to a second wave of migrants passing through the County. After the report of two partial albinos at Walsham-le-Willows in Feb. 1992 ( S u f f o l k Birds 1993), it is interesting to note that a similar bird was found dead there on Dec. 4th. It seems likely that this was one of the 1992 birds having returned to winter in the same area. SONG THRUSH Turdus philomelos Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Spring passage at Landguard peaked earlier than usual with highest counts of 35, Feb. 14th (see Blackbird) and 25, Feb. 15th. These were the only significant day-counts with the next highest count being of just ten birds on Mar. 11th. Passage at Landguard continued to be logged in small numbers into May with many of the later birds showing characteristics of the nominate Continental race T. p. philomelos. Breeding censuses found 19 territories at Minsmere (14 in 1992); ten, North Warren (11 in 1992); 12, Sizewell and seven, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket. Fortunes appear mixed with minor increases reported in some areas, but other observers still concerned about further decreases. Autumn passage at Landguard was noted from Sept. 14th into December with peak counts of 30, Sept. 25th; 70, Sept. 30th and 54, Oct. 14th; 129 were ringed at Landguard in October. Elsewhere, autumn counts included 20 at The Nunnery, Thetford, Sept. 18th; 13, North Warren, Sept. 30th; ten, Southwold Churchyard, Sept. 27th; ten, Peewit Hill, Felixstowe, Oct. 1st and ten, Lowestoft Oval, Oct. 14th. No high counts were received from Fagbury Cliff but a steady flow through the site resulted in a total of 119 individuals being ringed there during October. 115
REDWING Turdus iliacus Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. The first winter period proved to be rather quiet for this species in Suffolk with the largest counts being 250, Lavenham, Jan. 19th; 120, Sudbourne, Jan. 2nd; 100, Woolverstone, Jan. 19th and 100, Shrubland Park, Coddenham, Jan. 31st. Spring passage at Landguard was concentrated in the period Mar. 11th to 21st which is similar to previous years. Notable spring counts, all in March, included 400, Bawdsey on 17th; 300, Old Covert, Walberswick on 5th; 300, Levington on 17th and 200 there on 14th; 130, Cavenham Heath on 11th; 65, North Warren on 14th; 60, Landguard on 17th and 60 flying north-east at Market Weston on 19th. These figures appear to indicate a significant movement of Redwings through the County over a six day period in midMarch. Flocks declined rapidly in early April with stragglers at Landguard on May 1st to 3rd and Minsmere, May 11th. The first autumn records came from Landguard where two were present, Sept. 14th but the main influx did not take place until mid-October with passage continuing through November and into December. Notable autumn counts included 1,100, Market Weston, Nov. 4th; 900, Fagbury Cliff, Oct. 14th; 500, Flatford Mill, Nov. 6th and 380, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, Oct. 25th. As with Fieldfare, very few remained to winter in the County and by late November, the largest flock reported involved a count of 64 at Lackford on 20th with the highest December count involving 80 at Holbrook on 7th. MISTLE THRUSH Turdus viscivorus Common resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. Reports suggest that the population of this species in the County is fairly stable and North Warren held nine pairs, the same as in 1992. However, it is difficult to understand the large fluctuations at Minsmere where 15 territories were recorded, compared with eight in 1992 and 16 in 1991. Movements of this species seem to occur at almost any time of year with singles appearing at Landguard in January and February and at least three in March. The first dispersing juvenile appeared at Landguard on Apr. 27th with later records involving three, June 8th and one, June 13th. The usual post-breeding gatherings were reported as follows: Dunwich: Dunwich Heath, 30 June 22nd. Capei St Andrew: Tangham, 30 June 30th. Hollesley: Upper Hollesley Common, 19 June 15th. Sutton: Sutton Common, 34 July 12th. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, 15 Aug. 18th. Freston: 21 Oct. 6th. Fressingfield: 26 Aug. 10th. Polstead: Howe Wood, 30 July 22nd. Lackford W.R.: 21 July 31st; 27 Aug. 7th. Records during the latter part of the year were sparse. Landguard reported singles on six dates between Sept. 12th and Nov. 4th and on two dates in early December with two there on Dec. 10th. Possible evidence of immigration occurred at Southwold on Sept. 11th when six flew inland over the town. CETTI'S WARBLER Cettia ceni Scarce resident and very rare passage migrant. Yet again, records were only received from the now traditional two coastal sites. The species shows no inclination to re-establish itself elsewhere in the County, despite an abundance of suitable habitat. Even in the two traditional sites, numbers have remained static for some years now and it is difficult to understand what is preventing the species from increasing. 116
Oulton: Fisher Row, up to two singing during the spring. Carlton Colville: Carlton Marshes, ct in song, Nov. 11th â€” presumed to be a Fisher Row bird. Minsmere: Jan. 27th. GRASSHOPPER WARBLER Locustella naevia Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. About 46 birds were reported singing from 16 sites (58 at 18 sites in 1992) but some of these were certainly passage birds including singles at Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, Apr. 21st and Landguard, Apr. 25th to 29th. Reeling was first noted on Apr. 3rd (an early date) at Minsmere and last heard at Lackford, Aug. 10th. Reports from regularly censused areas included 12 territories at Minsmere (18 in 1992), two at North Warren, five at Westwood Marshes and five at Fisher Row, Oulton. An intriguing report from central Suffolk was of two reeling at a potential breeding area within Wolves Wood near Hadleigh, Apr. 12th. Away from sites with singing birds, a juvenile was trapped at The Nunnery, Thetford, July 8th and passage birds were noted at Landguard, Aug. 20th and at Fagbury Cliff, Oct. 4th. This latter record is of interest as it represents the first record for Fagbury Cliff and the latest ever for the County. SAVI'S WARBLER Locustella luscinioides Scarce summer visitor and passage migrant. Records came from only two localities, but it is encouraging that the Minsmere reedbed is becoming re-established as one of the species' principal British breeding sites. Minsmere: singing cr from Apr. 15th; two cr a from Apr. 21st; three er cr from Apr. 24th to May 5th. Two pairs bred successfully, one cr unpaired, cr cr singing again from June 8th to 14th with last regular record July 1st. Last noted Aug. 31st. Aldeburgh: North Warren, singing cr June 6th and 7th. This is a difficult species to monitor accurately. Males tend to stop singing if they find a mate and there are no other males nearby to provide territorial competition. Thus, the male at North Warren is difficult to interpret. Did he find a mate and settle down to breed, or did he move on after just two days? SEDGE WARBLER Acrocephalus schoenobaenus Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first bird of the year was an early arrival at Lackford W.R., Mar. 31st followed swiftly by singles at Sizewell, Apr. 2nd and North Warren, Apr. 4th with a widespread arrival from mid-month. Spring passage at Landguard was noted from Apr. 13th to May 19th with a maximum day-count of four, Apr. 29th. The number of territories at Minsmere declined still further to 101 (125 in 1992 and 185 in 1991) but on a positive note, breeding success at this site was considered to be good. However, at North Warren, a slight increase to 51 territories was reported, due to the ongoing creation of new habitat. Census work at other sites revealed 22 territories at Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove; 11, Levington; six, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket; ten, Sizewell and nine, Trimley Marshes. Highest counts from other sites included seven at Alton Water and Martlesham Creek and six at Ixworth Thorpe. On a more sober note, significant declines were reported from several areas with no singing birds found at all in suitable habitat at Shotley Marshes. At Landguard, autumn passage was preceded by a bird in song, July 5th and was under way from July 15th to Sept. 29th with a maximum of three, Aug. 20th and 25th. At Fagbury Cliff, the maximum count was 25 on Aug. 20th and the last of the year was noted there, Oct. 4th. This species tends to be one of the earliest warblers to move off in the autumn and passage at Fagbury Cliff peaked during August when 82 birds were ringed. Very few other reports of passage birds were received away from breeding sites. 117
BLYTH'S R E E D WARBLER Acrocephalus dumetorum Accidental. The events that took place on the Felixstowe peninsula in the autumn of 1993 left many local, as well as national, birders reeling. No-one could have predicted the weather patterns that resulted in East Anglia receiving several national rarities which would normally be expected to turn up on Shetland. The present species was perhaps the icing on the cake for Suffolk birdwatchers â€” and even those that missed the first bird got a second chance to see the species! Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, first-winter trapped Sept. 19th (SHP et al.)', first-winter trapped Oct. 4th (SPE.GM et al.). These two individuals represent the first occurrences of this species in the County in what turned out to be a record year for the species in Britain. On release, the October bird flew into the canopy of a nearby Oak tree and was seen to hold its bill open to collect drops of rain. MARSH WARBLER Acrocephalus palustris Rare passage migrant. With only nine previous records in the County, the frequency of appearances continues to grow. The increase in records here is in line with increases in the breeding populations in the Netherlands and Kent and there must surely be a strong possibility that the species will soon breed in Suffolk (if it has not done so already!). All records are as follows: Minsmere: in song. May 27th (DRN); another in song, June 11th to 13th (GRW et al.). Aldeburgh: North Warren, in song, June 5th and 6th (RNM). Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, in song. May 21st to 23rd (MDC et al.)-, juv. trapped, Aug. 15th (SHP et al.). The Fagbury Cliff bird in May is the County's earliest ever and those at Minsmere are the reserve's first records of this species. The total number of all individuals recorded in Suffolk is given below: 1986 1
R E E D WARBLER Acrocephalus scirpaceus Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first of the year was noted at Minsmere on the relatively early date of Apr. 11th with arrivals being generally widespread by the month's end. Many reports of the 'first for the year' came during Apr. 20th to 28th. The bulk of the breeding population generally arrives during May with stragglers and birds heading for northerly climes still coming through in June. Passage at Landguard spanned from Apr. 25th to June 20th and the maximum spring count at Fagbury Cliff involved 30, May 17th. Minsmere showed a 20% decline in its breeding population with 200 territories located (250 in 1992) but this is still up on the 152 territories in 1991. As with the Sedge Warbler, the breeding success of Minsmere's Reed Warblers appeared to be good. At North Warren, breeding numbers remained static at 114 territories. Other census sites produced 35 territories at Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove; 31, Sizewell (a low count); 27, Trimley Marshes and 26, Shotley Marshes. Autumn passage was noted at Landguard from July 19th to Oct. 31st but numbers there were insignificant when compared with the autumn total of 583 ringed at Fagbury Cliff (380 in autumn 1992). Estimates of the numbers of birds present each day at Fagbury peaked at 200, Aug. 15th and 100 the following day. A second, smaller influx in September gave an estimate of 60 birds there on 12th. A steady trickle of birds during October resulted
in 30 being trapped during that month at Fagbury and the last bird was reported from Peewit Hill, Felixstowe, Nov. 1st. ICTERINE WARBLER Hippolais icterina Uncommon passage migrant. Another bumper year for Icterine Warblers, including the County's ninth spring sighting: Southwold: St Edmund's churchyard, Sept. 20th (LT). Minsmere: Sluice Bushes, in song, May 21st (SJL el al. ); Sept. 8th (MLC). Felixstowe: Landguard, ad, Aug. 22nd; single juvs Aug. 29th; Sept. 14th; Sept. 18th (MM, NO et al. ). Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, Aug. 24th; two Aug. 28th: Sept. 6th; daily Sept. 17th to 20th; Sept. 24th; daily Sept. 30th to Oct. 3rd (MDC, DCM, SHP et al.). (At least nine birds involved). Fagbury Cliff must now be one of the best places in the whole country to see this species. The adult trapped at Landguard is of interest as, of all the trapped birds that have been aged, it is the first adult to appear in the County during the autumn. It occurred on the same date as a Norwegian-ringed Pied Flycatcher at Landguard, which may give some indication as to its place of origin.
DARTFORD WARBLER Sylvia undata Very rare passage migrant. Formerly bred. Dunwich: Dunwich Heath, cr holding territory, from 1992 to at least July 20th (many obs.). Westleton: St. Helena, Sept 4th (NPo). The St Helena record by a visiting birder is interesting, but was considered to involve the Dunwich Heath bird which by then had not been seen for some time. The activities of this bird in the County will long be remembered by local observers who made regular pilgrimages to watch him. Much of the winter was spent in association with a resident pair of Stonechats, behaviour which often made him easy to locate. Having failed to attract a mate during the spring, he resorted to helping a pair of Stonechats with their family and was seen to feed the young both in and out of the nest. On at least one occasion he was also seen removing a faecal sac. Winter association with Stonechats has been well-documented (e.g. BWP vol.4) but the summer feeding activities do appear to be very unusual. However, a parallel may perhaps be drawn with frequent observations of Blue and Great Tits feeding each other's young. This behaviour may be associated with the loss of the individual's own young, or may be an inherent response to calling young by unpaired birds.
SUBALPINE WARBLER Sylvia cantillans Very rare visitor. Weybread: Weybread G.P., cr Apr. 24th and 25th (AGr, PJV et al.). Felixstowe: Landguard, two 9 9 trapped. May 28th (NO et al.). Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, first-year cr in song. May 16th to 22nd. trapped 16th (MDC, GM, SHP et al.). With only five previous County records (and all but one at Landguard), four in one year is remarkable. Despite this glut of birds, however, some observers may still have failed to connect with one as the Fagbury bird proved very elusive and the Landguard birds were not seen in the field. The Weybread bird was a remarkable find by an observer diligently working his local patch. Although the County's first record (in 1986) occurred in the autumn, all subsequent sightings have involved spring birds.
fylWvr BARRED WARBLER Sylvia nisoria Scarce passage migrant. A good year, but once again the south-east produced the lion's share of records. This species can be difficult to locate in thick Bramble scrub, but surely some are turning up in north Suffolk? Minsmere: Sept. 14th (IR). Felixstowe: Landguard, Sept. 4th to 6th (trapped 4th) (LBO); Nov. 5th to 7th (AGo et al. ). Peewit Hill, Sept. 8th (DC). Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, Sept. 15th (trapped) (SHP); Sept. 18th (trapped) (SHP). The total of six individuals makes 1993 the best year ever for this species in the County. The November record is exceptional, but follows in the wake of one in November 1991 which still remains the latest ever in the County. The numbers of individuals recorded in the last decade are given below: 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1 0 2 2 1 3 4 4 3 6 LESSER WHITETHROAT Sylvia curruca Common summer visitor and passage migrant. Reports began with an individual at Dunwich, Apr. 12th (Suffolk's earliest arrival since 1959) with a general arrival throughout the County from mid-month. Passage at Landguard continued to at least May 22nd with a peak site total of 15 on May 1st; nearby at Fagbury Cliff the spring maximum was 60 on May 2nd. During the breeding season, census counts produced 24 territories at Minsmere (13 in 1992); 19 at North Warren (23 in 1992); five at Valley Farm, Coddenham (six in 1992) and two at Sizewell. From the spread of records across the County, this species appears 120
to be widespread and currently enjoying an increase in population in the County. A pair bred for the first time at Landguard. Autumn passage was under way by Aug. 11th at Landguard with birds recorded there to Oct. 12th with a maximum of 15, Sept. 14th. Numbers were much higher at nearby Fagbury Cliff where a total of 322 was ringed during the autumn (116 in autumn 1992) and regular day-counts gave a maximum of 150, Sept. 12th. Fagbury also provided the last record of the year with an individual on Oct. 17th. The pull of the Felixstowe Dock lights was amply demonstrated by the fact that autumn counts at other coastal sites did not exceed seven on any one day. Highest counts all fell within the period Sept. 11th to 26th. An interesting observation involved an individual bathing in dew on a garden lawn in Ipswich, June 22nd.
WHITETHROAT Sylvia communis Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first birds of the year arrived en masse on Apr. 10th with reports from North Warren, Landguard, Hadleigh (six) and Lackford (two). These were swiftly followed by reports from several other sites with the species widespread within a week of the first arrivals. The highest spring counts came, rather predictably, from Fagbury Cliff (dubbed "Sylvia City"!) during May with day totals of 50 on 12th, 75 on 15th and 100 on 16th; a total of 237 Whitethroats was ringed there during May. Breeding numbers appeared generally stable, with slight increases noted at some sites. Minsmere staff confirmed 47 territories (52 in 1992)and other regularly surveyed locations produced counts of 83, North Warren (68 in 1992); 24, Valley Farm, Coddenham (21 in 1992) and 36 at Sizewell. Other regular recorders were optimistic about the numbers in their areas. Autumn passage produced reports from along the full length of the coast to mid-October with the last bird reported from Fagbury Cliff, Nov. 3rd. Autumn peaks included counts of 25 at Landguard, Sept. 15th and 75, Fagbury Cliff, Sept. 12th. At the latter site, 381 Whitethroats were ringed during the autumn (383 in autumn 1992). The only other count of more than six birds during the autumn came from Benacre where 40 were present, Aug. 17th.
GARDEN WARBLER Sylvia borin Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first arrival was reported from Market Weston on the relatively early date of Apr. 19th and was swiftly followed by birds at Lackford and Walberswick on 20th, Foxhall, Landguard and Minsmere on 21 st and then becoming widespread over the following week. Landguard had a very quiet spring with no more than two birds located on any one day, but once again, Fagbury Cliff proved more attractive with at least 20 birds present on May 2nd and 3rd. Population counts revealed 45 territories at Minsmere (42 in 1992); 29, North Warren, (38 in 1992) and 22 at Sizewell. General opinion seemed to be that numbers were very good, with small increases reported from several parts of the County. Small numbers were noted on autumn passage from several coastal locations but as expected, the bulk of reports came from the labours of ringers at Fagbury Cliff. There, an impressive total of 225 was ringed during the autumn (184 in autumn 1992), although migration was protracted with no significant falls. Similarly, day-counts at Landguard peaked at just five birds. A bird ringed at Fagbury Cliff in October, remained there to at least Nov. 7th, on which date, another individual was also present at nearby Peewit Hill. 121
B L A C K C A P Sylvia atricapilla Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. A few overwinter. During January and February, 25 birds were reported from widely scattered locations but with winter observations of this species now becoming commonplace, it seems likely that other individuals went unreported. At least four were present in the vicinity of a Witnesham garden between January and late March. Singing birds during March clouded the arrival of new birds â€” had they over-wintered or just arrived? An indication of genuine spring passage migrants can be obtained from Landguard where birds were present from Apr. 2nd to May 22nd, peaking at seven on May 1st. At nearby Fagbury Cliff, spring movements peaked with 20 birds present on Apr. 19th and 21st. Around the County, singing birds were widely reported from Apr. 10th, on which date 14 singing males were located at Hadleigh. Rather unusually, records continued at Landguard throughout the summer with two males and three females trapped between June 14th and July 2nd. Such birds are presumably failed breeders. Breeding numbers were generally reported to be good with several observers noting local increases. At well-monitored sites, the numbers of territories included 67 at Minsmere (64 in 1992); 32, North Warren (29 in 1992); 48, Sizewell; six, Valley Farm, Coddenham (12 in 1992) and five, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket. In the autumn, passage got under way at Landguard on Aug. 22nd and continued to Nov. 23rd, peaking at 25, Sept. 15th and 17th. In contrast, movements at Fagbury Cliff resulted in 63 birds ringed before the end of August, perhaps involving local movements prior to migration. Fagbury Cliff again proved to be the prime site for this species in the County. A total of 1,272 Blackcaps was ringed there during the autumn (1,229 in autumn 1992) with estimates of daily totals peaking at 250, Sept. 12th; 150, Oct. 3rd and 100. Oct. 10th. The timing of these counts would indicate that the migration is fairly protracted, with weather conditions being responsible for peak influxes. Remarkably, during November a total of 50 birds was ringed at Fagbury Cliff and 19 at Landguard. Counts from other coastal sites during the autumn were negligible, with peaks of just four. Having accepted that the dock lights at Felixstowe are a draw to incoming migrants, it seems surprising that smaller falls are not being reported from Lowestoft. At Bawdsey, 67 were trapped in 1993 as compared with the site's previous highest annual total of 26 (in 1991). Records at the end of the year came from 13 sites, mainly along the coastal strip and the Stour valley, but this perhaps reflects observer distribution. At least 18 individuals were involved. Interesting reports involved the observation of two birds feeding on Bullaces at Raydon, Nov. 13th and a bird taking Ivy berries at Ixworth, Feb. 9th. Up to three birds were reported taking Honeysuckle berries in a Holbrook garden during December. G R E E N I S H W A R B L E R Phylloscopus trochiloides Very rare visitor. The increase in records of this species in Suffolk is remarkable. Increased observer coverage and awareness of the identification features must play a part, but there is also the possibility that there has been a genuine increase in occurrences. Lowestoft: Flycatcher Alley. May 9th (GJE.SF et al.). The sixth County record and the third in spring, following hot on the heels of the first two spring records last year. This bird constitutes the earliest ever for Britain. A R C T I C W A R B L E R Phylloscopus borealis Accidental. The first County record in what was a record year nationally for this distinctive, chunky leaf warbler. 122
Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, Sept. 30th to Oct. 2nd (trapped on 30th) (MDC, SHP el al.). Despite being rather elusive at times, this bird was much appreciated by a large number of observers during its stay. Discovering such a super bird in a mist net was the highlight of an outstanding autumn for the finders. P A L L A S ' S W A R B L E R Phylloscopus proregulus Very rare visitor. Although records of this species have been increasing in recent years, the appearance of four on a single day in the Felixstowe area is quite remarkable. Kessingland: Sewage Farm, Nov. 6th and 7th (RWa, RWi). Felixstowe: Adastral Close, Nov. 1st (CBA). Landguard, two trapped Nov. 1st, one remaining to 4th the other to 10th (LBO). Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, trapped Nov. 1st (SPE). These five birds bring the County total to 27. Despite becoming more regular in recent years, surely nobody can tire of watching these restless jewels? Y E L L O W - B R O W E D W A R B L E R Phylloscopus inomatus Scarce visitor. Yet another species that is visiting this country with increasing regularity. Suffolk received eight in 1993, including the first records for the west of the County. Lowestoft: Flycatcher Alley, Oct. 21st (RF). Easton Bavents: Southend Warren, Sept. 16th (JAB, DW). Minsmere: Oct. 3rd (DF). Felixstowe: Adastral Close, Sept. 23rd (LBO). Peewit Hill, Oct. 2nd (WJB). Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, Sept. 18th (MDC, SHP et al.). Lackford W.R.: trapped, Sept. 18th (CJJ). Thetford: The Nunnery, Sept. 17th to 18th (JHM, SPD). The number of individuals recorded in recent years is given below: 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 3 9 7 4 23 9 4 8 3 8 123
W O O D W A R B L E R Phylloscopus sibilatrix Uncommon passage migrant. Breeds irregularly. Spring passage was typically uneventful with reports spanning from May 10th to 19th. Singles were at Fagbury Cliff and Minsmere, May 10th with the latter bird still present the next day. Singles then appeared at Lowestoft Cemetery on 15th; Fagbury Cliff on 16th; Minsmere on 17th and North Warren on 19th. The first Fagbury bird, both Minsmere birds and the North Warren bird were all heard in song. No records were received during the breeding season and the next report involved the first autumn migrant at Fagbury Cliff, July 23rd. Autumn passage then produced records of a further 13 birds with the bulk in the south-east of the County. Records during August involved singles at Dunwich on 9th and 17th; Lackford on 14th and 15th; Landguard on 13th, 15th and 24th; Shingle Street on 22nd and Fagbury Cliff on 23rd. September produced singles at Lackford on 3rd; Fagbury Cliff on 11th to 16th; Sparrow's Nest, Lowestoft on 15th and Belle Vue Park, Lowestoft on 22nd. Remarkably, Suffolk's latest-ever bird at Landguard on Oct. 1st 1992 was beaten this autumn when one remained at Adastral Close, Felixstowe from Oct. 1st to 3rd.
C H I F F C H A F F Phylloscopus collybita Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. A few overwinter. Birds were reported from at least 19 sites during the first winter period including a notable concentration of six at Kessingland Sewage Works and a singing bird in Bourne Park, Ipswich, Feb. 24th. As usual, the first spring arrivals were difficult to separate from wintering birds, but one singing in a Tamarisk bush on Dunwich beach, Mar. 10th was perhaps the first spring migrant. Singing birds were generally reported across the County from Mar. 12th to 21st with numbers picking up well in early and mid-April. This period produced Landguard's highest day-counts of the spring with eight on Apr. 11th and 13th and Fagbury Cliff s highest total involved six on Apr. 11th. Totals of singing birds in early spring included 20, Hadleigh, Apr. 10th; 15, Tangham, Capei St Andrew, Apr. 7th and 13, North Warren, Mar. 27th. Breeding numbers were difficult to assess as fortunes varied at well-monitored sites. Numbers were slightly down at Minsmere to 49 territories (56 in 1992) but up at North Warren to 45 (38 in 1992). Other census work revealed six territories at Valley Farm. Coddenham (14 in 1992) and 34 at Sizewell. A ringer at Dunwich considered breeding fortunes to be good there, based on the number of young birds caught. Autumn passage through Landguard was typically protracted and spanned from Sept. 4th to Nov. 4th with a peak of 20, Oct. 3rd, on which date there were 60 at Fagbury Cliff. At the latter site, 188 were ringed during the autumn period (219 in autumn 1992). Passage petered out by mid-November with the onset of cold weather, although up to six were still present at Minsmere during that month. In December, records of one to three birds came from 12 sites, scattered throughout the County. Reports of birds showing characteristics of the Siberian race P. c. tristis have increased markedly in recent years. Whilst this may be due to greater observer awareness, a genuine increase is certainly plausible as this race is sympatric with Yellow-browed Warbler which has shown a similar increase in occurrences. However, caution is advisable when attempting subspecific identification of Phylloscopus warblers as differences are clinal and exact origins of individuals cannot always be ascertained. Birds showing all ranges of plumage tones can turn up in all populations and whilst it is useful to colate all claims of these birds, such records cannot all be taken as proven. In 1993, individuals of this race were reported from Bawdsey, Mar. 22nd; Fagbury Cliff, Apr. 25th; Landguard, May 1st and another 124
on 2nd; Peewit Hill, Felixstowe, Oct. 23rd to Nov. 2nd; Sparrow's Nest, Lowestoft, Oct. 26th and Benacre, Oct. 28th. Only the Bawdsey bird was reported as having the distinctive call of the Siberian race. W I L L O W W A R B L E R Phylloscopus trochilus Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first of the year just managed to get through before the end of March with one at Minsmere on 30th. Reports came from a further 20 sites over the following ten days and the species was widespread by Apr. 10th, on which date 50 were already in song at Hadleigh and 11 at Santon Downham; on Apr. 11th, 24 were singing on Barnhamcross Common. Passage at Landguard was rather protracted with no large falls noted; records spanned from Apr. 1st to June 4th with the only day-counts over six being 15, Apr. 19th and ten, Apr. 21st. Numbers at Minsmere recovered a little to 147 territories (132 in 1992, 159 in 1991, 217 in 1990) but 30 at North Warren (37 in 1992 and 44 in 1991) continued the recent decline at this site. Many other observers considered that the species had a poor breeding season. Autumn passage at Landguard commenced on July 22nd and continued to Oct. 14th with a peak count of 30 on Aug. 21st. At Fagbury Cliff, 741 were ringed during the autumn with counts in August of 200 on 17th, 75 on 21st and 50 on 27th. The only other notable autumn count came from Barnhamcross Common where 20 were present, Sept. 16th. Passage ended rather abruptly with the final birds reported from Benacre, Oct. 25th and Minsmere, Oct. 29th. G O L D C R E S T Regulus regulus Very common resident and passage migrant. After no records were received at all for the first two months of 1992 and an appeal for records was placed in last year's Bird Report for more information on this species, it is pleasing that a few observers did respond to this request. However, numbers do appear to be at a rather low ebb, despite a recent run of mild winters, and the only double-figure counts for early 1993 involved 15 at Eastbridge, Feb. 7th and 11 at North Warren, Jan. 6th. The species was reported as "very numerous" at Ickworth Park in February. Small numbers were reported from several coastal resorts during March but spring passage was generally rather poor. Landguard recorded birds from Mar. 11th to Apr. 10th but with no more than two on any one day. Late passage birds were at Fagbury Cliff, Apr. 26th and 27th and Landguard, May 20th and 21st. Breeding season records were few but well-monitored sites reported 20 territories at Minsmere (eight in 1992); five at North Warren (three in 1992) and five at Sizewell. The only other reports involved singles at Chelmondiston and two sites in Ipswich. Autumn passage was widely reported along the coast and appeared to be fairly heavy with typical comments being "several" at Belle Vue Park, Lowestoft, Sept. 19th; "good numbers present" at Corton, Oct. 10th and "numerous" at Warrenhouse Wood, Lowestoft, Oct. 10th. October produced the highest counts at Landguard, where passage lasted from Sept. 11th to Nov. 14th with peak day-counts of 100, Oct. 23rd; 60, Oct. 24th and 20 to 30, Nov. 1st to 4th. Fagbury totals were generally lower and peaked at 17, Oct. 20th. Elsewhere, totals included 30, Kessingland, Oct. 24th; 20, Pinmill, Oct. 15th and 18 Southwold, Oct. 9th. Numbers remained high into the second winter period and several observers reported birds in areas where the species is normally absent. Many coastal and near-coastal sites supported wintering parties with reports from several of the Ipswich parks and the species was reported as "present in good numbers" in the woods at Black Heath, Friston. 125
F I R E C R E S T Regulus ignicapillus Uncommon passage migrant. Breeds and overwinters irregularly. There was plenty of opportunity during the year for observers to enjoy this endearing species. Overwintering birds included two at Dunwich to at least Jan. 19th (from Dec. 1992); two, Minsmere, Jan. 31st with at least one to Feb. 25th and singles at Aldringham, Feb. 7th; Eastbridge, Jan. 9th to Feb. 7th and Bromeswell in early January. Spring passage birds were located from Mar. 13th to June 7th with at least four individuals at Benacre; five, Dunwich; at least 15, Fagbury Cliff (max. six, May 14th); 11, Landguard; three, Minsmere and singles at Bawdsey; The Grove, Felixstowe; Kessingland; Belle Vue Park, Lowestoft; Newbourne Springs and Rushmere St Andrew. Records from the latter two sites are away from the usual coastal resorts and are particularly pleasing to see. There was no obvious pattern to the records, but the bulk of the birds at Fagbury Cliff occurred from May 12th to 16th and a total of 11 birds was trapped there in May. No reports were received from sites where the species is known to have bred in the past, but at Sizewell, a male was singing on May 24th and a female was seen carrying nest material, May 27th. One was present at Minsmere, June 18th and 19th. Autumn passage was less impressive than the spring movements and spanned from Sept. 7th to Nov. 23rd. Around 20 individuals were logged at Landguard and, although ringers at Fagbury Cliff recorded 19 individuals, at least ten of these occurred on a single day (Sept. 11th). Reports of from one to three birds came from many other coastal localities with long-stayers perhaps confusing the numbers of individuals present. However, over the autumn period site totals included eight, Barnby; seven, Bawdsey; five, Minsmere and Sizewell; four, Southwold; three, Lowestoft and singles at Dunwich; Easton Bavents; Peewit Hill, Felixstowe; Nacton; Kessingland; Lackford W.R. and Oulton Broad. The second winter period produced singles in December at Benacre on 24th; Sizewell and Dunwich on 14th and a different bird at Dunwich on 20th. S P O T T E D F L Y C A T C H E R Muscicapa striata Common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first birds were noted on Apr. 30th at Henham and May 4th at Minsmere, although records were not widespread until the second half of May. Landguard reported no notable falls or influxes with individuals noted from May 12th to June 3rd, involving no more than three birds on any one day. During the breeding season, Minsmere held eight territories (five in 1992); North Warren, one; Sizewell, three and Wolves Wood, six. In general, comments from observers did not paint a pretty picture with numbers at a low ebb at many locations. The species was reported as low in numbers, or even completely absent, at Benhall, Brent Eleigh, Felixstowe, Glemsford, Holbrook and Shotley. However, observers considered numbers to be good in Worlingworth, Lackford and Long Melford. High counts of six to ten birds at various sites during August probably referred to family parties travelling together. This was demonstrated by the sight of an adult feeding a juvenile at Landguard, Aug. 25th, a site where the species does not breed. Autumn passage produced a scattering of reports from along the coastal strip during August and September, although numbers were generally rather low. At Landguard, passage lasted from Aug. 15th to Sept. 30th with a peak count of five, Sept. 15th. At Fagbury Cliff, numbers peaked at an estimated 20 birds, Sept. 11th. Single birds were recorded in early October at Golf Road, Felixstowe; Southwold; Orfordness and Fagbury Cliff where the latest bird of the year was noted on Oct. 10th. RED-BREASTED F L Y C A T C H E R Ficedula parva Rare visitor. The fifth spring record for the County (four of which have been at Landguard) and an 126
all-too brief autumn bird. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, Sept. 17th (RNM). Felixstowe: Landguard, imm. cr, trapped, June 11th (MM, NO). 1978 Lowestoft: Corton Road, ad. cr Sept. 30th (PJR). The Landguard bird was heard in song on three occasions. The addition of the 1978 bird constitutes the County's first record of an adult male of this species. The numbers of individuals recorded in recent years are given below: 1984 2
PIED F L Y C A T C H E R Ficedula
1990 1991 1992 1 1 3
An improvement on the paltry showing of 1992's spring passage saw singles at Landguard, Apr. 21st and May 1st; Fagbury Cliff, Apr. 25th, May 2nd and 10th; Corton Wood and Dunwich, May 11th; Bawdsey, May 12th; Minsmere, May 16th and 19th; Bcnacre, May 21st and Havergate Island, May 25th to 27th. These records show no obvious pattern with the relatively late bird on treeless Havergate Island being notable. The male at Landguard, Apr. 21st had been ringed as a nestling at Roddlesworth, Lancashire on June 4th 1990. Autumn passage on the coast began with one at Fagbury Cliff, Aug. 14th and ended with a bird at Arnold's Walk, Lowestoft on Oct. 17th. The bulk of reports came from Fagbury Cliff where 31 were ringed during the autumn, peaking with a count of ten present on Sept. 22nd. Landguard day-counts peaked at just three, Sept. 17th but records from there did include one trapped on Aug. 22nd wearing a Norwegian ring. One to three birds were reported from other coastal resorts, the bulk of which came from the Lowestoft area. 127
Away from coastal resorts, an individual at Barnhamcross Common, Thetford, Sept. 16th is noteworthy. BEARDED TIT Panurus biarmicus Uncommon resident. A welcome increase in breeding numbers was apparent at Minsmere with 13 pairs (seven in 1992) managing to rear at least 130 young from, in some cases, three broods. However, at Walberswick some 25 to 30 pairs reared few young and were more widely scattered and breeding further back in the marsh than usual. This is thought to have been a result of the inundation by sea water during February (DJP pers. comm. ). Similarly, an estimated 14 to 16 pairs at Easton Bavents/Reydon were all west of Potter's Bridge. Away from these three sites, the only other summer report was of five at Benacre Broad, June 27th. Post-breeding dispersal resulted in reports of two, Hazlewood Marshes, Sept. 6th; a male in reeds beside the River Deben south of Ramsholt, Oct. 4th; one at North Warren, Oct. 16th and two well inland at Lackford W.R., Oct. 24th. Reports during the first winter period were few but included counts of 42, Westwood Marshes; 14, Potter's Bridge and up to four at North Warren in January. The second winter period produced smaller numbers with highest counts being 30, Minsmere and 20, Westwood Marshes. Four were at Ramsholt, Dec. 24th. An unusual report involved a female on Westleton Heath, Apr. 24th. LONG-TAILED TIT Aegithalos caudatus Very common resident. It is pleasing to be able to report on a success story for a change, and numbers of this species certainly increased significantly during 1993. Comments received from regular observers included ' 'particularly abundant after a successful breeding season "; 'continued increase" and "good numbers noted". With such an intricate nest to construct, it is not surprising that pairs start building early in the season. Reports of pairs nest-building at Bradfield Woods, Mar. 13th and Belstead Brook and Sproughton Pits, Mar. 21st were fairly typical start dates, but a pair building in Porter's Wood, Woodbridge, Feb. 11th was surprisingly quick off the mark. At wellmonitored sites, populations were high with 45 territories at Minsmere (35 in 1992); 23 at North Warren (20 in 1992) and 22 at Sizewell. With a generally early start to the breeding season (see above), post-breeding gatherings were noted earlier than is normally expected. The largest flocks were of 61, King's Forest, May 28th; 60, Bonny Wood, Barking, May 27th and 50, Levington, June 12th. As the summer progressed there were many reports of groups of up to 30 birds and a maximum gathering of 42, Sizewell, Aug. 8th. Unusually, there were no autumn records at Landguard, the only sighting there involving a single bird on Apr. 10th. Reports of birds using garden peanut feeders came from Gunton Drive, Lowestoft, Mar. 15th and The Nunnery, Thetford, Dec. 1st. In both instances, single birds were involved. MARSH TIT Parus palustris Fairly common resident. This species enjoyed an upturn in fortunes in 1993 with records coming from throughout the County and indications of a good breeding season. Regular monitoring produced 24 territories at Minsmere (18 in 1992), reversing a recent downward trend; 11, Sizewell and four, North Warren. At Lackford W.R., two pairs using nest boxes produced broods of nine and six young. Outside the breeding season, highest counts included five, Lineage Wood, Long Melford and four, King's Forest. 128
WILLOW TIT Parus montanus Uncommon resident and scarce passage migrant. Reports of this species dropped again in 1993 with records coming from just 19 locations (20 in 1992 & 26 in 1991). Many locations produced just one report during the year, but this species seems to be remarkably sedentary, often not even joining mixed feeding parties in the winter (MDC pers. comm. ) so any sighting could be seen as evidence of a resident pair. Breeding was confirmed from just one site, Sizewell Belts, but a hint of optimism came from Lackford W.R. where a bird on Feb. 1st was the first there since April 1992 and two were trapped there, Oct. 21st. COAL TIT Parus ater Very common resident and scarce passage migrant. Numbers of this widespread species are difficult to assess as few records are received. However, 1993 seemed to be a bumper year for Coal Tits with Minsmere reporting 57 territories (41 in 1992) and 19 pairs located at Sizewell. Reports of birds in areas where their presence is not normally expected began to come in during late summer. At Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, the site's first bird occurred in July, followed by further sightings on 14 dates throughout the autumn and early winter. Birds later reached atypical localities in the coastal strip with singles at Fagbury Cliff, Sept. 14th and 30th and Oct. 8th, two in Felixstowe Docks, Sept. 15th and Landguard, where October reports involved three on 15th and 25th and singles on 11th and 17th. Two were trapped at the latter site during October and were confirmed as belonging to the British race. One observer noted two in Dellwood Avenue, Felixstowe, Nov. 18th where the species is not normally recorded. All these records indicate a good movement of birds, and with those at Landguard confirmed as British birds it seems likely that the species underwent an irruption after a particularly good breeding season. (In the autumn, several were noted on the Scilly Isles where the species is normally very rare.) An interesting report involved the discovery of a pair nesting in a low stone wall in Belle Vue Gardens, Lowestoft. BLUE TIT Parus caeruleus Very common resident. As this species normally suffers from the "common bird syndrome" of not being reported, it was pleasing to receive a good run of records in the autumn. The fact that such records were deemed noteworthy is an indication in itself that something was afoot and it would appear that this species underwent a similar population explosion to that demonstrated by the Coal Tit. A good breeding season was indicated by reports of 63 territories at Minsmere (65 in 1992) and 63 at North Warren (46 in 1992) as well as 42 at Sizewell and 13 at Valley Farm, Coddenham (eight in 1992). One observer in Ipswich reported ten young fledging from a single nest box and at North Warren, six pairs in nest boxes fledged a total of 55 young. High numbers began to be reported in August when 50 were noted at Kenton Hills, Leiston on 8th. In September, up to six were present at Landguard daily, increasing to eight at the end of the month and 21 were in coastal bushes at North Warren, Aldeburgh on 17th. Despite the general failure of observers to continue to report movements, we are lucky to have regular monitoring at Landguard Bird Observatory and their figures are perhaps indicative of what was happening elsewhere. Numbers there continued to increase above normal levels and peaked in October with 15 on 3rd and 14 on 19th. Up to six remained there throughout November and during that month, a flock of 25 was noted feeding in reeds in a borrow dyke beside the River Deben, Felixstowe and a marked influx was noted at Benhall. Throughout the autumn period, a Felixstowe observer continued
to report the highest numbers ever recorded in his local study area. The Landguard figures, with a total of 70 ringed during September and October, are above recent levels and are the highest since a total of 132 was ringed over the same period in 1987. However, they still hardly compare with the figures of some years ago when, for example, 294 were ringed during September and October 1983. GREAT TIT Parus major Very common resident. A good breeding season was reported from across the County. Reports from wellmonitored sites included 73 territories at Minsmere (55 in 1992); 59, North Warren (35 in 1992); 35, Sizewell; ten, Valley Farm, Coddenham (seven in 1992) and ten, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket. At Great Glemham, high numbers were reported after a good breeding season with 17 pairs using nest boxes to produce a total of at least 140 fledged young. Similarly, at North Warren, 19 pairs in nest boxes were all successful, fledging a total of 141 young. Whilst checking nest boxes at Great Glemham, the observer came across one box that contained one Blue Tit and nine Great Tit chicks. Contrary to the movements of other related species, Landguard also reported higher numbers in the spring than in recent years, representing a return to normal after a run of poor years. At least 15 were present on Mar. 14th and six on Mar. 15th. Ringing totals for March/April at Landguard in recent years are 21 in 1993, four in 1992, seven in 1991 and ten in 1990; these figures are all well below the totals of 48 in 1989 and 65 in 1988. Some indication of autumn movements came from Landguard where two to five were present daily throughout October, with peaks of 21 on 8th and seven on 3rd and smaller numbers remained to the end of the year. These figures represent a return to normal after a run of bad years, but the numbers are noticeably lower than those of Blue Tit (q.v.). Ringing totals for September/October at Landguard in recent years are 36 in 1993, 21 in 1992, 14 in 1991 and two in 1990; these figures are all well below the total of 66 ringed during the same period in 1988. NUTHATCH Sitta europaea Fairly common resident. This species remains widespread throughout the County, albeit in small numbers. Records were received from a total of 29 locations (30 in 1992) but not from one or two known sites and it is therefore difficult to comment on any apparent changes in numbers. However, any comments that were received from observers did show a worrying trend with reports of ' 'none seen at regular location ' ' at Bawdsey and Witnesham, ' 'only two sightings during year ' ' at Brent Eleigh and ' 'numbers down around Shotley Peninsula as a whole ' '. Ipswich remains a good place to see this species with reports from Chantry, Christchurch and Holy wells Parks. An interesting report involved the discovery of a pair nesting in a hole in the wall of Martlesham Church (see note on p. 153). TREECREEPER Certhia familiaris Common resident. Few breeding reports were received but there is no reason to assume that the species does not remain widespread and reasonably common throughout the County. At wellmonitored sites, counts of territories included 25 at Minsmere (20 in 1992); five at North Warren and eight at Sizewell. Numbers were predictably higher in areas where old trees provide good breeding habitat and the highest count away from surveyed sites was of six birds in Staverton Park, Wantisden, Mar. 7th. No evidence of any significant movements was noted; a juvenile ringed at Fagbury Cliff, Aug. 1st was likely to have been a wandering local bird. 130
PENDULINE T I T Remiz pendulinus Very rare visitor. The first record since the spate of sightings in 1989 and 1990: Minsmere: cr July 25th (Mrs AS). Such a small and unobtrusive species is easily missed and a single-observer record from a well-watched site is not unexpected. There has now been a total of three records in the County involving four or five birds. This species shares a dubious honour with Serin and Common Rosefinch as being a species which increased dramatically in numbers over a short period but seems to have faded away without establishing a breeding population. Those still needing the present species for their Suffolk lists may have a long wait â€” but you never know! G O L D E N O R I O L E Oriolus
Scarce summer visitor and passage migrant. Monitoring of Britain's small breeding population is carried out by the Golden Oriole Group. No full report for Suffolk has been received but at least two pairs are known to have bred. With the loss of the bulk of suitable breeding habitat at Lakenheath, most of the population appears to have moved north and west out of Suffolk. Spring migrants on the coast were as follows: Covehithe: Chancel Covert, cr in song June 20th (RF). Dunwich: cr May 21st (Sir AGH). Minsmere: cr May 10th (IR); May 31st (SHP). Trimley St Martin: Loompit Grove, cr in song May 18th (MRM). Shotley: two May 23rd, at least one to 24th (MP). The first report of autumn migrants was of two immatures at Erwarton, July 25th (IP). These were followed by two reports in August involving immatures reared at Norfolk breeding sites. The first of these birds, a female ringed as a nestling in June 1993, was found dead at Burstall on Aug. 10th (WAFL) and the second, a male, trapped at Dunwich on Aug. 30th had also been originally ringed as a nestling in June 1993 (AGH) (see Ringing Report p. 174). R E D - B A C K E D S H R I K E Lanius
Scarce passage migrant and summer visitor. A rather quiet year for this attractive species. Spring passage was rather intriguing with a notable influx of males on May 22nd, but confined to a relatively small stretch of coastline. Only one bird, at Minsmere, stayed long enough to be enjoyed by the masses: Southwold: cr June 10th. Dunwich: cr May 29th. Minsmere: cr May 22nd to 29th. Leiston: Sizewell, cr May 22nd. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: cr May 22nd. Autumn passage spanned from Sept. 9th to Oct. 4th as follows: Oulton: St Michael's Church, juv. Sept. 9th. Blythburgh: Westwood Lodge, juv. Sept. 18th to 20th. Walberswick: juv. Sept. 15th. Felixstowe: Landguard, Sept. 11th to 12th, trapped 11th; Sept. 13th, trapped. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, juv. Sept. 30th to Oct. 4th, trapped 30th; second juv. present Oct. 3rd. After the welcome appearance of a breeding pair in East Suffolk in 1992, it is a shame that this appears to have been an isolated occurrence. A male was seen at the 1992 breeding site this year on just one date (June 14th) and was watched patrolling the area and singing. Subsequent visits determined that he had failed to find a mate and had moved on (per JG). Sadly, later news revealed that a female had been seen on a single date in June within 131
a mile of the breeding site but the two birds never met. Speculation on these events suggests that the 1992 breeding resulted from a chance meeting of a pair during a good spring passage. It is likely that the 1993 male was the same as the 1992 bird; it is also possible that the nearby female was one of the 1992 juveniles which had returned to an area close to its natal home. There are several underwatched parts of coastal Suffolk and it is just possible that occasional pairs meet up and maintain an unstable breeding population in the area. G R E A T G R E Y S H R I K E Lanius
Scarce passage migrant and winter visitor. Few birds were reported, although the slight improvement in numbers since the nadir of the mid-1980s was maintained. Long-stayers at traditional sites were enjoyed by a steady flow of admirers with the first winter period producing the following: Eastbridge: Jan. 1st to 9th. Westleton: Westleton Heath, from 1992 to Apr. 17th. Felixstowe: Felixstowe Docks, Feb. 2nd to 11th. Brandon: Mayday Farm, from Feb. to at least Mar. 4th. The autumn produced just two migrants but long-stayers returned to spend the winter with us again. The Westwood Marshes bird is the earliest autumn arrival in the County since 1964. Beccles: Beccles Marshes, Nov. 25th to Dec. 1st. Mettingham: Benstead Marshes, at least Dec. 24th to 30th (presumed same as Beccles bird). Westwood Marshes: Sept. 17th. Westleton: Westleton Heath, Oct. 11th to end of year. Felixstowe: Landguard, Oct. 22nd. Brandon: Mayday Farm, Nov. 6th. The number of individuals recorded in recent years is as follows: 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 3 5 8 6 11 12 9 12 10 9
Despite an apparent small increase in occurrences since the late 1980s, this remains a scarce bird in the County with the higher totals of recent years being mainly a result of the occurrence of passage birds which moved quickly on. The days of this being a regular winter visitor in reasonable numbers are long gone. JAY Garrulus glandarius Very common resident and scarce passage migrant. Reports during the breeding season were typically sparse but well-monitored sites reported one territory at Valley Farm, Coddenham (two in 1992); 12, North Warren (eight in 1992) and 11 at Size well. Random reports were received from across the County until the autumn, when it became apparent that a notable movement of birds was taking place with many reports from areas where the species is normally absent. Amongst a plethora of sightings from along the entire coastal strip, the following are the most interesting: Lowestoft: Warrenhouse Wood, five heading inland, Oct. 7th. Gunton Drive, in observer's garden Oct. 9th. Southwold: five S, high from the NE Oct. 9th; six south Oct. 10th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, four S. Oct. 7th. Felixstowe: two high NW Oct. 12th. Landguard, singles Oct. 15th and 19th. Golf Course, two flying over Oct. 18th. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, flock of 15, Oct. 7th; one to two on four other dates in Oct. Chelmondiston: Cliff Plantation, Pinmill, five Oct. 15th. Records of from one to four birds continued to come in to the end of the year as observers noted birds in their areas. This suggests that many of the birds remained in the area and did not pass straight through. M A G P I E Pica pica Very common resident. Surprisingly few records were received. Are observers taking the species for granted or have numbers declined, resulting in fewer reports of gatherings or high counts? North Warren appears to be a great attraction for the species with 13 pairs found breeding and winter roost counts peaking at 50 in early December (another small decrease for the second year running). Other peak counts involved 50, Beccles Marshes, Jan. 20th; 33, Sutton Common, Feb. 17th; 23, Tunstall, Jan. 10th; 23, Lackford W.R., Feb. 16th; 18, Cavenham Heath, Feb. 14th; 17, Onehouse, Nov. 28th; 16, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, Dec. 1st and 15, Boyton Marshes, Mar. 14th. No reports were received of birds terrorising the local songbird populations! J A C K D A W Corvus monedula Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Rather poorly reported but one or two records of interest were received. Too few records were sent in to be able to adequately quantify the breeding population. However, a Felixstowe observer reported the lowest numbers in his area since 1985 and only two pairs were located at Valley Farm, Coddenham (four in 1992). The usual winter roost at Culpho produced a count of 2,000 mixed Jackdaws and Rooks on Jan. 26th and this flock produced regular counts of birds passing over Martlesham. Highest counts in the east of the County included 320, North Warren, Dec. 5th; 121, Farnham, Nov. 17th; 80, Wantisden, Mar. 7th and 54, Wherstead Strand, Apr. 4th. In the west, highest counts involved 400, Cavenham, Dec. 7th and 100, Great Livermere, Dec. 1st. An interesting report involved 50 feeding on bare mud exposed by falling water levels at Benacre Broad, Sept. 10th. 133
ROOK Corvus frugilegus Very common resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. Virtually no breeding records were reported, although of interest were observations of a rookery containing an estimated 200 nests at Coney Weston (can anyone provide a more accurate count?) and several pairs nesting on a pylon at an electricity substation at Bramford. General comments indicated small increases in many areas and a single pair nested on the edge of Wolves Wood. Rookeries at Felixstowe, where the species is scarce, increased to 37 nests at The Grove (26 in 1992) and 14 at Brook LaĂąe (12 in 1992). The usual assortment of winter gatherings produced several high counts, mostly of mixed Rook and Jackdaw flocks. Such flocks included 2,000 at the traditional Culpho roost, Jan. 26th and 600 at Shelland, Aug. 8th. Movements at Landguard involved 58 south between Mar. l l t h and May lst and in the autumn, counts included nine south and 57 in off the sea during October and a further four south in November. The bulk of these birds occurred on Oct. 24th when 50 carne in off the sea; on the same date, 25 carne in off the sea at Southwold. C A R R I O N C R O W Corvus
Very common resident. Even fewer records were received of this species than of the previous species. General comments implied that numbers had increased slightly, but with virtually no breeding data received this is difficult to prove. Valley Farm, Coddenham held four pairs (three in 1992) and five pairs were at Sizewell. North Warren held two breeding pairs, and during the autumn a roost of up to 24 birds was noted there. Two pairs bred on lighting pylons in Felixstowe Docks (the nests are usually removed by dock officials). Apart from a report of six in off the sea at Benacre, Apr. 18th, all records of spring movements carne from Landguard; at that site, a total of seven north and 131 south was logged between Mar. 5th and May 13th. Autumn passage was almost as impressive and was more widely reported with the north of the County receiving the lion's share. At Landguard, just eight birds were logged during Oct. 3rd to 29th but at Lowestoft, rcports included 70 coming in off the sea on Oct. 24th (in flocks of 30 and 40). Southwold seawatchers noted five passing south, Sept. 1 lth and ten in off the sea, Oct. 24th (see Rook). The usual gathering of birds on the intertidal mud at Wherstead Strand peaked at 147, Jan. 23rd and a flock in similar habitat in Thorpe Bay, Trimley St Martin numbered 60 on Feb. 18th. After commenting on the recent scarcity of Hooded Crows C. c. cornix in the County in last year's report, there was a notable increase in 1993, including some long-stayers. In the early part of the year, one was reported in the Hinton crossroads area, Blythburgh, Jan. 2nd to 9th and what was probably the same bird was at Westwood Lodge, Feb. 28th and Westwood Marshes, Feb. 23rd to Mar. 17th. One reported from Somersham, Feb. 23rd was probably the individual present there in late 1992. A rather early bird appeared briefly at Benacre on Aug. 14th but this was an isolated incident and sightings in the latter part of the year were few. One flew south at Minsmere, Nov. 19th and a bird appeared at Hopton-on-Sea on Oct. 30th, remaining to the end of the year. This latter bird was rather dark and considered by most observers to be a Carrion x Hooded Crow hybrid. RAVEN Corvus corax Very rare visitor. The sixth record in the County this century with all but one occurring since 1979. No pattern is yet emerging and the origin of the birds is obscure (although see Suffolk Birds 1990:142 for details of a dead bird which had been ringed in Northern Ireland). Felixstowe: Landguard, Oct. 28th (MM, NO el al.). 134
One of the surprises of the autumn was the appearance of this individual in south-east Suffolk. The bird remained for about four hours, feeding on the carcass of a dead Rabbit, much to the chagrin of the local Carrion Crows. Unfortunately, it decided to fly off before more than a handful of observers could enjoy it. STARLING Sturnus vulgaris Very common resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. As someone who is very fond of the much-maligned Starling and its many relatives, the Editor of this journal was somewhat perturbed by the remarks of one observer who considered that there are too many Starlings in his area of Ipswich! In general, numbers appeared to be slightly down at the few sites that reported on breeding totals with four pairs at Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket and six to eight pairs at Landguard (eight to ten in 1992). Autumn passage at Landguard was somewhat mediocre with totals of 498 south and 2,027 in off the sea between Oct. 3rd and Nov. 21st. Nearly all the birds arriving in off the sea were in the period Oct. 15th to 28th. The highest count involved 1,240 in off the sea, Oct. 24th. Elsewhere along the coast, few counts were received but did include 151 south, South wold, Oct. 9th; 100 in off the sea, Covehithe, Oct. 16th and 40 in off the sea, Easton Broad, Oct. 16th. Roost counts mainly came from the area around south Felixstowe as birds gathered prior to roosting in the docks. Regular gatherings at Landguard did not exceed 150 in the first winter period but numbers reached 3,500 during the autumn (September). This same roost produced pre-roost gatherings at nearby Trimley Marshes which peaked at an estimated 5,000 birds on Nov. 3rd. The only other roost reported was at Westwood Marshes where numbers peaked at 6,750, Nov. 7th. Winter feeding flocks on coastal marshes included counts of 1,500, North Warren, Mar. 18th; 1,200, Hazlewood Marshes, Feb. 23rd and 600, Sudbourne, Feb. 20th. A report was received of a pair of Starlings which nested in the housing of a greengrocer's roller blinds at Lowestoft. Despite the window display taking a decided turn for the worse, the blinds were not used until the birds had safely fledged, much to the credit of the shopkeeper. ROSE-COLOURED STARLING Sturnus roseus Very rare visitor. The 18th individual of this species in the County and the first since 1955, filling a gap in many observers' County lists. Felixstowe: Landguard and surrounding area, juv. Sept. 4th to at least 9th (GJJ, MM et al.). This bird was very elusive during its stay and gave many would-be observers the runaround. Its days were generally spent in gardens in south Felixstowe, making detection and observation difficult. It was best seen with pre-roost gatherings of Starlings in the evenings, although even then it soon disappeared into the docks! HOUSE SPARROW Passer domesticus Very common resident. Very few records were again received, although it will take time for last year's Editorial comments to take effect. However, the small hard core of serious birdwatchers in the County continued to report declines in their areas with noticeable decreases at Brent Eleigh, Felixstowe and Bramford Road, Ipswich. At Benhall, as well as a reported decline, no post-harvest flocks were seen in the autumn. Movements were noted along the coast in the autumn with observers at Southwold reporting 135
38 south, Oct. 9th and 16 south, Oct. lOth. At Landguard, monthly totals of southerly passage included 24 in August, 35 in September and 74 in October. Counts in the latter month peaked at 42 on 3rd. TREE SPARROW Passer montanus Uncommon resident. The remarkable and worrying decline of this species has at least resulted in a good number of reports being received. Reports came from 28 parishes, scattered across the whole County. A few lucky observers managed to locate gatherings of this species with highest numbers as follows: Ellough: 35 Jan. 31st. Fressingfield: 25 Feb. 6th. Worlingworth: 26 Feb. 28th. Sudbourne: 20 Mar. 5th. Witnesham: 50 Jan. 2nd. Onehouse: 20 Jan. 16th. Rattlesden: 45 Feb. 12th. Haughley: 30 Mar. 8th. Timworth: 50 Dec. Ist. Mildenhall: West Row Fen, 25 Feb. lOth. An apparent increase on last year's totals is a resuit of better observer coverage. Very few reports were received during the breeding season. At Worlingworth, a concerted effort by one observer produced five pairs but breeding success was poor. Elsewhere in the County, reports of single pairs came from Benacre, The King's Forest, Shingle Street and Thorpeness and two pairs were at Minsmere. Single birds were noted in areas of suitable breeding habitat at Winston and Wolves Wood in the spring. Interestingly, spring passage at Landguard was recorded up to May 30th which is late for this species still to be migrating. One flew south there, Mar. 24th, followed by one to two birds on five dates, Apr. 21st to May 5th. Four birds were then present, May 1 Ith and 18th and a single, May 30th. Autumn passage gave even more cause for concern. After the notably low total of 65 passing through Landguard in the autumn of 1992, the total of just 17 birds during the same period in 1993 almost beggars belief (as mentioned in last year's report, this should be compared with the total of 4,675 passing through that site in the autumn of 1983). CHAFFINCH Fringilla coelebs Very common resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. The first winter period produced ten flocks containing 50 or more birds with peaks of 100, Lackford W.R., Feb. 6th; 200, West Row Fen, Mildenhall, Feb. lOth; 100, Haughley, Feb. 12th and a late gathering of 100 at Pinmill, Apr. Ist, perhaps involving emigrants. Spring passage at Landguard included totals of 28 south in March and eight south in the first half of April. Breeding reports from well-monitored sites indicated a stable or slightly increasing population; 40 territories at Coddenham (43 in 1992), 188 at Minsmere (112 in 1992) and 74 at North Warren (51 in 1992). Surveys at Sizewell revealed a breeding population of 71 pairs and a pair reared two broods at Landguard, a site where the species does not normally breed. Autumn passage reports came from several coastal sites: Covehithe: 70 Sept. 22nd. Southwold: 46 S. Oct. 9th and 58 S. Oct. lOth. Walberswick: 100 Sept. 15th. Dunwich: 50 Oct. 27th. 136
Ăˆ Q c <o 01
s 21: Woodlark numbers continue to increase due to sympathetic forestry management.
22: Wheatear photographed at one of the species' few breeding sites in the County.
Â§ 23: Fagbury Cliff. The site owes more than a passing debt to the close proximity of Felixstowe Docks and its lights.
24: Blyth's Reed Warbler, the first of two trapped at Fagbury Cliff during a remarkable autumn there.
Felixstowe: Landguard, 22 S. during Sept.; 507 S. and 178 in off the sea during Oct., max. 147, Oct. 8th and 174 in off the sea, Oct. 15th; 48 S. during Nov., max. 21 S. on 4th. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, 150 Sept. 17th. Counts in the second winter period included 120, North Warren, Oct. 28th and 200, Icklingham during December. Generally, figures for 1993 were far from impressive and numbers remained generally low. Indeed, one observer considered numbers to be the lowest since 1985 at Felixstowe. BRAMBLING Fringilla montifringilla Fairly common passage migrant and winter visitor. A reasonable showing in the early part of the year with four sizeable flocks reported: 100, Iken Hall, Jan. 1st falling to 30, Mar. 3rd; 120, Tuddenham St Mary, Feb. 7th; 20, Gunton Hall, Lowestoft, Feb. 20th and 50, Sudbourne, Mar. 3rd. Spring passage was rather poor with Landguard recording just 13 individuals between Mar. 16th and Apr. 26th. A further eighteen sites recorded outgoing birds in April with peaks of 20, Sutton Heath, Apr. 2nd and 30, Elveden, Apr. 29th. A late bird was at Staverton Park, Wantisden on May 12th. Autumn passage began very early with three south at Landguard, Aug. 31st (JRA); this is only the County's second August record of the species, the first being of a male flying south over Minsmere on Aug. 14th 1982. There were no more reports until Sept. 18th when one was at Fagbury Cliff and two at North Warren. October then brought a large influx into the County with birds subsequently being recorded from 22 sites by the year's end; peak numbers occurred in the west of the County: Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, 70, Oct. 14th; 20, Oct. 17th; ten, Oct. 29th. ErisweU: 550, Dec. 20th. Icklingham: 1,000 on Linseed, Dec. 5th. Cavenham: Cavenham Heath, 50, Dec. 10th. Tuddenham St Mary: 30, Nov. 28th. Lakenheath: Sedge Fen, nocks of 200 and 300, Dec. 4th. Barnham: Thetford Heath, 120, Oct. 26th. The flock of 1,000 at Icklingham, Dec. 5th is the largest reported gathering in the County since March 1976 when 1,000 were at Honington. After the early birds at Landguard mentioned above, the species was noted there from Oct. 3rd to Nov. 29th including a total of 73 south and four in off the sea, and a maximum day-count of 54 south, Nov. 4th. SERIN Serinus serinus Very rare migrant. The 17th County record occurred at Landguard, where the species has now been recorded on four occasions. Felixstowe: Landguard, south, Apr. 13th (NO). This is the earliest ever recorded Serin in Suffolk. GREENFINCH Carduelis chloris Very common resident and passage migrant. Peak first winter period counts were 100, Friston Common, Jan. 3rd; 120, Boyton Marshes, Feb. 26th and 200, West Row Fen, Mildenhall, Feb. 10th. Spring passage at Landguard was light with no counts exceeding 50. Ringing totals in March and April were 238 and 180 respectively which do not compare at all favourably with those of the late 1980s when, for example 1,067 were ringed during April 1986 and 705 in April 1987. 137
Minsmere's breeding population recovered slightly to seven pairs (three in 1992, 14 in 1988) but North Warren recorded a fall in numbers to just seven pairs (11 in 1992). Five pairs were located during breeding surveys at Sizewell, but only one pair was located at Valley Farm, Coddenham (two in 1992, five in 1986). Ten pairs bred at Landguard, the same total as in 1992. Coastal autumn passage was recorded at two sites: Southwold: 29 S. Oct. 9th and 64 S. Oct. 10th. Felixstowe: Landguard, 16 S. in Sept; 512 S. in Oct., max. 132 on 3rd; 67 S. in Nov. to 24th. A very good showing in the second winter period may well indicate the impact of agricultural set-aside. Peak counts included 120, Little Welnetham, Oct. 13th; 500 roosting at Lackford W.R., Nov. 16th and throughout Dec.; 100, Icklingham, throughout December and 326, Minsmere, Dec. 26th. The resourcefulness of this species was indicated by the presence of 25 feeding on the strandline at Felixstowe Ferry on Nov. 15th. Whilst numbers in the second winter period were encouraging, there must be cause for concern regarding the continued decrease in breeding numbers. Ringing at Landguard has shown that some of our wintering birds originate from Scandinavia so an increase in wintering numbers is not necessarily a sign of a healthy local breeding population. It would be useful to receive more information from regular recorders on the state of this species' breeding numbers across the County. Perhaps such figures as those above will be enough to encourage other observers to submit regular counts of common species â€” if they can find time in-between twitches. GOLDFINCH Carduelis carduelis Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. Overwinters in small numbers. The first winter period saw only four flocks of 50 or more birds: 100, Great Waldingfield, Jan. 3rd; 100, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket throughout the period; 50, Leiston, Feb. 10th and 100, Bunters Farm, Cavenham, Feb. 14th. Spring passage was recorded at several coastal localities: Southwold: seven S. Mar. 27th; 21 N. Apr. 28th; 17 N. May 1st. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 23 Apr. 1st; 35 S. Apr. 21st; six S. Apr. 25th; 70 N. Apr. 26th; 44 N. May 11th. Felixstowe: Landguard, 308 S. in Apr., max. 85 S. on 21st; 164 S. in May, max. 69 S. on 18th. Chelmondiston: Pinmill, 60 Apr. 1st. Holbrook: 60 Apr. 11th. Breeding season reports included counts of eight pairs at Minsmere (five 1992), five pairs at both Sizewell and Combs Lane Water Meadows and three pairs at Landguard (three in 1992). Despite a lack of data, the general impression from many sites is of a slight increase in numbers after a run of poor years, and the species was certainly more widely reported than other common finch species. However, observers in Felixstowe, Brent Eleigh and Stowmarket still feel that numbers are low. Autumn passage was recorded at 18 sites with the following highlights: Southwold: 231 S. Oct. 9th; 139 S. Oct. 10th. Minsmere: 850 S. between Oct. 3rd and 10th, max. 300 on 10th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 247 S. from Aug. 16th to Oct. 10th, max. 104 Oct. 10th. Bawdsey: Shingle Street, 75 S. Oct. 9th. Felixstowe: Landguard, 12 S. in Aug; 143 S. in Sept., max. 29 on 20th; 2,127 S. in Oct., max. 343 on 3rd and 342 on 8th; 194 S. in Nov., max. 79 on 4th. The Grove, 75 Sept. 3rd. Trimley Marshes: 100 Oct. 13th. Icklingham: 100 Sept. 28th. The total of 2,464 south over Landguard during September to November compares favourably with the figure of 2,170 during the equivalent period in 1992. Three-figure counts during the second winter period involved flocks of 250 at Icklingham,
Dec. 11th and 120, Sizewell Road, Leiston, Dec. 20th. A bird which was trapped at Fagbury Cliff, June 10th was at first confusing but proved to be a Goldfinch x Linnet hybrid. Whilst there is a possibility of this being a wild bird, it is far more likely that it had escaped from captivity where forced hybridisation of various finch species has a peculiar fascination for some people (see p. 153). SISKIN Carduelis spinus Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon resident. An excellent showing in the first winter period with three-figure flocks at seven sites including 170, North Warren, Jan. 30th, falling to 132, Feb. 28th and 100, Mar. 1st; 120, Lackford W.R., Feb. 9th and 184, The Nunnery, Thetford, Feb. 26th, falling to 85, Mar. 3rd. Pre-emigration gatherings involved "hundreds" at Mayday Farm, Brandon, Mar. 27th and 100, North Warren, Apr. 1st. However, this flurry of activity was followed by a very light spring passage at Landguard with just 14 birds recorded between Mar. 12 th and May 19th. Autumn passage started quietly but increased dramatically during October and continued well into November, producing some of the highest counts for some years. Similar numbers were recorded right across Britain with many birds even reaching the Isles of Scilly. Highest counts included: Benacre: 50 N. Oct. 30th; 40 S. Nov. 2nd; 25 N. Nov. 27th. Southwold: total of 269 between Sept. 25th and Nov. 6th, max. 63 S. Oct. 10th and 100 S. Nov. 6th. Leiston: Leiston Common, 146 Sept. 15th. Aldeburgh: 75 S. Sept. 19th. North Warren, total of 466 between Sept. 29th and Nov. 8th, max. 210 on Oct. 28th. Hollesley: 100 S. Sept. 18th. Felixstowe: 15 Sept. 26th; 185 in Oct., max. 50 on 28th; 228 Nov. 2nd, including 96 S. and 82 N; 85 N. Nov. 7th. Landguard, 640 during Sept. involving 575 S., max. 230 on 18th, five N. and 60 in off the sea on 24th; 856 in Oct. involving 454 S., max. 122 on 8th and 10th, 112 N. and 290 in off the sea; 661 during Nov. involving 434 S., max. 240 on 2nd, 194 N. and 33 in off the sea; 51 during Dec. involving 41 S., max. 25 on 22nd, two N. and eight in off the sea. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, 196 in Sept. from 14th, max. 25 on 16th and 150 E. on 24th; 385 in Oct., max. 120 S. on 10th and 14th; nine, Nov. 3rd. The heavy autumn passage resulted in good numbers being recorded at several inland sites with some flocks lingering into the second winter period. Largest gatherings recorded included 150, The Nunnery, Thetford, Oct. 26th; 150, The Grove, Felixstowe, Oct. 29th; 160, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, Nov. 7th; 170, Lackford W.R., Nov. 18th; 150, Minsmere, Nov. 19th and 500, Cavenham Heath, Nov. 26th. Despite the species' abundance in the first winter period the only breeding season reports were of six, Hollesley, June 18th; six, Brandon, May 8th and two pairs, Elveden, Apr. 29th. However, even these reports could perhaps involve passage birds. LINNET Carduelis cannabina Very common summer visitor and passage migrant. Overwinters in smaller numbers. Only two sizeable flocks were reported in the first winter period, involving counts of 200 at Sudbourne, Jan. 1st and 100, Boyton Marshes, Feb. 26th. Spring passage was reported from 18 sites with the following peaks: Benacre: 70 S. Apr. 8th; 50 Apr. 10th. Southwold: 78 S. Apr. 9th; 461 S. Apr. 10th; 90 N. Apr. 28th. Walberswick: 200 in off sea in small flocks, Apr. 2nd. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, 150 N. in an hour, Apr. 14th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, recorded from Mar. 14th to June 4th, max. 80 S. Apr. 2nd; 70 N. Apr. 14th; 70 May 23rd. 139
Felixstowe: Landguard, 201 S. during Mar.; 1,085 S. in Apr., max. 185 on 4th, 170 on 21st; 35 S. May 18th; 20 S. May 21st. Claydon: 80 on school playing fields, Apr. 18th. Barking: Barking Tye, 60 Mar. 24th; 70 Apr. 24th. Knettishall: 150 Mar. 29th. Breeding reports suggest an upturn in the species' fortunes after the low ebb of 1992. North Warren totals continued to increase to 23 pairs (15 in 1992) and Minsmere recovered to 26 pairs (20 in 1992). Other reports included a stable population of 50 pairs at Landguard, whilst Havergate staff reported that 24 pairs raised at least 55 young. Against the general upward trend, reports from Glemsford and Brent Eleigh were of the species' continued scarcity in the breeding season and only three pairs were located at Valley Farm, Coddenham (five in 1992). Reports from 14 sites during the autumn migration period produced peaks as follows: Corton: 120 Sept. 8th. South wold: 149 S. Oct. 9th; 160 S. Oct. 10th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 162 from Oct. 3rd to 10th. Felixstowe: Landguard, 990 S. in Sept., max. 565 on 29th; 1,890 in Oct., max. 553 on 3rd & 345 on 8th; 71 S. in Nov. Trimley Marshes: 100 Oct. 7th. Barking: Barking Tye,60 Oct. 23rd. Raydon: 60 Sept. 5th. Boxford: 52 in Sept. Icklingham: 100 Sept. 28th. Mildenhall: West Row Fen, 130 on Oilseed Rape stubble, Oct. 18th. Worlingworth: 112 Sept. 14th. End of year peaks involved flocks of 200 on set-aside at Snape, Nov. 2nd and 100, Icklingham during December. See p. 153 for details of a Linnet x Goldfinch hybrid. TWITE Carduelis flavirostris Common but declining winter visitor and passage migrant. Reports of this species have declined noticeably in recent years with most records now coming from a handful of favoured localities. Birds were found at seven sites in the first winter period with the last four at Dunwich, Mar. 29th. Highest counts involved: Walberswick: 20 Jan. 16th. Dunwich: 20 Jan. 1st; 50 Jan. 23rd; 95 Feb. 14th; 18 Feb. 23rd. Orford: Orfordness, 25 Jan. 9th and 10th. Havergate I., 24 Jan. 9th. Falkenham: 11 Feb. 5th. Waldringfield: 40 Jan. 14th; 30 Jan. 17th. Levington: 30 Jan. 28th; 50 Feb. 12th; 20 Mar. 10th. One at Southwold, Oct. 10th was the first autumn report but numbers in the second winter period were unimpressive, although regular sites held similar numbers to the previous winter with peak counts of 27, Dunwich, Dec. 30th; 30, Orfordness, Nov. 29th; 20, Trimley Marshes, Nov. 6th and 30, Walberswick, Dec. 6th. REDPOLL Carduelis flammea Common but declining resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Another poor year for this species with no notable influxes and worryingly few breeding records. Highest counts in the early part of the year all came from the west of the County and included 50, Cavenham Heath, Feb. 5th; 100, Lackford W.R., Jan. 17th; 100, Thetford, Jan. 5th and 100, West Stow, Feb. 13th. Breeding reports were received from only 11 sites. Declines were recorded at both North Warren and Minsmere to three pairs (six and five in 1992 respectively). 140
Autumn passage at Landguard included 61 S. in Oct., max. 23 on 3rd and 11 S. in Nov. Southwold observers reported ten S. on Oct. 9th and 37 S. on 10th. The species remained scarce throughout the latter part of the year with peak counts of only 60, Dunwich, Oct. 30th and 50, Tuddenham St Mary, Oct. 29th. A female was reported feeding on Blackfly in a cherry tree in Martlesham, June 28th, although, being a seedeater, it seems more likely that she was collecting them to feed to nestlings.
CROSSBILL Loxia curvirostra Localised resident and irruptive visitor. As in 1992, Crossbills remained scarce, especially in the coastal pine forests. Another influx from the Continent is needed to top-up our population. In the first half of the year, reports came from 15 sites with highest counts of 14, Upper Hollesley Common, June 17th; ten, including juveniles, Tunstall Forest, June 24th and eight at Henham, June 22nd. A less typical report was of two flying SW over Bramford Water Park, Apr. 2nd. At Mayday Farm, Brandon, records during March included a peak count of just seven birds, but one was also seen carrying nesting material. The second half of the year produced even fewer records with birds reported from just five sites. All sightings involved single birds with the exception of three, Cobham Road, Ipswich, Dec. 28th; four, Leiston Common, Dec. 1st and two, West Stow, Nov. 21st.
COMMON ROSEFINCH Carpodacus erythrinus Very rare passage migrant. Has bred. After stating that no-one could have predicted the events of 1992 when the species bred in the County, it seems that no-one could have predicted the events of 1993, when the species returned to its previous form (or maybe the more pessimistic amongst us could!). There was just a single record, which was enjoyed by just two lucky observers: Southwold: St Edmund's churchyard, singing cr May 27th (MSF.LT). A stunning adult male in full breeding plumage which sadly decided not to stay. Let's hope that the Dutch population is consolidating itself before making another assault on our coastline. 1992 Minsmere: Contrary to the report of unconfirmed breeding at Minsmere ( S u f f o l k Birds 1993: 131), it is now known that an adult was seen carrying a faecal sac, confirming that young had hatched. However, the juveniles did not fledge and the adults were not seen after July 14th (per GJJ).
BULLFINCH Pyrrhula pyrrhula Very common resident. There was a slight increase in the breeding population at Minsmere to 17 pairs (14 pairs in 1992, although 36 in 1990) and at North Warren to eight pairs (seven in 1992). Further breeding reports included three pairs at Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket and 14 pairs at Sizewell. However, there does appear to have been a slight decrease in recent years and one observer reported the lowest numbers at Felixstowe since 1985. Counts of post-breeding and winter flocks were few but they did include 11, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, Aug. 31st; ten, Icklingham, Nov. 30th and 12, North Warren, Jan. 6th with ten there, Dec. 2nd and 12th. Landguard recorded a small passage from Oct. 20th to 29th, with one to three birds noted on four dates, and singles on three dates in November. 141
HAWFINCH Coccothraustes coccpthraustes Uncommon resident. This elusive species was reponed from 12 sites with all records coming from the northwest or south-east of the County: Wantisden: Staverton Thicks, two Jan. 1 lth; up to two on several dates in May; two June lst. Felixstowe: Landguard, S. Sept. 18th. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, Oct. 5th. Hadleigh: Wolves Wood, pair on several dates in May. Polstead: May 2nd. Hengrave: two Oct. 28th. Lackford W.R.: Apr. 8th. King's Forest: two Mar. 13th. SantĂłn Downham: three Mar. 3lst. Thetford: Jan. 25th; Feb. 16th; Nov. 21st. Barnhamcross Common, 33 Feb. 12th; 27 Feb. 14th; 15 Feb. 21st; 15 Mar. 17th; single figures into Apr.; three Nov. 27th. Market Weston: Market Weston Fen, Jan. 24th. The birds on Barnhamcross Common were an exciting discovery and many people made the pilgrimage to see them. The presence of the BTO at Thetford is providing us with a good run of records from a previously underwatched area and shows what can be achieved with good recorder coverage. Only time will tell if this wintering flock is a regular event. LAPLAND BUNTING Calcarius lapponicus Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor. Once again, records were few and no regular winter flocks were reported. Perhaps, like the Great Grey Shrike, this species is changing its wintering habits. The first winter period produced few records with seven at Sudbourne Marshes, Feb. 12th; one, Minsmere, Feb. 14th and two, Bawdsey, Mar. 1 lth. The latter two were probably passage birds. Autumn passage produced a flurry of activity during September and October. Records began with singles at Landguard, Sept. 14th and 16th; Minsmere, Sept. 18th and Bulcamp Marshes, Blythburgh, Sept. 24th. The latter date also produced two over Fagbury Cliff. One was on the beach at Lowestoft/Gunton, Sept. 25th and one flew south over Felixstowe Golf Course, Sept. 26th. The chance for most observers to get this species on their year lists carne in October when up to five were at Easton Bavents from lOth to 25th, one to five at Covehithe Cliffs from 24th to 30th and up to three at Minsmere throughout the month. Other October records involved singles at Landguard on 4th and 26th and three flying south at East LaĂąe, Bawdsey on lOth. The only record received during the second winter period involved a single at King's Fleet/ Falkenham Marshes on several dates from Nov. 5th. SNOW BUNTING Plectrophenax nivalis Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Regular wintering flocks during the first part of the year produced highest counts of 100, Aldeburgh, Feb. 14th; five, Dunwich, Feb. 19th; ten, Felixstowe Ferry, Jan. 18th; 37, Kessingland, Feb. lst; 20, North Denes, Lowestoft, Feb. 22nd; 15, Shingle Street, Jan. 3rd; 25, Sizewell, Feb. 2nd and 27, Slaughden, Jan. 9th and lOth. An unusual record involves the report of one flying over Boume Park, Ipswich, Feb. 24th. The first autumn bird was reported from Easton Bavents, Oct. 16th and was followed by a run of singles at several coastal sites. With the exception of 27 at Benacre, Nov. 16th and up to 70 on Orfordness, Nov. 29th, no flocks were reported until December when regular sites produced highest counts of 36, Aldeburgh/Thorpeness, Dec. 12th; six, Felixstowe Ferry, Dec. 7th and 37, Kessingland, Dec. 6th. 142
YELLOWHAMMER Emberiza citrinella Very common resident and passage migrant. Despite declining nationally, the Suffolk population appears to be faring reasonably well, although an observer in Brent Eleigh reported seeing none at all during the winter and a Felixstowe observer reported the lowest numbers since 1985 in his area. However, a good number of reports involving wintering flocks was received with highest counts in the first winter period including 67, Chelmondiston, Mar. 1st; 60, Combs, Feb. 7th; 75, Corion, Mar. 21st; 50, Haughley, Jan. 16th; 50, Long Melford in Feb.; 85, Middleton, Jan. 21st and 70, Shelland, Jan. 31st. The gradual decline in breeding numbers at Minsmere showed a turn for the better with 37 pairs located (26 in 1992), while North Warren experienced a small decline to 15 pairs (19 in 1992). Coddenham recorded a stable population of 21 pairs and a further 11 pairs were located during a survey at Sizewell. Reports of flocks during the second winter period included 110, Barking Tye, Dec. 18th; 100, Dock Farm, Boyton, Nov. 24th; 40, Onehouse, Dec. 2nd and 40, Trimley St Martin, Dec. 6th. During a mediocre spring passage at Landguard, 26 flew south and two north in March and singles were present on six dates in April; autumn migrants at this site were very scarce with only one to two noted on nine dates between Oct. 15th and Dec. 2nd. ORTOLAN BUNTING Emberiza hortulana Rare passage migrant. Landguard consolidated its claim as the best site in Suffolk for this species by holding a monopoly in 1992. A poor year with all records involving short-stayers: Felixstowe: Landguard, singles on Sept. 5th, 14th and 15th. Totals of individuals in recent years are as follows: 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1 2 3 1 3 1 0 7 2 2 YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING Emberiza Accidental.
The remarkable autumn of 1993, when drift migrants from the east turned up in East Anglia instead of the more-expected Shetlands, saw the first appearance in Suffolk of this 143
rather plain, but not unattractive bunting. Felixstowe: Landguard, imm., Sept. 4th (CBA, PK et al.). Trimley St Mary: imm., Sept. 6th (PWh et al.). The chance of two birds turning up is not impossible but both records were considered to refer to the same individual. It is remarkable that this bird was refound not far from Fagbury Cliff after its disappearance from Landguard â€” a situation much appreciated by some who missed it at Landguard. REED BUNTING Emberiza schoeniclus Very common resident and passage migrant. During the early part of the year, reports of flocks included 40 on set-aside at Easton Bavents, Mar. 10th; 40, West Row Fen, Mildenhall, Feb. 10th and 30, Martlesham Creek, Apr. 12th. With the continued improvement and creation of suitable habitat, the North Warren breeding population showed a further increase to 16 pairs (11 in 1992) while Minsmere's numbers recovered to 25 pairs (13 in 1992). Additional reports were of 24 pairs at Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove; at least nine pairs at Trimley Marshes and five singing males in Oilseed Rape fields at Boxford. Spring passage through Landguard was almost non-existent with one, Mar. 19th and two south, Mar. 23rd. A total of just 20 birds moved through the site between Sept. 21st and Dec. 12th (65 in autumn 1992). At Southwold, 13 were observed flying south on Oct. 9th. The only end-of-year flocks of any note were 24 at Trimley Marshes, Nov. 20th and 40 in a clifftop hedge, Benacre, Dec. 24th. BLACK-HEADED BUNTING Emberiza melanocephala Accidental. The second record for the County, following hot on the heels of Suffolk's first in 1992. Oulton: cr May 30th (PB, JH, KH). A remarkable record of a male feeding in an Oulton garden. At least one member of the County records committee was kicking himself after not following up a rumout of this bird! CORN BUNTING Miliaria calandra Uncommon resident. During the breeding season, records came from 28 locations with most reports coming from the south-east and north-west of the County. Whilst observer bias may be partly responsible, these have been the traditional areas for the species in recent years, particularly the Shotley peninsula, the Orford/Sudbourne/Boyton area and the Mildenhall/Lakenheath area. Other regular locations include the area around Lackford/Livermere/Ixworth, Ipswich airport and the Felixstowe peninsula. Indeed, the latter area currently holds a good population with at least ten pairs present at Trimley Marshes and singing males at Brightwell, Bucklesham, Newbourne, Waldringfield, Kirton and Falkenham. The only summer records away from these areas involved two at Alderton in June; two singing at Cuckoo Tye, Acton, June 24th; two singing at Chilton, June 29th; two singing at Gisleham, May 13th and one, Sutton Heath, Apr. 29th and 30th. Winter gatherings at traditional locations peaked with counts of 54, Aldeburgh Marshes, Feb. 6th; 45, Levington, Mar. 13th; 31, West Row Fen, Mildenhall, Feb. 10th; 27, Waldringfield, Jan. 27th and 15, Holbrook, Nov. 16th. The traditional site at Sudbourne mustered just five birds, but the gathering at Aldeburgh suggests that changes in farming practices at Sudbourne (also responsible for the loss of the wintering Lapland Bunting 144
flock) may have caused the birds to move. Reports of birds from other parts of the County may suggest that odd pairs are being missed in the breeding season, the roaming flocks of winter being easier to locate. Such reports involved two at Benacre, Dec. 24th; ten in Rape and cereal stubble, Farnham, Nov. 12th; three, Framlingham, Jan. 17th; two, Knettishall Airfield, Mar. 24th; up to seven at the traditional winter site in Bloodmoor Road, Pakefteld and up to three at Market Weston in the first winter period. One singing at Reydon, Jan. 21st is an interesting record, suggesting another small enclave of birds. Some movement was evidenced by one at Landguard, Sept. 25th.
APPENDIX I â€” CATEGORY D SPECIES BAR-HEADED GOOSE Anser indicus Alpine lakes in central Asia; winters to India and Burma. Gt./Lt. Livermere: Livermere Lake, Apr. 8th. SNOW GOOSE Anser caerulescens NE Siberia and n N America; winters N America south to Mexico. Aldeburgh: North Warren, one white phase, two blue phase, Nov. 11th and 22nd. Note that the report of one at Livermere Lake in 1992 ( S u f f o l k Birds 1993) is more likely to have been the hybrid reported there in 1993 (see under Emperor Goose in Appendix II). MUSCOVY DUCK Cairina moschata Lowlands of s Mexico to Argentina and Brazil. With the promotion of this species to Category D of the British list, based mainly on an apparently feral population in Cambridgeshire, avid listers are likely to show renewed interest in this ungainly duck. Although occasional reports of obvious farmyard individuals are received, attention has been drawn to a population which appears to be self-sustaining at Oulton Broad, Lowestoft. In 1993, 55 adults were present at this site and at least ten ducklings were noted on Nov. 6th. WOOD DUCK Aix sponsa Quiet inland waters of Canada to n Mexico; Cuba and Bahamas. Lowestoft: Leathes Ham, 9 Nov. 28th to the year's end. Felixstowe: Dock basin, cr Feb. 9th. Sproughton: Burstall Lane, present from Jan. into Mar. Great Saxham: pair, Mar. 20th and 21st. Such individuals, being generally fairly tame and occurring in rather urban surroundings, must surely be recent escapees.
APPENDIX II -
The Editor believes that the accurate recording and monitoring of escaped birds is as important as the recording of our native species. Today's escapees could be tomorrow's ferai populations and it is important and interesting to be able to trace any established populations back to their origins. As such, observers are requested to submit ail sightings of potential escapees, regardless of origin, through the usual channels. The nomenclature and native range preceding the record of each species are, in most instances, taken from Clements (1991). 145
B L A C K SWAN Cygnus atraĂa Australia and Tasmania. Minsmere: Sept. 9th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Feb. 15th and Mar. 7th. Tunstall Forest: flying over, May 3rd. Helminghanl: Helmingham Hall, July 11th. East Berghoit: Flatford Mill, Feb. 1st. L E S S E R W H I T E - F R O N T E D G O O S E Anser erythropus N Eurasia; winters to s Europe, India and China. Two long-established escapees and a moulting group were reported: Trimley Marshes: June 8th (same as Alton Water bird). Alton Water: adult present throughout year. Lackford W.R.: one occasionally between Apr. 12th and May 3rd; four June 27th to Sept. 5th. Gt./Lt. Livermere: Livermere Lake, ad. Apr. 3rd and 4th (same as Lackford individual). The four individuals returned to moult at Lackford W.R. for the fourth consecutive year. R O S S ' S G O O S E Anser rossii Tundra of n Canada; winters to s United States. Lackford W.R.: Mar. 19th to Apr. 3rd. E M P E R O R G O O S E Anser canagicus Tundra of ne Siberia to w Alaska; winters s Alaska to n California. Lackford W.R.: Nov. 19th. In addition, a rather peculiar goose at Livermere Lake showed characteristics of an Emperor x Canada Goose hybrid. It was misidentified by more than one observer as a blue phase Snow Goose which it resembled in its dark neck and mottled white head. Another of these hybrids is resident at Melton Water Park. (Careful notetaking, and attention to detail, is just as important when identifying escapees as it is for wild birds â€” Ed.) N E N E Branta sandvicensis Upper lava flows of Hawaii. Wickham Market: Wickham Mill, Mar. 15th. C H I L O E W I G E O N Anas sibilatrix Central Chile, Argentina to Tierra del Fuego, Falklands; winters to se Brazil. Trimley Marshes: cr Sept. 16th to 23rd, Oct. 9th to 11th and Dec. 10th to 13th. W H I T E - C H E E K E D (BAHAMA) PINTAIL Anas bahamensis Locally in S. America, West Indies and Galapagos Is. Minsmere: Jan. 31st to Feb. 1st, July 10th and Sept. 9th. Trimley Marshes: Sept. 18th. Assuming that one individual was involved, it is interesting to speculate where the bird got to during the long periods in which it was not reported. A R G E N T I N E BLUE-BILL Oxyura vittata S Argentina and Chile; winters n to s Brazil, Paraguay. Gt./Lt. Livermere: Livermere Lake, cr Apr. 10th to 14th at least. This bird was reported by several observers, although it is not clear whether the identification was established beyond all doubt. The species is very similar to the Australian Blue-billed Duck (O. australis) and the South African Maccoa Duck (O. maccoa) and 146
there is also a dark-headed race of Ruddy Duck. The bird was seen displaying to Ruddy Ducks on at least one occasion. SAKER Falco cherrug S-central Eurasia; winters from e Mediterranean to India and Tibet. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, Nov. 9th. Felixstowe: Eastward Ho!, Nov. 1st. (same as Trimley bird). This individual, complete with bells and transmitter, was quite clearly a falconer's bird which had escaped. Perhaps we can expect to see more large falcons with the worrying increase in the use of such birds on airfields and rubbish tips. It should also be noted that many of these birds are hybrids with the parentage often not immediately apparent. LAUGHING DOVE Streptopelia senegalensis Africa south of the Sahara to India. Felixstowe: Walton High Street, calling in garden, May 31st. BARBARY DOVE Streptopelia 'risoria' Domestic form of uncertain origin. Lowestoft: Leathes Ham, two at Collared Dove roost, Oct. 16th. The third year running that these two birds have appeared at this roost. BUDGERIGAR Melopsittacus undulatus Abundant throughout drier parts of Australia. Felixstowe: Landguard, Sept. 5th. Levington: July 30th; Levington Bridge, different bird, July 30th. Weybread: Weybread G.P., Aug. 24th. BURROWING PARROT Cyanoliseus patagonus Central Chile, northern and central Argentina. Cavenham/Icklingham: Temple Bridge, from 1992 to Jan. 1st. SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO Cacatua galerita New Guinea and adjacent islands to Australia and Tasmania. Felixstowe: W. over the docks, Nov. 22nd. The unlikely sight of this bird flying away from the observer caused more than a little confusion before the identity was realised! COCKATIEL Nymphicus hollandicus Widespread and abundant in interior of Australia. Lowestoft: Gunton Drive, Sept. 6th; North Denes, Oct. 3rd. Felixstowe: Dellwood Ave., Jan. 9th; Langer Road, Sept. 4th and 5th. Kesgrave: Bell Lane, July 9th. Thetford: The Nunnery, July 18th and Nov. 4th. RED AV ADAVAT Amandava amandava Oriental region mainland and islands. Trimley St Mary: Fagbury Cliff, Oct. 17th. ZEBRA FINCH Taeniopygia guttata Dry open woodlands of Australia and Lesser Sundas. Felixstowe: Cordy's Lane, July 8th. 147
V I T E L L I N E M A S K E D W E A V E R Ploceus vitellinus Acacia and savanna of sub-Saharan Africa. Lowestoft: Sharon Drive, Aug. 8th; Denmark Road, Aug. 25th; Selby Street, feeding with House Sparrows, Aug. 24th to Sept. 16th. It seems reasonable to assume that one bird was responsible for all records. C A N A R Y Serinus canaria Madeira, Azores and w Canary Islands. Appearance of captive birds much altered by selective breeding. Lowestoft: The Oval, May 4th. R E D - H E A D E D BUNTING Emberiza bruniceps Breeds S-central Eurasia; winters in India. Ipswich: Sandringham Close, cr in song, May 6th to 10th. Whilst virtually all records of Black-headed Bunting go through, with their potential origin seemingly unquestioned, this species, which winters in the same area and breeds only a little further east, seems destined to languish, unreviewed, in Category D. Although this individual, on an Ipswich housing estate may seem dubious, there have been previous reports from more likely locations â€” and what about the Golden-winged Warbler in Kent?!
APPENDIX III -
S C H E D U L E OF N O N - A C C E P T E D R E C O R D S
The following list consists of records that were not accepted either 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. 1993 Records: Storm Petrel: Southwold, Oct. 23rd. Honey Buzzard: Minsmere, Aug. 25th; Lowestoft, Sept. 14th. Montagu's Harrier: Aldeburgh, July 31st; Friston, Aug. 4th. Goshawk: Tunstall Forest, Jan. 29th; Sproughton, Feb. 21st; Higham (Stour), May 22nd. Red-footed Falcon: Minsmere, May 23rd. Crane: West Stow, Mar. 14th. Iceland Gull: Aldeburgh, Feb. 20th. White-winged Black Tern: Minsmere, Sept. 3rd. Snowy Owl: Gedgrave, Jan. 1st. Ring Ouzel: Ipswich, Jan. 29th. Willow Warbler: Dunwich, Dec. 15th. Raven: Bawdsey, Apr. 5th. Ciri Bunting: Pakefield, Oct. 28th. Red-headed Bunting: Landguard, June 5th. 1992 Records: Black Kite: Brome, Aug. 7th. Bonelli's Warbler: Minsmere, Oct. 13th. 1991 Record: Desert Wheatear: Lowestoft, Oct. 12th. References: Clements, J. 1991. Birds of the world: A check list. Ibis, California. Cramp, S. (Ed.) 1985. Birds of the western palearctic. Vol.V. OUP. Gibbons, D. W., Reid, J. B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993. The new atlas of breeding birds in Britain and Ireland: 1988-1991. Poyser, London. Waters, R. J. and Cranswick, P. A. 1993. The Wetland Bird Survey 1992-93: Wildfowl and Wader Counts. BTO/WWT/RSPB/JNCC, Slimbridge. 148
List of Contributors We have endeavoured to acknowledge all contributors to Suffolk Birds and to the best of our knowledge this list is complete. If by some mischance we have failed to include your contribution please accept our sincere apologies â€” Eds. S. Abbott, R. Aldous, C. B. Allen, N. Arnold, Mrs Arustu, J. R. Askins, C. Ayers. D. B. Baker, Miss D. E. Balmer, Dr M. F. M. Bamford, S. Banks, R. Barras, M. Beales, Dr A. Beaumont, L. P. Beaven, J. Bedford, H. R. Beecroft, Mrs M. J. Beecroft, R. C. Beecroft, Rev. G. Bell, P. Belton, Mrs D. Beny, M. Biddle, R. Biddle, A. Bimpson, A. D. Blaxley, L. T. Bloomfield, A. Botwright (ABo), W. J. Brame, Dr A. Brenchley, British Trust for Ornithology, B. J. Brown, J. A. Brown, R. M. Brown, J. A. Brydson, M. Buckingham, A. L. Bull, H. McK. Butcher, C. A. Buttle. C. Campbell, Mrs M. Carter, Dr N. Carter, S. P. Carter, P. R. Catchpole, J. M. Cawston, Mrs N. G. Chapman, V. Chapman, K. J. Chittleborough, N. A. Clark, D. R. Collins, A. V. Cook, Mrs J. Cook, M. Cook, Dr W. Cordeaux, C. A. Comish, M. L. Cornish, J. Cracknell, A. J. Cresswell, M. D. Crewe, T. Cross, N. Crouch, D. Croxson, R. Crozier, M. Currie (MCu), C. G. D. Curtis, C. J. Cuthbert. Dr P. J. Dare, J. A. Davies, D. Davison, T. R. Dean, Mrs J. Dean, S. J. Denny, P. J. Dolton, S. P. Dudley, S. Dumican, R. A. Duncan, I. Dunnett. A. C. Easton, J. C. Eaton, Dr J. C. W. Edwards, Dr S. E. Edwards, G. Elliott, G. English, P. Etheridge (PEt), G. J. Etherington, S. P. Evans. S. Fairburn, R. Fairhead, D. Fairhurst, A. Farthing, R. Farthing, R. Feigate. M. S. Forbes, A. Free (AFr), A. Freeman, S. J. Fryett, C. Fulcher. R. W. Gardiner, Mrs J. D. Garrod, K. W. Garrod, J. Garstang, R. G. Gibbs, Miss K. Gibson, T. W. Gladwin, J. A. Glazebrook, S. R. Goddard, A. Goodey (AGo), A. R. Gooding, A. R. Goodwin, M. Goodwin, T. Goodwin, P. R. Gowen, Dr H. Graham, S. A. Graham, J. H. Grant, T. Gray, Mrs T. Gray, A. Green (AGr), A. Greengo, C. Gregory, R. D. Gregory, G. Grieco. L. P. Hall, Mrs J. Halls, K. Halls, P. Hamling, Mrs S. A. Hannant, B. Harrington, R. G. Harris, B. Hart, Mrs M. Hart, P. Harvey, P. V. Harvey, G. A. Hawes, P. V. Hayman (PVHa), R. Hoblyn, D. J. Holman, A. Howe, J. R. Hunter, Sir A. G. Hurrell. Ipswich Museum, D. T. Ireland. D. B. Jackson, P. Jackson, R. Jackson, C. A. Jacobs, C. J. Jakes, M. James, M. J. F. Jeanes, G. J. Jobson, D. P. Johnson, B. Jones, M. Jones. E. M. Keeble, K. Keeble, C. Kemp, J. Kemp, A. Kennedy, T. P. Kerridge, W. J. Kirton, P. Kitchener. P. Lack, Lackford Wildfowl Reserve, N. Lambert, Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO), D. Langlois, A. J. Last, W. A. Last, H. P. Lilley, S. J. Ling, W. A. F. Longmuir, D. Lowe, G. Lowe. R. N. Macklin, P. J. Makepeace, R. Mallindine, A. Malone, A. Mansfield, J. H. Marchant, S. J. Marginson, D. C. Marsh, E. Marsh, M. Marsh, N. Marsh, R. Marsh, R. V. A. Marshall, N. J. Mason, T. Mellors, H. Mendel, A. Miller, J. Miller, D. R. Moore, M. R. Morley, A. Morris, C. E. Morris, G. Mortimer, P. W. Murphy. P. Napthine, C. R. Naunton, D. R. Newton, Mrs J. Newton, Mrs M. Newton, P. Newton, S. D. Noble. T. Oakes, N. Odin, G. Oram, J. Osborne, J. Oxford. M. Packard, A. R. J. Paine, S. Papps (SPa), E. Parsons, E. W. Patrick, A. Pearson, Dr D. J. Pearson, R. Perkins, I. Peters, S. H. Piotrowski, R. Plowman, Mrs S. Plowman, W. J. Plumb, S. Pollard, J. Pope, N. Pope, I. Porter, A. J. Prater. B. Ranner, P. J. Ransome, Mrs. A. Ravenscroft, N. W. Rayment, G. Reeder, Mrs D. Ridgley, D. A. Riley, A. Riseborough, I. Robinson, Sqn. Ldr. D. R. Rothery, D. Rowley, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Mrs M. Rust. Mrs A. Scott, Dr N. J. Skinner, B. J. Small, M. Smith, R. C. Smith, Mrs S. Smith, R. Snook, N. Spicer, P. Steggall, T. Stopher, S. A. Stow, Mrs C. Stow, Suffolk Biological Records Centre, Suffolk Ornithologists' Group, Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT), M. Sutton, R. Swindin. 149
Mrs M. Taylor, M. Thomas, B. G. Thompson, J. Thorogood, L. Townsend, G. Turner, J. A. Turner. D. K. Underwood. J. Vane, P. Vaughan, P. J. Vincent, N. Vipond. M. Waiden, R. Waiden, C. S. Waller, D. F. Walsh, J. Walshe, R. Walton (RWa), R. B. Warren, Rev. R. G. Warren, J. R. Watson, E. H. Webb, L. Webb, G. R. Welch, Mrs H. R. Welch, R. West, D. White, P. Whiteman (PWh), M. Whitesides, P. Whittaker, R. Whittaker, B. Williamson, J. D. Wilson, R. Wincup (RWi), A. Worledge, M. Wright, M. T. Wright. S. Youell.
EARLIEST AND LATEST DATES O F 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
ARRIVALS Date Locality Mar. 13th Minsmere Apr. 21st Havergate Island Apr. 22nd Trimley Marshes Mar. 21st Breckland Mar. 20th Lackford W.R. Mar. 21st Martlesham Creek Apr. 23rd North Warren Mar. 27th Felixstowe Apr. 7th Sizewell Apr. 26th Trimley Marshes Apr. 12th Minsmere Apr. 11th Minsmere Apr. 10th Barton Mills/Hollesley Apr. 10th Hadleigh Apr. 25th Cavenham Apr. 22nd Trimley Marshes May 3rd Mildenhall Mar. 13th Lackford/Landguard Mar. 20th Havergate Island Mar. 31st Lackford W.R. Mar. 29th Minsmere Moulton Mar. 26th Apr. 10th L Raydon/Minsmere Apr. 4th Hollesley Minsmere/Lowestoft Apr. 20th Mar. 14th Landguard/N. Warren Elveden Apr. 9th Apr. 3rd Minsmere Lackford W.R. Mar. 31st Minsmere Apr. 11th Apr. 12th Dunwich (sev. sites) Apr. 10th Apr. 19th Market Weston May 10th Fagbury/Minsmere Minsmere Mar. 30th Henham Apr. 30th Apr. 21st Landguard
Notes: * Latest ever for Suffolk.
DEPARTURES Date Locality Oct. 25th Minsmere Pakenham Oct. 16th Oct. 10th Minsmere/Lowestoft Sep. 26th Breckland Sep. 16th Trimley Marshes Sep. 19th Shotley Marshes Minsmere Oct. 1st Oct. 2nd Landguard Minsmere Oct. 9th Oct. 14th Southwold Sep. 30th Minsmere Sep. 23rd Minsmere Nov. 11th Stowmarket Oct. 9th Dunwich Sep. 2nd Minsmere Oct. 4th Landguard Minsmere Sep. 27th Oct. 27th Felixstowe Nov. 19th Thetford Nov. 4th Landguard Fagbury Cliff Oct. 14th Oct. 19th Lowestoft Nov. 19th Fagbury Cliff Nov. 6th Fagbury Cliff Nov. 1st Benacre Shingle Street Oct. 23rd Nov. 1st Fagbury Cliff Fagbury Cliff Oct. 4th Oct. 4th Fagbury Cliff Nov. 1st Felixstowe Fagbury Cliff Oct. 17th Nov. 3rd Fagbury Cliff Nov. 7th Fagbury Cliff/Felixstowe Felixstowe Oct. 3rd Minsmere Oct. 29th Fagbury Cliff Oct. 10th Oct. 17th Lowestoft
NOTES MERLIN HARASSING SPARROWHAWK - Whilst walking north along the shingle ridge between Aldeburgh and Orfordness on April 14th 1993, I disturbed a female Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus from the ground. The bird took off with difficulty and a closer look with binoculars revealed that it was carrying a full grown Stock Dove Columba oenas which it had presumably just killed. To my surprise, almost as soon as the Sparrowhawk took off, I became aware of another bird a short way to the right which flew straight at the Sparrowhawk at speed. This second bird was a female Merlin Falco columbarius which appeared to be attempting to rob the Sparrowhawk of its catch. The Sparrowhawk flew some 50 metres or so ahead of me and landed again and as I continued along the shingle, this became a regular procedure; each time the Sparrowhawk took off, the Merlin would move in to attack the Sparrowhawk, and each time the latter landed, the Merlin would also land, usually some 20 to 30 metres from the Sparrowhawk and on the crest of the shingle ridge. I did not think that the Merlin was mobbing the Sparrowhawk as its attacks were not continuous and there was no calling involved. I could only conclude that the Merlin was attempting to rob the Sparrowhawk of its catch, although it would almost certainly have been impossible for the Merlin to carry the Stock Dove and it would have had to feed on the corpse where it lay. Unfortunately, I did not have time to watch the proceedings to determine the outcome and my continued disturbance of the Sparrowhawk eventually caused both birds to fly off. The Sparrowhawk remained, circling over the area and hopefully returned to its well-earned meal after I had left. The Merlin quickly flew off across the River Aide and disappeared over Sudbourne Marshes. I have never witnessed this sort of behaviour by a Merlin before and was surprised at the strength and courage shown by the bird. Mike Crewe, 3 Anglertook (The comparatively
Cottages, Bury Road, Great Barton, Suffolk
late spring date of the Merlin is also of interest â€” Ed.)
GREY PHALAROPES FEEDING ON SCRAPS - Whilst looking through Suffolk Birds 19801 came across the report on the behaviour of a Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius on the South Pier, Lowestoft. It was reported that the bird fed in puddles on the pier and was seen picking up lugworms Arenicolidae that had been discarded by fishermen. It is perhaps of interest to note that the Grey Phalarope present at the same location in the winter of 1993-94 also exhibited similar behaviour. On January 16th 1994, the bird flew in from the beach at 'Children's Corner', landed on the pier and then walked some 25 metres to a litter bin. It then proceeded to feed on scraps of lugworm lying on the ground around the base of the bin. I was able to approach to within three metres of the bird whilst it was feeding and enjoy very close views without the need for binoculars. Colin Jacobs, 24 Bruce Street, Lowestoft,
(Both these examples clearly show the adaptability of this species in seeking out scraps during the winter months, presumably a natural extension of its normal winter feeding behaviour at sea. The tolerance of Man is typical of many high-Arctic breeding species - Ed.) LEUCISTIC SPARROWHAWK â€” Whilst birdwatching with Peter Ransome at Kirkley Sports Field, Lowestoft on April 14th 1993, my attention was attracted by the noisy alarm calls of a flock of some 30 Starlings Sturnus vulgaris around one of the small blocks of flats which overlook the field. Initially, I could find no cause for the birds' panic but then 152
I briefly glimpsed what appeared to be a Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus as it shot between the flats. However, the markings of the bird made me question my initial identification as it was a uniform very pale sandy-brown colour, significantly paler than the Collared Doves Streptopelia decaocto which were also present. Seconds later the bird emerged from behind the flats and flew low across an open area of grassland, enabling us to confirm that it was indeed a Sparrowhawk. The bird then appeared to pitch into the garden of a nearby bungalow where it disappeared from view. As we moved around, hoping to view the sitting bird, it flew off over the bungalow roof and away. Based on its size, the bird was assumed to be a male. Its pale mottled plumage gave the bird a most striking appearance and made it very conspicuous. Surprisingly, as far as I am aware, there were no subsequent sightings of this distinctive individual. One must wonder what effect its leucistic plumage had upon the efficiency of its hunting. There is no reference in Birds of the Western Palearctic to Sparrowhawks displaying leucistic plumage. Richard Smith, 122 Waveney Drive, Lowestoft,
G O L D F I N C H X LINNET HYBRID â€” Whilst ringing at Fagbury Cliff on June 10th 1993, I found an unusual finch in one of the nets that I could not at first identify. The bird had a face mask similar to that of a Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis, but it was less extensive and more orange than red in colour. I knew of no other species showing this feature and began to suspect that the bird was a hybrid. Other Goldfinch features included broad whitish tips to the tertials; broad yellow edges and white tips to the greater coverts; a whitish rump and a rather long and narrow pink bill. After consultation with Peter Colston at the British Museum, Tring, it was decided that the bird was a hybrid between a Goldfinch and Linnet C. cannabina, there being a similar specimen in the museum's hybrid collection. Features consistent with Linnet included a generally grey head (except for the mask); rufousbrown back with darker brown shaft streaks to the feathers and pale edges to the primary feathers (which were yellow rather than white). Such a bird could feasibly occur in the wild but it was considered more likely that it was a product of tampering by cagebird fanciers. Whilst hybridisation of various finch species with Canary Serinus canaria is more usual, the Linnet features were thought to be too strong for the bird to be a Canary x Goldfinch cross. There were a few anomalies in the plumage, including an olive tone to the lesser coverts, pale tips to the median coverts and a few yellowish feathers on the breast, all of which could point to there being Canary in the parentage. However, the breast colouring could have been the remnants of a male Linnet's pink breast, suppressed by the hybridisation (the face mask was more yellow-orange than is normal for Goldfinch) and the other features on the wing could also be products of hybridisation. The pale tips to the median coverts could have been a result of the bird being in first-year plumage. The bird was of interest, but was released unringed. It was consorting with a party of Goldfinches and when released the call was identical to that species' call-note. Mike Crewe, 3 Anglenook
Cottages, Bury Road, Great Barton, Suffolk
N U T H A T C H NEST IN C H U R C H â€” In the summer of 1993 I was surprised to discover a pair of Nuthatches Sitta europaea nesting in a hole in the wall of Martlesham Church. In typical Nuthatch fashion, the hole had been reduced in size by plastering mud around the entrance, reducing it from a rectangular to a round entrance. Circumstantial evidence, including old, dried mud on the wall and ground, suggested that the site had been used in previous years. Although Nuthatches have been recorded nesting in walls before, it is a rare occurrence and I can find no previous record of such behaviour in Suffolk. Mike Crewe, J Anglenook
Cottages, Bury Road, Great Barton, Suffolk 153
Rarities in Suffolk 1993 Mike Crewe The year 1993 was to be a rather unusual one for the rarity-chaser in Suffolk. A quiet beginning and a somewhat mediocre spring was to be followed by a remarkable run of rarities in the autumn, including several new species for the County. As is usual, the first three months of the year were rather uneventful, although yearlisters were pleased to be able to watch all five species of grebe in the south-east of the County. A dead Red-billed Tropicbird, found on the tideline at Landguard was to prove to have fallen from a ship. Birds of Prey were hard to come by, with two fly-through Red Kites and an elusive Rough-legged Buzzard in the north of the County. The longstaying Yellow-legged Gull remained faithful to Southwold and was enjoyed by many, but Suffolk's third Ring-billed Gull, like its two predecessors, showed itself to but a single observer. The male Dartford Warbler remained at Dunwich to boost the year lists of many admirers and became much easier to find as he set up territory and started to sing. Spring finally arrived and brought with it a hope of something special. Once again, raptors kept a low profile with two Honey Buzzards and single Black and Red Kites all passing quickly by. A female Montagu's Harrier showed itself briefly to observers at Trimley Marshes who had gathered to enjoy Suffolk's first spring Semipalmated Sandpiper, and the assembled masses also chalked up a Little Egret at the same time. A wandering colourringed Black-winged Stilt turned up on a brackish lagoon at Bawdsey, then moved to Trimley Marshes. This bird had been seen at Dungeness, Kent on the day before it appeared at Bawdsey. Wader passage in general was uninspiring, with just two Temminck's Stints to arouse the wader buffs. However, the back end of spring passage provided a Broadbilled Sandpiper at Minsmere and a Red-necked Phalarope at Trimley Marshes â€” the latter perhaps being an early returning bird. Spring Pomarine Skuas remain a great rarity in the County, so the report of two off Southwold on May 9th is significant. Overshooting spring migrants were in short supply with the weather conditions enabling them to head straight for the breeding grounds. However, three Bee-eaters were reported, albeit briefly, and four Wrynecks occurred, with two of them in the west of the County. A male Bluethroat was found at Landguard and the same site recorded a Red-breasted Flycatcher. Migrant Golden Orioles appeared at widely spaced localities along the coastal strip. The year's disappointment was provided by Common Rosefinches which returned to their former scarcity with a single male being watched by just two lucky observers at Southwold. In contrast, records of Marsh Warblers continued to increase with singles at Fagbury Cliff and North Warren and two at Minsmere; interestingly, all were heard in song â€” breeding looks likely in the not too distant future. After a superb adult male Subalpine Warbler at the unlikely location of Weybread Gravel Pits in late April, another male was trapped at Fagbury Cliff and in late May, two females were both trapped on the same day at Landguard; unfortunately, only the Weybread bird showed respect for those wishing to see it. A Greenish Warbler at Lowestoft caused great discussion, due to the relative amount of yellow on its underparts and an Icterine Warbler appeared at Minsmere's Sluice Bushes. Controversy over the 'origin of the species' was again caused by the appearance of a fine male Red-headed Bunting, in song on an Ipswich housing estate. Summer gave the big listers a chance for a breather, although up to three Savi's Warblers were singing at Minsmere and helped smooth the transition from spring to autumn. Early autumn brought the seawatchers out of aestivation and produced an early report of a Great Northern Diver. An excellent run of Sooty Shearwater sightings, mainly in the first half of September was in stark contrast to the meagre showing of just four Manx Shearwaters (with another four to come later in the autumn) whilst four Leach's Petrels and a Sabine's Gull obligingly flew past an appreciative audience at Southwold on Sept.
12th. A handful of Long-tailed Skuas was found by those who persevered, and a scattering of Pomarine Skuas passed quickly by. No phalaropes were reported from the seawatchers, but a Grey Phalarope lingered for a while on Havergate Island and the Trimley Red-necked Phalarope stayed into July. Wader passage failed to produce any major rarities, with single Kentish Plover and Dotterel being the major prizes on the coast, and both enjoyed only by those lucky enough to be present at the time. A good passage of Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers brightened up the Dunlin flocks and sharp eyes picked out three Pectoral Sandpipers at Minsmere. However, the star wader turned up in the west of the County with Suffolk's second Black-winged Pratincole putting in erratic appearances at Livermere Lake. A Hoopoe took up residence at Benacre for some ten days (with another three shortstayers in October) but it was not long before a major pilgrimage to the south-east of the County was under way. With the discovery at Landguard of the County's first Rose-coloured Starling since 1955, the area was combed by an army of would-be observers, whose life was made difficult by the itinerant nature of the bird. It was during such a search that local birdwatchers discovered Suffolk's first Yellow-breasted Bunting at Landguard on Sept. 4th. With Landguard also producing three Ortolan Buntings during September, Fagbury Cliff was getting left behind — but not for long. On Sept. 19th, the almost unbelievable news broke that ringers had trapped a Blyth's Reed Warbler there! The largest crowd of the year gathered to watch this rather uninspiring 'little brown job', and many observers had to repeat the trip at the end of the month when the County's first Arctic Warbler was trapped. Remarkably, a second Blyth's Reed Warbler was trapped at Fagbury in October and, with both Landguard and Fagbury Cliff providing a supporting cast of Barred, Icterine and Yellow-browed Warblers, the Felixstowe peninsula was definitely the place to be. Despite all this activity, some birds managed to slip through the net of the majority of observers and reports of Penduline Tit at Minsmere and Red-breasted Flycatcher at Thorpeness involved single-observer sightings. The mad rush of goodies finally subsided, and birders were left to count the cost of all those miles, and ringers the cost of all those rings! YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING -
FIRST FOR SUFFOLK.
On September 4th 1993,1 arrived at Landguard Nature Reserve, Felixstowe with Chris Allen (CAB) at about 12.45hrs, having heard of a Rose-coloured Starling that had been seen there that morning. It was soon evident that there were no Starlings and no birders about anywhere, but we decided to see what migrants, if any, would show themselves in the strong, cold wind. We headed out across the common towards the point and after about 100 metres, I noticed a Black Redstart chasing a Common Redstart amongst some low brambles. I wanted to have a closer look, but CAB had seen a small group of birds feeding on the short turf a little way ahead and suggested we look at these first. We got to within about 20 metres and scanned through the flock. There were about a dozen Linnets, four or five Yellow Wagtails and a small bunting with a striking head pattern. We saw the bird simultaneously and both knew it just had to be a Yellow-breasted. We had both seen the Holme bird and I had seen the individual on Inner Fame, both in 1992. The Landguard bird resembled the Holme bird more closely — due to the underpart streaking — but appeared better marked with more yellow on the underparts and paler 'braces' on the mantle. The following notes are from an annotated field sketch by PK — Ed. Head: off-white median crown stripe; dark brown, streaked lateral crown stripe; prominent, pale yellow supercilium, broader behind eye and extending around the ear coverts; dark brown, streaked ear coverts, darkest behind eye with pale yellow/buff spot at rear; very pale yellow, clean, unmarked
chin and throat; thin dark brown streaking forming malar stripe; prominent pale yellow submoustachial stripe. Underparts: thin dark brown streaking across breast, extending as larger streaks down flanks; whole of underparts to belly washed straw-yellow, quite bright at some angles and in sunlight; vent and undertail off-white. Upperparts: mantle streaked brown and buff with obvious off-white 'braces'; warm brown lower back and rump with dark streaks (seen infrequently when facing away with drooped wings). Wings: white tips to dark mĂŠdian and greater coverts, producing prominent double wing bars; blackishcentred tertials with rufous edging; secondaries similar to tertials. Tail: dark brown with white outer feathers. Bare Parts: bill and legs both pale. The bird proved to be quite approachable as it picked around the bases of the Yellow Horned-poppies and other plants, flying several times, but only short distances. We were able to watch it easily on the short turf but lost it for about ten minutes when it went into the rather thick Sea Kale on the beach and on occasions (once about twenty minutes) when it disappeared into some depressions in the ground where it was obviously sheltered from the wind. It was bigger than accompanying Linnets, but looked small for a bunting, with a relatively short tail. Although none were around for comparison, it was felt to be much smaller and more compact than a Yellowhammer. The combination of the striking head pattern, yellowish underparts and streaked mantle made identification relatively straightforward. I heard it cali only once, a rather harsh 'tchick' as it flew directly overhead. The bird was subsequently seen by about 50 or more people, most of whom were already in the area looking for the Rose-coloured Starling. It was present to around 16.30hrs but apparently disappeared shortly afterwards. Paul Kitchener,
128 Britannia Road, Ipswich IP4 5JU.
BLYTH'S REED WARBLER -
FIRST FOR SUFFOLK.
I was mist-netting passerines with Gary Mortimer at Fagbury Cliff on September 19th 1993, when I noted a small Acrocephalus warbler in the bottom shelf of one of the nets. Upon extraction, I became suspicious as it appeared flatter-headed (Hippolais-hke) and longer-billed than a Reed Warbler and lacked the rufous tones associated with that species. I returned to the ringing area and declared my suspicions to GM and together we took a few investigatory measurements. Using the available literature, we identified the bird as a Blyth's Reed Warbler and summoned N. Odin and M. Marsh from Landguard Bird Observatory to bring additional literature and double-check the measurements. The following in-the-hand description was dictated to M. James by myself, in discussion with NO, MM, G. Jobson and N. Green: <13mm>
Upperparts: head — greyish olive-brown, slightly paler on forehead, with creamy-buff supercilium, pronounced (bulging) in front of eye, over eye and slightly behind. A hint of a dark eye-stripe behind the eye was visible, although this may have been the result of disarranged feathers. Creamy eye-ring. Crown, lores, nape, back, mantle, rump and uppertail coverts — uniform greyish olivebrown. No visible contrast between rump and back as apparent on Reed Warbler. Ear coverts slightly darker olive-brown. Wings and tail: Generally appeared uniform greyish-olive brown. Primary projection — 62% (see sketch). Primaries and secondaries — little contrast between inner and outer webs, all uniform greyish olive-brown and very finely edged and tipped pale olive. Tertials — greyish olive-brown, edged pale olive on outer webs. Greater, median, lesser and primary coverts — uniform greyish olive-brown. Alula feathers — fairly plain with outer web greyish olive-brown and inner web only slighdy darker. Tail — greyish olive-brown (only five tail feathers), flimsy with small indentations at tips (probably caused by abrasion in the nest). Underparts: Chin, throat and upper breast — white. Flanks — greyish wash. Undertail coverts — dirty white, 50-75% of tail length (exact proportions not possible due to incomplete tail). Bare parts: Iris — dark greyish-brown. Bill — slightly longer and blunter tipped than Reed Warbler; upper mandible horn with yellowish-flesh cutting edge and tip, lower mandible pale pinkish flesh with blackish tip (1mm). Gape — bright orange/yellow, two indistinct tongue spots (smudges). Rictal hairs — black. Legs — pale greyish-yellow. Soles — yellow. Claws — yellow on upper and lower sides. Biometrics: wing length — 60mm, distinctly emarginated on p3 and p4 and slightly on p5. Wingpoint p3/4; p2 = p6/7. Notch on p2 = 11mm = secondaries. Notch on p3 = p8. Bill to skull — 15.4mm. Bill (proximal) — 4.0mm. Tail length — 47mm. Weight — 12.4g. Fat score — 4. After release, the bird was extremely elusive, staying hidden in a dense patch of thistles. No good views were obtained in the field. The bird gave a typical Acrocephalus-hke " t a k " . The bird's presence was soon broadcast on the national phone lines and during the afternoon 350 to 400 birdwatchers congregated near the release point in the hope of obtaining a view. Unfortunately, the bird was unwilling to co-operate, remaining hidden in the dense stand of thistles. It gave only the occasional glimpse and a couple of flight views which gave the general impression of a long-tailed Acrocephalus with short, blunt wings. To the relief of those present, however, it was retrapped at 16.30hrs and all, bar those who arrived later, departed extremely happy with their 'tick'. S. H. Piotrowski,
18 Cobham Road, Ipswich IP3 9JD.
As this is a difficult species to identify, even in the hand, a long and detailed description was necessary to confirm the identification. Due to lack of space, a shortened version has been reproduced here; a copy of the original is lodged, along with all other available rarity descriptions, at The Ipswich Museum — Ed. ARCTIC WARBLER -
FIRST FOR SUFFOLK.
S. H. Piotrowski and M. D. Crewe were carrying out net rounds at Fagbury Cliff on September 30th 1993. Whilst MDC stopped to remove a Blackcap, SHP continued to the next net and was surprised to find a brightly coloured Phylloscopus warbler with a wingbar and long supercilium; it was quickly identified as an Arctic Warbler. The bird occurred on a day when good numbers of Willow Warblers were caught as well as 'classic' Scandinavian species such as Pied Flycatcher, Red-backed Shrike and Redstart. There was also a good number of Robins and various thrush species present. The following inthe-hand description was taken: Head: Crown bright olive-green. Supercilium very long, extending to back of ear coverts and continued by pale mark on side of neck (creating 'flicked up' rear end to supercilium), creamy yellow and of even width throughout length but not extending to base of bill. Lores/eye stripe dark olive-green. Ear coverts chequered with olive-green and cream. Upperparts: Nape, mantle and rump all bright olive-green. 157
Underparts: Throat/chin pale creamy white; breast slighdy more yellow. Sides of breast and flanks washed with greyish-olive. Undertail coverts creamy white. Wing: Primaries/secondaries olive-brown, outer webs edged bright greenish — greener than upperparts. Secondaries and inner primaries with shafts forming 'spikes' at tips. Primary coverts and alula brown-olive edged olive-green. Greater coverts olive-brown with olive-green edges, outer five with fairly broad creamy white tips to outer webs. Median coverts greenish-olive with slightly paler green tips but barely discernible. Lesser coverts edged olive-green with slightly browner centres giving mottled effect in the hand. Tail: Olive-brown with bright greenish edges. Shafts of feathers forming distinct points at tips of feathers, with pale cream on points extending as whitish line along outer edge of inner webs, most noticeably on outer three pairs of feathers. Bill: Rather strong and broad-based. Upper mandible horn with paler cutting edge; lower mandible orange-yellow with dark smudge near tip. Eye: Dark, appearing rather large. Legs/Feet: Light yellowish-brown with dull yellow soles. Claws grey-brown. Measurements:Wing length 68mm; wing point 3rd/4th primary; emarginated 3rd/4th/5th primaries; bill width at nostrils 3.9mm; bill to skull 14.2mm. Mike Crewe, 3 Anglenook
Cottages, Bury Road, Great Barton, Suffolk IP31 2SJ.
BLACK-HEADED BUNTING -
SECOND FOR SUFFOLK.
On the morning of May 30th 1993, my husband and I sat at the patio window for a coffee break. We have an old air raid shelter ten metres from this window, the top of which we use as a bird table and as I do not work, I am able to observe closely the birds that come to feed. On this particular morning, we both saw a beautiful bird, a little bigger than our House Sparrows, on the old shelter at about 10.30am. What struck us first was the pitch black head and brilliant yellow underbody. Our first reaction was to suspect an escaped cage bird but after getting our binoculars and The Hamlyn Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe we could see that it was a male Black-headed Bunting. With binoculars, we were also able to see the reddish tone to the back, near the head and the strong bill. The bird was unafraid and stayed with us until late evening when our daughter was also able to see it. It spent its day between the shelter, a pile of recently cut nettles and grass, and a very old Wisteria, all within 30 metres of our window. We did not realise the importance of this sighting, although we did 'phone to report it, thinking it might be of interest. Mrs J. Halls, 'Cintra', Hall Lane, Oulton, Lowestoft,
Suffolk NR32 3AT
Despite receiving a call, a certain ex-member of the Suffolk Ornithological Committee did not go and investigate — Whoops!! — Ed.
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER -
THIRD FOR SUFFOLK.
A late afternoon visit to the Trimley Marshes Reserve with Mike Marsh on May 13th 1993 revealed a good selection of waders and we were informed by other observers that three Little Stints were present. As I could only find two, I enquired as to the whereabouts of the third. When the third was pointed out to me, I informed those present that it was not a Little Stint but at that point I did not know what it was. After taking a few notes and referring to books later that evening, I began to suspect that it was a Semipalmated Sandpiper, but another look was required to be sure. I returned the following afternoon with MM and a portable library! After a couple of hours' observation, my suspicions were confirmed and the news was 'phoned out to allow others the chance of viewing the bird that evening. Some 50 or so people were able to see the bird that evening. 158
Description: Size: As Little Stint in general size and shape but primary projection shorter. Upperparts: The most obvious feature was the overall greyness compared with the more orangerufous coloration of Little Stints. Facially the head was buffier-grey than that species with a hint of gingeryness on the ear coverts. Capped effect not well marked with a darker central ridge, indistinct paler lateral crown stripes and a long pale supercilium which was slightly broader in front of the eye than on Little Stint. Dark lores blending into a grey area below the eye blending into ear coverts; these in turn blended into a grey striated hindneck and mantle. No 'V' visible on the mantle, although a line between the mantle and cinnamon coloured upper scapular feathers was. A mixture of old grey scapulars and new rufous-tinged dark-centred scapulars present with a differing mixture on either side of the bird. These contrasted markedly with the uniform dull grey wing coverts and outer tertials and the rufous-edged dark-centred inner tertials. Undersides: White with dense dull grey breast-streaking extending down the sides onto the upper flanks. Chin and throat white as were the belly and under-tail coverts. These features contrasted with the orange-chested Little Stints which had neat pectoral bands. Bare Parts: Black legs that appeared longer above the knee than Little Stint. Semi-palmations between the toes (although much discussion ensued as to whether this was wishful thinking as it could have been drips of water). Black bill which was broader,slightly longer and blunter-tipped than Little Stint. In flight nothing distinctive was noticed to distinguish it from Little Stints and Dunlins and I can only assume it had a similar tail and upperwing pattern as I did not notice anything markedly obvious (although it moved very fast in flight). Nigel Odin, Landguard Bird Observatory,
View Point Road, Felixstowe IP11 8TW.
Commendable caution was exercised when ascertaining the identity of this tricky bird. An excellent description, accompanied by field sketches was also submitted by Brian Small. Despite a large gathering having assembled on the Saturday morning, it seems that the bird had left overnight, despite a few claims to the contrary â€” Ed.
BLACK-WINGED PRATINCOLE -
SECOND FOR SUFFOLK.
With the intention of giving our new telescope a field trial, we chose Livermere Lake for a leisurely stroll with the children and dog. Being September 6th, our only real expectation was that we would see a few Ruddy Ducks. Arriving at the bridge, I paused to scan the Lapwing flock which had just taken flight from fields to the north of the lake. Instantly my attention was drawn to a wader flying just above the Lapwings. At a distance of about 500 metres the bird appeared to be a cross between a Green Sandpiper and a Little Gull! Drawing my wife's attention to the bird she managed to pick it up quickly with the 'scope and almost as quickly shouted "pratincole!" With the bird now much closer and giving excellent views directly above us, I prefixed that with "Black-winged" as various features became obvious â€” a real joint effort! We concentrated initially on the underwing coverts, which were found to be jet black, regardless of light position, as the bird fluttered and banked around us. Also noted was the absence of a pale trailing edge to the underwing. Having clinched the identification it was possible to take in other details such as dark brown upperparts with distinct uneven scalloping to the whole of the upperwing. Also the white rump and black tail with noticeably longer outer tail streamers. At one point, through the 'scope, my wife was able to make out the remnants of a black ring around the throat, although in most views the throat appeared a uniform biscuit colour. The general behaviour and shape were quite distinct with long scythe-like wings and rapid shallow wing beats. The bird constantly changed direction as it hawked for insects. After about ten minutes it headed off south, being bombarded by Swallows and House 159
Martins. We then departed for the nearest 'phone box, presuming at the time that the pratincole would head steadily south but it was refound two days later at the same place and remained to September 12th, making brief appearances each day. T. R. Dean, Hawthorn Cottage, 26 West Harting Rd, East Harting, Norfolk NR16 2SL. This bird was independently refound two days later by T.Stopher. Much confusion was caused by the appearance of the bird and there was some disagreement as to its age. The record has been accepted by BBRC as "age uncertain"; however, Mr Dean refers to extensive pale scalloping on the upperparts, and photographs of the bird show ampie streaking on the breast. These features indicate that it was in fact a first-winter bird moulting from juvenile plumage â€” Ed. RING-BILLED GULL -
T H I R D FOR S U F F O L K .
On February 6th 1993, I had just finished scouring the River Orwell for Black-necked Grebes, which I failed to find, and decided to take a final look at the ri ver from Fox's Marina, Wherstead. The usuai selection of waterfowl and waders was present and a quick scan of the near shore revealed an odd-looking gull with a large number of Black-headed Gulls which immediately struck me as being a potential Ring-billed Gull. It was a firstwinter bird and superficially resembled a second-winter Herring Gull but, compared with the nearby Black-headed Gulls, did not appear large enough. The most striking features at first were the bill, which showed a bright pink basal two-thirds and a pure black tip (with a tiny pale area at the very tip), and the tertials which were dark brown with a whitish border â€” very different to the barred tertials of second-winter Herring Gulls. Other features such as blotchy (not streaked) markings on nape and sides of neck/breast, pale mantle (matching the colour of the mantles of the nearby Black-headed Gulls), almost unmarked greater coverts without the wavy lines or strong barring of Herring Gull, and rather attenuated rear end were also noted. After taking notes and checking the rest of the area thoroughly, I was surprised to find what appeared to be a second Ring-billed Gull on the far side of the mouth of Belstead Brook! A quick check at the original site revealed that the bird had moved, but I was encouraged by the ease with which I could pick out the bird which was, fortunately, now near an adult Herring Gull of the race argenteus. In comparison, the Ring-billed Gull was obviously smaller and when feeding, showed the characteristic high-stepping gait, similar to that of Common Gull and unlike the heavier walk of Herring Gull. The bird was feeding on a shingle spit and looked settled so I attempted to get closer. Unfortunately I disturbed a group of nearby Mute Swans and their noisy departure put everything up. This did however, give me a good flight view and revealed a tail pattern more like Common than Herring Gull, showing a fairly clean, dark terminal band and contrastingly white tail base and upper tail coverts, without the 'smudgy ' pattern of Herring Gull (although not as clean as Common). The bird also showed discrete dark tips to the inner primaries, thus distinguishing it further from Herring Gull. In flight, it looked closer in size to the adult Herring Gull than it had on the ground, but this was perhaps due to the relatively longer wings of Ring-billed Gulls. Rather worryingly, the bird continued to fly off down river and gained height to cross over the Orwell Bridge. As it dropped beyond the bridge I lost it from view but took a gamble that it might come down at Wherstead Strand, a populĂ¤r feeding area with gulls. I tried to keep to the speed limit, but stili arrived at the Strand in remarkable time! After some ten minutes of searching, I found the bird with a group of mixed gulls and Oystercatchers on a shingle bar on the far side of the river. Even at some 300 metres distance, it could be picked out and could now be seen to be somewhat larger than the Common Gulls present. Even at this range, the strong, well-marked bill pattern, pale mantle and dark tertials were apparent. I managed to get
^ > > 1 ' -T't " - r - i *
v- - . v t 1
v . ^ ^ , > 26: This Yellow-breasted Bunting was one of the highlights of a busy autumn at Landguard.
27: Male Red-headed Bunting in Ipswich during May.
28: Goldfinch x Linnet hybrid trapped at Fagbury Cliff
29: Vitelline Masked Weavers are becoming more frequent as escapees from the cage bird trade.
two local birdwatchers onto the bird before I departed, shortly after 15.00hrs. Detailed description: Head dull white with fine, dark streaking on crown and ear coverts. Dark markings becoming broader and more blotchy on nape and sides of neck. Chin and throat paler, less strongly marked. White half eye-ring contrasted with darker surrounding feathers. Underparts similar to head with blotchy markings continuing from neck onto breast, but becoming more sparse and almost crescent-like on the flanks. Belly paler, almost unmarked. Mantle almost uniform pale grey, similar in tone to that of Black-headed Gull. Very few, dark barred, immature feathers left. Upper tail coverts mainly white with a few, scattered, dark tips. Tail with whitish base and relatively clean, dark band at tip. Some dark extending up into the mid-tail rĂŠgion. Median and lesser wing coverts pale brown with darker tips but pattern difficult to see due to abrasion. Greater coverts rather messy due to abrasion but generally greyish with two or three very faint darker bars towards tip. Inner greater coverts more boldly barred, but less so than typical second-winter Herring Gull. Tertiais dark brown with off-white tips and edges. Secondaries and outer primaries dark brownishblack; inner primaries paler but with dark tips. Wings rather long, giving attenuated rear end in contrast to the dumpier appearance of Herring Gull. Bare parts: eye dark, legs pink, rather longer than those of Common Gull. Basal two thirds of bill bright pink, tip black with clean border between pink and black. Extreme tip of upper mandible pale. Bill heavier than that of Common Gull, accentuated by dark tip, but gonydeal angle not as strong as Herring Gull, producing a bill shape midway between those two species. Mike Crewe, 3 Anglenook
Cottages, Bury Road, Great Barton, Suffolk IP31 2SJ.
A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk As a guide for observers wishing to send in their sightings, the following list of species, ali previously recorded in the County, has been annotated with codes which act as a guide to the records that the County Recorders require. The codes are explained in the following key: Recording Code Key A Ail records required B Birds confïrmed breeding or holding territory C Counts of roosts, flocks or movements D Detailed description required to substantiate claim (forms available front County Recorders) E Earliest and latest dates (for summer and winter migrants) I Inland records required IN Notes required to support inland claims M Migration or weather-related movements N Brief notes required (how bird was identified, view, distance, etc.) W Ail winter records required In addition, ail claims of National rarities should, of course, be accompanied by a full description, preferably submitted to the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) via the County Recorder(s). The reason for this is to enable the Recorder(s) to be aware of what claims are being submitted, so as to keep ail County records in order. It is not the rôle of the County Recorder(s) to prejudge any records sent through them to BBRC. Remember, if in doubt as to the value of any record of any species, please send it in!
Red-throated Diver Black-throated Diver Great Northern Diver Little Grebe Great Crested Grebe Red-necked Grebe Slavonian Grebe Black-necked Grebe Fulmar Cory's Shearwater Great Shearwater Sooty Shearwater Manx Shearwater Storm Petrel Leach's Petrel Gannet Cormorant Shag Bittern Little Egret Grey Héron Purple Héron White Stork Spoonbill Mute Swan
Bewick's Swan Whooper Swan Bean Goose Pink-footed Goose White-fronted Goose Greylag Goose Canada Goose Barnacle Goose Brent Goose Egyptian Goose Shelduck Mandarin Wigeon Gadwall Teal Mallard Pintail Garganey Shoveler Red-crested Pochard Pochard Ring-necked Duck Ferruginous Duck Tufted Duck Scaup
A N N BC BC N N N BCIN D D N A D D A BC AIN A D BCM D D A BC 162
A N N N A BC BC A CMI A BCI N BCMI BC BCM BC BCIM A BC A BCM D D BCM A
Eider Long-tailed Duck Common Scoter Velvet Scoter Goldeneye Smew Red-breasted Merganser Goosander Ruddy Duck Honey Buzzard Red Kite Marsh Harrier Hen Harrier Montagu's Harrier Goshawk Sparrowhawk Buzzard Rough-legged Buzzard Osprey Kestrel Merlin Hobby Peregrine Red-legged Partridge Grey Partridge Quail Pheasant Golden Pheasant Water Rail Spotted Crake Corncrake Moorhen Coot Crane Oystercatcher Avocet Stone-curlew Little Ringed Piover Ringed Piover Kentish Piover Dotterei Golden Piover Grey Piover Lapwing Knot Sanderling Little Stint Temminck's Stint Pectoral Sandpiper Curlew Sandpiper Purple Sandpiper Dunlin Buff-breasted Sandpiper Ruff Jack Snipe
AIN AIN A AIN CM A AIN A A D N A A D N A A N A BCM A A A B A N B A A D D BC BC D BCI A A A BCI D N C CI BC CI A A N D A AIN CI D A A
Snipe Woodcock Black-tailed Godwit Bar-tailed Godwit Whimbrel Curlew Spotted Redshank Redshank Greenshank Green Sandpiper Wood Sandpiper Common Sandpiper Turnstone Red-necked Phalarope Grey Phalarope Pomarine Skua Arctic Skua Long-tailed Skua Great Skua Mediterranean Gull Little Gull Sabine's Gull Black-headed Gull Ring-billed Gull Common Gull Lesser Black-backed Gull Herring Gull Iceland Gull Glaucous Gull Great Black-backed Gull Kittiwake Sandwich Tern Roseate Tern Common Tern Arctic Tern Little Tern Black Tern Guillemot Razorbill Black Guillemot Little Auk Puffin Ferai Pigeon Stock Dove Wood Pigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Ring-necked Parakeet Cuckoo Barn Owl Little Owl Tawny Owl Long-eared Owl Short-eared Owl Nightjar 163
BC A BCI A A BC A BC A A A A CI D N N AIN D AIN A A D BC D BC BC BC N N BC BCI BCEI D BCEI A BCEI A AIN AIN D AIN N BC BCM BCM BC BCE A BE A A A A A A
Swift Kingfisher Bee-eater Hoopoe Wryneck Green Woodpecker Great Spotted Woodpecker Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Short-toed Lark Woodlark Skylark Shore Lark Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Richard's Pipit Tawny Pipit Tree Pipit Meadow Pipit Rock Pipit Water Pipit Yellow Wagtail Grey Wagtail Pied Wagtail Waxwing Dipper Wren Dunnock Robin Nightingale Bluethroat Black Redstart Redstart Whinchat Stonechat Wheatear Ring Ouzel Blackbird Fieldfare Song Thrush Redwing Mistle Thrush Cetti's Warbler Grasshopper Warbler Savi's Warbler Aquatic Warbler Sedge Warbler Marsh Warbler Reed Warbler Icterine Warbler Melodious Warbler Dartford Warbler Barred Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler
BCE A D N A A A A D A BCM A BCE BCE BCE D D A BCM AIN N BCE A BC A D BC BC BC BE D A A A A A A BMC CEM BCM BCEM BC N A D D BCE D BCE D D D D BCE BCE BCE
Blackcap Pallas's Warbler Yellow-browed Warbler Wood Warbler Chiffchaff Willow Warbler Goldcrest Firecrest Spotted Flycatcher Red-breasted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Bearded Tit Long-tailed Tit Marsh Tit Willow Tit Crested Tit Coal Tit Blue Tit Great Tit Nuthatch Treecreeper Golden Oriole Red-backed Shrike Great Grey Shrike Woodchat Shrike Jay Magpie Jackdaw Rook Carrion Crow Raven Stari ing House Sparrow Tree Sparrow Chaffinch Brambling Serin Greenfinch Goldfinch Siskin Linnet Twite Redpoll Crossbill Common Rosefinch Bullfinch Hawfinch Lapland Bunting Snow Bunting Yellowhammer Ciri Bunting Ortolan Bunting Little Bunting Reed Bunting Corn Bunting
BCEW D D N BCW BCE BC A BCE D A A BC BC A D BC BC BC A A N A A D BCM BC BCM BCM BCM D BCM BCM A BCM A D BCM BCM BCM BCM AIN BCM A D BCM A N AIN BCM D D D BCM A
Suffolk Ringing Report Mike Marsh Despite yet another increase in the cost of rings and ringing equipment the dedication and enthusiasm of the County's ringers goes from strength to strength. DĂźring 1993 a total of 41,517 birds was ringed in the County, 11% up on the 1992 figure. In keeping with previous reports the totals include the those from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Redgrave and Lopham Fens even though most of the ringing is undertaken on an area of the reserve which lies within Norfolk. Blue Tit was the most numerous species ringed in 1993, taking over the top spot from Greenfinch which had held the position for each of the previous seven years. Rather surprisingly, Greenfinch was also overtaken by Blackcap, a species of which the numbers ringed have increased in each of the last seven years. The Blackcap numbers were boosted by another highly productive year for this species at Fagbury Cliff, where a total of 1,358 was ringed, 47% of the County total. The study at this site was extended in 1993 to include a period of spring passage for the first time and almost daily coverage was achieved between the beginning of May and mid-June and from late July to mid-November. As in 1992, this resulted in highly impressive numbers of migrants being ringed including, in addition to the Blackcaps already mentioned, 173 Sedge Warblers, 756 Reed Warblers, 421 Lesser Whitethroats, 631 Whitethroats, 279 Garden Warblers, 207 Chiffchaffs and 771 Willow Warblers. Warblers comprise 25% of the 1993 County ringing total and it is interesting to compare the 1993 figures of the commoner species with those for 1992. % change 1992 1993 471 -21 Sedge Warbler 603 Reed Warbler 1450 1569 +8 341 + 143 Lesser Whitethroat 829 1083 1417 + 30 Whitethroat Garden Warbler 463 600 +29 2884 + 18 Blackcap 2437 836 861 +3 Chiffchaff 1644 +7 Willow Warbler 1763 The increased activity at Fagbury Cliff will have contributed to some of the increases shown but even allowing for this it is obvious that it was an exceptional year for Lesser Whitethroats but a bad one for Sedge Warblers. One hopes that the drop in Sedge Warbler numbers is not the first sign of a population crash. It was not just the passerine ringers who were kept busy in 1993 as the wader enthusiasts also enjoyed a highly productive year. Dunlin and Redshank were caught in very good numbers, their ringing totals showing increases of 66% and 42% respectively over the 1992 figures. Of the scarcer species ringed the totals for Greenshank (18), Jack Snipe (11) and Little Stint (3) are ali noteworthy. As usuai the bulk of this report is devoted to the recoveries. Highlights of this year's batch are a Bewick's Swan colour-ringed on the breeding grounds in north Russia which was sighted in the Waveney Valley, a Marsh Harrier to Morocco, a Little Tern to Guinea Bissau, a Turtle Dove to Spain, two Reed Warblers to Senegal and a Reed Warbler from Denmark. Two sightings of foreign-ringed Barnacle Geese in the north-east of the County are also of great interest, one having been ringed in Sweden and the other on Spitzbergen. The Swedish bird is particularly intriguing, firstly because it was seen in June and secondly because it was with a flock of free-flying Barnacle Geese in a wildfowl collection. Unfortunately Barnacle Geese seen in the County are ali too readily dismissed as being escapees or ferai birds but these two sightings together with a Dutch-ringed bird found dead here in 1991 show that maybe more records refer to genuine wild birds than is appreciated. 165
Selected List of Recoveries This part of the report is a selection of ringing recoveries received in, or relating to, 1993. Recoveries are arranged in species' order with ringing details shown on the first line — ring number / age and sex / date / locality, and recovery details on the second line — manner of recovery / date / locality with distance and direction of movement. The following codes have been used: Age when ringed:
This is given according to the EURING codes and the figures do not represent years. 1 pullus (— nestling or chick) 2 fully grown, year of hatching quite unknown 3 hatched during calendar year of ringing 4 hatched before calendar year of ringing, but exact year unknown 5 hatched during previous calendar year 6 hatched before previous calendar year, but exact year unknown 7 definitely hatched two years before year of ringing 8 hatched three or more calendar years before year of ringing 10 hatched four or more calendar years before year of ringing M = male F = female
In the recovery data, the term 'controlled' refers to a ringed bird which has been caught by a ringer away from the locality where it was originally ringed. Also, where the date of recovery is not known, the date of the reporting letter is shown in brackets. FULMAR Fulmarus glacialis FA20808 6F 14.04.90 Shingle Street, Suffolk (52°02'N 01°27'E) found dead 24.04.93 Minster, Isle of Sheppey, Kent (51°25'N 00°48'E) 82km SSW CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo L07476 1 20.06.93 field record 30.08.93
Puffin Island, Anglesey, WALES (53°19'N 04°02'W) Leathes Ham, Lowestoft, Suffolk (52°28'N 01°44'E) 398km ESE At least four colour-ringed birds from the colony at Abberton Reservoir, Essex were sighted in the County in 1993 — at Walberswick, Benacre Broad and Lowestoft. SPOONBILL Platalea leucorodia 8039115 1 20.05.89 Arnhem field record 26.07.91 field record 06.08.91 field record 26.08.91
Terschelling, NETHERLANDS (53°25'N 05°30'E) Trimley Marshes, Suffolk (51°58'N 01°17'E) Benacre Broad, Suffolk (52°23'N 01°44'E) Sidlesham Ferry, near Chichester, Sussex (50°47'N 00°48'W) field record 27.08.91 Pare Ornithologique de Teich, Gironde, FRANCE (44°38'N 01°01'W) Minsmere, Suffolk (52°15'N 01°37'E) — present to field record 02.06.93 07.06.93 and again 13.06.93. For details of further sightings of this colour-ringed bird in East Anglia in 1991 see Suffolk Birds 7992:164. Another colour-ringed bird, present at Minsmere on June 5th and 6th, 1993, had been ringed in the Netherlands in 1989 but exact ringing details have not been confirmed.
MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor U1954 6F 15.07.91 field record 10.02.93 U0066
Letheringsett, Norfolk (52°54'N 01 °03'E) Bourne Bridge, Wherstead, Ipswich, Suffolk (52°01'N 01°09'E) - 98km S Needham Lake, Needham Market, Suffolk (52°09'N 01°03'E) Oulton Broad, Suffolk (52°28'N 01°42'E) — 56km NE 166
BEWICK'S SWAN Cygnus columbianus 246P 5M 12.08.92 Kashin Island, Gulf of Korovinskaia, Lower Pechora, (neck-collar) RUSSIA (68°15'N 53°59'E) field record 12.10.92 Vatla, Laanemaa Province, ESTONIA (58°34'N 24°44'E) field record 13.12.92 Molenweg, Middleharnis, Zeeland, NETHERLANDS (51°35'N 03°46'E) field record 18.12.93 Shipmeadow, near Beccles, Suffolk (52°28'N 01°30'E) — present to 24.12.93. This bird was ringed within the species' breeding range. This excellent series of sightings is an example of how much information can be gathered by using colour-rings, in this case a numbered neck-ring. CANADA GOOSE Branta canadensis 5157308 5M 23.06.90 Great Livermere, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk (52°18'N 00°46'E) field record 11.07.93 Fritton Lake Country Park, Fritton, Suffolk (52°32'N 01 °40'E) - 66km ENE BARNACLE GOOSE Branta leucopsis 9129782 3M 29.07.89 Horn, Nykoping, Sodermanland, SWEDEN Stockholm (58°44'N 17°09'E) field record 24.06.93 Fritton Lake Country Park, Fritton, Suffolk (52°32'N 01°40'E) - 1188km SW This bird was associating with a flock of at least 22 free-flying Barnacle Geese in a waterfowl collection. Had it not been wearing a Swedish ring it would undoubtedly have been dismissed as being of captive origin. A colour-ringed bird present at Lound Waterworks, Apr. 10th and 11th 1993 was confirmed as having been ringed as an adult at Spitzbergen in 1986. In previous winters it had been sighted at Caerlaverock on the Solway Firth, which is thç main wintering area for the Spitzbergen population of this species. Nowadays, most reports of Barnacle Geese in the County are assumed to refer to feral birds but these two sightings prove that this is a dangerous assumption to make. The Swedish bird shows that even some of those seen in mid-summer could be genuine wild birds. WIGEON Anas penelope FA45903 3F shot
Butley, Suffolk (52°05'N 01°30'E) Patojarvi, Kemijarvi, Lappi, FINLAND (66°44'N 27°28'E) - 2174km NE
TEAL Anas crecca EP99686 3F shot
Hollesley, Suffolk (52°03'N 01°26'E) Merlimont, Pas-de-Calais, FRANCE (50°27'N 01°37'E) - 178km S Falkenham Creek, Falkenham, Suffolk (52°01N 01 °21'E) Lyminster, near Arandel, Sussex (50°49'N 00°32'W) - 187km SW
MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosa FA64010 1 24.06.93 site confidential, coastal Suffolk freshly dead 05.10.93 Souk-El-Had-De-Reggada, Tiznit, MOROCCO (29°35'N 09°42'W) - 2713km SSW FC48873 1 15.07.92 site confidential, coastal Suffolk found dead 18.07.93 St. Philipsland, Zeeland, NETHERLANDS (51°37'N 04°10'E) - 187km ESE There have been two previous recoveries in Morocco of Suffolk-ringed Marsh Harriers, in 1984 and 1986. Also one was found further south in Mauritania in 1967. 167
SPARROWHAWK Accipiler nisus DA55757 3M 17.08.93 controlled
Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01 o 17'N) Icklesham, Sussex (50°54'N 00°40'E) - 124km SSW
KESTREL Falco tinnunculus 5093736 1 05.06.91 Copenhagen road casualty 26.07.93
Donsrod A, Kolding, Jylland, DENMARK (55°33'N 09°26'E) Copdock, near Ipswich, Suffolk (52°02'N 01°05'E) — 673km SW This bird was freshly dead when found, the corpse still being warm. The July recovery date is fascinating as it seems early for an autumn arrival from the Continent. Could it be that this bird, ringed as a nestling in Denmark, had been breeding in the Copdock area?
OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus FR85342 8 15.11.86 Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) field record 02.05.93 Leinevika, Heroy, More Og Romsdal, NORWAY (62°21'N 05°42'E) - 1183km NNE This is the third Oystercatcher ringed at Fagbury to be recovered in Norway, all being in the More Og Romsdal area in May or June. It was confirmed as breeding, having a nest with three eggs. AVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta C26 1 09.06.92 (colour-ring) field record 06.05.93 field record
Hellegatsplaten II, Zuid Holland, NETHERLANDS (51°43'N 04°21'E) Trimley Marshes, near Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°58'N 01°18'E) The Hythe, Colchester, Essex (51°52'N 00°56'E)
STONE-CURLEW Burhinus oedicnemus EH28673 1 30.06.93 site confidential, West Suffolk shot 20.10.93 Hernani, Guipuzcoa, SPAIN (43°16'N 01°58'W) — 1024km S ERI9562 1 23.05.89 site confidential. West Suffolk freshly dead 14.10.93 Audierne, Finistere, FRANCE (48°01'N 04°32'W) 598km SSW ER19562 was found dead on a roof probably as a result of hitting overhead wires. RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula S735303 1 19.07.88 near Nesebanz, Rügen, Rostock, GERMANY Hiddensee (54°19'N 13°12'E) controlled 02.08.89 Levington, Suffolk (51°59'N 0 r i 6 ' E ) - 836km WSW DUNLIN Calidris alpina KT29097 Helsinki controlled NR68472
Kristiinankaup, Vaasa, FINLAND (62°07'N 21°17'E) R.Orwell, near Levington, Suffolk (52°00'N 01°15'E) - 1645km SW R.Deben, near Ramsholt Lodge, Suffolk (52°02'N 01°20'E) Bourdon, Somme, FRANCE (49°59'N 02°03'E) — 233km SSE Newburgh, Grampian Region, SCOTLAND (57°19'N 02°00'W) Stutton Mill, near Brantham, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°06'E) - 629km SSE 168
Butley, Suffolk (52°05'N 01°30'E) Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) - 21km SW In addition to the above there were also movements to or from Germany (3), Norway (2), Poland (2) and Sweden (6). KT29097 is the longest movement for which details were received in 1993. Note that BX50148 was over 16 years old when 'controlled'. WHIMBREL Numenius phaeopus ER01312 6 03.05.92 shot 28.07.93
Boyton Marshes, Suffolk (52°04'N 01 °29'E) Loon Plage, Nord, FRANCE (51°00'N 02°15'E) 130km SSE
Unfortunately most of our wader recoveries from France involve birds which have been shot. CURLEW Numenius arquata FR68938 4 25.10.85 shot 18.09.93
King's Fleet, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51 °59'N 01 °24'E) Kashinskiy District, Kalinin, RUSSIA (57°22'N 37°37'E) - 2398km ENE FV33085 3 16.11.79 Butley, Suffolk (52°05'N 01 °30'E) shot 22.09.91 Fermanville, Manche, FRANCE (49°41'N 01°27'W) - 337km SW The recovery location of FR68938 is about 100km from Moscow and is only the fourth Britishringed Curlew to be found in Russia (Mead & Clark 1993). REDSHANK Tringa totanus 624519 1 08.06.86 Reykjavik controlled 17.01.93
Heinaey, Vestmannaeyjar, ICELAND (63°26'N 20°16'W) R.Orwell, near Levington, Suffolk (52°00'N 01°15'E) - 1792km SE DN77202 4 27.08.88 Terrington, Norfolk (52°48'N 00°20'E) R.Orwell, near Levington, Suffolk (52°00'N 01°15'E) controlled 16.10.93 — 108km SE 624519 is the second Redshank ringed in Iceland to be found in the County in recent years. The other was found dead on the R.Deben in 1991 and had also been ringed as a pullus at Heinaey. BLACK-HEADED GULL Larus ridibundus EN30632 06.12.86 Foxhall Landfill, near Ipswich, Suffolk (52°03'N 01 o 16'E) found dead c. 15.06.93 Ladoga Lake, Karelia, RUSSIA (61°30'N 31 °30'E) 2109km ENE 5091011 20.03.85 Dresden, GERMANY (51°03'N 13°45'E) Hiddensee field record 28.11.92 Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°21'E) - 863km W field record 07.12.93 Felixstowe EN30632 is the most distant recovery of the year. Other foreign recoveries reported involved movements to or from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Note that the ringing locality of 5091011 is well inland in Germany close to the border with the Czech Republic.
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus fuscus GG63769 7 26.05.90 Bramford Landfill, near Ipswich, Suffolk (52°06'N 01°05'E) bird found 24.11.93 near Tarhazoute, Agadir, MOROCCO (30°33'N 09°43'W) - 2553km SSW GG41136 1 05.07.87 Orfordness, Suffolk (52°05'N 01 °35'E) found dead 22.02.93 Roquetas de Mar, Almeria, SPAIN (36°42'N 02°37'W) - 1741km S 169
1 03.07.93 freshly dead 07.10.93
Orfordness, Suffolk (52°05'N 01°35'E) Port Joinville, De d'Yeu, Vendee, FRANCE (46°43'N 02°21'W) - 660km SSW GG75630 1 07.07.92 Orfordness, Suffolk (52°05'N 01°35'E) controlled 02.01.93 Pitsea Marshes, Basildon, Essex (51°33'N 00°30'E) 95km SW Also five birds ringed as pulii at Orfordness were sighted in the Netherlands. All were seen in colonies in the Europoort/Rotterdam area, and three were confirmed as nesting. GG75630 shows that some of the Orfordness birds winter in Britain. HERRING GULL Larus argentatus GG44032 10 02.03.89
Bramford Landfill, near Ipswich, Suffolk (52°06'N 01°05'E) Murmansk, RUSSIA (68°59'N 33°08'E) - 2534km road casualty 22.06.93 NE GG41413 7 23.04.88 Foxhall Landfill, near Ipswich, Suffolk (52°03'N 01°16'E) found sick c. 15.08.93 Saint-Gabriel, Pas-de-Calais, FRANCE (50°34'N 01°35'E) - 166km S GH67366 1 13.06.91 Bristol, Avon (51 °27'N 02°35'W) field record 11.02.93 Lowestoft, Suffolk (52°29'N 01 °45'E) - 310km ENE GG44032 will have been an example of the nominate race L. a. argentatus, its finding locality being north of the Arctic Circle. GH67366 was noted back in the Bristol area in September 1993 and nested there in 1994. In addition to the above, birds ringed as pulii at Orfordness were reported in Kent, Norfolk and Lincolnshire, no movement exceeding 165km. LITTLE TERN Sterna albifrons NV26360 1 08.07.89 bird found 07.04.93
Orford Spit, Orford, Suffolk (52°04'N 01 °33'E) Cassini Estuary, GUINEA BISSAU (11°00'N 15°09'W) - 4809km SSW This is only the sixth British-ringed Little Tern to be recovered in Africa and is the furthest south. Of the others, three were in Morocco and two in Senegal (Mead & Clark 1993). GUILLEMOT Una aalge T99924 1 26.06.92 freshly dead 13.02.93
Sumburgh, Shetland, SCOTLAND (59°51'N 01° 17'W) off Pakefield beach, Lowestoft, Suffolk (52-26'N 01 °42'E) - 844km SSE This bird was found freshly dead in a Herring drift-net.
WOODPIGEON Columba palumbus FA41975 3 08.09.92 shot 19.03.93
Dunwich, Suffolk (52° 16'N 01 °37'E) Latchingdon, Chelmsford, Essex (51 °40'N 00°43'E) — 91km SW There was also a report of a Woodpigeon ringed at Alton Water being found 157km away at a plucking factory in Lincolnshire. Unfortunately it is not known where the bird had been shot. TURTLE DOVE Streptopelia turtur DA54500 3 16.08.91 reported 02.09.93
SAND MARTIN Riparia riparia H547785 3 18.07.92 controlled 10.03.93 H547749 controlled
Flatford Mill, Suffolk (51°58'N 01°01'E) Campillo de Llerena, Badajoz, SPAIN (38°30'N 05°50'W) - 1588km SSW Dunwich, Suffolk (52°16'N 01°37'E) Parc National Oiseaux du Djoudj, near St. Louis, SENEGAL (16°25'N 16°18'W) - 4289km SSW Dunwich, Suffolk (52°16'N 01°37'E) Parc National Oiseaux du Djoudj, near St. Louis, SENEGAL (16°25'N 16°18'W) - 4289km SSW 170
Dunwich, Suffolk (52° 16'N 01 °37'E) Tolox, Malaga, SPAIN (36°41'N 04°54'W) - 1805km SSW H860150 3 22.07.92 Dunwich, Suffolk (52° 16'N 01 °37'E) controlled 23.06.93 Applegarthtown, Lockerbie, Dumfries & Galloway, SCOTLAND (55°08'N 03°25'W) - 459km NW H758366 3 24.06.93 Stretton Sugwas, Hereford & Worcester (52°04'N 02°48'W) controlled 04.07.93 Dunwich, Suffolk (52° 16'N 01 °37'E) - 302km E With the recoveries shown above there have now been 14 recoveries in Senegal of Suffolk-ringed Sand Martins since 1990. Also one from Senegal has been 'controlled' here. In addition to the recoveries listed above there were two other movements in 1993 in excess of 300km; these were to Lancashire and Dorset, both birds having been ringed at Dunwich in 1992. SWALLOW Hirundo rustica F530650 1 22.07.89 found dead
MEADOW PIPIT Anthus J052834 3 controlled It is likely that this bird
pratensis Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°56'N 01°19'E) 23.07.93 Icklesham, Sussex (50°54'N 00°40'E) - 123km SSW 20.09.93 was on passage to France or Iberia when controlled in Sussex.
ROBIN Erithacus rubecula J327994 3 30.09.93 found dead
Benhall Low Street, near Saxmundham, Suffolk (52°11'N 01°26'E) Beas de Segura, Jaen, SPAIN (38°15'N 02°53'W) 1584km S Levington, Suffolk (52°00'N 01°15'E) Burnmouth, Borders Region, SCOTLAND (55°50'N 02°04'W) - 478km NNW
Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) Garston, Hertfordshire (51°41'N 00°23'W) - 118km WSW
This is the only movement in 1993 to exceed 100km. BLACKBIRD Turdus merula 16.11.92 RC40195 4M Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) Lietsuo, Aura, Turku-Pori, FINLAND 23.06.92 3M 7309198 (60°37'N 22°38'E) — 1623km NE Stavanger Jomfruland, Kragero, Telemark, NORWAY 17.03.93 controlled (58°52'N 09°36'E) 16.10.92 Dunwich, Suffolk (52° 16'N 01°37'E) - 888km SW 3M RJ47136 Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) found dead 09.05.93 Schillighorn, Weser-Ems, GERMANY (53°41'N 07°45'E) - 473km ENE 03.11.58 V62130 6M Walberswick, Suffolk (52°18'N 01°38'E) ring found 01.07.93 Heerenveen, Friesland, NETHERLANDS (52°58'N 05°57'E) - 300km ENE The recovery in Finland appears to be the longest Blackbird movement involving Suffolk since 1984 when one ringed near Pskov in Russia was found dead at Sizewell 1805km away. Unfortunately V62130 cannot claim the Blackbird longevity record which stands at 20 years 3 months (Cramp et al 1988). Only the ring was found so it is impossible to tell when the bird had died. SONG THRUSH Turdus philomelos RV05361 3 16.10.93 Shingle Street, Suffolk (52°01'N 01 °26'E) freshly dead 21.05.93
shot 3 caught
05.12.93 17.09.93 14.11.93
This trio shows the destination of at Suffolk coast in autumn.
Sanlucar de Barrameda, Cadiz, SPAIN (36°46'N 06°21 'W) — 1802km SSW Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) Badajoz, SPAIN (38°53'N 06°58'W) — 1586km SSW Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°56'N 01°19'E) Zibreira, Castelo, Beira Baixa, PORTUGAL (39°51'N 07°04'W) - 1489km SSW least some of the migrant Song Thrushes that occur on the
SEDGE WARBLER Acrocephalus schoenobaenus H690610 3 07.08.92 near Hollesley Heath, Suffolk (52°03'N 01°26'E) controlled 06.06.93 Little Crossthwaite, Cumbria (54°38'N 03°12'W) — 420km NW H962751 3 04.08.93 Kenfig Pool, Glamorgan, WALES (51°31'N 03°45'W) controlled 17.08.93 Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°56'N 01°19'E) - 352km E J325235 3 10.08.93 Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) controlled 11.08.93 Icklesham, Sussex (50°54'N 00°40'W) - 124km SSW Note the swift movement of J325235. This bird was ringed at 07.00 hours weighing 11.2 grammes and 'controlled' at 07.00 hours next day having lost exactly one gramme in weight.
REED WARBLER Acrocephalus scirpaceus 9K32541 29.08.93 Hanvejle, Thy, Jylland, DENMARK Copenhagen (57°02'N 08°57'E) controlled 25.09.93 Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) - 750km SW Hollesley, Suffolk (52°03'N 01°26'E) F271923 31.08.91 Pare National Oiseaux du Djoudj, near St. Louis, controlled 26.03.93 SENEGAL (16°25'N 16°18'W) - 4261km SSW near Hollesley Heath, Suffolk (52°03'N 01°26'E) H690618 09.08.92 Pare National Oiseaux du Djoudj, near St. Louis, controlled 03.04.93 SENEGAL (16°25'N 16°18'W) - 4261km SSW Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk H527055 19.09.92 (51°57'N 01°17'E) controlled 22.09.93 Lagoa de St. Andre, Setubal, Baixo Alentejo, PORTUGAL (38°06'N 08°48'W) - 1730km SSW Wetteren, Oost-Vlaanderen, BELGIUM 4229196 12.09.92 (51°00'N 03°53'E) Bruxelles controlled 01.06.93 Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) - 209km WNW H986688 R.Orwell, near Levington, Suffolk (52°00'N 01°15'E) 13.08.93 Wissant, Pas-de-Calais, FRANCE (50°53'N 01°40'E) controlled 27.08.93 - 127km SSE J052355 4 14.05.93 Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°56'N 01°19'E) controlled 26.06.93 Itchen Abbas, Hampshire (51°05'N 01°14'W) 200km WSW 9K32541 appears to be only the fourth Danish-ringed Reed Warbler to be recovered in Britain and follows close on the heels of a Swedish-ringed bird at Fagbury in 1992. The two birds in Senegal were almost certainly on passage when 'controlled' as recoveries in recent years have shown that British-ringed Reed Warblers are not present at Djoudj throughout the winter (Mead, Clark & Peach 1993).
LESSER WHITETHROAT Sylvia curruca H529037 10.05.93 Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) found dead (24.06.93) Folkestone, Kent (51°05'N 01°09'E) 97km S WHITETHROAT Sylvia communis H887445 19.08.92 found dead 15.04.93 H529183
GARDEN WARBLER Sylvia borin J417133 3 16.09.93 controlled 26.09.93
Cauldwell Hall Farm, HoUesley, Suffolk (52°03'N 01 °27'E) Tiiggane, Tata, MOROCCO (29°37'N 08°01'W) 2612km SSW Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) Old Weston, Cambridgeshire (52°23'N 00°24'W) — 124km WNW
Low Hauxley, Northumberland (55°19'N 01°34'W) Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) - 418km SSE
BLACKCAP Sylvia atricapilla H947547 4M 13.07.93
Newbourne Springs, Newbourne, Suffolk (52°02'N 01°18'E) caught 31.10.93 Sidi Moussa, Tipaza, Algiers, ALGERIA (36°36'N 03°05'E) - 1720km S Herne, Brabant, BELGIUM 4298321 3M 22.09.91 (50°43'N 04°02'E) Bruxelles Aldeburgh, Suffolk (52°09'N 01°35'E) - 233km NW found dead 25.04.92 Isle of May, Fife Region, SCOTLAND F138953 3M 13.09.93 (56°11'N 02°33'W) Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk controlled 17.10.93 (51°57'N 01°17'E) — 532km SSE (still present 31.10.93) Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk J327137 3M 17.09.93 (51°57'N 01°17'E) Keysworth Farm, Poole Harbour, Dorset controlled 19.09.93 (50°42'N 02°06'W) - 273km WSW Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk F414031 3F 12.09.92 (51°56'N 01°19'E) Whitwell Wood, near Clowne, Derbyshire controlled 08.10.93 (53°17'N 01°13'W) - 227km NW The recovery location of H947547 is only about 75km away from that of the Algerian recovery mentioned in last year's Ringing Report (Suffolk Birds 1993:160). Note the quick movement to the south coast of J327137. CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita 3F7751 3 21.08.93 near Hollesley Heath, Suffolk (52°03'N 01 °26'E) controlled 24.09.93 East Bexington Farm, near Abbotsbury, Dorset (50°40'N 02°39'W) - 322km WSW Also three birds ringed in Suffolk in late July/August were 'controlled' on the south coast in Sussex and Kent in mid-September/early October. WILLOW WARBLER Phylloscopus trochilus 4T4879 4 19.04.93 Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51 °56'N 01° 19'E) controlled 24.04.93 Wintersett Reservoir, Wakefield, West Yorkshire (53°37'N 01°26'W) - 263km NW This is the only movement over 100km reported in 1993. 173
GOLDCREST Regulus regulus 7F7774 3M 01.10.92 freshly dead 23.03.93
Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) Walker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne & Wear (54°58'N 01°32'W) - 382km NNW
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER Muscicapa striata H529456 4 26.05.93 Fagbury, Trimley St. Mary, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°57'N 01°17'E) freshly dead 01.06.93 near Linstock, Carlisle, Cumbria (54°55'N 02°53'W) - 430km NW PIED FLYCATCHER Ficedula hypoleuca E706373 1 04.06.90 Roddlesworth, Darwen, Lancashire (53°41'N 02°31'W) controlled 21.04.93 Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°56'N 01°19'E) - 323km SE This bird, ringed as a nestling, was one of a brood of seven. GREAT TIT Parus major J387177 3F 04.10.93 controlled 17.10.93
Sheringham, Norfolk (52°56'N 01 °09'E) Nowton Park, Bury St. Edmunds (52° 13'N 00°43'E) 85km SSW
This is the furthest recovery reported in 1993. GOLDEN ORIOLE Oriolus oriolus DA61292 1 22.06.93 controlled 30.08.93 DA61297 1 22.06.93 found dead 10.08.93
site confidential, Norfolk Dunwich, Suffolk (52° 16'N 01 °37'E) — 91km ESE site confidential, Norfolk Burstall, Ipswich, Suffolk (52°03'N 01°03'E) - 62km SE To get a Golden Oriole recovery is a rare event, so two in one month is remarkable. Note that both birds were ringedvulgaris as nestlings; unfortunately the second one died after hitting a window. STARLING Sturnus RJ48898 3F 31.10.93 Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°56'N 01°19'E) controlled 11.12.93 Sankey, near Warrington, Cheshire (53°24'N 02°38'W) — 312km WNW CHAFFINCH Fringilla coelebs F672374 4M 10.03.90 Dunwich, Suffolk (52°16'N 01°37'E) found dead c.15.11.92 Aalst, Oost-Vlaanderen, BELGIUM (50°56'N 04°02'E) — 223km SE GREENFINCH Carduelis chloris VH57304 5F 08.08.91
Benhall Low Street, near Saxmundham, Suffolk (52°11'N 01°26'E) found dead 12.01.93 Holywell, Clwyd, WALES (53°16'N 03°13'W) — 335km NW VH56777 3M 26.12.91 Saughall, Cheshire (53°13'N 02°57'W) controlled Lavenham, Suffolk (52°06'N 00°47'E) — 280km SE 25.11.93 VH03197 Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°56'N 01°19'E) 5F 25.04.91 Brompton Regis, near Dulverton, Somerset found dying 20.02.93 (51°04'N 03°29'W) - 346km WSW The first two movements are of interest as most Suffolk Greenfinch recoveries over 100km tend to be to or from counties to the south and south-west. There were only two other movements reported in excess of 200km — singles from Hampshire and Berkshire 'controlled' at Landguard Point.
GOLDFINCH Carduetis carduelis H940378 4F 10.05.93 taken by cat 18.07.93
Dunwich, Suffolk (52°16'N 01°37'E) Leyton, Greater London (51°33'N 00°01'W) SW
LINNET Carduelis cannabina 255575 4F 05.01.92 Madrid controlled 20.04.92
Gerenaa, Sevilla, SPAIN (37°31'N 06°10'W) Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°56'N 01°19'E) - 1706km NNE F413027 IF 06.06.92 Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk (51°56'N 01°19'E) caught 08.11.93 Arroya Butarque, Leganes, Madrid, SPAIN (40°20'N 03°46'W) - 1346km SSW There have now been four Landguard-ringed Linnets recovered in Spain, three of which have been in the Madrid area in late autumn/early winter. 255575 is the first recovery in the opposite direction. Acknowledgements: Special thanks to the following ringers/ringing groups who supplied the information upon which this report is based: Sid Batty, Rex Beecroft, Peter Catchpole, Malcolm Cavanagh, Dingle Bird Club, Rob Duncan, Tim Fuller, John Glazebrook, Peter Hayman, Ron Hoblyn, Sir Anthony Hurrell, Lackford Ringing Group, Landguard Ringing Group, Dr. Peter McAnulty, Market Weston Ringing Group, Alan Miller, Derek Moore, Philip Murton, Paul Newton, North West Norfolk Ringing Group, Adrian Parr, Ian Peters, Roy Thatcher, Brian Thompson, Wally Thrower, Cliff Waller, Lyn Webb, Rodney West, Chris Wright and Mick Wright. I should also like to thank the Regional County Recorders and David Lampard of Ipswich Museum for forwarding information from their files and Philip Murphy for his comments on the draft. References: Cramp, S. (ed.) 1988. The Birds of the western palearctic, Vol.V. Oxford University Press. Mead, C. J. & Clark, J. A. 1993. Report on Bird Ringing in Britain and Ireland for 1991. Ring. & Migr. 14: 1-72. Mead, C. J., Clark, J. A. & Peach, W. J. 1993. Report on Bird Ringing in Britain and Ireland for 1992. Ring. & Migr. 14: 152-200. Mike Marsh, 5 Ennerdale
Suffolk IP 11 9SS.
SYSTEMATIC LIST OF SPECIES AND TOTALS OF BIRDS RINGED IN SUFFOLK, 1993 Species Grey Heron Mute Swan Greylag Goose Canada Goose Shelduck Wigeon Teal Mallard Marsh Harrier Sparrowhawk Kestrel Grey Partridge Water Rail Moorhen Coot Oystercatcher Avocet Stone-Curlew Ringed Piover Grey Piover Lapwing Knot Sanderling Little Stint Curlew Sandpiper Dunlin Ruff Jack Snipe Snipe Woodcock Black-tailed Godwit Bar-tailed Godwit Whimbrel Curlew Redshank Greenshank Green Sandpiper Common Sandpiper Turnstone Black-headed Gull Common Gull Lsr. Black-bckd Gull Herring Gull Common Tern LitÃ¼e Tern
Total 8 10 1 4 3 2 26 6 35 33 23 1 2 10 1 19 26 55 43 43 49 5 1 3 1 1238 2 11 29 3 3 1 4 18 375 18 3 2 2 78 9 746 245 56 23
Species Stock Dove Woodpigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Cuckoo Barn Owl Little Owl Tawny Owl Long-eared Owl Nightjar Swift Kingfisher Wryneck Green Woodpecker Great Sp. Woodpecker Lesser Sp. Woodpecker 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 Stonechat Wheatear Ring Ouzel Blackbird Fieldfare Song Thrush Redwing Mistle Thrush Grasshopper Warbier Sedge Warbier Blyth's Reed Warbier Marsh Warbier
4 107 16 8 2 3 2 7 1 24 36 22 2 27 22 5 53 81 1253 965 963 129 342 10 5 87 1043 1053 1738 50 55 151 14 2 38 25 2416 26 958 206 30 14 471 2 1
Reed Warbier Icterine Warbier Subalpine Warbier Barred Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler Blackcap Arctic Warbler Pallas's Warbler Yellow-browed Warbler Wood Warbler Chiffchaff Willow Warbler Goldcrest Firecrest Spotted Flycatcher Red-brstd Flycatcher 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 Greenfinch Goldfinch Siskin Linnet Redpoll Bullfinch Yellowhammer Reed Bunting Com Bunting GRAND TOTAL NO. OF SPECIES
1569 9 3 3 829 1417 600 2884 1 3 2 9 861 1763 1012 77 237 1 52 19 890 90 24 150 2900 2238 4 101 4 26 12 2 1659 187 15 1222 20 2793 624 89 853 28 289 125 75 1 41517 136
SUFFOLK N ATURALISTS < ' 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. Sujfolk 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 Individuai £10.00 Family £12.00 Junior (under 18) £5.00
Joint membership SNS/SOG £18.00 £22.00 £8.00
CONTENTS Page Editorial Mike Crewe 5 Obituary: Arthur Westcott Adrian Botwright 6 A study of the Wintering Population of Avocets on the Aide Estuary R. Perkins .. 7 Radar Tracking of Migrant Birds Mike Crewe 15 Roof Nesting by Common Terns in Lowestoft Andrew Easton 18 The Exceptional Passage of Raptors at Minsmere in September 1993 lan Robinson 20 Weather trends and their effect on the County's avifauna, 1993 Adam Bimpson.... 23 The 1993 Suffolk Bird Report 26 List of Contributors 149 Earliest and latest dates of summer migrants ...151 Notes: Merlin harassing Sparrowhawk Mike Crewe 152 Grey Phalaropes feeding on scraps Colin Jacobs ...152 Leucistic Sparrowhawk Richard Smith 152 Goldfinch x Linnet hybrid Mike Crewe 153 Nuthatch nest in church Mike Crewe 153 Rarities in Suffolk 1993 Mike Crewe 154 Yellow-breasted Bunting Paul Kitchener 155 Blyth's Reed Warbler Steve Piotrowski 156 Arctic Warbler Mike Crewe 157 Black-headed Bunting Mrs J. Halls 158 Semipalmated Sandpiper Nigel Odin 158 Black-winged Pratincole T. R. Dean 159 Ring-billed Gull Mike Crewe 160 A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk 162 Suffolk Ringing Report Mike Marsh 165