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West Area Recorder: Colin Jakes, 7 Maltward Avenue, BURY ST. EDMUNDS IP33 3XN Tel: 01284 702215
North-East Area Recorder: Richard Waiden, 21 Kilbrack, BECCLES NR349SH Tel: 01502 713521
South-East Area Recorder: Brian Thompson, 42 Dover Road, IPSWICH, IP3 8JQ Tel: 01473 726771
SUFFOLK BIRDS VOL. 45 Incorporating a review of birds in Suffolk in 1995
Editor M D Crewe Photographic and Artwork Editor T P Kerridge
Published by SUFFOLK NATURALISTS ' SOCIETY 1997 1
Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH ÂŠ The Suffolk Naturalists' Society 1997 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 C. H. Healey, 49-55 Fore Street, Suffolk IP4 1JL 2
CONTENTS Page Editorial Mike Crewe 5 The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey Mike Crewe 7 An Analysis of the occurrence of Wren, Dunnock and Reed Bunting at Landguard Point, Suffolk Nigel Odin 16 Weather trends and their effects on the County's avifauna, 1995 Adam Bimpson 22 The 1995 Suffolk Bird Report: 28 Introduction 28 Systematic List 30 Appendix I: Category D species 150 Appendix II: Escapees 151 Appendix III: List of non-accepted records 153 List of Contributors 154 Gazetteer 156 Earliest and latest dates of summer migrants 158 Notes: 159 Egg Theft by Carrion Crows John Glazebrook 159 Hybrid House x Tree Sparrow at Tim worth Mike Crewe 159 Rarities in Suffolk in 1995: 161 Laughing Gull David Fairhurst 161 Pine Bunting Ricky Fairhead 162 Greater Yellow legs Brian Small 162 Spotted Sandpiper Eric Patrick 163 Thrush Nightingale Paul Holmes 164 Citrine Wagtail Geoff Welch 165 Whiskered Tern Paul Oldfield 165 Red-eyed Vireo Dick Waiden 166 "Eastern'Stonechat Stuart Ling 166 Olivaceous Warbler Carl Buttle 168 A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk 170 Landguard Bird Observatory, 1995 Michael James 172 Suffolk Ringing Report Mike Marsh 178 List of Colour Illustrations Facing Plate Page No. 89 14. Sand Martins Alan Tate 120 15. Long-eared Owl Alan Tate 120 16. Tawny Owl Stan Dumican 121 17. House Martin Stan Dumican 121 18. Treecreeper Stan Dumican 142 19. Redstart Stan Dumican 142 20. Fieldfare Alan Tate 21. Thrush Nightingale Robin Chittenden 143 22. Thrush Nightingale Robin Chittenden 143 168 23. Woodchat Shrike Alan Tate 168 24. Rose-coloured Starling Alan Tate 169 25. Red-eyed Vireo Alan Tate 169 26. Predated eggs John Glazebrook
Plate Facing Page No. 32 1. Havergate Island Mike Crewe 2. Fritton Lake Andrew Easton 32 3. Little Egrets Andrew Easton 33 4. Greylag Goose Andrew Easton 33 5. Com Bunting Alan Tate 33 64 6. Shoveler Alan Tate 7. Eider Andrew Easton 64 8. Pochard Alan Tate 65 9. Purple Sandpiper Alan Tate 65 10. Sandwich Tern Alan Tate 88 11. Kestrel Stan Dumican 88 12. Greater Flamingo Robin Chittenden 89 13. Common Crane Alan Tate 89
The copyright remains that of the photographers.
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 recorders, 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. If typed, manuscripts should be 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. It is possible for papers to be submitted on computer disk; contact the Editor initially for advice. 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 ÂŁ10 will be made to the photographer for each photograph published and ÂŁ5 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. Authors may wish to illustrate their papers, 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: Brian Small Area County Recorders: Colin Jakes, Richard Waiden, Brian Thompson Secretary: David Walsh Other Committee Members: John Cawston, Mike Crewe, Ricky Fairhead, Mike Marsh, Derek Moore, Steve Piotrowski, Richard Rafe. 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: See inside front cover. Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee - correspondence: The Secretary, SORC, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH.
The one thing you can say about life is that you never know how it is going to turn out! When work commitments forced me to stand down as Editor of Suffolk Birds, I did not anticipate that I would be returning, having missed out just one issue, which was ably covered by Richard Rafe. However, I not only find myself in the Editorial hot seat again, but also living back on the good old Suffolk coast - and this time closer to it than ever. They do say that once you have left, you should never return. I must admit I understand the sentiment. As a birder and general lover of the countryside, it is very rare that I return to an area to find that it has improved to my liking, and it is with this in mind that I decided to reproduce here the above photograph of some of Suffolk's best known bird enthusiasts at one of the County's wildlife hot spots, Peewit Hill, Felixstowe. Sadly, after just a short absence, I returned to this, one of my favourite birding locales, only to discover that persons unknown had seen fit to build a fast food restaurant on prime coastal scrub and rough grassland. As someone who detests such places, I took this as a personal insult, made all the worse by the fact that it was a drive-in version - one of the most pointless concepts ever dreamed up by the World's most idle people. By the time you read this, the site will be housing a chapel of one of the less mainstream religions, and the remainder will have been carved up ready for turning into concrete, bricks and pollution. Whilst the RSPB are doing admirable work in buying up as much wildlife real estate as possible (seemingly the only way to slow down the destruction of our countryside), it seems perhaps odd that the current fanatical trend for rarities amongst the nation's birders has not produced calls from avid rarity chasers to get some of our prime coastal areas looked after. Of course we do well in Suffolk with the likes of Minsmere, Walberswick, Benacre etc., but there is 5
one area that seems to have been forgotten. What of the migrants birds which every autumn make landfall in Britain, having flown the North Sea? Every year, they arrive in Britain to find fewer and fewer areas to rest and feed up, and it is high time that areas that they favour are given attention. We all know that such birds can, by their very nature, be unpredictable in the exact timing and location of their appearances, but certain places seem to act as magnets and it is such places that give cause for concern. Peewit Hill was one, and now it has gone; will we soon lose Corton Woods, Warrenhouse Wood, or the wonderful, recently rediscovered area to the north of Thorpeness? I would say that, sooner or later, yes we will, unless something can be done to turn the tide. The whole of Felixstowe seems to be a lost cause, with plans for anything as long as it doesn't benefit wildlife on the south sea front and a total lack of imagination from anyone in a position to be able to improve the town aesthetically, either for people or wildlife. But other areas must surely have better futures. Let us all keep a close ear to the ground and fight against the loss of any more coastal scrub or woodland.
It seems to have become the done thing to write Editorials preaching doom and gloom, and I admit to being one of the main perpetrators. With this in mind, I end on a more optimistic note. There seems to be an encouraging trend for the County's birders to get involved in projects that enable them to get more from their birding. This attitude has certainly benefited the new BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey, for which the first two years of results are published here, and Suffolk has a good spread of squares. I know from speaking to a number of people that participants have generally been surprised by how much they have learned, and have enjoyed visiting new areas and, on occasion, finding good birds! The BBS is fun, interesting and above all WORTHWHILE! As always, however, there is always room for more and it would be great to see a lot more of the better-known names in Suffolk birding taking up a square - hint hint!! In addition, Nigel Odin's paper presents some interesting findings from the wealth of data beginning to amass at Landguard Bird Observatory - data which gives an insight into the movements of migrant birds through our area. I hope to produce more papers in the next Suffolk Birds of a similar nature, so if you are out there doing research of your own, how about using Suffolk Birds to publish your findings? Please contact me if you would like to present your work to a wider audience. Finally, the various personnel changes that have taken place in the last twelve months, involving the County Recorder positions, Editor of Suffolk Birds, and all those new fathers that appear to be popping up everywhere, have taken their toll on the production of this report. For these we apologise and assure everyone that efforts are under way to streamline the system and have the next edition off in good time two in one year? It's been done before!
The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey Mike Crewe Monitoring Britain's birds One of the greatest difficulties encountered when trying to monitor the fortunes of our birds arises when attempting to quantify the breeding populations and to identify any fluctuations or long term trends in numbers. This has always been a major problem and the lack of any base data on our breeding birds was one of the main reasons that the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) originally instigated the Common Birds Census (CBC) with funding from the Nature Conservancy Council (now Joint Nature Conservation Committee). The CBC was very successful at indicating how our breeding birds were doing, but over the years a number of problems and anomalies were identified. The amount of time required each year limited the number of people who were either interested or had the time to participate. Also, participants chose their own sites and there was a tendency to pick species-rich areas likely to produce some interesting fieldwork. This had the effect of limiting the habitats covered and thus affecting results (indeed, the CBC only attempted to monitor farmland and woodland birds). Upland birds and urban populations in particular have suffered from a lack of monitoring due to the spread of participants (primarily in lowland SE England) and participants' habitat choice. Further, there was a realisation that the limited number of sites being censused meant that certain species could not be monitored with any great accuracy as the sample size was too small. Thus, very common species were covered by the CBC and rare species were covered by various other surveys, but there was a group of birds in between which was being missed. The Breeding Bird Survey Working out the best way to overcome what may seem to be a mountain of problems obviously took time and in 1987 the BTO began running field triĂĄis and looking at different ways of analysing data sets. The two main aims were to increase the number of plots and to ensure that the plots not only covered all habitats but also had an even geographical spread across Britain. Eventually, a Pilot Census Project was carried out during 1992 and 1993 to test the ideas that had been put together and this was shortly followed by the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), launched as a joint BTO/JNCC/RSPB project in 1994. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the BBS has been a run-away success with 1565 plots covered in the first year alone. In 1995 this increased to over 1700, a sample size capable of producing far more accurate data than the 200 or so CBC plots. Of course, this is not to denigrate the sterling efforts of the stalwarts of the CBC and that survey, along with the Waterways Bird Survey, will continuĂŠ in parallel for a number of years as a means of testing the accuracy of BBS results. Better survey, better results The popularity of the BBS, apart from BTO members' keenness to help with producing vital data, is surely due to its simplicity. Being well aware of the demands put on participants' time by the CBC, great efforts were made to ensure that the BBS would be simple, and yet still able to produce results that were both accurate and of use. However, any simplification should not compromise the results and so a series of standard operations were identified to ensure that results between squares and between years were comparable. This was achieved by standardising the effort as much as possible. Thus, one-kilometre squares using the Ordnance Survey National Grid were used as the standard field unit and limitations were set on the time to be 7
spent in the field. Whilst time limitations may affect the number of birds actually located, the fact that the same period is used in every square and year on year, should enable data to be comparable. Thus, in one move, the BBS had produced a method which not only demanded less of participants but also did away with anomalies between plots. The other great step was to use a computerised random selection technique to pick the one-kilometre squares to be covered. This removed both any bias towards the best bird sites and any geographical bias based on the distribution of participants. The main aim of random selection is to ensure that ali habitats are covered, particularly those not covered by other surveys and especially urban and upland areas. The BBS in Suffolk In Suffolk, efforts have been made to incorporate CBC data into the Bird Report with limited success. Few plots are covered in the county and we have only had data from three locations with any regularity. Such limited data gives little insight into how Suffolk's breeding birds, and particularly its common species, are faring. One of the greatest achievements of the BTO's census unit since the inception of the BBS has been its openness towards Britain's amateur ornithologist's, and in particular in supplying data to County Recorders and Report Editors. This I am sure is in no small part due to the rĂŠcognition of the invaluable assistance of such people who carry out the 'leg work' for the BBS (although BTO staff do more than their fair share tool). I am sure this will be a two way process as access to results will no doubt make the survey more appealing to potential participants. It is hoped that we can use annual results from the BBS to provide a regular paper in Suffolk Birds so that a picture can be built up of how Suffolk's birds are faring. Tliis will not only enable us to monitor our birds and identify any fluctuations or long-term trends, but also enable direct comparison with any national trends via the BTO's published results. With only two year's data, it is too early to draw any finn conclusions but these results do show encouraging similarities with CBC results for 1994-95. However, the figures are published here, courtesy of the BTO, and one or two preliminary observations are made. It is hoped that a county index for each breeding species can be established so that long-term trends can more easily be identified. Location of squares As the BBS squares are chosen using a stratified random selection technique, it is not known where the squares will be. With this in mind, the system has worked remarkably well in Suffolk with a good spread across the whole county. There is perhaps as yet too few squares in urban habitats but this can only be rectified if more volunteers come forward and more squares can be selected. Few squares with coastal habitats are likely to come up as such habitat covers such small percentage of the overall area. However, this is unlikely to be detrimental to our knowledge of Suffolk's breeding birds. The table below dĂŠtails the squares currently covered.
Table 1. Location of BBS squares in Suffolk* 1 km square
TL6266 Exning TL6873 Worlington TL7046 Kedington TL7466 Higham TL7469 Tuddenham St Mary TL7577 Eriswell TL7648 Poslingford TL7658 Hargrave TL7774 Icklingham TL8154 Brockley/Somerton TL8177 Elveden TL8562 Hardwick TL8570 Ingham TL8673 Little Livermere TL9268 Pakenham TL9354 Thorpe Morieux TM0452 Ringshall TM0536 Holton St Mary
Year covered 1994
* * *
* * *
lkm square TM0560 TM0832 TM0957 TM1234 TM1251 TM1347 TM2175 TM2546 TM2560 TM2971 TM2978 TM3080 TM3085 TM3367 TM3459 TM3473 TM4162 TM4165
1994 * Stowupland * Manningtree Creeting St Mary * Brantham * Barham * Ipswich Hoxne/Stradbroke * Martlesham * Brandeston * Laxfield Metfield * Metfield Flixton/South Elmham * * Bruisyard * Little Glemham * Heveningham * Knodishall Saxmundham/Theberton *
1995 * *
* * *
* * *
* * * * * *
* Note that the allocation of squares is based on the BTO's 10km grid system of assigning squares to County RĂŠgional ReprĂŠsentatives (RRs). Thus, one square (Manningtree) is actually in Essex and the north-east corner of the county will fall under the jurisdiction of the SE Norfolk RR. However, these anomalies do not affect the overall results. Resulto from Suffolk squares Tables 2 and 3 present the results of the BBS in Suffolk for 1994 and 1995. In both instances, the results have been produced using only the 26 squares that were surveyed in both years (see Table 1). This is to reduce any wild fluctuations that would be caused by including data that had been gathered from a single year. In Tables 2 and 3, the following column headings have been used: Number = Number of squares in which species recorded (from possible 26). % = Proportion of total that 'Number' represents. Mean = Mean number of individuate of that species per square. Max = Maximum number of individuate of that species per square. Total = Total number of individuate of that species when ali 26 squares added together. Table 2. Species summary for Suffolk squares - 1994 Species Number Great Crested Grebe 2 Grey Heron 5 Mute Swan 1 Greylag Goose 2 Canada Goose 7 Barnacle Goose 1 Shelduck 3 Mallard 17
% 8 19 4 8 27 4 12 65 9
Mean 2.0 1.2 4.0 1.0 11.57 11 11.67 3.76
Max 2 2 4 1 42 11 26 10
Total 4 6 4 2 81 11 35 64
Species Tufted Duck Sparrowhawk Kestrel Hobby Red-legged Partridge Grey Partridge Quail Pheasant Moorhen Coot Oystercatcher Stone-curlew Little Ringed Piover Lapwing Snipe Curlew Redshank Black-headed Gull Common Gull Lesser Black-back Herring Gull Ferai Pigeon Stock Dove Wood Pigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Cuckoo Barn Owl Little Owl Tawny Owl Swift Green Woodpecker Grt Sp Woodpecker Lr Sp Woodpecker Skylark Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Meadow Pipit Yellow Wagtail Pied Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Nightingale Wheatear Blackbird Song Thrush Mistle Thrush Grasshopper Warbler
5 7 7 2 19 3 1 23 14 3 1 1 1 6 3 3 1 6 2 11 8 1 13 26 15 16 18 1 3 1 16 12 12 2 26 1 23 18 3 3 11 24 21 24 4 3 26 22 14 2
19 27 27 8 73 12 4 88 54 12 4 4 4 23 12 12 4 23 8 42 31 4 50 100 58 62 69 4 12 4 62 46 46 8 100 4 88 69 12 12 42 92 81 92 15 12 100 85 54 8
3.8 1.29 1.14 1 4.68 4 4 6.91 2 3.33 5 2 2 4 1 1.67 27 11.5 5.5 5.73 9.12 12 2.38 29.61 4.87 2.25 1.39 1 1 1 9.5 1.42 1.25 1 8.15 10 5.61 5.17 1.33 1.33 1.55 6.92 3.09 4.58 2 1 8.54 2.77 1.93 1
8 2 2 1 11 8 4 33 4 5 5 2 2 9 1 3 27 40 9 20 34 12 5 162 20 7 4 1 1 1 28 2 2 1 21 10 23 14 2 2 4 16 10 10 3 1 23 11 6 1
19 9 8 2 89 12 4 159 28 10 5 2 2 24 3 5 27 69 11 63 73 12 31 770 73 36 25 1 3 1 152 17 15 2 212 10 12 93 4 4 17 166 65 110 8 3 222 61 27 2
Species Sedge Warbler Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler Blackcap Chiffchaff Willow Warbler Goldcrest Spotted Flycatcher Long-tailed Tit Willow Tit Coal Tit Blue Tit Great Tit Nuthatch Treecreeper Jay Magpie Jackdaw Rook Carrion Crow Starling House Sparrow Tree Sparrow Chaffinch Greenfinch Goldfinch Linnet Bullfinch Yellowhammer Reed Bunting Corn Bunting (91 species)
2 2 9 17 5 18 18 20 2 3 14 2 4 24 24 1 3 10 15 16 15 24 23 20 1 24 20 19 18 8 20 3 4
8 8 35 65 19 69 69 77 8 12 54 8 15 92 92 4 12 38 58 62 58 92 88 77 4 92 77 73 69 31 77 12 15
1 1 1 4.65 1.8 2.72 3.22 3.6 4 2.33 2.36 3 2 4.87 3.96 1 1.33 1.8 1.73 7.81 27.6 3.75 13.78 10.45 5 8.96 5.05 5.05 7.78 1.5 5.95 2.67 2.5
1 1 1 18 4 7 10 13 7 4 7 5 4 16 12 1 2 4 4 27 145 7 65 26 5 23 23 23 42 2 18 5 4
2 2 9 79 9 49 58 72 8 7 33 6 8 117 95 1 4 18 26 125 414 90 317 209 5 215 101 96 140 12 119 8 10
Max 4 3 2 3 2 77 4 42 10 4 1 1
Total 4 5 6 5 2 93 4 67 67 4 4 1
: 3. Species summary for Suffolk squares - 1995 Species Number Great Crested Grebe 1 Cormorant 2 Grey Heron 5 Mute Swan 2 Greylag Goose 1 Canada Goose 3 Barnacle Goose 1 Shelduck 4 Mallard 15 Tufted Duck 1 Sparrowhawk 4 Osprey 1
% 4 8 19 8 4 12 4 15 58 4 15 4 11
Mean 4.0 2.5 1.2 2.5 2.0 31 4 16.75 4.47 4 1 1
Species Kestrel Red-legged Partridge Grey Partridge Quail Pheasant Golden Pheasant Moorhen Coot Oystercatcher Stone-curlew Lapwing Curlew Redshank Black-headed Gull Common Gull Lesser Black-back Herring Gull Great Black-back Ferai Pigeon Stock Dove Wood Pigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Cuckoo Little Owl Tawny Owl Swift Green Woodpecker Grt Sp Woodpecker Skylark Sand Martin Swallow House Martin Meadow Pipit Yellow Wagtail Grey Wagtail Pied Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Nightingale Redstart Blackbird Song Thrush Mistle Thrush Sedge Warbler Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Whitethroat Garden Warbler
6 21 2 1 23 1 13 3 1 1 4 2 2 6 2 10 7 1 5 15 26 11 14 13 3 1 10 7 5 26 1 20 13 1 2 1 13 23 20 24 3 1 26 21 11 1 1 8 20 10
23 81 8 4 88 4 50 12 4 4 15 8 8 23 8 38 27 4 19 58 100 42 54 50 12 4 38 27 19 100 4 77 50 4 8 4 50 88 77 92 12 4 100 81 42 4 4 31 77 38
1.17 2.9 1.5 2 7.43 1 1.92 4.67 2 3 7.75 3.5 6 16.5 7 10.1 3.71 3 1.4 2.73 24.19 4.91 1.86 1.46 1 1 6.3 1.71 1 8.19 1 4.7 6.31 1 1 1 2.08 7.43 2.75 5.67 1.67 1 8.88 2.19 5.27 3 3 1 4.1 1.2
2 8 2 2 44 1 4 10 2 3 12 6 7 49 10 40 8 3 2 6 64 23 6 4 1 1 24 4 1 26 1 15 14 1 1 1 6 13 5 14 3 1 24 5 23 3 3 1 12 2
7 61 3 2 171 1 25 14 2 3 31 7 12 99 14 101 26 3 7 41 629 54 26 19 3 1 63 12 5 213 1 94 82 1 2 1 27 171 55 136 5 1 231 46 58 3 3 8 82 12
Species Blackcap Chiffchaff Willow Warbler Goldcrest Spotted Flycatcher Long-tailed Tit Marsh Tit Willow Tit Coal Tit Blue Tit Great Tit Treecreeper Jay Magpie Jackdaw Rook Carrion Crow Starling House Sparrow Tree Sparrow Chaffinch Greenfinch Goldfinch Siskin Linnet Common Crossbill Bullfinch Yellowhammer Reed Bunting Corn Bunting (92 species)
23 16 21 6 6 15 4 1 6 23 23 4 5 19 16 16 22 21 19 3 26 19 12 1 18 1 8 20 5 3
88 62 81 23 23 58 15 4 23 88 88 15 19 73 62 62 85 81 73 12 100 73 46 4 69 4 31 77 19 12
2.39 2.44 3.29 3.17 1.5 3.67 1.5 3 3.5 6.26 4.17 1.25 1.4 2.37 11.44 18.81 3.14 15 12.58 2 9.23 4.05 4.5 1 5.61 8 1.62 5.25 1.8 1.33
7 7 12 11 2 13 3 3 10 12 10 2 2 6 51 123 9 68 42 3 32 11 10 1 15 8 2 14 4 2
55 39 69 19 9 55 6 3 21 144 96 5 7 45 183 301 69 315 239 6 240 77 54 1 101 8 13 105 9 4
In addition to the above list, Long-eared Owl was found in a square covered only in 1994 so does not appear in the table. To date, a grand total of 101 species has been located in BBS squares. With such small sample sizes, the data can as yet only be taken at face value, but the commoner species, found in more than 80% of squares are likely to provide reasonably accurate results. In future it hoped to be able to produce an annual table showing the percentage change (if any) in the breeding population of each species and to compare this with national results. Distribution and abundance Figures showing the distribution and abundance of species in BBS squares are easily achieved and are presented here along side national figures for comparison. National data is taken from the BTO's first annual BBS report. Ail data is taken from 1995 results only but again only using those squares that had been surveyed in both years.
Table 4. The top 20 most widespread species in BBS squares National Suffolk Position Species Av. count Species Av. count 1 Wood Pigeon Wood Pigeon 24 15 2 Wren 8 Chaffinch 9 3 Chaffinch 8 Blackbird 9 4 Blackbird 9 Skylark 8 Robin 5 Carrion Crow 7 6 Robin Wren 6 6 7 7 7 Pheasant 7 Blue Tit 8 Starling 22 Blue Tit 6 4 9 Great Tit 4 Great Tit Dunnock 2 10 3 Blackcap 11 Skylark 6 Carrion Crow 3 Song Thrush Starling 12 3 15 Magpie 4 Willow Warbier 3 13 14 Swallow Red-legged Partridge 3 5 15 Willow Warbier 4 Song Thrush 2 Yellowhammer 16 Greenfinch 5 5 Swallow 17 House Sparrow 15 5 Pheasant 4 Whitethroat 4 18 Jackdaw Dunnock 19 9 3 Yellowhammer 3 House Sparrow 13 20 Of particular interest here are the farmland species which appear to be more widespread in Suffolk than the UK as a whole, including Skylark, Song Thrush, Yellowhammer and Whitethroat. Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge are predictably high and Blackcap surprisingly so, although this is perhaps an inaccuracy due to the small sample size. Wren, Carrion Crow, Starling and Song Thrush all appear to be below national levels in the county, as does Magpie which does not appear in the top 20. Table 5. The top 20 most abundant species in BBS squares National Suffolk Av. Count Species Av. count Position Species 22 Canada Goose 31 1 Starling Wood Pigeon 24 2 Wood Pigeon 15 House Sparrow Rook 19 3 15 4 Blackbird 9 Shelduck 17 Chaffinch 8 Black-headed Gull 16 5 Starling Wren 8 15 6 7 Carrion Crow 7 House Sparrow 13 Jackdaw 11 Blue Tit 7 8 Jackdaw Lesser Black-back 10 9 9 Robin Chaffinch 9 10 6 Skylark Blackbird 8 11 6 Swallow 5 Skylark 8 12 Greenfinch Crossbill 8 13 5 Lapwing 8 14 Linnet 5 4 Wren 7 15 Magpie 4 Pheasant 7 16 Great Tit 14
Position 17 18 19 20
National Species Av. Count Willow Warbler 4 Dunnock 3 4 Pheasant 3 Song Thrush
Suffolk Species Common Gull House Martin Swift Blue Tit
Av. count 7 6
As can be seen, a sample size as small as that available at present in Suffolk throws up a few anomalies with species such as Canada Goose and Crossbill artificially high on the abundance table because they happened to occur in good numbers in the squares selected. Of interest are the farmland species which appear to be doing better than the national trend, including Skylark and Lapwing. The appearance of House Martin in the table is a little surprising whilst a number of gull species appear due to the presence of large numbers of off-duty feeding parties and non-breeders from coastal nest sites. The future In the long term, the success of the BBS depends on continued interest by the nation's birdwatchers. In Suffolk, we need to ensure that adequate squares are covered so that the data gives a true representation of what is actually happening, although we must bear in mind that sample sizes from single counties are always going to be too small to give as accurate a picture as national data can. At present, we have around 30 squares regularly covered but we need at least double that to ensure that any irregularities (e.g. non-coverage of a square in one year) do not affect the overall results to an unacceptable degree. There will always be spare squares awaiting surveyors, indeed, if all are filled, more can be supplied through the BTO's stratified random selection method. It would be nice to think that all of Suffolk's active birdwatchers could put aside around six hours each year to complete a square. Please give it some thought; you can contact either Suffolk's BTO Regional Representative, Mick Wright, or Richard Bashford at the BTO (The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU) for further details on the survey or availability of squares. It may be necessary to travel a short distance to participate but Suffolk ornithology, the BTO and ultimately the birds will benefit from your efforts and national rarities have been found in the course of BBS fieldwork! Acknowledgements This paper would not have been possible without the help and co-operation of the BTO, in particular Richard Gregory, John Marchant and Richard Bashford of the Census Unit. Thanks are also due to the following participants of the BBS, without whom there would be no survey and no results: D Balmer, A Banister, R Bashford, A Brenchley, A Buckingham, S Carmichael, P Chappell, P Cloke, M Crewe, D Davidson, J Dustow, J Garstang, S Gillings, J Glazebrook, R Glazebrook, S Gough, T Gray, R Gregory, P Hamling, P Harvey, B Henson, A Howe, P Jackson, C Jakes, J Neighbour, T Oliver, G Oram, W Patrick, D Shirreff, T Spall, A Stocker, J Turner, P Vincent, J Walshe, R Waters, A Wilson. Mike Crewe, 29A Quitter Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk IP 11 7JJ
An Analysis of the Occurrence of Wren, Dunnock and Reed Bunting at Landguard Point, Suffolk Nigel Odin Landguard Point is situated in the extreme south-east corner of Suffolk and juts out as a short peninsula into the mouth of the Orwell/Stour estuary. The old Ministry of Defence buildings have been the home of Landguard Bird Observatory since 1983, during which time a large amount of data has been gathered, from the ringing of birds, a daily census of migrants and from observation of visible migration. This data has been analysed to produce the following species accounts. Wren Troglodytes troglodytes Wrens have been estimated to be the most abundant British breeding bird following a run of mild winters (Marchant et al. 1990). At Landguard the species breeds following mild winters when the population is high. Wrens are known to have bred only in 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1995 with up to three pairs attempting to nest. Although Landguard is very much sub-optimal habitat for Wrens, breeding has been successful. Up to twelve Wrens have attempted to winter on the peninsula; in mild winters the survival rate is high but following periods of severe winter weather they can be totally wiped out. The numbers of Wrens trapped and ringed annually varies: 1983 32
The annual totals appear to be dĂŠpendent on the severity of the previous winter's weather. For example, only 22 were ringed in 1986 following harsh winter conditions with another population crash in 1991 after the harsh frosts in February of that year. This suggest that the bulk of Wrens trapped and ringed at Landguard are of fairly local origin as migratory populations will presumably move on to winter in more hospitable areas. This may be the case, but the seasonal pattern of when Wrens are ringed at Landguard fits into a definite pattern. Fig. 1 shows the total numbers of Wrens ringed at Landguard in five-day periods for the years 1986 to 1995. Fig. 1. Wren ringing totals 1986-95 in five-day periods. 140 120 100
No new Wrens are ringed from the end of November to early March despite overwintering individuals being present. New Wrens start to appear on site in early March with spring passage peaking in early Aprii and continuing throughout May. Numbers are small but the individuals are a source of interest to the ringers handling them due to their plumage variation. The bulk of the Wrens at Landguard are fairly uniform in their plumage characteristics but in spring (particularly late spring) odd 'grey' or 'rufous' individuals are trapped with some being larger and bulkier. It is thought that these individuals are not British in origin. Geographical distribution of the diffĂŠrent races of Wren is marked but complex and mainly clinal across Europe with racial differentiation obscured by marked individuai variation (Cramp et al. 1988). East Anglian Wrens belong to the race indigenus, whereas continental birds are of the nominate race troglodytes. Are some of the differently-plumaged birds of the nominate form? The few Wrens ringed at Landguard in the summer are either offspring bred on site or juveniles dispersing from breeding grounds nearby (the well known phenomenon of post-juvenile dispersai). In some years very few birds - or even none at ali - are ringed from May to August. More Wrens are trapped from the second week of September until mid-November with some stragglers to the month's end. The autumn peak occurs from the third week of September throughout October (fig. 1). The bulk of birds trapped in autumn are probably of fairly locai origin, wandering in search of suitable wintering sites, particularly in years of high population pressure. However, some individuals, diffĂŠrent in structure and plumage from the bulk of the birds handled, also show up in the autumn and could perhaps be continental migrants. Ringing recoveries for the whole of the British Isles show that most Wrens only move short distances between summer and winter quarters with no preference in direction. Very few birds move longer distances, mostly in a southerly direction (Hawthorn & Mead 1975). Ringing recoveries of a few individuals do link Britain with the near Continent, the Low Countries and Scandinavia (Marchant 1986). The nominate race is migratory and partially migratory in north-eastern Europe (Cramp et al. 1988) and some of these individuals may pass through Landguard. Ringing recoveries of Wrens are notoriously low and so far there has been only five recoveries of Landguard-ringed individuals.; three found dead at Landguard, one at Martlesham Heath (15km away) and one in Manningtree (16km away). Two had fallen victim to cats, one was a road casualty and one entered a conservatory. The cause of death of the remaining individuai is unknown. We await our first distant recovery to prove that Wrens visiting Landguard are capable of flying across the North Sea. Dunnock Prunella modularis The Dunnock is an ubiquitous species in the British Isles with a complex breeding strategy (Cramp et al. 1988). At Landguard, the species is present ali year with a breeding population that has varied between an estimated eight to fifteen pairs in recent years. Lower numbers are present in years following severe winter weather conditions (Odin 1995). Breeding success is thought to be related to the weather, which undoubtedly affects food availability. At Landguard, breeding success can be monitored by examining the number of juveniles ringed during the summer months. The years 1987, 1988 and 1995 were very good whilst 1986, 1989, 1990 and 1991 were very poor years with only moderate numbers of young ringed. The occurrence of Dunnocks at Landguard involves more than just a locai breeding population as an analysis of the available data shows. Ringing totals for the years 1986 to 1995 were added together in five-day periods and computed on a histogram (fig. 2) which shows a dynamic population at the site. 17
Fig. 2. Dunnock ringing totals 1986-95 in five-day periods. 120 T
On the Continent, Dunnocks behave very differently to British birds. Not only do they largely occupy a coniferous and montane habitat, but in northern and central Europe they are summer visitors, wintering in Iberia, around the Mediterranean, the southern states of the former Soviet Union and Turkey (Cramp et al. 1988). In contrast, British Dunnocks are far more catholic in their choice of habitat, particularly favouring lowland urban and rural locations. They are largely sedentary with most ringing recoveries coming from sites between 0.1 and 1km from the ringing location (Davies in Lack 1986). At Landguard, small numbers are ringed in spring from the end of February to early May. These are thought to be birds from the northern European populations moving from wintering areas around the Mediterranean to Scandinavia. However, some birds of more local origin may also be involved as they wander around in search of vacant territories caused by winter mortality. During the summer months the ringing total is almost totally made up of juveniles produced on site. To ring a new adult Dunnock in the summer is an extremely rare and noteworthy event. September brings more new Dunnocks with quite large numbers passing through between mid-September and the third week of October. An autumn day maximum of 36 individuals was ringed on October 1st 1984 out of an estimated 100 present on site (although note that this is before the period covered by fig. 2). Passage peters out during the end of October and the first ten days of November. No new birds have been trapped at Landguard from December to February, apart from half a dozen during severe weather conditions in early 1987. Autumn migrants are thought to be birds from the Scandinavian breeding population on their way to wintering grounds in southern Europe. Interestingly, numbers trapped in September and October show no correlation with the numbers of new juveniles trapped during the summer months; good numbers can be trapped during the autumn following a poor breeding year at Landguard. However, the picture is even less clear than these statements suggest and it is suspected that local British Dunnocks get excited by all this activity taking place in September and October. Dunnocks are often seen flying south over Landguard in the autumn with a maximum day count of 36 on September 19th 1992. In association with these movements, birds are often seen flying out of the bushes and calling, circling upwards and moving off southwards. 18
However, some individuals fly up high circling, calling, and then drop back into the bushes. Such individuals are thought to be birds of a more local origin getting excited by all the activity but 'chickening out' at the thought of migration. Local Dunnocks also become very vocal in the bushes when their (presumed) continental cousins pass them by. Visible migration of Dunnocks is one of the most interesting aspects of bird movements at Landguard but is sadly not noticed by many observers. There are 35 ringing recoveries of Landguard Dunnocks, mostly of birds found dead locally. Of this total, 21 are at Landguard, eight in Felixstowe and two across the estuary in Dovercourt. Three Landguard-ringed birds have been controlled 9km away at Bawdsey and one has travelled 18km to Ipswich. The only four controls (birds that have been ringed elsewhere) at Landguard involve four birds that had been ringed at Bawdsey and one from 21km down the coast at St Osyth, Essex. We still await our first continental recovery of a Dunnock and the lack of one so far is perhaps a reflection of the species' habitat preference and secretive behaviour abroad. Excluding the Bawdsey controls, which were released alive after capture, the cause of death for the remaining 31 recoveries includes ten brought in by cats, four road casualties and two taken by Sparrowhawks. Most of the recoveries involve young, presumably inexperienced birds in their first year of life. Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus In contrast to the previous two species, few Reed Buntings are trapped at Landguard and this analysis is based more upon observations of Reed Buntings on Landguard Nature Reserve and visible migration of the species through the area. Reed Bunting records were extracted from LBO files for the years 1983 to 1995. Numbers recorded annually vary greatly from a minimum of ten to a maximum of 167 (fig. 3). Most sightings involve birds on visible migration flying southwards and passing across the river estuary into Essex. Very few grounded migrants are seen and only 28 individuals have been trapped, ringed and released with no ringing recoveries resulting to date. The number of Reed Buntings recorded has largely been dependent on the presence at the observatory of recorders with experience of the flight call of the species. As a consequence, the numbers logged must be regarded as an absolute minimum, and in any case, birds flying over silently are most certainly likely to be missed. However, this bias should not affect any seasonal pattern of movements which may show up. Fig. 3. Reed Bunting bird-day totals 1983-95.
The maximum number noted on any one day was 38 on October 23rd 1989 which was also the year with the maximum number of bird days (fig. 3). There is no corrĂŠlation between the numbers recorded at Landguard over the years 1985 to 1994 with that at eleven other British bird observatories, with Landguard contributing only 1% of records to the combined migration count of 12 observatories (Woodbridge 1996). In analysing Landguard data, the year was split up into 73 five-day periods and the total number logged in the years 1983 to 1995 plotted (fig. 4); the resulting histogram clearly shows a marked seasonal pattern of occurrence. In essence, there is a handful of winter records that nearly ali coincide with cold weather conditions. Reed Buntings are known to be susceptible to severe winter weather and move to milder coastal areas to escape the freeze-up. A light spring migration takes place during March and Aprii with some birds breaking into song briefly on the site. These spring records, which are mostly of males, are thought to relate to birds of a fairly locai origin wandering in search of suitable nesting sites. In the early years of LBO, suitable breeding sites existed just to the north of the present recording area but these sites are now lost to 'development'. Several spring records relate to these early years, when the sites were included in the recording area. But for a single record for July 8th, the species has not been noted at Landguard between May 13th and August 3rd . Fig. 4 Reed Bunting sightings 1983-95 in five-day periods. 140
Many early autumn records are of trapped juveniles, presumably involving youngsters dispersing from natal sites nearby in the Suffolk river estuaries. Autumn passage really gets under way in mid-September, peaks in the third and fourth week of October and is largely over by mid-November. The species is largely sedentary in Britain (Prys-Jones 1985) and consequently it is strongly suggestive that the bulk of Reed Buntings passing through Landguard in autumn are not British-bred birds. Populations in Scandinavia are highly migratory with birds nesting in eastern Scandinavia particularly likely to move (Prys-Jones 1985) and it seems probable that this population accounts for birds passing through our area. Western Scandinavian birds are known to migrate south through the Low Countries to winter mostly in southern France and, to a lesser degree, along the Channel coast and in Iberia. Eastern Scandinavian Reed Buntings are concentrated in Italy in winter (Prys-Jones 1985). 20
The few ringing recoveries published involving birds moving to and from Britain suggest that a very small part of the western Scandinavian breeding population may winter in Britain, along with some individuals from the Low Countries. Published ringing recoveries in Britain of Reed Buntings ringed abroad have included one each from Finland and Denmark, five from Sweden and ten from Norway. (Mead et al. 1995). Interestingly, at nearby Fagbury Cliff (only 3km from Landguard) only 15 Reed Buntings have been ringed, but two recoveries have resulted. One, ringed on October 1st 1992, was controlled 850km away on the French Atlantic coast near Bordeaux on November 1st 1993 and another trapped on October 10th 1994 was controlled 369km away in Devon on December 9th 1994. Both these long-distance recoveries are likely to involve non-British bred birds. In conclusion, it seems that Reed Buntings recorded at Landguard mostly involve foreigners and are long distance migrants. Small numbers of presumably non-migratory local birds nesting nearby in suitable habitat occasionally venture to the site. Acknowledgements Ringing data was extracted and computerised by Mike Marsh who produced histograms upon which this paper is based. Thanks are due also to the members of Landguard Bird Observatory who have ringed and recorded the birds that provided the data used here and to Robert Prys-Jones who kindly provided a copy of his paper from Le Gerfaut. Thanks again to Mike Marsh who read and commented on an earlier draft of this paper. References Cramp, S. et al. 1988. The Birds of the Western Palearctic Vol V. OUP, Oxford. Davis, N. B. in Lack, P. 1986. The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. Poyser, Calton. Hawthorn, I. & Mead, C. J. 1975. Wren movements and survival. Brit. Birds 68: 349358. Marchant, J. H. in Lack, P. 1986. The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. Poyser, Calton. Marchant, J. H., Hudson, R., Carter, S. P. & Whittington, P. A. 1990. Population Trends in British Birds. BTO, Tring. Mead, C. J., Clark, J. A. & Peach, W. J. 1995. Report on bird ringing in Britain and Ireland for 1993. Ringing and Migration 16: 16-64. Odin, N. 1995. The breeding birds of Landguard Point, Suffolk. Landguard Bird Observatory Annual Report 1993. Prys-Jones, R.P. 1984. Migration patterns of the Reed Bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus schoeniclus, and the dependence of wintering distribution on environmental conditions. Le Gerfaut 14: 15-37. Woodbridge, K 1996. Population monitoring using migration count data from British and Irish bird observatories. Report to the Bird Observatories Council. Nigel Odin, c/o Landguard Bird Observatory, Viewpoint Road, Felixstowe, IP 11 8TW
Weather trends and their effects on the County's avifauna in 1995 Adam Bimpson January January 1995 will be remembered for its rain, associated with a run of low pressure systems heavily laden with moisture from the Atlantic giving Suffolk its wettest January since 1988. The total of 4.5 inches (114mm) was twice the long-term average for the County and mirrored the national picture where overall the country had not seen so much rain since 1948. The month was relatively mild throughout with the East Anglian Daily Times (EADT) weather station in Ipswich recording 22 days when the temperature was at least equal to the long term average of 6°C (43°F). The failed appearance of the traditional Scandinavian anticyclone was considered to be responsible for the lack of wintry conditions, but there was a strong contingent of winter birds with ail three divers and rarer grebes being present. Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes mirrored the build up seen in Jan 1994, albeit in reduced numbers. There was a good selection of wildfowl to be found, including a small flock of Bean Geese in the North Warren area and a good range of duck species including Smew and Red-crested Pochard. Birds present within the County were not just confined to the expected winter visitors and Arctic and Pomarine Skuas were both present along the coast, continuing recent increases in occurrence during the winter months ( S u f f o l k Birds 44). The mild conditions were obviously having a more pronounced effect on some species than others with a male Woodlark induced into song at Westleton on 29th. There was a good selection of warblers with, in addition to the regular Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler (only the fourth wintering record for the County) and two Dartford Warblers in the coastal strip. February The month began in good spirit with the 2nd being a day of brilliant sunshine due to high pressure centered over southern Britain. It remained warm until mid-month when the country saw a return to the more familiar run of depressions from the southwest. Accompanying some of these low pressure systems were some strong winds and gust of up to 74mph were recorded on 16th. This did not adversely affect the températures which, for the third month in a row, saw averages equalled or exceeded. February was atypically wet; more usually it can be one of the driest periods of the year. This fact was highlighted by observations at Broom's Barn Expérimental Station where only one day was recorded without précipitation. The mild conditions and ever increasing numbers of Little Egrets in Britain was again reflected by the presence of a single bird on the Blyth Estuary throughout the month. It would be interesting to see what happened to the recent colonisation if there was a return to more traditional colder conditions. Other wading birds were also benefiting from the favourable conditions with Havergate producing peak counts for Avocet (322) and Black-tailed Godwit (137). Many of the hard-weather species were stili present from January, but a Dipper of one of the black-bellied Continental races was a welcome addition to the range of species present in the County. This record continues the recent run of sightings of this species with birds in seven out of the last nine years. Some species reached a winter peak count during the month and included Snow Bunting and Twite, perhaps in anticipation of an early departure. However, although the conditions were mild there was no early start to spring; the only newly-reported 22
harbingers of spring were a pair of Black Redstarts at Sizewell, although these could just as easily have been overwintering individuals. March Weather records continued to be broken as March became the sunniest month this century. Almost 200 hours of sunshine were recorded at both Wattisham and Cavendish, an incredible 90 hours above the average for the month. The previous highest had been 180 hours recorded in 1907 and 1933. However, the increased amount of sun did not greatly affect the temperatures as the dominant conditions were cool, Atlantic low pressure systems. Overall the average temperature for the month was equalled or exceeded on a total of 18 days. With the changeable weather and start of the main migration period came greater variety in the birdlife. With depressions continuing to dominate, visible migration was sporadic and rather poor with only the last ten days producing an obvious arrivai. Spring-like conditions occurred on a couple of dates, caused by high pressure systems tracking eastwards from the Continent and bringing potentially migrant-bearing winds. This was first evident on 1 lth when the first Wheatears appeared at Landguard and Minsmere. Havergate produced the first Sandwich Terns on 18th but there were no more arrivais until 22nd when anticyclonic conditions returned and produced the first sustained run of migrants. The 15th brought the first Sand Martin, but the species remained generally scarce for the remainder of the month. Other hirundines were to follow with the first Swallows on 23rd and the first House Martins on 25th; the latter date also produced the first records of Little Ringed Piover. A maie Garganey on 26th arrived on a typical date for the species. Aprii Continuing in the same vane that March had ended, with high pressure dominating, Aprii set a new record high by reaching 1039mb. This led to a very warm start to the month with East Anglia not only being the warmest place in the UK (22Â°C), but also being warmer than the southern Mediterranean coast! The high pressure also meant there was a break from the wet conditions that had characterised the winter, the EADT weather station in Ipswich recording less than one inch (<25mm), the long term average being 1.7 inches (43mm). A large anticyclone positioned over the Bay of Biscay dominated for the first two weeks and led to the early arrivai of some summer migrants, including Swifts, Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers. Although unseasonably warm, some long staying winter visitors continued to linger, including Black-throated and Great Northern Divers, several species of wildfowl, Iceland and Glaucous Gull and Shore Lark. The month cooled around 16th with the displacement of the high pressure system by more unsettled weather from the west, bringing with it a colder, northerly airstream. This produced some marked frosts that saw the thermometers dipping to - 7Â°C around 20th. This sudden cold snap may have temporarily halted the northerly departure of some late winter visitors such as a group of Fieldfare recorded on the 23rd. May The mild conditions seen at the end of Aprii continued into the early part of May as the anticyclone situated over Scandinavia continued to pull in a warm southeasterly airflow. A Continental flavour was provided by the appearance of a Black Kite, Purple HĂŠron, White Stork and Bee-eater ali during the first eight days of the month. Only May 1990 had seen a warmer start to the month as temperatures peaked 23
around the 27째C mark. However, conditions deteriorated towards the end of the first week as the high pressure system moved away and cooler weather set in, dominated by a northerly air flow. With the departure of good weather went most birders' hopes of a productive May, but this was not to be the case, and a real assortment of high quality birds of both western and eastern origin were found. A Lesser Yellowlegs at North Warren on 6th-11th was rapidly followed by its larger cousin the Greater Yellowlegs on 14th. As is the way with most things American the show was not over yet and more pulses were set racing with the County's first Spotted Sandpiper on 18th. Most occurrences could be explained by a series of depressions tracking across the UK but the presence of a male Citrine Wagtail at Minsmere on 10th was surely thrown in to confuse the matter. Who said spring birding was easy! Towards the month's end a return to warmer conditions was seen with the re-establishment of an anticyclone over southern England. The warm southerly winds pushed temperatures up over 20째C although they never quite reached the temperatures seen during the first week. The dry spell was broken only sporadically by the occasional thunderstorm, providing no long-term relief to already diminishing water supplies. The Continental flavour returned with the appearance of a Red-footed Falcon - continuing an excellent spring for raptors - Melodious Warbler and the almost obligatory Serin. The warm conditions bode well for the potential re-colonisation of Suffolk by Dartford Warblers with three records, including two singing males. However, the month ended on a duller note as the wind swung round to the north-west, introducing more cloudy and showery conditions. June After the excitement of May the beginning of June was a little less hectic. Dull and cool conditions gave many parts of eastern England the coldest start to the month since 1911. The culprit was a low pressure system situated over the southern North Sea and sandwiched between Atlantic and Continental anticyclones. The prevailing cold northerly airstream pushed temperatures to well below the long term average; along the coast thermometers struggled to reach 10째C (50째F). A combination of cold temperatures and moderate rainfall inflicted high chick mortality on ground nesting birds, particularly disappointing after the very favourable start to the breeding season in April and May. During the early part of June the dominant north to north-east winds gave rise to the arrival of some Scandinavian breeding species in the shape of Red-breasted Flycatcher and Common Rosefinch, but overall the first two weeks were rather ornithologically bland. The depression started to break down around 14th with a series of Atlantic lows tracking over the country; however an improvement in conditions was not seen until 18th when an anticyclone had fully developed over northern France. This run of unsettled weather was responsible for fevered excitement amongst the County's birders with an excellent run of Continental specialities! A Whiskered Tern seen all too briefly off Landguard on the 12th got things under way and was rapidly followed by a singing Marsh Warbler and a Red-necked Phalarope in the coastal strip. Minsmere played host to that most mythical of waders, a Terek Sandpiper on 14th. On the same date Lowestoft produced a female Woodchat Shrike (to 23rd) and, not content with the latter species, also held a Rose-coloured Starling from 17th to 27th. With the stable high pressure system dominating for the remainder of the month, Suffolk was basking in unbroken sunshine with up to 16 hours a day reported. Continental sunshine pumped up the temperatures and during the last ten days, the county was hotter than such exotic locations as Alicante and Beirut. There was 24
however a price to pay with the month's rainfall being just 43% of the average total. Ornithological activity now centered on breeding species, with replacement clutches needed to cover losses due to the cold, wet start to the season. July Unlike the contrasting cold and warm spells of last month, July was just one long extreme - hot, hot, hot was probably the best way to describe it. July was hotter in 1995 than in any year this century, including the memorable 1976 drought. It was the ninth month in a row with average tempĂŠratures above the long-term average and the period from Aprii to July was the driest since 1976. The south-westerly winds that were seen throughout July can typically produce early sea bird passage in Suffolk and, although winds were not strong, they did produce both Manx and Sooty Shearwaters in the first half of the month. July traditionally heralds the start of return wader passage and the dry summer had left many areas with bare mud, making them especially attractive as staging points. As a resuit, many species were well reported throughout the month. The success of some locally-breeding waders had been adversely affected by the exceptional conditions. On Havergate the weather is thought to have been partially to blame for the poor fledging successes, with the cold first half of June probably being particularly significant. The month also saw an early start to passerine migration with Landguard recording an early Whinchat and the site's first ever July record of a Pied Flycatcher. The excellent prevailing conditions, possibly in conjunction with an early end to the breeding season, presumably accounted for the early inception of migration. August August continued in the same manner as July, being hot and sunny with a distinct lack of rain. Stable and persistent high pressure systems gave the UK both the warmest and sunniest summer since records began in 1659 and 1867 respectively. Nationally the summer was now drier than that of 1976 with centrai England recording its driest summer since 1727. The month began fairly quietly in terms of ornithological activity with the first ten days being rather non eventful. With winds prevailing from the east an Icterine Warbler on lOth gave the first inkling that autumn was here, at least in spirit. No one could have predicted the arrivai of an Olivaceous Warbler on 12th, certainly not a product of sunstroke-induced hallucinations!! The eastern domination of prevailing winds came to the fore around 20th with a noticeable arrivai of drift migrants along the coast including Wryneck, Icterine Warbler and Red-backed Shrike. Landguard also produced its peak counts for Reed and Sedge Warbler for the year. Suffolk's birders only had to wait a further week before pulses were sent racing and the weather became more autumnal. After the 53-day heat wave the anticyclonic conditions disintegrated and were replaced by a northerly airstream, characterised by cooler more showery conditions. After a largely unremarkable autumn for sea watching the last four days of the month produced the year's finest showing. Highlights included Cory's and Sooty Shearwater, seven Long-tailed Skuas, Sabine's Gull, Roseate Tern and Grey Phalarope. Commoner species also put in a good showing although there was a notable lack of large counts of Little Gull from Southwold. This period of unsettled weather also produced some notable raptor passage with two Honey Buzzards, several Common Buzzards and a single Montagu's Harrier being recorded. Amongst the passerines, the prize appeared at Landguard in the shape of the County's second Thrush Nightingale. 25
September After a dry summer, September started wet with thundery showers on 2nd, whilst the depression that followed on 10th produced heavy rain contributing to a monthly total for part of the region of over three inches. As it transpired, water was not the only memorable thing falling from the skies during the month. A low over East Anglia on 15th started a large fall of migrants, consisting mostly of Redstarts and, over the following two or three days, many sites along the east coast as far north as Yorkshire produced large counts. The classic drift conditions produced a wide selection of common migrants including good numbers of Wheatear and Whinchat whilst the County played host to six Barred Warblers during the month. An Icterine Warbler was amongst a number of species seen on the P&O Freeway ferry some five miles out of Felixstowe on 18th and another (or perhaps the same) was seen at Landguard on 19th. The lack of an Indian summer due to an absence of anticyclonic conditions may not have encouraged many departing summer migrants to hang around. September 10th and 11th produced large scale visible migration with 1080 Swallows passing south at Landguard on 11th. Amongst the more usual sightings there at the time, a total of 19 Tree Pipits was present on 11th. This large-scale departure coincided with a deterioration in the weather from the previously warm conditions. Seawatching was generally uneventful but the tail-end of late August's movements produced a few highlights in early September off Lowestoft, including 50 Little Gulls on 5th and a Sabine's Gull on 4th-5th. October Although September promised a period of relief from drought conditions that had prevailed during the summer, October saw a return to the dryer weather. Several areas had not experienced such conditions for over 70 years. The warm conditions probably accounted for a good spread of later than usual departing summer migrants, the most extreme being a Nightjar found in allotments at Felixstowe on 8th and an impressive movement of 5,500 House Martins south over North Warren on 2nd Many wader species were also late in leaving with a wave of late-departing Whimbrel and up to 23 Spotted Redshank at Benacre during the period. The mild, southerlydominated weather possibly prevented any notable influx of winter visitors and a Great Grey Shrike at Landguard mid-month looked a little out of place. Although mostly southerly, the winds did turn south-west on occasion and produced a better than usual array of transatlantic migrants in the south-west of Britain. To the immense surprise of most of the region's birding community, this was reflected on the Suffolk coast. Not one but two Red-eyed Vireos turned up on the same date and both South wold and Thorpeness were visited by a stream of admirers between 12th and 15th. Associated with a short spell of south-easterlies, the end of the month produced a Serin and male Pine Bunting on 25th and 28th respectively. November The start of the month saw mild weather prevailing over the region controlled by anticyclonic conditions and the first two days saw the first large-scale thrush arrival of the autumn. Minsmere staff reported 3,000 Fieldfares and 1,000 Redwings west on 1st and Landguard produced 3,000 Redwing west on the same date. This general air of activity saw the County's Little Auk day record broken with 641 recorded off Covehithe on 2nd and the species was well reported around the coast during the first five days. An observation of a Black Redstart eating a Painted Lady butterfly on 3rd well illustrated how mild conditions were, and there were several very late departing summer migrants still present within the county throughout the month. A Garganey 26
present at Minsmere on 27th proved to be the extreme, other species included Swallow and Wheatear. November remained mild throughout and Ipswich recorded daytime temperatures greater than the seasonal average for most of the month. The presence of mild conditions did not prevent wintering species being well represented, and included 70 Snow Buntings at Minsmere during the month. A brief change to snow and sleet showers on 17th produced the coldest day of the month with a mĂĄximum temperature of 4Â°C being recorded. However, this was a short lived event and the change from northerly back to a southerly airflow soon resumed the unseasonably warm conditions. December After starting mild, December's weather soon changed to more typical conditions with a period of cold easterlies, due to the development of an anticyclone centered over north-east Europe. This marked change produced one of the events of the year with an unprecedented influx of Arctic Redpolls. At least five were reported during the month at various sites, although we await details of acceptances. Lesser Redpolls were also present in large numbers and included good numbers of the 'mealy' race. The colder weather produced some good wildfowl counts as numbers built up slowly. Evidence of continental immigration was provided by good numbers of Redcrested Pochard (including six males at Alton Water on 22nd) and Smew with three males and seven females at Minsmere on 2nd. Alton Water produced the most notable counts of commoner species including Pochard (826) and Coot (2,845) on lOth. Other evidence of cold weather movements was provided by 200 Skylark seen flying northeast over Stowmarket on 1 lth, and two Jays observed coming in off the sea at Landguard on 22nd. Although December saw a shift to colder weather, the atypically warm conditions that had prevailed during the latter part of the year were still in evidence by some overwintering summer visitors and included three Ring Ouzels. There were several very unseasonable visitors around the UK during December, including a Quail and Turtle Dove - not quite the twelve days of Christmas but not far off! Overall, 1995 had been an eventful year in both ornithological and meteorological terms. It was the warmest year on record since 1659 and provided the County's birders with some memorable events.
The 1995 Suffolk Bird Report Introduction to the systematic list The systematic list of species and its appendices have been written using data supplied by the county's birdwatchers and input onto computer at the Biological Records Centre at Ipswich Museum. The collators of data for the checklist are as follows: Divers to Shag Herons to geese Ducks Raptors Game birds to cranes Oystercatcher to Ruff Snipe to phalaropes Skuas to gulls Terns to auks
Gary Lowe Adam Bimpson Malcolm Wright Richard Rafe Philip Murphy Philip Murphy Adam Bimpson Stuart Ling Will Brame
Pigeons to woodpeckers Larks to Dunnock Chats to thrushes Warblers to flycatchers Tits to shrikes Crows to Starling Sparrows to buntings Escapees
Chris Gregory Andrew Easton Rex Beecroft David Pearson Darren Underwood Rob Macklin Rob Macklin Mike Crewe
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 of Recent Holarctic Bird Species with any more recent altĂŠrations. All records refer to a single bird unless otherwise stated. Subspecies are listed under the main species' heading, which includes the scientific name. With scarcer species, ali records are listed under the parish followed by a more exact location, if known. This exception to this is at the river estuaries and larger, well-known sites criss-crossed by several parish boundaries e.g. Walberswick NNR, Minsmere, Orfordness, Alton Water etc. To minimise any Potential 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. Counts from North Warren include Thorpeness Meare, Church Farm Marshes and the shoreline 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 for completeness (although efforts are made to show this separately). 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 such sites remains small, and in fact appears to be falling, so it is of great relief that the Breeding Bird Survey has taken off so well, both locally and nationally. This scheme should provide an even better data base on the health - or otherwise - of the Nation's avifauna and we are indebted to the willingness of the British Trust for Ornithology to provide data from this scheme. The following abbreviations are used in the systematic list: ad. = adult GP = gravel pit imm. = immature Ind. Est. = industriai estate 28
juv. N. S.
= juvenile = bird(s) Aying north = bird(s) flying south
NNR R res. WP WR
National Nature Reserve River reservoir Water Park 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 Ail 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 in this issues of Suffolk Birds. The committee mat 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, British Birds and/or the populär birding press 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 onto computer by the County Recorders, 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). OS grid référencé should be added if reporting breeding locations. (b) Species (c) Date (d) Name and address of observer 29
(e) (f) (g) (h)
Sex/age - male, female, juvenile etc. Abundance - count numbers, frequency, etc. Type of record - dead, ringed, etc. Other comments considered relevant - behaviour etc.
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 frequency. The current system of three Area County Recorders may seem confusing but is straight forward if the map on the inside front cover of this report is referred to. If in any doubt, all records can be sent to a single recorder and will be sorted there (but please bear in mind that the Recorders are hard-pressed volunteers!) Acknowledgements The editor would again 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 section editors of the checklist for their hard work and to all those involved in the arduous task of proof reading and checking for errors. Thanks are also due to all those in the List of Contributors for taking the time to submit their findings.
SYSTEMATIC LIST RED-THROATED DIVER Gavia stellata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. As in the preceding year enormous numbers had gathered off the coast by late January with recorded peaks involving 1100 off Minsmere on January 28th and 1500 off Southwold on January 22nd. Estimating the overall total wintering of the Suffolk coast is not possible with obvious interchange between sites for example, there were only 50 off Southwold on January 26th. Such movements were perhaps evidenced by the 200 seen flying south off Covehithe on January 22nd. The large gatherings were beginning to disperse by late February but 515 passed south off Aldeburgh in 15 minutes on February 5th and 600 were seen flying north off Minsmere on 26th. The species had largely disappeared by March, during which month 620 were recorded off Covehithe, mainly flying north. Records of birds away from the sea during the first winter period were as follows: Benacre: Benacre Broad, Mar. 11th and 12th; Benacre Pits, Mar. 26th. Easton Bavents: Easton Broad, Feb. 22nd. Havergate Island: Mar. 13th. Falkenham: River Deben, Jan. 24th. Trimley Marshes: Jan. 28th. Orwell Estuary: Jan. 14th and 26th, Feb. 6th and 19th. Weybread: Weybread GPs, Mar. 11th.
There was little evidence of spring passage and the last records of the period were of four on separate dates off Covehithe in May up to 20th. By contrast the second winter period was much quieter. The first record was of an exceptionally early bird flying south off North Warren on August 9th (R N Macklin) with another (or the same) past Sizewell on August 27th. It was not until December that the largest gathering of the period was noted with 272 off Minsmere on 2nd. On the estuaries singles were at Havergate Island in November and on the Deben at Waldringfield, December 9th. 30
BLACK-THROATED DIVER Gavia arctica Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Records indicate a maximum of 25 birds. Allowing for duplication this represents something like 16 individuals, which is a reasonable showing over recent years: 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 17 19 8 7 14 17 11 14 11 16 As speculated last year, there may be birds unrecorded amongst the large gatherings of Red-throated Divers off the coast in the early part of the year (as evidenced by the Aldeburgh sighting). All records are listed: Lowestoft: Ness Point, Nov. 21st. Covehithe: Feb. 2nd and 8th. Singles on five dates from Oct. 20th to Nov. 17th. Southwold: two offshore, Sep. 30th (summer plumage). Dunwich: Feb. 5th. Minsmere: Jan. 28th; Dec. 8th. Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Sizewell, Feb. 5th. Aldringham cum Thorpe: Thorpeness Meare, Jan. 21st; offshore, Nov. 3rd. Aldeburgh: two south with 515 Red-throated Divers, February 5th. Bawdsey: East Lane, Nov. 5th. Felixstowe: Landguard, north, Sep. 9th; south, Oct. 22nd. Alton Water: Jan. 20th to Apr. 2nd, two, Feb. 12th to Mar. 5th. Lackford WR: Jan. 8th.
The latter represents the first West Suffolk record since one at Lackford, November 26th to December 26th 1987. GREAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavia immer Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant.
There has been a trend for an increase in records of this species since the late 1980s: 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 4 3 5 4 4 5 6 6 7 12 The trend continued in 1995 with records of probably 12 individuals. This assumes that most of those seen offshore were different birds and that the sightings at Holbrook Bay, Ipswich Wet Dock and Alton Water refer to just two individuals. However, this is by no means certain due to inconsistencies in the ages of the birds reported. 31
The records, all of which are listed below, include the latest spring record for the County, a bird which remained on Alton Water to May 23rd (many obs.). The previous record, of May 18th, was only set in 1994 off Covehithe. It seems likely that even more Great Northern Divers are occurring off Suffolk during the winter, but submitted details have been very poor and many claims are unacceptable. In the records below, the Covehithe sightings of November and December are accepted as involving four different birds, based on plumage characteristics. Covehithe: imm., May 9th; south, Oct. 22nd; singles north, Nov. 3rd, 4th and 18th, and Dec. 16th. Southwold: north, Sep. 27th (adult, summer plumaged); Nov. 5th. Felixstowe: Landguard, out of Orwell, Mar. 4th; singles south, Oct. 22nd and Nov. 4th. Trimley St. Martin: Loompit Lake, Jan. 24th. Ipswich: Wet Dock, Jan. 8th to 17th. Holbrook: Holbrook Bay, Jan. 7th. Alton Water: Jan. 29th to May 23rd, two Jan. 29th to Apr. 9th. LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis Common resident, winter visitor and passage
The total of 49 breeding pairs from 21 sites is on a par with figures for recent years. This is unlikely to be a true reflection of the species' breeding status in the County as many pairs on small lakes and ponds may go unrecorded. North Warren remained the best of the recorded sites with an increase from last year's 13 pairs to 16 this year. Lackford also did well with a total of three pairs (which raised 14 young) being the best recorded there for four years. Minsmere bucked the trend by reporting a further decline to three pairs from four in 1994 and eight in 1993. Analysis of WeBS data shows that, although the River Deben remains the most important estuary in the first winter period, the Aide has also become an important wintering site for this species in Suffolk. On a non-WeBS count, 37 were on the Deben at Woodbridge on Dec. 11th. F A M A N D J M S O Blyth n/c n/c Aide/Ore 17 27 16 n/c n/c n/c 16 36 38 51 Deben 66 42 19 10 n/c n/c 15 22 17 9 22 Orwell 32 22 22 11 n/c n/c 12 11 9 4 4 1 0 1 12 9 Alton Water 0 9 25 1 n/c 1 1 n/c Stour (Suffolk) 0 13 0 0 0 1 0 1 n/c Stour (Essex) 0 0 0 0 n/c 0 GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Reports of only 44 pairs from 17 sites, compared with 60 pairs from 26 sites in 1994, may be due to under-recording and probably represents a stable population. However, only 14 juveniles were reported and for the second successive year breeding success at Alton Water was very low. The latter was probably due to disturbance and fluctuating water levels. It is hoped that these factors are not being duplicated elsewhere. More comprehensive recording of breeding success would clarify the matter. On a more positive note, the size of the wintering population continues to grow, at least offshore. WeBS counts were as follows: J F M A M A S O N D Aide/Ore 0 0 1 n/c n/c n/c 2 9 13 5 Deben 25 8 14 16 n/c n/c 7 5 20 6 32
1: Havergate Island â€” an important site for both breeding and wintering waders. Mike Crewe
2: Fritton Lake regularly holds breeding Egyptian Geese.
3: Little Egrets continue to visit Suffolk in increasing
4: Greylag Geese set a County record at Alton
Water in 1995.
5: Com Buntings can still be found in Fenland.
Orwell Alton Water Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex)
J 33 183 48 23
F 37 64 26 35
M 49 29 53 27
A 15 15 115 8
M n/c 17 n/c n/c
A n/c 63 139 71
S 26 120 152 77
O 22 99 187 125
N 69 83 138 70
D 2 90 n/c n/c
In addition, 200 were on Alton Water on December 30th. Offshore the record set last year, of 280 off Dunwich in January, was shattered by the 636 off Southwold on February 25th (P Newton, R West, M T Wright). Other recorded gatherings over 100 were: Covehithe: 120, Jan. 28th; 155, Feb. 9th; 166, Feb. 26th. Dunwich: 165, Jan. 29th; 125, Feb. 2nd; 250, Feb. 2nd. Minsmere: 300, Jan. 28th; 100, Feb. 4th.
The clear pattern emerges of this species spending the early part of the winter in more sheltered waters, moving out onto the sea in late winter, perhaps timed to coincide with the availability of food items. RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. With an average of around 14 birds per year during the last d e c a d e the s h o w i n g of 11 birds in 1995 is only a little below par. With o n l y the s e c o n d - w i n t e r period individuai at A l t o n Water staying f o r any length of time this proved to b e a difficult species for m a n y year-listers, especially as that bird tended to b e elusive. Lound: Waterworks, Oct. 21st and 22nd. Covehithe: north, Nov. 18th. Dunwich: Jan. 29th. Minsmere: offshore, Jan. 2nd; Feb. 9th and 28th; Oct. 17th. Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Sizewell, Jan. 29th. Wherstead: River Orwell, Jan. 20th. Alton Water: Apr. 19th; Oct. 8th to Dee. 8th. Stour Estuary: Sep. lOth. Gt/Lt. Livermere: Livermere Lake, Mar. 16th.
The Alton Water bird of April 19th was in full summer plumage whilst the Livermere bird constitutes the first West Suffolk record since 1991. SLAVONIAN GREBE Podiceps auritus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. This species' 1995 total of 14 individuals c o m f o r t a b l y e x c e e d s the a v e r a g e for the last d e c a d e of a r o u n d nine birds per year. This figure includes w e l l - w a t c h e d individuals at A l t o n Water, both early and late in the year. Covehithe: offshore, three in breeding plumage, Apr. 18th.
Southwold: offshore, Oct. 6th. Walberswick: offshore, Dee. 19th; Westwood Marshes, Apr. 6th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Jan. Ist to 8th. Ramsholt: River Deben, Feb. 4th. Martlesham: Martlesham Creek, Jan. 23rd to 29th. Woolverstone: River Orwell, Dec. 24th. Alton Water: Jan. Ist to Mar. 5th; Nov. 26th to Dec. 28th.
Holbrook: Holbrook Bay, two, Nov. 12th.
BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. With little obvious duplication in records the total of 11 individuals is well above the average for the last decade of around seven per year. It is presumed that the 33
juvenile at Thorington Street was a migrant and thus this species remains only an aspirant to the Suffolk breeding list. Benacre: Benacre Broad, Aug. 31st. Aldeburgh: North Warren, two, Jan. 3rd to Mar. 31st. Also visited Thorpeness Meare. Felixstowe: Landguard, south then into estuary, Apr. 14th. Trimley Marshes: Sep. 1st to 18th. Trimley St. Martin: Thorpe Bay, Dec. 16th. Levington: River Orwell, Jan. 30th. Woolverstone: River Orwell, Jan. 1st to Feb. 18th. Stour Estuary: Mar. 19th. Stoke-by-Nayland: Thorington Street Res., juv., Aug. 15th.
One of the Aldeburgh birds attained breeding plumage before departure. FULMAR Fulmarus glacialis Fairly common summer visitor and passage
There were no reports of breeding at Bawdsey. Indeed the only record received from that site was of 16 adults present on April 21st. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Fox prédation continues to deny the County of an established breeding colony. Birds were recorded off the coast in every month except October and November. Spring observations produced no notable movements with Southwold's peak count being seven south and two north on February 8th and regular watching off Covehithe produced a total of just 14 during the whole of February. The autumn picture was far more rosy with some notable movements off Southwold, particularly in late August. Peak counts there included the following: North 133 32 55 131 30 26
27th 28th 29th 30th 31st 1st
South 14 10 3 6 0 14
At Covehithe, totals of 360 north and 10 south were logged during August whilst Landguard's best day produced 19 south on September 7th. No inland records were received, although occasional birds exploring Felixstowe's seafront were noted well over the town. CORY'S SHEARWATER Calonectris diomedea Very rare passage migrant. Two records of three individuals is a good showing for this species, half the total for the preceding five years. Southwold: north, Aug. 30th (E W Patrick, J M Cawston); two north, Sep. 30th (B J Small).
SOOTY SHEARWATER Puffinus griseus Uncommon passage migrant. A disappointing year for this species. The total of 17 individuals is the lowest since 1986 (five) and well below the 40 expected in an average year. Lowestoft: Ness Point, Sep. 18th. Covehithe: two N., Sep. 19th. Singles N., Aug. 20th, 27th and 28th. Southwold: S., Jul. 12th; three N., Aug. 27th; three N., Aug. 28th; two N„ Aug. 30th; S., Aug. 31st; N„ Sep. 24th and Oct. 1st; two N., Oct. 21st. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, N., Sep. 19th.
Totals over the last ten years are as follows: 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 5 94 35 106 49 26
MANX SHEARWATER Puffinus Uncommon passage migrant.
Although seabirds will always be unpredictable in their appearance with numbers fluctuating f r o m year to year, 1995 was nonetheless a disappointing year for Manxies. Covehithe: singles north, Apr. 25th, Jul. 9th, Sep. 17th, Oct. 21st and Nov. 4th; three north, Aug. 29th Southwold: singles north, Jul. 9th; two, Aug. 29th; Aug. 30th; Oct. 21st; Nov. 3rd and 4th. Leiston cum Sizewell: Sizewell, Apr. 22nd. Thorpeness: Four north, Aug. 9th.
The November reports are the first for that month in Suffolk since 1991. Totals over the last ten years are as follows: 1986 13
The total of 15 individuals in 1995 falls well short of the best single movement recorded in 1994 (28) and the average annual total of 41 over the past decade. For the second successive year, and the second year since 1981, there were no reports in the County of either STORM PETREL Hydrobates pelagicus or LEACH'S PETREL Oceanodrama leucorhoa. GANNET Morus bassanus Common passage migrant. Remarkably the record total of 4797 seen in 1994 was more than doubled in 1995 with records of 9660. The following table shows how numbers have built up over recent years: Jan Feb 1986 0 7 1987 0 0 1988 6 50 1989 7 44 1990 43 7 1991 5 0 1992 38 11 1993 3 24 1994 6 37 1995 50 175
Mar Apr May 3 36 19 9 111 53 627 47 21 51 49 37 57 3 29 7 3 36 3 1 23 15 20 23 184 1686 653 628 569 155
Jun 15 19 119 23 13 21 19 17 207 133
Jul 5 195 33 442 250 17 32 68 279 275
Aug 67 468 598 520 116 115 145 254 554 3623
Sep 110 396 536 533 1133 402 172 666 617 1575
Oct 160 246 106 1383 385 402 396 54 473 2156
Nov Dee 92 2 16 32 11 6 136 0 13 7 1 3 36 0 18 2 73 28 315 7
Total 516 1545 2162 3225 2056 1012 876 1164 4797 9660
It is even more remarkable to look further back and note the low numbers of this species which used to be recorded - the Bird Report for 1950 listed only a single record and that of a corpse! Obviously there is some duplication in records passing along the coast. In this respect the continued work of one observer (P J Dare) at Covehithe is invaluable. Figures from that site are shown below and compared with the figures for 1994 support a large increase in Gannet numbers: 1994 1995
Jan Feb 6 23 45 132
Mar Apr May 99 1280 584 620 432 151
Jun 184 49
Jul 233 177
Aug 470 2409
Sep 428 835
Oct 284 252
Nov 61 159
Dee 28 4
Total 3680 5265
Surprisingly, in view of the high numbers recorded, no individuai movement reached the County record of 560 set in 1994. Peak movements were 426 north at 35
Covehithe on March 30th and 326 north at Southwold on August 30th. Landguard continues to do dismally in the seabird stakes with a peak of just 5 north and 28 south on Sep. 7th. Inland a bird was noted at Risby on November 27th, the first West Suffolk record since 1992. C O R M O R A N T Phalacrocorax carbo Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few
In 1985/86 the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) undertook a comprehensive survey which estimated the wintering population of Cormorants in Suffolk to be between 300 and 500. An estimate of totals for subsequent years is shown below. This is based upon counts from the main sites, largely WeBS data: 1986/87 1987/88 1988/89 1989/90 1990/91 1991/92 1992/93 1993/94 505 525 629 625 790 510 471 427
There would seem to be a clear trend towards a decline in numbers which, from the figures below, is continuing if it is assumed that the October peak included passage birds: J Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex) Lackford WR* Long Melford* *monthly maxima
0 36 40 73 32 24 74 14 9
F 0 23 34 65 7 29 30 27 7
M 6 35 44 96 3 30 29 16 3
A 10 n/c 31 8 0 61 23
M 7 n/c n/c n/c 0 n/c n/c
A n/c n/c n/c n/c 1 26 73
S n/c 67 32 67 1 15 101
O 31 70 107 145 8 50 107
N 23 36 67 68 20 21 87
D 8 49 7 42 10 n/c n/c
The original BTO survey noted that "Cormorants are a difficult species to count as they have complex diurnal and tidal patterns of activity and spend much time flying." (R.Waters 1986, SOG Bulletin No.73). It should therefore be emphasised that the figures in the table above do not represent the full wintering population. For example, 20 were noted at Santon Downham on January 19th and 26 were at Weybread GP on December 12th. Counts of post-breeding birds included 115 roosting at Alton Water on August 22nd, 30 at Havergate on July 8th and 28 at Chelmondiston on August 8th. Five instances of birds bearing colour-rings were noted. Four, with orange rings, were thought to originate from Abberton and a blue ring was attributed to Little Paxton GP, Cambridgeshire, both sites where the species breeds inland. Only five individuals considered to be of the race sinensis were noted, all at Benacre in late February to early March. However, given that the Abberton breeding colony is considered to be mostly of sinensis birds (Ekins 1994) and given that a large proportion of Suffolk's wintering Cormorants are likely to come from the Continent, this race is likely to be far more frequent in the County. However, identifying Cormorant races by head colour is not possible. SHAG Phalacrocorax aristotelis Fairly common winter visitor and passage
The extent to which 1995 was a poor year for this species is illustrated by the comparison below of the monthly totals for the past three years: 36
1993 1994 1995
Jan 21 17 10
Feb 16 13 6
Mar 3 14 0
Apr 1 2 2
May 8 7 3
Jun 3 2 0
Jul 0 2 0
Aug 0 3 0
Sep 7 2 2
Oct 21 1 4
Nov 7 1 2
Dec 22 2 3
Over the years the Shag has often provided some light relief by its tendency to behave strangely. Reported incidents have included wandering the streets of Ipswich (1985); found in a chicken run (1986); recovered from a vat of vegetable oil (1988); being hand-fed on a car roof (1989); intimidating a fisherman (1991); and hiding behind dustbins (1992). Unfortunately there was no such levity in 1995. There does appear to have been a higher proportion of adults than would normally be expected, at least 20% of all reports. Speculatively, the low overall numbers may be due to a lack of juveniles and represent a poor breeding season. The bulk of reports came from Lowestoft Harbour, with up to two during both winter periods, and Ipswich Docks with up to three in January and one in December. Just a handful of other reports were received, involving birds on seawatches off Southwold and occasional sightings at various points along the Orwell Estuary. BITTERN Botaurus stellaris Scarce and decreasing resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. There was a slight increase in the number of boomers recorded in the County during 1996. A total of nine calling males was recorded during the breeding season, an increase of three in the last two years (eight were recorded during 1995). Minsmere and Walberswick still represent the stronghold for the species but breeding was only proved at Minsmere. Boomers were also noted from two other traditional sites. Breeding success remains low with no increase in nests recorded. Thoughts on the absence of any increase remain speculative, although several likely reasons exist. Breeding success may be adversely affected by abnormally dry summers (Gibbons et al. 1993) as was seen during 1995 and the potentially critical period around the end of May and beginning of June which saw a dramatic fall in temperatures may have led to both increased chick mortality - through cold weather kill - and unfavourable breeding conditions as a result of the dry weather. It is also plausible that the available habitat at Minsmere is still not ideal for supporting an increase in breeding attempts and it may take several years for the recent habitat management to start to reap rewards for the species. Indeed the staff at Minsmere are undertaking a lengthy plan as outlined at the 1994 Breeding Birds Conference ( S u f f o l k Birds 44). The relatively mild weather produced very few winter sightings with singles noted at North Warren on February 20th and March 2nd to 10th, Thorpeness Meare on December 15th and Walberswick on January 28th and 30th. Presumably few birds moved in from the continent. LITTLE EGRET Egretta garzetta Rare visitor. A total of 14 individuals was recorded but the amount of duplication caused by roaming birds is unknown. The coast from Havergate to Minsmere still holds the lion's share in terms of both numbers and long-staying individuals, although totals for the Orford area were down on previous years. Wintering sightings revealed a minimum of three birds, including a long staying, if occasionally elusive, individual on the Blyth Estuary. This represents a marginal increase on recent years and the species is probably benefiting from the continuing run of mild winters. However, Suffolk has a long way to go to rival the numbers now expected on the south coast of Britain. 37
Fritton & St Olaves: Fritton Marshes, two, May 8th. Benacre: Benacre Broad, July 7th. Easton Bavents: Easton Broad, in flight, May 6th. Walberswick: Tinker's Marsh, Feb. 19th to Mar. 23rd. Dunwich: Dunwich Heath, south, May 29th. Minsmere: present from May 7th to Jul. 2nd, peaking at three, Jun. 18th. One, Nov. 16th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, four, May 1st; singles Jun. 3rd and 8th. Aide Estuary: Mar. 19th. Orford: Orfordness, two, May 29th. Same as Havergate birds. Havergate Island: first recorded Mar. 31 st with max. of two, Jun. 7th. Single remained to Aug. 17th. One, Dec. Waldringfield: June 28th and 29th. THmley Marshes: Apr. 6th. Kedington: near River Stour, May 10th.
GREY HERON Ardea cinerea Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. The table below gives monthly WeBS counts Aide/Ore Blyth Deben Orwell Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex) Alton Water
J 23 6 3 8 7 2 3
F 14 0 36
5 2 4 0
M 18 6 36 6 4 0 1
A n/c 2 19 3 4 2 0
M n/c 11 n/c n/c n/c n/c 0
A n/c n/c n/c n/c 23 0 1
67 n/c 18 15 23 2 0
68 8 20 5 9 6 8
N 42 7 17 27 10 7 20
D 43 0 3 6 n/c n/c 10
As in previous years the Orwell estuary consistently produced the largest single counts with 24 at the traditional Wherstead Strand roost and 10 at Loompit Lake, Trimley, November 3rd and 20 at Trimley Marshes, February 15th. A total of 24 was recorded on Orfordness September 10th. Other double figure counts included 10 at North Warren November 12th and 11 on Havergate Island, October 14th. Coastal movements were again dominated by reports from Landguard with a fairly even spread of records from March through to November. Late summer produced the largest number of sightings, probably relating to the dispersal of immature birds. Away from Landguard only one record was received, a single south off Sizewell on June 18th. The BTO Heronries survey recorded a total of 85-87 occupied nests. Full details are given below (the number of sites being counted appears to be declining and better coverage in future would be welcome - Ed.):Site Wild Carr, Worlingham North Cove Henham Sudbourne Blackheath, Friston Methersgate, Sutton Ramsholt Woolverstone Stutton Stoke-by-Nayland Stanstead Little Wratting Thurlow
No. of occupied nests 1994 1995
8-11 26-27 4-5 15-19 18 -
_ 0 18-20 4 10-12 21-26 5-6 16-18 21 -
Site Little Livermere West Stow Euston Brandon Barsham Long Melford TOTALS
No. of occupied nests 1995 1994 12 11 17 1 1 0 85-87 146-159
1993 0 16 7 15 137-150
PURPLE HERON Ardea purpurea Scarce passage migrant. Minsmere: May 3rd and 6th (RSPB).
A typically elusive bird at the traditiona 1 site for the species. WHITE STORK Ciconia ciconia. Rare visitor. Breydon Water: imm., Sep. 9th (R Fairhead). Kessingland: Kessingland Levels, May 8th (R Fairhead, P J Ransome) Benacre: Benacre Park, flying south, May 8th (C A Buttle, A Riseborough). Benacre Broad, Sep. 16th (E Huxley, R C Smith). Reydon: Sep. 17th to 20th (many obs).
In addition to the above, a bird which wandered through Norfolk was rumoured to have been seen at Mayday Farm on Aprii 15th but dĂŠtails have not been forthcoming. The May sightings relate to a single individuai, the first in the county since 1987. The September sightings are ali considered to involve an individuai which escaped from Thrigby Wildlife Park, Norfolk. Whilst at Reydon, Purple Heron the bird was rather tame and roosted at night on a roadside telegraph pole. This species has declined dramatically from the fairly regular occurrences seen in the early 1980s; during recent years this species has come under increasing pressure on the continent, especially with the greater mechanisation of farming methods in centrai and eastern Europe. 1992 The report of a White Stork at Chelmondiston has been withdrawn by the observer and now stands as an unidentified Black or White Stork. SPOONBILL Platalea leucorodia Uncommon passage migrant. Now increasingly oversummers; has overwintered. Benacre: south, Aug. 12th. Minsmere: three, May 1 lth; imm., Jul. 22nd to 23rd. Aldeburgh: south, Mar. 19th; North Warren, Mar. 12th to 28th. Orford: Orfordness, three, May 29th; imm., Jul. 8th.
Havergate Island: present Jun. lOth to Sep. 14th, max. four on Jun. lOth. Woodbridge: Kyson Point, July 26th and 27th.
A better showing than 1995 with up to nine birds being recorded. There is always the potential for duplication and the Havergate and Minsmere records may well involve the same individuals. The Woodbridge bird was a particularly good find for the observer. MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor Common resident. Blyth Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex)
J 0 131 107 78 4 8 116
F 0 178 103 56 0 15 85
M 0 74 84 90 6 14 38
A 0 n/c 68 61 12 14 61
M 0 n/c n/c n/c 25 n/c n/c
A n/c n/c n/c n/c 32 6 73
S n/c 83 36 82 30 23 68
O 0 92 80 93 33 20 95
125 65 37 38 7
75 16 21 42 n/c n/c
It is interesting to note that total absence of the species from the Blyth Estuary. Although the estuaries produced the greatest concentrations of wintering individuals, the largest herd recorded in the County was present at New Fen, Lakenheath where a total of 110 was present on January 28th. The King's Fleet produced a good count with a maximum of 90 present in the traditional herd on January 22nd. Other high counts for the first winter period included 62 at Beccles Marshes on February 14th, 50 at Barsham Marshes on January 14th and 41 at Wherstead Strand on February 22nd. Although colder, the second winter period did not produce any higher counts with the largest recorded being 51 at Suffolk Water Park on November 25th. Other counts involved 49 at both Orford and Ipswich Wet Dock on November 18th and December 23rd respectively and 41 at Sudbourne on October 14th. Breeding records showed no change in the County's population with 29 pairs being reported - although this is clearly an underestimate. Alton Water and North Warren proved the most productive sites with four pairs (16 juvs.) and 2 pairs (8juvs) respectively. Undoubtedly some pairs are missed, as illustrated by the appearance of a flock of 80 at Boyton Marshes on March 21st which held a total of 20 juveniles. However, the number of non-breeding birds present during the summer should perhaps be cause for concern; for example, a flock of 91 adults was on the Little Ouse at Lakenheath on May 5th. A juvenile of the 'Polish' morph was seen at Needham Market Lake in January but was later found dead. BEWICK'S SWAN Cygnus columbianus Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. T h e first winter period p r o d u c e d the largest c o u n t s with p e a k n u m b e r s as follows:Barsham: Barsham Marshes, 83, Feb. 9th. Beccles: Beccles Marshes, 28, Jan. 18th. Minsmere: 28, Jan. 25th. Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Sizewell Levels; 27, Jan. 30th. Lakenheath: New Fen, 105, Jan. 28th; Sedge Fen, 41, Feb. 4th. Mildenhall: Kenny Hill, 30, Jan. Ist.
There did not appear to be an influx of new birds during the first winter period which was unsurprising given the mild conditions that had persisted since the latter end of 1995. Indeed, the mild weather ensured an early departure for most individuals 40
with late February seeing a dramatic reduction in numbers and only a single March record of a flock of 13 at Beccles Marshes on 11th. The first autumn birds were reported from Minsmere (15) on October 26th and Landguard, where two flew south on October 29th. The second winter period produced no counts from the west of the County and overall numbers were smaller than in the early part of the year. The largest flock was noted at Minsmere with 27 on November 7th. More movement away from traditional sites was recorded during this period and included records of five at Alton Water from November 4th to December 30th, nine flying south over Ipswich on December 5th, nine west at Stowmarket on December 20th and eight south at Timworth on December 29th. This was probably induced by the colder conditions that prevailed during parts of both November and December. WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Numbers were generally up on previous years with double-figure counts being recorded for both winter periods. Records for the first winter period are as follows:Kessingland: Kessingland Levels, Jan. 1st to 22nd, peaking at six on 8th. Minsmere: four, Jan. 21st, two Jan. 27th; seven west, Feb. 1st. Havergate Island: 16, Jan. 25th.
Boyton: Boyton Marshes, Jan. 11th. Haughley: 13, Jan. 8th.
Lakenheath: New Fen, seven, Jan. 28th; five, Mar. 5th. The party at Haughley is of particular interest, being well away from any traditional sites. Numbers were slightly down for the second winter period with the majority of counts coming from two regular flocks. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness Golf Course, two south, Dec. 5th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, four, Nov. 18th, Trimley Marshes: single in flight, Nov. 17th. Alton Water: imm., Dec. 29th.
Great Livermere: nine south, Dec. 29th. Troston: 20 east, Dec. 30th. Lackford WR: 23 south, Dec. 28th. It is likely that the Livermere, Lackford and Troston records all relate to part of or the same group. A record of three south off Lowestoft on October 25th relates to early arriving birds and is somewhat unusual. Equally unusual is the lone immature at Alton Water, the species generally wintering in family groups. BEAN GOOSE Anserfabalis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. An unremarkable year with no records received for the second winter period and most, if not all, records in the early part of the year relating to a flock present since late December 1995. All records relate to the race A. f . rossicus. Minsmere: 19 south, Feb. 19th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 11, Jan. 7th and Jan. 23rd to Feb. 26th. Max. of 13, February 20th. Iris ton: Blackheath Comer, 11, Jan. 1st to 22nd, max 12 on 4 th and 5 th. Aide Estuary: Jan. 22nd.
Sudbourne: Sudbourne Marshes, 11 in flight, Jan. 15th. The Sudbourne birds were clearly those from Friston, the flock even containing the single Pinkfoot. This species remains erratic in its occurrence in the county with 41
appearances owing much to weather conditions in the more traditional wintering areas in the Low Countries. PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. An average year with few double-figure counts recorded. Some of the records relate to birds remaining from 1995. As in other winter species the mild conditions favoured an early departure. Records from the coast for the first winter period are given below :Beccles: Beccles Marshes, Feb. 13th to Mar. 11th. Southwold: Town Marshes, four, Jan. 24th, three remaining to Feb. 4th. Minsmere: two, Jan. 8th to 13th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, one Jan. 7th; present Jan. 23rd to Feb. 26th max. four, Feb. 26th. Friston: Blackheath Corner, two, Jan. 1st, one to 22nd. Sudbourne: five, Jan. 11th; one, Jan. 15th; four, Jan. 22nd. Boyton: Boyton Marshes, Jan. 7th to 11th. Trimley Marshes: three, Mar. 8th, two remaining to Mar. 20th.
Of particular note was an individual present at Landguard on April 3rd where it spent most of the day; this represents the first record for the site. Away from the coast, a flock of 27 flew west over Lackford WR on January 2nd. These were presumably birds from the increasing population wintering in West Norfolk. Two at Lackford WR in February/March, one at Long Melford on March 11th and one at Nunnery Lakes, Thetford on April 24th are likely to have been feral birds. The last records from the first half of the year involved one at Westwood Marshes, Walberswick on May 6th to 8th and perhaps the same individual at Southwold on May 21st. Such a late bird is likely to either be an injured wild bird or feral. Reports from the latter part of the year were not as widespread and included some long staying individuals. The first returning birds were noted off Landguard with 12 flying into the Orwell estuary on the 20th. This was rapidly followed by five south off Corton on October 29th. Benacre: Nov. 4th. Covehithe: Covehithe Broad, two, Nov. 6th. Minsmere: up to two, Oct. 24th to Dec. 30th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Nov. 18th to Dec. 31st, max. three on 9th and nine on 19th and 31st.
Whilst still scarce in the county, this species is on the increase here, perhaps in line with the significant increase in numbers wintering in Norfolk. WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser albifrons Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. An average year with numbers similar to 1995. Numbers built up in late January to produce several site maxima. The highest counts were concentrated between Minsmere and North Warren, where the bulk of Bean Goose records came from, perhaps hinting at the origin of the White-fronts. Birds generally arrived from January 22nd onwards with peak counts for the first winter period as follows:Kessingland: Kessingland Levels, 25, Jan. 22nd. Minsmere: 150, Jan. 27th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, 27 Jan. 5th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 200, Jan. 27th.
Little movement was noted between sites with only one record coming from Landguard involving eight south on February 12th. Most birds had departed by late March, the last birds being recorded at Reydon on April 5th and Southwold Town Marshes on 42
April 14th. Birds which remained after this time were all thought to be of feral origin and included the regular oversummering individuáis at Trimley Marshes where at least one bird was present all year. Returning birds were noted from November 5th and numbers built up slowly with the peak counts for the period being confined to December. The traditional Minsmere - Aldeburgh area produced the bulk of the highest numbers and détails for the peak counts are as follows:Reydon: 50 south, Dec. 28th. Blyth Estuary: 67, Dec. lOth.
Minsmere: 31, Dec. 28th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, 40, Dec. 17th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 80, Dec. lOth and llth. Felixstowe/Falkenham: King's Fleet, 25, Dec. 20th. The only records from the west of the county involved two of uncertain provenance at Hadleigh on December 24th and 25th and a flock of 13 flying north then west over Timworth and Ingham on December 29th. GREYLAG GOOSE Anser anser Common resident from feral stock. J Blyth 3 North Warren* 80 Alde/Ore 13 Deben 7 Orwell 22 Trimley Marshes* 90 Alton Water 348 Stour (Suffolk) 0 Stour (Essex) 0 * monthly maxima
F 0 43 24 14 149 30 111 12 0
17 12 57 150 131 2 0
n/c 12 17 34 114 2 2
n/c n/c n/c 30 104 n/c n/c
n/c n/c n/c 132 208 0 0
S n/c 158 12 3 82 186 518 1 4
O 0 23 4 93 150 368 0 16
N 0 450 170 22 37 133 438 0 0
D 180 146 2 0 21 150 815 n/c n/c
Away from WeBS sites, highest counts included 110 at Livermere Lake on March 2Ist and 120 there, August 28th and 97 at Loompit Lake on August 15th. Suffolk's population appears to be increasing quite rapidly with the total at Alton Water in December representing a new county record, being well over double the previous record of 350. Despite this apparent increase, few breeding reports were received, although it is accepted that pairs frequently breed on inaccessible islands, often on lakes on private estâtes. Only 24 pairs were noted, Minsmere holding the largest numbers with 14 pairs. The fecundity of the species is well illustrated by pairs breeding at Alton Water and Loompit Lake where 13 and 14 juvs. were reared from two broods each respectively. At Livermere Lake, a nest containing 14 eggs was located. SNOW GOOSE Anser Escapee.
Two singletons of a species which has never plagued the county in the way it has in other parts of the country. Kessingland: Jan. Ist. Middleton: two in flight, Jan. 29th. The latter report is intriguing, involving two white phase birds with three Whitefronted Geese. 43
CANADA GOOSE Br anta canadensis Very common resident. Blyth North Warren* Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex) Long Melford* Lackford WR* *monthly maxima
J 4 312 354 140 204 97 334 6 148
F 0 235 545 163 105 6 501 50 55 350
M 2 40 243 149 84 10 301 86 62 115
n/c 123 67 12 166 46
n/c n/c n/c 6 n/c n/c
A n/c 276 n/c n/c n/c 190 23 6
S n/c 510 357 84 335 116 386 875
O 0 729 3 87 267 35 535 102
N 0 620 44 140 136 271 114 3 131
D 0 350 563 200 0 343 n/c n/c 99
The flock at Livermere again produced the largest single count with a peak of 900 on August 28th. Other large counts included 281 at Mickle Mere, Pakenham on January 22nd, 466 at Brantham, February 19th, 318 at Havergate Island, July 2nd, 450 at Trimley Marshes, September 6th, 510 at North Warren, September 30th, 620 at the same site, November 22nd, 340 at Havergate, December 8th and 330 at Loompit Lake, December 22nd. Reports of breeding suggested a still-increasing population and included several reports of interbreeding with both Greylag and 'Farmyard' Geese. However, such hybridisation remains thankfully scarce and all hybrids so far appear to be sterile. Breeding counts were few but included 45 pairs at Havergate. Despite a continued increase, the species suffers from occasional prĂŠdation with Foxes affecting success at Havergate Island and Mink taking eggs at Hawkedon. BARNACLE GOOSE Branta leucopsis Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant; Increasingly common feral resident. With no obvious influx during the year it would appear that all records relate to feral individuals. The Kessingland flock reached a peak of 110 on December 31st and there were two other large counts from the general vicinity with a flock of 73 being noted on Benacre Broad on December 9th and 60 flying south off Benacre on December 24th. There were reports of small groups of less than 10 birds from Alton Water and Trimley Marshes throughout the year and singles were at the Nunnery Lakes, April 24th and Weybread Pits, May 8th. The Swedish-ringed individual first reported in 1993 was again present at Fritton Decoy. 44
BRENT GOOSE Branta bernicla Common winter visitor and passage
WeBS counts were as follows:Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex)
J 0 250 2000 1981 326 105
F 0 287 830 976 1269 435
M 0 0 221 501 1037 1256
A 0 n/c 3 1 448 1303
M 0 n/c n/c n/c n/c n/c
A n/c n/c n/c n/c 3 0
S n/c 0 0 0 0 2
O 0 0 3 0 2 105
N 0 936 537 295 589 1085
D 0 149 239 283 n/c n/c
Traditional wintering flocks dominated reports from both winter periods with the largest flock recorded from Holbrook Bay where 2179 were present on February 25th. The Deben flock reached a maximum of 2011 on December 16th at Falkenham. The first winter period peak on the Deben was 1500 on February 12th at The King's Fleet and 1000 were on Falkenham Marshes on February 9th. The Orwell also held good numbers, the largest count being 1169 at Levington on January 9th. Other large counts included 1000, March 4th and 700, November 19th, both from Trimley Marshes. Due to the mild conditions most birds had departed by early March. This emphasised the role of the Stour as a spring staging post with good counts from Holbrook Bay being received for April (225) and May (522). The WeBS counts from the Stour for March and April were the highest received. Landguard recorded a late exodus in the second half of May with the period between May 25th and June 1st accounting for 320 bird days. The last record at Landguard involved two very late individuals flying north on June 16th; it seems unlikely that these made it back to a suitable breeding area!! There was the usual scattering of oversummering birds with Trimley again dominating and up to three birds were present on the lower Orwell estuary throughout the summer. A group of 12 on Havergate on July 3rd were either a very late departing or early returning group. After early birds in July at Landguard on 4th and 12th and Levington on 14th, returning birds were noted from mid-August onwards with the first record coming from Landguard where one flew south on 13th. Movement began in earnest in September with Landguard recording a peak passage of 42 south on the 18th. October and November saw a steady passage with numbers marginally lower than in previous years and the mild conditions ensured no cold weather movements were induced. Regular monitoring at Landguard produced peak counts of 1026 on October 21st, 1527 on October 22nd, 1425 on October 29th and 850 on November 12th. Close scrutiny of the King's Fleet flock in December revealed that less than 1% of birds were juveniles, indicating a very poor breeding season. Away from the coastal strip reports of singles came from Suffolk Water Park and Lackford WR, both on December 4th and Nunnery Lakes, November 28th. There was a single record of the pale-bellied race B. b. hrota present at King's Fleet from January 1st to February 12th.
Black Brant Branta bernicla
An individual of the American and east Siberian race was located once again in the King's Fleet flock on November 12th to 17th (M Marsh et al.). It is likely that the same returning individual is involved in the recent run of records from this site. 45
EGYPTIAN GOOSE Alopochen aegyptiacus Locally fairly common resident. Peak counts from regulĂ¤r sites were as follows: Weybread: Weybread GPs, six, Apr. 8th. Beccles: Beccles Marshes, eight, Nov. 20th. Blundeston: 20, Feb. 4th. Somerleyton: 32, Jan. 8th. Oulton: Oulton Broad, 13, May 27th. Wickham Market: two, Jan. 20th to 22nd. Livermere Lake: 14, Aug. 28th. Lackford WR: up to eight present during Aug. l^oston: eight, Nov. 1 Ith.
Wandering Breckland birds were also noted at Pakenham, Hengrave, Culford, Euston, and Ixworth Thorpe whilst birds from the Lothingland population also visited Flixton, Sotterley and Barsham. Reports from non-traditional sites included two at Alton Water during July and August, one at North Warren, December 30th, five at Southwold Town Marshes, November 6th, one at Needham Market, October 3rd, two at Loompit Lake, Sep. 6th and two at Trimley Marshes during February and March. Some of these may be escapes from captivity and it seems likely that the two at Trimley Marshes, Loompit Lake and Alton Water involved the same birds. The County's population appears to be fairly stable with eight breeding pairs being reported, although how many bred successfully is difficult to judge. The mild weather at the start of the year would have benefited this species which is an early breeder, as evidenced by the presence of a pair with five young at Livermere Lake on March 19th. RUDDY SHELDUCK Tadorna ferruginea Escapee; some old records considered genuine. Pakenham: Mickle Mere, iemale, Apr. 29th. Livermere Lake: female, intermittently Apr. 23rd to Nov. 5th. Weybread: Weybread GPs, May 8th.
All records relate to the same wandering female which is an escape from captivity. Interestingly, there were no reports of the long-staying coastal bird - has it finally turned up its toes? SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna Very common resident, winter visitor and passage Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex) Lackford WR* *monthly maxima
J 182 548 511 1221 848 907 34
F 208 832 925 882 1005 637 13
M 320 803 893 981 1152 345 28
A 263 n/c 907 386 851 136
M 316 n/c n/c n/c n/c n/c
migrant. A n/c n/c n/c n/c 154 59
S n/c 305 30 29 167 38
O 453 340 121 24 340 147
N 585 594 419 720 1175 584
D 558 804 306 76 n/c n/c
Inland counts were highest at Livermere Lake/Ampton Water, particularly during spring passage with 99 on March lOth and 120 on Aprii 9th. At Lakenheath Floods, 29 were present on May 5th. Breeding was widespread in the vicinity of coasts and estuaries; at Havergate Island 45 young fledged from 20 broods and 24 pairs nested at North Warren. Eleven pairs at Minsmere fledged just nine young. 46
Inland breeding was confirmed at Boxford, Suffolk Water Park, Staverton Park and Weybread Gravel Pits. Notable late autumn movements were recorded off Landguard with counts of 245 south on October 22nd, 122 south on November 22nd and 143 south on December 6th. MANDARIN Aix galericulata Uncommon visitor. Hollesley: pair, April 6th. Hasketon: pair, January 26th. Ipswich: Holywells Park, Pair, Jan. 11th to 31st and Mar. 8th; female, Sep. 14th and 20th; pair again, Nov. 9th and Dec. 8th. Second male, Dec. 8th. Purdis Heath: pair on golf course pond, Apr. 1st. VVitnesham: pair, Apr. 6th and 7th. Alton Water: male, Dec. 23rd to 30th. Bramford: Suffolk Water Park, male, Dec. 2nd to 30th. Hadleigh: River Brett, female, Feb. 6th to 14th and Apr. 23rd; pair, Mar. 15th to May 5th. Ickworth: Ickworth Park, male, Nov. 12th. Timworth: male west, Oct. 8th. Lackford WR: pair, Jan. 14th; female, Apr. 13th and 14th. Thetford: Little Ouse, two males, Oct. 5th.
An interesting crop of records with the species seemingly on the increase in the County. Although some records are likely to be escapes from captivity (particularly those around Ipswich where one of the males was an ornamental white variety), there is a tendency for birds to turn up during migration periods from March to May and September to November, with a handful of winter records. With the species becoming established in West Norfolk, is it possible that birds from that population are moving through Suffolk? WIGEON Anas penelope Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. Blyth Minsmere* North Warren* Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex)
J 1180 1150 1457 6345 934 2432 257 1558 817
F 844 1600 3499 990 2216 220 922 1802
M 214 497 1030 882 425 725 17 437 591
n/c 2 0 0 22 26
n/c n/c n/c 0 n/c n/c
n/c n/c n/c 0 0 0
320 571 1 7 48 28 311
530 1469 250 539 1227 74 767
D N 706 346 183 257 900 1820 3072 3212 1320 465 656 1175 771 699 978 n/c 802 n/c
Non-WeBS counts included 1500 at Trimley Marshes on November 15th. Inland the highest counts were of 300 at New Fen, Lakenheath on January 28th, 162 at Livermere Lake on January 20th and 81 at Mickle Mere on February 22nd. Spring movements were slight, apart from 139 north off Landguard on March 9th. About 10 birds lingered at three coastal sites through May and June but there was no indication that breeding was attempted. The first notable autumn movement involved 61 south off Landguard on September 7th and things started in earnest on October Ist when 574 flew south off Southwold and 1027 south off Landguard. The only other large movement was 355 south off Landguard on October 22nd. 47
GADWALL Anas streperĂ Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Blyth Minsmere* North Warren* Alde/Ore Orwell Alton Water Lackford WR* * monthly maxima
J 0 126 22 27 23
F 3 131 10 28 8 26
M 16 243 127 13 29 2 11
A 0 115
n/c 15 6
n/c n/c 2
n/c n/c 10
S n/c 110 80 9 33 17 96
O 0 110 14 11 67 97
N 2 36 60 4 14 172 84
0 70 50 34 6 184
Other counts of note included 115 at Benacre Broad on December 9th, 40 at South wold Town Marshes on February 15th and 20th, 40 at Barsham Marshes on Februar) 19th, 50 at Loompit Lake on January 1 Ith, 21 at Livermere Lake on January 20th, 20 at Culford Lake on March 9th, 35 at Cavenham pits on March 1 Ith and 41 at Mickle Mere on March 19th. The only confirmed breeding records carne from Minsmere (17 pairs), North Warren (11 pairs), Havergate Island (one pair), Hengrave Hall (one pair) and Trimley Marshes, but nesting was clearly more widespread than this suggests. Of interest was the report of a male Gadwall courting a female Mallard at Trimley Marshes on May 12th. Autumn passage south off Landguard was typically meagre with just two on September 24th, one on October Ist and two on October 3Ist. TEAL Anas crecca Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. Benacre Broad* Blyth Minsmere* North Warren* Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Trimley Marshes* Alton Water Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex) Lackford WR* * monthly maxima
J 490 950 700 1492 101 629 700 31 175 34
62 360 360 233 21 48 130 2 35 59 44
n/c 4 49 138 0 2 0
n/c n/c n/c
n/c n/c n/c
0 n/c n/c
2 12 0
703 0 58 270 0 48 35 93
969 7 257 600 90 24 26 176
1643 262 662 677 150 93 90 51
940 1496 51 411 900 8 28 141 80
D 420 366 400 550 2306 79 443 100 245 n/c n/c 10
A remarkable total of 2000 was present on Havergate Island (part of the Aide/Ore estuary system) on January 17th. Other counts of interest were 150, Southwold Town Marshes on March 20th; 100, Loompit Lake on September 26th; 200, Martlesham on January 15th and 150, Botany Bay, Lakenheath on March 20th. The only report of breeding carne from one coastal site, where there were nine pairs and about 20 well fledged young on July 12th. Incoming autumn birds produced a count of 400 south off Covehithe on October 1 st whilst Landguard logged 345 south in August; 266 in September (107 on 16th); 202 in October; 118 in November and 137 in December (121 on 2nd). An individuai of the North American race A.c.carolinensis was reported as follows:Southwold: Town Marshes, male, Mar. 15th to 26th (J M Cawston, E W Patrick et al).
This is the 13th county record of this subspecies. 48
MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. J 140 139 492 163 526 250
F 16 64 840 124 522 300
M 26 25 234 90 212 300
n/c 106 125 30
n/c n/c n/c
n/c n/c n/c
J Alton Water 213 Stour (Suffolk) 118 Stour (Essex) 217 * monthly maxima
F 133 129 220
M 92 57 61
A 82 51 44
M 76 n/c n/c
A 182 21 8
Blyth North Warren* Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Trimley Marshes*
118 34 261 350
O 105 215 328 129 369 40
337 117 354 80
735 23 331 50
S 374 81 167
O 486 103 151
N 347 158 285
D n/c n/c n/c
Other counts of note included 560 at Benacre Broad on December 9th, 443 at Livermere Lake (where the species is released for shooting) on January 20th and 194 at Pipp's Ford gravel pits on September 1 Ith. Breeding was widely reported and included 18 pairs at Minsmere and 34 pairs (17 broods seen) at North Warren. At Loompit Lake 115 juveniles were seen in about 20 broods. At The Nunnery, Thetford a iemale was seen with four newly hatched young on November 13th. They disappeared a few days later and probably succumbed to cold weather. PINTAIL Anas acuta Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. Blyth Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex)
J 76 439 36 151 118 250
F 22 321 58 180 111 242
M 12 10 0 16 16 63
A 7 n/c 0 0 0 0
M 0 n/c n/c n/c n/c n/c
A n/c n/c n/c n/c 0 0
S n/c 19 0 0 0 48
O 14 72 27 55 18 316
N 109 163 17 204 182 191
D 75 154 63 2 n/c n/c
Other counts of note included 30 at Barsham Marshes on February 12th and 50 at Alton Water on November 4th. Typically, inland records were few but included four at Weybread Pits on February 7th; 12 at Suffolk Water Park, Bramford on December 3Ist; a male at Livermere Lake on January 2nd with four there on September 12th and three on 13th; a male at Lackford WR on January 3rd and 7th and one to four intermittently from September 9th to the year's end; 12 at New Fen, Lakenheath on January 28th and one at Great Blakenham Pits on October 4th. Landguard recorded a normal autumn passage with 44 south in September, 157 south in October and 38 south in December. Oversummering was almost non-existent with the only report involving a single maie at Trimley Marshes. GARGANEY Anas querquedula Uncommon summer visitor and passage
An average year f o r this trans-Saharan migrant, with n o proof of nesting. Southwold: Town Marshes, male, Mar. 26th; Buss Creek, maie, Jun. 13th. Minsmere: four maies and a iemale arrived, Mar. 22nd; at least a pair present to Apr. 29th and a male to May 1 Ith. Male, Jul. Ist and three, Jul. 29th. Singles through the autumn to Oct. 17th. Aldeburgh: Hazlewood Marshes, male, May 26th. TVimley Marshes: male, April 24th; pair, May 13th; male, May 23rd.
Alton Water: female/immature, Sep. 5th to Oct. 8th. Lakenheath: iemale, May 6th. Botesdale: male, May 14th.
The relatively early arrivai of the July birds at Minsmere perhaps suggests that breeding may have taken place nearby. SHOVELER Anas clypeata Common xvinter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon Blyth Minsmere* North Warren* Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Trimley Marshes* Alton Water Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex) Lackford WR* * monthly maxima
133 96 0 54 64 0 0 0
224 164 0 70 77 0 0 0 7
M 6 190 120 14 2 58 60 0 1 0 4
A 0 45
n/c 0 14 55 0 0 0
n/c n/c n/c
n/c n/c n/c
2 n/c n/c
0 0 0
51 0 25 70 16 0 0 23
33 0 37 35 8 0 0 74
N 0 83 65 80 0 24 33 28 0 1 120
D 0 102 110 214 3 27 55 3 n/c n/c 34
Non-WeBS counts from Loompit Lake included 34 on September Ist, increasing to 75 on November 26th whilst the only counts above 20 away from these sites involved 25 at Barsham Marshes on February 15th; 66 at Southwold Town Marshes on March 15th and 26 at Suffolk Water Park on November 25th increasing to 81 by December 3rd. Birds oversummered at five sites and breeding was confirmed at four of these. A very light autumn passage off Land-guard saw just 20 birds fly south between September 7th and December 2nd. Autumn counts at Livermere Lake peaked with 23 on September 19th. RED-CRESTED POCHARD Netta rufina Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. S o m e of these records p r o b a b l y r e f e r to ferai birds. Minsmere: Dec. 15th. Hawkedon: female, Aug. 29th to Sep. 30th. Melton: Melton GP, male and two females, May 7th to Jul. 17th; maie, Dec. 22nd. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, male, Mar. 5th to 12th. Holbrook: Holbrook Gardens, Male, Feb. 12th to Apr. lOth. Alton Water: male, Jan. Ist to Mar. 1 Ith, two males, Jan. 4th and 6th. Male, May 28th. Female, Sep. lOth and 27th; up to five from Oct. 17th to year's end, with six males, Dec. 22nd. Lackford WR: leucistic male, Jul. 27th to Dec. 8th.
There was clearly an influx of genuine wild birds onto Alton Water during the late autumn - or a very expensive mistake by a waterfowl collector! ! It is difficult to be sure how many birds were involved but a minimum of nine are accounted for by peak 50
counts of three females on November 4th and six males on December 22nd. The birds at Loompit Lake and Holbrook Gardens are likely to be the same as those at Alton Water whilst the leucistic bird at Lackford is undoubtedly an escapee as such aberant sports' are frequently kept in captivity. Note that the term 'wild' here incorporates birds from feral populations in Continental Europe, as different from recently liberated individuals. POCHARD Aythya ferina Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. J Minsmere* Orwell Trimley Marshes* Alton Water Lackford WR* *monthly maxima
140 78 916 90
F 77 81 52 151 33
M 53 18 10 3 37
4 7 15
0 20 130 53
0 20 215 93
21 30 235 113
D 50 74 18 826
The January count of 916 on Alton Water is the highest Suffolk count at one site since 1979. The only other counts of 50 or more involved 150 at Barsham Marshes on January 8th and 90 on February 5th; 89 at Atlas Aggregates Pit, Bramford on October 4th; 80 at Loompit Lake on January 11th; 55 at Thorington Street Reservoir on November 5th and 60 there on November 22nd and 50 at New Fen, Lakenheath on January 28th. The only reports of proven breeding came from Minsmere (four pairs) and Livermere Lake (one brood). Autumn passage south off Landguard totalled 101 birds, but 80 of these were between 6th and 8th December. A leucistic male was present on Alton Water December 18th. TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Trimley Marshes* Alton Water Lackford WR* * monthly maxima
J 12 23 141 150 1620
F 33 26 179 150 453 157
M 70 28 182 77 374 131
A n/c 35 124 77 89
M n/c n/c n/c
A n/c n/c n/c
S 46 23 78 120 548
O 28 19 91 70 878 180
N 22 34 67 100 658 258
D 95 19 12 45 1331
The counts at Alton Water are exceptional and, along with high figures for Pochard and Coot (q.v.) are believed to be attributable to unusual water conditions affecting the growth of aquatic vegetation (Piotrowski, 1996). The species was widely reported from freshwater sites but the only other counts above 50 were as follows: Weybread: Weybread GPs, 83, Jan. 14th. Bramford: Suffolk Water Park, 69, Apr. 17th, 58, Nov. 26th, 101 Dec. 30th. Ampton: Ampton Water, 70, Apr. 17th.
Breeding was widely reported and included six pairs at Leathes Ham, Lowestoft, six pairs at Minsmere, nine pairs at North Warren, 141 juveniles from 16 broods at Loompit Lake and 12 broods from 16 pairs at Trimley Marshes. Three pairs nested on some temporary gravel diggings near the A11 south of Red Lodge and produced 18 young. A grand total of 43 flew south off Landguard between September 9th and December 28th. 51
Aythya hybrids Males considered to be Scaup x Tufted Duck hybrids were reported as follows:Alton Water: "Lesser Scaup type", Jan. 31st. Livermere Lake: "Lesser Scaup type", Jan. 14th.
Male Pochard x Tufted Duck hybrids were reported as follows:Alton Water: Two, Jan. 1st to 20th. Singles, Mar. 5th, Apr. 10th, Oct. 16th and Nov. 25th. Holbrook: Holbrook Gardens, Feb. 12th. Lackford WR: Sep. 17th and 23rd/24th.
It should be stressed that the parentage of the above hybrids is presumed but not proven. SCAUP Aythya marila Fairly common winter visitor and passage
The monthly maxima from the four most favoured Suffolk sites were:Benacre Broad Aide/Ore Orwell Alton Water
Dec 4 3 3 4
O t h e r records in a rather quiet y e a r w e r e : Benacre: Benacre Broad, four eclipse males, Jul. 16th to 21st. Walberswick NNR: female, Dec. 29th. Minsmere: two females Feb. 12th; one, Feb. 25th. Four males, Jul. 27th; female, Oct. 27th and Dec. 2nd to 22nd. Aldeburgh: Dec. 31st. Bawdsey: East Lane, pair, Oct. 28th; female, Oct. 29th to Nov. 5th; three, Nov. 12th; female, Dec. 23rd and 27th. Waldringfield: female, Dec. 9th. Landguard: three south, Dec. 6th; seven south, Dec. 7th.
The four summer birds at Benacre and at Minsmere were presumably the same. EIDER Somateria mollissima Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few non-breeders oversummer. As usual with this most maritime of ducks all the records were concentrated along the coast, where it was widely reported in small numbers. The only reports of 10 or more birds were as follows:Kessingland: 40, Dec. 5th. Benacre: 18 south, Nov. 11th. Covehithe: 35 north, Nov. 4th, 50 south, Nov. 12th. Minsmere: 27, Dec. 2nd. Thorpeness: 18 north, Oct. 14th. Aldeburgh: 29 south, Dec. 31st. Havergate Island: 26, Dec. 16th. Felixstowe: Landguard, 104 north, 102 south, Dec. 7th.
The Landguard figures are exceptional and formed the bulk of a monthly total of 171 north and 138 south during December. In additon off Landguard, 31 flew north on October 31st and 10 north on November 3rd. A few birds over-summered, with up to five recorded offshore between Lowestoft and Southwold. 52
LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. With mild weather again in both winter periods there were just nine records of this northern seaduck. I.owestoft: one south, Oct. 29th. Benacre: Benacre Broad, male, Mar. 1 Ith and 12th. Covehithe: one north, Jan. 12th. Dunwich: Feb. 5th.
Vlinsmere: iemale, Feb. 20th to 28th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, iemale Feb. 23rd. Orwell Estuary: Levington Creek, Nov. 25th; three, Shotley, Dec. 23rd and Woolverstone, Dec. 30th. Lackford WR: long-staying immature male from September 19th 1995 present to Jun. 16th. The Lackford bird is presumed to be of wild origin, but everything seems to be kept in captivity these days! COMMON SCOTER Melanina nigra Common non-breeding resident, winter visitor and passage
Widely reported along the coast in all months of the year with a welcome return to rather higher numbers offshore. All reports of 100 or more are listed. Benacre: 400, Mar. 26th. Covehithe: 380, Jan. 30th.; 250, Feb. 16th; 910, Mar. 18th; 350, Apr. 12th. Southwold: 400, May 13th; 120 south, Jan. 29th. Walberswick: 200, May 13th; 310, Jun.l3th; 120, Dec. 2nd. Dunwich: 200, May 2Ist; 150, Nov. 15th. Minsmere: 250, May 29th. Sizewell: 150, Jul. 5th.
Landguard: 115 south, Oct. 22nd. With the exception of the flock flying quickly past Landguard, all gatherings were typically in the waters off the northern half of the County. There was just one record away from saltwater, a female/immature at Suffolk Water Park on November 12th. DĂźring the autumn Landguard logged 51 south and 13 north during September; 184 south and 23 north during October and 37 south and 96 north during November. VELVET SCOTER Melanina fusca Uncommon winter visitor and passage
Records in the first winter period and into spring came f r o m : Covehithe: five north, Jan. 1 Ith; one north, seven south Jan. 25th; four north, Mar. 19th; north Mar. 3Ist; south Apr. 8th and 15th. Walberswick: male, Feb. 25th. Southwold: five south, Jan. 4th. Landguard: one north, Apr. 14th. Trimley Marshes: Jan. 6th. Levington: River Orwell, Jan. 22nd to 30th. Stour Estuary: Mar. 19th. There was one off Minsmere on August 4th and two flew south off North Warren on August 9th. Reports in the second winter period were then as follows. Benacre: two Aug. 24th; two, Oct. 21st; female, Dec. 9th. Covehithe: north, Nov. 4th; two south, Nov. 18th. Dunwich: one, Nov. 15th. Minsmere: Oct. 26th; two, Dec. 2nd. Landguard: Two north, Sep. 17th; north, Oct. 21st; south, Oct. 26th; north Dec. 5th. Woolverstone: female, Nov. 26th; Dec. 16th. 53
GOLDENEYE Bucephala clangula Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Benacre Broad* Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex) Lackford WR* *monthly maxima
J 2 8
F 3 7
M 1 2
A 5 n/c
J 40 107 7 25 2 15
F 27 67 19 85 13 10
M 1 25 50 13 1 17
A 1 0 3 3 0 4
M n/c n/c 0 n/c n/c
A n/c n/c 0 0 0
S 0 0 0 0 0
O 3 0
N 7 0
D' 7 17
O 1 0 0 0 0 3
N 0 58 12 56 4 6
D 0 64 6 n/c n/c 4
Also of interest was a non-WeBS count of 134 in Holbrook and Seafield Bays on January 7th. Single figures were widely reported from many coastal sites. The latest in spring were three on Alton Water on April lOth and unseasonable reports involved a male on the River Deben at Woodbridge on June 23rd, an immature iemale in the same place on August 18th and a iemale on several dates from July 23rd at Benacre Broad. The first autumn report involved a female at Benacre Broad on September 6th. Landguard logged 19 Aying south during October, 19 south in November and 14 south in December. SMEW Mergus albellus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. The best year since 1991 with an obvious influx in early December: Kessingland: three south, Dee. Ist. Benacre: Benacre Broad, male, Feb. 2nd; redhead, Dee. 9th and lOth. Minsmere: male, Jan. 26th to Feb. Ist; three males, seven redheads, Dee. 2nd then 1-2 regularly to Dee. 23rd. Havergate Island: redhead. Dee. 15th and 16th. Trimley Marshes: redhead. Dee. 3rd to 20th. Alton Water: redhead, Jan. 4th to lOth; redhead, Dee. 8th to 31st.
Not a great showing but some long-stayers gave most birders the chance to catch up with the species. RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Benacre Broad* Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex) * monthly maxima
2 1 14 3 19
2 2 11 11 23
0 0 12 13 0
n/c 0 0 28 6
n/c n/c n/c n/c n/c
n/c n/c n/c 0 0
0 0 0 0 0
O 2 1 0 0 0 3
N 3 2 0 2 7 1
D 4 0 0 25 n/c n/c
March often produces a small peak of birds before their departure in the spring, but the peak in April on the Stour is unusual, unless there was some duplication in counting due to birds being on the move. Widely reported from the coast in small numbers with nearly all records involving sightings of one to five flying past offshore. A larger count involved 10 Aying north off Aldeburgh on November 3rd. There were no inland records. The last of the spring 54
were two f l y i n g north off S o u t h w o l d on M a y 14th and the species w a s not seen again until three flew south off S o u t h w o l d on S e p t e m b e r 30th and one flew south off A l d e burgh on O c t o b e r 1st, apart f r o m two unseasonable birds north off L a n d g u a r d on J u n e 14th. L a n d g u a r d logged 62 f l y i n g south during O c t o b e r with 47 of these on 22nd and 44 south in N o v e m b e r ( 2 2 on 5th). G O O S A N D E R Mergus merganser Locally fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Records f r o m the m o s t favoured C o u n t y sites w e r e : Jan Feb Mar Nov Benacre 2 Minsmere 2 1 Alton Water 4 1 Lackford WR 11 10 7 2
Dec 1 6 11
The only other reports in the first winter period c a m e f r o m : Trimley Marshes: Jan. 26th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, redhead, Jan. 7th to Feb. 24th. Thetford: Nunnery Flood, redhead. Mar. 9th to 15th. The last of the spring w a s a male at B e n a c r e on April 7th with n o m o r e reported until two flew south past L a n d g u a r d on O c t o b e r 28th. Reports in the second winter period w e r e m o r e w i d e s p r e a d a n d those a w a y f r o m the sites in the table above w e r e : Fritton: male, Dec. 9th. Lound: three Dec. 23rd. Lowestoft: Lowestoft Harbour, redhead, Nov. 20th. Oulton: Oulton Broad, male, Nov. 20th. Benacre: singles, Nov. 12th, Nov. 23rd; Dec. 17th and 18th. Walberswick: male south, Nov. 18th. Thorpeness: north, Dec. 3rd. Aldeburgh: redhead south, Dec. 31st. Ipswich: Wet Dock, redhead, Dec. 16th to 31st. Bramford: Suffolk Water Park, male, Dec. 2nd; redhead on six dates in Dec. Baylham: Causeway Lake, Dec. 21st. Stowmarket: Combs Lane Water Meadows, four, Dec. 20th. Weybread: Weybread GPs, redhead, Dec. 16th. Despite a g o o d spread of sightings, n u m b e r s r e m a i n e d low and there w a s n o obvious i n f l u x of birds. R U D D Y D U C K Oxyura jamaicensis Uncommon resident, winter visitor and passage
T h e p o p u l a t i o n in S u f f o l k appears to b e static at present, although coastal sightings are increasing slowly and a m a l e w a s watched displaying at M i n s m e r e during June. Reports c a m e f r o m seven sites with b r e e d i n g proven only at the regular site, Livermere Lake, w h e r e y o u n g birds w e r e seen in August. Fritton: male, Jun. 11th. Southwold: Boating lake, female/immature, Sep. 9th. Minsmere: male, Feb. 20th; 1-2 regularly from May 19th to Aug. 19th; Oct. 12th; three females/ immatures, Oct. 15th; Oct. 20th; male Oct. 26th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, male Jun. 15th to 21st; five females/immatures Nov. 12th. Alton Water: up to three females and a male Jan. 1st to Mar. 19th. One, Oct. 8th and Dec. 9th. Ampton: Ampton Water, five, Apr. 17th. Gt/Lt Livermere: Livermere Lake, Feb. 17th to Sep. 12th, highest count 16, Mar. 21st. Lackford WR: Jan. 7th to Feb. 18th; three, Mar. 4th; Aug. 2nd to 10th; Sep. 20th to 30th; Nov. 2nd; two, Nov. 12th. 55
HONEY BUZZARD Pe mis apivorus Scarce passage migrant During the late 1980's this species averaged just a couple of autumn passage migrants each year, with occasional spring passage birds. During recent years the frequency of birds recorded in the County on both autumn and spring passage has increased, but occurrences remain unpredictable; there have also been occasional summer records but as yet no proven or suspected breeding. This year's records continue the recent trend, with an exceptional early passage at the beginning of May, and subsequent birds in late May and August. Aldeburgh: North Warren, five north, May 1st (R N Macklin); one north, May 2nd (D Fairhurst). Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness Golf Course, north, May 25th (D Newton). Lackford WR: May 30th (P C Lack). Icklingham: north then west with three Common Buzzards, Aug. 28th (M D Crewe, S P Dudley). Southwold: south, Aug. 28th (B J Small).
BLACK KITE Milvus migrans Rare passage migrant. T w o spring records of p r e s u m a b l y a single bird. Benacre: May 8th (C A Buttle et al.). Walberswick: May 7th (C Corrigan).
This represents the County's 15th accepted occurrence, all of which have been overshooting spring migrants in April to June, with 12 of the 15 in the last 10 years. RED KITE Milvus milvus Scarce but increasing winter visitor and passage
The comment in last year's Suffolk Birds about possible future breeding moved one step closer to reality with a long staying bird, being for a short time joined by a second, with the pair seen displaying, but breeding not suspected. Westleton: Westwood Marshes, Oct. 28th (D Beamish, R C Smith). Dallinghoo/Charsfield: wing-tagged, Jan. 17th to Mar. 20th (per D R Moore) Holbrook: Jan. 2nd (K Keeble). Ipswich: Apr. 8th (G Elliott). Stowupland: Mar. 31st (J Walshe). Lawshall: Apr. 2nd.
Timworth: Jun. 20th (M D Crewe). Fakenham Magna: tagged in both wings, Dec. 30th (S Bishop). Barsham: Mar. 15th (G Piper).
The Dallinghoo/Charsfield bird was from the re-introduction programme, taken from a nest near Zaragoza, Spain and released as a juvenile in the Chilterns in 1993. What was presumably the same bird was also seen in neighbouring parishes, including Pettistree, Loudham, Wickham Market, Creeting St Peter and Otley. Presumably this bird and another (the other not carrying wing tags) were present together on February 21st at least and displaying was noted. What became of the wing-tagged bird is not known until it turned up at a roost of introduced birds in southern England in October 1995. It remained at the roost until January 1996, since when it has not been relocated. However, the wing tags are frequently lost from birds after around three to four years (I Carter pers. comm.) and it is possible that this bird is now individually unidentifiable in the field. The reintroduction of Red Kites into lowland Britain appears to be having some interesting side effects on passage bird through the area and trying to determine what is happening is becoming a major problem! MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosus Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. A few overwinter. During the summer months there were records of Marsh Harriers from practically every parish in the coastal strip from Kessingland to Felixstowe. There were scattered records elsewhere throughout the County. The core of the breeding population was, as usual, focused on the extensive coastal reedbeds: Benacre: 1 nest, 3 young. Easton: 6 nests, 18 young. Walberswick: 10 nests, 29 young. Minsmere: 5 nests, 17 young.
Isolated breeding was suspected elsewhere on the coastal strip, with birds present during the summer months at several sites around the southern estuaries, including a pair which produced a clutch of eggs at Trimley Marshes (although this pair was unsuccessful). One pair bred in the north-west of the county and, intriguingly, birds were noted on several dates during the summer months to the east of Breckland. All breeding records in Suffolk remain associated with reedbeds or reed fringes along rivers and there have so far been no sign of nesting away from this traditional habitat. During the first winter period, up to 20 birds were reported from 7 coastal sites, with maximum counts of five, Fritton Marshes, February 11th; four, Potter's Bridge, January 1st; four, Westwood Marshes, January 28th; and three, Minsmere, in January. There were fewer records in the second winter period with records of some 15 birds from half-a-dozen sites. Reports from less-expected locations during spring migration came from Bramford, May 7th; Moulton, April 4th and May 22nd and Cavenham, April 23rd. In the autumn, individuals were reported from Long Melford, August 28th, Cavenham, August 5th, Moulton, August 14th and Lackford, September 22nd and 25th. HENHARRIER Circus cyaneus Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Hen Harriers were reported from some 30 parishes in the coastal strip, from Benacre south to Felixstowe, and about eight parishes in the west of the County. Away from the coastal strip and regular Breckland sites, there was just a single record, from Combs Lane Water Meadows, March 21st. Of the 150 or so records received, about 40% refer to adult males, the rest to females or immatures. 57
Maximum roost counts were four birds (three females, one male) at Berner's Heath in Breckland on January 15th and 30th, and four birds (three males, one female) at Westwood Marshes on February 15th. There were regular records of up to four birds from Westwood Marshes during January. The number of records received each month reflects the relative abundance of Hen Harriers in the County during the year:Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 39 26 21 14 5 1 0 1 5 12 10 12 The May records came from Trimley Marshes, 1st; Hollesley Heath, 1st; Havergate Island, 2nd and 4th, and Oxley Marshes, Hollesley, 12th. Given the juxtaposition of the May sightings it is possible that most if not all reports refer to the same individual. There was then a mid-summer record from Trimley St Martin, June 21st, and an early autumn record, Shottisham, August 28th, before the first autumn arrivals with records from North Warren, September 19th; Havergate Island, September 25th, 28th and 29th; and Hollesley, September 30th. MONTAGU'S HARRIER Circus pygargus Scarce passage migrant
A fairly typical showing, w i t h five records. Southwold: Southwold Common, Apr. 27th (L J Townsend, B Reed). Walberswick NNR: ringtail, May 27th (D J Pearson). Aldeburgh: North Warren, female, May 5th and 10th (R N Macklin). Felixstowe: Landguard, ringtail north, May 9th (N Odin, J Smith, M Wall). Stratton Hall: Levington Lagoon, juvenile, Aug. 27th (S, M & C Newby).
GOSHAWK Accipiter gentilis Uncommon resident and rare winter visitor and passage migrant. A series of records was received for sightings of both male and female Goshawks at Mayday Farm in Thetford Forest, March 5th to June 2nd, whilst a pair was reported 58
from Thetford Warren on March 12th. Otherwise there were no reports of possible breeding birds within Thetford or The Kingis Forests. Nonetheless what can be presumed to be wandering birds from the Breckland population were reported from Livermere, Jan. 20th (imm. male), Lackford WR, February 21st (male), April 2nd (male), September 16th (juvenile) and 17th (female); and Cavenham Heath, April 8th and September 5th (male). Winter records from the west of the County carne from Timworth on October 2Ist, Risby, November 23rd (female took Magpie); Icklingham, December 24th (male); and Honington, December 29th (male). A pair was seen displaying over Gedgrave Plantation on April 2nd, and a female was displaying over Tunstall Forest on March 25th. Other coastal records were received from Benacre, May 14th (male); Minsmere, March 19th (female) and 28th (male), and May Ist; and North Warren, May Ist (two) and 3rd. SPARROWHAWK Accipiter nisus Common resident, winter visitor, and passage
The great success story goes on as Sparrowhawks continue to recover their numbers. Reports carne from at least 137 parishes geographically spread throughout the County. There were only four confirmed records of breeding, including five pairs from North Warren Reserve, and two pairs from Minsmere. Pairs were recorded from some other sites, but this must be surmised to represent substantial under-recording, and perhaps the species has lost some of its novelty after its spectacular recovery from its Virtual extinction in the County a couple of decades ago. Records were received for every month of the year, but with over 50% in the first three months; perhaps this is to be expected with a species that can be secretive during the breeding season. Immigration of Continental birds was implied by an upsurge in records from the immediate coast at peak migration times. During the spring, Landguard logged birds on just eight dates in February but 14 in March and 14 in April, falling to seven in May. During the autumn, birds were logged at Landguard on six dates in August, 18 dates in September and 18 in October. Many of these involved sightings of birds passing south, but some reports no doubt refer to locai birds cashing in on an increase in Potential meals. Two Sparrowhawks were mobbing a Common Buzzard at Hadleigh, September lOth; and a Sparrowhawk was mobbed by a Common Tern over Alton Water, August 6th. COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buteo Fairly common and increasing winter visitor and passage
Although the number of records of Buzzards has increased substantially over the past decade, the pattern of occurrence has changed little, with a few lingering birds during the winter months and an increasingly notable passage in spring and autumn, but with very few summer records. During 1995, there were around 150 records of Buzzards from 50 parishes, a welcome upsurge in reports. 59
In the early part of the year, there was a scattering of records, principally from the coastal strip, where multiple sightings suggested lingering birds at Beccles, in the Dunwich/Westleton area, Chillesford/Butley/Gedgrave area (up to three) and at Trimley Marshes. Away from the coast, reports of singles came from Little Bealings, Bramford and Long Melford. April and May saw an obvious movement of Buzzards with again most records from the coastal strip. The scale of this movement is shown by the following sightings, being all records of more than one bird: Fritton and St Olaves: seven, Apr. 2nd; 11, Apr. 17th. Walberswick: two north, May 8th. Benacre: 30 in off sea then north-west, Apr. 4th; four, Apr. 7th; three, Apr. 16th; four north. Apr. 30th. Henstead: three north, Apr. 14th. Minsmere: two, Apr. 2nd; five S., Apr. 16th; five, Apr. 19th and May Ist; three, May 3rd and May 8th. Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Sizewell, two south, May Ist.
Sudbourne: seven, May 4th. The 30 at Benacre is unprecedented in Suffolk, at least in recent times. The total consisted of several small parties of up to nine birds and is difficult to interpret, but is likely to involve continental birds moving north. Buzzard sightings were still numerous along the coast up to May 13th and 14th; with later records coming from Ray don on May 3 Ist, Minsmere on June 1 Ith, Southwold on June 16th and intermittently at Moulton from June 12th to July 14th. Hopeful signs of a move towards breeding in the County were shown by the summering bird at Moulton and by a handful of reports of birds noted displaying briefly during May. It is also of great interest that a pair bred in North-west Essex in 1994. The first birds of the autumn were two at Gedgrave on August 5th and one at Trimley Marshes on August 18th and 20th. There was another movement through the County concentrated in late August and September, but unlike the spring passage, the majority of birds were recorded inland, particularly in Breckland. The following are all records of more than one bird: Wantisden: Staverton Park, three, Sep. 30th.
Havergate Island: two, Sep. 23rd. Needham Market: two, Oct. 2nd; two, Nov. lOth. Stoke-by-Nayland: Tendring Park, four, Sep. 24th.
Risby: two, Oct. 7th. Cavenham: two, Aug. 26th and Sep. 3rd. Icklingham: three, Aug. 28th.
Tüddenham: three, Sep. 5th. West Stow: The King's Forest, two, Sep. 30th.
Lackford: two, Sep. 6th; two, Sep. 30th. There was a sériés of records from Cavenham, and adjacent parishes north to Elveden and south to Moulton, from August 28th to November 19th, suggesting one, perhaps two, long-staying birds. Two birds together were recorded from Great Livermere, December 25th. There were no coastal records for the second winter period (November/December). 1994 Butley: Butley River, singles, Oct. 28th and Dec. 20th.
ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Birds in the early part of the year were scarce on the coast, with just a handful of records, but there was a long-staying and much admired bird in the centre of the County: 60
Westleton: Westleton Heath, Jan. 2nd. Sudbourne: Sudbourne Marshes, Jan. 9th and 14th. Butley: Jan. 7th; Feb. 8th. Offton: Middle Wood area, first-winter, Feb. 12th to 26th.
There was a strong spring passage along the coast with some birds seeming reluctant to return north too early: Fritton and St Olaves: Mar. 19th; Apr. 17th and 23rd; May 4th. Wangford: May 8th. Southwold: one south-east, Mar. 23rd; Blyth Estuary, Mar. 26th. i eiston-cum-Sizewell: two, Apr. 30th. Mdeburgh: North Warren, May 1st and 4th. Sudbourne: May 5th. (.edgrave: Butley River area, Mar. 21st. Felixstowe: Felixstowe Ferry, flying north-west, Apr. 16th. Nacton/Levington: Broke Hall area, Mar. 14th.
There were no more records until December when birds were confined to the extreme north-east of the county: Fritton and St Olaves: Fritton Marshes, two, Dec. 22nd; one, Dec. 24th. Beccles: Beccles Marshes, Dec. 29th
1994 Sudbourne: School Road, Dec. 20th. Butley: Butley River, two, Oct. 28th and 29th. Hollesley: south, Oct. 27th. Already a b u m p e r year, these late records add to the superb movement of 1994.
OSPREY Pandion haliaetus Uncommon passage migrant A steady stream of records from April 23rd to October 8th, with most in May, but including some mid-summer records. Lackford WR, Trimley Marshes, and Minsmere produced the bulk of the records. Fritton and St Olaves: Waveney Forest, May 8th; Fritton Decoy, Jul. 2nd. Benacre: Benacre Broad, May 8th.
lilythburgh: Jun. 1st. Minsmere: Apr. 30th; May 18th; Jul. 14th to 21st; Aug. 21st to 29th; Sep. 10th and 11th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, two, May 8th.
Havergate Island: Sep. 1st, 2nd, and 14th. Hoy ton: Apr. 23rd. Trimley Marshes: Apr. 29th; May 20th, 23rd, 26th. I rimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, May 20th. Coddenham: Pippis Ford, Aug. 27th. Great Livermere: Sep. 24th. Timworth: Oct. 8th. Culford: Culford Park, Oct. 6th. l ackford WR: May 30th; Jun. 11th and 19th; Aug. 15th; Sep. 17th and 23rd. Icklingham: May 23rd.
1994 Bucklesham: north over A12, Sep. 23rd.
KESTREL Falco tinnunculus Very common resident. Apart from detailed recording by a few observers, less than 60 records were received, from just 28 parishes, with a geographical spread throughout the County. Breeding records were received from just seven parishes, including six pairs on the 61
North Warren Reserve, and four pairs at Minsmere. The commoner the species, the less interest taken by observers, and Kestrels are undoubtedly under-recorded. One observer reported that Kestrels appeared to have had a very good breeding season in south-east Suffolk. This appears to be borne out by some notable concentrations of birds recorded in early autumn from several areas, for example, 29 on Orfordness on September 10th; 14 at Minsmere on October 20th; six at North Warren on September 23rd; seven at Sudbourne Marshes on October 8th and six there on October 15 th. Landguard recorded movement mainly during September and October; 37 records on 22 dates in September, including birds moving south on five dates (four on 20th, plus one in off sea); 18 records on 16 dates in October, including birds south on six dates. Other probable migrants were at Easton Bavents, flying south, October 19th, and a tired bird at South pier, Lowestoft, September 19th. RED-FOOTED FALCON Falco vespertinus Very rare visitor. A single record, taking the County total to 33. Dunwich: Dunwich Heath, 1st summer male, May 29th (B Small).
This species has now occurred in eight of the past 15 years mostly just one or two per year - but an exceptional 10 records in 1992, with May and June as the favoured months. MERLIN Falco columbarius Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Recorded from 26 parishes, mostly coastal, but with a scattering of records from west and central Suffolk. Records were widespread in the first three months of the year, decreasing Kestrel rapidly through April, with the last spring records on May 8th, at Walberswick and Mayday Farm, Brandon.. There was an unseasonable record of a Merlin flying north through Felixstowe docks, July 18th (W J Brame). The first of the autumn was on Havergate Island, August 21st, and there followed an obvious immigration in September, with, for example, four recorded flying south at Covehithe, September 13th. Numbers in the second winter period were similar to those at the start of the year. Most records were intermittent, and nowhere were Merlins guaranteed; the only sites with more than three records in total throughout the year were well watched coastal reserves: Minsmere: Sep. 11th and 20th; Nov. 27th ; Dec. 2nd and 16th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Jan. 28th; Mar. 13th; Sep. 29th; Oct. 12th; Nov. 24th.
Havergate Island: Feb. 4th and 5th; Aug. 21st; Sep. 5th, 10th and 14th; Oct. 24th (two) one to 27th; Nov. 18th and 28th; Dec. 8th to 16th. Felixstowe: Landguard, Jan. 9th; Mar. 27th; Apr. 22nd; Oct. 14th, 19th, 21st, 29th, 30th; Nov. 3rd and 13th.
Trimley Marshes: Jan. 24th; Mar. 8th; Apr. 22nd; Oct. 7th. A remarkable report involved the discovery of a Merlin sitting on a bush in a town garden in Beccles, December 10th. 62
HOBBY Falco subbuteo Fairly common summer visitor and passage
The Hobby is always an exciting bird to see and this, combined with its relative scarcity, means that it is well recorded. Nearly 200 records were received, more than for any other raptor species. Nonetheless, Hobbies can be extremely secretive and elusive, especially when breeding, and it is still impossible to give an accurate account of the species' status in Suffolk. The first records of the year were towards the end of April with singles at Southwold on 23rd, Combs Lane Water Meadows on 27th and Thorpe Common, Trimley St Martin on 28th. There were numerous records in May, including reports of birds in off the sea at Landguard, May 20th and 29th. Records then decreased during June, with few in July, indicating the secretive nature of this species in mid-summer. Records picked up again during August and September, with the fledging of young and the dispersal of breeding birds. Multiple observations included three at Lackford WR on Sep. 24th, four at Minsmere on June 14th and five at Lound on September 6th. A few lingered to mid-October with singles at Trimley Marshes on 14th, North Warren on 15th and Needham Market on 18th. Hobbies were recorded from around 65 parishes, geographically spread across the County, but breeding was proven only at Minsmere. There was circumstantial evidence of breeding for a further 12 pairs, mostly along the coastal belt and in Breckland, with a single pair in south-central Suffolk. PEREGRINE Falco peregrinus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. In the early part of the year, Peregrines were present on the coast, and grouping sightings geographically suggests there could have been several long-staying birds at various times: rritton and St Olaves: Fritton Marshes, Jan. 1st; Feb. 11th; Mar. 11th, 12th, 19th (two), 24th.
Havergate Island: Jan. 9th; intermittently Feb. 4th to 26th (two on Feb. 4th). ! ower Orwell Estuary: intermittently Jan. 24th to Feb. 17th. Upper Orwell Estuary: intermittently Feb. 3rd to Mar. 19th; Apr. 19th. There were isolated records from Walberswick, January 2nd and February 12th, and Martlesham, January 1st. The only inland records came from neighbouring parishes, Ixworth, February 6th, and Pakenham, April 25th. A gap in one wing formed by the absence of at least one flight feather identified the Pakenham bird as the same as one seen just across the border in Brettenham, Norfolk on March 24th. A late spring bird was seen at Minsmere, May 9th, 10th and 14th. There was a mid-summer record, June 4th, from Princes Street, Ipswich, but this bird was wearing jesses and was an escaped falconeris bird. Records in the second winter period were confined to the coast and estuaries, but were more geographically scattered than at the start of the year. There were a couple of early birds in August, and then a presence through to the yeans end: Beccles: Sept. 19th. Fritton and St Olaves: Fritton Marshes, Nov. 22nd; Dec. 24th.
Benacre/Covehithe: Oct. 1st; Nov. 2nd, 5th, 10th and 18th. Southwold: Oct. 1st. I-eiston-cum-Sizewell: two, Sep. 3rd. Aldeburgh: North Warnm, November 11th, 18th. Orford/Hollesley: Orfordness/Shingle Street, Aug. 13th; Oct. 1st; Nov. 19th; Dec. 10th.
Martlesham: Nov. 12th and 18th. rehxstowe: Landguard, two south, Sep. 30th.
Lower Orwell Estuary: Sep. 10th; Oct. 20th; Dec. 1st and 17th. Upper Orwell Estuary: Nov. 25th; Dec. 17th, 22nd and 28th. Harkstead: Aug. 10th. As reports increase, so interesting observations come to light. A bird at Martlesham Creek was seen to take a Green Sandpiper and a bird at Benacre was twice seen to harass Little Auks and managed to catch one on November 18th. RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE Alectoris rufa Pure bred birds remain scarce at present but hybrids are still common. This species and its genetic problems continue to attract little attention from the County's birders, despite much prompting in recent Suffolk Birds. All reports are presumed to refer to hybrids unless otherwise stated. The largest reported coveys were all at well-watched sites and included 27, Aldringham Walks, February 12th; 24, Lackford WR, January 12th and 22, Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket, October 3rd. Census work on reserves revealed two pairs on Havergate Island and 16 pairs at Aldringham Walks whilst Landguard's postbreeding population peaked at 23 full-grown birds in September. Now that the release of hybrids is illegal, pure birds should be creeping back into the County. However, the relatively warm, dry climate of parts of Suffolk - particularly in Breckland - favours breeding in the wild and may mean that hybrids hang on longer here than elsewhere in Britain, until hand-reared true birds 'water down' the genes. GREY PARTRIDGE Perdix perdix Formerly common resident, now localised. As with so many species, interest in the Grey Partridge has become inversely proportional to its abundance. Reports were received from 51 sites, principally in the coastal region and Breckland. The majority of counts were in single figures but the largest coveys involved 23 at Waldringfield, December 9th, 21 at Alton Water, January 14th and 20 at Shotley Marshes, November 12th. Very few breeding reports were received with a maximum of only four pairs at both Minsmere and Aldringham Walks. Many shooting estates have increased efforts to re-establish this species and we look forward to the results of their work. QUAIL Coturnix coturnix Scarce summer visitor and passage
Reports from 15 sites totalling 22 calling males made 1995 easily the best year for this species in Suffolk since 1987 (17 sites, 30-35 calling birds). Typically, the majority of the reports were from the coastal region and Breckland, reflecting birders habits. There was no proven breeding, although it was strongly suspected at Minsmere. A summary of calling males follows: Kessingland: Jul. 22nd to 25th. Benacre: Beach Farm Marshes, Jun. 18th to 24th. Westleton: Jun. 16th. Middleton: Jul. 1st. Dunwich: Dunwich Heath, three, Jun. 3rd. Minsmere: Jun. 1st to Jul. 7th; second male, Jun, 4th to 6th. Felixstowe: Gulpher Road, Jun. 26th to 27th.
Belstead/Wherstead: Jun. 15th to 18th. Whitton: May 12th. Coney Weston: two, Jun. 20th. Great Barton: Jun. 21st. 64
"'ÂżiL " J?**
- ma m 7: Eider are increasingly summering in Suffolk.
8: Alton Water held its highest number of Pochard since 1979.
9: Lowestoft Ness holds most of the County's wintering Purple Sandpipers. Alan Tate
Great Livermere: Jul. 16th. Timworth: Jun. 2nd to 30th; second male, Jun. 18th to 30th. West Stow: West Stow Country Park, Jul. 12th.
Elveden: Jun. 14th. i ikenheath: at least three, Jul. 22nd to Aug. 14th. A huge gap in records exists in mid Suffolk and, given the suitable habitat and lack of birders there, it can only be assumed that a great number of birds went unrecorded. PHEASANT Phasianus Very common resident.
Special thanks go to the observers who made the effort to report on the breeding fortunes of this much-maligned creature. The maximum reported total was of 53 calling males in the north Warren/Aldringham Walks complex; elsewhere there were 12 nests at Boyton Marshes (three predated by Carrion Crows) and up to ten at Combs Lane Water Meadows, Stowmarket but only two on Havergate Island (six in 1994). As this species is polygamous with males having a number of females, could observers supplying data specify whether counts are based on calling males or nests located. GOLDEN PHEASANT Chrysolophus pictus Scarce resident. Apart from a male at Ixworth Spinney, Euston on May 27th (a new site for the species) the only Breckland reports were from The King's Forest where up to five males were located in January and four in February. Although being notoriously secretive, observers are requested to keep an eye out for this species, especially away from the immediate j, vicinity of known favoured spots at Wordwell, West Stow and Mayday Farm. 1 he species is perhaps under-recorded in Suffolk, although some evidence exists to suggest that it is currently declining. Hopefully, radar tracking work by the BTO will throw light on the behaviour of this bird (M Rehfisch et al. In Prep.). Reports from Great Livermere, February 12th, Barsham, February 21st and Whitton, October 5th are considered to refer to escapees. WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus I airly common resident, winter visitor and passage
Reports were received from at least 35 sites, mainly coastal and during the winter months when the species is less secretive. Away from coastal wetlands, birds were noted at Cavenham Heath, January 15th, Santon Downham, January 19th, Hawkedon, January 14th, Market Weston Fen (two), September 9th, Culford Lake, March 11th and Combs Lane Water Meadows, January to March. The principal site in West Suffolk was Lackford WR where regular reports included up to three in November and December and up to five during July to September. It seems likely that breeding 65
took place at Lackford WR where a juvenile was trapped and ringed on August 8th Coastal breeding figures involved 17 pairs at Minsmere (20 in 1994) and three pairs at North Warren. The only other breeding season report was from Westwood Marshes, Walberswick NNR, May 29th. The only evidence of migration came from Felixstowe where singles were at Langer Park on March 20th to 22nd and April 1st and at Landguard on December 8th with what was presumably the same bird being found dead there on December 15th. More surprising was the presence of one in a garden in Sunningdale Drive. Felixstowe on April 28th. An interesting report involved the discovery of the remains of a Water Rail at a Sparrowhawk's plucking post at Leathes Ham, Lowestoft on November 4 th. SPOTTED CRAKE Porzana porzana Rare passage migrant. Rarely over-summers. Despite an excellent autumn passage of this species in many areas of Britain in 1995, only one was located in Suffolk - perhaps having the nation's largest reedbeds can sometimes be a nuisance! Minsmere: Aug. 29th to Sep. 4th (per RSPB).
This bird attracted many observers during its week-long stay in front of North Hide. This is the first Suffolk record since 1992 - none has been reported in the County away from Minsmere since 1987. CORNCRAKE Crexcrex Very rare passage migrant. Martlesham: two calling, July 4th; one calling July 5th (D Craven, K & J Garrod, D Walsh et al.).
These are the first in Suffolk since 1992 and the first in mid-summer since one at Swilland on : . June 13th 1991. The timing is intriguing and perhaps involved unpaired males moving in parallel with the good influx of Quail that took place. Controversy has surrounded the appearance of these birds, which here are accepted for just two dates. Further claims have not been accompanied by details and it seems likely that unfamiliarity with what is now a very rarely heard call caused confusion.
MOORHEN GallĂnula chloropus Very common resident, winter visitor and passage Monthly WeBS figures are as follows: Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex)
J 123 25 70 17 22 9
F 115 69 74 48 60 0
M 24 33 53 32 17 4
A n/c 66 31 28 8 7
M n/c n/c n/c 11 n/c n/c
migrant. A n/c n/c n/c 51 13 0
S 45 23 54 57 11 2
O 110 32 62 68 14 0
N 61 30 59 90 15 7
D 78 6 10 112 n/c n/c
Notable individual site counts included 129 at North Warren, January 22nd and 110 there on February 20th; 91 at Livermere Lake on April 6th; 60 at Newbourne on January 25th, 45 at Trimley Marshes on December 30th and 38 at Barking on December 9th. The breeding population at Minsmere declined startlingly to only nine pairs (18 in 1994, 29 in 1993) but, as in 1994, 91 pairs were located at North Warren. Elsewhere, ten pairs were at Shotley Marshes, nine pairs at Combs Lane Water Meadows and eight pairs at Boyton Marshes. The only reports from Landguard were of singles on May 1st and a corpse found on November 19th. Interesting reports involved the discovery of up to six roosting regularly at least five metres above ground level in a Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna tree at Otley whilst the discovery of a leucistic individual at Framlingham Mere gave the observer heart palpitations until its identity was established!
COOT Fulica atra Very common resident, winter visitor and passage
Monthly counts from the principal sites were: Minsmere* North Warren* Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Alton Water Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex) Lackford WR*
273 194 155 162 1154 32 0
231 209 121 82 572 4 0 150
M 251 151 87 74 66 225 11 0 52
n/c 64 105 128 14 0
n/c n/c n/c 131 n/c n/c
n/c n/c n/c 561 4 0
S 258 15 75 46 77 1044 14 0
O 295 21 135 92 45 2615 20 0 443
71 238 222 56 65 29 47 2401 2845 20 n/c 0 n/c 447 200
* monthly maxima
The exceptional late autumn totals at Alton Water are the highest recorded in Suffolk since at least the Second World War. At the same time there were also very large gatherings of ducks at that site; investigations revealed that the quick turn-over of water during an exceptionally dry summer reduced its alkalinity which resulted in the growth of abnormally large amounts of submerged weed and attracted record numbers of wildfowl to the reservoir (Piotrowski 1996). Notable gatherings at additional sites involved 316, Suffolk Water Park, December 31st; 250, Barsham, February 12th and 220, Thorington Street Reservoir, October 30th. In the west of the County, 96 were on Livermere Lake on April 6th. Breeding totals included 36 pairs at North Warren (30 in 1994); 12 pairs at Minsmere (13 in 1994) and 12 pairs at Boyton Marshes. CRANE Grus grus Rare passage migrant. Wythburgh: first-summer, on marshes then flew west, Jun. 18th (W J Brame, E W Patrick). Bramford: Suffolk Water Park, flying north, Jun. 15th (J Zantboer).
Ukenheath: Jul. 8th (S J Fryett). Lackford/Icklingham/Cavenham: sub-adult, Jun. 22nd to Nov. 1st at least (P V Hayman
et al.) A good run of sightings, representing the first in the County since 1992. There is the distinct possibility that a single bird was involved in all records. 67
OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Common J 0 51 189 828 238 280
Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex)
F 145 505 309 764 328 800
M 326 941 374 570 342 768
A 241 n/c 389 315 218 135
M 173 n/c n/c n/c n/c n/c
A n/c n/c n/c n/c 481 326
resident. S n/c 29 114 254 17 649
O 52 22 171 328 80 821
N 46 39 117 425 729 811
D 48 52 106 142 n/c n/c
Additional high tide roost counts at the ^ ^ ^ Trimley Marshes reserve included 210 01 ^ ^ June 18th, 311 on July 16th, 400 on ^ ^ September lOth and 500 on October ^ 28th. Hk Havergate Island held the highest ^ ^ concentration of breeding bircis ^ ^ ^ with at least 25 pairs making 34 nesting attempts and ^^^^^ . , â€ž , i l e d g i n g 40 young. Else where on the coast ther : were six pairs at Trimley Marshes, five pairs at Minsmer s (none successful), three pairs in Sugar Beet fields adjacent I > Shotley Marshes and the first successful breeding for many years at Landguard wher a pair reared one juvenile. Reports from West Suffolk continue to feature prominenti with sightings at a minimum of nine sites. Breeding records involved up to three pair. in the Cavenham/Tuddenham area and single successful pairs at Livermere Lake and Ixworth Thorpe. There were also reports, mainly of single birds on single dates durin the spring and summer, from Lackford WR, Barrow, Moulton, Boxford, Brandon an i Ixworth. At additional non-coastal sites a pair bred successfully in the Waveney Valley at Weybread GPs and there was the first recorded instance of attempted breeding in th â€˘ Gipping Valley where a pair tried unsuccessfully at the Suffolk Water Park, Bramforc. Southerly autumn passage off Landguard was very poor and involved totals of 69 in July, 65 in August and 61 in September (compare 329 in August 1994). AVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta Common resident, summer visitor, winter visitor and passage migrant on the coast. J 260 602 79
Blyth Aide/Ore Deben
F 179 639 75
M 114 396 53
A 129 n/c 42
M 50 n/c n/c
A n/c n/c n/c
S n/c 560 0
O 25 294 9
N 374 333 82
Again the Aide/Ore fails to achieve the totals seen between 1989 and 1993. It is possible that for some unknown reason, the species is beginning to favour other sites as the fall in number coincides with a further increase in birds wintering on other Suffolk estuaries. Monthly maxima at the three principal breeding sites were: Minsmere Havergate Trimley
J 0 250 0
F 0 322 4
M 120 250 40
A 260 107 57
M 298 118 32
J 145 173
J 210 446 50
A 0 700 50
S 0 500 10
0 0 350 0
N 0 207 0
D 0 210 0
Additional non-WeBS data included 330 on the Blyth Estuary on February 9th, 94 68
on the Deben Estuary on February 23rd and 74 there on December 16th. Post-breedin gatherings peaked with 700 at Havergate Island on August 24th. As in 1994, breeding data were only received from Minsmere, Havergate Island and Tr mley Marshes, although it is known to occur at other sites.
Minsmere Havergate I. Trimley
Breeding Pairs 1994 1995 105 141 103 80 22 30
Young Fledged 1994 1995 30 21 35 12 23 25
A rather confusing picture is painted by the breeding data above, but overall it seems to have been another poor season with chick prĂŠdation by large gulls and bad weather the main problems. Whilst Minsmere's total of pairs rose, Havergate's fell appreciably (although the two may not be unconnected) and prĂŠdation at the latter site was particularly notable. Counts of individuai birds at Havergate peaked at 700 on August 24th. The only noteworthy coastal movement was of 28 north off Landguard on October 26th (c.f. 127 north there on November 6th 1994). Undoubtedly the most unexpected sighting was of one with gulls on a frozen lake at Lackford WR on January 4th, but even more bizarre was the report of one found dead on a road in the new Grange Farm housing estate at Kesgrave on October 18th. STONE-CURLEW Burhinus oedicnemus Locally fairly common summer visitor. RSPB survey work in Suffolk Breckland revealed the presence of 58 breeding pairs (54 in 1994) which produced an encouraging total of 49 young (only 27 in 1994). This bodes well for the future, continuing the recent upward trend. In addition, the species just hangs on as a breeding species on the coast, where a single pair was located. 69
Migrants were noted along the coast at Minsmere on March 22nd and 23rd (c.f. one there on March 21st 1994), at Havergate Island on July 20th and at Shingle Street on September 10th. The Minsmere sightings offer great hope to current attempts by the RSPB to recreate suitable breeding habitat in the area. The species was present in the county throughout most months of the year with the first arrival noted on March 10th and two late birds still in the county on November 2nd, both dates involving birds in Breckland. The latter date represents the latest in the County since 1989. Few counts of traditional autumn gatherings were made known, but a report of 15 together was received on September 10th. LITTLE RINGED PLOVER Charadrius dubius Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. There were breeding reports from only six sites with an overall total of 13 pairs (11 sites and 12 pairs in 1994). The principal breeding sites were Lackford WR (three pairs reared six juveniles) and Weybread GPs (five pairs). With up to 10 noted at abandoned gravel workings at Red Lodge during April it is likely that the species bred there and a pair probably bred in a pit near Timworth. The breeding population is at a low ebb at present and observers are requested to report all instances of breeding. As in 1994, the first migrant was noted on March 11th at Lackford WR. March arrivals were also recorded at Weybread GPs, Suffolk Water Park, Nunnery Floods and Livermere Lake where four were present on 24th. Coastal reports in April included three at Southwold on 5th and one south off Landguard on 16th. The only coastal report in May involved four at Minsmere on 15th whilst four were inland at Mickle Mere, Pakenham on 5th. Early autumn migrants were present in late June at Walberswick, 26th and North Warren, 30th but the main passage commenced in mid-July. Totals at Minsmere quickly peaked at seven on July 30th but at Trimley Marshes the peak autumn count did not occur until August 30th when five were present. One flew south off Landguard on September 11th and the final birds of the year were singles at Lackford WR on September 17th and Trimley Marshes on September 18th. RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula Common resident, winter visitor and passage Blyth North Warren* Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Landguard* Alton Water* Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex) *monthly maxima
J 0 30 29 7 248 198 124 15 266
F 110 36 33 0 10 226 236 246 256
M 8 8 11 0 71 70 0 4 114
n/c 0 120
n/c n/c n/c
n/c n/c n/c
0 2 23
0 n/c n/c
0 124 462
S n/c 76 171 31 1 11 30 209 715
O 0 126 81 40 56 19 200 64 370
N 14 43 14 1 161 150 31 24
D 0 40 90 18 411 220 257 n/c n/c
High tide roost totals at Landguard had started to increase dramatically in November 1994, coinciding with works associated with the Felixstowe Dock extension. One at Lackford WR on February 17th was the first report of the year in West Suffolk where breeding pairs were subsequently located at Lackford WR (two), Risby (two) and Barnham (one). At least six were with Little Ringed Plovers on abandoned gravel workings at Red Lodge on April 3rd and the species may well have bred there. The principal coastal breeding reports were from Aldeburgh/Thorpeness (seven pairs). Minsmere (six pairs - no young fledged), Shotley (four pairs in Sugar Beet fields) and 70
Landguard (four pairs). The only coastal movement of note involved 55 north off Southwold on November 3rd. Autumn passage was almost non-existent off Landguard and this is perhaps reflected in the below-average September totals on ali of the estuaries apart from the Stour. Associated with the latter site, the regulär field roost at Alton Water peaked at 200 birds during the second winter period. The only report of the northern race tundrae came from Mickle Mere, Pakenham where three were present with four Bar-tailed Godwits on May 5th. DOTTEREL Charadrius morinellus Rare passage migrant. As in 1994, this year's reports were ali restricted to West Suffolk in the spring Moulton: two, May lOth (P Bullett). Tuddenham St Mary: three, May 8th (P V Hayman, M D Sutton). The observer of the Moulton birds located ten at the same site on April 30th 1994. GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis apricaria Common winter visitor and passage migrant. There were significant gatherings of this species at both inland and coastal sites in January and February due to generally mild weather which negated the need for birds to move further west and south. These included the largest flocks ever recorded in the County with 6000 at Blythburgh, January 22nd and 6000 at Great Livermere, February 15th. Higher than usuai numbers of this species and Lapwing at Combs Lane Water Meadows were attributed to ideal ground conditions with bare, tilled soil rather than the well-grown autumn cereals normally to be found (J Walshe pers comm.). Oh for a return to spring sowing! Additional gatherings of over 500 birds involved: Southwold: 2000, Feb. 12th. Minsmere: 1000, Feb. 5th. Iken: 1000, Jan. 18th; 1500, Feb. 6th. Great Waldingfield: 800, Jan. lOth. Long Melford: 700, Jan. 15th. Little Livermere: 2000, Feb. 3rd and 17th; 3000, Mar. lOth. lotals generally decreased rapidly during March and there were no large spring gatherings apart from 1000, Southwold, March 15th. The final migrants of the spring were recorded in May at Landguard on 5th, Blythburgh on 6th, Shingle Street on 12th and Southwold on 13th. For the fourth successive year there was evidence of oversummering on Havergate Island with two on June 26th and singles on June 24th and in July from 9th onwards (although failed breeders returning early may have been responsible for some of these sightings). The first autumn bird flew south off Landguard on July 20th. Totals increased during August with reports including up to 270 on the Stour and 54 south oft Landguard on 16th. The largest gatherings in September involved 250 on 1 Ith at both Risby and Lackford. The peak second winter total was of 2133 adjacent to the Stour estuary at Brantham °n December 2nd. However, it was in centrai and western areas that the species was most widespread with the largest flocks as follows: Fressingfield: 1600, Nov. 14th. Old Newton: 500, Nov. lOth. »towmarket: 600, Nov. 23rd. Ampton: 1500, Oct. 16th. weat Livermere: 1000, Dee. 23rd. Lackford WR: 1000, Nov. 28th to 30th. 71
GREY PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Blyth Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex)
J 0 21 235 226 816 345
F 331 3 16 39 3089 135
M 4 0 103 10 973 525
A 8 n/c 4 0 600 0
M 1 n/c n/c n/c n/c n/c
A n/c n/c n/c n/c 739 757
S n/c 18 160 19 568 184
0 33 23 87 3 994 401
N 24 39 7 12 2803 0
D 39 130 33 154 ll/C n/c
Individual site totals on the Stour included up to 1000 in Erwarton Bay in February and 431 in Holbrook Bay on October 18th. Elsewhere, 200 were at Shingle Street, November 24th and singles inland at Lackford WR, December 2nd and 7th. Peak spring passage totals included 131, Holbrook Bay, May 3rd and 30, Havergate Island, May lOth. Inland, singles were at Lackford WR, March 24th and Livermere Lai e, May 24th. Offshore, 17 flew north past Landguard, May 22nd. In June eight were on Havergate on 4th and one flew north off Landguard on 28th. Southerly autumn passage off Landguard peaked at 19 on September 7th and 81 on October 22nd. Autumn counts included an impressive peak on the Stour WeBS count (see table above). LAPWING Vanellus vanellus Very common resident, winter visitor and passage Blyth Alde/Ore Deben Orwell Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex)
J 3500 3416 3679 3331 2201 1072
F 513 2689 1048 824 3586 4624
M 105 386 95 138 142 86
A 15 n/c 56 81 43 1
M 15 n/c n/c n/c n/c n/c
migrant. A n/c n/c n/c n/c 343 243
S n/c 2036 1294 454 1158 971
O 851 2054 1220 1097 1259 2002
N 1487 4577 1972 1685 2036 446
D 409 1745 98 833 n/c n/c
Mild weather in Suffolk in the second half of January resulted in large numbers of Lapwings arriving on our coastal marshes from harsher conditions elsewhere in Europe; peak site totals at this time included: Blythburgh: 10,000, Jan. 22nd (see Golden Piover); 3000, Feb. 7th.
South wold: 3000, Jan. 18th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 2,200, Jan. 28th.
TĂŻimley Marshes: 3,500, Jan. 29th. There was also 1500 at Livermere at this time. Totals declined in February but included 3000, Blythburgh, 7th; 2000, Southwold, 12th; 1500, Trimley Marshes, 1 Ith; 1000, Havergate, 5th and 1000, Stowupland, 3rd. Typically, the highest concentration of breeding pairs was on the coastal marshes. including 51 pairs, North Warren (40 young fledged); 35 pairs, Trimley Marshes and 20 pairs at Minsmere; the first Post-breeding movements were noted at Landguard on May 3Ist. Other early movers included nine at Long Melford on June 5th and three at Fagbury on June 6th. Totals increased markedly in July with 350 at Bramford on 29th 72
a: d a maximum of 500 at Lackford WR whilst a little later in the autumn, 400 roosted at Suffolk Water Park on August 19th. Late-autumn totals increased noticeably from mid-November with peak figures of 2000, Thorpe Bay, Trimley St Martin, 15th; 700, Fressingfield, 14th and 1500, Stowmarket, 13th. The largest gathering in December involved 950 at North Warren on 23rd. K VOT Calidris canutus L ocally common winter visitor and passage migrant. Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour (Suffolk) Stour (Essex)
J 0 600 0 391 878 1960
F 0 550 0 300 645 2720
M 15 1 0 90 15 145
A 5 n/c 0 0 0 0
M 0 n/c n/c n/c n/c n/c
A n/c n/c n/c n/c 4 0
S n/c 22 15 0 0 10
O 0 9 0 0 55 0
N 94 0 0 0 1550 0
D 24 4 0 0 n/c n/c
Movements of this species within the County and immediate region are something of an enigma with numbers fluctuating wildly at many sites. This was particularly evident in December when the WeBS count on 10th produced a grand total of just four on the Aide/Ore, Deben and Orwell estuaries but independent counts included 500, River Ore, Hollesley, 24th; 546, River Orwell, Wherstead, 30th and 292, River Deben, Falkenham, 16th. Holbrook Bay on the Stour remains the best site in the County for this species with impressive totals of 2000, January 19th and 1800, December 22nd. The only notable spring passage totals involved 64, Holbrook Bay, April 12th and 16 north off Landguard, May 22nd. Up to three lingered on Havergate Island to June 24th. The first autumn birds were on Havergate, July 16th and Trimley Marshes, July 23rd. Subsequent monthly maxima at Havergate involved up to 21 in August and 16 in September. Southerly movements off Landguard included 38 during the period September 6th to 11th and 35, December 7th. There were no inland records. SANDERLING Calidris alba Regular winter visitor and passage migrants in small numbers. Reports in the first winter periods mainly centred around Lowestoft where there were up to ten in January, 15 in February and nine in March. Totals elsewhere included seven on the Orwell Estuary, February 19th; two, Benacre Broad, February 2 nd and 18th and up to two at Landguard, January 1st to March 4th. The few spring passage migrants that were recorded were all in May; six graced Landguard on 7th with two there on 8th and 19th, one, Covehithe Broad and three north, Ness Point on 8th and two were at Kessingland on 24th. Two south off Landguard on July 16th were the first autumn birds During August there were up to three at Trimley Marshes and four on Havergate Island. However, all other reports were eclipsed by the remarkable flock of 65 which settled on Aldeburgh Beach on September 9th (D Thurlow), an unusual movement which was not noted elsewhere. Ones and twos were reported from the Felixstowe area during October to December with a maximum of three at Landguard on November 19th. LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta Fairly common passage migrant. Occasionally
A very early spring bird occurred at Trimley Marshes, March 18th to 27th. More typically-dated migrants arrived in May at Walberswick on 3rd and 15th and Minsmere on 5th (two) and 9th. One lingered at Minsmere from June 12th to 15th. 73
The only July report involved eight at Minsmere on 30th. Very few occurred in August with a maximum of only three at Minsmere on 3rd. The second week of September witnessed the main phase of autumn passage with peak site-totals of 15, Benacre Broad, 9th; five, East Lane, Bawdsey, 9th; five, Minsmere, 10th and five, Trimley Marshes, 11th. This coastal movement was reflected inland with four adults at Livermere Lake, 12th and 13th and a juvenile there, 17th. October records involved five at Benacre Broad on 1st and 15th, two at Minsmere, 21st to 27th and one at Alton Water on 19th. Finally, what might have been the same individual was at Trimley Marshes, November 8th and 17th and irregularly at Alton Water from November 6th to the year's end. TEMMINCK'S STINT Calidris temminckii Uncommon passage migrant. The best year since 1992 for this species with five records totalling six birds, all in May. Walberswick: Tinkers Marshes, May 14th and 15th (S J Ling, D J Pearson et al.). Minsmere: May 6th to 8th (per RSPB); May 11th (J M Cawston, S J Ling, E W Patrick). Aldeburgh: North Warren, May 7th to 10th (R N Macklin et al.).
Trimley Marshes: two adults, May 11th (S H Piotrowski et al.). Cavenham: Cavenham Pits, May 22nd (M D Sutton).
The bird at Cavenham is the first West Suffolk record since 1992. PECTORAL SANDPIPER Calidris Scarce passage migrant.
A poor year, particularly for Minsmere which has become the traditional site for autumn birds. There has not been a blank year for this species in the County since 1980. Alton Water: juvenile., Sep. 6th (W J Brame et al.). This is the second site-record for Alton Water, the first having occurred on the late date of November 2nd, 1984. Totals over the last ten years are as follows: 1986 4
1989 1990 1991 3 2 1 3
CURLEW SANDPIPER Calidris ferruginea Regular passage migrant in varying numbers. Spring passage in Suffolk was almost non-existent for this species with the only reports coming from Trimley Marshes, May 4th and Minsmere, May 6th. The first bird of a very poor autumn passage occurred at Havergate Island on July 11th. The only other July reports involved one at Havergate on 20th and four at Minsmere on 27th with a single there on 30th. August continued in similar vein with the only reported sightings being at Benacre Broad, 20th (four), Minsmere, 14th (four) and Levington, 1st to 7th. The final reports of the year were in September at Benacre on 9th (two) and Trimley Marshes on 13th. PURPLE SANDPIPER Calidris maritima Regular winter visitor at a few favoured localities. Scarce passage migrant. This remains a scarce species in the County, due to a shortage of its favoured rocky habitat. The bulk of reports typically came from Ness Point, Lowestoft where earlyyear peaks included 20 on February 19th and 19 on March 5th. Two remained well into May and were present to 15th at least. In the second winter period, birds were present around Ness Point from September 20th with 10 present by October 15th. Sadly, no reports were forthcoming after that date, but the species was presumably present to the end of the year. Elsewhere, one flew south off Southwold on February 21st and occasional loners were noted at Landguard with singles on five dates during January to March and two on January 26th to 30th and March 23rd. A migrant appeared at Landguard on April 9th and 10th and records at the end of the year there involved singles on November 3rd and 5th and on four dates in December from 10th and 31st. DUNLIN Calidris alpina Very common winter visitor and passage
N D F M A M A S O J Benacre Broad* 150 60 300 400 Blyth n/c 246 2447 2416 1202 890 742 49 3 n/c Aide/Ore 4239 4193 3635 n/c n/c n/c 2141 1838 1120 2849 Havergate I* 266 180 422 325 550 300 800 Deben n/c 24 446 1253 900 587 417 n/c 2309 1325 Orwell n/c 0 51 2360 573 6185 5290 422 233 n/c Stour (Suffolk) n/c 2242 5244 2302 425 n/c 1026 382 4813 13120 Stour (Essex) n/c 467 1351 391 2223 10332 8981 2055 0 n/c *Monthly maxima The first winter period witnessed some spectacular gatherings; Erwarton Bay on the Stour Estuary held up to 5500 in February and 2100 in March, whilst further north up to 2000 were assembled on Southwold Town Marshes, January 4th and 6th and February 12th. The only inland sightings at this time involved singles in January at Lackford WR and Suffolk Water Park. Passage birds occurred at inland sites in March; during that month there were up to four at Lackford WR, three at Livermere Lake on 17th and 13 at Barsham Marshes on 12th. A more pronounced passage was evident in May with coastal totals including â€˘95, Holbrook Bay, 3rd; 250, Levington, 7th and 220, Minsmere, 8th. Inland reports ln May involved up to five at Lackford WR, two at Weybread GPs on 4th and singles at Livermere Lake on 3rd and Bramford on 19th. In June, one flew south off Landguard on 17th and two were at Trimley Marshes on 19th. Mid-July witnessed the vanguard of returning birds with singles at Lackford WR 75
from 16th and 22 south off Landguard on 18th. Numbers quickly increased with 100 at Minsmere by July 27th and 413 on August 3rd in Holbrook Bay where 1390 wer present by September 20th. Southerly offshore passage was very sparse during Augu and September but on October 1st seawatchers logged 1033 off Landguard and 64 off Southwold. Subsequent offshore totals involved 289 south off Landguard, Octobt 22nd and 300 south off Aldeburgh, November 8th. A massive increase in the estuatine population occurred between the October an November WeBS counts. This was particularly evident on the Stour where totals a : Holbrook Bay increased from 2356 on October 18th to 3419 by November 26tl Impressive site totals on the Orwell included 2700, Trimley Marshes, November 25t and 3360, Wherstead, December 30th. Inland sites featured in December with up t< seven at Suffolk Water Park during the first week, two at Lackford WR, 17th ami the bizarre site of one feeding by the roadside at Bridge Street, Long Melford oi< 12th! RUFF Philomachus pugnax Common passage migrant. A few oversummer and overwinter. As in 1993 and 1994, wintering birds were present in the vicinity of the AidEstuary with up to ten in the Iken/Sudbourne/Aldeburgh area during January an February; elsewhere, one was at Southwold on January 24th. Spring passage was on a much lighter scale than in 1994 and peaked about a monti earlier. The first migrants appeared in March at Minsmere on 10th (five) and Trimle\ Marshes on 11th. At North Warren numbers reached a maximum of 21 on March 24tl and five were at Boyton Marshes the same day. Inland reports at this time involvei one at Livermere Lake from March 23rd to May 4th and three on Beccles Marshes or March 31st. Passage peaked at most sites in April as follows: Minsmere: 80, Apr. 7th. Aldeburgh/Friston: Hazlewood Marshes, four, Apr. 19th. Trimley Marshes: nine, April 13th. Pakenham: Mickle Mere, two, Apr. 23rd. Livermere Lake: three, Apr. 14th. Lackford WR: two, Apr. 2nd; singles Apr. 12th and 16th. May totals included 18 at North Warren on 5th and eight at Trimley Marshes on 7th: inland, singles were at Livermere Lake on at least 1st to 13th, probably involving the same individual as that in March and April. There was no evidence of any breeding attempts. The first returning migrants were noted on June 25th at Walberswick (two) and Trimley Marshes (two) with nine at the latter site by 30th. July and August witnessed the main phase of autumn passage with the following maximum site totals: Minsmere: 33, Jul. 21st; 17, Aug. 1st. Trimley Marshes: 16, Jul. 15th; 18, Aug. 2nd. Holbrook: Holbrook Bay, 11, Aug. 3rd. Away from the coast there were sightings at Lackford WR on July 31st (three) and August 27th/28th; Suffolk Water Park, July 27th to 29th and Livermere Lake, September 2nd. The latter bird was one of the very few reported in the County in September: however, more were present in October and included four at Chelmondiston on 25th, four on the Aide Estuary on 8th and three at Trimley Marshes on 9th. The only November sightings involved two at Alton Water on 10th to 14th and in December, singles were located at Suffolk Water Park on 7th, Benacre on 10th and North Warren on 29th. 76
J CK SNIPE Lymnocryptes minimus Fi rly common passage migrant and winter visitor. A rather poor year with numbers generally low. Levington held two during January and February and singles were reported from Havergate Island, Martlesham Creek, M ismere, North Warren and Trimley, all traditional sites. Although the species can k lotoriously difficult to find, the mild weather no doubt played an important role in kt ping numbers depressed. The only reports during the usual passage period of M irch/April came from Minsmere and Havergate, involving single birds and one was fli hed at Livermere Lake on April 30th. Late birds were noted on May 4th at both N rth Warren (two) and Trimley Marshes. rhe first returning bird was noted at Livermere Lake on September 26th. Numbers w re again low with Minsmere and North Warren being the only regular locations for th species. Overall, reports mirrored those of the first winter period with singles at tr ditional sites whilst Levington produced the highest count with three on November 1 :h. A migrant was in Southwold Denes on November 1st and a flurry of reports in D . ember suggested a late influx with singles reported away from more usual locati as at Boyton Marshes on 3rd, Pippis Ford on 10th, Eastbridge on 27th and Suffolk V. iter Park on 29th. Unusual finds involved singles present in Long Melford Churchyard on December 23rd and one in the middle of the road near Hinderclay on December 27th. The si lilarity of the dates suggests that both birds were part of a movement of the species tÂŁ ing place at the time. S <Ă?IPE Gallinago gallinago C tnmon winter visitor and passage migrant. Small numbers
Monthly Webs counts are tabulated below:J F M A S 0 N D Blyth 0 0 1 1 0 0 5 0 Aide /Ore 18 6 57 n/c 27 13 18 127 Deben 22 59 31 8 2 8 10 32 Orwell 14 79 87 84 10 0 6 20 Stour (Suffolk) 4 2 n/c 19 13 17 3 6 Stour (Essex) 4 4 4 0 n/c 6 0 2 The mild conditions which prevailed throughout the first winter period meant numbers during the early part of the year were not particularly noteworthy. No triple figure counts were received and the most notable gatherings involved 20 at Fagbury flats on January 24th, 23 on The Nunnery Floods on February 9th and 31 at North Warren on February 5th. Numbers increased in March and April with North Warren holding 55 on March '2th and Trimley Marshes 60 on March 26th but the largest count came from S luthwold Town Marshes with 100 recorded on April 5th. Regular observations at Landguard produced a trickle of birds throughout March and April. Away from the coast 25 were found at Mickle Mere, Pakenham on March 29th and 14 were present at Lackford during April. Breeding reports were scarce with six pairs being recorded at both Minsmere and North Warren. Elsewhere the first displaying male was recorded at Boxford on April 28th and at least two were drumming at Timworth during June. Havergate Island provided the only other breeding record. Although a downturn in breeding numbers is apparent, the rate of decline will remain unknown unless a detailed study is undertaken. Autumn passage took place from August onwards with counts again being rather low. Minsmere held 50 on August 14th, 40 were present at Alton Water on September 77
5th and Southwold Town Marshes produced 50 on September 24th. Coastal movements were recorded from Landguard and included a peak count of 11 south on October 1st and an individual was seen to come in off the sea on October 22nd. Although widely reported, the species remained generally uncommon throughout ;he second winter period with no individual sites holding more than 20 birds. WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticola Fairly common resident, winter visitor and passage
Although the species was widely reported during the first part of the year most records related to single individuals. Multiple counts were only received for two sites and involved three at North Warren and two at Berner's Heath. There was an early record of a roding individual from Blaxhall Heath on January 29th. Spring passage was represented by only a small number of observations and included a well-watched individual on allotments at Felixstowe. Sightings during the breeding season were widespread, although numbers were lower than 1995. Certain sites appear to be doing well with The King's Forest holding "many roding males". The species can quite easily be found during the breeding season in suitable habitat and the figures reported are likely to represent an under estimation of the total population. Reports from suitable habitat were received from Buxhall, Cavenham, Lackford, Minsmere, Rendlesham and Wolves Wood. November sightings dominated the late autumn immigration commonly seen along the coast, although the geographical spread of records indicates a strong observer bias with the bulk of reports coming from the Felixstowe and Lowestoft areas. Total numbers for the second winter period were generally higher than for the early part of the year with notable counts involving 20 at Kirkley Fen, Lowestoft on December 28th and 10 at Fressingfield on December 2nd. Sadly, the latter figure comes from a local shoot; so many people would rather fill this beautiful bird with lead than welcome it to our shores from more northerly and easterly breeding grounds. This primitive behaviour also resulted in the report of a bird shot at Debenham on December 30th which was wearing an Estonian ring, we await further details from Estonia. BLACK-TAILED GODWIT Limosa limosa Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few
Monthly Webs counts are tabulated below. D J F M A A O N S 267 Blyth 44 n/c 68 209 0 n/c 228 219 0 Aide 4 0 n/c 12 48 n/c 26 16 2 Deben 96 111 n/c 12 75 266 370 99 0 Orwell 521 66 n/c 800 607 191 0 669 n/c Stour (Suffolk) 436 60 444 353 651 467 833 516 n/c Stour (Essex) 1446 994 0 2 7 207 829 2101 The WeBS data above, gathered as it is on a single date each month, gives an accurate picture of the numbers wintering in the region, reducing the risk of duplication produced by the species' habit of frequently moving between estuaries. The recent run of mild winters will have benefited the species which has been increasing since the late seventies (Lack, 1986), an increase which could be a response to recent climatic amelioration which has been suggested as a reason for the increase, particularly in the Icelandic breeding population which winters in our area. Away from the main estuaries, the regular wintering flock at Southwold Town Marshes peaked at 170 on January 26th. 78
Numbers built up in March as migration got under way and the north of the County provided the largest counts with 245 present at Barsham Marshes on March 12th and 210 at Minsmere on March 20th. A party of 19 dropped onto the shores of Livermere Lake from a great height on March 10th. Numbers were maintained at a good level throughout the period and the Aide held the largest number with 500 present on April 9th. Passage during May produced inland records with two at Livermere Lake on 23rd and two at Lackford WR on 26th and 27th. Late June saw the advent of return passage with numbers building up around late July. Trimley held 125 on July 30th and Levington produced a count of 150 on July 23rd. Numbers for August and September were lower although the species remained well reported. With the only truly inland record in the autumn being one at Lackford WR on July 2nd, Alton Water held the most interest away from the coast and produced several records from September to December with a peak of four on December 26th. The second winter period provided larger counts dominated by sites on the Stour and Orwell. In addition to the WeBS counts the highest counts included 798 at Brantham on December 2nd, 451 at Freston also on December 2nd and 291 at Wherstead Strand on December 30th. Unfortunately there were no reports of any breeding attempts from the more regular locations, but a pair tried unsuccessfully at Trimley Marshes. BAR-TAILED GODWIT Limosa lapponica Fairly common passage migrant and locally fairly common winter visitor. Monthly WeBS counts are tabulated below:N D A S 0 F M A J Blyth 1 n/c n/c 1 10 0 0 0 113 Aide 4 0 6 28 29 3 33 518 n/c Deben 0 3 0 0 7 0 0 0 0 Stour (Suffolk) n/c 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 Stour (Essex) n/c 0 7 1 0 0 0 0 13 The figures for the Aide and Blyth for March and April respectively are some of the highest totals seen in Suffolk in recent years. The species does not winter in the County in any great number, preferring the more sandy estuaries around Britain's coasts and these figures may well involve returning migrants. Spring passage was not exceptional with the following peak counts being received: Benacre: Benacre Broad, 16, May 6th. Minsmere: 26, May 6th. Havergate Island: 20, May 6th. Trimley Marshes: 23, May 1st. Inland passage in West Suffolk included singles at Cavenham, April 22nd and Livermere Lake, April 23rd. Lackford also played host to one individual on May 6th and 7th and four were at Mickle Mere on May 5th. Most interestingly, eight flew north-west over Horn Heath on April 25th. Landguard noted the last individual for the southern part of the County with one south on May 16th. There were several late stragglers present on Havergate Island with three on May 26th and 27th and a lone individual present from June 1st to 24th. Returning birds were noted at Landguard from July 15 th whilst Havergate already held 17 by July 7th. Double-figure counts were only received from three sites and involved peaks of 30 at Havergate on August 16th, 55 at North Warren on September â€˘Ith and 20 on Orfordness on September 10th. The second winter period produced few reports, but 10 were on Havergate Island on December 12th. A surprising record involved the report of an injured bird at Walsham-le-Willows on May 17th (D Berry). 79
WHIMBREL Numenius phaeopus Common passage migrant. The first record for the year produced a certain sense of dĂŠjĂ vu, occurring on he same date as that in 1994. An unusually early record of six in flight over Benacre m March 10th provided the first record and no more birds were observed until March 28th when one appeared on Havergate Island. Passage was rather slow until April 2' th which saw the start of the bulk of the passage, which lasted until May 11th. Site maxima were as follows: Beccles: Beccles Marshes, 23, April 26th; 31, May 9th. Minsmere: 12, May 15th. Sizewell: 35 north, April 26th. Havergate Island: 63, May 6th. Trimley Marshes: 16 north, May 10th. Passage through Landguard peaked with 12 on May 4th whilst the latest sprng records involved two north at Landguard and eight at Levington on May 21st. However, there was also several June records with Trimley Marshes and Landguard etch recording two birds on June 3rd and 19th and 9th and 15th respectively. It is possible that the later birds were early returning birds - perhaps failed breeders - rather than late spring birds. At Landguard, autumn passage was rather poor with peak movements during the second half of July involving maximum day counts of three birds on three dates. Havergate Island produced the highest number with 31 on July 21st whilst 17 were observed flying south over Minsmere on July 26th. Few records were received during August and September, although 15 were at Havergate on August 16th, but quite a number of late birds were noted with some individuals remaining well into October. Reports in that month included one at Shingle Street and two at Falkenham on 2nd, singles at Landguard on 12th and Havergate on 27th and three on the Butley River on October 21st. Even more unexpectedly, one was at Havergate on November 11th. Reports were almost exclusively coastal or near-coastal, but spring movements produced singles at Lackford WR on April 28th, Livermere Lake on April 30th, Barrow on May 2nd and Lakenheath on May 6th and autumn singles were at Timworth on July 9th, Fressingfield on July 20th and Pakenham on September 5th. CURLEW Numenius arquata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few pairs breed. Monthly WeBS counts are tabulated below:D A A N J F M S O 61 Blyth 4 70 18 59 22 n/c n/c 93 534 834 Aide 732 668 n/c n/c 786 773 601 144 Deben 587 870 943 475 n/c 790 750 620 180 502 Orwell 239 566 572 1 n/c 800 1535 n/c Stour (Suffolk) 522 882 1144 750 22 961 139 405 n/c Stour (Essex) 580 23 17 612 203 470 455 13 Flock counts from individual sites within the estuary complexes included 172 on the Aide estuary on February 6th, 270 on Havergate on February 24th and 150 at Ramsholt on February 3rd. These counts are smaller than in previous years with fewer reports of flocks on coastal grazing marshes. The use of such habitat appears to be a reaction to cold weather, pushing estuarine prey items below a depth that is accessible to the shorter-billed males (Lack, 1986). The recent mild weather may have contributed to keeping birds on the estuaries and also preventing any build up of the larger numbers usually seen during spells of cold weather. 80
Passage at Landguard was noted from March 9th and slowly increased to give above average numbers in April. That month provided a total of 89 birds, including 54 north on 23rd. Elsewhere in the County, numbers generally peaked from mid-March and included gatherings of 100 at Levington on March 14th, Boyton on March 21st and Sudbourne on March 25th. Passage through Havergate produced monthly maxima of 152 on March 19th and 135 on April 3rd. Although no breeding was confirmed, reports from suitable habitat throughout the breeding season were received from three Breckland sites. Return passage was observed from mid-June onwards and Landguard reported a total of 29 bird day s from June 14th. Numbers started to build up at regular sites with 60 at Havergate Island on June 28th and 90 in Holbrook Bay on July 29th. Throughout late July and August numbers increased rapidly with Havergate producing the peak count of 245 on July 30th. September produced the largest single counts of the year with 530 present at Shotley and 417 on Orfordness both on September lOth. SPOTTED REDSHANK Tringa erythropus Common passage migrant. A few occasionally winter. Individuais are increasingly overwintering and were recorded from five sites. Two were present at Angel Marshes, Blythburgh on February 2Ist, Havergate Island on January 7th and February 15th and Tinker's Marshes, Walberswick on January 14th. The latter site also held three on February 4th. Singles were recorded from Martlesham Creek on several dates in January and on the Orwell Estuary on January 22nd. Spring passage was exceptionally quiet with most records relating to just one or two individuรกis at scattered sites along the coastal strip. Tinker's Marshes, Walberswick held the highest total in the very early spring with four on March 4th, but these were perhaps overwintering birds. A single West Suffolk record involved one at Cavenham on May 3rd. Return passage was under way quickly and by late June there were 17 at Walberswick on 25th and 30 at Minsmere on 30th. A singleton was at Lackford WR on June 25th. Numbers built up through July and August with Minsmere again producing the maximum count with 65 on July 24th and the Blyth estuary produced 45 on August 13th. September saw a dramatic fall in numbers followed by a second wave in October with Benacre hosting up to 23 birds through late October and early November and 34 or. the Blyth Estuary on October 15th. Wintering birds in the second winter period were few with most reports involving singles at Martlesham Creek. However, one at Lackford WR on December 2nd is particularly noteworthy. REDSHANK Tringa totanus ( ommon resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Monthly WeBS counts are tabulated below:A1
de 1361 873 1446 n/c n/c 2299 866 1178 1510 B 'yth 660 324 916 631 n/c n/c 513 658 755 Deben 1075 1330 1507 1338 n/c 698 1485 1492 256 Orwell 1742 1893 1966 682 n/c 502 800 1535 180 Stour (Suffolk) 535 770 1047 242 590 838 197 432 n/c Stour (Essex) 851 3508 581 414 483 410 950 1971 n/c The Aide and Deben estuaries appear to be keeping up a long-term average that maintains the International Importance of the rivers for this species. On a smaller " u t equally significant scale, both the Orwell and Stour maintain their position as 81
Nationally Important sites. Single-flock counts included 1250 at the high tide roost near Ipswich Docks on January 22nd, 391 at Freston on January 8th and 370 on Wherstead Strand on February 3rd. Breeding numbers continue to be low, although under-recording no doubt plays a part. The county's total breeding population would however, appear to be stable with similar numbers reported to 1995 hopefully indicating a halt to the small decline seen in recent years. On the well-monitored RSPB reserves, North Warren held 24 pairs and Minsmere 17 pairs whilst other site totals include an encouraging 28 pairs at Trimley Marshes, 15 pairs on Havergate Island, five to eight pairs on Shotley marsh ;s and a single pair at Lackford. Autumn passage saw numbers build up in August with 245 present on Havergate Island on the 13th and 400 at Potter's Point on the Orwell estuary on the 19th. Numbers were slow to build up to winter maxima and the Orwell estuary produci d the highest counts for the second winter period with 346 at Freston on November 26th and 691 on Wherstead Strand on December 23rd. Coastal movement was unremarkable with an absence of any large passage. Counts from Landguard peaked in August but the maximum day count was only 13 south on August 24th. GREENSHANK Tringa nebularia Common passage migrant. Occasionally overwinters. Spring migration began, a little surprisingly, with one at Lackford WR on April 14th and 15th with another at Trimley Marshes on the latter date. The remainder of April and May produced only a handful of records and the only double-figure couiit came from Thorpe Bay with 12 on May 17th. The paucity of records is well illustrĂ˘tÂŤ-d by the small number of multiple counts received which included five at Tinker's Marshes on May 7th and four at Trimley Marshes on May 10th. Apart from the Lackford record above, other reports from West Suffolk came from Lakenheath on May 11th, Lackford WR on April 30th to May 11th and Livermere Lake where singles were present on April 20th and May 2nd to 9th. Return migration proved far more productive, commencing in early June with one south off Landguard on 8th. Numbers peaked towards the end of July with 20 recorded from Havergate on July 22nd and up to 16 on Martlesham Creek during the same period. The species remained well reported into October when a second wave of migrants produced peaks of 15 at Martlesham Creek on October 8th, eight on Havergate during the month and seven on the Deben near Woodbridge. Autumn birds in the west of the County were as scarce as they had been in spring with singles at Lackford WR on July 25th and 31st, Livermere Lake on September 13th and at Red Lodge on August 21st. The mild conditions present towards the end of the year gave rise to several November records, although no December records were received. The latest report came from the Stour with a single bird on November 11th. GREATER YELLOWLEGS Tringa melanoleuca Accidental. This delightful bird would have been more widely appreciated (being the first twitchable individual for 10 years) if it had not been so elusive! Both records relate to the same individual, a bird which had previously been at Bradwell, Essex on May 10th. Breydon Water: Burgh Castle area, May 15th to 25th (same as Southwold bird) (R Fairhead et al.). Southwold: May 14th (B J Small et al.). This represents the third record for the County but the first since 1985. 82