Page 1


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. 48 Areview of birds in Suffolk in 1998

Editor G Lowe

Published by SUFFOLK NATURALISTS ' SOCIETY 1999


Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH Š The Suffolk Naturalists' Society 1999 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

ISSN 0264-5793

Printed by Healeys Printers Ltd, Unit 10, The Sterling Complex, Farthing Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 5 AP 2


CONTENTS Page Editorial Gary Lowe Review of the Year Gary Lowe Seabird Movements and Abundance off Covehithe, Suffolk, 1994-98 3. Sooty and Manx Shearwaters Peter Dare The Breeding Bird Survey - an update Gary Lowe The 1998 Suffolk Bird Report: ' Introduction Systematic List Appendix I: Category D species Appendix II: Escapees Appendix III: List of non-accepted records List of Contributors Gazetteer Earliest and latest dates of summer migrants The Fall of October 1998 Gary Lowe Rarities in Suffolk in 1998: Isabelline Wheatear, Southwold John Cawston Minsmere Alan Johnson Mediterranean Shearwater, Leiston-cum-Sizewell David Thurlow Southwold Brian Small Spotted Sandpiper, Bawdsey Will Brame A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk Landguard Bird Observatory, 1998 Michael James Regional Review Gary Lowe Suffolk Ringing Report Tony Hurrell & Mike Marsh

5 7 12 24 29 29 30 141 141 144 145 147 149 150 152 152 153 154 154 155 156 159 166 170

List of Plates Facing Plate Page No. 104 17. Sizewell Rig Derek Moore 104 18. Black-legged Kittiwake Alan Tate 105 19. River Hen Reedbeds Mike Harding 105 20. River Hen Reedbeds Mike Harding 105 21. Short-eared Owl Clive Naunton 120 22. Common Blackbird Martin Turner Barn Swallow Derek Moore 120 23. 120 24. Pied Wagtail Alan Tate 121 25. Ring Ouzel Alan Tate 121 26. Dartford Warbler Alan Tate 136 27. Whinchat Alan Tate 136 28. Coal Tit Alan Tate 136 29. Wood Warbler Clive Naunton 137 30. Common Rosefinch David Pearson 137 31. Siskin Alan Tate 137 32. Yellowhammer Derek Moore

Plate Facing No. Page 1. European Shag Clive Naunton 32 2. Red-necked Grebe Alan Tate 32 3. Little Egret Robin Chittenden 32 4. Black Stork Robin Chittenden 33 5. Brent Geese Alan Tate 33 6. Alton Water Simon Walters 64 7. Pied Avocet Derek Moore 64 8. Red Knot Martin Turner 64 9. Temminck's Stint Robin Chittenden 65 10. Pectoral Sandpiper Clive Naunton 65 11. Terek Sandpiper Clive Naunton 80 12. Little Stint Clive Naunton 80 13. Spotted Sandpiper Alan Tate 80 14. Long-tailed Skua Andrew Easton 81 15. Glaucous Gull Robin Chittenden 81 16. Little Tern Alan Tate 81

Front cover: Grey Heron Alan Tate The copyright remains that of the photographers.

3


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 and order should follow Dr K. H. Voous's List of Recent Holarctic Bird Species and use of English names should be as in the BOU's 'Checklist of the Birds of Britain and Ireland' (Sixth Edition, 1992). 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 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 or her. Material submitted for publication should be sent to the Editor no later than March 1 st of each year. Authors of main papers may request up to five free copies of the journal. Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee'. Chair: John Cawston Area County Recorders: Colin Jakes, Brian Thompson, Richard Waiden. Secretary: David Walsh Other Committee Members: Ricky Fairhead, Trevor Kerridge, Stuart Ling, Gary Lowe, Mike Marsh, Derek Moore, David Pearson, Steve Piotrowski, Richard Rafe, Brian Small, Malcolm Wright. ADDRESSES Papers, notes, drawings and photographs: The Editor ( S u f f o l k Birds), The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH. Records: See inside front cover. Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee - correspondence: The Secretary, SORC, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH.

4


EDITORIAL This Report contains a number of new features plus the return of a few old favourites. Back again is a review of the year, including notes on the weather and its effect on the birds recorded. Particularly relevant to that subject is the note on the fall of birds in the coastal area in early October that many were lucky enough to witness. In for the first time is a round-up of regional news. This Covers the immediately abutting Counties of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. If well received it may be possible to extend the coverage to include brief notes on the next closest Counties: Kent, Greater London, Hertfordshire, etc. Your views would be welcome. Probably the most notable change will be the adoption of the English names recommended by the British Ornithologists' Union (BOU). Often these are simple modifying préfixés, such as 'European' or 'Common'. In a few cases, such as Mew Gull for Common Gull or Black Scoter for Common Scoter, the change is so great that the original name is included in brackets for référencé. The reasoning behind this décision is as follows. Firstly, there is an obvious need for standardisation. It seems logicai to follow the recommendations of the body that maintains the 'officiai' British List. Secondly, bird-watching, like so many things, is becoming more global. Many people are travelling, often great distances, to see différent birds. Through magazines, books and even the Internet, modem birdwatchers know a great deal about the avifauna of other countries. As a resuit it must become apparent to most that it is difficult to continue to use single-word names to describe species with which we are familiar. To illustrate this point, this is a (true) story I was told recently. An article on the conservation of farmland birds was prepared for a local newspaper. The authors requested that it be accompanied by a picture of a Lapwing. The newspaper obliged with a picture labelled 'Lapwing' from their library. Unfortunately it was a Red-wattled Lapwing from India! Think also of the Wheatear. There are six species of wheatear on the British List alone. Creeping use of the prefix 'Northern' for the species with which we are most familiar seems to have become accepted. Many of the changes are similar in concept. Some of the new names are also interesting, giving a new insight into a particular species. Contrast, for example, 'European' Greenfinch with 'Eurasian' Siskin and a clearer picture of their différent world distributions is given. Contrast both against the unmodified 'Twite' or 'Hawfinch' and, again, a valuable insight into distribution results. Some of the names are splendidly evocative, like Bohemian Waxwing and Pallas's Leaf Warbier. Such names will probably be amongst the first to follow names such as Common Buzzard and European Storm-petrel into mass usage because, it has to be admitted, widespread acceptance and use of these new names will be a long, long process. I know I shall find it difficult to change from Dunnock to Hedge Accentar or from Shorelark to Horned Lark. Nevertheless, changes are coming and use in this Report will allow us to become familiar with the new names even if we are not yet ready to use them in the field. Another change is the inclusion of a note when a species is included on the Red or Amber Lists of 'Birds of Conservation Concern'. That document is more fully explained in a paper in last year's Suffolk Bird Report (Vol.47:6). Briefly, inclusion on the Red List usually means a decline in the UK breeding population by more than half in the past 25 years. Amber listing indicates a decline in the breeding population of between a quarter and a half; a rare breeding species; an internationally important and localised breeding species; or a species with an unfavourable conservation status in Europe. Staggeringly, 132 out of the 265 species recorded in Suffolk last year met one or more of those criteria. That is, almost half of the birds seen in Suffolk in 1998 are seen as vulnerable. Food for thought! 5


There have also been some subtle but important changes in the opération of the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee, as detailed in the Guide to Recording. Firstly, the list of birds for which detailed descriptions are required has been pared down. This gives the Recorders the ability to accept satisfactory records for the more easily identified species. Note, however, that the requirement for descriptions of species that remain on the list will be strictly enforced. Secondly, reasons for the nonacceptance of any record are now given. Another revival from earlier Reports is the up-to-date County list; the différent catégories in the Guide now include ali the species recorded in Suffolk. Amongst the usuai features are the Systematic List, written by a band of locai experts; the final instalment in Peter Dare's analysis of sea-bird movements off Covehithe, this time focussing on Sooty and Manx Shearwaters; an entertaining account of the year at Landguard Observatory; and the always interesting Ringing Report. There is a further update on the results of the Breeding Bird Survey. Remember, if you are going to do anything it should be to adopt a square in this survey. To end on a more jolly note, remember that this is your Report. There is plenty to see and to be found in Suffolk. Get out and enjoy it but, most importantly, share it with us by sending in your records. Acknowledgements Although it sounds like a cliché, it is very trae: this Report would not have been possible without the work of a large number of people. As Editor I should like to thank ali those involved with the production of this Report for that work. These include the section authors of the Species Account (listed at the beginning of that Account), Brian Thompson, Colin Jakes, Dick Waiden, David Walsh, Brian Small, John Cawston, Rob Macklin, Reg Clarke, Peter Dare, Mike Marsh, Nigel Odin, Mike Gaydon at Healeys, Curly Curtis and particularly Philip Murphy. Especial thanks to my partner, Brenda Williamson, for her help and advice. Thanks are also due to the RSPB, SWT, EN and WeBS wardens/organisers for making data available, particularly of the commoner species. Finally, I am indebted to ali those in the List of Contributors for taking the time to send in their sightings and particularly to those who submitted more detailed reports.

BRIAN BROWN 1941-99 This volume of the Suffolk Bird Report is dedicated to the memory of Brian Brown and his contribution to Suffolk ornithology.

6


REVIEW OF 1998 The year was notable for the amount of rain that fell. Despite an early dry period, up to 739mm (29.08 inches) of rain were measured. Measurable rain was recorded on almost half the days in the year. April and June were the wettest months. The only significantly high temperatures occurred in August although it was generally mild. Unfortunately the mild conditions were not accompanied by sunshine for most of the year and there was persistent cloud in the summer. There were also no prolonged cold spells and the winter periods were largely without show. In terms of its ornithological interest, the year could not be described as a classic. There were only 265 species recorded during the year, compared with 267 in 1997, although there were two additions to the Suffolk list (Isabelline Wheatear and Mediterranean Shearwater), the same number as in 1997. There was even something of a shortage of County rarities and neither the spring nor the autumn passage was particularly inspiring. January The month started mild and sunny. However, the peace was soon shattered by a deep depression in the first week. The llOkph (70 mph) winds along the coast brought down a number of trees. Temperatures reached or exceeded the average on no less than 22 days in the month. There was no snow apart from light flurries on the 19th. Perhaps the most unexpected record of the month was of a Sabine's Gull past Southwold on 3rd. Numbers of Horned Larks maintained their recent resurgence and a wide spread of records included 17 at Covehithe. There were also good numbers of Snow Buntings in the County. Of the scarcer species, the Black Brant at Cowton, Sudbourne, remained until 6th and the Bufflehead at Heveningham. until 21st. A first-winter male Ferruginous Duck at Minsmere between 18th and 21st is a good record bearing in mind the species has recently been added to the list of nationally rare species because of a downturn in reports. Other lingering favourites included the Peregrine Falcon at Orwell Bridge and the Glaucous Gull at Aldeburgh. There was a large movement of seabirds on 25th. This resulted in some very high counts including 400 Northern Fulmars off Aldeburgh and 103 Northern Gannets off Covehithe. There were also some sizeable flocks of Bramblings and Eurasian Siskins present in the County in the early part of the year. February This was a very dry month, the driest for 39 years and one of the driest this century. Some places saw only a sixth of the long-term average rainfall. As in the preceding month, it was very mild. Temperatures reached 18C (64F), more expected of May than February. Good numbers of Red-throated Divers once again wintered off the Suffolk coast; there was a count of 200 between 6th and 8th. Other expected visitors included Tundra Bean Geese, with 14 at both North Warren and Minsmere, and Purple Sandpipers, with a maximum count of 16 at Lowestoft on 28th. The Glaucous Gull was still present at Aldeburgh and a hybrid Glaucous Gull x Herring Gull was at Landguard. At Dunwich a wintering flock of Twite numbered 70. A Northern Goshawk was seen at Falkenham on the first two days of the month. A count of 430 Greater white-fronted Geese at Minsmere on 17th is a site record. 7


March Another month which was characterised by its warmth and dryness. An anticyclone centred just to the south-west of Ireland gave a run of north-westerly winds. A characteristic of recent years has been an early-March passage of raptors along the coast and 1998 was no exception. Three Common Buzzards passed over Covehithe on 1st, with 13 over Herringfleet on 7th and six over Minsmere on 14th. A Rough-legged Buzzard was at Herringfleet between 7th and 15th. Lingering winter visitors included 17 Horned Larks at Benacre. However, most birdwatchers were more eagerly awaiting the first of the summer visitors and arrivals began later in the month. There was an unexpected record of a Eurasian Spoonbill at North Warren on 22nd; more usual was the arrival of Stone-curlews in Breckland on that date. Passerines included seven Black Redstarts at Landguard on 28th and Sedge Warbler at Minsmere on 30th. There was a general arrival of Northern Wheatears towards the end of the month. April This was the month when the weather pattern finally changed. It was the wettest April since 1920. Some places recorded 127mm (five inches) of rain. In addition there was snow and hail over the Easter weekend, on 12th. There was some improvement from 22nd. The late-March arrivals continued into early April. There were 13 Black Redstarts and six Firecrests at Landguard on the opening day of the month. The following day a Bluethroat was at the same site. Savi's Warbler is another species recently added to the list of national rarities so the arrival of a singing bird at Minsmere on 11 th was most welcome; it remained into May. At the other end of the spectrum in terms of size is White Stork; there was a series of records from mid-month which included one over Ipswich on 28th and a long-staying bird at Lakenheath. Also in the west of the County, a male Eurasian Dotterel was in Breckland on 22nd and a Common Quail was heard at West Stow CP on 26th. At the end of the month there was a good series of records, including Purple Heron at Dunwich and Hoopoe and Montagu's Harrier at North Warren, all on 24th, and a Eurasian Wryneck at Landguard on 30th. During the final days of the month there was a good movement of Sandwich Terns which resulted in a County record count of 2135 at Havergate Island on 30th. Unfortunately none stayed to breed anywhere in the County. It was, again, a generally poor year for breeding terns, particularly Little Tern, in Suffolk. May The weather temporarily reverted to its earlier pattern. An anticyclone centred over Scandinavia dominated for the early part of the month. The result was a lot of dry weather with almost unbroken sunshine. Temperatures reached a maximum of 26C (79F) on 13th. Although measurable rain was recorded on only five days these were all in the last week of the month. For example 25mm (one inch) fell during the two days of the Suffolk Show. In the first days of the month, some records were more reminiscent of winter than summer: a Red-necked Grebe off Aldringham and seven Horned Larks at Benacre. Normal service was soon resumed and there was a run of good birds mid-month. A European Bee-eater was at Benacre on 14th (and it or another at Minsmere on 27th), four Temminck's Stints were at Southwold boating lake from 16th to 20th and a Little Egret was at Lakenheath on 23rd and 24th. On 16th a Great Reed Warbler was trapped and ringed at Levington and a female Red-footed Falcon was at Bramford WP. A Stone-curlew at Trimley Marshes NR on 13th is an unusual record. Meanwhile, the Savi's Warbler remained at Minsmere until at least 29th, where a Broad-billed Sandpiper was also present on 26th. 8


A series of depressions resulted in more days with measurable rain than any other June this century although the total of just over 127mm (five inches) of rain was only the fourth wettest of the century. There were several thunderstorms which dumped more than an inch of rain in one go on the County. The extreme weather included thunderstorms, torrential rain, waterspouts and a tornado. The White Stork remained in the Lakenheath area, being reported occasionally. Whilst generally a quiet month, as would be expected, there was a smattering of interesting reports. At Minsmere a Purple Heron was seen on 17th and 18th and the following day a female Bluethroat was present there. A Little Egret was noted at County Hole, Barnham, on 4th. An unusual record off Thorpeness was of 11 Manx Shearwaters on 10th. Eurasian Spoonbills were seen at Tinker's Marshes and Benacre and an Osprey was fishing on the Blyth Estuary early in the month, on 4th and 5th. The rarest bird of the month was the Melodious Warbler at Landguard on 17th. A good inland record was the Tawny Pipit at Wetheringsett on 10th. Some interesting breeding reports began to filter through; Common Buzzards are suspected of having bred and the first confirmed breeding of Great Cormorants since before WW2 was reported. Of the commoner species, it is pleasing to note an improvement in the breeding fortunes of both Little and Great Crested Grebes. July The adverse conditions persisted into July as a static anticyclone over the Azores funnelled depressions over the County. Some of these were very deep, such as the complex depression which tracked across the County on July 11th and 12th with a barometric pressure of 985 millibars - the lowest value on record for a July. There was measurable rain on 12 days. Interestingly, despite all the gloom in Suffolk, it was the hottest month on record in global terms. An overdue addition to the Suffolk list arrived on 23rd when three Mediterranean Shearwaters were seen off Sizewell. Other interesting sea birds included a Caspian Tern, also off Sizewell, on 5th and up to four Roseate Terns at Minsmere between 15th and 23rd. July is the month wader return migration begins to pick up. Reports included a peak count of eight Curlew Sandpipers at Minsmere on 21st and a Wood Sandpiper at Dunwich on 31st. Bigger birds included White Stork at Blythburgh on 5th, Eurasian Spoonbill at Minsmere on 10th and European Honey-buzzard in the Minsmere/Westleton area on 16th. There was a very early Fieldfare at Westleton on 24th. More expected passerines included Wood Warbler at Fagbury on 25th and four Common Crossbills at Landguard on 23rd, unfortunately not the fore-runners of an irruption on the scale of 1997. The only Marsh Warbler recorded during the year was trapped and ringed at Hollesley on 25th. August A shift in the Azores anticyclone introduced a spell of sunny weather from August 5th to 17th. Temperatures rose to 30C (86F) on August 8th. A monthly total of 250 hours sunshine was 55 hours above the average. Atlantic fronts dominated again from August 18th, seeing a return to the unsettled weather which then lasted until the end of the month. The first record of Mediterranean Shearwater was swiftly followed by another, when two passed Southwold on 8th. There was a Cory's Shearwater past the same site on 28th. Staying with sea birds, there was the annual massing of Little Gulls off the north Suffolk coast. Peak counts were 38 at Lowestoft on 20th and 58 at Benacre on 8th. Big news of the month was the discovery of a Black Stork at Benacre on 12th. This was the bird which had previously spent time in Scotland and the north-east of England. It obligingly stayed a month in Suffolk although it could be elusive at times. 9


Waders included a Eurasian Dotterel at Covehithe on 26th and a Pectoral Sandpiper at Tinker's Marshes from 23rd to 27th. There was evidence of passerine migration at Landguard later in the month; for example 22 Willow Warblers were present on 23rd. A Eurasian Wryneck was at Lowestoft on the closing day of the month. September The rainy conditions continued until September 15th. The rain was accompanied by winds strong enough to bring down large trees on 3rd. Something of an Indian Summer started on 16th, with the temperature reaching 22C (71F) on 25th. The Black Stork remained until the 12th when it was seen to fly high out to sea from Dunwich Beach. The White Stork records continued from around the region; one was at Farnham on 5th. Assessment of numbers of such a wide-ranging bird is difficult. A Eurasian Spoonbill was reported from Benacre on 19th. Wader records included a Terek Sandpiper reported at Walberswick on 6th and two Pectoral Sandpipers, which lingered at Minsmere from 19th to 28th. An influx of Eurasian Wrynecks was reported from other parts of the country but the only Suffolk record came from Lakenheath on 13th. Other wader reports of interest were a Kentish Plover at Havergate Island on 6th, a record count of 70 Stone-curlews at a site in the Breck on 29th and a large movement of Little Stints through the County. The latter resulted in some very high counts; for example, 50 at Covehithe on 17th and 25 at Lower Holbrook on 19th. A Common Rosefinch was trapped and ringed at Reydon on 21st but "bird of the month" award goes to the Spotted Sandpiper, which was found at Bawdsey on 12th, remaining until 20th. October The unsettled weather returned to make this the wettest October since 1987. Substantial rainfall was recorded, more than 127mm (five inches) in places. It was also a month of strong winds. At Southwold 60 beach huts were damaged in one storm. The strong winds did have the effect of keeping temperatures above average. Wattisham Airfield reported its warmest October night on record. The first two weeks of the month arguably saw the most exciting birding of the year. It began with a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Southwold. which remained for several days, and the second addition to the County list, an Isabelline Wheatear, also at Southwold. The wheatear was re-found at Minsmere on 4th. The events from the 6th, with the fall of Ring Ouzels followed by an influx of Great Grey Shrikes and a strong raptor passage, are documented elsewhere in this Report. Other records of note included a Richard's Pipit at Sizewell on 3rd. There were several good records in the west of the County including Snow Bunting at Moulton on 9th and Red Kite at Lackford on 25th. Following the discovery of a dead Corn Crake beneath powerlines at Hollesley on 4th, a live one was seen at Bawdsey on 11th. There was a very large movement of Common Wood Pigeons, involving tens of thousands of birds moving south, at the month's end and into November. November November was generally sunny but often cool. Cavendish enjoyed more than 100 hours of sunshine during the month and it was the fourth sunniest November at Wattisham Airfield since recording began. Winds kept light for most of the month. The night of 17th/18th saw a widespread frost. Good numbers of Horned Larks were reported around the country. Suffolk received a fair share; there were, for example, 41 in the Benacre/Kessingland area during the month. Numbers of Red-throated Divers again began to build up; 400 were off Minsmere on 23rd. The Twite flock also reassembled at Dunwich; up to 35


were seen there during the month. Against the grain of the low numbers of recent years, there were up to four Rough-legged Buzzards in the County. During the month there were also influxes of European Shags and Smew into the region. The former resulted in a good record of two at Lackford; six were at Lowestoft with a scattering elsewhere. Suffolk did not do quite so well for Smew with just four at Minsmere. A White-throated Dipper was at Sudbury from 4th to 9th. December An uneventful month. Although snow fell on 5th it was generally quite mild. On 14th temperatures reached a spring-like 14C (58F). Numbers of European Shag remained relatively high; seven were at Lowestoft and two at Ipswich. There were also good numbers of Great Northern Divers; as many as three together were recorded on the Aide on 26th. Greater Scaup, on the other hand were low in numbers; just three were seen, also on the Aide. Other wintering favourites included Peregrine Falcon at the Orwell Bridge, Purple Sandpipers (up to 10) at Lowestoft and Horned Larks (up to 28) at Benacre. There were also some good counts of Snow Buntings, such as the 120 at Aldeburgh. Unfortunately the Glaucous Gull did not return to Aldeburgh for its third winter although there was a bird at Carlton Colville throughout the month. An adult Little Gull spent the month off Sizewell. The only Bohemian Waxwing reported was at Benacre on 10th. Gary Lowe, Boyton, Suffolk.

Great Northern Diver

11


Seabird Movements and Abundance off Covehithe, North Suffolk, during 1994-98 III. Sooty and Manx Shearwaters P. J. Dare Introduction Shearwaters comprise one of the most oceanic and widely travelled groups of seabirds that pass through Suffolk waters each year, albeit on usually just a few days in summer and autumn (Suffolk Bird Reports). Their unpredictable and fleeting appearances enliven local sea-watching as they speed past in dynamic shearing and skimming flight. Two species are recorded annually off our coast. Sooty Shearwaters Pujfinus griseus visit the North Sea during their migrations away from South Atlantic breeding islands, while Manx Shearwaters P. pujfinus visit us from British west coast breeding populations. Two larger species, Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea and Great Shearwater P. gravis are rare off Suffolk (Payn 1978, SBRs). In the North Sea as a whole, these four species, as well as Mediterranean Shearwater P. yelkouan, are found predominantly off the British east coast north of the Humber. They are all notably much scarcer in central and eastera sectors of the North Sea (Tasker et al 1987, Camphuysen 1995). This paper summarises observations of shearwaters made during a five-year study of seabird movements off Covehithe. Results for the commoner species have already been given for the first three years in recent Suffolk Bird Reports (Dare 1998a, b). Here, the shearwater occurrences are analysed, together with those listed in SBRs for earlier years, in relation to weather factors. The Suffolk status of each species is then examined in the wider context of its presence around the East Anglian coastline and elsewhere in the North Sea. Methods Sea-watch observations were made through each month from January 1994 to December 1998, totalling 865 early morning watches (1994 hours) and 93 (142 hours) in the afternoons. Figure l a shows the monthly distribution of effort. Full détails of observational procédures and weather conditions during 1994-96 were given previously (Dare 1998a). As for the other seabirds, the shearwater data are summarised and presented as monthly mean values of: (a) numbers observed, and (b) passage rates or numbers seen per hour of observation. Their frequency of occurrence each month is given by the percentage of days on which shearwaters were seen. The Suffolk data are then compared with those from adjacent eastern coasts published in recent, usually 1984-97, annual bird reports for Kent (KBRs), Essex (EBRs), Norfolk (NBRs) and Yorkshire (YBRs, Yorkshire Birding). For each county, the monthly and annual bird totals are estimated by summation of the published figures but, to avoid duplication when a sériés of counts from adjacent sites is given for the same date, only the highest day-count is used. More precise analyses were precluded by inadequate présentations of seabird data in the county reports. Nonetheless, it is possible to show broad patterns of occurrence and regional différences in abundance. Weather-related analyses of locai shearwater movements are based upon interprétations of the daily synoptic charts published in 'Weather Log' by the Royal Meteorological Society. 12


Fig. la Nos. of hours effort, 1994-98

Fig. lb. Nos. of each species 1994-98, by month 25 • 20

15 10

5

0

r"-r—i

—i—i—r-"n J

F

Sooty

M

A

M

• Manx

J

1—i J

A

S

i—r O

• 'Small dark'

N

D

'Large brown'

Fig. le. Average nos. seen per 10 hour of watch l 0.8 0.6

0.4 0.2

0 J

Sooty

1

! ' !

F

M

A

M

• Manx

1 J

L k TM1 nBfri

J

A

S 'Small dark'

S

O

N

D

M 'Large brown'

Fig. ld. Frequeney of occurrence shown as % of days on which seen 15 10

— 1 Sooty

1

1B1

Manx

J

I1 •

l u Ln, fe , s

'Small dark' 13

, 1

'Large brown'


Results Fig. 2. Sooty & Manx Shearwater records 1987-97,per Suffolk Bird Reports 300 250 200

150 100

50

0

n J •

F

n

M A

M

J

J

Sooty Shearwaters

•

A

S

O

N D

Manx Shearwaters

Only 75 shearwaters were seen during the 1994-98 study, comprising 43 Sooty and 26 Manx Shearwaters together with three 'small dark' birds (considered to have been Mediterranean Shearwaters) and three 'large pale brown' birds (probably Cory's Shearwaters). Except for a single spring (April) record, sightings were confined to the period from late June into early December, with most birds occurring during July to October (Figure lb), and almost entirely on morning watches. They were most frequent in July and August, when they appeared on about 13% of morning watches (Figure ld), though even then at very low passage rates averaging under one bird per 10 hours (Figure le). For July to October combined, Sooty Shearwaters were seen more often in the mornings (0-8 birds per 10 hours) than in the afternoons (0-3 per 10 hours). There was no sign of the late afternoon or early evening movements sometimes reported from Southwold (R. Waiden, pers. comm.). Collectively, shearwaters made up less than 0 1 % of ali seabirds counted over the fi ve years, and less than 0-3% during their main passage season from July to October. (i) Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus Most Sooties appeared during August to October (Figure 1 b-d). Extreme dates were July 29th and December 4th. The October peak in numbers includes one particularly large movement, while the low numbers in September reflect a below-average incidence of the requisite wind conditions (see below). Ali but one were seen in the mornings, and most often in August (8% of watches) and September (6%). On most occasions (17 of the 20) only single birds were seen, with two and three birds once each. Thus, the passage of 21 Sooties on October 3rd 1997, and in a 55-minute period (between 08.20 and 09.15 BST), was an unusual event. Apart from this concentrated movement, this species seemed to appear at more or less random times in the morning. Ali birds were flying north, usually in onshore (NE to ESE) winds of moderate to fresh strength (Beaufort force 4-5), or in light to moderate (f.2-4) N-NW winds. Some occurred in light offshore breezes but following a day of moderate or fresh N or NW winds. Two birds appeared on cairn mornings and after cairn conditions the previous day. These Covehithe observations, though rather few, broadly agree with the seasonal pattern and flight directions shown by the other 488 Sooty Shearwaters listed for Suffolk in the SBRs from 1987 to 1997 (Figures 2, 3c). On average, 44 Sooties were recorded each year but numbers varied greatly from 106 and 84 in the best years (1989 and 1987) to only 34 and 13 in the poorest years (1994, 1995). Prior to 1987, in which 14


year Cawston & Ling (1988) pioneered intensive sea-watching at Covehithe, this species 6000 had been under-recorded, 4000 with annual totals not exceeding eight birds. 2000 Sooties are seldom seen south of Aldeburgh although several have been J F M A M J J observed off Landguard. Both the earliest (July Fig. 3b. Sooty Shearwaters, North Norfolk, 1983-97 2nd) and latest (December 4th) birds were off 1000 Covehithe. 800 Movements of 10 or 600 more Sooties have been seen on 10 occasions in 400 Suffolk (Table 1) and of 200 five to 10 birds on a 0 further 11 dates. Where stated, 78% of birds F M A M J J A S O N D were Aying north (n = 298) and 22% south (n = Fig. 3c. Sooty Shearwaters, Suffolk, 1987-97 82), the latter including 200 the largest day-count (28) yet noted for the 150 County. Virtually ail movements of five or 100 more birds heading north coincided with 50 days of rather strong winds (f.5-7) blowing either onshore f r o m F M A M J J A S O N D between SE and NE, or f r o m the N-NW. UnFig. 3d. Sooty Shearwaters, Essex, 1983-97 usually, five Sooties flew north in a strong 30 SW wind although 25 three others went south 20 that day. The record 15 southerly movement of 28 birds on October lOth 10 1987 was heading into 5 a strong to gale force 0 southerly (SW on the F M A M J J A S O N D day before), whereas 11 flying south on September 7th 1990 had a strong NE tail wind (Table 1). Times of large movements were not stated but some off Southwold have happened in the late afternoon (R.Walden, pers.comm.). Along the east coast from Yorkshire to Kent most Sooty Shearwaters are late Fig. 3a. Sooty Shearwaters, Flamborough Head, 1984-95

8000

• 11.

I

1

15


Table 1. The 10 largest movements of Sooty and Manx Shearwaters recorded off Suffolk in relation to wind conditions; wind data for preceding days in parenthesis. Manx Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater 28 S

10.10.87

Minsmere

S 6-8 (SW 6-8)

47 N

10.9.89

Covehithe

ENE 6-8 (NE 6-8)

24 N

8.10.89

Covehithe

N 5 (NW 6)

22 N, 6 S

1.9.94

Aldeburgh

N-NE 6 (E 5)

22 N

10.9.89

Covehithe

ENE 6-8 (NE 6-8)

18 S

4.7.96

Aldeburgh

WSW 5-6 (SW 4)

21 N 3.10.97

Covehithe

W3-4 (N4)

17 N

14.9.88

Covehithe

N 7-8 (N 6-8)

18 N

21.10.97

Southwold

ENE 6 (NE 6))

13

16.10.80

Benacre

E-SE 6-8 (E 4)

16 N

30.9.87

Covehithe

E 5-6 (E 4)

12

12.5.84

Minsmere

NE 6 (NE 5-6)

Covehithe

N 4 (N 6)

UN

24.3.92

Minsmere

NE 6-8 (N 6-8)

12 N 7.9.91 12 N

3.10.89

Corton

N-NE 3 (NW 5-6)

UN

2.7.89

Covehithe

NE 4 (SE 4)

II S

7.9.90

Covehithe

NE 6-7 (W 6)

ION

7.9.90

Covehithe

NE 6-7 (W 6)

ION

10.9.93

Southwold

SE 5-6 (SE 3-4)

19.9.87

Covehithe

S-SE 3 (SE 4)

9S

Note: wind data are estimated f r o m synoptic weather Charts, and strengths given to the Beaufort scale.

summer and early autumn passage migrants, mainly in September (Figure 3a-d). The seasonal pattern in Suffolk (Fig. 3c) is very similar to that in Norfolk and Essex (Figs. 3b, d), where October is the next best month in which to see this shearwater. At Flamborough Head (Fig. 3a), however, Sooties appear earlier than further south, for proportionately more are seen in August than in October, the reverse of the picture off the East Anglian and Thames coasts. Very large numbers pass Flamborough Head in most years during August and September, with at times many hundreds in a day, (Table 2), and generally heading north (YBRs, Wallace & Bourne 1981). They are at least 10 times more numerous off that headland than they are off north Norfolk. Sooties become much less plentiful further to the south off Suffolk, and they are only scarce (though annual) visitors to Thames waters off Essex and north Kent (EBRs, KBRs). Table 2. Autumn movements of Sooty Shearwaters along the North Sea coast of England in recent years. Mean no. per year

Annual totals (range)

Largest movements (3 highest day-counts)

Peak period

1450

500-2750

721/685/658

August-September

North Norfolk, 1986-97

120

25-215

150/125/115

September-October

Suffolk, 1987-97

44

13-106

28/24/22

Septcmber-October

Essex. 1985-97

4

2-8

3/2/2

September

North Kent. 1984-95

9

1-21

18/7/3

September-October

Flamborough Head. 1984-95

Note: 1. Annual totals for Norfolk and Flamborough Head, estimated by summation of peak-day counts in annual reports, will be slight underestimates of actual numbers recorded. 2. Except Flamborough Head, same-day duplication errors between adjacent sites in a county were minimised by taking only the highest count on a given day irrespective of locality. 3. Suffolk records include those from the current Covehithe study.

Exceptionally, this shearwater may remain over winter in the North Sea, there being 10 January or February records from the Yorkshire coast and one from Norfolk during these review years. The very few December birds recorded over the same period from Yorkshire (12), Norfolk (2) and Suffolk (1) were therefore not only autumn stragglers but also potential winterers. Likewise, some of the 13 spring (March-June) sightings from Yorkshire (7) and north Norfolk (6) could have stemmed from a very few birds that stayed in the North Sea during the winter months.


(ii) Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus This species tended to appear off Covehithe earlier in the summer than the Sooty Shearwater, and there was also a spring occurrence, on April 25th 1995 (Figures lb-d). Otherwise, the 16 summer and autumn records feil between June 27th and November 4th. All were morning sightings Fig. 4a. Manx Shearwaters, Flamborough Head, 1984-95 except the June bird. 20000 They were most fre15000 quent in July (on 11 % of watches) but quite 10000 infrequent (<3%) in other months (Figure 5000 ld). Surprisingly few were seen in September, compared with previous J F M A M J J A S O N D years (SBRs), perhaps due to the rather quiesFig. 4b. Manx Shearwaters, North Norfolk, 1983-97 cent nature of this month 3000 during the study years (Dare 1998a). Most 2500 records referred to 2000 single individuals but 1500 seven occurred among 1000 the 21 Sooties on Octo500 ber 3rd 1997. Interest0 ingly, the two species coincided only twice F M A M J J A S O N D during my watches. The Manx ShearFig. 4c. Manx Shearwaters, Suffolk, 1978-97 waters flew almost 300 exclusively (92%) north; only two birds headed 250 south. They appeared 200 mainly with NW-NE 150 winds blowing either on 100 the morning when seen or on the previous day, 50 though seldom above 0 fresh (f.5) in strength. The rest occurred with easterly (ESE-ENE) onshore winds but two Fig. 4d. Manx Shearwaters, Essex, 1983-97 were in light westerly 170 breezes. In general, 100 wind direction and force 80 on the previous day or night seemed to be the 60 main factor governing 40 the occurrence of Manx 20 Shearwaters. Of the two _ r 0 • 111 birds seen heading • , 51 I I ( 1 1- i ™ i , south, one was flying J F M A M J J A S O N D

1I I I .

.Ili

1

17


into a light southerly breeze while the other had a strong to gale force tail wind from the north-west. The Suffolk reports for 1987-97 list another 450 Manx Shearwaters, an average of 41 per year, but varying widely between 107 birds in the best year (1989) and only eight in the poorest (1993). Earlier in the 1980s, before 'serious' sea-watching began, the average annual count had been 13. Very few have been seen south of Aldeburgh. Although their records are roughly as numerous as those of Sooty Shearwater, Manx have a longer season of occurrence off our coast, from March 12th (1983) to December 2nd (1987). In addition, a dead bird was found beached at Minsmere one winter, on February Ist 1964 (Axell & Hosking 1977). Apart from their occasionai spring sightings, Manx also tend to appear rather earlier in summer than Sooty Shearwater (Figure 2), presumably because they return to western British waters (from the South Atlantic) some three months ahead of the Sooties. Movements of 10 or more Manx Shearwaters in Suffolk have been recorded on nine occasions, and of five to nine birds on a further four dates in recent years, but only two of these coincided with Sooty movements, both in September (Table 1). Where stated, 76% of birds were flying north (n = 252) and 24% south (n = 79). Large northerly movements took place in strong to gale force winds from between north and east (Table 1 ), whereas southerly movements were smaller and headed into SE to SW winds. Some Manx (as Sooties) passed Southwold late in the day (R.Waiden, pers. comm.) but the scale of such movements cannot be assessed from the published records. Along the East Anglian coast Manx Shearwaters become rapidly more plentiful from south to north (Table 3). While more are seen off Suffolk than off Essex, far greater numbers occur annually off north Norfolk, where hundreds may be seen on some August and September days of strong northerly winds (NBRs). In north Kent, also, large movements comparable to some of those in Norfolk have occurred in certain years (KBRs). However, such passages are often dwarfed by the huge movements, sometimes exceeding 1000 birds in a day, that pass Flamborough Head in similar conditions. These Manx have been thought to derive from large flocks feeding close offshore for several weeks in summer (YBR 1984). If so, the same birds might be seen repeatedly as they recirculate to and fro past this headland. The peak season becomes progressively later from north to south down the east coast (Figure 4). Thus, it is July-August off Yorkshire, August-September for Norfolk, and September off Suffolk and Essex. Off north Kent, however, the pattern is similar to that for Yorkshire; large numbers have appeared with N-NW winds during late June to August. Most notable were 264 flying east out of the Thames at Foreness on June 28th 1984 (KBRs). By December very few Manx Shearwaters remain in the North Sea; just eight Table 3. Autumn movements of Manx Shearwaters along the North Sea coast of England in recent years. Mean no. per year

Annua! totais (range)

Largest movements (3 highest day-counts)

Peak period

9000

3250-18200

2658/1803/1648

July-August

North Norfolk, 1986-97

600

50-2300

1200/592/550

August-September

Suffolk, 1987-97

41

8-107

47/28/18

September

Essex, 1985-97

14

1-34

9/9/6

September

North Kent, 1984-95

99

11-497

338/222/65

August-September

Flamborough Head, 1984-95

Notes: See Table 2.

18


sightings at Flamborough Head, four off Norfolk and two off Suffolk during the review years. It is rare in winter (January-February) and scarce in early spring (March); five records in winter and one in March at Flamborough Head; two in winter and eight in March off Norfolk, one in March off Suffolk and one in winter off Essex. Manx become more common from May onwards, although 550 flying east along the Norfolk coast during strong NW winds on May 27th 1997 was an exceptional spring event (NBR 1997). (iii) Other shearwater species At Covehithe, shearwaters that were neither of the above two species, but which could not be identified unequivocally, were seen on four occasions. These occurrences are included here to complete the record. (a) 'Small dark' shearwaters: Three Manx-size but very dusky shearwaters were seen flying north into a light NW breeze on the morning of August 26th 1995. Their features closely matched those of Mediterranean Shearwater, several of which were reported during the same week off east and north Norfolk where up to 15 are recorded annually (NBRs). (b) 'Large brown' shearwaters: Single large shearwaters, considered most likely to have been Cory's Shearwaters, were seen flying south at long ranges on July 25th 1994, August 16th 1994 and September 13th 1996. Winds were, respectively, light westerly, fresh southerly and fresh NNW. In Suffolk, since the first sighting in 1974, some 23 Cory's Shearwaters and four 'large brown' shearwaters (as well as three Great Shearwaters) have been recorded, mostly from Southwold and Covehithe, between July 4th and October 19th (SBRs). Discussion The paucity of shearwater sightings off the Suffolk coast, particularly compared with their abundance off north Norfolk, only 80-120 kilométrés away, can be accounted for by their North Sea distribution and the orientation of the East Anglian coastline. The shearwaters are drawn from substantial populations of non-breeding birds that, together with very small numbers of the rarer southern species, spend the summer in the north-western sector of the North Sea (Tasker et al 1987, Camphuysen 1995). They evidently enter from the Atlantic by rounding the north of Scotland rather than via the Dover Strait, for ail species are scarce or rare in the eastern English Channel in spring and early summer (Stone et al 1995, KBRs, James 1996), as they are also in the southern North Sea at this season (Tasker et al 1987). Their summer diet is likely to consist of small fish, squid and crustaceans, and perhaps fish offal discarded from fishing boats (Cramp & Simmons 1977). Ship-borne surveys show that virtually ali the shearwaters are concentrated within a rather narrow zone parallel, and often close, to the coasts of eastern Scotland and north-eastern England as far south as the Humber région (Figure 5, Tasker et al 1987, Camphuysen 1983). These waters also support major breeding and wintering populations of Northern Gannets, Black-legged Kittiwakes, auks and other seabirds. The Sooties extend further offshore than the Manx, and a few range eastwards to north of the Wadden Islands. Ail shearwater species generally are scarce or absent in the rest of the North Sea, although some wind-driven birds can appear off any coastline. The southern limit of the feeding distribution corresponds roughly with the hydrographie frontal boundary that stretches in summer from off Flamborough Head across to north of the Dutch coast (Figure 5, Dare 1998a). The shearwaters appear to avoid the turbid waters found to the south of this marine boundary, and instead gather 19


Figure 5: Map of the North Sea showing the summer distributions of Sooty and Manx Shearwaters, by vertical and horizontal shading respectively (redrawn from Tasker et al 1987 and Camphuysen 1995). Observed coastal movements of Sooty Shearwaters displaced by northerly winds are shown by thick arrows. The approximate location of the hydrographic front is shown by small circles, and the Southern Bight boundary by a dotted line. C - Covehithe, CL - Cley, CGN - Cap Gris Nez, CR - Cromer, CV - Canvey, D - Dimgeness, FF - Firth of Forth, FHFlamborough Head, L - Landguard, MF - Moray Firth, SB - Southern Bight, W - Wash.

over the clearer near-oceanic water to the north with its spawning stocks of herring, sprat and sand-eels - known foods of Manx Shearwaters in our waters (Cramp & Simmons 1977). At these feeding grounds, Manx Shearwaters are plentiful from July to September, but uncommon or scarce in other months, while 97% of the Sooties are found from August to October (Tasker et al 1987, Camphuysen 1995). This seasonality matches closely the patterns observed in Suffolk and at other sea-watch sites discussed here (Figures 2-4). Notable concentrations of Sooty Shearwaters have been observed off the British east coast, for example at least 2,500 in the outer Moray Firth in September 1983 (Tasker et al 1987) and a flock of 500 in the Firth of Forth in September 1959 (Phillips 20


1963). The mixed population off north-eastern England, the most likely source of birds seen off Suffolk, has been estimated from transect surveys at roughly 2,300 Sooty and 1.700 Manx Shearwaters on average, though with considérable annual variation likely (Camphuysen 1995). The Sooty estimate explains, and is not inconsistent with, the observed numbers passing Flamborough Head (Table 2) when strong northerly winds push birds further inshore than usuai. Most displaced Sooties are then seen Aying north (Wallace & Bourne 1981). However, the estimate for Manx Shearwaters clearly is too low considering that 15 movements of >1,000 Manx in a day, and including one of 2,658. have occurred at Flamborough in recent years (YBRs, Table 3). Such large movements conceivably could include birds displaced from much further north. On the other hand, the very high average annual totals of Manx seen from Flamborough Head presumably involve a considérable element of duplication as local feeding groups circuiate and recirculate not far offshore in response to changing wind conditions. In north Norfolk, the east-west alignment and proximity of the coast to the shearwater feeding areas, less than 160 kilométrés away (Figure 5), explains the rapid appearance, scale and frequency of Manx and Sooty Shearwater movements observed there soon after the onset of strong NW to NE winds. The displaced shearwaters may move in either direction along this coast but generally fly into the wind. Thus, in strong NW winds, most move west and then quickly return north by turning across the mouth of the Wash, whereas in NE winds the movements are usually Manx Shearwater easterly (K. Shepherd, pers. comm.; wind analyses of NBRs data). On some days, however, down-wind movements occur while on others there may be no consistent direction. When shearwaters fly east they seem to continue out to sea once past the 'bend' near Cromer, for very few are recorded as moving south off east Norfolk and Suffolk (NBRs, SBRs). On the contrary, both species (but especially Sooties) have been seen to fly predominantly north up this Stretch of coast (Table 1) in what are clearly return movements of birds that were pushed far into the Southern Bight (Figure 5). A few Manx and Sooties are driven, by strong NW-N and NW-NE winds respectively, onto the north Kent coast and may even reach the Thames entrance between Allhallows and Canvey (KBRs, EBRs, Taylor et al 1984, D.Davenport, pers.comm.). Most of these birds then appear to 'escape' by flying east past Foreness to reach the Dover Strait. The few shearwaters that are seen from the shores of southern Holland fly north during N-NW winds, just like those on the East Anglian coast opposite; but in SW-WNW winds they are seen heading south-west (Camphuysen & van Dijk 1983). Shearwaters which have moved out to sea from the north-eastern corner of Norfolk must then either re-orient themselves northwards, by turning into the wind, or instead continue to head down-wind, which could eventually enable many to leave through the Dover Strait (Figure 5). That many Sooties, but fewer Manx, may sometimes use this 'short-cut' option to reach the Atlantic in autumn, is suggested by some 21


observations from the continental side of the strait. There, gales blowing from W and NW in the western North Sea and Southern Bight have generated autumn movements of 240-270 Sooties in a day along the Belgian coast (Jansen 1981) and of 100-200 flying south-west past Cap Gris Nez in France (Oliver 1971). At this headland, moreover, an exceptional south-westerly passage of 1,841 Sooties occurred during a four-day watch in September-October 1977 when prolonged westerly gales in the North Sea veered north-westerly (Milbled & Redman 1978, Davenport 1991). Such observations have been taken (Oliver 1971) as proof of departures through the Dover Strait, whereas Phillips (1963) had contended that ali Sooty Shearwaters reaching the Southern Bight subsequently returned far north to round the tip of Scotland. It now seems indisputable that some Sooties indeed take the southern route, if only due to wind forcing, although the origins of other movements observed at the Dover Strait remain uncertain. Thus, more recent observations at Cap Gris Nez strongly suggest that some westerly passages of shearwaters through the Dover Strait are, in fact, recovery movements of birds that had been pushed up-Channel and into the Southern Bight by SW or W gales. Such a possibility was proposed (Cawston & Ling 1988) to explain the origins of shearwaters they had seen off Suffolk flying south into strong or gale head winds. At Cap Gris Nez in 1996, the only three large Sooty Shearwater passages that autumn (of 212, 137 and 62 birds) ail occurred in SW to NW winds but after two or three days of strong to gale SW-W winds; as had two smaller movements of 30-50 Manx Shearwaters earlier in June (Leclercq 1997). That no easterly movements were observed in such weather suggests that birds had kept well offshore when moving upChannel into these narrows. Along the English south coast, particularly in Kent and Sussex, no significant easterly movements of shearwaters have yet been observed at any season (D. Davenport, in litt., James 1996), while even at Dungeness westerly movements in autumn seldom involve more than 10 Sooties or 100 Manx in a day. However, there was an exceptional westerly passage of 551 Sooty Shearwaters past Dungeness on October 9th and lOth 1987 during strong onshore winds that followed two days of first SW, and then W, gales (Davenport 1991). The prevailing weather conditions strongly indicate that this was a return movement of birds driven up-Channel from the Western Approaches. Coincidentally, in Suffolk on October lOth 1987 a record 28 Sooty Shearwaters was logged flying south off Minsmere (Table 1), the best evidence yet for the southerly origin hypothesis. Nevertheless, the overall low incidence of Suffolk sightings during frequent spells of south-westerly weather on our coast indicates that few of the shearwaters seen locally are likely to have come up from the Channel. Postscript Manx Shearwaters in early summer, 1999. Thirty Manx (but no Sooty) Shearwaters were seen during June (20 birds) and July (10) off Kessingland (P.Reid) and Covehithe (PJD) during 212 hours of watching at various times through the day (mostly by PR). We watched 100 hours in the mornings, 30 in the afternoons (12-17 h BST) and for 82 in the evenings. Our observations measure the tendency of Manx Shearwaters to move past this coast in the evening and provide further support for the idea of an English Channel origin for at least some of the birds seen here in the summer. In both months 70% of the shearwaters were seen after 17 h BST when they passed, sometimes three to five together, at average passage rates of one bird per 2]h hours in June and one per 6V2 hours in July. Much lower numbers and average rates occurred in the mornings (one per 20 hours) and afternoons (one per 14 hours). These evening movements of non-breeding shearwaters (sometimes close to shore, even in light winds) could stem from the behaviour of breeding birds which assemble in the evening on the sea close to their colonies. Most Manx tended to fly into the wind (as noted earlier). Thus, the 20 birds seen flying south

22


coincided with f.2-5 southerly (SW-SSE) winds, while five of the 10 Aying north were during two days of f.4-5 NE winds. The southerly movements occurred over two periods (June 4th to 7th and June 28th to July Ist) following one or more days of f.5-6 W or SW winds blowing up the English Channel, and seem likely to have been returning southern birds. In contrast, the north-bound shearwaters, mainly in late July, were probably (as noted earlier) moving back to feeding areas off the Yorkshire coast.

Acknowledgements I am indebted to David Davenport and Kevin Shepherd for helpful comments on the manuscript, and for providing additional information on shearwaters in Kent and Norfolk respectively. References Axell, H.E. & Hosking, E. 1977. Minsmere: Portrait of a Bird Reserve. Hutchinson, London. Camphuysen, C.J. & van Dijk, J. 1983. Seabirds and estuary birds along the Netherlands coast, 1974-79. Limosa, 56:83-230. Camphuysen, C.J. 1995. Grauwe pijlstormvogel Puffinus griseus en noordse pijlstormvogel P. puffinus in de zuidelijke Nordzee: een offshore perspectief. Limosa, 68:1-9. Cawston, J.M. & Ling, S. 1988. Seabirds and seawatching in Suffolk 1987. Suffolk Birds, 37:7-12. Cramp, S. & Simmons, K.E.L. (eds) 1977. Handbook of the Birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol. I. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Dare, PJ. 1998a. Seabird movements and abundance off Covehithe, Suffolk, in 1994-96. I. Fulmar, Gannet, Kittiwake, Guillemot and Razorbill. Suffolk Birds, 46:16-36. Dare, P.J. 1998b. Seabird movements and abundance off Covehithe, North Suffolk, in 1994-96. II. Little Gull, Sandwich Tern, Common/Arctic Terns and Little Tern. Suffolk Birds, 47:16-26. Davenport, D.L. 1991. A review of seabirds in Kent, 1977-1991. Kent Bird Report (1991): 108-113. James, P. (ed.). 1996. Birds ofSussex. Sussex Ornithological Society. 591 pp. Jansen, F.H. 1981. De trek van de grauwe pijlstormvogel Puffinus griseus längs de Nederlandse kust. Limosa, 54:117-126. Leclercq, J.A. 1997. Rapport ornithologique - Littoral Flandres-Boulonnais, annee 1996. L'association Skua, Lomme. Milbled, T. & Redman, PS. 1978. Cap Gris-Nez Report 1977. Groupe pour l'Etude de la Migration des Oiseaux. Oliver, P.J. 1971. Sooty Shearwaters in the English Channel. British Birds, 64:56-60. Phillips, J.H. 1963. The distribution of the Sooty Shearwater around the British Isles. British Birds, 56:197-203. Stone, C.J., Webb, A., Barton, C„ Ratcliffe, N„ Reed, T.C., Tasker, M.L., Camphuysen, C.J. & Pienkowski, M.W. 1995. An Atlas of Seabird Distribution in North-West European Waters. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough. 326 pp. Tasker, M.L., Webb, A., Hall, A.J., Pienkowski, M.W. & Langslow, D.R. 1987. Seabirds in the North Sea. Nature Conservation Council, Peterborough. 336 pp. Taylor, D.W., Davenport, D.L. & Flegg, J.J.M. 1984. Birds of Kent. Kent Ornithological Society. Wallace, D.I.M. & Bourne, W.R.P. 1981. Seabird movements along the east coast of England. British Birds, 74:417-426. Dr. Peter J. Dare, Glebe House, Toad Row, Henstead, Beccles, Suffolk NR34 7LG.

23


The Breeding Bird Survey Gary Lowe Introduction Much has already been written about the Breeding Bird Survey. If further détail on the aims and objectives or methodology of the Survey is required, please refer to Volumes 45 and 47 of the Suffolk Bird Report. Suffice to say that it is felt by the various authorities in Suffolk (and elsewhere) to be the only practical method of recording the common (and now not so common) birds in the County. Any selfrespecting birdwatcher should be taking part. If you are not, then see the détails at the end of this report. We are fortunate that this year the BTO has produced the data for 1998 in time for inclusion in this report. Five years of data have now been accumulated - enough to begin to look for trends. Any analysis, however, has to be tempered by the acknowledgement of the small sample size. Ideally 100 squares are the minimum required to be covered. In Suffolk we have stili to break the 50 barrier. Hence the importance of mass participation. While the format of this report is broadly similar to those of earlier years, the direct comparison with national results has been omitted in favour of a more detailed look at trends in Suffolk. Coverage The following table shows how coverage has been steadily increasing over the period of the survey, although there was a slight, but regrettable, decrease in 1998. A total of 53 squares has been covered BBS - Tetrads covered in Suffolk during the period of the survey, of which 50 -| 31 have been covered in at least three out the five years. Consistency of coverage is obviously of great importance. The location and coverage of the squares are shown by the next map. As can be seen there are 13 squares that have been covered 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 in previous years but not in 1998. If you feel able to take on one (or more!) of these, please see the détails at the end of this paper. Results from the Suffolk squares A total of 97 species was recorded in Suffolk in 1997 and 103 in 1998. This compares with 105 in 1996, 92 in 1995 and 91 in 1994. In previous years the data have been presented in a number of forms. For the first two years the results were merely listed (see Suffolk Bird Report 45:7). For the following report the distribution and abundance of the most commonly occurring species were compared with the results for those species from the two earlier 24


years ( S u f f o l k Birci Report 47:11). Presentation of the data becomes more and more unwieldy as they are accumulated. This year I have taken the approach of picking out a number of species and examining their results in more detail, both examining the trends in Suffolk and comparing them with the national results for the same period. There are 10 species on the red list of Bini s of Conservation Concern (see Suffolk Bird Report 47:6) which commonly breed in Suffolk. Apart from the five below, the other five Eurasian Turtle Dove, Song Thrush, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Common Bullfinch and Corn Bunting) will be the subject of the next report. The five other species have arbitrarily been chosen as being of interest. Without access to a detailed Statistical analysis of the data the following is based, by necessity, on simple principies. Ideally, only the 31 squares that were surveyed in three or more years should be included in the analysis. This would prevent an unusual resuit in one square biasing the results. Unfortunately, that has not been possible and the analysis is based upon the whole of the results for each year. As more squares become surveyed the effect of any bias will become less marked. Each species is examined in terms of two simple measures. Firstly, its distribution, shown as the percentage of the total squares surveyed in which it was recorded. Secondly, its abundance, shown as the mean of counts across ali the squares in which it was recorded. The limitations of the small sample size must always be borne in mind in interpreting the data. RED LIST SPECIES (i) Grey Partridge The long-term decline of the Grey Partridge is well documented; the BTO estimâtes a 78% decline in population over the past 30 years. Unfortunately it is a species where small sample size may have a large effect on the results of a survey. A recorder only has to come across a large covey to have a marked effect 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 on the abundance results. However, . % of squares . Mean count hearing that in mind and the limitations of the data available, Grey Partridge seems to be showing some signs of a recovery in Suffolk. This fits in with the national results of the survey for the same period, which indicate a stable population. The dip in both abundance and distribution in 1996 is intriguing - it may just be a blip demonstrating the weakness of the data. (ii) Skylark The Skylark has been the flagship species for conservation organisations in highlighting the plight of farmland birds. The national results of the survey for 1994-98 show a„ • further 5% decline in the population following from the 60% decline over the past 30 years. Being a largely rural County, Suffolk would be expected to hold a healthy

1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 - % o f squares . . - » - . Mean count

25


population. In fact, as can be seen from the graph, even here there has been a negative change in distribution, although there are some recent signs of stabilisation. More worryingly, there has been a decline in abundance. This is a species for which continued monitoring is essential. (iii) Spotted Flycateher Many observers comment on the present scarcity of this species. The national results for 1998 show a decline in numbers for the fourth consecutive year. The population in 1998 is estimated to be 23% lower than in 1994 and 78% lower than 30 years ago. From the data available it actually seems to have become more 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 widespread in Suffolk during the middle part of the survey. , % o f squares . . . . Mean count The change in abundance is interesting. This is a species that was probably never widely abundant, always being thinly distributed and nesting in isolated pairs. Whether the decline in abundance will lead to a decrease in distribution will be seen in future years. (iv) Common Linnet Whilst by no means scarce, according to anecdotal evidence Common Linnets do seem to be coming less plentiful. It is included on the red list of Birds of Conservation Concern because of a greater than 50% decline in the British breeding population over the previous 25 years. The national results of the BBS indicate a 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 10% decline in population between 1994 and 1998. This is the very type _ % of squares + Mean count of species and situation for which the BBS survey is designed; without such systematic recording any population changes are difficult to detect or measure. In fact, as can be seen from the graph, both the abundance and distribution of Common Linnet do seem to be on a downward track. Whether the slight recovery in 1998 continues will be seen in future years. (v) Reed Bunting

1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 . % of squares

+

Mean count

26

The results of national surveys have identified a decline in the population of Reed Bunting (estimated at 64% over the 30-year period). This consequently led to its inclusion on the red list of Birds of Conservation Concern and as a priority in the Biodiversity Action Plan process, both serious indications of a species in difficulties. This is reinforced by the national results


of the BBS which show an estimateci 11% decline in the population over the period 1994 to 1998. In Suffolk, however, it is not a species that springs to mind as being in decline. This is borne out by the Suffolk BBS results which show no great change in distribution or abundance. Species are often first affected on the periphery of their range and it could be that the decline has not hit Suffolk as yet. Obviously continued monitoring is necessary. OTHER SPECIES (vi) House Martin There has been much written in various journals on House Martins in recent years. The populär perception is that they are declining, either arriving much later in the season or not at ali. In fact, the national BBS results show only a small, statistically insignificant, decline over the period 1994 to 1998 of 2%. However, the Suffolk data 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 do show what appears to be a real decline in distribution whilst abundance has %of squares Me an count remained largely unchanged. Whether House Martins are simply becoming more localised or whether there is a problem in the part of Africa where the population overwinters remains to be seen. Again, it is these trends in the commoner species that the BBS is designed to detect. (vii) European Robin 94

The European Robin is not a species perceived to be in any difficulties. It is not on any list of Birds of Conservation Concern, not in the Red Data lists and not a Biodiversity Action Pian species. Yet results from the Suffolk BBS show a very minor decline in both distribution and abundance of the species over the period of the survey. 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 Will this be another species about %of squares .. Mean count which we need to be concerned in future years? These results are contrary to the national results of the BBS, which show a 5% increase in population over the period, a result that was supported by data from the Common Bird Census survey. (viii) Blue Tit Blue Tit is species that can breed prolifically, producing large broods of young. With the small sample size in Suffolk there is a danger that this might distort the BBS results. In fact, the findings show both the distribution and abundance to have been fairly stable throughout the survey. The Suffolk results are broadly in

6

$ 94 | 92 o- 90 -g 88 g» 86 ° 84 1994

1995

1996

,%of squares ..

27

1997

1998

Mean count


agreement with the national results. Although there was a significant decline in the Blue Tit population between 1997 and 1998 (of 11%), the trend over the period 1994 to 1998 was of a small, but significant, increase (of 7%). (ix) Black-billed Magpie Anecdotal evidence suggests an increase in the populations of Corvidae such as Black-billed Magpie. The Blackbilled Magpie has been particularly identified in some quarters as a major factor in the decline in songbird numbers although scientific studies show that 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 that is not the case (Wilkinson, 1988; _ % o f squares + Mean count Gooch et al, 1991). In fact, the national BBS results indicate a stable population. The Suffolk data also do not seem to indicate any great change in the distribution and abundance of this species. Although both measures did have an upward trend in the first year of the survey the subséquent years have been relatively stable. (x) House Sparrow This is another species which anecdotal evidence suggests is in the early stages of a decline in population. This, in fact, appears to be supported by the survey findings, both nationally and in Suffolk. The national results show numbers are significantly lower than in 1994. In Suffolk, the results show what 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 seems to be a real decline in abundance, although distribution has largely _ % o f squares + Mean count been maintained. Obviously the distribution may decline in future years as the smaller local populations disappear. Clearly a species to watch. SUMMARY The intention of this paper has been to show the practical results at a locai level of the BBS. If I have been successful you will now want to get involved to do your bit. In that case you should either contact Suffolk's BTO Régional Représentative, Mick Wright (tel.01473 710032) or Richard Bashford at the BTO (The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU). References: BTO News 218:16. Crewe, M.D. (Ed.) 1997. Suffolk Birds Voi.45, 7-15. Gooch, S„ Baillie, S.R., & Birkhead, T.R., 1991. Journal of Applied Ecology 28: 1068-86. Lowe, G. (Ed.) 1998. Suffolk Birds Vol.47: 6-10 & 11-15. Noble, D.G., Bashford, R.I., Marchant, J.H., Baillie, S.R. & Gregory, R.D. 1999. The Breeding Bird Survey 1998. BTO Research Report 225. BTO , Thetford. RSPB, Birdlife International, BTO, et al 1996. Birds of Conservation Concern in the UK, Channel lslands and lsle of Man. Wilkinson, D.M. 1988. The Magpie: sorrow or joy? British Birds 81: 657-8. Gary Lowe, Boyion Suffolk. 28


The 1998 Suffolk Bird Report Systematic List Introduction The list and its appendices have been written using data supplied by the county's birdwatchers and conservation organisations. The raw data have been collated and interpreted by the following: Divers to European Shag Herons to geese Ducks Raptors Game birds to cranes Oystercatcher to Ruff Snipes to phalaropes Skuas to gulls Terns to auks

Darren Underwood Andrew Easton Malcolm Wright Chris Gregory John Grant David Thurlow Philip Murphy Brian Small Neville Skinner

Pigeons to woodpeckers Larks to Hedge Accentor Chats to thrushes Warbiers to flycatchers Tits to shrikes Crows to Common Starling Sparrows to buntings Escapees

Nigel Odin Richard Rafe Steve Fryett David Walsh Tony Howe Rob Macklin Rob Macklin Mike Crewe

The order and nomenclature follow Dr K H Voous's List of Recent Holarctic Bird Species (BOU 1997). English names are as in 'Checklist of the Birds of Britain and Ireland' (BOU, Sixth Edition, 1992). Subspecies are listed under the main species' heading, which includes the scientific name. The records for each species are listed under the parish where the bird occurred, sometimes followed by a more precise location if known. The 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. The gazetteer on page 147 gives locations for those sites not easily located on a standard road map. The order of records is north to south down the coastal rĂŠgion, working round the estuaries, then inland from the northeast to the southwest of the County. To minimise any potential threats to site security, some records of rare breeding birds are published anonymously and under a vague site heading. As much use as possible is made of systematic monitoring schemes such as the WeBS 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; and the Orwell includes Trimley Marshes, Loompit Lake and Bourne Park Water Meadows. Counts from the Stour ali refer solely to the Suffolk side of the estuary. Unfortunately such scientifically based records are rare. The larger part of the report, particularly for the more common species, is based upon ad hoc records. Data of that type are influenced by the distribution of birdwatchers, the weather and other factors that result in imperfections. In this respect the Breeding Bird Survey is particularly important, as explained in the paper elsewhere in this Report. We are nonetheless indebted to those observers who have persevered with other studies such as Common Bird Census, Constant Effort Sites and transect counts and for making the results available for use. See 'A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk' elsewhere in this Report for information on submission of records. 29


The following dĂŠfinitions are intended as a guide to the relative status of each species: Very common: Occurs in large numbers in suitable habitat and season. Common: Occurs regularly or widely distributed in suitable habitat. Fairly common: Occurs in small numbers in suitable habitat and season. Uncommon: Occurs annually in small numbers. Scarce: One or two records each year or restricted to specific habitats. Rare: Occurs less than annually. Very rare: Less than 15 records in past 30 years. Accidentai: Less than three records in past 30 years. Included in the status description is a note if the species is included in either the Red or the Amber List of 'Birds of Conservation Concern '. This is a paper jointly produced by the leading bird conservation organisations in the UK. See Suffolk Bird Report Vol.47:6 for further dĂŠtails. The following abbreviations are used in the systematic list: ad. = adult GP = gravel pit imm. = immature Ind. Est. = industriai estate juv. = juvenile NNR = National Nature Reserve N = bird(s) Aying north R = River S = bird(s) flying south res. = reservoir WM = Water Meadow WP = Water Park CP = Country Park WR = Wildfowl Reserve RED-THROATED DIVER Gavia stellata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The majority of those recorded during the first-winter period related to generally quite small groups or movements, the largest numbers Coming from Covehithe: Kessingland: 43 north, Feb.23rd. Covehithe: c.100 offshore, Jan.9th; 458 north, Jan.IOth and 619 (56 north, 563 south), Jan.21st. Southwold: 130 south, Jan.4th. Minsmere: 50 offshore, Feb.22nd. Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Sizewell, c.100 offshore, Jan.21st. Aldeburgh: 89 north, Jan.25th.

As expected, numbers quickly tailed-off after February with just a few Aprii sightings and four birds in May; one north off Covehithe on 3rd, with two there on 22nd, and one north off Dunwich on 16th. The first sighting of the autumn was of 15 birds flying south offshore from Thorpeness on August 30th. The following day two flew south past Covehithe and an adult in summer plumage was seen off Southwold. During the second-winter period, some impressive movements were logged off Thorpeness as follows: November: 107 south, 21st; 303 S, 22nd; 283 south, 23rd; 316 (310 south, six north), 26th;

359 (209 north a.m., 150 offshore p.m.), 29th; 196 (174 north, 22 south), 30th. December: 129 south, 5th; 257 (107 south, 150 north in 20 minutes p.m.), 6th; 416 north (including 309 in 15 minutes), lOth; 340 north (including 200 in five minutes); 197 (193 south. four north), 12th; 200 offshore, 13th; 162 (125 south, 37 north), 19th and 206 north, 20th. Counts at Covehithe during this period were much lower. The total for the whole month of November was 249 and for December, 125. BLACK-THROATED DIVER Gavia arctica Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. With a total of six birds recorded, 1998 was another below-average year for this species. Ali records are listed: 30


Covehithe: north, Mar.8th; adult summer north, Sep.14th; adult summer north, Sep.l8th; north, Nov.30th. Southwold: north, Sep.21st. Felixstowe: Landguard, south. Jan.7th.

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavia immer Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Dun wich: adult offshore, Jan.4th. Aldeburgh: Slaughden, an unconfirmed report of one on the River Aide on Dec.21st was followed by two there on 24th and three on 26th, one of which remained until 30th. Felixstowe: Landguard, north, May 27th. Ipswich: Docks area, Nov. 8th to 21st and Dec.12th (probably relating to the same bird). River Stour: Estuary, Mar. 15th.

With a minimum of seven birds recorded, numbers were again down on the peak numbers of some recent years. LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. After a continuous and steady decline in the breeding fortunes of this species over recent years, it is encouraging to be able to report a small upturn in the numbers of confirmed and probable breeding pairs. A -- c total of 42 pairs was recorded from 16 sites. This included 11 pairs at Minsmere, 10 pairs at North Warren RSPB Reserve, Little Grebe three pairs at Barton Mere and five pairs at Lackford WR. Numbers reported are obviously dependent on observer effort, especially as this species can be quite secretive when breeding and pairs are no doubt utilising small, unvisited ponds and meres, but at least the signs are positive. The River Deben again proved to be the best wintering site in the County. Totals recorded there included 36, January 18th; 69, November 8th; and 66, December 6th and 34 at Martlesham Creek, January 31st. Other winter concentrations involved 20 along Wherstead Strand, January 3rd and 25 around Ipswich Docks on February 15th. Inland, a post-breeding total of 30 birds (13 adults and 17 juveniles) at Lackford WR on September 10th is the highest site total on record. GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. There was a small improvement in breeding numbers reported with a total of 16 nests found at 11 sites. Lackford WR proved the best breeding site with four pairs fledging a minimum of 10 young. One pair was still on a nest there on August 22nd, making their third attempt at success. Three pairs raised broods at Minsmere, involving a total of seven young. As usual, the first-winter period provided the highest counts of the year with the stretch of coastline between Southwold and Minsmere again proving most popular. Southwold: 180 south, Jan.4th. Dunwich: c.200 offshore, Feb. 17th. Minsmere: 143 offshore, Feb.22nd. Elsewhere, the River Orwell held 29 birds on February 6th, 76 were on the Stour Estuary, February 15th (with 84 there, March 15th) and Alton Water recorded 72 on January 18th. 31


Alton Water proved to be the best site during the second-winter period with a post-breeding count of 76 on August 9th increasing to an impressive 139 on October 11th with 52 remaining until November 8th and 40 on December 6th.

RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Covehithe: north, Dec.5th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, summer plumaged bird, drifting north on sea. May 10th. Felixstowe: Landguard, singles, Jan.4th and Mar.l5th. Ipswich: Docks, Jan.1st. Alton Water: one from 1997 remaining until May 8th, by which time it had gained summer plumage.

Could the sighting at Aldringham-cum-Thorpe relate to the Alton Water bird as it moved north? The second-winter period produced the following reports: Aldeburgh: Hazlewood Marshes/Ham Creek, Sep.27th. Covehithe: adult summer north, Oct.2nd. Minsmere: south, Nov.23rd. Felixstowe: Landguard, north, Sep.l7th; south, Oct.27th; south, Dec.31st.

SLAVONIAN GREBE Podiceps auritus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Numbers during 1998 were very low compared with recent years with just six birds reported (cf. 17 in 1997 and at least 21 during 1996), the majority of which related to the first-winter period. Benacre: Benacre Broad, 1997 to Jan.10th. Falkenham: Feb. 1st. Orwell Estuary: Woolverstone, Jan. 1st; Wherstead Strand, Jan.3rd and Fox's Marina, Jan. 1st (assumed to be same bird). Trimley Marshes: Jan. 10th to 12th, 19th, 25th and 31st (assumed to have been present throughout this period).

Of the two birds reported during the second-winter period, one was from West Suffolk, the first there since 1991 (which was also at Lackford WR); Benacre: Denes and Pits, Oct.l8th to Nov.lst. Lackford WR: Oct.9th and 10th.

BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. A total of six birds was reported during 1998 - below average for recent years. As is normal, most related to the first-winter period. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Mar.2nd to 27th. Deben Estuary: Mar. 15th. Ramsholt: Jan. 10th. Lackford WR: adult summer, May 9th; juvenile, Aug.6th to 11th; first-winter, Sept. 13th to Oct.4th.

With another breeding-plumaged bird moving through West Suffolk in the spring and a juvenile seen later in the year, hopes are again raised that breeding may soon take place within the County. Elliott (in Gibbons et. al., 1993) reported that this species showed an increasing tendency for sporadic breeding away from the traditional centres, so anything is possible! 32


1. EUROPEAN SHAG: high numbers were recorded later in the year. Clive Naunton

2. RED-NECKED G R E B E : several summer-plumaged birds were recorded.

3. L I T T L E EGRET: this bird took up residence on Dunwich shore pools.

Alan Tate

Robin Chittenden

4


4. BLACK S T O R K : often seen in the Blyth Estuary area during its stay. Robin Chittenden

5. BRENT G E E S E : scrutiny of flocks revealed at least four of the pale-bellied race and a Black Brant. Alan Tate


NORTHERN FULMAR Fulmarus glacialis Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. Recorded in every month apart from November with peak daily movements as follows; South wold: 120 north between 0600 and 0900, and 53 (36 north, 17 south) between 1500 and 1800, Aug.31st; 35 (four north, 31 south), Sept.9th and 54 south, Dec.29th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, 43 north, Jul.12th; 25 (11 north, 14 south), Aug.21st; 21 north, Aug.23rd; 24 north, Aug.31st and 38 south, Sep. 13th. Aldeburgh: c.400 north, Jan.25th (B J Small).

The total off Aldeburgh in January is incredible and totally unexpected in a month that is generally regarded as poor for this species in Suffolk. In addition to the above, the main passage periods off Covehithe were during May, when 132 were seen heading north and 10 south (peaks of 70 north between 2nd and 4th, and 34 north on 11th), and August when 50 were seen heading north, seven went south and three lingered around the cliffs. After the recent demise of the Bawdsey breeding colony, the sight of two or three birds prospecting cliffs at Hopton on Sea was most welcome. Other interesting records involved an all-grey bird (not blue phase) off Ness Point, Lowestoft on August 30th and a corpse (not fresh) found at Trinity Hall Farm, Moulton on July 24th. The latter is the first West Suffolk record since 1994 and the third during the last decade. CORY'S SHEARWATER Calonectris diomedea Very rare passage migrant. After a blank year, two (or three) records during 1998 is a good showing by Suffolk standards. Southwold: north offshore, Jul. 12th (C R Naunton); north offshore at 1030hrs Aug.28th (JH Grant).

In addition, a large shearwater, thought to be this species, was seen flying north past Lowestoft on August 28th at 1100. Was this the same bird that had flown past Southwold just half an hour earlier? SOOTY SHEARWATER Puffuius griseus Uncommon passage migrant. A total of 33 birds was recorded during the year, all flying north. Most were on fairly typical dates. There were, however, two early sightings during July and few September sightings; the latter, presumably due to unfavourable weather conditions (for seawatching!) at the time. All records are listed: Lowestoft: Ness Point, Sep.22nd. Covehithe: Aug. 28th; Oct.2nd and Oct.5th. Southwold: two, Aug.29th; four, Aug.31st; one, Sep.30th and four, Oct.6th.

Minsmere: Aug. 16th Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, singles Jul.l2th and 14th; two, Aug.l4th, 16th and 18th; singles Sep.4th, 5th and 27th; Oct.lst, 2nd, and 11th and two, Oct. 18th.

Aldeburgh: Aug.31st. MANX SHEARWATER Puffinus puffinus Uncommon passage migrant. Amber list. With a total of 27 birds recorded from just three sites, 1998 was rather a poor year tor this species. There was just one spring record and a very light autumn passage, most birds being recorded during the mid-summer months. Benacre: Aug.28th. Southwold: north, Aug.3rd; north, Aug.28th; three, north, Sep.30th.

33


Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, north, May 3rd; 11 south, Jun.lOth; two south, Jun.l2th; three south, Jun.23rd; two south, Jul.5th; south, Jul.12th; south, Jul.17th; south, Jul.21st; south, Aug.21st and north, Sept.30th.

MEDITERRANEAN SHEARWATER Puffinus Accidental.

yelkouan

Southwold: two north offshore between 1553 and 1555, Aug.8th (B J Small). Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, three flying south offshore at 1740, Jul.23rd (D Thurlow).

The above sightings constitute the first (long overdue) records for the County. All are assumed to relate to the western Mediterranean race mauretanicus which breeds around the Balearic Islands and is considered a distinct species by some authorities Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus. EUROPEAN STORM-PETREL Hydrobates Rare passage migrant. Amber list.

pelagicus

Felixstowe: Landguard, one seen lingering offshore for approximately one hour, Oct.25th (M C Marsh et al).

An excellent record of this highly sought-after species, and following on nicely from the three sightings last year. Storm-Petrel Sp. A petrel seen flying north offshore past Sizewell at 0730 on November 4th was thought to have been a Leach's Petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa but insufficient detail was seen to confirm what would have been the only record of that species in 1998. NORTHERN GANNET Morns bassanus Common passage migrant. Amber list. The total numbers of Gannets reported during 1998, plus direction of movement (if noted), are tabulated below. North South Other Total

Jan 131 0 33 164

Feb 41 0 0 41

Mar 44 2 2 48

Apr 74 7 0 81

May 188 44 7 239

Jun 37 55 0 92

Jul 793 59 3 855

Aug 2399 395 150 2944

Sep 445 480 45 970

Oct 367 316 24 707

Nov 66 8 0 74

Dec Total 0 4585 0 1366 264 0 0 6215

Overall, numbers reported were well up on those in 1997. The usual late summer/ early autumn peak stands out, although spring numbers appear rather depressed, perhaps due either to observer effort or prevailing weather conditions. The following notable three-figure daily movements were recorded during 1998; Covehithe: 103 adults north, Jan.25th (P J Dare); 124 north, Jul.7th; 210 north, Aug.25th; 175 north, Aug.27th and 190 north, Aug.28th. Southwold: 190 north, Aug.31st and 131 south, Sep.5th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, 130 (101 north, 29 south), Aug.23rd; 117 (95 north, 22 south), Aug.25th; 102 (79 north, 23 south), Aug.27th; 134 (131 north, three south), Aug.28th; 133 (117 north, 16 south), Aug.29th; 111 (93 north, 18 south), Aug.30th; 102 (95 north, seven south), Aug.31st; 249 (62 north, 25 south and 162 in loose feeding flocks, most of which appeared to be moving slowly south), Sep.5th and 102 (100 north, two south), Oct.lst. Aldeburgh: 130 north, Jul.l2th.

A very large passage of seabirds obviously occurred off the Suffolk coast on January 25th and, as with the record count of Northern Fulmars off Aldeburgh, the total of Northern Gannets off Covehithe appears to be without precedent - no total monthlv count for January has reached three-figures during the previous decade. 34


GREAT C O R M O R A N I Phalacrocorax carbo Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Less common in summer. Other notable totals, apart from those tabulateci, included 57 (that were visible) on the A intake at Sizewell on September 17th, c.80 going to roost at Fritton Decoy on March 22nd and 46 in a roost at Outney Common, Bungay, on November 2Ist. The most exciting report of the year was the discovery of a pair of nesting birds at a confidential site in the south-east of the County. Two young were hatched but only one fledged. This is the first report of breeding in Suffolk since those reported by Payn (1978) from before the Second World War. Monthly figures for the well-watched sites: Feb Mar Apr Jan n/c North Warren 13 4 5 101 n/c Alde/Ore Estuary 120 63 14 21 Havergate Island nie 29 Deben Estuary 24 31 28 33 Stour Estuary 44 8 46 36 50 Loompit Lake 100 50 53 Trimley Marshes 4 6 11 2 Alton Water n/c 1 18 3 Lackford WR 41 25 15 27

May 4 n/c 16 n/c n/c 60 14 n/c n/c

Aug 11 n/c 46 n/c 32 84 28 9 49

Sep 10 72 40 69 40 n/c 12 n/c 77

Oct 15 91 n/c 51 87 100 11 73 51

Nov 10 47 20 60 32 160 5 90 57

Dec 10 104 n/c 52 21 n/c 3 14 59

Birds bearing orange rings (probably originating from Abberton Reservoir, Essex) were observed at Loompit Lake and Alton Water, together with one Dutch-ringed bird. See the Ringing Report for further details. Only small numbers were recorded moving past Landguard throughout the year with 16 seen flying in off the sea on August 5th being the most noteworthy sighting. EUROPEAN SHAG Phalacrocorax aristotelis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. As with the end of the previous year, reports during the early part of 1998 were very few with just a single seen in the Bath Street area of Ipswich Docks on January 1st and at Fox's Marina on 2nd. This was, no doubt, the same bird that had been present in this area at the end of 1997. One was at Lake Lothing on February 9th. Spring passage was also very light with three seen heading north off Thorpeness on May 4th and one seen at Orfordness on the same date being the only reports. These very poor showings did little to prepare observers for the excellent return during the autumn and second-winter periods, with perhaps as many as 37 birds involved, details of which are given below. Lowestoft: Ness Point, imm., Oct.lOth. Lake Lothing, Nov.l8th and Dec.l2th. Harbour, Oct.lรณth (probably the same bird found dead during 'mid-October'); Nov.5th; three, Nov. 11th and five (four first -winters and an adult) regularly seen roosting on the Kittiwake Wall from 'late November' until Dec.31st. Kessingland: Nov.7th (probably same as FIELDNOTE Benacre below). European Shags are renowned for their erratic Benacre: Benacre Sluice, first-winter. behaviour. Several birds were on good form in 1998. Nov.7th. The bird at Benacre was found in the concrete Channel

Covehithe: Oct.lOth. Southwold: seven, Nov.8th. Walberswick: immature by Dunwich Sluice, Oct. 12th. Minsmere: immature, Nov.5th; two, Nov.7th; nine, Nov.8th and an immature, Nov.9th to 11th.

of Benacre sluice, attempting to dive in a few inches of water. It was very approachable and was eventuatly herded out to sea (per Robert Holmes). The Sizewell bird was a second-winter female found trapped in the wire of a free Compound by the beach car park. It was freed and released onto the sea where it remalned by the outfall Per Alan Miller and Carl Powell.

Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Sizewell, second-winter female, Nov.9th. Aldeburgh: Slaughden, Oct. 13th.

35


Felixstowe: Landguard, two south, Oct.25th; south, Nov.7th; north, Nov.9th and south, Nov.30th. Ipswich: Docks area, Oct.21st to 30th; Dec.4th and Dec.27th. Alton Water: Nov. 8th. Lackford W.R.: Nov.7th; two first-winters, Nov.lรณth; Nov.21st and Dec.1st.

GREAT BITTERN Botaurus stellaris Scarce and decreasing resident, passage migrant andF winter visitor. Red list. IELDNOTE During January up to five were present at Great Bitterns are a notoriously polygaMinsmere RSPB reserve, including a male and two mous species with a male having up to five mates. The Minsmere birds were no juveniles which had been radio-tagged there exception. Although there were two other previously. During February there was only a males present it is likely that the two mated with the five females that maximum of two birds. Elsewhere during the first 'boomers' nested, one of which was double winter period only reported from North Warren, brooded. Fourteen young fledged from the six nests, an improvement on the nine January 13th and Flatford Mill, February 4th. in 1997. Per RSPB There were, as last year, two booming males at Minsmere and two booming males were also recorded at Walberswick NNR. One was also heard at Benacre, March 30th. One seen near Beccles on May 5th was an encouraging sign for the future. Records for the second winter period came from Trimley Marshes, October 3rd, 7th and 14th; North Warren, October 11th and 15th; Castle Marsh, Barnby, November 8th; Potters Bridge, Reydon, November 23rd and Assington, December 1st. LITTLE EGRET Egretta garzetta Uncommon visitor. One was present all year on the beach pools between Walberswick and Dunwich; it was presumably the bird first seen there March 28th 1997. The first new arrival of the year was reported from Minsmere, April 28th. Last year the earliest record for the County was March 20th. Benacre: Benacre Broad, one south. May 1st and 6th; two north, May 31 st; singles Jun. 11th and 15 th. Southwold: Jul. 19th; five Nov. 1st; singles Nov. 13th and 22nd. Walberswick: Tinker's Marshes, May 9th. Minsmere: one on and off from Apr.28th to Aug. 1st, with two on May 8th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, two, Jun.3rd and 4th; singles, Jul.27th; Aug.17th; Sep.5th to 11th with four on 5th; Sep.30th. Friston: Hazelwood Marshes, Sep. 6th and 27th. Orford: Orfordness, six, Aug.lรณth. Havergate Island, Jun.12th; Aug.8th and Sep.รณth. Felixstowe: one north along the promenade, May 15th was a very welcome pub tick. THmley St Martin: Loompit Lake, one to three between Jul.25th and Nov.รณth. Levington: Oct. 14th. Shotley: Hare's Creek, Aug.28th. Erwarton: Sep. 14th. Brantham: Sep.รณth.

There were more reports from the late second winter period than last year, but how many individuals were involved is almost impossible to tell. Reydon: Wolsey Bridge, two, Nov. 1st. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Dec.27th; Slaughden, Dec 13th. Sudbourne: Dec.29th. Falkenham: Falkenham Creek, Dec. 12th. Levington: Dec.2nd. Chelmondiston: Nov.22nd.

Inland a single bird was present at Lakenheath Fen, May 23rd and 24th and presumably the same bird was seen at County Hole, Bamham, June 4th. 36


GREY HERON Ardea cinerea Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. The largest single count was of 41 on the Deben Estuary on March 15th, the same total and place as last year. There were 23 there on April 26th, and in the autumn there were 33 on September 6th and October 11th. The only other double-figure counts this year came from Breckland, with 15 at Lackford WR, March 20th; 20, Stallode Wash, Lakenheath, July 12th and up to 11 at Bury St.Edmunds sugar beet factory in September. Coastal migrants were noted at Lowestoft, two on October 4th; Pakefield, September 13th; Kessingland, March 9th and 19th, July 17th and October 1st; Covehithe, two, May 4th, and Aldringham Common, November 1st. Landguard noted northbound birds on May 28th; two, August 15th and one Number of occupied nests at Heronries: 1996 1998 1997 September 28th. Southbound birds were Site Flixton (nr Lowestoft) 3 seen on June 21st; two, July 6th; singles, Henham 15 18-21 16 July 15th, 16th and 25th; two, August 9th Blackheath, Friston 10-12 11-13 and 10th, singles, September 21st; October Methersgate, Sutton 36-42 3 5-7 5 2nd, 4th, 19th, 20th and 30th and Novem- Ramsholt 14 12-14 ber 1st. In addition, one came in off the sea Stutton _ 8-9 Stanstead there on April 5th. Nearby at Fagbury four Thurlow 4 7 migrants roosted overnight in the cliff top West Stow 17 14 Oaks Quercus sp. on September 27th. 1 Barsham Herons are well known for eating just about anything that moves, but the only dietary item noted this year was a young Redshank at Lackford WR. PURPLE HERON Ardea purpurea Scarce passage migrant. An immature was present in the reedbeds at Minsmere RSPB reserve from June 17th to 20th. (G Elliot, P Etheridge, K Garrod). BLACK STORK Ciconia nigra Very rare migrant. A very popular first-summer bird arrived at Benacre Broad on August 12th moving to Covehithe Broad in the afternoon (B J Small, D Fairhurst, P Read et al). It stayed in the Blyth Estuary area until September 12th when it was watched at the beach pools at Dunwich and later seen flying out to sea there. During its month-long stay it favoured the fields and marshes around the Blyth, but was also seen at Minsmere and Benacre several times. This individual had first been noted in the UK at the Ythan Estuary near Aberdeen on July 3rd, staying there until 19th. It was seen in Northumberland on August 8th and near Castle Rising, Norfolk on 9th. WHITE STORK Ciconia ciconia Rare visitor. In Breckland one first seen circling over and attempting to land at Great Livermere on April 19th was driven off by mobbing Black-headed Gulls. It eventually settled at the BTO Nunnery Lake NR in Thetford and roosted overnight there, departing at 0930 on 20th. It was seen next day at Lakenheath Fen. Presumably the same bird was next seen over Hollesley April 24th, and then in flight over Ipswich on 28th; and subsequently as follows, in date sequence: rarnham: May 7th, feeding with cattle, noted to be unringed. Ulaxhall: May 8th. Ipswich: May 8th and 30th. 37


Minsmere: May 9th and 12th. North Warren: May 9th. Aldringham Walks: May 12th.

Lakenheath Fen: Jun.3rd; Jul.lOth and 27th; Aug.3rd and 1 Ith and Sep. Ist. RAF Lakenheath: Jul.4th. Blyth Estuary: Jul.5th.

West Stow CP: Sep.8th before moving to Fornham Ail Saints. Fornham Ail Saints: Sep.8th to lOth, roosting at Hengrave Hall. There was no actual overlap in dates between the records in the coastal strip and those in Breckland, and it is possible that a second individuai may have been involved. EURASIAN SPOONBILL Platalea leucorodia Uncommon passage migrant. Now increasingly oversummers; has overwintered. A fairly quiet year for this species, with no long-stayers nor large flocks as have occurred in the last two years. Blyth Estuary: Aug.29th.

White Stork

Walberswick: Tinker's Marshes, May 9th to Jun.9th. Minsmere: Mar.22nd; two, Apr.22nd; one, Apr.26th and May Ist to 30th; two, Jul.lst; five south, Aug.óth and one Nov.3rd. Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Sizewell, Apr.l4th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: two north offshore, May 2nd. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Mar.22nd and 28th; Apr.l4th and 25th; Jul.óth and 7th; two Jul.21st and one, Aug.lóth. Orford: Havergate Island, May lOth; two Jul.26th; singles Aug.Ist and 3Ist, and Sep.óth. Levington: two, Aug.23rd, also seen at Trimley Marshes Reserve. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, Sep.2nd. MUTE SWAN Cygnusolor Common resident. The 35 breeding pairs reported this year compares with 28 last year. This increase was exemplified at Minsmere where 10 pairs in 1998 compares with seven or eight in 1997. Whether this increase is typical must await another survey. The largest count came from the Deben Estuary on March 15th where there were 129. Other high counts came from: Boyton: Boyton Marshes, 45, Jan.26th. Falkenham: Falkenham Marshes, 80, Nov.21st; King's Fleet, 95, Dec.óth. Brantham: 118, Nov.29th. Lakenheath: Lakenheath Washes, monthly maxima: Jan., 73; Feb., 67; Mar., 59; Apr., 40; May, 41; Nov., 75; Dec., 93. 'Polish' morph juveniles were noted at Walberswick and Boyton. Southbound coastal movements were noted at Landguard as follows: two, February 17th; two, April 8th and three, June 1 Ith. In addition a female accompanied by six juveniles drifted past on the sea on October 9th. TUNDRA (BEWICK'S) SWAN Cygnus columbianus Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Up to 52 frequented Lakenheath Fen during January, while in the coastal belt most were again recorded between Minsmere and the Aide Estuary, although in lower numbers than last year at this time. The highest total was 37 at North Warren, March 9th; ìbis compares with 70 last year. At least two individuals hearing blue neck collars were present; the majority of such birds originate from the Pechora Delta, Russia. The 38


only report from the north of the County during the first winter period was of 18 at Beccles on February 12th. The last report of the spring was of a single bird on the Stour Estuary, March 15th. A flock of 13 flying west over Ipswich on October 13th was the first of the autumn, followed two days later by two south past Kessingland; two at Sudbourne, possibly the same birds, and a flock of 30 on Fritton Marshes. Also on that date two were at Lakenheath Washes where numbers peaked at 30 on November 4th. Further arrivals were noted at Lowestoft and Minsmere on November 4th when totals of five and 51 respectively came in off the sea; and at Kessingland when 14 flew in on November 23rd. The 30 birds at Fritton remained into 1999, and proved to be the largest herd reported during the second winter period, the next largest being 22 on gravel pits at Flixton, near Bungay, November 22nd. Two of these birds had yellow plastic collars; the majority of these birds are marked on the wintering grounds in the Netherlands. There were 18 at Shipmeadow, December 29th, interestingly the same number that had been at nearby Beccles during February. In the south of the County 16 at Alton Water, November 17th and 17 at Boyton, December 21st were the highest counts received. In the west, apart from the count at Lakenheath in November, there were three flocks of 'wild swans', probably of this species, recorded in November and December with a maximum count of 40. WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The flock of 60 present on Havergate Island at the end of 1997 dropped to 41 by January 25th; 24 on 29th; seven on 31st and the last report was of 11 on February 15th. The only other reports in the first-winter period were of six at Lakenheath Fen January 9th to 18th. Recorded during the second-winter period as follows: Fritton: Fritton Marshes, seven, Dec. 15th into 1999. Dunwich: Dunwich Heath, 34 north, Dec. 19th. Minsmere: four, Nov.24th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, 21 north. Oct. 25th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, one, Nov. 15th. Boxford: 19, Nov. 1st. Lakenheath: six, with Tundra Swans, Nov.7th; one, Nov. 15th. BEAN GOOSE Anserfabalis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Although not all reports were attributed to race/species, the great majority were. Where this was done all were identified as being Tundra Bean Geese A. / . rossicus (or A. serrirostris depending on your view of avian taxonomy). Reported during the first-winter period as follows: Minsmere: 12, Feb. 3rd and 14 the next day were the same birds recorded at Aldeburgh. Aldeburgh: North Warren, after 16, Jan.lรณth, between 12 and 16 were present until Feb.l6th. relixstowe: Landguard, 16 flying west Jan.22nd. As last year, no more were reported until December: Boyton: Boyton Marshes, 15, Dec. 12th. Bawdsey: East Lane, nine, Dec.6th. Lhelmondiston: three, Dec.9th. PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. 1 his species remains remarkably scarce considering the increasing numbers wintering in Norfolk, especially as there are now several thousand regularly present on the Halvergate Marshes just north of Breydon Water. 39


All r e c o r d s are listed below: Lowestoft: Oulton Broad, the first winter from Dec.l4th 1997 remained until Feb.21st. Somerleyton: one, with Greylag Geese, Mar.22nd. Possibly the Oulton Broad individual. Southwold: Town Marshes, eight, Jan.21st and seven on 23rd. Aldeburgh: one, Jan. 11th; 13 flew south-west over North Warren Jan. 17th; two, Feb. 16th. Bawdsey: East Lane, 11, Jan.10th; nine, Jan.26th. Same flock also at Shingle Street, Jan.10th. Boxford: one, with Canada Geese, Mar.25th and 27th. Little Fakenham: one, with Canada Geese, Jan.21st. Thetford: Nunnery Lakes, one, Jan. 1st. Livermere Lake: one, Mar.21st and 31st; Apr. 16th. E v e n f e w e r w e r e reported in the s e c o n d winter period: Reydon: 37 north, Dec.21st. Minsmere: one from Nov.lst to 13th. Bawdsey: East Lane, one, Dec.6th. Boyton: Boyton Marshes, 19, 0ct.30th. Chelmondiston: one, Dec.29th. Thetford: Nunnery Lakes, one, Nov.30th and Dec. 15th. Livermere Lake: one, Oct.25th. Lackford WR: one, Nov.21st. G R E A T E R W H I T E - F R O N T E D G O O S E Anser albifrons Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Present at M i n s m e r e in variable n u m b e r s f r o m the b e g i n n i n g of the year until M a r c h 24th. At the start of January there were about 150 present, increasing to a p e a k c o u n t of 3 6 7 on 31st; the F e b r u a r y m a x i m u m w a s 4 3 0 on 17th a n d the M a r c h high w a s 2 8 0 on 7th; this had d r o p p e d to 12 on their last day. North Warren held 240 on January 8th and 17th, increasing to 4 0 0 on February 10th, with 280 on 17th. On the latter date there were 430 at nearby Minsmere, and although there is frequent interchange between the two sites there probably were over 700 birds present in the area at that time. The last birds noted at North Warren were 45 on March 9th. A w a y f r o m these areas during this p e r i o d reports c a m e f r o m the f o l l o w i n g sites, o b v i o u s l y with s o m e duplication especially of m i g r a t i n g f l o c k s s e e n at d i f f e r e n t sites on the s a m e dates: Kessingland: 35, Feb.8th; 30, Mar. 1st. Benacre: 15, Jan.llth; 19, Jan.l9th; 50 south, Jan.l7th and 24th; 30 south, Feb.8th. Covehithe: 23 south Jan.llth; 68 south, Jan.l7th. Southwold: 18, Jan.2nd; 92, Jan.l6th; 45, Jan.21st; 44, Jan.25th; 58, Mar.l3th. Dun wich: 25 south, Jan.llth. Sudbourne: 60, Feb.22nd Boyton: six, Jan.1st; three, Jan.25th. Hollesley: 15, Jan.25th. Bawdsey: East Lane, 14, Jan. 10th. Livermere Lake: eight, Jan. 10th. Santon Downham: four south, Apr.3rd. T w o rather early returning birds w e r e noted at M i n s m e r e on S e p t e m b e r 26th; the next birds t h e r e w e r e 3 0 on N o v e m b e r 18th, and a f t e r this 120 on D e c e m b e r 16th. T h e first noted b a c k at N o r t h Warren w e r e 19 on N o v e m b e r 30th, w h e r e n u m b e r s rose steadily to 190 by D e c e m b e r 31st. T h e o n l y others reported d u r i n g the s e c o n d - w i n t e r period w e r e n o t e d at: Southwold: 16, Dec.5th; four, Dec. 19th; 20, Dec.20th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Aldringham Walks, 13, Nov.20th. Bawdsey: East Lane, one south, Dec. 12th. Wherstead: Wherstead Strand, one, Dec.4th. 40


GREYLAG GOOSE Anser anser Common resident from feral stock. Amber list. Counts from the most important sites: Jan Feb Mar Benacre n/c n/c n/c North Warren 90 2 3 500 54 202 Orwell Estuary Trimley Reserve 110 200 200 166 Alton Water 481 330 Livermere Lake 400 295 128 Lackford WR 400 6 38

Jul n/c 24 n/c 35 n/c 110 98

Aug 450 50 n/c 150 542 432 220

Sep 295 120 n/c 250 n/c 500 320

Oct 150 160 278 600 304 620 4

Nov 281 283 63 450 670 280 500

Dec n/c 156 563 500 13 47 314

This species continues its rapid increase throughout the County, especially so at Livermere Lake where it may be displacing the Canada Geese. The 70 or so breeding pairs reported clearly underestimates the real breeding population. In addition, 222 were at Micklemere, Ixworth, in August. CANADA GOOSE Branta Very common resident.

canadensis

Counts from main sites: Benacre North Warren Aide/Ore Estuary Boyton Marshes Havergate Island Deben Estuary Orwell Estuary Trimley Reserve Alton Water Stour Estuary Livermere Lake Lackford WR

Jan n/c 126 183 140 119 136 252 135 300 308 n/c 670

Feb n/c 31 371 220 188 63 51 200 n/c 593 140 206

Mar n/c 14 328 170 118 126 102 60 6 235 n/c 137

Jul 150 50 n/c n/c 80 n/c n/c 100 n/c n/c n/c 363

Aug n/c 80 n/c n/c n/c n/c n/c 300 12 301 n/c 179

Sep 200 210 140 n/c 179 189 n/c 300 n/c 153 400 360

Oct 2 135 295 100 n/c 300 154 200 14 261 220 420

Nov 3 230 205 n/c 300 31 21 200 30 226 7 371

Dec 1 250 140 25 n/c 57 373 250 380 459 6 685

Compared with last year the counts of Canada Geese declined noticeably at Trimley Lake and Livermere Lake, while the Greylag population increased at both these sites. The increase at Lackford WR, where Greylag numbers also increased, may have been due to displacement of birds from nearby Livermere. Breeding success at Minsmere mirrored 1997 with 18 pairs raising six broods. A reported population of 70 breeding pairs this year matches that for the Greylag Goose. It will be interesting to compare the fortunes of these two species over the coming years. Away from the principal sites, large flocks were recorded at Outney Common, Bungay, 130, November 21st and 250, December 5th; Southwold, 250, October 29th and at Barton Mere, 157, August 25th. A Lesser Canada Goose was with Barnacle Geese at Benacre on November 17th. A small, dark bird it was not identified to race but was presumed to be an escapee. Canada Goose x Greylag Goose One, again paired with a Greylag Goose, was present throughout the year at Oulton Broad. In addition two were noted at Lackford WR in December. BARNACLE GOOSE Branta leucopsis Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Increasingly common feral resident. Amber list. During the early part of the year 94 were at Heveningham Hall, January 1st; 80 at Kenacre, January 28th and 92 at Ashby, February 8th. Elsewhere in the County more 41


modest numbers were present with 20 at Minsmere, during January and February; 18 at North Warren on February 17th; four at Boyton Marshes, January Ist and singles on the Deben Estuary, January lOth to 18th, and Stour Estuary, February 15th. One of the birds at Heveningham bore an orange ring on the right leg; interestingly this is one of the colours used on the Solway Firth to mark wintering birds from Svalbard (Spitzbergen). [A Svalbard-ringed bird was seen at Lound Waterworks in 1993.] Two pairs bred in the grounds of the Kessingland Wildlife Park, rearing five young, and the Swedish metal-ringed male, resident at Fritton Lake CP since 1993, again bred and reared five young. Several other pairs of full-winged birds breed in the wildfowl collection there. During the summer months 15 were at Minsmere, May 15th; 16 flew south at Landguard, June 7th, with a further two on 14th FIELDNOTE 50,000 Barnacle Geese winter just south of Rotterdam, and one, Alton Water, August Ist. The just 160 kilomĂŠtrĂŠs across the North Sea. The first largest summering group, as usual, was at arrive in early September, just when numbers in Benacre/Covehithe Broads where there Suffolk increase. Per D. R. Moore. The Baltic population of Barnacle Geese continues to were 60-70 during August; by September thrive. Following the first breeding attempt in 1971, 14th this had more than doubled to 160. It numbers increased to over 4000 pairs breeding along the Baltic coast in Sweden, western Estonia and would certainly take more than three Southern Finland. In July 1998 the total popluation was breeding pairs to account for this increase! estimated at 19,000 birds. With an annual rate of Numbers there remained fairly static increase of about 40% the Baltic Barnacle Goose is throughout October and early November, the fastest growing goose population in the world. Per Henk vander Jeugd from Dirk Rees' European but had increased to 250 by December 3rd. Colour-ring Birding Website http://www.ping.be/ A flock of 190 at South Cove, December cr-birding.htm. 27th was no doubt part of this flock. A flock of 17 at Buss Creek, Reydon, October 12th accompanied by a Pale-bellied Brent Goose quite probably involved wild birds from these species' shared breeding grounds on Svalbard. In the west of the County up to three were at Livermere Lake during February and March, with seven there April Ist to 16th and three on 25th. At Nunnery Lakes, Thetford, four were present March 6th and 9th, and up to four, presumably the same birds, were present during April and May. During the second winter period there was a single bird at Lackford WR, December 25th. (DARK-BELLIED) BRENT GOOSE Branta bermela bermela Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. As last year, the Deben Estuary was the most Estuary WEBS counts were as follows: Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dee favoured site in January 6 756 9 20 n/c 1 37 33 and February, with the Aldc/Ore Deben 1414 2094 163 3 n/c 117 708 1268 Stour Estuary proving Orwell 453 528 196 605 8 n/c 136 256 more popular in March Stour 1030 1363 1128 1054 134 477 1817 n/c and April, again as last year. While numbers present on the Deben Estuary were well down compared with last year, numbers on the Stour were well up on last year. This was particularly the case in April, as the peak count in 1997 was 444. Landguard noted very low numbers of migrants in the early part of the year with just 58 on 10 dates in January; 36 on eight dates in February; 273 north and 101 south on 18 dates in March and 32 north, 24 south and two out of the estuary then north on 12 dates in April. After four north on May 5th and two south the next day no more were seen until May 19th-25th during which time 350 flew north, one flew south and 62 ieft the Orwell Estuary and then flew north. The majority of this passage occurred on 19th and 20th, with 147 and 112 respectively moving north. 42


A single bird seen at Landguard on June 2nd was presumably that present next day on Trimley Marshes. A second bird joined it on June 27th and one or both were seen intermittently up to August 2nd. One south at Landguard July 22nd could have been an additional bird. Three seen at Levington Creek on June 16th and 26th and one on the Deben Estuary at Felixstowe Ferry on June 20th may also have been part of this group. Two birds also

^^E^ . I g ^ J f e ' i â&#x20AC;˘ ? .'J ^ ^

| Jg sz ^ w

-

TJJT

No more were reported until September 6th ÂŁ when one returned to Trimley. Whether this was ^ g y . - - ' ^ . the first returning bird of the autumn or one of the birds seen earlier is not known, but passage was noted past Brent Geese Landguard daily from September 18th to the month's end. During this time 4762 flew south (3483 of them on 30th), and just six north. October passage comprised 41 north and 4588 south on 28 dates, the peak count being 2435 south on 1st. This passage was noted along the whole coast from Lowestoft to the Orwell/Stour Estuary. The main passage occurred between September 26th and October 6th, during which time 8221 were logged southbound. It was noted as being rather earlier than usual; last year the peak occurred just after mid-October. The majority of birds were thought to be adults, suggesting a poor breeding season and in such circumstances an early return to the wintering grounds by failed breeders would not be unexpected. While the totals of 79 north and 934 south past Landguard on 21 dates in November were considerably lower than last year (when 72 and 7585 respectively were counted), the peak dates this year of November 1st and 2nd compare well with the 3rd and 4th last year. Two birds were recorded in the west of the County this year, singles at Livermere Lake, April 1st and Nunnery Lakes, Thetford, November 17th and December 3rd. (Pale-bellied) Brent Goose Urania bermela hrota Up to four were present at Cowton Marshes, Sudbourne on January 2nd with two still there on 4th. Two seen on the opposite river bank at Aldeburgh, January 14th and three at Slaughden Quay, on 19th, were no doubt these same birds. Single birds at Levington, January 31st and King's Fleet, Falkenham, intermittently from January 18th to February 19th and two at Kirton Creek, February 1st may also have been from this earlier group. A single bird seems to have been responsible for all the reports in the second winter period, being seen at Benacre Broad, September 15th and 17th, and October 10th and 11th; Buss Creek, Reydon, October 12th and finally at North Warren on October 28th. Black Brant Branta bernicla nigricans The adult at Cowton Marshes, Sudbourne, present from December 26th 1997 remained with the local Dark-bellied Brent Goose flock until January 6th. The presence of up to four Pale-bellied Brent Geese in the same flock gave a very welcome opportunity to compare these three distinctive taxa. 43


RED-BREASTED GOOSE Branta Accidental. 1996 addition:

ruficollis

Bramford: Suffolk WP, Dec 25th and 26th. (J Zantboer, W Brame, L Woods).

This represents the second accepted record for Suffolk. The first was at Falkenham Marshes from December 11th 1983; it stayed into 1984 and visited sites around the Stour and Orwell with the flock of Brent Geese with which it associated. A subsequent bird at Gedgrave on November 16th 1986 subsequently disgraced itself by oversummering. EGYPTIAN GOOSE Alopochen aegyptiacus Locally fairly common resident. Very few large flocks were noted in the north-east of the County, but in contrast several double-figure counts came from Breckland: Lowestoft: Oulton Broad, 16, Jul.27th. Flixton: Gravel Pit, 11, Nov.22nd. Livermere Lake: 14, Aug.; 25, Sep.; 10, Oct.; 16, Nov. Lakenheath: Lakenheath Fen, 10, Jul.8th. Euston: Euston Lake, 10, Mar. 1st. Thetford: Nunnery Lake, 16, Jan. Breeding w a s reported f r o m the f o l l o w i n g eight sites: Lound: one pair, eight young; Village pond, one pair, one young. Blundeston: one pair, three young. Flixton: one pair, seven young. Sotterley: two pairs, seven and nine young. Redgrave: Redgrave Lake, one pair, four young. Ixworth: Micklemere, one pair, six young. West Stow: West Stow CP, one pair. Livermere Lake: at least three pairs.

At Livermere Lake, following two unsuccessful broods of four and six young in March, three broods of five, seven and eight young were seen there in May, but two of these were thought to be the result of replacement clutches for the broods lost in March. Further pairs were recorded at several other sites in the Lothingland area, but breeding, though highly likely, was not confirmed. Elsewhere, a small number were recorded along the coast south to Shottisham, and inland to Wickham Market, Staverton Lake and Hadleigh. COMMON SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Breeding was widespread in the Monthly counts from some key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct vicinity of coasts n/c n/c 18 76 n/c n/c and estuaries. Minsmere* Blyth Estuary 205 195 191 25 133 240 Among the reports Aide/Ore Estuary 1381 1935 1851 167 n/c 762 were 21 breeding Deben Estuary 510 750 875 579 29 208 pairs at North Orwell Estuary 432 630 611 461 n/c 36 842 1073 982 423 114 493 Warren and 25 Stour Estuary 134 n/c 190 186 0 3 juveniles at Lev- Livermere Lake* Lackford WR* 82 59 22 20 1 5 ington on June * monthly maxima 15th A pair nested for the second year at Landguard, where nine juveniles were seen on June breeding was proved at the following sites: 44

Nov

Dec

25 185 802 811 188 1150 35 8

n/c 120 1007 517 410 787 39 22

3rd. Inland


Livermere Lake: 44 young in seven broods; well down on 1997 when 121 young were seen. Lackford WR: an estimated 20 young fledged from ten broods. Ixworth: Micklemere. a pair with eight young on May 17th. Bury St Edmunds: two pairs nested at the sugar beet factory.

Southward autumn passage off Landguard was fairly light, with totals of 80 in September, 110 October and 198 November. The maximum day count was 122 south on November 1st. Off Thorpeness, 137 flew south on November 23rd. MANDARIN DUCK Aix galericulata Uncommon visitor. From feral stock. Fritton: Decoy, wary male, Jun.30th. Lowestoft: Leathes Ham, male, Jan.llth and 12th and Feb.8th. Oulton Broad, male Feb.4th to Mar.l2th; two, Oct.l8th; female from 18th November, probably pinioned. Two again on Dec.l5th and three females and two males on Dec.28th. Gunton Hall holiday park, male on small pond, Mar.24th. Orford: Havergate Island, male, Nov. 14th. Ipswich: Holywells Park and canal, a pair, Apr.9th to 13th; female with two juveniles, Jun.24th and a pair with four well-grown young on Nov.25th. Thornham Magna: male, Mar. 1st, an escapee. Ickworth: Ickworth Park, three, Mar. 15th.

The status of this species remains unclear, clouded by the possibility of escaping birds. It certainly seems to be coming established in the Ipswich area as a breeding species. EURASIAN W I G E O N Anas penelope Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. Amber list. High counts, other than as tabulated, were a report of "several thousand" wintering at Fritton Decoy betMonthly counts from some key sites: September Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec ween and December and Blyth Estuary n/c n/c 41 60 46 n/c n/c n/c Minsmere* 549 n/c 305 55 n/c n/c 400 at Slaughden 35 400 North Warren* 2700 2800 1890 150 200 500 1300 2350 on January 17th. Aide/Ore Estuary 6810 5721 4720 n/c 198 4022 3364 4775 Inland, 116 on Deben Estuary 768 894 522 6 8 638 1096 1173 t h e L a k e n h e a t h Orwell Estuary 1491 1310 718 1334 14 n/c 773 456 Trimley Marshes 900 750 1000 192 800 600 900 Washes in Feb100 Alton Water 631 395 451 3 0 109 95 240 ruary and 150 in Stour Estuary 1306 1125 1473 15 493 678 902 March were note24 Livermere Lake* 150 71 16 112 77 worthy. 177 4 2 Lackford WR* 83 86 54 31 60 0 2 23 There was the * monthly maxima usual scatter of summer records, including up to seven at both Minsmere and North Warren in May and June and a pair at a site in the west of the County, but no proof of breeding. Off Landguard 1056 flew south during September, 705 during October and 525 during November. The peak days of passage were September 20th to 22nd (480), September 30th (197), October 1st to 2nd (491) and November 3rd (131). GADWALL Anas streperĂ Common resident, winter visitor and passage

migrant. Amber list. â&#x20AC;&#x17E; f o u n t s of 50 or more, other than as s h o w n in the table, were f r o m : ^ovehithe: Covehithe Broad, 60 on Nov.28th and 120 on Dec.5th. wantisden: Staverton Lake, 75 on Dec.8th. 'nmley St.Martin: Loompit Lake, 80 on Oct. 14th and 100 on Dec. 13th. Kedgrave/Botes-dale: Redgrave Lake, 61 on Nov. 1st.

45


Culford: Park and Lake, up to 95 in October, 83 in November and 114 in December. Ix worth: Micklemere, 50 on Mar.l4th. Lakenheath: Fen and Washes, up to 104 during March and 67 in April.

Monthly counts from some key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr 50 Minsmere* n/c 47 41 204 184 34 North Warren* 209 Aide/Ore Estuarv 10 25 3 n/c Trimley Marshes* 8 44 31 18 Orwell Estuarv 11 20 27 22 Alton Water 75 75 43 13 Livermere Lake* 58 78 86 n/c 44 Lackford WR* 164 33 n/c * monthly maxima

Sep n/c 55 4 73 n/c n/c 55 121

Oct 100 73 0 20 87 108 16 91

Nov n/c 12 25 21 58 88 58 95

Dee n/c 17 13 15 120 49 42 166

Breeding records were fairly widespread and included 28 pairs raising nine broods at Minsmere; 17 pairs at North Warren; a brood of nine ducklings at Loompit Lake on June 16th; three broods at Livermere Lake; at least 25 fledged young from seven broods at Lackford WR and four broods at the new RSPB Lakenheath Fen Reserve. The only sign of passage off Landguard was one south on March 13th and 24 south on November 24th. COMMON TEAL Anas crecca Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. Amber list. Counts of note, other than as tabulated, included 262 at Southwold Town Marshes on November 22nd, 260 at Martlesham Creek (R.Deben) on January 3Ist and up to 170 at Lakenheath Fen during February. There was the usual scattering of spring and summer reports from both coastal and inland sites, Monthly counts from some key sites; Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dee including 12 pairs at North Warren, Benacre Broad* 310 58 n/c n/c 20 104 300 378 Minsmere* n/c n/c 118 93 500 398 n/c 270 but no proof of North Warren* 260 was 250 500 183 180 300 460 550 breeding Aide/Ore Estuary 2870 790 770 348 1134 1639 1863 obtained. n/c Deben Estuary 108 113 31 10 191 90 414 53 A total of 222 27 Orwell Estuary 500 471 77 n/c 497 279 627 south off Trimley Marshes* 400 400 400 80 164 400 1150 600 flew Alton Water 184 228 196 n/c n/c early 176 280 391 Southwold Stour Estuary 249 85 31 3 21 25 107 144 on September Ist Lackford WR* 33 45 36 26 103 14 61 102 and 146 were re* monthly maxima ported off Thorpeness the same day. Off Landguard a total of 384 flew south in September, 248 in October and 182 in November; the maximum day count was 112 on October 2nd. MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Mallard numbers at Livermere Lake/Ampton Water are heavily influenced by the shooting season. At least 3500 birds were released for shooting on Ampton Water in mid-August. Breeding season reports were widespread. The first F I E L D N O T E At Combs Lane WM there were 37 young in 10 broods. They young, a brood of 10, were suffered a high mortality rate, particuiarly in the early stages. Pike seen at Stowmarket on March Esox lucius were thought to be the main predator. Many predated eggs were also found. Carrion Crows Corvus corone and foxes Ist. Other reports included Vulpes vulpes were thought to be the main predators in that 188 young in 27 broods at instance. Livermere Lake; 51 pairs Per John Walshe. 46


Monthly counts from some key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr n/c n/c n/c n/c Benacre Broad* 33 42 n/c n/c Minsmere* 40 n/c 151 135 North Warren* n/c 208 180 387 Aide/Ore Estuary 84 70 143 111 Deben Estuary 63 277 137 361 Orwell Estuary 37 40 30 60 Trimley Marshes* 83 148 230 140 Alton Water 138 52 41 95 Stour Estuary 532 621 391 500 Livermere Lake* n/c 124 79 361 Lackford WR*

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dee

200

179

40

106

134

100

n/c

100

30

86

78

112

380

319

509

61

112

249

208

n/c

369

311

406

250

285

70

256

230

296

215

n/c

B/C

20

58

n/c

3400

1300

1

1

400

240

328

486

* monthly m a x i m a

146

raising 25 broods at Minsmere; 20 pairs at North Warren; 19 broods at Lackford WR; 24 young in eight broods in the Gipping Valley and 11 pairs at Somerleyton Marshes.

NORTHERN PINTAIL Anas acuta Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. Amber list. Other counts of note included 88 on the Hazlewood Marshes on February 19th, 60 there on March 4th Monthlv counts from some key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dee and 50 on Decem45 n/c 1 0 0 15 37 ber 16th. Inland Blvth Estuarv 32 40 14 4 n/c 0 4 n/c 12 records were much Minsmere* 219 78 155 0 132 n/c 276 scarcer, but there Aide/Ore Estuary 340 183 6 156 1 0 23 161 167 Deben Estuary was a scattering Orwell Estuary 46 56 8 n/c 2 0 3 41 70 32 20 21 17 7 of records from Trimley Marshes* 80 60 51 81 26 0 l 30 57 104 Livermere Lake, Stour Estuary Lackford WR and * monthly m a x i m a Lakenheath Fen and Washes, with five on Livermere Lake on March 7th and five at Lackford WR on September 5th being the maximum counts. Also a male at the sugar beet factory, Bury St Edmunds, in February and two pairs at Botany Bay on March 14th. The very few late spring records on the coast gave no indication of breeding. The only sizeable autumn passage was 40 south off Landguard on September 30th and 117 south there on October Ist. GARGANEY Anas querquedula Uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. A male and two females at Minsmere on March 30th constituted the first report of the year. Breeding was proven this year as a iemale was seen with three almost fullgrown young at a site in the west of the County on July 6th. North Cove: Castle Marsh, male, May 17th. Southwold: Town Marshes, Aug.l5th and 16th. Blyth Estuary: male on Apr. 18th. Dunwich: iemale on Jun.25th. Minsmere: a sériés of records through the spring with a peak of four females and three males on May 19th and one male up to May 25th. Five birds reappeared on Jul.l2th and there were regulär records from then until the final two on Sep.l3th. Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Sizewell, five during the last week of Jul. and the first week in Aug., probably the same as the Minsmere birds. Boyton: Boyton Marshes, two males on May 1 st. Ramsholt: male on May 25th. Trimley Marshes: male on May 2nd, 12th, 13th, 19th and 30th, with two birds on lOth and a pair on 31st. A male again on Jun.óth. Three on Jul.9th and a single between 21st and 28th. Three on Aug.9th and a iemale and an immature on 5th and 26th, the latter possibly Suffolk bred. A final three on Sep. 13th. Weybread: Gravel Pits, male on May lOth and 13th.

47


Livermere Lake: a iemale on Apr.2nd and a maie on May 16th. Lackford W.R.: a maie on May 20th. Lakenheath: Fen and Washes, intermittent records of a maie from Apr.5th; two maies during May and Jun. and a iemale in Jun. Two on Jul.27th.

[BLUE-WINGED TEAL Anas discors] Accidentai. Following the receipt of further information it was established that the bird at Pipp's Ford, Barking, (found September 23rd 1997 and present until February 19th 1998) had, in fact, escaped from a nearby collection. The County total remains, therefore, at three records. NORTHERN SHOVELER Anas clypeata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon resident. Amber list. The only other Monthly counts from some key sites: counts above 20 Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov were 50 at Slaugh50 n/c Minsmere* n/c 60 n/c n/c 23 n/c North Warren* 124 148 138 12 20 29 16 42 den on January 90 Alde/Ore Estuary 119 60 107 55 69 17th; 40 at Loomn/c 10 Orwell Estuary 34 14 n/c 25 34 60 pit 26 0 Lake on Trimley Marshes* 44 40 30 21 26 January 2nd with 50 61 30 Livermere Lake* n/c n/c n/c n/c 22 n/c n/c 20 50 there February Lackford WR* 7 4 67 20 13 48 168 56 4th and 43 on * monthly maxima October 14th; 160 at the Bury St Edmunds sugar beet factory during September and 36 at the Lakenheath Fen and Washes on March 15th, with 37 there on April 5th. Proof of breeding was reported from Alton Water with six juveniles on June 30th. a brood on the Lakenheath Washes on July 19th and 13 pairs, raising ftve broods, at Minsmere. Autumn passage off Landguard was minuscule and consisted of eight south during September and three south on November 8th. RED-CRESTED POCHARD Netta rufina Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Minsmere: two females and a male on the Island Mere on Nov.2nd. Alton Water: one intermittently from Jan.Ist to Apr.26th. Two on Aug.9th and Oct.l Ith, then three on November 4th, 5th and 15th and Dec.รณth. A male with leucistic features was noted on Feb.28th, Mar.l8th and Nov.5th. Trimley St.Martin: Loompit Lake, two on Jul.lst and Oct.2nd. Lackford W R : female present from at least Jan.l5th to Dec.5th.

The above records may refer to several long-staying birds. As with Mandarin, the true status of this species is unclear due to the possible occurrence of escapees. COMMON POCH ARD Aythya ferina Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. Amber list. With mild weather throughout both winter periods, there were no obvious influxes of hard-weather- Monthly counts from some key sites: driven birds from Jan Feb Mar Apr Dec Oct Nov Sep the Continent. Minsmere* 120 20 n/c n/c 27 n/c n/c n/c The only other Alde/Ore Estuary 0 7 0 0 0 n/c 0 10 101 101 0 238 8 n/c 66 8 counts of note Orwell Estuary Marshes* 100 40 30 2 65 8 18 70 were 109 at Suf- THmley Alton Water 174 9 2 142 0 0 6 33 folk WP, Bramford Lackford WR* 72 124 75 50 11 64 108 110 on December 6th, * monthly maxima 48


increasing to 122 by 13th; 100 at Loompit Lake on January 27th with 80 there on Deeember 13th and 180 at Heveningham Hall on November 2Ist. A total of nine broods was seen at three sites in the west of the County and there were three broods at Loompit Lake. Overall success was probably low as from five broods at one site a minimum of only four young was known to have fledged. At Minsmere four pairs raised four broods. November produced some visible movement off Landguard - six on 3rd, 30 on 9th and 55 on 24th - all flying south. FERRUGINOUS DUCK Aythya nyroca Rare winter visitor and passage migrant. Minsmere: first winter male, Island Mere from Jan.l8th to 22nd. (D Fairhurst, B J Small).

This is the first in Suffolk since one at East Bergholt on July 3rd 1991. TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. There were no hard-weather movements and the counts of 50 or more, other than as tabulated, came from: Sudbourne: 100, Dec.l2th. Trimley St. Martin: Loompit Lake, 104, Apr.28th. Barsham: Barsham Marshes, 50, Apr.l4th. Stoke-by-Nayland: Thorington Street, pit and reservoir, 70, Jan.22nd. Livermere Lake: 86, Mar.31st; 73, Apr.l4th.

A total of 40 broods was reported from 14 sites but this is undoubtedly not the full picture. Sep Oct Nov Dec At Lackford WR 24 28 98 60 11 broods were 14 21 61 seen but fiedging 36 65 137 was n/c 71 adversely 44 50 50 50 n/c 539 456 922 affected by the summer n/c 130 32 85 poor 184 weather. 152 332 276 Twelve * monthly m a x i m a pairs at Minsmere only managed four broods, possibly for the same reason. Also at Lackford, an aberrant drake with a complete white neck ring was seen on 7th November. Offshore passage at Landguard was only noted in early November, when five flew south on 3rd and 10 on 9th. Monthly counts from some key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr Alde/Ore Estuary 55 46 85 n/c Deben Estuary 56 53 59 74 Orwell Estuary 154 153 10 95 Trimley Marshes* 100 280 50 67 Alton Water 64 783 377 365 Suffolk WP* 48 58 80 23 Lackford WR* 169 153 131 n/c

GREATER SCAUP Aythya marita Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. With no hard-weather movements, numbers were low in both winter periods. Records in the first period came from: Southwold: Boating Lake, female, Jan. 1 Ith; male, Apr.l9th. Irimley St. Martin: Loompit Lake, female, May 14th and 17th. Orwell Estuary: two in the Wherstead/Freston area on Jan. Ist and 3rd. snotley: nine, Feb.7th. Alton Water: up to six during January; one, Feb.7th.

Records for the second half of the year were received as follows: Kessingland: female or immature, Nov.lรณth. Lovehithe: five north offshore, Oct.9th. taston Bavents: Easton Broad, maie on the atypical date of Jul.l8th; two females and a maie, Sep.26th. Orford: Havergate Island, two, Nov.l4th.

49


Bawdsey: East Lane, three, Nov.28th. Alton Water: male, Nov. 17th; three. Dec. 18th. Felixstowe: Landguard, three south, Oct.6th; seven south, Nov.21st.

COMMON EIDER Somateria mollissima Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Has bred. Amber list. As is usual with this species the majority of the records came from the northern hall of the coast, between Lowestoft and Aldeburgh. There was a good scatter of records for most months from this section, with concentrations around Lowestoft, Kessingland, Covehithe and Minsmere, which is probably related to where access is easiest to the coast for most birdwatchers. However, numbers overall were quite low and the only counts of 10 or more came from: Lowestoft: 10 offshore, Aug.23rd, Sep.27th and Nov.6th. Benacre: 15 south offshore, Oct.5th. Covehithe: 15 north, Nov.l7th; 30 north, Dec.lst; 28 north, Dec.2nd; 10 north, Dec.3rd. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: 15 south, Nov.29th; 16 north, Dec.2nd; 12 north, Dec.4th.

There was a sprinkling of records during May and June between Lowestoft and Minsmere, the maximum involving six (two males) off Benacre on May 10th, but no sign of a breeding attempt this year. S o u t h of A l d e b u r g h the only birds reported w e r e f r o m : Felixstowe: Landguard, occasional records of one to three during January to April, with seven offshore, Apr.28th. Again, irregular records of up to five from Sep.4th to the year's end, with 10, Sep.27th; eight, Sep.30th and 15 north, Oct.26th. Orwell Estuary: up to three in January between 1st and 8th. One on Dec. 10th. Shotley: one, Jan. 1st. Stour Estuary: one, Jan. 13th, Feb.24th and Nov.8th.

LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. With mild winter weather throughout the only reports were Nos. of Long-tailed Duck reported, 1989-98 from: 60 Benacre: Broad and pits, female gg between Oct.31st and Nov.20th, and again, Dec.7th. Covehithe: an immature, Oct.31st. 30 Aldeburgh: Slaughden, female, 20 Dec. 26 th. io With the possibility that both the 0 earlier reports may refer to the 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 same individual, this represents a further continuation in the dramatic decline in records of this attractive (and therefore likely-to-be-reported) species. Whether this is entirely due to milder winters is unclear. BLACK (COMMON) SCOTER Melanitta nigra Common non-breeding resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Widely reported offshore, but the majority of the records came from the northern half of the County, between Lowestoft and Aldeburgh. Accumulated monthly totals of birds flying past the two most regularly-watched localities are shown in the table. There may be some duplication of individual birds. Other notable passage reported was off Thorpeness: 370 south on August 10th, 97 north and 56 south on October 31st, 130 south and 38 north on November 1st and 165 50


south on December 6th. Also, 400 61 south in an hour and a half off Southwold early on 3 0 0 September 1st. Covehithe The largest flock seen off- 200 shore on the sea was 150 off Landguard Kessingland beach on March 100 9th. There were no reports of a • • • 1 EI - si n summering flock in Sole Bay J F M A M J J A S O N D this year. South of Aldeburgh,with the exception of Landguard, the only records were from:

II

\

Orford: Havergate Island, Jul. 16th and Aug.8th. Bawdsey : East Lane, 15 south, Aug.30th. Stour Estuary: Mar.26th.

VELVET SCOTER Melanina fusca Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. In a very quiet y e a r the o n l y record in the first-winter period c a m e f r o m : Minsmere: male north offshore, Jan. 12th. In the s e c o n d - w i n t e r period there w e r e r e c o r d s f r o m : Lowestoft: four south off the north beach, Oct. 10th; two north off Ness Point, Nov.6th. Kessingland: one north, Oct.8th. Benacre: one offshore, Nov.28th. Covehithe: two north, Oct.l8th and 31st. Eight, north, Nov.lst. Minsmere: male north, Nov.27th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, south offshore, Nov.21st and Dec. 10th.

The only records from the southern half of the coast came from: Aide/Ore Estuary: Nov.8th. Felixstowe: Landguard, two south on Nov.lst; one south, Nov. 16th.

BUFFLEHEAD Bucephala Accidental.

albeola

Heveningham/Huntingfield: Heveningham Hall Lake, the male seen from Nov.29th to Dec.6th 1997 reappeared on Jan. 1st and was present until Jan. 21st (A Howe, B J Small, et al).

COMMON GOLDENEYE Bucephala clangula Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Reports of small numbers were quite widespread near the coast but no counts other than those shown tabulated exceeded 10 apart from 18 on Easton Broad on November 7th and 12 at Suffolk WP, Bramford, on December 6th. Records from the west of the County came only from Lackford WR and a male at Livermere Lake on March 27th and 28th. Two males and ' three females at Fritton Decoy on May 2nd was the last record of the spring and none was seen thereafter until October 27th, when two were on the sea 51

m Common

Goldeneye


off Minsmere and two also flew south off Landguard. A light passage was detected off Landguard during early November; four on 1st, 12 on 3rd, nine on 5th and eight on 12th, all flying south.

Monthly counts from some key sites: Jan 5 12 12 32 32 18 35 12

Benaerc Broad* Minsmere* Aide/Ore Estuary Deben Estuary Orwell Estuary Alton Water Stour Estuarv Lackford WR* * monthly maxima

Feb n/c 18 S 13 39 15 117 15

Mar 5 9 10 0 0 10 61 9

Apr n/c 4 n/c 0 0 n/c 0 8

Oct n/c 2 0 0 0 n/c 1 0

Nov 8 n/c 9 0 6 12 40 7

Dec 9 n/c 13 26 32 13 70 13

SMEW Mergellus albellus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. A quiet year. Records in the first-winter period came from just two sites. Minsmere: three redheads from Jan. 1st to Feb.7th, with two remaining until Feb. 10th. Trimley Marshes: redhead seen intermittently from Jan.3rd to Mar.25th. Records later in the year came from: Benacre Broad: two redheads from Nov.23rd, increasing to four, Dec.3rd and 6th, then three, Dec. 12th and 13th. Three males and two redheads, Dec. 17th. Minsmere: two redheads, Nov.22nd and Dec.4th, then three on Dec. 24th and 30th. Orford: Havergate Island, Dec.6th. Trimley Marshes: three, Dec.5th. West Stow: West Stow CP, redhead on the angling lake from Dec. 10th to 31st, also seen on the sailing lake at Lackford. RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Widely reported from the coast and estuaries in small numbers but Benacre Broad* no other count reached Aide/Ore Estuarv double figures, apart Deben Estuary Orwell Estuary from 10 offshore at Stour Estuary Southwold on October * monthly maxima 6th (seven south and three north). The only inland record of the year was a male at Thorington Street Reservoir, Stoke-by-Nayland, on December 6th. Autumn passage was very light this year. Landguard logged four south on September 30th followed by 26 south and two north during October. There were 15 south in November, with a maximum of four on 1st and 8th. Monthly counts from some key sites: Jan 0 1 0 21 1

Feb 0 0 0 2 41

Mar 0 5 2 8 52

Apr 0 n/c 0 0 1

Oct 2 0 0 0 0

Nov 4 1 0 2 9

Dec 0 0 4 18 38

GOOSANDER Mergus merganser Locally fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Records in the first winter period, away from the main sites, were received from: Covehithe: female flying north, Mar.8th. Felixstowe: Landguard, three redheads south, then into the estuary, Jan.6th. Orwell Estuary: one at Fox's Marina and Freston, Jan. 1st; two at Wherstead Strand Records from well-monitored sites: Dec on Jan.3rd. Jan Feb Mar Nov Stour Estuary: one in Erwarton

Bay,

Jan. 18th. Sproughton: River Gipping, two, Feb.21st. Weybread: gravel pits, redhead, Jan.20th.

Minsmere Alton Water Suffolk WP Lackford WR

52

2 1 1 33

3 0 2 28

0 0 2 29

2 0 0 31

1 0 0 29


Culford: park and lake, male and two females, Mar.7th. Hengrave: Hengrave Hall, up to seven during January. Ickworth: Ickworth Park, two males and two females on the canal, Feb. 15th. Thetford: redhead on the Little Ouse, Feb. 19th and on the Nunnery Lakes on Feb.2nd and Apr.25th. Euston: Euston Lake, two on Mar. 12th. Lakenheath: Fen and Washes, one on Apr. 13th. In m i d - s u m m e r there w a s o n e recorded at B r a n t h a m on July 11th and t w o n e a r b y at Cattawade on July 16th; b o t h sites are on the River Stour. R e c o r d s in the s e c o n d winter period then c a m e f r o m : Lowestoft: Oulton Broad, redhead on Dec. 16th, flock of 12 flew west. Dec.27th. Benacre: Benacre Broad, redhead, Oct.5th; male, Nov.28th. Covehithe: redhead flying south, Oct.23rd. Southwold: redhead flying south, Dec.29th. Culford: park and lake, 12 on Dec. 19th. Hengrave: Hengrave Hall, three, Dec.21st. Barton Mills: male, Dec. 24th and 30th. Thetford: 15 on the Nunnery Lakes, Dec.30th. Lakenheath: Fen and Washes, two redheads, Dec.28th. Long Melford: male on Dec.24th. R U D D Y D U C K Oxyura jamaicensis Uncommon resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Reported f r o m n i n e sites this year and b r e e d i n g w a s c o n f i r m e d f r o m a n e w site, as well as the r e g u l a r o n e at L i v e r m e r e L a k e . Minsmere: one/two males between Apr.7th and 26th; four females and three males from May 3rd to 10th; three on May 11th; single male, Jun.7th and 12th and Aug.20th. Trimley Marshes: male, Mar.24th was the first of many records, with maxima of three in April, seven in May, eight in June and July, six in August, seven in September and October, 10 in November and one, Dec. 12th. Trimley St.Martin: Loompit Lake, male, Apr.l9th; three males and two females, May 21st. Two males seen harassing a pair with two young, Jul.24th. Ten on Aug.3rd, reducing to five on 14th, two on Sep. 10th and one on Nov. 15th. Alton Water: singles, Feb. 15th and Aug.9th. Bramford: Suffolk WP one, Dec.l3th and 19th. Ixworth Thorpe: pair on May 15th and 18th. Livermere Lake: including Ampton Water. Recorded from Feb.l2th (one male) to Aug.13th (14), with a peak of 16, Mar.31st (11 males and five females). A female with six young, Jul. 13 th. Lackford WR: recorded from Jan. 1st (one) to Nov.21st (one), with a peak of six, Oct. 11th. Lakenheath: Fen and Washes, one, Jun.21st; male, Jul.27th and Aug.2nd. E U R O P E A N H O N E Y - B U Z Z A R D Pernis apivorus Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. There w e r e 10 a c c e p t e d r e c o r d s of this erratic m i g r a n t , p r o b a b l y i n v o l v i n g 12 birds, a significant i n c r e a s e o n t h e t h r e e r e c o r d e d last y e a r . Interestingly, s e v e r a l of the reports w e r e away f r o m the coast. T h e r e w e r e only t w o multiple reports; high totals in 1993 a n d 1995, were d u e to large single-day m o v e m e n t s . Spring m i g r a t i o n w a s generally later than usual; there were o n l y t w o r e c o r d s in May. North Cove: Castle Marsh, two flew south on Sep. 11th (D R Moore). Keydon: Oct.5th (D J Pearson). Walberswick: three on May 17th (D J Pearson, M C Marsh, D F Walsh). Westwood Marshes, Jun.21st ( D J Pearson). Darsham: Jun.30th (T W & J M Gladwin). 53


Minsmere: Jun.lรณth to 17th (RSPB); Jul. 15th (C Anderson. M Kemp); Jul. 16th (P D Green) and Jul.28th (C Anderson, M Kemp). Ipswich: over the town centre, May 2nd (S J Ling).

1996 addition: Felixstowe: Sep.24th (W J Brame).

RED KITE Milvus milvus Scarce but increasing winter visitor and passage migrant. Recently established breeder. Red list. Records were received from about two dozen sites and probably involved 12 to 14 different birds, a similar number to last year. No breeding took place in 1998, a great disappointment following the success of the last two years. This was despite the presence of a pair in the north-east during the early part of the year. They remained in their former breeding territory until midMarch, after which they started to range over a wide area along the coast. Their behaviour made it difficult to distinguish them from any would-be migrants; however, at least two other individuals were identified in April, both untagged, immature birds. Elsewhere in the County there were four records from the south-east involving three different birds, and seven records in the west involving up to six birds.

Red Kite Somerleyton: Mar. 15th. Blundeston: Blundeston Marshes, Jun.26th. Oulton: one drifted west, Jun.21st. Benacre: one Apr.4th; one immature, untagged Apr. 12th; two untagged birds drifted south on Apr. 19th; singles May 9th, Nov. 15th and 28th. Covehithe: one immature, untagged Apr. 19th (assumed same as Benacre bird). Reydon: two, Aug. 1st. Walberswick: East Hill, two, May 30th. Westleton: one flew south, may have been joined briefly by second before returning north, Apr. 13th. Minsmere: singles, Apr.l3th; Apr.l9th; May 3rd; May 9th and Jul.13th Theberton: Eastbridge, Apr. 12th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Aldringham Common & Walks, Apr. 13th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, two, Feb.28th.

54


Orford: Havergate Island, Aug.22nd. Shottisham: one flying low north, no wing-tags visible, Dec.27th. Nacton: one west over church, Mar. 16th. Chelmondiston: Oct. 11th and 12th. Walsham-le-Willows: Sep. 15th. Hadleigh: Jun.3rd. Groton: Groton Wood, Apr. 11th. Brent Eleigh: Jun.26th. Lackford W.R.: one south on Oct.25th, did not appear to be tagged. Depden: Aug.22nd (same as Stansfield bird). Stansfield: red wing-tagged bird present in area throughout August/September.

EURASIAN MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosas Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. A few overwinter. Red list. During the first-winter period records were received from a dozen coastal sites, a marked increase on last year and continuing the overwintering trend of this species in Suffolk. A large percentage of the estimated 30 birds present were females. Maximum counts included four at Fritton Marshes in January-February, and four at Minsmere in January. Passage birds were noted at many coastal sites between mid-March and mid-May. Peak counts included seven at Belton Marshes on March 15th and seven at North Warren on May 4th. At the former site three were also seen hunting in the vicinity of a reed-bed fire on March 24th. Inland records came from Thorington, March 28th; Fressingfield, April 3rd; Hadleigh, May 8th; Lidgate, May 17th; Icklingham, April 9th and Elveden, April 5th. Although breeding numbers at Minsmere were slightly down (eight females and six males compared with 17 birds there in 1997) they appear to have been more productive. Twenty-five young were fledged from eight nests compared with a total of 17 young in 1997. At Walberswick NNR, nine nests produced 21 young - down on recent years. In the Cove Bottom/Easton Broad area, there were four nests and 12 young fledged. Breeding took place at a number of other sites. Several wandering birds were also encountered inland during the summer months, including a male over Stowupland on July 24th; a female at Stansfield on July 23rd and August 2nd; an immature/ female at Moulton, July 28th, and a female at Lackford W.R. on August 8th. In autumn notable movements occurred at several coastal sites, including Castle Marsh, Barnby/North Cove, where three flew south on September 9th, and at North Warren where five were seen the same day. Elsewhere, 10 birds were present on the Deben Estuary on September 6th, and at Landguard singles were noted on five dates in August and September. In mid-Suffolk one was seen at Combs Lane WM on October 6th and a female/immature flew west over Stowupland on October 9th. About half as many birds were reported from eight coastal sites during the second winter period compared with the first. Maximum counts in December included two immatures at Benacre Broad; four at Westwood Marshes; three at Minsmere and two at Hazelwood Marshes. HEN HARRIER Circus cyaneus r airly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Red list. Reported widely from about 34 parishes along the coast, and from a few scattered sites inland. Records were received from all months except July; as expected most came from the winter months. Similar numbers of birds were present in both winter periods. Notable gatherings at the beginning of the year included a maximum of five going to roost at Westwood Marshes on January 2nd and three at Minsmere during February. 55


In the north-west of the County two males were seen at Berners Heath on January 25th, and two males and a female roosted at Botany Bay in February. Away from the more traditional sites a male was seen at Heveningham Hall Lake on New Year's Day. Passage birds were reported from several coastal sites including Minsmere, Aprii 4th and 5th; Havergate Island, March 29th and Aprii 26th; two at Orfordness on May 3rd and inland at Hadleigh on Aprii 29th. A late bird was Hen Harrier: 1998 records by month. s e e n at Trimley Marshes on 30 June 4th (M C Marsh). 25 -Autumn passage started 20-- — • ——• early with a migrant at Haver15 -I i l i gate Island on August 28th. 10 • • I l This was fol owed by a single 5 - —•—I I l — I bird at Newton Green on 0 | M | B | B | I , B | » i , — , B , B , B , B | September 9th and two on ® « « ¡i « a ~ do a. -g i g Havergate Island on Septemi t a ^ ^ S ^ ^ l M O Z o ber 18th. There was then a considérable influx during October, including singles at Hopton on Sea, Corton, Kessingland beach, Covehithe and Landguard. Away from the coast a single migrant was seen on October 6th at Combs Lane WM, where a Marsh Harrier was seen the same day. In the second-winter period the roost at Westwood Marshes held a maximum of nine birds (five males and four ringtails) by the end of the year. Finally, in Breckland two males and a female roosted in the Berners Heath area at the end of the year. MONTAGU'S HARRIER Circus pygargus Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. There was just one positive sighting of this elusive species in 1998. Aldeburgh: North Warren, an immature male, Apr.24th. (D Thurlow). Harrier Sp.: Benacre Broad: ringtail, May 2nd .

NORTHERN GOSHAWK Accipiter gentilis Rare winter visitor and passage migrant, uncommon resident. The secretive nature of this species makes it difficult to determine its status in Suffolk, but best estimâtes indicate there are probably 6-10 breeding pairs. Most if not ali of these occur in the two strongholds within the County, along the coastal strip and in the Breckland area. Unfortunately, any significant expansion seems unlikely given the susceptibility of the Goshawk to disturbance and to the constant threat of persécution. As usuai most of the records received refer to display activity in spring, or to wider ranging individuals in the winter. Displaying birds were noted at three sites and birds were recorded at four other potential breeding sites during the spring. Breeding was suspected at one site in the east. An occupied nest was found in the west; even so it was a disappointing year in Breckland as ali breeding attempts reportedly failed. Other spring records include a probable female flying north offshore at Kessingland beach on Aprii 24th and a male over Nowton Park on Aprii 4th. During summer further sightings from the west included a male at Cavenham Heath mid-June, a female at Lackford W.R. on two dates in July and a "probable" Goshawk driven off by a pair of nesting Hobbys at Lavenham on August 12th. A handful of records from the winter months included an immature female at 56


Falkenham on January 31st and February 1st. Not far away at Martlesham Heath "a large Buzzard-sized hawk chasing starlings and woodpigeons" on January 7th could have been the same individual. Elsewhere, another immature female was seen inland at Kentwell Hall, Long Melford, on January 1st and towards the end of the year a male was seen at Bamham on December 29th. EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK Accipiter nisus Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. The remarkable recovery of this species continues; indeed some sources suggest that the British population now exceeds the preDDT levels of the 1950s. Sightings in 1998 were evenly distributed across the County, and showed a slight increase on last year. Good breeding success was reported from Combs Lane WM, where summer counts were up by 90%. Two pairs nested at the site; one fledged four young by mid-July. On the coast 10 pairs bred at North Warren/Aldringham Common and Walks, the same number as in 1997; and near Bury St Edmunds three or four pairs nested at Nowton Park, potentially a slight increase on last year. Breeding was confirmed at another dozen sites, most often as a result of young heard food-begging. Spring migrants were noted at Benacre, where up to six were seen soaring together on two dates in March, and at Landguard, where a single bird flew north on April 1st and single birds were present on 10 other dates in April. Autumn passage was more discernible, particularly in October when migrants were noted at numerous sites ^P and down the coast. Records of birds flying in off the Eurasian sea included an FIELDNOTE Sparrowhawk Prey items reported by observers included a dead early migrant at oarnon Crow at Mtnsmere and an adult Starling in on ^swich. At Combs Lane WM prey Included a Collared Thorpeness Oove, Chaffinch and Great Tit; the latter was August 18th, two at Kessingland on considered to be the favourite prey of the local male bparrowhawks which may have contributed to the October 9th and two at Lowestoft North iaÂŤure of numerous nestboxes near one nest. Else- Denes the next day. Elsewhere five were where, a female was watched eating a Common WoodPigeon at Ampton, and at West Stow CP a brood of present at Aldringham Common and swallows was plundered by a Sparrowhawk which had Walks on October 9th; five were seen in somehow entered one of the locked buildings in the the air together at Westleton Heath on Anglo-Saxon Village, on June 29th Various contributors. October 18th, and four flew south over Southwold on October 26th. COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buteo r airly common and increasing winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. This species is regularly recorded throughout the year in Suffolk, so it is perhaps not too surprising that a pair was suspected to have bred at a confidential site in the north-east of the County. Displaying birds were seen on a few dates between early March and mid-June; two, sometimes three, birds were involved. There were sightm Tn,at a ' u r l ' l e r s ' x locations continuing the recent run of summer records. The number of wintering birds in 1998 was higher than in recent years, particuarly during the first-winter period when as many as a dozen may have been present a S the coast. By mid-March numbers had built up substantially and there were 57


reports of birds from over 20 sites during spring. The vast majority of these were again from the coastal strip; maximum counts during March included 12 at Ashby Warren; five at Benacre Broad and six at Minsmere on 14th. There were also five records from the north-west of Suffolk during March and April, involving at least two individuals. Although most birds had dispersed by May, singles were seen at three sites in June, and two in July. Autumn passage was fairly quiet. Records received from 10 sites in the east and two locations in the west involved a maximum of 12 individuals. About five birds were present towards the end of the year. ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. It was a reasonably good year for this species, particularly in the autumn when there were numerous sightings along the coast, though these probably involved just a handful of individuals. Records were received from two sites in the north-east during the first-winter period and involved up to three transient birds. Passage migrants included two pale morph birds that were seen at Herringfleet, Benacre and Minsmere; the records from the former two sites probably relate to the same individual. Herringlleet: pale morph, Mar.7th to 17th. Benacre: pale morph. Mar. 18th. Minsmere: pale morph, Jan. 11th; immature Feb.3rd. Gedgrave: Apr. 18th.

There were more records than usual in autumn; these probably involved at least four wide-ranging individuals. Apart from an early record from Homersfield on September 27th, the majority of sightings were between October 6th and 18th. Four were seen flying inland at Boyton on October 11th, accompanied by a Common Buzzard. There were further sightings in November including a long-staying individual that remained in the Aldeburgh area until the end of the year. For the third year running there were no records from the west of the County. Ashby/Somerleyton: Waveney Forest, Oct.23rd. Herringfleet: Nov.รณth Benacre: Oct. 10th. Reydon/Blythburgh: Wolsey Bridge, Nov. 1st. Dunwich: Dunwich Forest, Oct. 11th. Westleton: Oct. 11th. Saunders Hill, Oct.รณth. Minsmere: Oct.รณth. Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Sizewell, Oct.9th and Nov. 10th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpe Common/Thorpeness, Oct. 18th. Aldeburgh: Aldeburgh Marshes, one, Nov. 13th to Dec.31st. Sudbourne: Sudbourne Marshes, Dec. 12th. Boyton: Boyton Marshes, four flew inland, Oct.llth; two Oct.l2th. Alderton/Bawdsey/Falkenham: Oct. 11 th. Chelmondiston: Oct. 12th.

OSPREY Pandion haliaetus Uncommon passage migrant. Red list. A good selection of records was received in 1998, particularly during the autumn passage. The first spring migrant was seen on April 13th in the south-west of the county, and heralded a good spring passage which peaked during May. A minimum of nine individuals was involved, at least one lingering for a time at Minsmere. Three late birds were seen in June at Oulton Broad, Blythburgh and Minsmere. 58


Lowestoft: Oulton Broad, Jun.7th. Benacre: Benacre Broad, one south, May 4th. Blyth Estuary: May 15th; Jun.처th. Minsmere: singles present intermittently between May 9th to 20th; Jun.l처th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, one north. May 8th; May 9th. Felixstowe: Landguard, May 3rd. Boxford: May 20th. Stradishall: one north-east, Apr. 13th. Lackford WR: May 11th. Mildenhall: May 11th.

Two birds were seen at four locations in August; two sites in the south-east and two in the north-west. Autumn passage also saw an abundance of sightings, particularly during September when birds were reported from eight sites on the coast and four inland. However, there was inevitably a lot of duplication of records as returning birds wandered between different locations. There were just two October records, the latest being from Walberswick on 12th. I J

Walberswick: Oct. 12th. Middleton: imm., Oct. 1st. Minsmere: two, Sep.3rd, Sep.8th and Sep. 11th; one imm. Sep.9th to 13th. Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Kenton Hills, imm., Sep. 12th Aldeburgh: one SW, Sep.처th; North Warren, Sep. 14th. Wantisden: Staverton Park & Thicks, Sep. 12th and Sep. 16th. Orford: Havergate Island, Sep.3rd; Sep. 10th. Butley: Sep. 10th. Boyton: Aug.2nd. Beben Estuary: Sep.6th. Stratton Hall: Levington Marina, Aug.2nd. Bury St.Edmunds: Sugar Beet Factory, Sep. 17th. Livermere Lake: Sep.6th. Lackford WR: Aug. 13th; Aug.22nd; possibly two, Sep.4th; Sep.5th; two, Sep. 10th. Lakenheath: Lakenheath FenAVashes, Aug.23rd.

I

COMMON KESTREL Falco tinnunculus Very common resident. Amber list. Records were received from less than F I E L D N O T E 50 sites; hopefully this does not reflect the The Kestrel is now included on the Birds of Concern "amber" list, which means that true distribution of this species in Suffolk. Conservation it merits special attention. Recent reports indicate There were eight sites where breeding that Kestrel numbers are down in some areas in the was confirmed, which compares well with U.K. Therefore, observers are asked to send in more records so any changes in distribution and population recent years. However, the number of across the County can be monitored. Breeding breeding pairs was down. At North records are particularly important. Warren/Aldringham Common and Walks Chris Gregory. numbers dropped from 13 in 1997 to only six in 1998. Lower numbers were also reported at Combs Lane WM where there was a 32% decline in records in the breeding season. Other records include two pairs at Bury sugar beet factory, and a pair at Stradishall Airfield which was disrupted by model aircraft flying nearby. Juveniles were noted at several sites including Old Newton, Hollesley Heath and Combs Lane WM. The only evidence of spring migration came from Landguard, where one flew south 째n April 1st. Autumn passage was more marked, with single birds moving south at Landguard on September 14th, October 1st and October 12th. Two also flew south there on October 30th and one was seen flying south at Thorpeness on October 23rd. 59


RED-FOOTED FALCON Falco vespertinus Rare visitor. Bramford: Suffolk WP, female, May 16th (S H Piotrowski). A return to the usual level of reports after a reasonable showing in 1997. This bird was typically brief in its visit to Suffolk. 1997 addition: Minsmere: the female seen on May 30th and 31st (Suffolk Birds 47:58) was also reported on June 1st (per D F Walshe). MERLIN Falco columbarius Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Red list. A reasonably good year for this species with several birds overwintering in each winter period, and an abundance of records during the autumn. There were records from 14 coastal sites between January and March, and six sites in the Brecks. Spring passage was very quiet. Singles were logged at Landguard on March 15th, April 15th and April 23rd. The last spring record was of a female at Benacre on April 25th. Apart from an early migrant at Landguard on September 13th, the main autumn passage occurred in the first two weeks of October when records came from 20 sites. Single birds were seen flying in off the sea at Gunton and Kessingland beach on October 10th and 11th respectively, and five flew south over Minsmere on October 6th. One was seen following a flock of Fieldfares at Felixstowe on October 5th. A similar number overwintered in the second winter period as in the first; again there was a distinct coastal bias with records from two dozen coastal sites and just four inland, mainly from Breckland. All sightings involved single birds. EURASIAN HOBBY Falco subbuteo Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. Records were evenly distributed across the County as more and more of these elegant falcons are encountered every year. The first bird of spring was seen at Boyton on April 20th, closely followed by a dozen sightings across the County before the end of April. Migrants arriving in May congregated at a few coastal sites, including Benacre Broad, where there were three on May 2nd; North Warren, four on May 9th and F I E L D N O T E One was seen pursuing Barn Swallows at Walberswick, five on May 17th. Stowupland on July 15th, the first midThere were further multiple sightings in June summer record for this site. Local breeding including 10 at Minsmere on three dates, with up seems likely as two or three juveniles were seen chasing each other and calling there to seven in the sky at any one time. Meanwhile, on September 2nd. eight were seen hawking for insects at Lackford J. Walshe. W.R. on June 7th. Confirmation of breeding came from three sites including Minsmere where two pairs fledged at least two young between them. There was evidence to suggest breeding at another eight sites. A 60% increase in sightings was reported from Combs Lane WM, and breeding was suspected nearby. A pair at Lavenham was seen to drive off a Kestrel and a probable Goshawk. Juveniles and family groups were noted at several sites across the County, including Sizewell, Stowupland, Lavenham, Lackford WR and Lakenheath Fen/Washes. Autumn migration was noted at Landguard on four dates in September. One was caugh* and ringed at Bawdsey Manor on September 8th. Reports of late departing birds came from several sites in October, including North Warren, Thorpeness, Bawdsey, Combs Lane WM and West Stow CR The latest record also came from Boyton, a single on October 14th. Reports of prey items included one carrying a Starling at Carlton Marshes and at Bawdsey one caught a House Martin over the sea, then perched on a groyne and ate it. 60


PEREGRINE FALCON Falco peregrinus Uncommon but increasing winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Recorded in every month of the year except June and July, with the vast majority FIELDNOTE sightings at coastal sites. As usuai the FIELDNOTE At Herringfleet Marshes on May 8th 8th aa Peregrine wide-ranging behaviour of this species makes was seen to to stoop at at a a male Sparrowhawk. The , t difficult to be precise about the number of hawk on nawk only only saw saw it it at at the the last last moment moment and and rolled rolled on its back with a shriek, presenting its claws and its back with a shriek, presenting its claws and beak to the Peregrine. This was enough to deter the whlch turned asideenough and flew off. beakPeregrine, to the Peregrine. This was to deter Per Brian Sivver.hiCh t u r n e d a s i d e a n d e w 0tf

. . . . .

.

r

ìnaiviuuals present. Records were received from 2 0 sites p l r S s"we" " ' during the first-winter period. However, the • pattern of sightings indicates that there were just five différent birds involved. These included a long-staying pair that frequented Fritton Marshes from the New Year until early March, when they separated. One was relocated nearby in the Herringfleet area where it remained until May. There were several sightings along the south-east coast during January and February and another single bird was present on the Upper Orwell from New Year until March 24th at least. Single birds seen at Covehithe and Minsmere in late March and Aprii were either migrants or individuate dispersing from their winter quarters. Inland, there were two sightings in Breckland, and one at Lakenheath Fen. There were four late-summer sightings; an immature bird at Minsmere on August 18th; singles at Havergate Island on August 28th and September 3rd, and a juvenile at Lakenheath Fen/Washes, August 22nd. A pair was seen over Minsmere on September 7th. Reports of likely migrants in autumn included single birds flying in off the sea at Southwold on September 17th and Thorpeness, October 25th; one flew low over the sea off Covehithe Cliffs on October 30th. Other October sightings included inland records from Moulton, October 23rd, and Pakenham, October 4th. The second-winter period was similar to the first. Two birds returned to Fritton Marshes, where they could often be seen perched on pylons, until the end of the year. A sériés of records from five sites further south along the coast may have related to one, possibly two, individuals. There was one record from the west of the County, at Lakenheath Fen on December 28th. RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE Alectoris rufa Resident. Assessing this species' status is a nightmare. The release of Chukar Alectoris chukar thoroughly clouded the issue in recent years and observers have shown a widespread disinterest in recording pure birds of either species, or hybrids between the two. This sorry situation illustrâtes the foolishness of man's tampering ill-advisedly with nature for his own ends. Now that Chukar release is banned by law the muddy waters may clear but, as yet, they have not. No reference in the records received was made to a single hybrid, but they must surely stili exist. The largest numbers of birds 'lumped' under the umbrella phrase of Red-legged Partridge were 23 at Fox's Marina, Wherstead, January Ist; 33 on October lOth Jj' Combs Lane WM - where numbers were said to have increased by 27% - and 44 at Little Livermere on August 4th. One of the few breeding reports came from Aldringham Walks were there were nine pairs, plus a further two pairs at North Warren. The species was recorded from 28 sites, a total that gives not even a hint of the true status, particularly as the following, much scarcer, species was recorded from a far greater number of locations. 61


GREY PARTRIDGE Perdix perdix Formerly common resident, now localised. Red list. Although recorded from c.65 sites, a slight increase on recent years, covey size; reported were alarmingly low. The west of the County produced the bulk of tht records and the largest coveys - 15 at Great Barton on October 15th, 12 at Pashforc1 Poors Fen, Lakenheath, August 7th and 12 at Icklingham on December 19th. Thert were "three or four" coveys at Thorpe Morieux on April 21st, but no numbers wert given. In the east the maximum covey size was a paltry 10 - at Corton on September 17th and Boyton on August 14th. The total of three pairs in the North Warren/Aldringhan Walks area represented a slight fall in breeding numbers. A curious record referred to a road casualty in a suburban Stowmarket street, hall a mile from the nearest farmland, but perhaps the most poignant record came from ; 400ha farm at Wickhambrook where only two coveys were noted. COMMON QUAIL Coturnix coturnix Scarce summer visitor and passage migrant. Red list. About 16 birds were reported from a total FIELDNOTE of 12 potential breeding sites - a marked The first ever records for North Warren reserve decline from 1997's total of 30 calling began with two calling mates on North Marsh on May 28th. Eventually, there were three calling males. birds on the North Marsh and a further bird on the The first record of the year involved two South Marsh. Colncidentally, there had been a calling males at Capei St Andrew on May lower level of grazing on the marshes than in recent years. The resulting longer grass may 11th - the birds proving a welcome dis- have provided a more attractive habitat for Quail traction from the struggle of a cross-country Per R. Macklin run being undertaken by the observer. One calling near the Teseo superstore, Martlesham Heath, from May 21st to 30th also provided a welcome distraction from the struggle of shopping being undertaken by many observers! A freshly dead migrant was found on a Suffolk Ornithologists' Group field trip to Lowestoft on September 19th. It had apparently flown into fencing around the North Denes tennis courts. COMMON PHEASANT Phasianus colchicus Very common resident; numbers augmented by releases. This species continues to attract little interest from Suffolk birdwatchers, with records from the pitiful total of only 12 sites giving a thoroughly inaccurate status picture. By far the highest counts reported were 93 at Lakenheath Fen/Washes on December 28th and 83, Great Livermere, September 7th. The only breeding information received concerned 25 territories at North Warren and 24 at Aldringham Common and Walks. GOLDEN PHEASANT Chrysolophus pictus Scarce resident. The Breckland population of this species clings on in small numbers, with six or seven 'crowing' males located in The King's Forest in March and April. This seems a perilously small total, but at least there was no decline from the six males reported in The Forest during the previous year. There were conflicting reports from Mayday Farm, Brandon, traditionally perhaps the best-known site for the species. One observer who regularly covers the area reported that the species was "now very scarce", whereas another observer reported six calling there on May 13th. 62


Other Breckland reports were from Thetford Warren, April 6th; Wordwell, August 26th, and North Stow, April 6th. Elsewhere, a female was in a garden in Somerleyton Road, Lowestoft, on December 16th and a male was in dense scrub at Thorpeness from October 4th to 9th. Both of these records clearly relate to local escapees. WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus Fairly common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Records were received from c.40 sites, comparing favourably with 26 in 1997. There was less of a coastal bias than in previous years. Many of the records referred to birds calling in winter and there is a strong likelihood that breeding is under-recorded. This is understandable, given the species' secretive nature, but observers' greater awareness of the species rather pathetic song, as opposed to the familiar squealing calls, might produce more spring and summer records. In the north and east of the County the highest concentrations reported were at least five calling from reedbeds bordering the Waveney Forest between September 1st and the year's end; seven at Minsmere on March 15th and about five at Sizewell Belts on December 16th and 17th. In the west, the highest numbers were seven at Lakenheath Fen/Washes on December 28th, four at Lackford on December 5th and four along the Little Ouse, Santon Downham, on November 28th. The breeding population at Minsmere was estimated at 45 pairs. The only reference to juveniles related to one caught in a mist net at Market Weston Fen on July 24th and one seen at Joist Fen on August 24th. One in an observer's garden in Gunton Drive, Lowestoft, on October 23rd, was presumably a newly-arrived immigrant, as were singles at Landguard on October 20th and November 19th. At the latter site one was found dead on December 13th. A live bird was also seen there that day and the following day. CORN CRAKE Crex crex Very rare passage migrant. Red list. The decline of this species since the 1920s is one of the saddest chapters in Suffolk ornithology and any contemporary record is a very big event indeed. William H.Payn, in The Birds of Suffolk reported that there was evidence that the Corn Crake "bred in fair numbers" in Suffolk up to about 1925 and there followed a dwindling of numbers throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Agricultural practices then, as now, had a lot to answer for. Any observer who encounters a live Corn Crake in Suffolk these da y s can count him, or her, -self to be extremely fortunate the finding of a corpse Corn Crake 63


must be highly saddening and frustrating. Both such discoveries were made in 1998 presumably involving autumn passage birds. Hollesley: Meadow Farm, Oct.4th. Found dead beneath power lines. Corpse taken to Ipswich Museum. (N Mason). Bawdsey: seen on river wall during WeBS count, Oct.! 1th. Ran into adjoining crops (R Johnson).

COMMON MOORHEN GallĂ­nula chloropus Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Noteworthy counts, other than as tabulated, were 60 at Aldringham Common and Walks on DecemMonthly counts from some key sites: ber 6th; 46 adults Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec 19 juveniles and 60 60 North Warren 80 60 60 60 60 n/c 19 chicks in six Aide/Ore Estuary 38 44 32 44 42 78 71 n/c 36 24 28 broods beside the Orwell Estuarv 31 30 li 31 n/c 37 Gipping Alton Water 10 79 22 13 n/c n/c 61 Valley Stour Estuary 4 24 18 26 14 Footpath between 4 24 2 84 58 24 18 37 56 Livermere Lake 65 26 14 18 Ipswich and StowLackford WR 22 21 25 19 15 n/c market on May 25th and 51 at Boxford on September 26th. The highest breeding concentration reported was 80 pairs at North Warren. April floods were said to have taken their toll on nests in some areas. One reported flying over Kessingland beach on February 17th was presumably a migrant. One roosted in the Observatory compound at Landguard on November 11th. COMMON COOT FĂşlica atra Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Noteworthy counts, other than those tabulated, were c. 100 at Benacre Broad on December 20th; Monthly counts from some key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec 100 at Covehithe North Warren/ 111 70 76 52 77 n/c 103 88 Broad on NovemThorpeness Mere ber 28th; 121 at Aide/Ore Estuary 108 137 99 n/c 49 67 105 157 Trimley Marshes Deben Estuary 123 155 190 93 115 90 88 143 NR on August Orwell Estuary 276 163 21 52 n/c 399 363 385 Alton Water 915 530 25! 58 n/c 1029 1234 1465 18th and 300 at Stour Elstuary 0 5 0 0 2 3 7 5 Wherstead Strand Suffolk WP 91 118 n/c n/c n/c 136 182 235 on January 3rd. Livermere Lake 69 75 110 n/c n/c n/c n/c 26 Interestingly, Lackford WR 467 334 102 227 285 n/c 306 323 numbers at Livermere Lake built up in July and August to 153 on August 25th but only three remained on September 24th. Thirty-three breeding pairs were noted at North Warren, the highest reported concentration from a single site. Amazingly, one at Redgrave and Lopham Fen on February 27th is the reserve's first record. COMMON CRANE Grus grus Rare passage migrant. Amber list. The only record of this impressive species concerned three flying north-west over Fritton Marshes on November 17th (W L Huggins). They were presumably wanderers from east Norfolk where a small population is present. 64


6. ALTON WATER: extensive work to improve the reservoir for wildlife took place in 1998. Simon Wallers

Martin Turner


.

»s íf

©wmmm.

9. T E M M I N C K ' S STINT: one of the four at Southwold in May.

10. P E C T O R A L during the year.

Robin amende,

S A N D P I P E R : the Southwold bird: three others were seen Clive Naunton


EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Common resident. Amber list. Trimley Marshes regu- Estuary counts: larly recorded threeJan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec figure counts during the Blyth* n/c 74 57 15 14 n/c 11 n/c year with a peak of 400 Aide/Ore 122 339 736 n/c 18 28 21 38 276 280 260 238 181 109 165 242 on May 11th. Addi- Deben 937 851 491 735 183* 884 852 1039 tionally, three-figure Orwell Stour 381 886 726 578 783 901 828 774 counts were received * monthly maxima from the following sites: Sutton: Methersgate, 120, Dec.21st. Ipswich: Docks, 112, Jan.l8th; 220, Feb.l8th; 182, Mar. 15th. Wherstead: Wherstead Strand, 232, Nov.22nd. Chelmondiston: 141, Dec.5th. Pinmill, 800, Jan.30th. Holbrook: Holbrook Bay, 232, Jan.21st; 137, Apr.2nd. Orwell Estuary: off Piper's Vale, 144, Feb.22nd. Breeding reports were rather few. In the north-east of the County two pairs were at North Warren, one pair at Blundeston Marshes, two pairs at Herringfleet Marshes, three pairs at Somerleyton Marshes and two pairs at Weybread GR Three pairs at Minsmere compares poorly with seven pairs in 1997. Landguard recorded two pairs with one pair fledging two chicks and the other unsuccessful in its nesting attempt. A single nesting attempt was recorded from Shotley Marshes while two pairs at Wherstead Strand hatched four chicks. In the west of the County breeding reports were received from Livermere Lake with a single pair, one pair at Lackford WR rearing two chicks and one pair at Manor Farm, Ixworth Thorpe rearing three young. Landguard recorded offshore movements in all months except December. In the first half of the year the peak movement was in March with totals of 70 south, five north and two west. In the second half of the year, movements peaked in August with 129 south and two north. Seventy were recorded heading south off Thorpeness in July and 72 south in August.

PIED AVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta Common resident, summer visitor, winter visitor and passage migrant on the coast. Amber list. The Aide/Ore counts are particularly noteJan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec worthy; included is the Blyth* 322 315 n/c 110 257 360 77 29 first four-figure site Aide/Ore 791 779 1056 973 1105 646 n/c 1196 Deben 102 n/c 135 115 count in the County, 30 29 2 23 ' monthly maxima 1022 on Havergate Island on September 6th. Other counts of note were 500 at Iken on January 11th with 220 there on October t2th and 171 at Kirton Creek on December 10th. Inland, four were at Livermere Lake °n August 13th. Estuary counts:

Monthly maxitr a for the three key breeding sites were: Minsmere Havergate Is. Trimley

J n/c 428 n/c

F 4 464 3

M 130 318 30

A 219 212 23

M 243 95 24

65

J 156 108 50

J 134 122 69

S A n/c 3 678 1022 70 7

O n/c n/c 3

N 1 300 n/c

D n/c n/c n/c


Pied Avocet

Breeding success improved upon last year with 140 pairs rearing 47 young at Minsmere (97 pairs rearing 17 young in 1997) and 51 pairs rearing 15 young at Havergate (81 pairs rearing three young in 1997). In addition, Trimley Marshes reported up to six juveniles in June/July. Two pairs were present at North Warren from mid-May to mid-June with nestscraping observed on June 5th but no nesting attempt was made.

STONE-CURLEW Burhinus oedicnemus Locally fairly common summer visitor. Red list. The first report of returning birds to Suffolk Breckland was of two on March 23rd. The Breckland population as a whole (Norfolk and Suffolk) continues to expand with 142 pairs proved breeding and a minimum of 111 fledged chicks. On the coast two pairs bred successfully, rearing two young. There was a good scattering of spring migrants with singles in fields near Gorleston Golf Course on May 5th; Minsmere on April 8th and May 24th and 25th; Trimley Marshes on May 13th and Landguard on May 2nd. Post-breeding flocks were noted at two sites with a minimum of 70 on September 29th being a record count for one site. The peak count for the other site was 36 on September 24th, with a single bird still present on November 7th. LITTLE (RINGED) PLOVER Charadrius dubius Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. The first bird of the year was at Alton Water on March 19th. Further sightings in March came from Alton Water on 29th (one) and 30th (two); Lackford WR on 20th (one) and on 3Ist (four); Livermere Lake on 30th (two) and Minsmere on 30th (one). Reports in April and May were more widespread with the highest counts including five at Alton Water on May 4th and nine at Lackford WR on May 17th. Breeding must surely be under-recorded with reports from only four sites. Two pairs were at Lackford WR; one pair raised three young at Lakenheath Fen; two pairs were at the Bury St Edmunds sugar beet factory and finally, possible breeding was reported from Manor Farm, Ixworth Thorpe. Return passage was uninspiring. The maximum count was of three, recorded at Boyton Marshes on July 22nd and August 4th; Minsmere on July 25th and 26th; Trimley Marshes on August 4th and Covehithe Broad on August 14th. RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. This species seems to have been poorly recorded this year compared with previous years. The only counts of note, other than those tabulated, were from Erwarton Bay with 147 on August 3Ist and Holbrook Bay with 115 on August 8th, 220 on September 19th and 250 on September 23rd. Of some concern are the substantially lower numbers reported from the Landguard high tide roost compared with last year. 66


A good spring Counts from principal sites: Jan Feb Mar passage was recorded at Laken- Blyth Estuary 6 n/c n/c 11 58 2 heath Fen with North Warren* 41 35 15 nine on May Aide/Ore Estuary 7 30 32 Deben Estuary 24th and 18 on Orwell Estuary 67 25 22 27th. Birds of Landguard* 38 150 31 n/c n/c 150 the tundra race Alton Water* 35 63 49 C.h.tundrae were Stour Estuary* * monthly maxima noted as follows: six at Dunwich shore pools on May 13th; four at Southwold Town Marshes on May 20th; 13 at Orfordness on May 24th ^ and eight on May 31st and four at Felixstowe Ferry on May 20th and 11 on June 4th. Breeding records came from Kessingland beach with two pairs, one pair at North Warren, one pair at Shotley, one pair at Thorpe Bay, one pair at Lackford WR and one pair at the sugar beet factory, Bury St Edmunds. Landguard recorded a record-breeding season with at least 17 pairs making multiple nesting attempts although only two young were known to have fledged. Offshore movements were noted from Lowestoft, Southwold, North Warren and Landguard with a maximum of 33 north off Lowestoft on August 16th. KENTISH PLOVER Charadrius alexandrinus Rare passage migrant Orford: Havergate Island, Sep.óth (S J Denny). After a blank year, only a single accepted record; this species is a real rarity in Suffolk.

Apr n/c 17 n/c 11 48 32 n/c 26

Sep n/c 93 76 224 n/c 10 n/c 242

Oct n/c n/c 124 66 0 40 260 72

Nov n/c 45 15 48 24 21 120 11

Dec n/c n/c 26 14 26 94 110 33

Ringed Plover

Kentish Plover Records 1989-98

5 4 3

• Spring

2

• Autumn

1 0

89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 EURASIAN D O T T E R E L Charadrius morinellus Rure passage migrant. Amber list. A total of six records involving 10 birds is above the average for this species. Covehithe: single bird on Aug.26th (P Whitaker). Nettlestead: five, August 17th; single, Sep. 16th (E W Patrick). Elveden: singles, May 2nd and 6th (RSPB) Suffolk Breckland: male at a south Breckland location, Apr.22nd (RSPB) 67


EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis apricaria Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Large numbers of birds were present during the first-winter period; ali counts over 500 are listed: Blyth Estuary: monthly maxima - 3660, Jan.l7th; 3200, Feb.l4th; 800, Mar.l4th. Southwold: Town Marshes, 2500, Jan.IOth and 4000 on 13th. Boyton: Boyton Marshes, 700, Mar.3rd. Falkenham: King's Fleet, 560, Jan.lรณth. Levington: 700, Jan.l5th. Stour Estuary: 520, Jan.รณth; 627, Feb.l5th; 700, Mar.l5th. Creeting St. Mary: 850, Feb.lst. Ixworth: 750, Jan.6th. Palgrave: 700, Jan.l4th.

In addition, the usuai concentration of spring passage birds was noted during Aprii. At Pakenham, a count of 890 was made on 4th, with up to 300 remaining to 15th with many in summer plumage. Havergate Island noted 74 on 4th and 31 on 26th. The last sighting of spring carne from Benacre Broad with one on the late date of May 29th. The first return birds were singles noted flying south past Southwold and Landguard on July 12th. In August, 181 were at Havergate Island on 9th. September saw counts of 268 at Brantham on 6th, 200 at Erwarton on 14th, 200 at Levington on 13th and 230 at Great Barton on lOth. In the final quarter of the year, good n u m b e r s w e r e p r e s e n t with several f o u r - f i g u r e counts. Ali c o u n t s of 5 0 0 and a b o v e are listed as f o l l o w s : Blyth Estuary: 1580, Nov.7th and 1050 on 28th; 2880, Dec.l2th. Southwold: Town Marshes, 2500, Dec.31st. Levington: 1000, Dec.l7th. Metfield: 2000, Nov.21st. Ellough: 500, Nov.llth. Troston: 2500, Nov.21st; 1350, Dec.26th. Great Barton: 600, Oct.22nd; 2000, Nov.5th with 2500 on 26th. Great Livermere: 559, Oct.31st; 1050, Dec.31st. Great Waldingfield: Aerodrome, 600 on Nov.27th.

GREY PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Apart from the estuary counts, spring passage produced counts of 46 at Minsmere on March 24th, 21 at Estuary counts: Havergate Island on Jan Keb Mar Apr Scp Oct Nov Dee Aprii 9th and 115 at Blvth 54 n/c 80 9 n/c n/c n/c 20 Holbrook Bay on Aprii Aide/Ore 48 91 88 56 n/c 23 52 71 2nd and 80 on May Deben* 184 123 25 429 284 7 135 90 82 327 417 135 16th. Inland, a total of Orwell 2 n/c 132 233 800 438 754 1245 858 2179 406 995 nine passage birds was Stour* * monthly maxima recorded at the Bury St Edmunds sugar beet factory during Aprii. Notable autumn counts included 100 at Levington on August 31 st, 350 at Erwarton Bay on August 24th and 100 at Lower Holbrook on September 23rd. An apparently all-white bird was noted at Erwarton, January 13th (J A Glazebrook). Offshore passage was relatively light with Landguard logging 21 south in August, 39 south in September and 23 south in October. Offshore from Thorpeness a total of 39 was recorded going south in August while 37 flew south off Southwold on August 31 st. 68


NORTHERN L A P W I N G Vanellus vanellus Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Declining as a breeding species. Amber list. As with European Golden Plover, good numbers were present in the first quarter. All counts of over 500 Sep Oct Nov are listed: Jan Feb Mar Apr Benacre: Benacre Broad, 720, Jan. 17th.

Southwold:

Town

400 4103 2430 954 2522

Blyth Alde/Orc Deben* Orwell Stour*

1150 6048 1850 1841 1500 * monthly maxima

n/c 2070 126 73 35

Marshes, 600 Jan. 13th with 700 on 27th; 650, Feb. 10th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 1670, Jan. 18th; 2000 Feb. 16th. Orford: Havergate Island, 1211, Jan. 18th; 1798, Feb. 15th. Boyton: Boyton Marshes, 2300, Jan. 1 st. Bawdsey: Bawdsey Marshes, 3000, Mar. 1st.

n/c n/c 16 54 14

240 n/c 50 626 1820 2222 1034 945 674 138* 314* 849 642 931 1062

1420 3372 1470 756 596

Ramsholt: 700, Jan. 10th. Trimley Marshes: 700, Jan. 19th. Woolverstone: 1500, Jan. 1st. Great Livermere: 500, Jan.llth; 570, Feb.l2th. Lackford: Max of 900, Jan. Stradishall: Airfield, 500, Feb.7th.

A leucistic bird was noted at Falkenham, January 18th to 20th. Breeding was reported from 21 locations scattered throughout the County, a welcome increase from 11 sites in 1997. North Warren is clearly the most important site for this species with 56 pairs recorded (48 in 1997). There was also an increase in the number of pairs recorded at Minsmere, albeit a more modest increase to 20 pairs from 19 in 1997; 12 young were seen there. However, the loss of 19 nests to farming operations at Great Livermere sadly reflects the fortunes of this species in the wider countryside. Offshore movements were noted at Landguard and North Warren with 111 south, November 22nd at Aldeburgh being the peak day-count. Counts of over 500 for the last quarter are as follows: Southwold: Town Marshes, 1000, Dec.l5th and 31st. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 1600, Dec. 19th. Sudbourne: Sudbourne Marshes; 4000, Dec. 12th. Orford: Havergate Island, 500, Nov. 14th.

Freston: 1400, Dec.20th. Mendlesham: 800, Nov.30th. Stowupland: 597, Oct.9th. Great Livermere: max. of 660 in Oct.; max. of 850

FIELDNOTE Two pairs of Lapwing bred successfully at Barton Mere. On May 14th three small chicks had to be rescued from amidst speeding traffic on an adjoining road. They were returned to the Mere unharmed. Per John Walshe.

in Dec. Ingham: 1600, Nov.29th; 600, Dec.10th. Flempton: 600, Dec.lOth with 1720, 12th and 1500, 31st. Lackford: 1500 flew over, Dec. 19th.

RED KNOT Calidris canutus Locally common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Winter numbers were unexceptional with, as usual, the Stour holding the bulk of the winter population. Both passage periods were uninspiring. The only counts of note during spring Passage were seven at Minsmere on May 14th and 31 at Havergate Island on April 21st with 43 on April 28th. Offshore, Landguard logged 15 south on March 14th and â&#x20AC;˘8 south on April 25th. 69


The first return birds were four south offshore at North Warren 20 52 on July 12th. Peak 90 autumn counts came 233 from Benacre Broad 858 with 12 on September 26th; 18 on the Aide Estuary on August 31 st and 20 at Havergate Island on August 27th with 23 there on September 3rd. Landguard logged 37 south during September, 222 south in October and 76 south in November. The October count included a notable 210 on 27th. An albino bird was noted at Wherstead on January 29th. Estuary counts: Jan 54 Blyth Aide/Ore 48 Deben* 123 Orwell 82 Stour* 800 * monthly maxima

Feb 80 91 25 417 438

Mar 9 56 429 135 754

Apr n/c n/c 7 2 1245

Sep n/c 23 284 n/c 406

Oct n/c 71 135 132 995

Nov

Dec n/c 88 184 327 2179

SANDERLING Calidris alba Regular winter visitor and passage migrant in small numbers. Numbers were relatively low during the first winter period, with birds virtually confined to the sandy beaches between Lowestoft and Easton Broad. The peak couni came from Lowestoft with 40 on January 1st. Elsewhere, peak counts were 30 at Kessingland beach on January 29th; 13 at Benacre Broad on February 7th and nine at Easton Broad on February 14th. The only first-winter period records from the south of the County came from Landguard with peak counts of two on January 31 st; three on February 24th and eight on March 18th. The only spring passage records of note were FIELDNOTE The Sanderlings at Landguard regularly fed three at Dunwich shore pools on May 7th and nine on bread, sticky buns and sandwiches, with a at Kessingland beach on June 7th. particular liking tor French sticks. This was The first return birds were noted in July with exploited by the ringers who were able to trap three on February 24th using the above as one at Minsmere on 11th and Landguard with four bait. south offshore on 12th. Autumn passage peaked Per N. Odin. during August with seven at Benacre Broad on 1st; four at Covehithe Broad on 28th and six north offshore at Lowestoft on 23rd. During the second-winter period, peak counts came from Lowestoft with 26 on December 1 st and Kessingland with five on November 6th. One bird at Pakefield was seen to supplement its diet with a doughnut on November 28th! LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta Fairly common passage migrant. Occasionally overwinters. The first spring migrant was noted at Trimley Marshes on April 4th. Other April records came from Havergate Island with one on 16th and 17th, two on 19th and one on 26th. During May singles were noted at Minsmere (20th to 23rd), North Warren (2nd and 12th) and Trimley Marshes (24th). The first return birds, in what was a good autumn passage, were three at Minsmere on July 9th. August was quiet with the maximum day-count from any site being two. However, September was exceptional. All counts for the month are given: Lowestoft: North Denes, one on 1st. Benacre: Benacre Broad, four on 6th; 12 on 9th, 39 on 14th and 15th; 13 on 20th; 16 on 26th. Covehithe: Covehithe Broad, six on 12th; 50 on 17th. Southwold: Boating Lake, two on 17th.

Blyth Estuary: two on 27th. Walberswick: 12 on 6th. Tinker's Marshes, one on 9th.

Dunwich: one on 8th. Minsmere: seven on 2nd; 10 on 6th; one on 10th; 25 on 14th; three on 21st and 22nd; one on 29th.

70


Leiston-cum-Sizewell: Levels, 10 on 18th Aldeburgh: North Warren, three on 18th; one on 20th; two on 24th. Hazelwood Marshes, four on 6th; three on 27th. Orford: Havergate Island, three on 6th; two on 13th. Bawdsey: one on 12th; two on 14th; seven on 17th; one on 18th; two on 19th. Melton: Deben Estuary, three on 6th. Falkenham: one on 17th.

Felixstowe: Landguard, one on 1st. Trimley Marshes: two on 5th; four on 12th; one on 13th; three on 19th; one on 25th; three on 27th. Holbrook: Lower Holbrook, 25 on 19th; 33 on 23rd. Bury St Edmunds: sugar beet factory, two on 21st. Livermere Lake: two on 5th and 6th; one on 7th; two on 27th. Lakenheath Fen: eight on 6th; 12 on 8th; 14 on 11th and 12th. Birds had virtually passed through by October, the peak count during the month being two at Benacre Broad (5th) and the Blyth Estuary (17th). The only reports in the second-winter period were from Trimley Marshes on November 3rd and South wold Town Marshes on November 8th. TEMMINCK'S STINT Calidris temminckii Uncommon passage migrant. Amber list. A minimum of eight birds is the second-best showing in the County in the last ten years, although still well short of the 17 in 1991 ! South wold: Boating Lake, three, May 16th (J M Cawston); four. May 17th to 20th (S Howell, N Mason, E W Patrick). Walberswick: Tinker's Marshes, Aug.23rd (D J Pearson). Aldeburgh: North Warren, one, May 13th (D Thurlow). Trimley Marshes: two, May 13th (G J Jobson) PECTORAL SANDPIPER Calidris melanotos Scarce passage migrant. After two blank years, a welcome return with four birds reported from three sites. Southwold: Town Marshes, one, Oct.31st to Nov.6th (M Forbes, C R Naunton, et al). Walberswick: Tinker's Marshes, one, Aug.23rd to 26th (C A Buttle, R Fairhead, R Walden, et al).

Minsmere: two, Sep. 19th to 28th (D Fairhurst, G J Jobson, RSPB,eí al) CURLEW SANDPIPER Calidris ferruginea Regular passage migrant in varying numbers. Spring migrants were noted at four sites. Breydon Water held a single bird on May 20th. Singles were noted at Minsmere on seven dates from May 6th to 27th and at Tinker's Marshes on May 24th. In the south of the County, Trimley Marshes logged singles on May 10th, 19th and 31st with two from May 13th to 16th. A fairly strong autumn passage was heralded with two birds at both Benacre Broad and Trimley Marshes on July 20th. The highest count of the month, seven, came from Benacre Broad (21st) and Havergate Island (30th). . Reports were received from 10 sites during August, with Tinker's Marshes produc•ng the peak count of 11 on 29th. Passage peaked in September with records from 13 sites. Double-figure counts came from the Deben Estuary (12) on 6th; Falkenham (10) °n 17th and Havergate Island (32) on 9th. In the west of the County, the peak count w a s three at Lakenheath Fen from August 29th to September 6th. October produced two records with singles at Benacre Broad on 19th and Minsmere on 21st. 71


PURPLE SANDPIPER Calidris maritima Regular but local winter visitor. Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. Peak counts during the first winter period from Ness Point, Lowestoft were 15 on January 13th, 16 on February 28th and 14 on March 10th. In April, 12 on 12th was the last report for the first quarter. Elsewhere, Landguard recorded two birds on January 19th and one on 25th. Autumn passage was good with the first return birds noted at Havergate Island (singles on August 24th and 31st). September reports came from three sites: Ness Point (one) on 1st; Havergate (one) on 6th and 10th and Landguard (one) on 14th to 16th and (four) on 26th. During October, up to 10 were reported from Ness Point while Landguard recorded singles on 7th, 8th and 14th with two on 9th and 11th. In the second-winter period, peak counts from Ness Point were 10 on November 4th and five on December 25th. Single birds were also found at the Minsmere Sluice on November 3rd, the sea defences at Slaughden on November 24th, Orfordness on December 6th and at Landguard on November 14th and 15th and December 16th. DUNLIN Calidris alpina Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Other counts of note during the Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec first-winter Benacre Broad* n/c n/c 3 n/c 140 52 1 2 period included 1240 1450 470 74 Blyth Estuary* 10 n/c 1740 1670 1100 at North Aide/Ore Estuary 4493 2499 1217 n/c 1089 1316 2478 5821 1211 239 Havergate Is* 590 92 271 40 n/c n/c Warren on JanuDeben Estuary 2076 2097 1119 33 762 549 1623 1005 ary 12th; 2000 at 146 24 Orwell Estuary* 2370 4356 751 8022 3622 5272 Falkenham Creek Stour Estuary* 6500 7850 3772 1711 1200 2170 2070 2000 on March 1st; * monthly maxima 1894 at Holbrook Bay on January 21st and 884 at Trimley Marshes on January 4th. Inland, peak site counts were 11 at Livermere Lake on March 12th; three at Lackford on March 7th; five at Lakenheath Fen on March 15th and one at Palgrave on January 14th. On the coast, spring passage was fairly light, with 58 at Minsmere on May 12th and 50 at Havergate Island on May 7th being the only counts of note. Autumn passage was stronger. Counts of note during August included: 349 at Havergate Island on 9th and 25th; 150 at Hazlewood Marshes on 16th; 106 at Benacre Broad on 17th; 125 at Covehithe Broad on 20th; 280 on the Aide Estuary on 29th and 150 at Wolsey Bridge on 31st. Notable counts in September included 140 at Benacre Broad on 5th and 1200 at Holbrook Bay on 23rd. Inland the peak count was four at Livermere Lake on September 3rd and 7th. Offshore, Landguard logged 687 south in October and 634 south in November while North Warren logged 774 south in November. The second winter period produced the following counts of note: 1180 at Brantham on October 25th and 1761 on November 29th; 1500 at Felixstowe Ferry on November 7th and 647 at Wherstead Strand on November 2nd. Counts from main sites:

BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER Limicola falcinellus Very rare passage migrant. The fourteenth record for the County. Minsmere: one. May 26th (P D Green, M Ellison, D Fairhurst, et al). 72


RUFF Philomachus pugnax Common passage migrant. A few oversummer and overwinter. Amber list. Birds were noted regularly at Minsmere (maximum of 12 on February 21st) and North Warren (maximum of 12 on January 11th) during the first-winter period. Spring passage was evident from mid-March onwards. There was clearly an influx of birds around the 22nd with the following counts received: 13 at Castle Marsh; 15 at North Warren; 15 at Somerleyton Marshes; six at Tinker's Marshes and six at Trimley Marshes. The 13 birds seen at Lakenheath Fen on 15th is the peak spring count for the west of the County. April produced counts of 11 at Minsmere on 21st; seven at North Warren on 9th; four at Sizewell Belts on 19th; eight at Southwold on 10th and five at Trimley Marshes on 1st. Return birds were noted from July 5th with two at Trimley Marshes. The bulk of the autumn passage was recorded from this site with monthly maxima of 14 in July, 14 in August and 18 in September. The only other sites to record double-figure counts were the Blyth Estuary with 15 on September 12th, North Warren with 10 on September 27th and Lakenheath Fen with 21 on August 30th and up to 12 daily during September to 18th. During the second-winter period birds were virtually absent from the County with the only records being singletons at Minsmere on November 14th; North Warren on December 19th and Southwold Town Marshes on December 25th. JACK SNIPE Lymnocryptes minimus Fairly common passage migrant and winter visitor. Amber list. This diminutive snipe's recent scarcity in the coastal region continued with firstwinter reports from only four sites, all involving singles. By contrast up to four were present inland at Bury St Edmunds sugar beet factory in February. Most unusually, there were no reports relating to spring passage. An early autumn bird was at Landguard, September 16th. Reports were from eight coastal sites in October including an impressive total of eight at North Warren, 20th. Particularly interesting sightings on October 4th involved one seen flying in from the sea at Kessingland and another flushed at the North Denes, Lowestoft. Between mid-November and the year's end, singles were located at nine sites; these were all in the coastal region apart from Parham and Cornard Mere. COMMON SNIPE Gallinago gallinago Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Small numbers breed. Amber list. Apart from 50 at North Warren on January 7th, single-figure totals were widespread during the generally mild first winter period; the main exceptions to this trend occurred in February with up to 40 at the Dunwich shore pools and 13 at Lackford WR. Spring passage was well defined, principally between early March and mid-April, with double-figure totals reported from nine sites. These included 44, North Warren, March 27th; 42, Micklemere, Ixworth, March 1st; 29, Minsmere, April 16th, and 25, Inmley Marshes, March 27th. There was evidence of successful, or potential breeding, at six wetland sites, uccessful breeding occurred at Minsmere (five pairs); Market Weston Fen (two drumming, March 21st; downy juvenile trapped, June 20th), Trimley Marshes (two juveniles, July 9th) and North Warren (two pairs). Elsewhere, four were drumming at Lakenheath Washes, May 15th, and one was in suitable breeding habitat at Barton Mills, June 5th. . Autumn passage birds became apparent from mid-August. Totals in August included up to 32 at Lakenheath Washes; 13 Walberswick, 25th, and 10, Trimley 73


Marshes, 31st. The only significant gathering in September involved up to 36 at Lakenheath Washes. In October, singles flew south at Landguard on five dates and up to 15 were at North Warren and Sizewell. Late-autumn arrivals became apparent in November with impressive totals of 200, Barsham Marshes, 23rd, and 154, Minsmere, 8th. Elsewhere in November there were up to 48 at Lakenheath Washes, 46 at Southwold and 26 on the Deben Estuary. ThaĂŻ many of these birds quickly moved on is exemplified by the highest total in Decembe being only 35 on the Deben Estuary, 6th. EURASIAN WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticĂłla Fairly common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Particularly significant was the survey work which revealed roding males in virtually all of the twenty seven 1-kilometre squares covering The King . Forest (BTO). Elsewhere in north-west Suffolk roding males were reported from nine sites and included con centrations of up to six at Knettis hall Heath and four at Mayda Farm, Brandon. Breeding season reports were received from only five coastal sites with a maximum of four roding males at Hollesley Heath. During January and February birds were noted at 26 widely scattered localities. The generally mild weather resulted in no large gatherings, with maxima of only six at Darsham, January 12th, and four at Aldringham Walks, January 25th and Eurasian Woodcock Old Newton, February 13th. Migrant Woodcock are a feature ot the Suffolk coast in March. This year the last two weeks of the month resulted in reports from 15 coastal sites with a concentration during the period 27th to 31st; totals included five, North Warren, 28th, four, Minsmere, 31st, and three Aldringham, 27th. There were only two coastal records in October. The main autumn arrival occurred in the first ten days of November with reports from 14 coastal sites. All were of single birds apart from on 2nd when two flew in from over the sea at Thorpeness, two were at North Warren, and two were in Southwold Churchyard. One flew west over Ness Point, Lowestoft, 9th. Arrivals continued into December with singles at Bawdsey and Benacre Broad, 6th, and Landguard, 7th. Birds were at a minimum of 14 widely scattered potential wintering sites in December. Totals were low, as in the first-winter period, with maxima of only three at Theberton, 16th and Lakenheath, 28th. BLACK-TAILED GODWIT Limosa limosa Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Increasing numbers over-summer. Red listAnother excellent year for this species not only in the coastal region, but also in north-west Suffolk. In this latter region there was only one spring record, at Livermere Lake on May 5th, but an excellent autumn passage commenced with 14 at Lakenheath Washes, July 6th. Subsequent reports from the west involved: 74


Lakenheath Washes: six, Estuary counts: Jul.25th, 18, Jul.27th; Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep present almost conBlyth 178 140 157 133 184 tinuously during August Aide/Ore 86 123 701 280 n/c - maximum 13 on Deben 154 95 151 72 182 19th; three, Sep. 16th, Orwell 403 350 305 470 20 Nov.7th. Stour 154 512 218 164 168 Livermere Lake: Jul.9th. Lackford WR: Jul.8th; six, Jul.23rd.. avenham Heath: 19, Aug.17th. Bury St Edmunds: 14 over town, Jul.21st; sugar beet factory, Aug. 17th.

Oct 266 149 394 218 842

Nov 80 162 109 622 938

Dec 15 76 45 214 122

Away from the estuaries during the first-winter period there were 82 at Minsmere, February 15th, and 45 there, March 5th. Spring passage flocks in May included 198, Minsmere, 17th; 121, Southwold, 8th, and 72, Blyth Estuary, 30th. The trend towards more birds apparently over-summering on the coast continued with notable flocks in mid-June including 178, North Warren, 12th, and 115, Orfordness, 14th. There was no proven breeding. Observations at Trimley Marshes indicated the arrival of autumn birds from June 22nd (11 ) increasing to 67 on July 1st. Passage was well-marked up to July 17th, and included 150, Aide Estuary, 4th; 128, Minsmere, 12th and 107, Melton, 17th. A brief pause ensued before more birds arrived in early August with 282, Melton, 3rd; 185, Breydon Water, 4th, and 60 Trimley Marshes, 5th. By the end of August up to 450 had assembled on the Aide Estuary, 29th, and 35 flew south off Bawdsey, 30th. The remainder of the year is basically illustrated by the monthly estuary count iable, with the only notable addition being 120, Iken, October 12th. BAR-TAILED G O D W I T Limosa lapponica r airly common passage migrant and locally fairly common winter visitor. Amber list. A poor year compared with 1997. Site details of the peak February counts were 48, Erwarton Bay, 6th; 38, Falkenham, 1st, and 31, Havergate Island, 15th. Maximum counts during a very poor spring passage were 10, Walberswick, May 15th; nine, Minsmere, May 17th, and seven, Dunwich, April 30th and Trimley Marshes, May 4th. Inland, one was at Lakenheath Washes, May 16th. Over-summering or laggard spring birds in June involved seven, Minsmere, 10th and three, Orfordness, Estuary counts: 14th. Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec Singles at Trimley Blyth 6 0 9 0 0 5 21 0 Aide/Ore 20 13 86 7 14 115 38 Marshes, June 22nd and 51 Deben 28 n/c 1 3 24th might have been 38 n/c 7 18 Orwell 4 early autumn arrivals. 0 1 1 3 2 0 1 Stuur 2 2 95 48 8 n/c 6 3 The first half of July witnessed a trickle of returning birds commencing with two inland at Lakenheath Washes, 4th. Other reports at this time included 11 south off Landguard, 12th, and ei ght on Havergate Island, 7th. Relatively few were noted from late July onwards into August apart from 11, Havergate Island, August 5th; 10 south off Southwold, July 23rd and nine south off Landguard, August 6th. Autumn movements eventually peaked in the first half of September with notable counts of 33, Minsmere, 3rd; 21 south off Southwold, 1st and 14 on Havergate Island, 3th. Thereafter the only noteworthy reports were from the estuaries. The count of 95 on the Stour Estuary in December was recorded in Erwarton Bay, 6th. 75


W H I M B R E L Numenius phaeopus Common passage migrant. Amber list. There were no overwintering birds this year. Spring movements commenced with early birds south over Minsmere on March 16th (three) and 17th (two) and two on Havergate Island, March 31 st. The first spring peak occurred on April 16th when there were 19 at Minsmere, 10 at Dunwich shore pools and 17 on Havergate Island. Totals at this latter site gradually increased throughout April to peak at 41 on 30th. Other notable April totals involved 23 on the Deben Estuary, 26th, and 17 south off Landguard, 23rd. Spring passage totals peaked during the first two weeks of May. Maximum totals included: Southwold: 54, May 4th: 46, May 6th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 18, May 8th. Orford: Orfordness, 20, May 3rd. Havergate Island, 70, May 8th. Felixstowe: Landguard, 16 north, May 7th.

Reports from West Suffolk in early May involved singles at Livermere Lake, 4th; Elveden, 7th and Lackford WR, 9th, and one in a horse paddock at Stansfield, 9tli. Spring passage continued up to June 4th off Landguard where the first autumn bird flew south on June 21st. Other early arrivals in June were at Havergate Island, 25th, and Thorpeness, 30th. A pronounced peak in totals was apparent in late July, as follows: Southwold: 28, Jul.20th; 16, south, Jul.23rd. Minsmere: 12, Jul.20th. Aldringham-cum-Thorpe: Thorpeness, 40 south, Jul.21st. Orford: Havergate Island, 17, Jul.20th. Long Melford: 22 south, Jul.26th.

The Long Melford sighting is particularly noteworthy. Other inland reports during July and August were from Santon Downham, July 10th and four there, July 14th; Wangford, July 9th; Lackford WR, July 18th and Elveden, August 9th. Relatively few were recorded on the coast and estuaries during August. The maximum count was of 14 on Southwold Golf Course practice green, 4th. Autumn totals normally peak in August but this year the maximum counts occurred in September (see Bar-tailed Godwit), principally at Havergate Island where there were 41 on 12th, increasing to 72 on 13th - what an impressive sight they must have made! Elsewhere, 14 flew south off Landguard, 7th. Birds were recorded in October at Lowestoft, 10th, Deben Estuary, 11th and Blyth Estuary, 10th (three) and 31 st. The final sighting of the year was of three on the Blyth Estuary, November 7th. EURASIAN C U R L E W Numenias arquata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few pairs breed. Amber list. Individual site totals during the first-winter period also included 290, Boyton. F e b r u a r y 7th; 200. Estuary counts: Blyth Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

Sep

Oct

Nov

806 383 237 559 586

1275 435 800 750 463

1032 48 543 396 351

n/c 96 35 241 99

625 122 742 n/c 477

621 70 722 656 635

485 20 408 410 441

Dec 708 n/c 368 745 842

Sudbourne, January 7th; 143, Holbrook

Bay, J a n u a r y 21st: 140, Martlesham Creek. January 31st and 131Nacton, February 22nd. Northward movements off Landguard were first recorded on February 18th on which date birds were also first noted back at breeding sites in Breckland. Northerly passage was noted off Landguard until late May with maximum day-totals of 15 on March 27th and 28 on April 24th. The only other spring passage reports were of 50. 76


Hcrringfleet Marshes, May 5th; 48, Somerleyton Marshes, April 29th and up to four at Bury St Edmunds sugar beet factory in April. There was much better reporting of the Breckland breeding population in 1998 than has occurred in recent years. Reports from a minimum of eight sites indicated a population of up to 25 pairs; this included eight pairs at Lakenheath Warren and four pairs on "clearfell" at Elveden (BTO et al). Peak offshore autumn movements occurred in late June. At Landguard, 697 flew south in June, commencing on 2nd and peaking at 230 on 20th. Further up the coast, 104 flew south off Thorpeness in June from 19th, peaking at 42 on 27th. These impressive offshore movements were not reflected in reports from coastal and estuatine sites; the maximum feeding count in June was of 27 on Havergate Island, 21st. Offshore movements at Landguard in July totalled only 141, with a maximum of 18 on 11th; other counts of southbound birds in July involved 35, Thorpeness, 24th ani' 21 off there on 17th and 16 off Kessingland, 17th. Counts at the principal sites in July and August were also low with maxima of 150, Boyton, August 12th; 143 Havergate Island, August 27th; 100, Hazlewood Marshes, August 31st and 83, North Warren, July 6th. Reports from inland sites during early autumn included singles at Stowmarket, July 9th. Stansfield, July 15th and Pakenham, August 18th, and 11 at Hinderclay, August 24th.

SPOTTED R E D S H A N K Tringa erythropus Common passage migrant. A few overwinter. ( 'verwintering by small numbers of this species is now an established feature at a •ew sites on the Suffolk coast. During the period up to mid-March, up to three were at both Dunwich and Havergate Island, two in the Martlesham Creek/Melton area of the Deben Estuary, and one at Trimley Marshes. Spring passage was only recorded on the coast, but was well-marked in the third anil fourth weeks of April. There were reports from nine sites with a maximum of three in April at Southwold, 15th; Minsmere, 24th; Havergate Island, 29th; Martlesham Creek, 12th and Trimley Marshes, 18th. Passage continued to May 9th when three were at Minsmere. 1 he first returning adult female was on Havergate Island, June 9th. Birds were recorded at six sites in June with a maximum of 12 at Minsmere, 21st. I he species was reported from 14 coastal sites during the autumn. Typically, passage peaked in the period from late July onwards into August as juveniles and J "It males arrived in the country. Totals at Minsmere were much lower than in past yon-

• «

J

I

a m a x m u m th R ' count of only 14 on July 23rd. This year's principal site was e Bl yth Estuary, with maximum monthly counts of 45 on July 28th and 23 on A gust 29th. On the adjoining Tinker's Marshes birds were present from July 1st to I u ® ust ^ 1 st with a peak count of c.80 in the second week of August. Totals elsewhere <- uded 10, Walberswick, August 16th; eight, Benacre Broad, July 2nd; seven, navergate Island, August 10th and five, Holbrook Bay, August 15th. to W ^ the coast and estuaries there were reports from Lakenheath Washes on ur dates between August 29th and September 18th, with a maximum of four Mamies, August 30th. Were note Th()Cry d a ' t e r mid-September. Singles were present in November at I ( )ih r ' ieneSS ' ^ a n d Bawdsey, 8th and in December at Minsmere, 8th and Dunwich,

77


C O M M O N REDSHANK Tringa totanus Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The most notable feature during the first winter period was the high totals on the Orwell Estuary. These were partly due to high-tide roost counts adjacent to the >usy West Bank Terminal at Ipswich Docks. Reports, which probably refer to spring passage birds, were of 200 in Holbrook Bay, May 16th; 77 at Minsmere, April 14th and 30 on Lakenheath Washes, May Ith. Breeding data from the coastal rÊgion were very sparse. The principal sites -vere North Warren and Minsmere, each with 27 pairs. However, breeding success was oor with possibly only two young at the latter site. Elsewhere one pair was at Somerle ton and three pairs at Herringfleet. Up to 33 birds were at Trimley Marshes in early June, but only one juvenile was reported. Birds were noted back at inland breeding sites from March 8th. Counts of airs involved three at Lackford, two at Livermere Lake and at least one at Ixworth No direct evidence of breeding was forthcoming from Lakenheath Washes but up t > 12 birds were present there in June. A trickle of migrants was noted off Landguard from June 19th onwards intoj'uly: numbers picked Counts from main sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr Oct Nov Dec up in August Sep when 107 were Blyth Estuary 500 600 660 495 520 650 610 416 Alde/Ore Estuary 3224 5268 3756 n/c 1279 2402 1436 1862 recorded, which Havergate Is. 1360 1233 792 n/c n/c included 35 on 86 276 30 Deben Estuary 1147 1787 1448 318 1207 2173 1729 1151 25th. Southerly Orwell Estuary 1018 1214 1157 586 136 994 908 850 p a s s a g e off Stour Estuary 619 452 529 345 680 591 758 728 Thorpeness also peaked in August when 172 were noted with maxima of 71 on 15th and 44 on 22nd. A count at Southwold on September 8th revealed 60 flying south. Estuary-watchers were also busily counting in late summer; peak counts in July and August included 563, Blyth Estuary, July 27th; 400, Havergate Island. August 9th and 230, Hazlewood Marshes, August 16th. The principal counts of this species during the second-winter period were all on the estuaries (see above). Particularly noteworthy reports from non-estuarine sites were of 29 on flooded meadows at Parham, November 26th and 18 at Lakenheath Washes. November 7th. C O M M O N G R E E N S H A N K Tringa nebularia Common passage migrant. Occasionali) overwinters. Amber list. A wealth of data was submitted relating to this obviously very populär species. However, the WeBS counters failed to locate any overwintering birds on the estuaries this year. The first spring arrivais were in April, at North Warren, 2nd and Benacre Broad, 5tn. An early peak of 16 was on Havergate Island, 16th and seven were located on ^ the Stour Estuary, 26th. The only west Suffolk sightings in April were at Lackford WR, 14th and 25th and Long Melford, 26th. In central Suffol" one occurred at Stowmarket, April 30th. Sightings were more widespread in May with report r Common Greenshank from 15 sites. Three or more birds were located a 78


nine of these sites, with 10, Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, 14th; six, Chillesford, 3rd and five at Benacre Broad, 17th, and North Warren, 3rd. The species was reported from five west Suffolk sites in May including three on at least five dates at the rapidly emeiging Lakenheath Washes wader "hot spot". None was reported between June 18th (Minsmere) and July 3rd (three, North Warren). Few were noted until July 19th when 23 were at Benacre Broad, increasing to ai. impressive 35 there on July 31st. The only other double-figure counts in July were of 13, Minsmere, 23rd and 11, Havergate Island, 30th. West Suffolk sightings in July included four at Lakenheath Washes, 27th and one in the Glem Valley at Stan-.field, 31st to August 4th. August reports were again dominated by those from Benacre Broad with 32 on 5th and 33 on 13th. The only other double-figure counts on the coast in August, which is normally a very busy month for the species, were of 12, Walberswick, 15th and 11, Havergate Island, 6th. Reports from Lakenheath Washes dominated those from west Suffolk in August, with up to two on several dates, and a peak of 10 on 29th. The first half of September witnessed the peak autumn totals at some of the prim pal coastal sites. These included 25, Havergate Island, 6th; 21, Deben Estuary, 6th; 18, Minsmere, 8th and 10, Hazelwood Marshes, 6th. Totals at Benacre Broad wert lower in September than earlier in the autumn but did include 12 on 1st and 10 on 2th. Inland, three were at Bury St Edmunds sugar beet factory, 10th and Lakenheath Washes, 19th. Six sites recorded the species in October, including one away from the coast at Sutt >lk WP, Bramford, 12th and an impressive 16 on the Deben Estuary, 11th. One at the latter site on November 8th was the final sighting of the year. GRKEN SANDPIPER Tringa ochropus h airly common passage migrant with small numbers overwintering. Another well-reported species with sightings at about 50 sites during the course of ¡he year. Birds were noted at 10 sites in the first-winter period up to early March. There were frequent sightings at Wilford Bridge on the Deben Estuary, Lackford WR and l.akenheath. Maximum totals of three were at Pipp's Ford, Barking in the Gipping Valley, January 22nd, and Lackford WR, March 1st. Spring passage was evident from March 15th when five were located during the en Estuary WeBS count. Birds were located at 10 sites during April with a maximum of three at Lakenheath Washes, 7th. Stragglers were at five sites in May up 10 17th (Havergate Island). S| ngles at North Warren, May 26th; Boyton, May 28th, and Minsmere, June 1st, ^ e r e hkely to have been failed, or non, -breeders. However, the bird on Orfordness, Unc ^th, was probably the first returning adult female. Other early migrants in June ^ere on 13th at Trimley Marshes and 17th at Lackford WR where five were present by 20th. There were nine at North Warren on July 4th. A pronounced peak in totals occurred the coast in late July with 15, Covehithe Broad, 28th; eight, Boyton, 29th; six, lord w S W Ì C k ' 2 9 t h ' a n d f l v e a t B e n a c r e < 2 0 t h ' a n d T r i m l e y Marshes, 27th. At Lackr WR the maximum daily count during July was nine, the figure for August was L| ght and for September was seven. remained buoyant into August with nine, North Warren, 10th; seven, and s x at M e r S W Ì C k ' ' > Trimley Marshes, 10th. No more than three were present Smere s o Suff ' i l ' ° f t e n the site of high totals in past years. During August in west tro l U p t 0 e 'ght were at Lackford WR and six at Lakenheath Washes. Away ni the well-watched sites, singles were at Barnham, 10th, Stansfield, 16th and "'nderclay, 25th. 79


The birds present in July and August quickly moved on elsewhere. Few were noted in September and October; maximum counts were of up to seven at Lackford WR in September; five, Stour Estuary, September 6th and three, Deben Estuary, October 11th. Reports were from only five sites in November and December. All were of single birds apart from two at Alton Water, November 15th. WOOD SANDPIPER Tringa glareola Fairly common passage migrant. Amber list. A moderate spring passage was particularly evident in mid-May. The first April arrivals since 1994 were singles at Lackford WR, 23rd, and Minsmere, 28th. A 1 subsequent spring birds were in May with reports from five coastal and three inland sites as follows: Southwold: 16th Walberswick: 15th.

Minsmere: noted on 17 dates between 6th and 29th - up to five birds involved. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 9th, 22nd. Boyton: 16th to 18th. Livermere Lake: 14th. Lackford: 14th to 17th.

Lakenheath: 23rd and 24th. None was reported between May 29th (Minsmere) and July 9th (Trimley Marshes). Overall, autumn passage was reported from 12 sites (but only one inland) involving about 45 birds. Six sites hosted the species in July with maxima of three, Benacre Broad, 31 st, and twos at Boyton, 16th, Havergate Island, 25th and North Warren, 28th to 31st. Atypically, August was a quiet month with sightings at only four sites with a maximum of four, Walberswick, 5th and 15th, and one inland at Lakenheath, 19th and 21st. The largest gathering of the year occurred in September with an impressive nine at Minsmere on 7th. Three were located during the WeBS count on the Deben Estuary, 6th, and another occurred at Lakenheath on the same date. None was reported after September 21st (Minsmere). TEREK SANDPIPER Xenus cinereus Very rare visitor. Walberswick: Sep.รณth (C R Naunton. B Wentworth). The sixth County record of this species, which is now occurring here more frequently. There have now been records in 1951, 1972, 1981, 1992, 1995 and 1998 (and another in spring 1999). The first-named observer above also found the 1992 bird. See plate 11. COMMON SANDPIPER Actitis hypoleucos Common passage migrant. A few occasionally overwinter. This is one of the best-recorded species in Suffolk - a deluge of reports was received. The individual present at Lake Lothing, Lowestoft in December 1997 remained there to at least March 6th. The only other overwintering bird was at Alton Water. January 1st. An early individual was at North Warren, April 8th, but it was not until April 20th that a more general arrival commenced. Birds were recorded at nine sites in April with a maximum of six noted during the Deben Estuary WeBS count on 26th. The species was widespread during May, especially in mid-month. Overall, reports came from 36 sites, of which nine were in West Suffolk. Sites adjacent to the Orwell Estuary hosted the largest gatherings with 14, Trimley Marshes, 12th; 10, Levington. 80


ÏEREK SANDPIPER: the sixth for the County, at Walberswick in September. Clive Naunton

! i , L î T J L E STINT: many passed lflr °ugh Suffolk in September. Clive Naunton

13.

SPOTTED

SANDPIPER:

at

Bawdsey in September; a highlight of the year. AUm Tate


15.

GLAUCOUS

GULL:

photo-

graphed at Aldeburgh early in the year. Robin Chittenden

16. L I T T L E

TERN:

poor breeding season.

another very Alan Tate


17th; nine, Trimley St Martin, lOth and F I E L D N O T E eight, Shotley, 29th. An unusual sight As I was watching a small group of Common Sandpipers on the mud edge at Benacre Broad, I became was of two in sheep pens at Easton feeding aware of a Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus flying Bavents, 8th. The largest groups inland fast and low over the mud towards these birds. As scattered the Sparrowhawk picked out one were six, Livermere Lake, and five, they sandpiper and gave chase, low across the water. When Lakenheath Washes, both on 1 lth. the Sparrowhawk was within a couple of metres the Sandpiper suddenly dived, Gannet-like, into Passage petered out in early June Common the Broad and completely disappeared. The Sparrowwith reports from Minsmere, lst, (two; hawk continued on and a good five seconds later the Long Melford, lst and Trimley sandpiper came to the surlace, then flew back to continue feeding on the same area of mud. Marshes, 3rd (two). Two at Trimley Per fi. Drew. Marshes, 12th, were presumably either very late or very early. There was evidence of return passage in late June with singles at Trimley Marshes; 22nd, Havergate Island, 23rd, and North Warren, 25th. At least 30 sites reported the species during July and August. Passage was particularly evident in late July and throughout August. Double-figure totals were at six sites: Benacre: Benacre Broad, 14, Jul.29th. Walberswick: Tinker's Marshes, 11, Jul.29th. Minsmere: 19, Jul.26th. Orford: Havergate Island, 10, Jul.29th; 23, Aug.9th; 50, Aug.23rd. Trimley Marshes: 18, Jul.29th; 20, Jul.31st; 16, Aug.3rd, 5th and 18th.

Shotley: 15,Aug.l8th. The gathering of 50 at Havergate Island, August 23rd, would appear to be the largest individual site-total in Suffolk since August 16th 1969 when 52 were at Minsmere. Birds were located at nine sites in west Suffolk during July and August with a máximum of up to four at Bury St Edmunds sugar beet factory in both months. Littlementioned sites that recorded the species included Stansfíeld, July 3lst and August 8th; Depden, August 2nd and Barton Mere, August 13th. Passage remained buoyant into early September with particularly impressive totals of 31, Havergate Island, 7th and 24, Deben Estuary, 6th. Relatively few were noted after mid-September and only five in October, including one at Trimley Marshes, 3lst. The final sightings of the year involved singles in November at Benacre, 7th to 1 lth and Southwold, 19th. SPOTTED SANDPIPER Actitis Very rare visitor.

macularia

Bawdsey: East Lañe lagoons and shore pools, Sep.8th to 20th (W J Brame).

The third record for the County; an excellent find enjoyed by many. See also the description on page 155 and píate 13. RUDDY TURNSTONE Arenaria interpres Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Additional first-winter totals to those tabulated included 21, Corton, February 7th; 66, West Bank Terminal roost, Ipswich Docks, February 15th, and 79 there, March 15th and a máximum of 29 at the Landguard roost, January 3lst. Spring passage was evident on the Stour Estuary in April (see table). May totals included 40, Havergate Island, 29th; 29, Erwarton, 14th and 11, Trimley Marshes, 18th. In west Suffolk, counts: migrants were at Liver- Monthly estuary Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dee mere Lake, May 1 lth; 27 0 30 nle 10 2 3 2 Aide/Ore Lackford WR, May 13th Deben 57 21 13 35 52 12 38 78 and Lakenheath Washes, Orwell 426 115 239 122 198 169 89 n/c 382 601 486 780 264 432 June lst (two). Stour 42 208 81


A scattering of birds in June included 11 at Trimley Marshes, 24th. Autumn passage was generally light except on the Stour Estuary where Holbrook Bay attracted 84 August 15th and 120, September 19th and Erwarton Bay hosted 400, September 6th Offshore passage at Thorpeness involved 20 south during July 21st to 30th and 24 south, August 15th to 20th. Roost totals in November involved 74, West Bank Terminal, Ipswich Docks, 8th; 4( Alton Water, 8th and 29, Landguard, 14th. Ness Point had attracted 41 on November 11th In December, up to 130 regularly roosted in Lowestoft Harbour and 10 foraged in fields away from the immediate coastline at Carlton Colville. The Ipswich Dock. roost totalled 81 on December 6th. RED-NECKED PHALAROPE Phalaropus Rare passage migrant. Red list.

lobatus

Covehithe: Covehithe Broad, juvenile, Aug.29th (R C Smith). Walberswick: Tinker's Marshes, juvenile, Aug.29th (J C Harris, P Hobbs). (Assumed same as Covehithe bird). Minsmere: East Scrape, Sep. 12th (M Wright).

A welcome return to the County after none had occurred in 1997. Two is an average annual total. GREY PHALAROPE Phalaropus fulicarius Rare winter visitor and passage migrant. Kessingland: on sea and flew off north, Oct.7th (G A Tyler). A recent decline in the popularity of seawatching off the Suffolk coast probably accounts for the decrease in the sightings of this species.

Red-Necked Phalarope

POMARINE SKUA Stercorarius pomarinus Uncommon passage migrant. A few overwinter. There was one spring report, of a bird moving north at Landguard on May 17th. Autumn passage was spread over a long period with a total of 12 recorded. The first was off Southwold on August 28th, the last offshore at Benacre on November 7th. From the monthly maxima chart it can be seen that August proved to be a Pomarine Skua records 1998 good month, presumably made up of autumn passage early returning non-breeding birds, although a juvenile was seen independently by two observers at Southwold on August 28th, before soaring inland. It would be interesting to report on the age groups of those passing Suffolk, but of the nine records only four were aged. Nov Aug Sep Oct

I I I

82

I

Suffolk Birds 1998 Part 1  

Volume 48

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you