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West Area Recorder Colin Jakes, 7 Maltward Avenue, BURY ST EDMUNDS IP33 3XN Tel: 01284 702215

North-East Area Recorder David Fairhurst, c/o RSPB, Minsmere Reserve, WESTLETON IP17 3BY Tel: 01728 832719 E-mail: dave.fairhurst@lycos.com

South-East Area Recorder Keith Bennett, 21 Nunn Close, Martlesham, WOODBRIDGE IP12 4UL Tel: 01394 380110 E-mail: keith_bennett@tiscali.co.uk


SUFFOLK BIRDS VOL. 53 A review of birds in Suffolk in 2003

Editor Malcolm Wright

Assisted by Adam Gretton (Papers) Rob Macklin (Systematic List) Philip Murphy (Systematic List) Trevor Kerridge (Photos) Tony Howe (Artwork)

Published by SUFFOLK NATURALISTS' SOCIETY 2004


Published by The SufFolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH Š The Suffolk Naturalists' Society 2004 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.


CONTENTS Page Editorial Malcolm Wright

5

Obituaries: Bob Warren Philip Murphy

7

Dick Briggs Derek Moore

9

Review of the Year Malcolm Wright

11

The Lackford Lakes Constant Effort Site Colin Jakes, Peter Lack and Malcolm Wright

20

The 2003 Suffolk Bird Report: Introduction

29

Systematic List

31

Appendices

'51

List of Contributors

157

Gazetteer

159

Earliest and Latest Dates of Summer Migrants

161

A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk

162

Rare Birds in Suffolk 2003 Brian Small

166

Régional Review Adam Gretton

175

Suffolk Ringing Report 2003 Peter Lack

180

List of Plates Facing

Plate

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Facing

Plate

Page

No.

Page

No.

14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26.

8 9 Dick Briggs Briggs family 48 Little Grebe Bill Bastón 48 White Stork Lee Gregory 48 American Wigeon Bill Boston Eurasian Marsh Harrier Bill Bastón 48 49 Grey Partridges Bill Bastón 49 Corn Crake Clive Watts 49 Common Crane Tim Brown 49 Dotterel Bill Bastón 96 Avocets Bill Bastón Grey Phalarope Bill Bastón 96 96 Sabine's Gull Alan Tate Bob Warren Geoffrey Warren

Common Cuckoo Malcolm Wright 96 97 Alpine Swift Alan Tate 97 Alpine Swift Alan Tate 97 White Wagtail Lee Gregory 97 Green Woodpecker Bill Bastón 97 Winter Wren Bill Baston 144 Aquatic Warbier Dave Cormack 144 Hume's Leaf Warbier Tim Brown 144 Pallas's Warbier Bill Baston 145 Radde's Warbier Tim Brown 145 Bearded Tits Clive Naunton 145 Common Crossbill Bill Baston 145 Yellowhammer Alan Tate

Front cover: Alpine Swift Tony

Howe

The copyright remains that of the photographers/artist

3


Suffolk Bird Report 2003

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 the latest published for The British List by the British Ornithologist's Union and available on their web site at www.bou.org.uk. English names should follow the same list. Contributions should, if possible, be submitted to the editor on disk and written in Microsoft Word. 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. Photographs and line drawings are required to complement each issue. Suitable photographs of birds, preferably taken in Suffolk, can be either digital or in the form of 35mm transparencies. A payment of ÂŁ12 will be made to the photographer for each photograph published and ÂŁ12 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 1st of each year. Authors of main papers may request up to five free copies of the journal.

Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee: Chair: Richard Drew Area County Recorders: Colin Jakes, David Fairhurst, Keith Bennett. Secretary: Justin Zantboer Other Committee Members'. Will Brame, James Brown, Lee Woods, Peter Ransome, Brian Small, Richard Waiden, David Walsh, Malcolm Wright.

ADDRESSES Papers, notes, drawings and photographs: The Editor (Suffolk 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 IP I 3QH.

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Suffolk Bird Report 2003

Editorial Regular readers of this Report will find an unfamiliar order to the main section, the systematic list. Instead of beginning with divers and grebes and then progressing through several seabird families to the herons, etc., readers will find the list headed by Mute Swan, followed by the rest of the swans, geese and ducks. The gamebirds come next and then the order reverts to the familiar one, with Red-throated Diver heading the remainder of the list. The basic idea is that the list progresses through from the most ancient or primitive species and ends with the passerines (or song birds), which are the most recent or highly developed species. The list is intended to reflect the evolutionary relationships between birds and the latest changes have been prompted by research, over the past 15 years, into the DNA of the various bird families (there are about 173 bird families, worldwide) and how they are related. 1 began bird-watching rather a long time ago now, as a schoolboy and my bookshelves are filled with volumes containing all manner of different sequences. Fifty years ago most books used the Witherby order, which was more or less the reverse of the modern order, beginning with the crows and songbirds and ending with the gamebirds! Since then we have gone through the Wetmore and Voous taxonomic orders, not to mention various idiosyncratic authors who used a variation all their own. This all leads to a good deal of irritation for the reader and we can only hope that the British Ornithologists Union, who are responsible for the British List, will now give us a long period of much-needed stability. This volume of Suffolk Birds contains two reports on the work being carried out by Suffolk's ringers. A few weeks ago at Lackford Lakes, we were carrying out Constant Effort Site ringing when we caught a juvenile Reed Warbler. It was little more than a bundle of fluff, with a short tail and had clearly only recently left the nest. After it was ringed, Colin Jakes said, "We'd better take it back to the reedbed in case it gets lost", so I duly took it back all of 75 metres and placed it in a small willow. As it sat there calling for its parents (they very quickly make contact again) I couldn't help smiling at the situation. Here was this little, naive mite, weighing about 12 grams (well under half an ounce) and we were worried about it getting lost Great Crested Grebes Peter Beeson less than 100 metres from its home area and yet within the space of about 10-12 weeks it will, if it has survived the problems of maturing, have navigated its way to somewhere in west Africa, probably 4-5000 kilometres south of Suffolk, where it should be wintering by the time you read this Report. Amazingly, it is not guided by its parents but performs this feat all on its own. The

5


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 latest research indicates, in very simple terms, that nestlings, such as this Reed Warbier, are programmed at hatching to fly at the requisite time in a set compass direction and for a set period of time to find their wintering quarters. This, for me, is one of the wonders of the marvellous, diverse yet fragile world in which we live and which we should do everything possible to conserve in a responsible way. Ringing has given us a tremendous insight into the lives of our birds. Although the chances of hearing of any one individuai again are very small, enough recoveries have accumulated over the years to build up a picture of their migration routes, where they migrate to, how long they live and many other détails. Such knowledge is, of course, often invaluable for conservation purposes. At the back of this publication you will find a report, compiled by Peter Lack, on the activities of Suffolk's ringers during 2003 and it is well worth a careful perusal, especially the large section on "recoveries". Here you will find détails of the peripatetic wanderings of two young Dutch Spoonbills, a Woodcock which went to Latvia (and ended up being shot), a 26 year old Puflfin, a Blackcap in Mauretania and many more. So, whenever you find a dead bird, please always check its legs for rings and report any détails you find. The high tide line along the beach is a good place to locate a recovery. My thanks are owed to many people who have contributed to this latest Report and foremost to ali the observers who have sent in their records from which the Report is written. Please continue to let us have your observations and as promptly as possible. Landguard Bird Observatory and the observers on Orfordness both produced annual reports for 2003 in record time, which was really helpful. The three recorders for 2003 were Dave Thurlow, Lee Woods and Colin Jakes and they did an invaluable job. Both Dave Thurlow and Lee Woods have now stood down and we thank them for their service. The détails of their replacements, Dave Fairhurst and Keith Bennett, are given inside the front cover. The bulk of this Report is written by 15 différent authors and they are credited at the beginning of the systematic list. Ali of them have full-time jobs and write their section in their "spare" time and 1 am most grateful to them. Rob Macklin efficiently organised the writing of the list and liaised with the authors and Adam Gretton wrote the Regional Review and edited the extra papers. After the first edit, Philip Murphy has once again gone through the systematic list with the proverbiai tooth comb and has made many corrections and suggestions for improvement, for which 1 am most grateful. Philip Murphy and Richard Drew have read and commented on the Review of the Year and Trevor Kerridge and Tony Howe have collected together the photographs and artwork respectively and Tony painted the splendid Alpine Swift on the front cover. We thank the photographers and artists for allowing us to use their work. Brian Small has written the article on Rare Birds in Suffolk 2003 and Peter Lack wrote the Ringing Report and also gave much helpful advice on IT. Ali the members of the Records Committee have helped in various ways and especially the secretary, Justin Zantboer. David Walsh has liaised over ali the BBRC records. The monthly weather summaries in Review of the Year were compiled using Ken Blowers excellent reports in the EADT and also data from the Met Office web site. Paul Gowen has liaised with the printers in Ipswich. Last but not least, Rosemary has read the Report cover to cover, endeavouring to pick up any spelling or grammatical errors and Joanna and Alistair helped me sort out various IT problems - again! We owe Mike Gaydon at Healeys our gratitude for seeing the Report into print. Malcolm Wright Pakenham 6


Suffolk Bird Report 2003

OBITUARIES Robert Bennett Warren 1919-2003 The "old guard" of Suffolk ornithology is gradually slipping away and on Saturday, November 1st 2003 the likes of Bert Axell, Bill Payn and Rex Beecroft were joined by Bob Warren. He died peacefully in Ipswich Hospital after suffering for almost a year with severe kidney problems. Those of us who were privileged to know this remarkable man can readily attest that the world is a poorer place for his demise. Bob's early years were spent in what was then a rural area of south-western Essex and as a child he developed a keen interest in all forms of natural history, especially birds. At the age of 12 he joined the grandly-named (and presumably now long-defunct) British Empire Naturalist's Association and was encouraged to begin what was to become a lifelong fascination with the study and recording of birds. 1933 is generally remembered as the year that Adolf Hitler came to power, but it also witnessed the commencement of Bob's 70-year subscription to the journal, British Birds. Two years later he joined the fledgling British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Nowadays the training for would-be ringers is rigorous and strictly supervised by the BTO, but back in the 1930s all that was required was the readership of British Birds\ Accordingly Bob became involved in bird-ringing, to a limited degree, from 1936 onwards. He had only just started work with the Royal Exchange insurance company when his life, as with so many millions of others, was dramatically changed by the start of the Second World War. The next six years were, not surprisingly, to be the most dramatic of Bob's life but typically, he was very humble about his role in the hostilities. He had a brief spell in France in the spring of 1940 but managed to get back to Britain via Cherbourg, rather than the beaches (and horrors) of Dunkirk. In April 1943 he took part in the Allied landings in north-west Africa before moving on to the commencement of the liberation of Italy. Unfortunately he was captured by the Germans (on his 25th birthday), following the landings at Anzio. The highlight of his subsequent incarceration in a POW camp in Upper Silesia, Poland, was to go birdwatching in the surrounding countryside with the camp commandant, who was a keen ornithologist and, as Bob remarked, a thoroughly decent man. Finally, in order to avoid a potentially terrible fate at the hands of the advancing Russians, Bob and his fellow POWs were involved in the infamous 800 km "Death March" westwards across Poland and Germany. This took place between January and April 1945 when, finally, Bob and the other POWs who were fortunate enough to be still alive, were liberated by the Americans. After a period of much-needed physical and mental rest and recuperation, Bob returned to his home in Harold Wood in Essex. He recommenced work with the Royal Exchange in the City of London, where an unexpected bonus was the Black Redstarts nesting on the bomb sites. Bob met his wife-to-be, Dorothy, at the church they both attended and they began what was to be 48 years of married life in 1949. They became proud parents, in the early 1950s, with the arrival of sons Geoffrey and David. In 1949 the Essex Bird Watching and Preservation Society was formed and Bob soon became a member of the society's Records Committee, on which he served until 1971 and was its chairman from 1959 to 1970. For this long service to ornithology in Essex, Bob was elected a Vice-President of the EBWPS in 1962 and served on its executive committee during 1966-1969. His favourite birding areas were Hanningfield Reservoir and the River Crouch, where he found his rarest Essex bird, a stunned Little Crake under overhead powerlines, on April 3rd 1965. 7


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 In 1972, Bob's employer, by then named Guardian Royal Exchange, moved their headquarters from London to Ipswich. This necessitated Bob and his family (and many hundreds of other families) moving north into Suffolk and they were to live in Ipswich for 13 years. He soon joined the Suffolk Naturalist's Society (SNS) and was one of the earliest members of the Suffolk Ornithologists Group (SOG), following its formation in 1973. Bob took early retirement in 1979 and SOG was quick to employ his expertise by asking him to take over as the group's recorder. He accepted eagerly and carried out this task with diligence and meticulous attention to detail. His Bob Warren Geoffrey Warren experience as SOG's recorder made him the obvious successor to Derek Moore as overall county bird recorder in January 1985, when the records committees of the SNS and SOG were combined to form the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee (SORC). Bob remained as county recorder until December 1991; his hard work was particularly appreciated by Steve Piotrowski, editor of the 1986 to 1991 Suffolk Bird Reports, which included the inaugural winner of the British Birds best annual bird report award (1990). In recognition of his excellent service to ornithology in the county, SNS appointed Bob as one of their Rivis Vice-Presidents. He and Dorothy had moved to Felixstowe in July 1985 and following his 1991 "retirement" he had more time to watch his local patch at Felixstowe Ferry, where he found a Night Heron in January 1992. Although Bob was interested in all aspects of ornithology, he was particularly fascinated by the study and recording of common species. The birds that visited his various gardens over the years were recorded meticulously and he was a keen supporter of the BTO Garden Birdwatch survey. In earlier years he had provided valuable data for the BTO Nest Record Scheme. However, having moved to Felixstowe he eagerly accepted offers to view rarities in the Landguard/Trimley area such as Stilt Sandpiper, Pied Wheatear, Subalpine Warbler and Pallas's Warbler. Partial deafness had afflicted Bob for many years and he was saddened that as the years went by the number of species that he could hear singing or calling gradually diminished. This deafness had resulted in his never learning to drive and a total reliance on walking and public transport to get him to his favourite birding sites. Above all else Bob was a committed Christian. His faith guided all his decisions and he personified qualities that are so often lacking in today's world - gentleness, decency, humility, respect and care for others. Dorothy died in 1997, remarkably also on Saturday, November 1st. By his own admission, life was a struggle for Bob after Dorothy died but his character and strong faith eventually helped him to cope very well, with a little help from his friends. He leaves sons Geoffrey (a Church of England minister and keen naturalist, now living in Somerset) and David (an Ipswich-based quantity surveyor and church warden), daughter-in-law Alison and teenage grandsons Andrew and Christopher, to whom we extend our deepest condolences. (With many thanks to Nick Green, chairman of the Essex Birdwatching Society, who kindly supplied details of Bob's life in Essex). Philip Murphy 8


Obituaries

Dick Briggs

1935-2004 Many of today's young birders may not have known Dick Briggs or, indeed, ever knowingly met him, but his tragic death is a great loss not only to his family but to ornithology and nature conservation in East Anglia. Dick did not venture too far from his usual haunts of Broadland and the north Suffolk coast but his contribution was considerable. From the 1960's onwards, Dick was a leading light in birding and conservation circles in the Lowestoft area. An enthusiastic member of the Lowestoft Field Club and a keen ringer, he spent endless hours with his mist nets on Whitecast Marsh (now part of Carlton Marshes Suffolk Wildlife Trust Reserve), mostly catching Snipe. I was lucky enough to accompany him on these expeditions and I remember well one incident when I was too sick to go and 1 was awakened to find Dick in my bedroom with a Jack Snipe in his hand. It is the only time I have ringed a bird in my pyjamas and smelling of Vic. Dick was so determined 1 would not miss out. His dogged and sometimes bloody-minded determination was what made the man and in particular, he had a long love affair with Marsh Harriers. A nest on Carlton Marshes in the early 1970s was one of only a handful in the British Isles at that time and he organised us all into a round-the-clock watch to ensure the survival of the nest. He also assisted John Day (an RSPB staff member), Cliff Waller and others in surveying all harrier nests over many years and contributed to the ringing of the chicks. When you see these glorious raptors Dick Briggs Briggs family everywhere in Suffolk today, remember Dick Briggs was one of those who fought hard for their survival. Dick also campaigned to ensure that his beloved Carlton Marshes became a nature reserve. He was an active member of the Lowestoft Group of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and he persuaded them to purchase some land and lease other bits from Waveney District Council to create the reserve. This was eventually done and Dick became Voluntary Warden, enlisting me as one of his assistants. Thus he introduced me to a long relationship with SWT. Dick further ensured other areas in Lowestoft became protected; the marshes at Oulton and Flixton Holes are just two other nature reserves established as a result of his Herculean efforts. Dick represented the true conservation volunteer of his time; completely single minded, resourceful, hard working and devoted to the task. He flirted briefly as a staff member with the RSPB (he was assistant warden at Minsmere for about 18 months during 1968/69) and SWT, but it did not really suit Dick - he preferred to be a volunteer. 9


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 An outstanding ornithologist, Dick was self-taught in the true British spirit. As an expert boat builder, he was also a practical man who made sure things got done. He volunteered his help in the crĂŠation of Minsmere and at Walberswick as a member of the Dingle Bird Club and more recently at Wheatfen Broad in Norfolk. The latter was the reserve created by the late Ted Ellis. In the 1960s and 1970s, I spent a great deal of time birding and ringing with Dick and the late Brian Brown. The three of us had many happy times, often cramped together with tools and other gear in a three-wheeled Reliant Robin. I am conscious that 1 am the survivor of the trio and I miss the other two greatly. Suffolk will long benefit from Dick's contribution and the image of this dynamo of a man, always puffing his trusty pipe, will remain with me for the rest of my days. Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife, Joan, and their two daughters. Derek Moore

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Suffolk Bird Report 2003

Review of the Year Malcolm Wright Weather Although snow fell twice in January, it thawed quickly on both occasions and overall the winter was mild. The more delicate species, such as Bearded Tit and Winter Wren, were not, therefore, adversely affected. In mid-April températures reached 24C and this set the pattern for a very warm summer, with record-breaking températures in August, when the mercury reached 38C, the magic 100F. Overall the period from January lst to September 30th, over much of England, was the warmest since records began in 1659. The heat was compounded by the three month drought in the région, from late July to late October, which probably had a serious effect on some young birds, such as thrushes. November was the wettest month of the year, with 89mm (3.5ins) and with December adding another 66mm (2.6ins), this gave some much needed replenishment to the wetlands. Total rainfall for the year (as measured in Ipswich) was 461mm (18.17ins), which is 143mm (5.62ins) below the long term average. So overall, a distinctly hot and dry year. Rarities Three species new to the county list were recorded, ail in October. Early in the month an Eleonora's Falcon, only the fifth for Britain, was watched over Reydon. An American Golden Piover on Breydon Water came south of the estuary for part of its stay, providing the first fully acceptable Suffolk record. This was followed a few days later by two Hume's LeafWarblers, at Sizewell and Southwold. Other major rarities included an inland Marsh Sandpiper in Aprii (6th for Suffolk), the 2nd county Sardinian Warbler in July, the 9th Siberian Stonechat and the 10th Pendutine Tit. The support acts included Black Kite, Alpine Swift and Red-rumped Swallow. It was a good year for rare warblers, with Greenish, Dusky and Radde's ail recorded and many Pallas's Leaf and Yellow-browed in late autumn. Full détails are given later in this report. Breeding Birds The breeding season produced its usuai ups and downs. Little Egrets only nested in Suffolk for the first time in 2002, with three pairs at two sites. This year they had already increased to 14 nests at two sites, with young successfully fledged at both localities. Great Bitterns also showed an increase, to 18 booming maies, four more than the corrected figure for 2002. As far as is known, no nesting attempts were made this year by Eurasian Spoonbills. Marsh Harriers enjoyed another good year, with 41 nests at 11 sites and a minimum of 98 young fledged and at least six pairs of Common Buzzards nested in the west. There were 249 pairs of Pied Avocets at ten sites, but success was poor due to prédation by Foxes and large gulls, while at least 84 pairs of Stone Curlew bred, with average success. After two good breeding seasons on the sand bar at Benacre Broad, the Little Terns failed due to human disturbance and the 46 pairs in the county only fledged two or three young. Another mild winter was good news for most passerines and Cetti's Warblers showed a further increase, as did Dartford Warblers, to 77 pairs. A pair of the latter almost certainly nested in the Breck, providing the first-ever record for the west of the county. On the débit side, Wood Larks showed a further decline, especially in the Sandlings and Eurasian Tree Sparrows appear to be at rock bottom, with reports from only seven sites ali year and none of these involved a breeding attempt. 11


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 The indications, from Constant Effort Site ringing and other studies, were that most passerines did not enjoy a particularly good breeding season and the production of young was below par. The weather may have been a factor, with the hot, dry conditions not suiting several species. The state of the populations of many of our commoner species continues to give cause for concern. While some, such as Song Thrush, appear to have stabilised (but at a low level), others are clearly still declining. A few obvious examples of the latter are Northern Lapwing, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Willow Tit, Spotted Flycatcher and Corn Bunting. While the reason behind some of these declines is clearly modern, industrialised farming, for others it is less clear, other than to say that there is an ever-increasing negative impact from Homo sapiens on the environment. January Much of New Year's Day was spoilt by rain, which was quite heavy early and late in the day. Cold, northerly winds were established by 3rd and this led into a cold week, with widespread night frosts and a significant fall of snow on 8th. Milder, unsettled conditions returned from 11th onwards, followed by a very wet spell from 18th to 22nd. After an unseasonably mild and dty few days, it turned colder again from 28th as arctic air fed southwards, resulting in a substantial fall of snow on 30th, which gave a covering of up to lOcms in many places. In spite of the rain on 1 st, a number of good birds was found. Pride of place must go to the Dusky Warbler at Kessingland sewage works, a totally out-of-season New Year's Day tick for a number of birders. First seen on December 30th 2002, it was to stay until 6th. Also on 1st a Black-necked Grebe was at Benacre Broad, the long-staying Ferruginous Duck was still at Minsmere, while sightings atThorpeness included a Red-necked Grebe south and the remarkable total of 226 Little Gulls. Birds of prey were well to the fore, with the three Rough-legged Buzzards wintering on Lantern Marshes, Orfordness, up to seven Hen Harriers in the roosts at both Walberswick NNR and Orfordness and about ten Peregrine Falcons wintering along the coast. Two Black Brants were also in the county; one was seen at Falkenham on 3rd and the second, at Trimley Marshes on 10th and 11th, stayed until March 27th. A female American Wigeon was located at Benacre Broad on 3rd and 4th and as the weather turned colder, 11 Bewick's Swans flew in off the sea at Ness Point, Lowestoft on the latter date. There was also a minor influx of Smew, with five at Alton Water on 4th and eight at Benacre Broad on 11th. Another Red-necked Grebe was on the Orwell Estuary between 5th and 11th. Hooded Crows have been very scarce in the county in recent winters, but one was at Kessingland on 7th, while 60 Corn Buntings at Chilton on 13th was the largest flock reported all year of this declining species. An impressive 600 Red-throated Divers flew north off Minsmere in one hour on 16th and 20 Bean Geese were at North Warren the same day. A flock of 400 Bramblings reported from Elveden on 17th was the largest of the winter. Also at Elveden, a Great Grey Shrike was found on Weather Heath on 24th, which was to stay until late March and return in the autumn. A tagged Red Kite, hatched from a nest in Northamptonshire, was at Livermere Lake on 25th and 26th and 47 Whooper Swans at Lakenheath Fen on 26th were probably birds from the Ouse Washes. February The snow which fell in late January, melted quickly over 1st and 2nd, as the weather turned milder again. A deep low moved across the country on 6th, introducing changeable conditions and from 8th to 12th it was unsettled and very mild with spells of rain. This was succeeded by an anticyclone over Scandinavia, which produced a dry, sunny week but with 12


Review of the Year night frosts and cold east winds. As the anticyclone receded east from 2 ist, the wind went into the south and it became very mild by day, but with some mist and fog at night. Low pressure returned on 27th, giving some rain but overall it had been a dry, sunny month. A large flock of about 2000 Fieldfares feeding on apples at Stonham Aspal was noted on 1st, while a Common Crane found at Outney Common on 2nd was probably one of the semi-resident birds from the Broads. The count of 769 Great Crested Grebes on the sea off Minsmere on 4th is the second-highest number ever recorded in Suffolk. Also on 4th, the small flock of Pale-bellied Brent Geese wintering on the Oxley Marshes, Shingle Street, reached a peak of 12. It was a good winter for Short-eared Owls and the four at Lakenheath Fen on 5th was the best inland count. Eurasian Tree Sparrows remain very scarce and still appear to be declining but up to 40 were present in a game cover strip at Ampton during January and February. Another uncommon seed-eater, the Hawfinch, was present on Barnhamcross Common, with up to 17 reported on several dates. A few Little Auks were seen offshore, including 11 off Southwold on the 6th. The following day two first-winter Glaucous Gulls were found wintering inland at Redgrave Lake and on 8th the flock of Greater White-fronted Geese at North Warren peaked at 350. The WeBS count on the Aide/Ore estuaries logged an impressive 7387 Eurasian Wigeon on 16th and the 231 Northern Pintail found at Lakenheath Fen the same day was by far the largest number ever found in the west of the county. Bohemian Waxwings were widespread and the peak count of 113 was, (where else?), at the Asda supermarket in Ipswich on 19th. The Dartford Warbler at Kessingland on 21st was well away from a likely nesting area but the five Common Buzzards seen at Cavenham that day were probably resident birds from that area. Even ten years ago the latter statement would have been unlikely! March Unsettled for the first few days with some rain. The 7th was very wet as a strong depression passed to the north-west but from 9th it became increasingly dry and warm. Bv 11th high pressure was settled over the North Sea and the county then enjoyed 17 days of almost unbroken sunshine. The calm and clear skies allowed overnight frost and patchy fog to develop and fog affected coastal areas later in the period. This fine weather was perhaps the reason for some exceptionally early migrants, including the first Common Cuckoo in Ipswich on 17th. A weak front passed close to the region on 28/29th but then the high pressure re-established itself. It was the sunniest March for 40 years. The first Stone Curlew was back in Breckland by 3rd and a Ring Ouzel recorded at Bentley on the 6th was the earliest spring migrant ever found in the county. Another early migrant was the Northern Wheatear which reached Cavenham Heath by 8th. The only Lesser Spotted Woodpecker reported during the year at Minsmere was seen on 9th. There was a strong Black Redstart passage throughout the month, with birds reported all down the coast from Corton to Landguard. A migrant Common Crane settled in the Eastbridge area from 15th to 31st, while the 150 Bewick's Swans at Lakenheath on 16th were probably out-going birds from the Ouse Washes. There was a marked passage of Common Buzzards in the north-east, with nine at Covehithe on 18th and 16 at Ashby on 23rd and 181 Pied Avocets had assembled at Minsmere by 20th. A Sooty Shearwater, which was seen flying north off Kessingland on 22nd, is the first-ever spring record for the county. Northern Goshawk remains a scarce bird in Suffolk but a pair was watched displaying over The King's Forest on 23rd. For the second half of the month, much of the emphasis was on arriving summer migrants. The first Sand Martins were seen on 19th, when one was at Dunwich Heath and 13


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 two at Lackford Lakes and the first Barn Swallow was at the latter site on 22nd. A pair of Garganey reached Minsmere by 24th and the first Sedge Warbier was at the same site on 28th. By 29th, 27 Common Chiffchaffs were singing in Bradfield Woods; also on that day two early Tree Pipits were at Kessingland sewage works and the first Willow Warbiers were recorded at three sites. Spring had well and truly begun. April Another dry, sunny and very warm month. A Scandinavian high was established for most ofthe first three weeks and this did lead to overnight frosts and it was cold over 10/1 Ith. From 12th it became increasingly warm and southerly winds bronght high temperatures for mid-April. On 16th the mercury soared to 24C and these conditions undoubtedly brought in many migrants and at least one rarity. No rain feil between 2nd and 21st, when thundery showers broke out and some places experienced a fall of "Saharan dust". It was sunny and warm again over 22nd/23rd but then unsettled for the rest of the month, with rain or showers on severa! days. Three Red Kites passed through Minsmere on 4th and a drake American Wigeon was found on the Stour estuary at Cattawade/ Stutton that same day and a drake Green-winged Teal was at Orfordness on 6th. The first Common Grasshopper and Eurasian Reed Warbiers were singing at Minsmere on 9th. These were closely followed by the first Common Nightingale at Minsmere on lOth, when three Whinchats were at Landguard Point and six very early Common Swifts at Oulton Broad. Next in were a Garden Warbier at Minsmere on 12th, a Common Whitethroat at Sizewell on 13th and Eurasian Hobby at Minsmere/Dunwich and Common Redstart at Thorpeness, both on 14th. The warm southerly winds then produced a movement of Common Terns and Little Gulls, with 107 of the former and 64 T" of the latter at Lackford Lakes on 16th, but the big bonus was Suffolk's 6th Marsh Sandpiper at Livermere Lake on 17th. There was then a slight hiatus, but the last week of April was hectic with fresh interest on every day. A Richard's Pipit was at King's Fleet on 22nd and again on 24th. Two White Storks appeared at Alton Kingfisher Su Gough Water on 23rd, there was at least one in the Minsmere/ Walberswick area between 23rd and 30th and a fourth inland around Stowmarket/Bury St Edmunds from 25th and up to May 8th. Two Spotted Crakes were calling at Cove Bottom on the night of 24th, an Osprey was on Orfordness and the next day a Hoopoe was at Brent Eleigh and a Eurasian Golden Oriole was singing at Frostenden. A Montagu's Harrier seen at Dunwich Heath and Minsmere on 26th was the first of four spring birds for that locality. Also on 26th the Alpine Swift put in its first appearance, at Aldringham. By 27th it was feeding over the reedbeds at Minsmere by day and roosting on Sizewell "A" nuclear power station by night - it was to entertain many birders until May 5th. The only Eurasian Wryneck of the spring was also at Minsmere, on 27th. The 29th was definitely a red-letter day for this superb reserve, with a Black Kite arriving (it was also seen on Dunwich Heath), a Red-rumped Swallow putting in a brief appearance and the Alpine Swift and a White Stork also seen. The west, by way of compensation, had the magnificent sight of up to 19 Hobbies over the reedbeds at Lakenheath Fen. A very good month. 14


Review of the Year May The month began on an unsettled theme, with some rain or showers. It soon became sunny and warm again but by 11th another depression introduced cooler air from the north-west and rain, some heavy with thunder and hail. A rather cool, unsettled period ensued for the next two weeks, with showers or rain interspersed with sunny periods. There was a heavy thunderstorm over Ipswich on 14th and thundery downpours in places on 24th. An Azores high threw a ridge across southern England from 26th onwards, bringing diy, sunny and very warm conditions. As the month began, several good birds remained from April, including at least one White Stork and the Alpine Swift and the Red-rumped Swallow, which re-appeared at Minsmere on 2nd. A Hoopoe was at Easton Abbey from 4th to 7th; also on 4th the first Spotted Flycatcher arrived at Minsmere and that evening an early European Nightjar was churring at Santon Downham. Minsmere's run of good birds continued on 5th with a European Serin and a male Eurasian Golden Oriole seen flying over the South Belt. The first Eurasian Golden Orioles were seen back in the poplar woods at Lakenheath Fen on 10th. A Temminck's Stint seen at Seafield Bay, Brantham, on 6th was the first of four May birds, with others appearing later at Tinker's Marshes (on 11th), at Minsmere (on 13th) and Dingle Marshes (on 19th). A Black-throated Diver offshore at Thorpeness on 10th was well out of season and a flock of 120 Common Crossbills at Minsmere on 13th was the largest number reported all year. Also on 13th, two Common Ravens were watched flying north high over the Dingle Marshes. Records of this species appear to be increasing in Suffolk - is it spreading across the country as Common Buzzards have done in the past few years? From 15th to 17th a male Montagu's Harrier was watched hunting over arable fields near Ixworth. Manx Shearwaters are not often seen off our coast in May, so 23 off Southwold on 20th are of note. A Balearic Shearwater seen off Southwold the same day, is the first-ever spring record for Suffolk. The hot weather and southerly winds at the end of May brought in several migrants from the Continent. Two late Wood Sandpipers were at the Mickle Mere, Pakenham, on 29th, a Woodchat Shrike was on Whin Hill, Minsmere, on the same day and a Marsh Warbler was trapped on Orfordness on 31st. Less expected was the adult Sabine's Gull found in Lowestoft harbour on 31 st. It was to stay for the summer and was seen by many. June The first nine days stayed very warm but rather unsettled with scattered thundery showers, especially on 1st and 2nd. High pressure then built and gave a fine week up to 16th, with plenty of sunshine. There were thunderstorms in places on 17th but temperatures stayed high for the rest of the month with lots of sunshine and the odd thundery outbreak. It was one of the sunniest Junes ever recorded and the warmest since the "great drought" of 1976. A second Marsh Warbler was at Landguard on 2nd and an Osprey was inland at Lakenheath Fen on 7th. Mid-month, two Rosy Starlings were discovered: at Westleton/ Minsmere from 11th to 15th and at Old Felixstowe on 14th. Also on 14th another Temminck's Stint was located on Orfordness. Common Quail were scarce in 2003 but one was "singing" on the airfields at Orfordness on 22nd and 24th. European Honey Buzzards were also scarce this year but one flew east over Snape Common on 22nd and a third Marsh Warbler was trapped on Orfordness on 27th. Away from the coast, a Cetti's Warbler on 28th was a first record for the Lackford Lakes reserve and the same day a Kentish Plover was a good find in the Benacre/Easton Broad area. By 30th no less than 33 Spotted Redshank had returned to Minsmere. 15


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 July July was another hot month. 1t began with three cool, unsettled days but the temperatures were soon on the rise as high pressure re-asserted itself. It remained hot throughout the month and although the heat gave rise to occasionai breakdowns and scattered thunderstorms, some areas stayed almost dry throughout the month. The temperature in Ipswich reached 31C on 16th and there was a welcome downpour in Sardinian Warbler Mark Cornish most places on 27th. In what was probably a weather-related movement, 3000 Common Swifts flew south past Aldringham on Ist. Single Roseate Terns were at both Benacre Broad and Minsmere on 2nd and two were at Boyton Marshes on 7th. The rarity of the month was, without doubt, Suffolk's second Sardinian Warbler, a male found at Dunwich Heath on 12th, which showed to very few before it disappeared. By 20th the Spotted Redshanks at Minsmere had increased to 58. Up to 23 Little Egrets were reported on Orfordness and a Great Egret visited Minsmere on 24th. The only European Bee-eater of the year was seen briefly in the Dingle Marshes/Minsmere area over 27/28th. Autumn passage was already beginning and among the first signs were two Wood Warblers at Landguard on 3 Ist and the early departure of Common Swifts from breeding areas in west Suffolk on the night of 31 st in advance of bad weather. August By the standards of this summer the Ist was poor, with cloud, rain and wind. However, the 2nd was sunny and warm again and from 3rd to lith there was a record-breaking heatwave with prolonged sunshine and very high temperatures. The lOth was the hottest day, when Faversham in Kent recorded 38.5C, exceeding 100F in the UK for the first time and the temperatures in Sujfolk were very close to this. Although it was somewhat cooler after 14th, fine dry weather persisted to the end of the month and most parts of Sujfolk recorded their driest August for 63 years. The fine, clear weather, with very light winds in the first half of the month, was conducive to neither migrants being disrupted nor good sea-watching and eight Black Terns on the sea off Kessingland on 4th was about the most notable record. Matters improved on I4th, aided by some easterly breezes, when an adult Aquatic Warbler was trapped on Orfordness, followed by a juvenile trapped at the same site the following morning. Three Red-backed Shrikes were seen on the coast between 14th and 18th, the only records in a poor year for this species. On 17th two Cory's Shearwaters flew north off Orfordness and one was seen off Kessingland. Little Egret numbers continue to grow, with 52 noted at Trimley Marshes on 2Ist and 17 at Minsmere on 23rd. There were two inland Eurasian Wrynecks, in gardens at Woolpit between 20th and 25th and at Brettenham from 29th to 31 st. No less than 66 Yellow-Iegged Gulls were counted at Blythburgh on 2Ist, easily a new county record number for this sub-species. Skuas were prominent in the final week of August, with 26 Arctic Skuas logged past Thorpeness on 24th and ca. 18 Long-tailed 16


Review of the Year Skuas noted offshore between 24th and 31st. The 22 Pied Flycatchers found at Corton on 25th was the best count of the year and a Greenish Warbler discovered at nearby Gunton on the same day was an excellent find. Also on 25th a Corn Crake was trapped in a large garden at Dunwich, followed by a different bird seen in a mist net lane at Dingle Marshes the next morning. The maximum count of Eurasian Spoonbills in 2003 was the 13 at Orfordness on 29th. The month ended with a juvenile Eurasian Dotterel on the beach at Kessingland and a European Honey Buzzard at Cavenham Heath, both on 31st. September Another mainly dry, sunny and very warm month, as anticyclones dominated again. After a very warm start to the month, •'•' it was slightly more unsettled Red-breasted Flycatcher between 6th and 11th, as a • ^•Ste*Mark Cornish m weak front crossed southern Sfa' England. High pressure : then re-established itself, giving another hot spell mid-month and maintaining fine, sunny weather into the fourth week. The last five days were cooler and more unsettled but it stayed fairly dry. An Ortolan Bunting at Landguard over 3rd and 4th was well-watched by many observers and a third Eurasian Wryneck occurred inland at Thorpe Morieux from 4th to 8th. Four Eurasian Spoonbills graced Benacre Broad from 5th to 19th and there was a good outward passage of Whinchats, with a peak count of 20 on Orfordness on 6th. September is peak time for wader passage and there were 40 Ruff on Trimley Marshes on 10th and a Pectoral Sandpiper was at Lakenheath Washes from 13th to 25th. Two more Eurasian Wrynecks arrived on 14th (at Minsmere and Thorpeness) and a female Siberian Stonechat was seen briefly, also at Thorpeness. A Greater Short-toed Lark was discovered along the beach at North Warren on 18th and on 21st three Balearic Shearwaters and a Sabine's Gull were seen on a sea-watch from Ness Point. On 23rd a European Honey Buzzard flew south over Aldringham Walks and a second Pectoral Sandpiper was found at East Lane Lagoons on 25th, where it stayed until 29th. In the last four days of the month there was a typical arrival of scarce autumn migrants from the east. A Yellow-browed Warbler at Corton on 27th was the fore-runner of five or six which were seen on the coast by 30th. Also involved were a Richard's Pipit at Lowestoft on 28th, a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Corton from 28th to October 1st, a juvenile Rosy Starling at Landguard (also 28th) and a Barred Warbler on Thorpeness Common on 29th. Over in Breckland, an impressive flock of 60 Stone Curlews, gathering to migrate, was seen on 29th and the first Fieldfare of the winter was noted in West Stow Country Park on 30th. October Although the month began with changeable weather, it was still dry and warm for much of the first three weeks. An anticyclone over Scandinavia exerted its influence over the region 17


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 from 1 lth to 19th and this bestowed a lengthy spell of easterly winds, which gave some good sea-watching early in this period and then brought in a memorable run of vagrant warblers from the east. It turned much cooler from 20th onwards as the weather became quite unsettled and the three months 'drought was finally broken late in the month. The last four days were wet and windy. A new record count of Little Egrets was set on 2nd, when 76 entered the roost at Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin. On 3rd Suffolk's first (and Britain's fifth) Eleonora's Falcon was watched over Reydon. Fresh Yellow-browed Warblers were arriving almost daily early in the month and at least a further ten were recorded on the coast. The period from lOth to 14th was excellent for sea-watching. A Sabine's Gull was off Southwold on lOth and at least 37 Leaeh's Petrels were logged between 1 lth and 14th, including 11 off Southwold on 13th. About 12 Cory's Shearwaters were reported from various localities between 12th and I4th and many Sooty Shearwaters were seen, including 30 off Ness Point on 12th. Many skuas, of all four species, were also seen during the period. Also on 12th, 700 Northern Gannets were counted off Ness Point. In the west, the Great Grey Shrike arrived back on Weather Heath, Elveden, on lOth and a notable count of 158 Mute Swans was made on Lakenheath Fen. The same day another Barred Warbler was trapped at the Dingle ringing station. Brent Goose passage was not heavy but 624 flew south past Landguard on 12th and the same day a Grey Phalarope was found at East Lañe Lagoons, where it remained into November. The next day a Radde's Warbler was found in Lowestoft and on 14th three Coramon Cranes flew west over Lavenham. An American Golden Plover had been seen by many on Breydon Water since 12th and from 16th to 20th it was seen daily south of the estuary, providing the first definitive Suffolk record. It was another good October for Firecrests and the peak arrival was noted between 15th and 18th all down the coast. The Dingle ringing station trapped nine between these dates. The first two Pallas's Leaf Warblers were found at Aldeburgh on 16th and a further ten arrived along the coast between then and 31 st. Cióse behind was the county's first Hume's Leaf Warbler, discovered at Sizewell on 18th and much-watched up to 23rd. On 20th, a second Hume's Leaf Warbler was found in St Edmund's churchyard, Southwold. This bird stayed to 27th and from 24th it was present with two Pallas's Leaf Warblers and at least one Firecrest. On 23rd a fourth Red-breasted Flycatcher was found in Felixstowe - earlier in the month singles were at Shingle Street on 2nd and 3rd and at Sizewell on 12th. November After a damp start, high pressure built over the región from 4th and with southerly winds it stayed very mild. It became more changeable from 9th onwards and there was extensive mist and fog on 1 lth. A deep depression moved across England to the North Sea on 14th, bringing rain and 65kph (40mph) winds. After a quiet, mildfew days up to 20th it became very unsettled and a lot of rain fell in the last ten days. It was the wettest month of theyear, with a rainfall total in Ipswich of89mm (3.5 inches). In some years the passage season extends strongly into November and this was the case in 2003. Another six Pallas's Leaf Warblers were found early in the month, making about 18 in all and another three Yellow-browed Warblers also arrived. On 3rd the drake Ferruginous Duck arrived back at Minsmere for the winter and on 4th a juvenile Penduline Tit was a splendid capture on Orfordness. A first winter Iceland Gull was seen off Thorpeness on 8th and lOth and the final Stone Curlews of the year were at a coastal site on lOth and Great Barton on 13th, while Richard's Pipits were at Kessingland on 9th and Southwold on 1 lth. 18


Review of the Year A Rough-Iegged Buzzard passed over Orfordness on 1 Ith but did not linger and eight Horned Larks were found at the same site on 14th. Another Common Raven was seen on 15th, this time flying in off the sea then south at North Warren. The WeBS counts on 16th produced some impressive totals on the estuaries, among them 76 Little Grebes on the Deben and 7349 Dunlin on the Stour. A small movement of Little Auks was noted off Thorpeness between 17th and 20th, with totals of 15 north and three south in this period. The flock of 85 Snow Buntings on Orfordness on 23rd was the largest of the year. There were seven Water Pipits reported at Minsmere on 27th, when the final Barn Swallow of the year was seen there and six Great Bitterns were seen flying over the reedbeds at dusk. At the same site on 28th, 24 Bewick's Swans were on Island Mere. Bohemian Waxwings were quite widespread again and the largest flock reported was 60 at Shottisham on 30th. December A typical December, very changeable with dry, foggy. frosty spells alternated with wet and windy periods. The first two days were wet and then an anticyclone built up, giving foggy days on 3rd, 8th and IOth. Low pressure returned by llth, bringing bands of rain and milder air. Another anticyclone held sway from 15th to 19th and it was succeeded by a deep depression on 20th which brought heavy rain and then northerly winds and some snow on 22nd. The Christmas holiday period was mild and damp and then it turned colder as the year drew to a close. It was a poor year for Lesser Redpolls and thus a flock of 70 at North Warren on 2nd was noteworthy, as was a flock of 50 Twite at the Hen Reedbeds on 5th. On 6th a Ione Wood Lark was still lingering in The King's Forest and on 13th a Lapland Longspur was reported from Aldringham beach. The WeBS counts on 14th turned up two Slavonian Grebes on the Stour Estuary and two Red-crested Pochards on the Orwell Estuary. The latter may, perhaps, have been wild birds? The 4381 Eurasian Teal counted at Minsmere that day was a new Cormorant Peter Beeson record number for the reserve. The "birds-of-the-month" were surely the five Long-eared Owls found on 14th at a roost in small trees in the reedbed at Holbrook Creek. They stayed well into 2004 and were enjoyed by many observers. The Long-tailed Duck which flew south off Minsmere on 17th was the fourth of the autumn. Among high counts obtained were the 106 Pied Wagtails feeding at Long Melford sewage works during the month and the 600 Barnacle Geese on Southwold Town Marshes. The largest flock of Redwings reported was the 240 at Euston Park on 28th and on the final day of the year no less than 2618 Red-throated Divers were counted off Thorpeness.

19


Suffolk Bird Report 2003

The Lackford Lakes Constant Effort Site The First Twelve Years 1992-2003 Colín Jakes, Peter Lack and Malcolm Wright The main ringing effort of the Lackford Ringing Group (LRG) has, for some years, been the continued input to the British Trust for Ornithology's Constant Effort Site (CES) ringing project. The CES project started nationally in the early 1980s and has continued since with the intention of producing data on annual fluctuations in numbers of adult birds and in the productivity of young birds, especially those inhabiting scrub and reedbeds and including some species which have been difficult to monitor by other means. LRG started their input to the national project in the breeding season of 1992 and has continued every year since then. Data are sent in to the national scheme and around 120 other sites, scattered around the British Isles, also contribute. However, the results for Lackford Lakes also show some interesting features and some of these are detailed below. Where appropriate we have compared the Lackford figures with national ones, produced and published by the BTO. (It must be noted that the BTO figures do include the Lackford results - ideally for such comparisons the Lackford figures would be taken out.) The Site Used and Methods The Constant Effort Site project involves setting up a fixed number of mist nets in the same locations, at the same time of year and for the same time periods each breeding season. The theory is, that by keeping the overall effort as constant as possible between years, then the numbers of birds caught and ringed will be determined by the number of birds available to be caught, rather than anything inherent in the activities of the ringers. The Lackford Lakes reserve consists of a series of worked-out, flooded gravel pits, lying in the Lark Valley, some eight kilometres north-west of Bury St. Edmunds. The extensive lakes thus formed are now surrounded by developing trees and scrub and the reserve covers an area of 100 hectares (250 acres). Until the late 1990s, it was a working gravel pit operated by Atlas Aggregrates, but it is now a nature reserve owned by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. The part of the reserve used for the CES is a fairly long but narrow area of dry scrub on the southern boundary of the reserve, adjacent to arable farmland on the southern side and whose northern boundary is the entrance track to the visitor car park and Sailing Club. This area of scrub is approximately 4 hectares in extent. There is no direct public access to this part of the reserve. The ringing base, however, • is in the oíd voluntary warden's hut and we welcome any visitors who wish to see what we are doing. In 2003, the operations had to be from the side entrance, as there was an ever-expanding hornet's nest directly over the main door! The habitat is a mixture of mainly eider, hawthorn and blackthorn scrub, with young oak and ash trees, a lot of bramble bushes, a small amount of gorse and a rank grass ground layer. Within this area we have maintained six mistnet lañes, totalling 102 metres of net. Scrub is one of the richest habitats of all for nesting birds, but it is also very dynamic, being just a stage in the succession through to woodland. Clearly, over 12 years the scrub and trees have grown considerably. Some habitat Robín Mark Ferris management takes place each autumn and winter in an attempt to 20


The Lackford Lakes Constant Effort Site maintain the site and prevent the habitat from changing radically, but this growth is a significant factor which has affected the populations of a number of species in both directions. Twelve visits are scheduled through the breeding season, with one in each 10-day or 11day period, from early May to the end of August. Exact days are dependent on weather conditions and availability of ringers but we have managed to complete all except one visit in the 12 years we have so far continued the study (143 visits out of a possible 144). In order to open the nets, the weather must be dry and with the wind no more than about force 4, preferably lighter. Cloudy days are preferred to bright sunshine. The welfare of the birds is always uppermost in our minds and the nets are closed if weather conditions deteriorate. On each visit, our schedule is to open the nets at about 05.00hrs and close them at about 10.00-10.30hrs and this too has been maintained. All birds caught are ringed and processed and all retraps accurately noted. Species, age and sex (where possible to determine), state of moult, presence/absence of brood patch, measurements (if time permits) and net location are all recorded for each capture. Sometimes we erect one or more extra nets, but these do not contribute to the average figures presented here. In particular, in most recent years we have placed a net in the reedbed behind the 'Warden's Hut', in order to sample more of the reedbed warblers. Annual, between year results are published by the British Trust for Ornithology in their newsletter, BTO News (free to members) and there have been a few longer term studies. Peach, Baillie and Balmer (1998 Bird Study) give a full explanation of the methods, biases, and results. Results and Discussion In all, over the 12 years of the study to date, 39 different species have been caught during CES operations. However, in any one year, the catch ranges from 23 to 29 species (average 25.5). The number of adult bird species caught ranges from 21 to 26 species (average 22.7) and the number of species of juvenile caught, 19 to 27 (average 23.5). These numbers hide some fluctuations in total numbers of birds. The number of adult birds has ranged from 129 (in 1999) to 211 (1995) but is usually around 150-160 (average 158). The numbers have remained remarkably constant, except for high numbers in 1994 and 1995 and indeed from 2000 to 2003 they only ranged from 141 to 149. It is believed that most, if not all of these birds, are breeding on or near the site. By Chart 1. Total numbers of all species caught 1992-2003 600

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Juv

E3 Adult

21


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 the start of the CES season in the first week of May, the majority of spring migrants have arrived onto their breeding territories and most of the resident species will have started breeding. The total numbers of juveniles have varied much more widely, with high numbers (340361) in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1997, and a low of 179 in 1996, although in both 2001 and 2003 numbers dropped just below 200. Clearly, some years have much poorer breeding seasons than others. This is most likely to be weather related - in prolonged cold, wet conditions both eggs and young nestlings can quickly chili and many nests may be lost. Weather conditions can also have a serious efifect on the supply of food to the young. At Lackford, it is probable that some of the variation in numbers of juvenile birds is caused by différent numbers of migrants passing through. By the end of August, the site has a variety of fruit, in particular blackberries and elderberries, available and these attract Sylvia warblers in particular. In some years, we have carried on ringing through September (not as part of the CES) and it is clear that the site has quite a substantial passage of Blackcaps and Whitethroats and presumably other species as well. There are, unfortunately, no easy ways of distinguishing locally bred birds from migrants passing through, so we cannot be certain exactly how représentative the figures are in total for the breeding success on the site itself. Chart 2. Blackcap 120

stable adult population, variable numbers of juveniles.

• Juv 0 Adult

92

93

94

95

96

97

99

00

01

02

03

Some individuai species have shown some specific patterns of occurrence over the 12 years. For these we can compare the figures for Lackford with the trends derived from the national figures. If they agree, we can assume that it is likely that it is nothing to do with the site itself. However, if they are widely différent, it is likely that a local factor is involved. Only 21 species have been caught in sufficient numbers to be able to say anything meaningful about trends in their numbers. These are: Residents: Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet and Bullfinch Summer Visitors: Nightingale, Sedge Warbier, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. The other 18 species caught during the period (and total number trapped) are: Reed Bunting (21), Marsh Tit (16), Goldfinch (14), Treecreeper (11 ), Yellowhammer (8), Coal Tit, Jay, Green Woodpecker (5 each), Turtle Dove, Wood Pigeon (3 each), Sparrowhawk, 22


The Lackford Lakes Constant Effort Site Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie (2 each) and Willow Tit, Lesser Redpoll, Cuckoo, Mistle Thrush, Golderest (1 each). Some of these species, such as Reed Bunting and Goldfinch, initially hred within the CES area, but have ceased to do so as the habitat has changed. Others breed elsewhere on the reserve (Marsh Tit, Treecreeper) and occur almost annually in the nets as a resuit of juvenile dispersai. Some, like Turtle Dove and Wood Pigeon, breed in the scrub, but are adept at escaping from the mist nets, while some others are mysteries, such as the adult female Lesser Redpoll, trapped on 1 Ith May 2002, with an active brood patch! Table 1 shows the numbers of adults (ad) and juveniles (juv) of nine resident species caught during the twelve years. Table 1. Numbers of nine resident species caught - 1992-2003 Species Wren Dunnock Robin Blackbird Song Thrush Great Tit Greenfinch Linnet Bullfinch

92 Ad 5 Juv 12 Ad 14 Juv 29 Ad 2 Juv 9 Ad 16 Juv 19 Ad 6 Juv 6 Ad 1 Juv 34 Ad 2 Juv 6 Ad 14 Juv 5 Ad 8 Juv 2

93 10 14 16 43 3 18 7 27 5 IO 3 36 4 3 15 12 5 5

94

95

96

97

7 16 18 31 il 19 12 17 7 8 2 16 0 0 10 7 2 1

13 33 26 34 6 21 10 19 9 5 3 15 6 0 8 4 7 6

5 7 12 12 3 8 6 4 3 2 0 9 3 4 4 2 8 1

7 9 9 40 0 27 9 20 3 8 3 17 9 4 4 3 13 5

98 5 12 12 13 1 17 6 7 4 6 3 13 5 3 10 6 13 8

99 3. 7 9 21 6 18 6 7 5 2 4 8 3 0 7 6 6 2

00

01

02

12 15 15. 26 3 19 7 16 5 5 5 8 1 0 1 0 8 0

6 18 20 25 6 19 9 5 5 3 3 6 1 0 0 0 8 1

9 17 20 27 3 28 10 9 2 5 4 5 6 14 0 0 8 9

03 7 5 17 15 6 9 9 14 1 12 3 12 10 7 0 1 5 1

The residents. Numbers of some of the resident species have fluctuated a fair amount but Overall trends for most are stable. For example, adult Wren numbers have varied from three to 13 per year, Dunnock nine to 26, Blackbird six to 16, Robin nil to 11, but overall these have essentially followed national trends. Blue and Great Tits, Greenfinch and Chaffinch fall into the same category. Observations suggest that some resident birds, notably Robin, utilise the cleared net lanes for feeding purposes. They probably become familiar with the standardised net placement and are then much less likely to be trapped. This appears to be supported by the apparent low numbers of adults and yet good numbers of recently fledged juveniles caught in some years. Numbers of Long-tailed Tits rose steadily until 2000, since when there have been rather few. Bullfinch numbers show a peak in 1997-1998, but overall there appears to be a fairly steady population of several pairs on the reserve. However, it is Song Thrush and Linnet whose numbers are more worrying as they have clearly declined. Song Thrushes ranged from five to nine in the early 1990s but have never risen above five since and only two were caught in 2002 and one in 2003. Similarly, Linnets totalled ten to 15 in 1992-1994, but there have been none since 2000 and only one caught in that year. Part of the reason may be to do with changes in the height and structure of the scrub over the past 12 years, but the Linnet is a declining species nationally. 23


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 Chart 3. Dunnock - stähle resident population. 70

Juv

Adult

I The summer migrants. Among the migrants there are some more obvious trends, although again most are following national trends rather than being specific to Lackford. Numbers of Reed Warbiers, Garden Warbiers, Sedge Warbiers, Lesser Whitethroats and Willow Warbiers almost exactly parallel national trends, with a mid-period small peak in the first two, a steady decline in Lesser Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers, albeit in the case of Lesser Whitethroat from a fairly low starting point and a fairly dramatic decrease in Willow Warbler since 1997. However, Common Whitethroat numbers have declined at Lackford from 15-20 down to 5-8, with national trends remaining more or less stable. The reason for this is likely to be that the scrub at Lackford has become less suitable for them over the 12 years. Chart 4. Linnet - a declining species, nationally and at Lackford.

I

Juv

Adult

i. •

I •00

Blackcap numbers have remained stable at Lackford, while there has been an increase nationally. This probably indicates that the CES site and the surrounding area is at its maximum carrying capacity for this species. There are two migrant species for which the Lackford scrub appears to have become more suitable in recent years. Chiffchaffs have increased faster at Lackford than nationally, while Nightingales were scarce at the CES site until 1997, when five were caught, and four to eight have been trapped each year since. 24


The Lackford Lakes Constant Effort Site Table 2. Numbers of nine summer migrants caught - 1992-2003 92

Specics Nightingale Sedge Warbier Reed Warbler Lesser Whitethroat Common Whitethroat Garden Warbler Blackcap ChitTchaff Willow Warbler

Ad 0 Juv 0 Ad 18 Juv 23 Ad 2 Juv 5 Ad 4 Juv 5 Ad 15 Juv 42 Ad 9 Juv 13 Ad 13 Juv 59 Ad 2 Juv 4 Ad 16 Juv 35

93

94

95

96

97

98

99

00

01

02

03

1 1 10 5 2 4 7 S 19 39 11 11 12 54 0 7 11 14

1 1 26 20 5 13 3 4 16 23 17 24 21 89 8 16 15 19

0 0 29 7 7 16 4 4 19 34 13 8 27 42 4 10 16 U

0 0 20 5 8 8 6 4 12 12 17 10 10 16 5 18 15 22

5 3 12 4 5 27 3 6 5 23 16 17 18 61 10 21 19 33

5 1 10 2 3 6 2 I 5 8 17 13 15 85 9 42 11 11

4 0 6 3 4: 10 3 2 12 8 16 17 13 62 5 11 7 6

6 2 9 3 5 11 2 2 7 9 16 12 13 83 7 33 5 10

6 2 9 3 4 19 2 I 6 4 11 8 21 24 11 19 5 9

5 0 3 .2 2 4 3 0 5 5 8 4 20 43 14 57 4 3

8 2 6 0 4 0 1 1 4 2 13 1 20 44 20 39 5 1

Chart 5. Nightingale - increased because of changes in habitat. 12

II

I. 92

93

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I

98

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01

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•

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The juveniles. The numbers of young birds caught vary considerably more than those of adults and for some species at least some of the difference is likely to be caused by variable numbers of birds passing through the site. For example, numbers of young Blackcaps caught has varied from 16 in 1996 to 85 in 1998. Rather few young Nightingales have been caught. This is not thought to reflect poor breeding seasons, but rather the fact that they disperse from the breeding area very quickly upon fiedging. There has been a major decline in numbers of young Common Whitethroats from 42 and 39 in 1992 and 1993, through 12-34 between 1994 and 1997, to only between two and eight since then and this is likely to be due to smaller numbers of this species breeding on the site. 25


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 Chart 6. Common Whitethroat - declined because of changes in the habitat.

•

Juv

0 Adult

I 95

96

97

I B I B In 98

99

00

01

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03

Numbers of young Willow Warbiers have also declined, from averaging about 22 during 1992-1997, down to an average of just under seven during 1998-2003. There is widespread evidence for a decline in Willow Warbier populations throughout southern Britain during this latter period, the reason for which is unknown. In contrast, young Chiffchaffs have increased, from an average of below 13 during 1992-1997 to 33 for the six years since then. The national trends for both species follow a similar pattern, but not so dramatically, so presumably the site is changing contrastingly for these birds, favouring the Chiffchaff to the detriment of the Willow Warbier. Numbers for most other species broadly follow national trends, although with considerable fluctuations for some. Chart 7. Chiffchaff - an increasing summer migrant.

•

Juv

E3 Adult

B

I 00

01

02

03

Retraps. Ringing consistently on a site in this manner gives an insight into the lives of the birds breeding there. Resident species such as Dunnock and Robin are regularly retrapped over their lifespan of perhaps three to five years. Even larger species, such as Blackbird, are rarely re-trapped over more than a six or seven year period. However, the star retrap so far has to be Garden Warbier, ring no. H930548, first caught and ringed on 26


The Lackford Lakes Constant Effort Site 22nd May 1993, as an adult male. It was subsequently re-trapped at Lackford on the following dates: 4th May 1996 14th June 1996 13th July 1996

3rd July 1993 23rd June 1994 7th May 1995

22nd May 1998 13th May 1999 29th June 2000

This bird was clearly nesting at Lackford throughout this period and was at least eight years old when it was last re-trapped. What happened in 1997 - did it hold territory elsewhere in that year, or, more likely, did it just evade the mist nets? There is evidence from ringing that British Garden Warbiers winter in the southern part of West Africa, in Ghana, Nigeria and nearby countries (The Migration Atlas, 2002) and this is a journey of about 5200 kilométrés (3250 miles) from Suffolk. It had flown this distance at least 16 times - a lifetime total of 83200 kms (52000 miles). There is evidence from ringing in Africa that some migrants will return there to spend the winter months in the same small patch of scrub that they had inhabited in the previous winter. This bird had clearly navigated its way some 5000 kms back to Lackford with complete accuracy and very probably did the same in the opposite direction. Chart 8. Willow Warbler - a declining summer migrant.

Juv

Adult

I 92

93

94

00

95

01

Bn 02

03

The National Picture. It is helpful when examining the Lackford results to consider what is happening at other constant effort sites around the country. Sometimes, locai catches have mirrored the national picture, at other times they have not, but often overall trends of increases and déclinés can be detected. The year before the Lackford CES was started, 1991, had been a poor year nationally. Severe weather in February 1991 had probably caused déclinés in some resident species, whilst drought conditions in Africa, south of the Sahara, may have affected migrants. As a resuit, adult numbers of some species were at a low ebb. Following this, the four years from 1992 to 1995 were highly productive and certainly the best period in the twelve years of the Lackford CES. In sharp contrast, 1996 proved to be the worst breeding season on record and as a result, adult numbers in 1997 of Blackbird, Song Thrush, Lesser Whitethroat, Chaffinch, Linnet and Bullfinch were ali at their lowest level since CES ringing started in 1983. The period 1998 to 2003 has produced some mixed fortunes, with 2001 and 2003 being rather poor. 27


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 Breeding populations of Willow Warbier and Lesser Whitethroat have continued to decline since the mid-1990s, whilst Chiffchaff has shown a steady increase. Amongst resident species nationally, that appear to be "in trouble", Song Thrush is now showing early indications of a possible recovery in numbers. 1t is fascinating to follow the fortunes of our commoner species in a long term survey such as this but not at all easy to be sure of the reasons for some of the trends, especially on a local basis. Consider the contrasting fortunes of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbier on this site, with their graphs going in opposite directions. It is very likely that some species are influenced in their choice of nesting site or area by quite subtle changes in the structure of the habitat, which are not even apparent to our eyes. However, when our data are added together with that from the other CES sites around Britain, they give an indication of the population direction of some of our commoner birds. This is one of the methods being used by the conservation organisations to keep track of bird populations. Acknowledgements We are very grateflil to Atlas Aggregates (the original owners of the site when it was a working gravel pit) and to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and their successive Directors, Derek Moore and Julian Roughton, for permission to carry out the CES survey on the Lackford Lakes reserve. Joe Davis, the current Warden of Lackford Lakes, has assisted us in many ways and especially with winter habitat management. Dawn Balmer (National CES organiser at the BTO, Thetford) has helped with information and advice from time to time. To Anne Brenchley goes the credit for starting off the Lackford Ringing Group in the early 1990s, when she came to work as local conservation officer for English Nature. She trained Colin Jakes, Tony Howe and Simon Evans up to "A" permit standard, with some assistance from Peter Lack and Malcolm Wright, who had long held "A" ringing permits. The survey work was shared by the above six ringers up to 1999, when Anne Brenchley and Tony Howe both moved away from West Suffolk to take up posts elsewhere and Simon Evans decided to pursue ringing on other sites. Other people have assisted us with ringing from time to time and we thank especially Darren Underwood, Paul Lacey and Thomas Gray. References Peach, W.J., S.R.Baillie & D.E.Balmer. 1998. Long-term changes in the abundance of passerines in Britain and Ireland as measured by constant effort mist-netting. Bird Study 45:257-275. Wernham, C.V., Toms, M.P., Marchant, J.H., Clark, J.A., Siriwardena, G.M. & Baillie, S.R. (eds). 2002. The Migration Atlas: movements of the birds of Britain and Ireland. T. & A.D.Poyser, London.

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Systematic List

The 2003 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: Swans, geese and herons Ducks Game birds, rails to crane Divers to European Shag Raptors Oystercatcher to Ruff Snipes to phalaropes Skuas to gulls

Peter Kennerley Malcolm Wright John Davies Adam Gretton Chris Gregory John Grant Philip Murphy James Brown

Terns to auks Pigeons to woodpeckers Larks to Hedge Accentar Chats to thrushes Warbiers to flycatchers Tits to shrikes Crows to buntings Appendices

Neville Skinner Matthew Deans Derek Beamish Steve Fryett Darren Underwood Tony Howe Rob Macklin Peter Kennerley

The 'officiai' British list is maintained by the British Ornithologists' Union (BOU). Species are included in various catégories according to their status, as follows: • Category A - species which have been recorded in an apparently natural state at least once since January Ist 1950; • Category B - species that would otherwise be in Category A but have not been recorded since December 3Ist 1949; • Category C - species that, although originally introduced by man, either deliberately or accidentally, have established self-sustaining breeding populations; • Category D - species that would otherwise appear in Catégories A or B except that there is doubt that they have ever occurred in a naturai state; • Category E - species that have been recorded as introductions, transportées or escapees from captivity, and whose breeding populations are not thought to be self-sustaining. The main part of the species accounts consists of species that occurred in Suffolk in 2003 which fall into Catégories A and C. Where a species is included in multiple catégories, this is shown in the initial status summary. Catégories D and E do not form part of either the British or Suffolk lists. Species from these Catégories that occurred in Suffolk in 2003 are included as appendices to the main list. The order and nomenclature follow the latest published for The British List by the British Ornithologists' Union (BOU 2004). This list can be accessed on their web site at www.bou.org nk English names follow the same list and are as in 'Checklist of the Birds ofBritain 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 mostly 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 159 gives locations for those sites not easily located on a standard road map. The order of records is north to south down the coastal région, 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 29


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 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 all refer solely to the Suffolk side of the estuary. The larger part of the report, particularly for the more common species, is based upon ad hoc records. Data of that type are influenced by the distribution of birdwatchers, the weather and other factors that resuit in imperfections. We are nonetheless indebted to those observers who have persevered with other studies such as Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), Constant Effort Sites (CES) and transect counts and for making the results available for use. See 'A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk' elsewhere in this Report for information on submission of records. The following dĂŠfinitions are intended as a guide to the relative status of each species: Very common: Occurs in large numbers in suitable habitat and season. Common: Occurs regularly or widely distributed in suitable habitat. Fairly common: Occurs in small numbers in suitable habitat and season. Uncommon: Occurs annually in small numbers. Scarce: One or two records each year or restricted to specific habitats. Rare: Occurs less than annually. Very rare: Less than 15 records in past 30 years. Accidentai: Less than three records in past 30 years. Included in the status description is a note if the species is included in either the Red or the Amber List of 'Birds of Conservation Concern '. This is a paper jointly produced by the leading bird conservation organisations in the UK. See Suffolk Bird Report Vol.47:6-10 for further dĂŠtails. The following abbreviations are used in the systematic list: GP gravel pit ad. = adult Golf Course imm. = immature GC Ind. Est. = industriai estate juv. = juvenile NNR = National Nature Reserve FMD = Foot & Mouth Disease River R N. = bird(s) flying north res. = reservoir S. bird(s) flying south WP Water Park WM = Water Meadow WR Wildfowl Reserve CP = Country Park SW = Sewage Works

30


Systematic List MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor Common resident. Categories A and C. Amber List. Widely reported throughout the county, with numerous breeding records from the coastal strip and inland sites. Many birds over-summered, apparently without attempting to breed, while wintering numbers remained high throughout the county. Breeding was reported from a number of sites including: Barnby: Castle Marsh, two pairs, one pair raised five young. Westleton/Dunwich: Dingle Marshes, one pair, four young fledged. Minsmere: at least seven pairs nested, up from six in 2002. Aldeburgh: North Warren, two pairs nested and reared six young. Orford: Orfordness, three pairs nested. Trimley Marshes: three pairs nested. Bramford: Suffolk WP, one pair nested. Barking: Alderson Lake, one pair nested. Bavlham: Baylham Fish Pond, one pair nested. Sudbury: Sudbury Common, six pairs nested. Shelley/Stoke-by-Nayland: Gifford's Park, pair nested but no young raised. Lackford Lakes: four pairs nested. West Stow: West Stow Country Park, one pair nested. Lakenheath: Lakenheath Fen, eight pairs nested. The number of non-breeding birds throughout the county is substantial, with several sites holding large numbers during the summer. These included Trimley Marshes with 53 on April 21st and 95 there on June 24th. Sudbury Common is another important site that typically held 60 birds throughout the year, and although this number fell to 48 on June 14th, it had increased to 61 again by early August. Numbers at Lakenheath Fen and Washes establish this as an important site, with 144 there on September 7th, increasing to 158 by October 10th. Outside the breeding season, numbers were generally higher. The peak counts in the table below are largely taken from counts made during the monthly WeBS surveys although, in some cases, where a higher figure has been reported on a different date, for example, on the Low Water Counts, this figure has been substituted. The resident, nonbreeding, flock in Ipswich Peak monthly counts at selected sites: Location Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec Docks numbered 108 on 2 10 3 8 U Dingle Marshes 12 January 5th, making it one Minsmere 4 13 17 15 10 22 of the largest concen- Sizewell 17 20 17 11 16 19 9 trations in the county. With North Warren 14 16 13 19 55 56 50 41 the development of the Orfordness { 6 25 54 8 12 14 7 dock area of Ipswich, the Deben Estuary 139 141 89 41 90 91 91 112 amount of food available to Orwell Estuary 16 139 78 129 130 65 82 88 4 14 10 17 48 21 these birds has reduced Stour Estuary 8 7 3 40 47 41 13 20 18 considerably, and plans are Lackford Lakes 18 60 116 99 28 19 38 in hand to supply supple- Lakenheath Fen mentary feeding. Mute Swan has recently been added to the Amber List of Birds of Conservation Concern on the basis that the UK breeding population is of international importance. TUNDRA (BEWICK'S) SWAN Cygnus columbianus bewickii Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Unlike last year, only a handful of birds was reported during the first winter period and, of these, most were transient, and only a handful remained for more than a day. A small 31


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 movement occurred in early January, with two on the Blyth estuary on 4th and I 1 in off the sea at Ness Point the same day, followed by six at Shingle Street, January 5th; six east at Santon Downham, January 6th; seven at East Lane Pools, Bawdsey, January 7th and two at Minsmere, January 13th. Those making the trek from Orford, in search of the wintering Rough-legged Buzzards on January 12th, discovered seven on Sudbourne Marshes. At least five remained until 16th, although they were distant and could be elusive as they fed in the drainage ditches. A more cooperative party arrived at Butley High Corner ^ 4 on January 19th, mixing freely with the resident Mute Swans. This popular group remained in the roadside fields until February 15th, although one disappeared on February 3rd, perhaps succumbing to the blight of overhead power cables, a regular hazard to Mute Swans Bewick's Swan Mark Ferris in this area. Matching the poor winter, the number of spring reports was also lower than average and 150 over Lakenheath on March 16th was the only large group recorded. Smaller parties involved one at Boyton Marshes, February 10th; six north over Orfordness, March 2nd and nine at Lackford Lakes, March 2nd. The first returning birds appeared on October 5th with three south at Orfordness, followed by two at Boyton Marshes, October 23rd, four east over Landguard, October 25th and 15 in off the sea at Sizewell, October 27th. Numbers at Minsmere in the autumn were considerably higher than in previous years, with six arriving on October 28th, increasing to 19, November 16th; 24, November 28th; 29 on December 14th and 38 on December 23rd. These birds favoured Island Mere but could occasionally be seen on the Scrape. Occasional reports from North Warren, including six, November 2nd; two between December 13th and 19th; increasing to four on 20th and seven on 23rd may have involved some birds from Minsmere relocating down the coast. Other autumn reports included two at Kirton Creek, November 15th and six west over Orfordness, December 8th, and the last day of the year produced 15 south over Alton Water. WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. Overall, a poor year for this spectacular swan, with few reports of passage birds. Numbers were well down on those reported in 2002, with just two sites, Minsmere and Lakenheath Fen, holding birds for more than a day. As in previous years, Minsmere proved to be the favoured location, with two present on Island Mere throughout January and much of February, although they could be elusive at times and occasionally moved to Eastbridge where they joined the Mute Swan flock. From February 23rd, only one bird remained, which was last reported on March 30th. In the autumn, seven appeared on October 30th but did not stay. Other transient birds included six south, November 13th, and two, November 20th. In December, two were noted daily from December 13th to 23rd, and four were present on 15th, 17th and 20th. In the west, Lakenheath Fen held exceptionally large numbers in the early part of the year, with 47 present on January 26th, reducing to 15, January 30th; ten, February 14th; nine, February 24th and, finally, eight, 11th March. In the autumn, four were present on October 21 st, but did not stay. Away from these two wintering sites, all other reports involved occasional sightings of 32


Systematic List singles or small parties, typically in flight. Reports in the early part of the year included two north over Orfordness, January 12th, and one northeast over Trimley, January 28th. The number of autumn reports was scarcely better than in the earlier part of the year, with one at Lackford Lakes, October 16th; one, Benacre Broad, October 14th; six at Hen Reedbed, October 27th; two at Iken Cliff, December 6th, and nine on the Stour Estuary during the WeBS count, December 14th. BEAN GOOSE Anser fabalis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. Small numbers of Tundra Bean Geese A.f. rossicus/A. serrirostris continue to return to the coastal marshes, but their appearances nowadays seem to be more erratic, and their stays shorter. In the first winter period, one visited Minsmere on January 13th and 22nd, while at North Warren, usually the preferred site, the only report was of 20, January 16th. Two at Whitecast Marsh, Oulton, January 4th, is an unusual record, while flocks of 11 at Trimley Marshes and Camps Heath, Oulton, both on February 14th, presumably referred to the same party. The only other record in this period was of nine at Lakenheath, February 16th, perhaps the Trimley birds? In the latter part of the year, one was present at Oulton on November 15th, feeding in a stubble field. Following the return of a single bird to North Warren on December 5th, the following day a family party of two adults and two juveniles was discovered there, remaining until 17th, then declining to three until the end of the year. The only other report was of a flock of 22 northwest over Walberswick on December 21 st, although it was not possible to establish to which race these birds could be assigned. See also Appendix II for details of the ringed Taiga Bean Goose A. f . fabalis which is presumed to have originated from a captive source and has been present in northern Suffolk during the last three winters. PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. Pink-footed Geese appear to be wintering with greater frequency in the east of the county, with North Warren and Minsmere each attracting a small flock, although there appears to be some interchange between these two sites. At North Warren, 16 on January 10th increased to 60 the following day, then declined to 21 on 13th. At least four remained until the end of the month. Although daily counts were not made, the fluctuation in numbers at North Warren showed a degree of correlation with those present at Minsmere, where two on 17th increased to ten the following day. Birds were then regularly reported throughout February, with 12 on 2nd but just one on 28th. Other reports during the first winter period included four in off the sea at Benacre, January 5th; four, Havergate Island, January 27th; five, Dunwich Heath, February 4th; two, Southwold Town Marshes, February 8th and one Redgrave Lake, March 2nd, although this latter bird may have been an escapee or feral individual. In the second half of the year, four birds appeared at Minsmere, October 5th to 9th, followed by 15 south at Thorpeness, October 12th and 200 at Covehithe, October 19th. At North Warren, five were reported, October 11th; 22, October 25th; ten, November 3rd and six, November 9th. Numbers then increased to ten, December 5th and 16 on 6th, but dropped to just six by 7th. The only other reports in the autumn came from Oulton Broad, with one on November 15th and 38 southeast, December 2nd. Reports from the west of the county, in particular the long-staying individuals, may have referred to escapees from captivity or feral birds. These involved two or three at Livermere 33


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 Lake from February 11th until May 5th and singles at Mickle Mere, March 30th to April 18th, and Lackford Lakes on October 22nd, followed by two at the latter site, November 16th. GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE A user albifrons Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. North Warren remains the premier site for wintering Greater White-fronted Geese in the county, with smaller numbers at Minsmere and presumably, considerable interchange taking place between these adjacent sites. However, 2003 saw small parties overwintering at several sites including Dingle Marshes, Sudbourne and Trimley Marshes, plus scattered records of small numbers at widespread sites along the coast and occasional reports from inland sites, although some of these undoubtedly relate to escapees from captivity. The last report from the first winter period was of 16 at Minsmere on April 9th, and the earliest returning was a party of 22 at Trimley Marshes on October 9th. As in previous years, numbers wintering at Minsmere and North Warren were the highest in the county, but numbers at all sites which regularly held small numbers are summarised below: Westleton/Dunwich: Dingle Marshes, small numbers regularly noted in the first winter period, with 17, Jan.5th and again Feb.lรณth; 13, Mar.l8th increasing to 17, Mar.23rd but no further reports. A party of ten reappeared on Dec.30th, although these may have been transient birds. Minsmere: 148, Jan.l 1th, flying in to roost on the Scrape at dusk was exceptional, and exceeded the numbers wintering on the Levels at that time, which peaked at 70, Jan. 12th; 282, Feb.2nd and 43, Mar.l9th. The last of the winter was a party of 16, Apr.9th. First returning birds appeared on Oct.25th, when 25 arrived, but no further reports until 64, Dec.20th. Of interest was a party of up to 20 birds feeding in fields near Eastbridge between Mar. 15th and 20th, often with a Common Crane Grus grus. Aldcburgh: North Warren, 189, Jan.5th, increased to 310, Jan.28th, then 350, Feb.8th. Numbers remained high throughout February with 293 on 25th, then 280, Mar.5th, falling to 40, Mar. 16th, the last report of the winter. The first returning birds were a group of 15, Oct.27th, perhaps a part of the group that arrived at Minsmere two days earlier. Main arrival occurred in December, with 15 on 5th, increasing to 40 on 14th, and 120 on 29th. Orford: Reports from Orfordness include 140, Jan.l9th, and 250, Feb.l6th. As these birds do not winter here, it is believed they may have been disturbed from the adjacent Sudbourne Marshes (see below) Sudbourne: Sudbourne Marshes, only two reports, 200, Jan.l 1th, and 19, Jan. 12th, although it is believed that birds were present throughout much of January and February. Trimley Reserve: 26 from Jan.l 1th until the end of the month, with 22 still present on Feb.4th. Numbers then fell to just four birds, which remained until Mar.31st. Occasional reports from other sites included 48 southwest over Havergate Island, February 18th; four, Boyton Marshes, January 11th and February 2nd; nine, Shingle Street, January 21st; 22, River Orwell, February 10th and 19, Lakenheath, February 16th. Birds that may have escaped from captivity or be of feral origin involve singles at Oulton Broad, May 19th and June 3rd, Outney Common, March 2nd, Cornard Mere, March 21st, and Gifford's Park, March 2nd, but five at Redgrave Lake, February 22nd, could well have been wild birds, despite the inland location. GREYLAG GOOSE Anser anser Common resident from feral stock. Amber List. Categories A, C and E. Numbers continue to increase throughout the county, and the Greylag Goose remains the most numerous goose throughout much of Suffolk. Several sites reported high numbers, and although it is unrealistic to mention each in detail, a count of 903 at Lackford Lakes on November 16th is a new high count for the reserve and almost bettered the all-time 34


Systematic List county record of 912 set at Livermere Lake on July 8th 2002. Although many of Suffolk's Greylag Geese are believed to be resident and derived from released birds, at least some are of continental origin. Following on from the Norwegian-marked bird reported in the 2002 Report, one out of a party of 26 at Lakenheath Fen on February 20th was fitted with a Dutch neck collar. Clearly, Greylags deserve a second look. Following on from the comments made in the 2002 Suffolk Bird Report, many more submissions of breeding attempts have been made this year, creating a better picture of the number and distribution of breeding birds. It is clear from the summary below that substantial numbers of young are being produced within the county and, with few predators, their increase appears set to continue, perhaps to the detriment of the Canada Goose Branta canadensis population, which is still in decline. Reported breeding attempts were: Carlton Colville: Carlton Marshes, three pairs. Southwold: Town Marshes, two pairs. Henham/Reydon: Hen Reedbeds, 11 pairs. Westleton/Dunwich: Dingle Marshes, five pairs. Minsmere: seven pairs raised at least 23 young. Sibton: Sibton Park, 35 young raised. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 28 pairs. Orford: Orfordness, one pair. Trimley Marshes: ten pairs raised 37 young. Barham: Barham GP, broods of two and three juvs. May 26th. Barking: brood of eight juvs, Jun.8th. Shelley/Stoke-by-Nayland: Gifford's Park, four pairs raised 27 young. Pakenham: Mickle Mere, seven pairs raised 49 young. Lackford Lakes: two pairs raised 11 young. Glemsford: pair raised four young. Undoubtedly, many breeding attempts have gone unreported. Counts were made at several locations throughout the county, although few were done on a systematic, monthly, Peak monthly counts at selected sites: basis. Where significant Location Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec counts were made, these Benacre Broad 17 480 5 12 are included in the table. Covehithe Broad 362 .. iifMi- Although by no means Dingle Marshes Ill 18 1 102 42 90 complete, it provides a Minsmere 205 182 179 161 83 86 345 100 57 38 340 350 217 490 useful indication of the North Warren 6 65 19 114 52 6 17 10 magnitude of numbers Orfordness 15 91 31 46 154 55 285 347 present throughout the Deben Estuary 587 406 124 65 507 356 251 625 county, and, in several Orwell Estuary ' 571 427 cases, numbers can be Alton Water 3 56 198 28 Stour Estuary 10 29 8 22 compared with those in the 798 Livermere Lake 820 540 442 2002 report. Peak counts in Lackford Lakes 370 : 903 527 415 44 51 the table are largely those Mickle Mere 120 127 made during the monthly WeBS surveys although, in some cases, where a higher figure has been reported on a different date, for example, on the Low Water Counts, this figure has been substituted. CANADA GOOSE Branta canadensis Common resident. Categories A, C and E. The Canada Goose remains a common resident throughout the county, with small numbers occurring on most lakes and wetlands and larger numbers gathering at a handful of 35


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 important sites. Surveys, in particular the WeBS counts, that cover a period of several years show that, Overall, numbers are declining and it appears to be losing ground to the larger and more aggressive Greylag Goose Anser unser. Numbers in coastal Suffolk are now much lower than those of Greylag Goose, and most monthly counts of wintering birds on the Deben, Orwell and Stour estuaries show a significant decrease. In recent years, the Stour estuary has carried the highest coastal population, but in 2003, numbers there declined to 11 in January (663 in January 2002), 466 in February (621 in February 2002) and 357 in December (813 in December 2002). While this decline is, in part, offset by higher numbers wintering on the Orwell estuary, a similar decline was apparent on the Deben estuary, further suggesting that numbers are falling rapidly. Considering the overall numbers wintering on the three southern estuaries, numbers in 2003, when compared with those of 2002, were down by 22% in February, 49% in March and 45% in November and only in December was there a perceptible increase, but only of 6%. Numbers at inland locations are generally higher, and some typical counts are included in the table. Although it is not realistic to include ali counts made at ali sites due to limited data availability, it would be desirable to do so, especially as the decline in the west is also becoming significant. At Lackford Lakes, where regular counting has taken place over many years, numbers have declined by more than 60% in the last decade. Similar data sets are not available for other locations. If any observers do have regular monthly counts of Canada Geese extending Peak monthly counts at selected sites: back over the last few years, Location Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct N o y Dec then please do submit these . Benacre Broad 6 63 as they may provide a 245 g Dingle Marshes 6 2 12 70 fit useful comparison with Minsmere 73 43 51 20 77 numbers elsewhere and 7 34 125 33 176 275 North Warren 50 25 help to build up a more 54 Orfordness 113 53 33 12. 54 56 Deben Estuary 111 1 1 1 72 66 230 62 1 5 4 215 accurate picture of the 274 227 37 96 524 43 225 347 Orwell Estuary population fluctuations or Stour Estuary 10 176 154 436 1 0 9 357 11 466 declines in recent years. Outney Common 194225 320 3 9 0 The peak counts in the SlIU'l; Livermere Lake 30 2 7 table are largely those made Lackford Lakes 42 273 241 303 2 4 0 1 4 2 10 during the monthly WeBS Mickle Mere 132 •• surveys although, in some cases, where a higher figure has been reported on a différent date, for example, on the Low Water Counts, this figure has been substituted. Other counts of interest included 120, Havergate Island, March 23rd and 200 there, July Ist; 188, Stutton Mili, June 27th and 400, Trimley Marshes, February 4th. Only a handful of breeding reports was submitted for 2003, although this may, in part, be an accurate reflection of its status, perhaps accounting for the overall decline. Reports of breeding were submitted from: Somerleyton: Somerleyton Marshes, pair nested. Easton Bavents/Covehithc: Easton Broad, pair nested. Southwold: Town Marshes, two pairs nested. Dunwich: Dingle Marshes, two pairs raised three young. Minsmere: pair nested. Sibton: Sibton Park, ten pairs raised ten young. Aldeburgh: North Warren, 17 pairs nested. Orford: Orfordness, four pairs. Trlmiey Marshes: ten pairs nested, three successfully. 36


Systematic List Levington: Levington Creek, pair nested. Great Blakenham: Chalk Pit, 15 juvs. May 23rd. Baylham/Needham Market: six broods totalling 23 juvs, late May/early June. Shelley/Stoke-by-Nayland: Gifford's Park, pair raised six young. Pakenham: Mickle Mere, pair raised six young. BARNACLE GOOSE H ran to leucopsis Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant; increasingly common feral resident. Amber List. Categories A and E. The spectacle of dense packs of this attractive goose grazing the Town Marshes at Southwold and Reydon Marshes has become one of the winter highlights for many Suffolk birders. Although some are undoubtedly of feral stock, breeding in Suffolk, these surely cannot account for the high numbers recorded and when counts increase to over 700 in mid-winter, some must be of continental origin. To the south, up to 50 birds now regularly winter on the Levels at Minsmere, and there has been an increasing tendency for small numbers to join with other geese at North Warren, particularly towards the end of the year. It will be interesting to monitor this trend if numbers in the northeast of the county continue to increase. The table below illustrates the maximum monthly counts at favoured locations. Peak monthly counts at selected sites: Wintering birds departed Location Jan Feb Mar Apr AuÂŤ Sep Oct Nov Dec early from the east coast, Benacre Broad ĂŻa 1 506 270 400 2 with 150 at Southwold on Easton Broad --, it. 318 February 27th being the last Southwold'Reydon 700 580 600 _ record there. At Minsmere, Dingle Marshes 60 33 46 97 55 56 62 17 65 however, 56 were still Minsmere 60 5 present on March 31st, and North Warren 62 on April 2nd, perhaps suggesting an alternative origin to the Southwold birds. Unfortunately, no numbers are available from Lound this year, traditionally the favoured gathering area in late summer before birds disperse along the coast. With the arrival of 72 birds at Benacre Broad on August 2nd, followed by a steady increase to over 500 by the end of the month, the feral population appears to have reached a new high. Although no single site in East Anglia can account for such a large number, the 'discovery' of a large, free-flying colony at the Otter Trust, near Bungay, in early May, estimated at 80 adults, with at least 20 nests located around the waterfowl pool, could account for up to half of this total. Other populations from Fritton Lake and elsewhere could make up the remainder. It would be interesting to see how many remain at these breeding sites throughout the year. Alternatively, birds may be arriving from the Netherlands where a substantial feral population, numbering an estimated 1100 pairs in 2000, exists and is still increasing. It is, however, interesting to observe that these wintering birds at Southwold and Reydon are quite wary, even though they are not persecuted, while those breeding at the Otter Trust can be closely approached. By October, this large group had dispersed along the coast, with smaller flocks appearing at Covehithe and Easton Bavents. By November, many had returned to favoured wintering areas on Town Marshes, Southwold and Reydon Marshes, where 400 in October and 600 in December were the highest numbers reported. To the south of North Warren, there were occasional reports of single birds and small parties at several coastal locations. These included three at Havergate Island, January 5th, and presumably the same birds at Boyton Marshes, January 11th; other reports from Havergate included eight from February 37


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 12th to 26th, and two there, March 24th. Reports from Trimley Marshes were of three, January lOth, one, February lOth, and four, December 17th. A party of four with Brent Geese Branta bernicla at Shotley Marshes on January 1 lth was typical but 49 at Brantham on February 13th was unusual. There were a few reports from coastal watchpoints, including 30 south at Thorpeness, February 13th, and 35 south there, December 12th, possibly commuting between Minsmere and North Warren. Elsewhere, 18 north at Landguard, Aprii 22nd followed by five south there, May 28th, and three south at Orfordness, May 4th, are difficult to assign to either wild or ferai breeding populations. See entry for birds of ferai or of captive origin in Appendix II (DARK-BELLIED) BRENT GOOSE Branta bernicla bernicla Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Catégories A and E. The count of 2234, made during the WeBS survey along the River Deben on December 14th, was the highest of the year, reinforcing the importance of this small estuary for Brent Geese. The Orwell and Stour estuaries also held important populations, and détails of the monthly maxima are summarised in the table below. These peak counts are based on numbers reported during the monthly WeBS surveys although, in some cases, where a higher figure has been reported on a différent date, for example, on the Low Water Counts, this figure has been substituted. Those wintering on the River Deben favoured the Waldringfield area and the King's Fleet, but could be elusive Peak monthly counts at selected sites: at times, especially when Location Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec feeding on private farmland Aide/Ore Estuary 299 559 4 16 110 84 to the north of the river Deben Estuary 1251 938 7 0 1 3 383 2234 near Ramsholt. Most of the Orwell Estuary 1525 1600 119 66 1 63 533 586 Orwell flock frequented 0 22 845 836 Stour Estuar)' 492 539 582 845 Trimley Marshes reserve, with the newly created Managed Retreat proving particularly attractive. On occasions, these birds flew across the river to feed on Shotley Marshes, particularly during January and February. Those wintering along the Stour estuary generally occurred at Brantham or along the Essex shoreline. Numbers present during the monthly WeBS counts suggest the Orwell and Stour birds remained as discrete populations, while numbers on the Deben estuary showed greater fluctuation, suggesting birds from elsewhere join this flock. Numbers at Oxley Marshes, Shingle Street, increased from 70, January lst, to 187 by January lOth, and 250 on February 4th, but ail had departed by February lOth and there were no further reports. At nearby Havergate, counts of 115, January 5th, and 111, January 27th, increased to 333, February 12th, this increase coinciding with the departure of the Oxley birds. It seems likely that 200 on Orfordness, February 23rd, were from adjacent Havergate Island. Although there are no data available from Havergate for the latter part of the year, 250 at Boyton Marshes on November 15th and small numbers on Orfordness suggest they wintered in the area, but this flock did not return to Oxley Marshes. The only reports from an 'inland' locality this year came from Alton Water, with 45, February 16th; 65, February 22nd, and 33, November 16th. Landguard reported both the last departing birds, on May 3lst, and earliest returning birds, which appeared on September 21 st. One immature oversummered on the Scrape at Minsmere, being regularly noted there from May 5th to September 29th, although this was presumably the same individual that made occasionai appearances at other coastal sites, including North Warren, during the summer. Coastal movements in the autumn were 38


Systematic List unimpressive with no large counts. Passage peaked during the second week of October with 182 north, Covehithe, October 14th; 254 south, Southwold, October 14th; 178 south, Minsmere, October 13th; 375 south, Thorpeness, October 7th and 624 south, Landguard, October 12th. Other noteworthy movements included 30 south, Ness Point, September 29th; 180 south, Southwold, November 8th and 232 south, Landguard, November 7th. (PALE-BELLIED) BRENT GOOSE Branta bermela hrota Uncommon winter visitor. Oxley Marshes, Shingle Street, proved to be the premier site for this dainty goose in 2003, with the wintering birds present in December 2002 remaining into January. Numbers there fluctuated throughout January, but increased from two, January 1 st to eight, January 8th, ten, February 2nd and peaked at 12, February 4th, an exceptional number for Suffolk. Other singles were reported from Shotley Marshes, January 11th; Hemley Marshes, January 18th, with presumably the same individual noted again during the Deben estuary WeBS count on February 16th; Orfordness, January 19th and in flight past Kessingland, January 24th. In the second half of the year, the only reports were of single birds north with Greylag Geese Anser anser on the unexpected date of October 5th; south past Thorpeness, November 7th; south past Southwold, November 8th, and on Havergate Island between November 13th and 17th. BLACK BRANT Branta bernicla nigricans Very rare visitor. The wintering adult at Shotley Marshes, first seen in late December 2002, remained into 2003, being noted there again, January 10th and 1 Ith, (N. Crouch, J. Zantboer) and again February 10th (J. Walshe). When not at Shotley, it frequently fed with Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Trimley Marshes on the Managed Retreat (N. Odin), where it was last noted on March 27th with 170 Dark-bellied Brent Geese (J.A. and P.R. Kennerley). The only other record is of an adult on the Deben estuary at Falkenham, January 3rd (M. Ferris), this presumably being the same bird that frequented King's Fleet in late December. EGYPTIAN GOOSE Alopochen aegyptiaca Locally fairly common resident. Categories C and E. As in previous years, widespread reports came from several suitable locations throughout the north and west of the county. The trend towards increasing numbers mentioned in the 2002 Suffolk Bird Report seems to have continued in 2003, with the number of occurrences in the southeast of the county increasing over those reported in 2002. Two on the Stour estuary during the WeBS counts on February 16th and April 20th, were followed by two at Barking, in the Gipping Valley, June 8th. In addition, singles were reported from Orfordness, April 22nd, the first record from this site; Havergate Island, September 23rd; Cattawade on the River Stour, September 20th; and again on the Stour estuary during the WeBS count on December 14th. Peak counts elsewhere included: Lound: Water Treatment Works, six, Mar.24th. Blundeston: Blundeston Marshes, eight, Mar.27th. Bungay: Outney Common, eight, Apr.l8th and Oct.l Ith, Stow Fen, 24, Dec.31st. Weybread: Gravel Pits, 21, Nov. 17th. Carlton Colville: Carlton Marshes, 33, Jan. 10th. Shelley/Stoke-by-Nayland: Gifford's Park, five, Jun.28th. 39


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 Lackford Lakes: 17, Sep.21st. Livermere Lake: 11, Oct.5th.

Thetford: Nunnery Lakes, 42, Sep.24th. The number of breeding sites reported during 2003 was well down on the 2002 figure. Breeding was reported from Lound Water Works, Weybread Gravel Pits, Livermere Lake, Lackford Lakes and Nunnery Lakes. As the overall number of birds in the county seems to have increased since 2002, it seems likely that 2003 breeding reports from some sites have not been submitted. COMMON SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna Locally common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. 7T~Zr~~IirZIZ ZTtTkey Isites: r — r ^ — j I • - -• m—1; Orfordness was the premier r Monthly counts from some _ ,. Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec breeding site this year with 477 713 Blyth Estuary 612 589 398 213 a total of 184 young seen .... 375 829 1301 Aide/Ore Estuary 607 869 945 from 30 broods. Elsewhere Deben Estuary 680 496 864 507 82 98 367 637 on the coast, there were 12 10 30 45 404 Orwell Estuary 275 329 539 381 pairs at North Warren, Stoar Estuary 865 377 425 662 175 423 270 478 single pairs at Dingle 4 Trimley Marshes 35 41 240 315 f i f i l 24 Marshes and Dunwich 4 6 4 Livermere Lake* 70 115 139 70 — Heath, five pairs at Trimley 2 Lackford Lakes* 110 33 42 13 WW Marshes and 21 birds 'monthly maxima prospected at Landguard. Other sites went un-reported. Inland there were single broods at Gifford's Park, Livermere Lake and the Mickle Mere and at least two broods at Lackford Lakes. At Livermere Lake the peak count was 139 on March 19th and there was a record count of 110 at Lackford Lakes on January 31st, probably involving birds which re-located from Livermere. There was a complete absence of any large coastal movements in 2003. The best month off Thorpeness was January, when just 76 (12 north and 64 south) were noted. Off Landguard the largest movement recorded was only 11 s o u t h o n

Shelduck Mark Ferris

N o v e m b e r 7th.

MANDARIN DUCK Aix galericulata Uncommon visitor. Categories C and E. Lowestoft: Leathes Ham, male, Apr.5th and 6th. Melton: Wilford Bridge, three males, Apr.5th and a male, Jun.2nd. Melton Park, pair, Apr.20th. Ipswich: Christchurch Park, recorded from Feb. 11th, (17, the peak count) to Dec.26th (11). A pair with two ducklings, May 6th. Victoria Nurseries, six, Jan. 16th. Broomhill swimming pool, three, Apr.27th. Westerfield Road, nine circling overhead, Jan. 16th. Bures St Mary: R.Stour, male, Apr.29th. The usual caveat must be added that at least some of the above records may refer to birds that have escaped from captivity. 40


Systematic List EURASIAN WIGEON Anas penelope Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. Amber list. Categories A and E. The figures in the table indicate that the numbers wintering were similar to recent years, although the February count of 7387 from the Aide/Ore estuary is the highest site-total in Suffolk since January Monthly counts from some key sites: 1997 (8181, Aide/ Dee Oct Nov Apr Sep Jan Feb Mar Ore estuary). Other Blvth Estuar) 478 765 0 1029 484 254 counts of note Minsmere* 33 93 409 370 456 1100 1060 300 included 278 at North Warren* 3720 1820 2200 620 110 570 1350 2250 - , 977 4494 4437 Dingle Marshes, Aide/Ore Estuary 5182 7387 3607 22 275 1063 1547 1327 774 417 January 5th and 228 Delie il Estuary 85 347 310 698 1242 1032 1254 793 there, December Orwell Estuary 394 506 86 14th; 178 at Red- Triinley Marshes 1187 1196 800 148 si 120 6 101 36 216 grave Lake, February Alton Water 98 318 836 1065 1851 898 692 143 Stour Estuary 6th; 154 at Gififord's 109 9 17 2 ' 70 70 Livermere Lake* Park, February 9th Lackford Lakes* 64 66 6 0 3 22 5 and 534 at Laken- Lakenheath Fen 38 75 31 61 254 300 150 heath Fen, February *monthiy maxima 5th and 610 there, March 10th (the figures in the table are WeBS counts). There was the usual scatter of summer records from several coastal sites and a pair at one inland site until May 24th, but once again no sign of a serious breeding attempt. The highest autumn passage counts came from: Thorpeness: 129 south in September, 390 in November and 177 in December, with a peak count of 180 south, Nov.7th (see Landguard). Felixstowe: Brackenbury Cliffs, 490 south, Oct. 15th. Landguard: 274 south in September, 1053 in October and 732 in November, with a peak count of 443 south, Nov.7th. AMERICAN WIGEON Anas americana Very rare visitor Benacre Broad: female, Jan.3rd and 4th (B.J. and R.J.Small, G.Lowe) Brantham/Stutton: Cattawade/Stutton Mill, male, Apr.4th to 16th (T.C.Nicholson, G.J.Jobson et al). The 14th and 15th records for Suffolk. The second bird is possibly the same as one at Cattawade from March 2nd to 28th 2002. GADWALL Anas streperĂ Common resident and winter visitor. Amber list. Categories A and C. Other counts of note included 71, Benacre Broad, August 21st; 85, Covehithe Broad, August 25th; 118, Dingle Marshes, October 12th; Monthly counts fromsome key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec 130, Redgrave Lake, Feb66 33 77 80 Minsmere* 84 394 ruary 6th; 306, Loompit 0 22 113 70 North Warren4 117 229 210 26 Lake, Trimley St Martin, 37 105 175 70 Aide/Ore Estuary 121 163 January 10th and 64, Trimley Marshes* 55 41 23 32 Lakenheath Fen, March Orwell Estuar) 0 446 399 18 37 168 270 95 10th. 50 140 360 270 ' 7 Alton Water 63 225 195 80 A total of 86 pairs or Lackford Lakes* 341 63 28 broods was reported but this *monthly maxima 41


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 is considered to be a very minimum figure. The total of young seen (55) was rather low and the most successful site appeared to be Orfordness, where five broods containing 32 young were noted. Minsmere was estimated to hold at least 32 pairs, but few young were seen. As usual with this species, coastal movement was minimal. Autumn passage at Landguard consisted of just six south on November 12th. EURASIAN TEAL Anas crecca Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. Amber list. The WeBS count of 4381 at Minsmere on December 14th is a record total for the reserve and the WeBS count of 572 Monthly countsfromsome key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec at Lackford Lakes on the ... same day is a record figure — Benacrc Broad* 1320 120 2 336 Blyth Estuary 368 577 290 121 195 44 for that site and included a Dingle Marshes 545 158 298 230 453 701 782 single flock of 558 on the Minsmere* 1500 1233 98 970 2750 1500 4381 Slough. Other counts of North Warren* 1450 800 1000 315 130 181 1200 1050 note included 500 at Aide/Ore Estuary 2609 2173 1382 s ® 2074 1460 3160 Barsham Marshes, Feb128 604 Deben Estuary 313 278 187 41 117 ruary 23rd; 245 at Outney 5 138 153 60 73 75 259 628 Orwell Estuary Common, Bungay, January Trinile} Marshes* 370 395 300 94 175 ¡Slit 671 550 11th; 150 at Gifford's Park, -115 92 74 Alton Water 0 39 6 February 20th and 175 Stour Estuary 290 235 126 26 107 355 459 448 there, December 21st and 51 37 109 85 81 572 Lackford Lakes* 340 260 72 700 265 159 25 50 120 Lakenheath Fen s 500 at Lakenheath Fen, "monthly maxima February 20th. Up to 49 birds were at Minsmere during June and five pairs were reported during the spring at three other coastal sites, but no young were seen. Autumn passage of note was recorded from the following sites: Covehithe: 252 south, Aug.25th. Thorpcness: 440 south and 116 north during August; 252 south and 119 north in September; 225 south and nine north in November and 100 south and 310 north in December. The peak day count was on Dec.31st, with 300 north and 60 south. Landguard: passage south from Jul.27th to Nov.25th, with a peak of 408 during October and a peak day count of 116, Aug.26th.

,

GREEN-WINGED TEAL Anas carolinensis Rare visitor Orfordness: male, Apr.6th (M.C.Marsh, J.R.Askins, D.Crawshaw) Stutton: Stutton Mill, male, Apr.26th (T.C.Nicholson, N.B.Cant, I.Sillett). These are the 18th and 19th records for Suffolk of this North American duck. MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Apart from the table, the only counts to exceed 100 came from: Flixton: Flixton G.P., 102, Monthly counts fromsome key sites: Feb.2nd. Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec Redgrave/Botesdale: Red100 81 10 360 Benacrc Broad* grave Lake, 153, Feb.ôth. 274 150 73 22 71 63 110 Dingle Marshes Lackford Lakes: 294, Minsmere* 525 329 88 93 72 318 Jul.23rd. 171 238 266 216 180 197 204 North Warren* There were also counts 365 235 397 Aide/Ore Estuary 583 313 165 of 900 at Ampton Water 253 Deben Estuary 1 132 90 129 128 240 on March 26th and 440 42


Systematic List at Livermere Lake on Monthly countsfromsome key sites {continued): December 27th, but numJan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec 176 123 166 106 34 75' 106 428 bers at these two closely Orwell Estuary 14 7 79 181 288 connected sites are inflated Trimley Marshes* 80 62 209 236 222 107 by birds bred and released Alton Water 176 108 62 132 17 60 170 185 Stour Estuar} for shooting. 181 120 118 226 Lackford Lakes* 279 159 102 A total of 289 pairs or 115 141 102 156 Lakenheath Fen 300 246 142 broods was reported from "monthly maxima 12 sites, most of which are wardened reserves. Doubtless many other pairs also bred unreported on lakes and quiet streams. Along the coast, Dingle Marshes logged 34 pairs, Minsmere 45 pairs, Sizewell Estate 37 pairs, North Warren 123 pairs and Trimley Marshes 13 pairs, while on Orfordness no less than 184 young were counted in 19 broods. Offshore passage was minimal. Landguard logged 13 south in September and seven during October. NORTHERN PINTAIL Anas acuta Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant; a few oversummer. Amber list. Categories A and E. The maximum count for the Blyth estuary in January (made on a non-WeBS count day) was 284, in February 253 and in March 43. Away from sites in the table, notable counts were of 100 at Barsham Marshes, near Beccles, February 23rd and 150 on the R.Deben at Waldringfield, December Monthly counts fromsome ล“y sites: 31st. Inland, there was a Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec quite outstanding count of Blyth Estuary 64 132 4 0 218 41 231 at the RSPB reserve at Minsmere* 6 1 10 5 8 54 22 14 14 2 5 0 0 Lakenheath Fen during North Warren* 40 26 27 81 345 276 cold weather on February Aide/Ore Estuary 298 290 101 1 26 89 116 133 25 : 16th. This is by far the Deben Estuary 4 0 10 159 158 58 9 0 Orwell Estuary largest inland count ever 60 7 136 181 288 13 recorded in Suffolk, easily Trimley Marshes* 80 62 3 5 44 52 43 Stour Estuary 70 85 26 surpassing the previous "monthly maxima record of 25 flying over Little Cornard on December 10th 1978 (Piotrowski 2003). This large flock may have been comprised of birds from the Ouse Washes. Other inland records came from: Shelley: Gifford's Park, eight, Feb.20th; five males and five females, Feb.23rd to Mar.2nd Glemsford: 12, Feb.lรณth, during icy conditions. Livermere Lake: three eclipse males, Sep.2nd. Lackford Bridge: male, Mar.2nd. Lackford Lakes: female between Jan. 3rd and 16th and two on 8th; pair, Feb. 1st; eight, Sep.21st and a single, Nov.7th. Lakenheath Fen: up to four, January; a massive 231, Feb.lรณth and up to nine in March. Two remained through April and a female was seen between May 1 Ith and 24th. Two, Aug.25th. OffThorpeness 35 flew south, January 12th. Landguard logged 15 south in September, 12 south October 13th and 68 south, October 16th. GARGANEY Anas querquedula Uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Both the earliest and latest dates came from Minsmere; a pair, March 24th and a single on the late date of November 1st. This is the second latest-ever in Suffolk - the latest record 43


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 is of one flying south off Landguard, November 9th 1992. In between, birds were recorded from the following nine sites, with a juvenile seen at Benacre Broad in August. Benacre Broad: recorded regularly from Jul.29th to Sep. 18th, with a maximum of five, Aug.23rd and a juvenile, Aug.21 st. Southwold: south, Aug. 17th. Walberswick: Tinker's Marshes, up to three males between May 8th and 12th and a single on 15th. Minsmere: pair, Mar.24th then seen fairly regularly throughout the spring and summer with a maximum of two males and a female. May 21st until a final single, Nov. 1st. North Warren: male, Apr.30th. Orfordness: male. May 3rd to 15th and a pair. May 26th to 29th. Trimley Marshes: pair, Mar.27th and 28th; two males, May 21st and 22nd; male, Jul. 15th to Aug.3rd and a single, Aug.21 st and Sep. 18th. Lackford Lakes: male on the Slough, Apr. 14th to 17th. Lakenheath: Botany Bay, two, May 5th; Lakenheath Fen, three, Jun.4th and a pair Jun.9th. Lakenheath Washes, pair, May 1 Oth and four Aug.22nd and 25th. NORTHERN SHOVELER Anas clypeata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon resident. Amber list. Additional to the table, counts above 20 came from: Dingle Marshes: 34, Jan.5th, 24, Mar.23rd and 41, Oct. 12th. Alton Water: 27, Jan.5th and 27, Oct,12th. Great Barton: Barton Mere, 22, Feb. 15th and 40, Aug.27th. Pakenham: Mickle Mere, 22, Jan.23rd, 63, Feb.26th and 57, Mar.30th. Livermere Lake: 24, Mar.29th.

One breeding pair was reported from the Hen Reedbeds and at Minsmere a "potential" population of 13 Monthly countsfromsome key sites; pairs was present in Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec the spring, but just 40 Minsmere* 233 183 28 125 120 152 139 156 14 North Warren* 119 13 10 32 93 one brood of 12 164 Aide/Ore Estuary 140 180 229 46 141 ducklings was seen 54 Orwell Estuary 37 7 132 26 5 7 57 on June 12th. At 104 Trimley .Marshes 65 127 44 117 122 51 North Warren, a pair Lackford Lakes* 38 4 35 63 49 26 35 14 produced a brood of 30 Lakenheath Fen 40 70 30 3 5 9 five ducklings on 'monthly maxima June 29th and a single brood was also noted at Trimley Marshes. A female was on the Sailing Lake at Lackford with five young on July 11th - the first breeding record for the site since 1988. At Lakenheath Fen one to four pairs were present through the spring. The only passage of note occurred off Thorpeness, where 27 flew south, November 29th. RED-CRESTED POCHARD Netta rufina Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Categories A and E. Lowestoft: Leathes Ham, male, Dec. 14th to 31st. Minsmere: Dec.8th to 11th. R.Orwell: two on the WeBS count, Dec. 14th. Trimley Marshes: three, Jul. 15th and a single, Sep. 12th. Alton Water: two, Mar.4th.

Lackford Lakes: male, Mar.25th to Oct.27th. The dates of the first three records above point to a possible influx of wild birds in December. 44


Systematic List COMMON POCHARD

Aythyaferina

Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon resident. Amber list. CatĂŠgories A and E. Apart from the table the only counts to exceed 50 carne from: Redgrave Lake: 109,

Feb.Ăśth. Livermere Lake: 63,

Monthly counts from some key sites: Jan Feb 24 Minsmere* 23 57 Aide/Ore Estuary 73 Orwell Estuarv 63 32 154 37 Trimlev Marshes* Alton Water 53 ; 184 137 Lackford Lakes* 110 Lakenheath Fen 120 "monthly maxima

Mar -

Apr 10

Sep -

Oct 2 18 0

Nov 50 38 42 17 47 58

Dec 15 64 76 50 18 75

Mar.30th. 18 Ampton: Ampton 17 7 9 Water, 150, Mar.9th. 3 3 A total of eight 9 5 U breeding pairs was 26 Ii 43 reported from four 20 coastal sites but at only one of these sites were any young seen; broods of six and seven ducklings. At a site in the west of the county, broods of seven and three were noted and at another nearby site a brood of two. Autumn passage was pretty well confined to Landguard, where a total of 11 flew north and 54 south on five dates between October 9th and November 13th, with a maximum of 45 south, October 12th. FERRUGINOUS DUCK Aythya nyroca Rare winter visitor and FIELD N O T E passage migrant. A duck resembling a temale Ferruginous Duck was seen at Benacre Broad: male, Redgrave Lake on March 2nd and 3rd. However, there was no Nov.4th. Considered to be white on the undertail, the flanks were too pale and had the Minsmere bird which greyish vermiculations and the head was not sufficiently had flown in with a flock peaked. It was probably a Common Pochard x Ferruginous of Common Pochard Duck hybrid. (R.Drew). John Walshe Minsmere: the male from 2002 remained until Feb.28th and what was thought to be the same bird returned from Nov.3rd to Dec.31st (D.Fairhurst, RSPB, et al). The records from November and December still require ratification by BBRC.

OO

TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. The 1440 at Alton Water in September is the highest total in Suffolk since February 1997 (1570, also at Alton Water). Aside from the table the only counts above 50 came from: Bawdsey: 71, Feb.l7th. Weybread: Gravel Monthly counts from some key sites: Oct Nov Dec Apr Sep Jan Feb Mar Pits, 113, Dec.9th. : _ 39 6 8 16 30 21 Redgrave Lake: 56, Minsmere* 121 128 92 97 57 107 Alde/Ore Estuary Mar.20th. 2 36 70 20 A total of 69 pairs Deben Estuary 6 103 128 17 95 109 66 81 or broods was Orwell Estuary 16 57 57 48 62 reported from 15 Trimley Marshes* 950 1103 1216 215 1440 470 Alton Water 442 583 Sites, which is 146 129 161 113 132 272 Lackford Lakes* 233 almost double the Lakenheath Fen 122 84 ,'i' ~ total for 2002. How- "monthly maxima ever, the number of ducklings recorded (52) was rather low. Minsmere was judged to have held about 24 pairs 45


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 and both Lackford Lakes and the gravel pits at Layham ten pairs each. The most productive nest was at Pakenham, where a female was seen on a farm irrigation reservoir on July 8th with eight almost fully-grown young. During May, 27 flew south off Kessingland, which is an unusual month for movement to take place. Landguard also noted 11 south in May and just four south during October. GREATER SCAUP Aythya murila Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Only relatively small numbers were recorded this year. Records in the first winter period came from: Oulton Broad: two, Jan. 12th.

Kessingland: three on the fishing lake between Jan. 1 st and 7th and again on Feb. 1 st and 18th. A single on the sea, Jan. 12th and five north, Jan.31 st. Benacre/Kessingland: Jan.7th, on Hundred River at sluice. Benacre Pits: 1-3 occasionally between Feb.2nd and Apr.21st. Benacre Broad: 1-3 recorded from Mar.รณth to Apr.26th, and a peak of five, Apr.l 1th. Several of the records for this site, Benacre Pits and Kessingland fishing lake, relate to one male and two females and are presumed to refer to the same three birds. Stour Estuary: two, Jan.6th.

Alton Water: regular records of 1-5 between Jan.4th and Mar.2nd. There were several May records. A male flew north past Thorpeness on 8th and four were seen daily on the sea off Kessingland from 10th to 31st, while at Benacre Broad a single was seen from 6th to 19th and again on 23rd. The first returning birds were three males which flew south past Thorpeness on July 13th. Records in the second winter period came from: Oulton Broad: Dec. 19th.

Benacre Pits: immature, Aug.22nd and two, Nov.8th. Benacre Broad: immature, Aug.21st, then a female, Aug.27th which remained until late October. Three, Nov.4th; two Nov. 15th and four Nov.24th. Covehithe Broad: three, Dec.28th. Minsmere: 1-2 from Nov. 13th to Dec. 19th. Thorpeness: north offshore, Aug.30th; four north, Nov.8th, five south, Nov.29th and two south, Dec.2nd and 19th. Stutton: Stour Estuary, Stutton Mill, two, Oct.25th. Alton Water: Dec.27th.

COMMON EIDER Somateria moltissima Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Has bred. Amber list. There were frequent records in both winter periods of small numbers from the northern half of the county (Lowestoft down to Aldeburgh). The only counts above 20 for this sector came from: Kessingland: 39 north and 20 south, Jan.4th. Benacre: 28 north, Jan.3rd. Southwold: 17 north, six south, Jan.8th; 15 north, 12 south, Nov.8th. Thorpeness: 48 north, Jan.4th; three north, 21 south, Dec.31st. There was the usual scatter of spring and summer records (e.g. ten off Minsmere, June 4th) but nothing to indicate a breeding attempt. South of Aldeburgh records came from: Orfordness: scattered records of 1-4 between May 4th (four south) and Dec. 14th (four south). Deben Estuary: Jan.5th. Trimley Marshes: two, Jan. 15th.

Shotley Marshes: three, Jan. 16th and a single, Apr. 16th. 46


Systematic List Orwell Estuary: 1-4 between Jan.2nd and 1 Ith and two, Mar. Ist. Stour Estuary: Erwarton Bay, Feb. 1 Oth; Stutton Mill, three, Apr.23rd; WeBS counts, two January, two April and four September. Landguard: Occasional singles on the sea with five up-river, Apr. 15th and six on the sea, Aug.l9th. Movement past the Point can be summarized in the following table: North South

Jan

Feb

7 0

e 0

Mar

0 1 :

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

5 6

0 0

0 1

0 0

0 0

10 2

21 0

33 12

11 0

There were no inland records. L O N G - T A I L E D D U C K Clungula

hyemalis

Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. There were just five records of this marine duck, all of them brief. Southwold: iemale south, Oct.7th and south close inshore, 0ct.20th. Minsmere: south, Oct.21st and south, Dec.l7th. Stour Estuary: Jan.l Ith. B L A C K ( C O M M O N ) S C O T E R Melanina

nigra

Common non-breeding resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Red list. Regulär sea-watching from Thorpeness (Dave Thurlow) and by Landguard Bird Observatory can be summarized in the following table of movements.: Thorpeness North South Landguard North South

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

61 4

8 43

10 2

91 33

51 26

60 340

115 843

89 570

61 186

1 0

0 0

0 4

3 17

5 0

0 0

0 10

6 139

14 25

Oct

35 116

Nov

Dec

54 335

99 109

2 33

31 t

Fewer birds are seen from Landguard because of the lie of the coast, with many birds there passing too far out to sea to be observed. The peak day counts from Thorpeness were 204 south, July 14th and 160 south, August 18th. The only other counts of 50 or more came from: FIELD N O T E Lowestoft: Ness Point, 130 north, Dec.31st. Kessingland: 50 south, Jan.l8th; 57 south, Feb.8th Also on April 6th, a flock of 14 Black Scoters was observed on the Hockwold and 80 north, May 23rd. Washes, just across the county boundary Covehithe: 64 south, 12 north, Aug.25th. into Norfolk. Clearly some inland, crossOrfordness: 52 south, nine north, Jul.6th. country passage of this normally marine Felixstowe: Brackenbury Cliffs, 81 south, Oct. 15th. duck was taking place at this time. There were no resident flocks in Sole Bay Dawn Balmer this year. The only inland record came from: Lackford Lakes: pair on the sailing lake, Apr.6th, before being flushed off by boats. V E L V E T S C O T E R Melanitta

fusea

Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Red list. An unexceptional year for this northern seaduck. Records in the first winter period came from: Kessingland: north, Jan.5th. Minsmere: Feb.22nd. Thorpeness: south, Feb. 16th, flock of eight north, Apr.6th and a single north, May 5th. In the second winter period records were received from: Southwold: Oct. 14th. AI


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 Mins me re: three, Nov. 15th; two south, Nov. 16th and a single north, Dec.5th. Sizewell: north, Dec.29th. Thorpcness: three north, Nov.8th; three north, Nov. 17th; five north, Dec.รณth and one south, Dec. 18th. Landguard: north, Oct. 13th; south, Oct. 16th; three south, Nov.5th; three south, Nov.20th and three south, Nov.25th. C O M M O N GOLDENEYE Bucephala clangula Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The January WeBS count on the Stour Estuary is a record count for Suffolk, narrowly beating the 273 recorded for the same estuary in January 2001. There was also a count of 253 on the Stour on February 2nd (T.C.Nicholson). The count of 29 at Lackford Lakes on February 24th is also a record for this site. Numbers at Lackford have increased in recent years, perhaps reflecting the fact that the site is no longer a working gravel pit and that all the lakes are now incorporated into the Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve. 1 .I. 7 ; r ~~โ€ข B The table clearlyJ Monthly counts troni some key sites: , mmmmmmmmimmmmBmaijt, mmmmMar Mmmimm MmimMOct mmmmmNov wmMMM immn s | 1 0 v v s that Very tCW Jan tmm Feb Apr Dec Goldeneye return to Benacre Broad* 16 8 0 If ... Minsmere* 20 17 1 7 Suffolk before November 6 6 22 17 b m 0 7 7 and there is then a further Aide/Ore Estuary Deben Estuary 4 0 0 18 0 24 build-up in numbers 33 0 Orwell Estuary 20 9 0 0 11 during December and 29 : 0 17 January. Apart from the Alton Water 6 21 3 12 0 41 sites in the table, no other Stour Estuary 287 53 19 0 13 27 0 Lackford Lakes 20 3 11 18 29 count during the year *monthly maxima exceeded ten and except for Lackford, the only west Suffolk counts came from Livermere Lake; two March 21st and a single, March 23rd. A female at Orfordness on April 13th was the last bird of the spring and none was then seen until one at Minsmere, October 8th. Landguard logged a total of 11 south on three dates between October 14th and November 12th. SMEW Mergellus albellus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. There was an influx in early January with records coming from Benacre Broad (up to eight birds), Minsmere (3), Alton Water (5) and Trimley Marshes (1 ) and another smaller arrival in the final two weeks of the year. Records in the first winter period came from: Benacre Broad: single, Jan. 1st rising to seven (two males) on 8th and eight on 11th and singles again, 15th and 18th. Minsmere: 1-3 reported daily from Jan.6th to Feb.23rd; three Mar.8th to 15th and one Mar.25th to 27th. Trimley Marshes: red-heads, Jan.7th to 10th, Mar. 16th and 21st to 25th. Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, Feb. 10th and 16th. Goslings Farm Pond, Jan.25th to 27th and Feb. 3 rd. R.Orwell: The Strand, Wherstead, Jan. 11th. Alton Water: five, Jan.4th and 11th and 1-4 up to Feb.23rd. Records later in the year were received from: Easton Broad: two, Dec.28th.

Minsmere: Dec.16th to 20th. Havergate Island: Nov.27th; two Dec.รณth to 17th. Alton Water: two, Dec. 14th to 27th.

Stour Estuary: Cattawade, Dec.24th to 27th. Stutton Mill, Dec.31st. 48


5. American Wigeon: on t h e R. Stour at C a t t a w a d e , April.

Bill Bas o


Grey Partridge: a pair at Shingle Street.

8- Corn Crake: caught in a g a r d e n at Dunwich, August.

BUI Bastรณn

dive Watts


9. Common Crane: t h e bird at Eastbridge in March.

10. Dotterei: near t h e b e a c h at Kessingland, S e p t e m b e r .

rm Brom

BUI Bas


Systematic List RED-BREASTED MERGANSER

Mergus

serrator

Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. The counts in the table for the estuaries are for Records from well-monitored sites: Oct Nov Dec Apr Jan Feb Mar the monthly WeBS 0 1 1 1 0 13 0 Minsmere* surveys. Higher counts 0 1 0 0 10 0 13 Orwell Estuary were received for January Stour Estuary 0 36 21 47 17 โ€ข13 13 for the Orwell, 20 at "monthly maxima Freston on 16th and for the Stour, 44 on 11th. Although quite widely reported from the coast, no other counts reached double figures except for passage birds given below. The last of the spring was one which stayed at Havergate Island until May 15th and the first of the autumn was one on passage off Landguard on September 17th. OffThorpeness, 50 flew south and four north during November, with a peak day-count of 21 south on 29th and 14 south in December. Landguard totalled 43 south and four north between September 17th and December 5th, with a peak day-count of 22 south, November 12th. GOOSANDER Mergus merganser Locally fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Apart from those in the table, records in the first winter period Monthly counts from some key sites: Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar came from: 0 0 0 1 Minsmere 2 Covehithe: two south, Jan. 1st. 0 7 I 0 0 Alton Water Bungay: Outney Common, male on Lackford Lakes 14 22 6 15 33 R.Waveney, Apr. 18th. 5 12 12 0 3 Nunnery Lakes Homersfield: redhead east over village, Feb.2nd. Weybread: gravel pits, male, Jan.6th, Mar.7th and 23rd. Melton: Wilford Bridge, five, Jan.5th and six, Jan.รณth. Deben Estuary: eight on the WeBS count, Jan.5th. Trimley Marshes: Jan. 10th. Culford: Park Lake, three, Jan.21st. Santon Downham: two redheads, Apr.5th. The last of the spring was the male at Outney Common on April 18th. Another male was on Oulton Broad, May 19th but was seen to have clipped primaries. The first of the autumn was a male south past Landguard, November 7th. Other records in the second winter period were from: Oulton Broad: immature, Dec. 15th. Southwold: two south, Nov.8th. West Stow: country park, up to 13 on the angling lake during December. RUDDY DUCK Oxyura jamaicensis Uncommon resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Categories C and E. Apart from those in the table, other records came from: Covehithe Broad: five juveniles, Aug.26th; six, Sep.5th and a single to Sep. 19th. Hen Reedbeds: a pair through the spring and a female, Sep. 16th and 25th. Minsmere: up to three displaying males and a female between Apr. 15th and Jul.24th but no young were seen. Single, Sep.20th. Orfordness: pair on the new reedbed lagoon. May 18th and 25th. Male, Jun.7th, 8th and 24th and a pair again, Jul.5th. 49


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 Trimley Marshes: up

to 18 in May, five in July and 19 in August. Trimley

St

Martin:

Records from well-monitored sites: Jan fei. Mar 12 19 23 Trimley Marshes Loompit Lake 1 2 2 V TV Alton Water 0 9 Livermere Lake Ö 4 6 Lackford Lakes •=..2

Loompit Lake, seven maies and four females, Aug,.3rd. Redgrave Lake: pair, Feb.öth.

Apr 22 6 2 9 4

Sep 5

Oct

Nov

Dec -

-

-

0 0 1

0 0 2

,-

' -

0 0 0

'

1 0 2

Thorington Street: Nov.9th.

Livermere Lake: a maximum count of 18, May 5th but no young were reported this year. RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE Auctoris rufa Common resident; numbers augmented by releases. Catégories C and E. Reported from only 18 sites in the county, this widespread species continues to be seriously under-recorded. The paucity of reports presumably reflects the lack of interest by birders in introduced gamebirds. The largest counts were made at Walberswick NNR (120, September 29th) and Sizewell (62, October 13th and 61, November 17th). Breeding was confirmed at only five sites with all but one being on the coast. At Landguard, however, this species maintains a tenuous foothold with only two birds from the two broods of chicks surviving to fiedging. By the end of the year, the total Landguard population remained at five individuals for a second year. GREY PARTRIDGE Perdix perdix Formerly common resident, now localised. Red List. Catégories A. C and E. Although there was an increase in the number of records of this species in 2003, from 33 to 40 différent locations, it still remains scarce. Of more concern is that only two reports of confirmed breeding were received, from Fressingfield and the Sizewell Estate. Covey size also remains low, the largest being reported from: Eastbridge: 12, Jan.Ist. Sizewell: 14, Jan.öth. Shingle Street: ten, Jan.21st.

Butley: Butley Abbey, 11, Mar.22nd. COMMON QUAIL Coturnix coturnix Scarce summer visitor and passage migrant. Red List. A very quiet year for this secretive species with just two birds noted. Orfordness: a calling bird on the airfields, Jun.22nd to 24th. Great Livermere: a calling bird, Jul.26th and 27th. COMMON PHEASANT Phasianus colchicus Very common resident; numbers augmented by releases. Catégories C and E. Reports of this extremely common species were only received from nine sites. The remarks, made above under Red-legged Partridge, certainly apply also to this gamebird. A few years ago, a census was carried out among birders and Common Pheasant came top in the "most unpopulär bird in the countryside " category, alongside Carrion Crow. Breeding was reported at only seven sites, although in truth it must be breeding in just about every parish in Suffolk. The 36 territories recorded at Aldringham Walks and 30 at North Warren were the highest reports of breeding birds and a count of 70 individuals was 50


Systematic List made at Walberswick NNR, September 23rd. A presumably stray individual was observed in a garden in Lowestoft on March 17th and two pairs were present in the Ipswich Borough Old/New Cemetery complex. GOLDEN PHEASANT Chrysolophus pictus Scarce resident. Categories C and E. Only four records were received for 2003, all of which came from the west of the county. This introduced gamebird appears to be struggling to maintain a presence in the county. Knettishall Heath: a male, Apr. 15th.

Bamham: four males calling, Apr. 17th. Elveden: recorded at two locations within the forest block. RED-THROATED DIVER Gavia stellata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. A small overall increase in numbers reported, with just over 2000 more birds than in 2002, but not rivalling the very high totals in 2000 and 2001. A rather more meaningful picture than that in the table below, which inevitably includes overlaps, is provided by the peak day counts from the last five winters at Thorpeness (by the same observer, D. Thurlow): 1998/99-2318 (Jan.8th 1999) 1999/00 - 2680 (Jan. 15th 2000) 2000/01 - 3561 (Dec.3rd 2000) 2001/02 - 3760 (Dec.15th 2001) 2002/03 - 2843 (Dec.30th 2002) The figure of 2618 for the last day of 2003 is in line with this, and confirms the international importance of the area for this species. The following table shows combined day-totals. Kessingland Thorpeness Other sites

Jan 1756 5864 775

Feb Mar 999 499 1480 1168 155 19

Apr 13 14 1

May 9 11 2

Jun

Jul

Aug

-

1

Sep -

_ 3

20 7

Oct

Nov

Total 3276 2662 12342 23562 89 1097 2161 13

_

Dec

Selected records only are given below: Lowestoft: Ness Point, three, Aug.30th. Kessingland: monthly totals above, including a peak January day count of 281 and four. May 24th. Southwold: 85, Feb.6th. Dunwieh: May 11th; 250, Dec.29th. Minsmere: 600 north in one hour, Jan.lรณth; 273, Dec.l7th. Thorpeness: (see table); peak day counts 1968, Jan.llth and 2618, Dec.31st. A summer single, Jun.6th. Orford: Orfordness, last birds in first winter period, two, Feb.9th; one north, May 25th; first returning birds, three, Oct. 12th; 406 offshore, Dec.l4th. The following were recorded away from the sea: Melton: GP, Jan. 1st. Martlesham: Martlesham Creek, Mar.23rd. Trimley Marshes: one oiled, Jan. 17th; Mar. 16th to 21st. Ipswich: Docks, Jan. 1st to 9th. BLACK-THROATED DIVER Gavia arctica Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. There were no more than 24 birds in 2003, which is less than half of last year's record total of 54. The May record at Thorpeness is only the eighth county record from this month. All records are given below. 51


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 Lowestoft: Ness Point, Sep.23rd (just a day later than in 2002); Oct.l2th. Kessingland: north, Jan.14th and Mar.l8th. Covehithe: north, Nov.24th. Southwold: north, Oct. 1st. Dunwich: Dec. 10th.

Minsmere: north, Nov. 19th. Thorpeness: a total of nine, including singles. May 10th and Sep.21st. Bawdsev: East Lane, Feb. 15th. Felixstowe: Landguard singles on four dates. Mar. 14th to Apr.30th, plus Oct. 10th and Dec.8th. GREAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavia immer Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Only eight records, down from the record 31 last year. It is worth remembering, however, that prior to 2000, there were only three years (1995, 1996 and 1999) when the species reached double figures, and eight records would have represented a good year. Lowestoft: Lake Lothing, Feb.5th. Kessingland: May 14th; only the ninth May record for Suffolk. Minsmere: Oct.27th. Thorpeness: Feb. 15th and Dec.22nd. Orford: Orfordness, flew from the river, Nov. 15th. Felixstowe: Landguard, Nov.9th and Dec.9th. LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis Locally common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. An excellent total of 80 pairs was reported from 12 sites (compared with 52 pairs at 17 sites in 2002), neatly matching the estimate of 80-100 pairs in Piotrowski (2003). Minsmere had 21 pairs, the same as in 2001, and North Warren a record 20 pairs. The Hen Reedbeds supported nine pairs, Walberswick six pairs and Dingle Marshes five pairs. There were four pairs at Trimley Marshes and Lakenheath Fen, three pairs at Benacre Broad and Layham Pits, two pairs at Sizewell and Lackford Lakes, and a single pair at one other site. It is likely that nesting also occurred at Barton Mere (five pairs in 2002), with 35 birds present on August 27th, but no breeding information was received. The highest winter count was 76 on the Deben Estuary, November 16th, with 33 at Orfordness in November and 47 on the Orwell (low-water count) on November 18th. At Orfordness 24 birds were ringed during the year. Other counts of note included 12 at Benacre Pits, September 18th, 16 at Aldeburgh Marshes, December 7th, 21 at Havergate Island, December 14th and 20 at East Lane Lagoons, Bawdsey, September 1st. GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus Locally common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. A total of 58 pairs was recorded from 22 sites (compared with 31 pairs from 13 sites in 2002), including a total of 19 pairs at eight Gipping Valley sites, eight pairs from Weybread GP and four pairs each at Trimley Marshes, Lakenheath Fen, Redgrave Lake and Livermere Lake. There were three pairs at Thorpeness Meare and Flomersfield GP and two pairs at Minsmere and Lackford Lakes. Single pairs were recorded at five sites (but again there was no confirmed breeding at Alton Water). The presence of 72 birds at the latter site in mid-August certainly suggests that nesting pairs are going unreported. There was an unseasonal report of a pair displaying at Oulton Broad on December 29th. Generally fewer wintering offshore than in recent years, but the Minsmere count of 769 is the second highest ever for Suffolk. The record count for the county is an impressive 1439 in Sole Bay, off Minsmere, 20th April 2000. 52


Systematic List Kessingland: 94 in Feb.

Dunwich: 220, Jan. 11th; 320, Feb.5th. Minsmere: 769, Feb.4th; 300, Dec. 19th. Thorpeness: 330 north, Mar.2nd; 243, Nov. 16th; 296 north, Dec.22nd. Orwell Estuary: the highest count was 52, Jan. 10th. Alton Water: 54, Oct. 12th; 39, Nov. 16th; 135, Dec. 14th.

Stour Estuary: the highest WeBS count was 77, Apr.20th. RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. With only five individuals, a poor year - apparently the lowest number since 1983. Thorpeness: south, Jan.1st and 13th; north, Dec.14th. Felixstowe: Landguard, Oct.l3th. Woolverstone: Jan. 11th.

Freston: Jan.5th and 11th (the same bird as at Woolverstone). SLAVONIAN GREBE Podiceps auritus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. In contrast with the other rarer grebes, a very good year, with up to nine individuals (the highest total since 1997). In 2001 there had been just a single record, then six in 2002. Bawdsey: East Lane, Feb.9th to 12th. Deben Estuary: Jan.5th; Waldringfield, Jan. 12th to 18th. Melton: River Deben, Jan.2nd (presumably the same as above). Wherstead: Fox's marina, Jan.21st. Alton Water: Mar. 1st and 2nd; Apr. 16th to 21st; Nov. 16th. Stour Estuary: Jan.l 1th; two, Dec.14th.

BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. With only four individuals reported, this species continues to 'yo-yo' in Suffolk - recent years with four birds or less (1999, 2001, 2003) have alternated with totals of 15-16 birds in 2000 and 2002. Will 2004 be another good year? Benacre: Broad, Jan. 1st to 7th. Waldringfield: Deben Estuary, Jan. 15th. W'oodbridge: River Deben, Jan. 15th (presumably the same as above). Alton Water: two, Mar.2nd. NORTHERN FULMAR Fulmarus glacialis Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. Formerly bred. Amber list. Numbers were somewhat higher than in 2002, but only 47% of the exceptional numbers recorded in 2001. As in that year, there was a clear April peak at both Kessingland and Thorpeness, but the peak in observations from other sites in October suggests high autumn numbers at the main two sites may have been missed due to lack of coverage at this time. An exceptional year for blue-phase morphs, with the five to seven seen, at least doubling the previous total of five birds seen in Suffolk (plus two found dead). All submitted daycounts of 15 or more and details of blue-phase birds are listed below: Jan Kessingland 1 horpeness Other sites

4 6 2

Feb

28 15 4

Mar

Apr

May

162 884 65 485 1 66

196 105 62

Jun

168 19 53

Jul

51 2

Aug

Sep

Oct

161 40 78 - 246

Nov

2 -

Dec

Total

- 1274 1098 1 481


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 Lowestoft: Ness Point, a blue-phase bird south, May 14th; 50, Oct.l2th. Kessingland: 35 north, Mar.22nd; 245,Apr.4th; 125, Apr.5th; 126, Apr.l3th; 32, May 16th. Southwold: 34 north, Apr. 19th; 17north, May 25th; 20 (15N, 5S), Aug.29th; 169 north, Oct.Bth (inc. three blue-phase birds). Thorpeness: (peak day counts, by month) 22, Mar.l4th; 99, Apr.l9th; 17, May 12th; 26, Jun.8th; 12, Aug.3rd; ten, Sep.รถth. A blue-phase bird south, Jun.l4th. Orford: Orfordness, 14 north, Oct. 12th (inc. two blue-phase birds, possibly also seen at Southwold the following day). Felixstowe: Landguard, two dead on the beach, Feb.22nd. CORY'S SHEARWATER Calonectris diomedea Rare passage migrant. Easily a record year, with 17 records involving 19-22 individuals (depending on the degree of overlap in the birds seen on October 12th and 13th). Some of the observers of the October birds considered that there was only a relatively small number of birds circulating off the Suffolk coast. Lowestoft: Ness Point, north, Aug.28th (J.A.Brown et al); Sep.2nd (A.C.Easton, T.Brown, R.Wilton); two north, Sep.23rd (J.A.Brown, R.Fairhead); Oct.l2th (A.C.Easton et al). Kessingland: Aug. 17th (P.Read). Southwold: two north, Aug.29th (L.G.Woods, J.H.Grant); two south, Oct.lst (B.J.Small, R.Drew). Minsmere: inshore, Oct.l3th (R.Drew, G.Welch). Thorpeness: south, Sep.lst (D.Thurlow); north, Oct.Bth (L.G.Woods, W.J.Brame). Orford: Orfordness, two north, Aug.l7th (J.Askins, M.C.Marsh, S.Piotrowski) and two Oct.l2th (D.Cormack, M.C.Marsh). Bawdsey: Oct.l2th (M.L.Cornish). Felixstowe: Oct. 13th (M.Morley); Landguard, north, Oct.l2th (J.Zantboer, E.Marsh, N.Odin et al) and 13th (R.Cope et at); two north, Oct.l4th (R.Cope, P.Oldfield et al). Shearwater sp. A large shearwater, possibly Great Shearwater, was seen at a distance from Ness Point on October 12th, going north. SOOTY SHEARWATER Puffmus griseus Uncommon passage migrant. The total of up to 208 birds is well down on 2002's record year, but is nevertheless almost double the previous record year (1989). Only four birds were seen going south, and all but three birds were seen in August (41), September (52) or October (112). The Kessingland bird is Suffolk's first spring record and the first Thorpeness record is the county's first-ever in June. The following were all going north, except for one at Thorpeness on July 29th, with all records of six or more listed. Lowestoft: Ness Point, nine, Aug.30th; eight, Sep.21st; 30, Oct.l2th; nine, Oct.l4th. Kessingland: Mar.22nd, a notable date (P.Read). Southwold: a total of 30 north between Aug. 17th and Oct. 13th. Minsmere: 23, Oct.Bth. Thorpeness: one north, Jun.30th; south, Jul.29th; 18, Sep.21st; 12, Oct.lOth. Felixstowe: Landguard, six, Oct. 12th and 14th.

// MANX SHEARWATER Pujftnus puffinus Uncommon passage migrant. Amber list. The total of 84 individuals is down from the 115 in 2002, with the first on May 20th at Southwold, and the last the Single December bird at Thorpeness (equalling the previous 54


Systematic List latest-ever, at Covehithe in 1987). Unexpectedly, numbers peaked in May (23) and June (33), with only four in July, 13 in August, just one in September and nine in October. All sightings of more than one bird are listed: Lowestoft: Ness Point, four, Aug.28th and 30th; three, Oct. 14th. Southwold: 23, May 20th. Thorpeness: two north and four south (but probably only four birds involved), Jun.8th; 24, Jun.20th; three, Aug.31 st and a late single, Dec.2nd. BALEARIC SHEARWATER Puffinus mauretanicus Rare passage migrant. Five individuals, taking the county total to at least 28, since the first records in 1998. The May record is the first spring sighting in the county. Lowestoft: Ness Point, two, possibly three, Sep.21st (J.A.Brown et at); Sep.28th (B.J.Small, D.F.Walsh). Southwold: north, May 20th (B.J.Small) and Aug.30th (L.G.Woods, R.Marsh). LEACH'S STORM-PETREL Oeeanodroma leucorhoa Rare passage migrant. Amber list. A record year for Suffolk, with up to 40 birds seen (with all but two in a four day period). As not all observers gave the time of their sightings, it is impossible to assess fully the degree of overlap in same-day records. That some overlap occurred is strongly suggested by the times at which birds were seen on October 12th at Landguard, Orfordness and Minsmere (but with that at Walberswick being a different individual). The previous maximum was the 23 reported in 1997. Lowestoft: Ness Point, four (two north, two south), Oct. 12th; north, Oct. 13th. Kessingland: north, Sep.25th. Covehithe: north, Oct.2nd and Oct. 14th. Southwold: Oct.l 1th; three, Oct.l2th; 11 north, Oct.l3th; two, Oct.l4th. Walberswick: north, Oct.l2th (10.05). Minsmere: north, Oct. 12th (14.56). Thorpeness: two north, Oct. 13th (08.50). Orford: Orfordness, north, Oct. 12th (12.50), 13th and 14th. Felixstowe: Landguard, five north (two at 11.00) and one south, Oct. 12th; two north, Oct. 13th. The total of at least 11, and possibly as many as 17, on October 13th is the largest movement ever recorded in Suffolk. NORTHERN GANNET Morus bassanus Common passage migrant. Amber list. Overall, a slight increase on numbers reported in 2002, despite the reduced coverage at Kessingland. Numbers peaked in August, as was the case in 1998 and 1999. Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Kessingland Thorpeness Other South

157 228 28

324

514 237

607 704 97

849 852 92

767 94

Kessingland Thorpeness Other

4 25 37

7 7

Unspecified

2

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

~

2451 7334 1503

MD QQ

North

15

— —

"'

2 2 —

10 17 —

;

2

^ -

_

78 ß — •Ii llfgl 95 624 823 22 43 60 40

23

55

_

1055 2510 68 485

70

_

_

530 71 " ;_

536

_ 30 17

_

.

173 19

78 1

247

1

300

808

23

9

22 — '

1

'

101 1875 429 1247


Suffolk Bird Report 2003 The following daily totals over 150 were recorded: Lowestoft: Ness Point, 300, Sep.23rd; 700, Oct. 12th. Kessingland: 222, Mar. 15th.

Southwold: 230, Oct.5th. Thorpeness: 184, Jan.25th; 200, Feb.2nd; 282, May 10th; 165, Jun.21st and 22nd; 153, Jul.2nd; 323, Aug.24th; 176, Sep.21st. GREAT C O R M O R A N T Phalacrocorax carbo Common winter visitor and passage migrant; has nested since 1998. Amber list. Minsmere North Warren Orwell Estuary Loompit Lake Stour Estuary Lackford Lakes f.akenhcath Fen

Jan 15 24 42 207 44 97 4

Feb 10 12 38 225 19 97 15

Mar —

5 88 150 17

62 2

Apr 4 3 85 185 23 37 ....

May 13 5 —

Jun 24 •2

Jul 20 15

143

216

40

-

Sep

12

15 70 162 69 117 29

_

Ilift} —

Aug

- • 117 73

;

Oct 17 8 64 135 60 —

8

Nov 15 12 81 150 28 24 7

Dec 6 6 64 221 36 107 4

The monthly maxima for the well-watched sites are given in the table above, with the importance of Loompit Lake for the species being clear. The colony at this site contained approximately 100 nests (M.T.Wright, verbally), but it was not possible to obtain a precise Great Cormorant number, due to some nests being obscured. race sinensis This is a significant increase on the 66 in Su Gough 2002. The following records were also notable: Sizewell: 90 at roost, Jan.25th. Thorpeness: one flock of 112 south, Dec.30th; 68 north and 171 south, Dec.31st. Orford: Orfordness, 58, Dec. 14th (excluding roost at North Weir Point). Deben Estuary: 72, Nov. 16th; 32, Dec. 14th (WeBS counts). Weybread: GP, 50, Dec. 19th.

Redgrave/Botesdale: Redgrave Lake, 22, Mar.8th. EUROPEAN SHAG Phalacrocorax aristotelis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. At least nine birds in the first winter period, and 11 in the second, mostly from the regular sites, apart from the two inland records. It is relatively unusual for summer birds to stay more than a day, so the two at Lowestoft at the end of July were notable. Lowestoft: (Lake Lothing, Leathes Ham and Hamilton Dock) four, Jan. 1 st; seven, F I E L D N O T E Jan.2nd; 1-2 up to Feb. 18th; two, Jul.28th At 9.00am on December 23rd, a European Shag to 31st; two during December and three, was found standing in the middle of the road near Dales Pond, on the "C-class" road between Dec.29th. West Stow Country Park and West Stow village. Minsmere: offshore, Dec. 18th. Felixstowe: Landguard, Sep. 10th; Nov. 16th Tall conifer plantations line both sides of the road at this point. When approached, the bird flew off and 27th; Dec. 1st and 22nd to 24th. Ipswich: Dock, up to two birds, Jan.9th to to the west. This is over 60 kilometres inland and maintains this species' reputation for eccentric Feb. 16th; Mar.23rd. Brantham: River Stour, Cattawade, behaviour. Chris Gregory Dec.27th. Weybread: GP, Dec.25th and 26th. 56


Systematic List GREAT BITTERN Botaurus stelhris Slowly increasing breeding population, scarce resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. Red List. Throughout Britain as a whole, the number of booming male Bitterns showed a welcome increase to 43 in 2003. Suffolk shared in this increase, with at least 18 territorial males present at five sites in the east of the county. This represents an increase of four booming males over the corrected 2002 figure of 14 males. In comparison, the number of booming males present in the county in recent years is - 15 in 2001, ten in 2000 and just eight in 1999 (RSPB). Breeding occurred at all the sites where booming males were heard with a total of 20 breeding attempts made, although some of these may refer to females making a second breeding attempt, either due to re-laying after initial failure, or raising a second brood. The best known site for Bitterns in Suffolk remains Minsmere, where birds were present throughout the year. Outside the breeding season, seven in flight over the Minsmere reedbeds at dusk on January 11th and six on November 27th were the highest numbers. Implementation of habitat improvements at Minsmere in recent years is starting to reap dividends, with the number of booming males increasing to eight, up from seven in 2002. This increase in territorial males is also matched by the number of breeding attempts, with 11 nests built by nine females. As in the previous year, the nests were not visited and the breeding success is unknown. Birds were occasionally seen at Sizewell outside the breeding season, with singles there on February 14th and 17th, August 26th and December 28th. In addition, a bird was found dead there on February 14th. Away from the east coast, single birds put in occasional and irregular appearances at: Ipswich: Holywells Road and Holywells Park, Jan. 15th to 23rd. Alton Water: singles Feb. 16th and Mar. 1st.

Shotley: Hares Creek, Feb.2nd. Redgrave: Redgrave and Lopham Fen, Jan.9th and Feb.Ăłth. Flushed from the source of the R.Waveney, on the county boundary with Norfolk. Glemsford: Jan.9th Long Mel lord: Melford Hall, Mar.29th. Santon Downham: Feb.2nd.

Lakenheath: Lakenheath Fen, Jan. 18th and Aug.31st. Throughout January, two were present at Lackford Lakes, with one regularly appearing in front of the Visitor Centre and, at times, showing extremely well. At least one remained throughout February and into early March, with the last sighting on March 10th. What was presumably the same individual returned to Lackford on October 23rd and lingered into 2004, often emerging from the small patch of Phragmites by the Visitor Centre and showing well. LITTLE EGRET Egretta garzetta Uncommon, but increasing resident and passage migrant. Amber List. As Little Egrets become a regular feature of the Suffolk coast throughout the year, it is no longer possible to monitor accurately the numbers present in the county. Indeed, at many sites, it now outnumbers Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, although with this mobile and highly visible species, there is likely to be substantial overlap of records and, furthermore, many must 8° unreported. Undoubtedly 2003 was the best year yet for Little Egrets in Suffolk, w ith ones and twos reported from numerous sites along the coast. Record numbers 57


Suffolk Birci Report 2003 appeared at Minsmere (17), Orfordness (23) and Trimley Reserve (52), while roosting numbers at Loompit Lake peaked at 76 on October 2nd, easily exceeding the previous record of 50 which was set in 2002. Furthermore, breeding was attempted at two locations, both of which were successful. Breeding attempts by Little Egret Egretta garzetta, in Suffolk. Site

2002

2003

A

2 pairs/2 fledged No information 1 nest/failed

8 nests/successful 6 nests/successful No attempt made

B C

As in previous years, a small residual population was present throughout the year, with one or two birds wintering and over-summering at numerous coastal sites from Benacre to the southern estuaries. This population was boosted by a post-breeding influx, apparent from late June onwards and peaking in late September and early October, then gradually declining to the end of the year. Notable counts at various coastal locations included: Benacre: Benacre Broad, nine, Jul.20th. Covehithe: 14, Aug.28th. Blythburgh: eight, Aug.4th, 11, Sep.20th. Westleton/Dunwich: Dingle Marshes, six, Jun.26th. Minsmere: Regular observations throughout the year produced monthly peaks of two, Feb.27th and Mar. 22nd, three, Apr. 12th, two, May 23rd, three, Jun.30th, ten, Jul.27th, 17, Aug.23rd, (a new record count for the reserve), five, Sep. 1st, two, Oct.3rd to 5th, and singles on several dates in November. Orford: At Orfordness, small numbers present throughout the year but began to increase in May, peaking at 14 in June and 23 in July, a new record count for the reserve, then declined to 19 in August and 12 in September. Numbers present in other months were in single figures. At nearby Havergate Island, numbers present followed a similar pattern and there was probably considerable interchange of birds between here and Orfordness. However, numbers peaked at Havergate in August, with 24 on 14th and 25 on 28th. Trimley Reserve: present in small numbers and noted on most days throughout the year. In the early months, typically just one or two birds present, but 12, Apr. 27th, was notable. Numbers increased to 16 on July 20th, a new record count for the reserve until even this number was eclipsed by 52 on Aug. 21 st, a number that surpassed the previous county record total set at Loompit Lake in 2002 (M.T. Wright). Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake. Peak monthly counts at Suffolk's largest roost included 18, Jan.; 12, Feb.; nine. Mar.; nine, Apr.; 17, Jul.; 67, Aug.; 70, Sep.; 76, Oct.; 61, Nov. and 33, Dec. Felixstowe: Reports from Landguard may have referred to local birds dispersing along the coast or arriving migrants. All records are listed as follows: three north, Jun.lst, one south, Jun.5th, one north, Aug.4th, two north, Aug.7th, two south, Aug.l9th and 30th, three south Sep.lรณth and two south Oct.26th. Inland records remain exceptional, although the numbers of birds and locations reported were the highest yet. Alton Water: two, Aug. 18th.

Lavenham: flew southeast, Dec.9th. Shelley/Stoke-by-Nayland: Gifford's Park, Mar.9th to 13th. Stoke-by-Nayland: Thorington Street Reservoir, Dec.27th. Boxted: Dec.24th. Lackford Lakes: July 25th and Dec. 11th, only the second and third records for the reserve. Lakenheath: Lakenheath Fen, Jun.lOth; four, Lakenheath Washes, Jul.11th. 58


Systematic List GREAT EGRET Ardea alba Rare visitor. Minsmere: Jul.24th (R.Drew, G.R.Welch, I.Barthorpe et al). This record is stili to be ratified by BBRC.

2002 Additions Minsmere: May 20th (R.Drew et al). North Warren: May 21 st, the same bird as at Minsmere (R.N.Macklin et al). Waldringfield: Jun.l9th (T.Gray).

These two late acceptances by BBRC take the Suffolk total up to four in 2002, making it easily the best year on record in our county for this former mega-rarity. GREY HERON Ardea cinerea Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Common and widely Number of Grey Herons breeding in SulTolk 2000-2003 distributed throughout 2003 2002 2001 2000 the county, both inland n.d. n.d. n.d. 0 Barsham and along the coast. n.d. n.d. n.d. n.d. Wild Carr, Worlingham At several locations Benacre/Covehithe/Easton 4 3-4 3 6 including Orfordness Henham 8-12 15 9 10-13 and Havergate Island, Sizewcll Belts 1 ĂŹ" 0 0 6 and along the Orwell Sudbourne n.d. 6 n.d. 10 5-7. A A and Stour estuaries, Black Heath, Friston n.d. 20 A 20-25 Grey Heron is often Methersgate, Sutton 3 5 5-7 8 outnumbered by Little Ramsholt 16 16 A A Egret Egretta garzetta. Woolverstone 15 16 14-17 17 Breeding was reported Kiln Spinnev, Stutton 1* 3** A 5-8 Tendring Hall, Stoke-by-Nayland from 19 sites, with 11 A A A Stanstead numbers generally 12 4 7 12 Euston stable or showing a The King's Forest 25 23 18 15 slight increase on Brandon Fcn, Lakenheath 29 30 31 30 previous years, GreatThurlow 0 n.d. n.d. n.d. 10 E E E although no data is Little Wratting available for some Key: n.d. = no data colonies, and overall known to be active A breeding success is not extinct E known. nest disturbance, eggs below nests and breeding failed. no nests at traditional site, new colony established at nearby site. Outside the breeding Data supplied by Mick Wrighi season, small numbers occurred at most coastal wetlands although only Minsmere, North Warren and Orfordness regularly held more than four birds. The southern estuaries proved more attractive, with higher numbers present throughout the winter and, as in 2002, the Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Od Nov Dee River Deben held the Minsmere 4 5 8 6 9 4 3 1 2 highest numbers. The peak North Warren 3 3 6 6 3 2 1 5 2 3 6 4 counts in the table are Orfordness 5 2 17 15 23 28 23 19 14 8 largely those made during Deben Estuarv 16 15 7 6 4 3 10 7 the monthly WeBS surveys Orwell Estuar) 6 6 13 5 18 3 11 10 although, in some cases, Stour Estuar) 59


Suffolk Birci Report 2003 where a higher figure has been reported on a different date, for example, on the Low Water Counts, this figure has been substituted. One was found dead on the beach at Landguard on February 27th. There were few reports of coastal movements during the year, with the majority of reports coming from Landguard, where five were reported during the spring between March 31 st and April 22nd and 16 in the summer and autumn between June 19th and October 26th. In the west of the county, birds were noted at several locations, although Lackford Lakes and Lakenheath Fen were the most FIELD N O T E attractive sites, with birds present On May 3rd at Sudbury, a Grey Heron fishing throughout the year. At Lackford, on the opposite side of the River Stour numbers peaked at 15 on the Slough on suddenly flew towards a bank busy with February 24th, while at Lakenheath, people, snatched a Mallard duckling, and double figure WeBS counts included 16 made off with it, leaving behind a crowd of in January, 14 in March and 13 in amazed adults and children. October, but numbers were lower during A Walters the breeding season. The heronry at West Stow increased to 25 active nests, the highest number recorded, with the first fledged juveniles appearing at nearby Lackford Lakes on May 23rd. I BLACK STORK Ciconia nigra Very rare visitor 2002 Correction The bird present on May 1st 2002 was in the parish of Hawstead, not Bury St. Edmunds.) WHITE STORK Ciconia ciconia Rare visitor. Categories A and E. Another good run of spring records, although the actual number of birds involved remains unclear. Of considerable interest were the two birds that appeared at Alton Water on April 23rd, having been noted at several east coast sites to the north of Suffolk prior to their arrival. Although one of these birds was unringed, the other was wearing a black darvic ring with yellow numbering 027. This individual was traced to the Animal Park Planckendael, Mechelen (between Antwerp and Brussels), Belgium, where it was ringed as a free-flying adult male (more than three years old) on April 15th 2002. When trapped, it was wearing a blue plastic ring, suggesting it had previously been held in captivity. This plastic ring was removed and replaced with darvic ring 027 and metal ring M5638. It seems unlikely that the unringed bird paired with 027 also originated from Animal Park Planckendael, where all young birds fledged since 1985 have been ringed. The free-flying colony of 22 pairs at Animal Park Planckendael forms a part of a reintroduction scheme intended to return White Storks to former breeding areas in Belgium, the Netherlands and northern Germany. Although some birds are resident, all the young birds are migratory, as are at least 25% of the adults. Satellite tracking shows that these birds spend the winter in Spain. Further details can be found on: www.ooievaars.vlaanderen.be or www.storks.be (information supplied by David Walshe) All reported birds are detailed as follows: Walberswick: Tinker's Marshes, Apr.29th (J.H.Grant). This is presumably the same bird noted at Blythburgh and Westleton on the same day (see below). Blythburgh: soaring over Blythburgh Water Tower, 11.35 hrs, Apr.29th before drifting to the northwest (R.Drew). Westleton: north, 11.25 hrs, Apr.29th, seen at Blythburgh ten minutes later (R. Drew). 60


Systematic List Minsmere: on the reserve, Apr.23rd to 30th. What may have been différent individuals were noted flying south over the reserve on Apr. 23rd, 29th and 30th (RSPB). Alton Water: two, Apr.23rd and 24th (J.Zantboer, L.G.Woods). Bramford: circling over Suffolk Water Park between 13.10 and 13.17 hrs, Apr.25th (L.G.Woods). In the west of the county, what may have been just a single, lingering, individuai was widely reported in late Aprii and early May. I.ackford Lakes: in flight, Apr. 25th. Tostock: in flight over the A14, Apr.30th. Stowmarket: May lst, and again at Abbott's Hall Primary School, May 7th (D.Archer). Wetherden: May 2nd. Pakenham: in flight over the village, May 3rd (Ms.P.Kilner). Burv St Edmunds: in flight, May 8th. EURASIAN SPOONBILL Platalea leucorodia Uncommon passage migrant. Now increasingly oversummers; has overwintered. Amber List. Following the high count of 28 in 2002, the numbers summering in 2003 were well down, and no breeding attempts were reported. At Orfordness numbers fluctuated widely throughout the summer as birds departed and returned to the site. Some may have preferred nearby Havergate Island, where up to 11 spent the summer, while the long-staying group at Benacre was unusual for that site. In previous years, Minsmere has proved popular for over-summering Spoonbills, but this was not the case in 2003, with only small numbers making erratic appearances. In The Netherlands, 1300 pairs bred at 25 sites in 2003, down from 1576 pairs in 2002, this réduction perhaps accounting for the decline in the postbreeding influx into Suffolk. Two birds that appeared at Stutton Mill on the Stour Estuary and Orfordness were carrying colour rings L5 and A9. Investigations revealed that L5 was ringed as a pullus at Onderdijk, Vooroever, The Netherlands (52°46'N, 05°07'E) on May 12th 2003, while A9 was ringed as a pullus at Schiermonnikoog, Oosterkwelder, The Netherlands (53°29'N, 06°09'E) on May 15th 2003. L5 arrived at Orfordness on July 17th before moving to Stutton Mill on July 19th where it teamed up with A9, and both birds were found on Orfordness the following day. Both then departed and, surprisingly, L5 reappeared in The Netherlands later the same day, apparently without A9, but both were back at Orfordness again on September 6th. Although not seen again in Suffolk after this date, they remained together throughout September, being noted again in Carmarthenshire, South Wales, on September 25th (information supplied by Otto Overdijk). Benacre: singles at Benacre Broad, Jul.28th and Aug.21st. Numbers then increased to three on Aug.22nd and to four on Sep.5th. These birds remained in the area until Sep.l9th, regularly commuting between Benacre and nearby Covehithe Broad. DunwichAVestleton: three, Dingle Marshes, May lOth; one, Aug.26th. North over Dunwich Heath, May 27th and two north there, May 30th. Minsmere: appearances during the summer were erratic at this former favoured location, with only occasionai records between early May and early September. The earliest arrivai involved two on the Scrape, May 7th, which soon departed to the south. These were followed by infrequent appearances including three, May 9th; one south, May 17th; two adults, May 30th; one, Jun.25th; four, Jul.Uth14th; and singles Aug.24th and Sep.lst-2nd. Finally, four, Sep.l lth, were presumably the Benacre birds. Orford: at Orfordness, the first bird arrived on Apr.22nd, remaining until 26th when two birds were présent. Two reappeared, May 4th to 7th, increasing to three on May 8th before departing. Two returned on Jun.8th, remaining until 20th, then just one until the end of the month. July saw the arrivai of dispersing birds from the Dutch colonies. Numbers increased to a peak of 12 on 17th and 2 0th, but fluctuated widely throughout the month, with just three on I8th and one on 19th. In 61


Suffolk Birci Report 2003 August, numbers were slightly more stable, typically fluctuating between six and 11, although the highest count was 13 on 29th. Following this, numbers feil quickly in early September, with the last birds being two on 14th. At nearby Havergate Island, the only spring record was of a single bird, Apr.22nd to 26th, presumably the same as the Orfordness bird. There were no birds in May or June, but five arrived Jul.8th, increasing to seven on 19th and these remained until the end of the month. Numbers increased further to nine, Aug.2nd and peaked at 11, Sep.8th, just prior to departure. Trimley Marshes: one, May 13th and 14th was the only spring record here. Following dispersal from Dutch breeding sites, four arrived, Jul.l3th, with three remaining until 19th and one stili present, Jul.30th. A further bird was present for just one day, Aug.31st. Stutton: two colour-ringed birds on the Stour Estuary at Stutton Mili, Jul.l9th were marked with L5 and A9 (see above). Lakenheath: juvenile, Lakenheath Washes, Aug.24th. This Iatter record is the first from West Suffolk since 1993, when one was at Lackford Lakes on Aprii 8th. EUROPEAN HONEY-BUZZARD Pernis apivorus Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. A poor year with just three confirmed reports (although others were claimed but unsubstantiated), two from the coast and one from inland. A late spring migrant or nonbreeding individuai was observed in June, while in the west one was seen in the Breck in late August. The final record involved a passage bird in September. Aldringham Walks: south, Sep.23rd (R.N. Macklin). Snape: east over Snape Common, Jun.22nd (D. Thurlow). Cavenham Heath: Aug.31st (T. Humpage). BLACK KITE Milvus migrans Rare passage migrant. These three reports ali relate to the same individual, which was present around Dunwich and Minsmere in late Aprii. The county total now stands at 26. Dunwich Heath: Apr.30th (M.L.Cornish). Westleton Heath: Apr.29th and 30th (R. Drew). Minsmere: Apr.29th and 30th (R.S.P.B., R. Drew, M.L. Cornish). RED KITE Milvus milvus Uncommon bui increasing winter visitor and passage migrant. Has bred in recent years. Amber list. There was a welcome increase in the number of sightings in 2003. Reports were received from 20 sites compared with 16 in 2002, and these indicate that more birds were present in the county during the year. Single birds were seen along the coastal Black Kite Mark Cornish ' belt on three dates early in the year and another was present in the west at the end of January (see Field Note). 62


Systematic List The number of reports increased markedly during March when up to seven birds were seen, including two together at Dunwich Heath and at Yoxford. At Landguard one flew out to sea, then southwest, March 2Ist. Most sightings in April were also coastal, including one at Westleton and Minsmere, Aprii 2nd and three at the latter site two days later. There were four reports in May, including one inland at Lakenheath on 24th and ali the June records also carne from inland sites. There was just one report from July, but birds were seen at five sites in August. There was then quite a gap until the final two sightings from the Minsmere area in December. Bcnacre: Aug.l8th. Covehithe: singles on Mar.l8th; Apr.5th; one with red tag on right wing, Aug.l7th. Hen Reedbed: Aug.7th and 12th. Bramfield: May 17th. Dunwich Heath: south, Jan.27th; two north, Mar.óth. Yoxford: two, Mar.l5th. Westleton Heath: south, Apr.2nd; south, Dec.27th. Minsmere: untagged immature bird, Jan.27th; Feb.26th; south, Apr.2nd; three (one north, two south), Apr.4th; singles May 3rd, 7th and 30th; Aug.7th and Dec. 18th. Sizewell: Jan.27th and 28th. North Warren: Jan.27th; May 3 Ist. Farnham: Jul.l9th. Aldeburgh: west, May 3Ist.. l andguard: flew out to sea, Mar.21st (fourth record for site). Falkenham: King's Fleet, first-summer bird, Apr.30th. Alton Water: northwest, Mar.óth. Kersey/Hadleigh: Cosford Hall, Jun.lìth. Härtest: Jun.l4th. FlELD NOTE lekworth Park: Aug.l2th. The tagged bird seen at Livermere Lake in Livermere Lake: tagged bird présent Jan.25th January fledged from a nest in Northamptonand 26th; seen to roost near church. shire in the summer of 2002. It then wandered Lackford: Jun.l9th. to the Chilterns, where it was picked up sick Lackford Lakes: Mar.4th. and taken into care. It recovered and was Santon Downham: Jun.9th. released shortly before it turned up in Suffolk. Lakenheath: over village, May 24th (with Darren Underwood blue wing tags). EURASIAN MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosus Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. A few overwinter. Amber List. Up to 29 birds were present during the first winter period, a similar number to 2002. Ali but one of the reports came from coastal sites and included maximum roost counts of six at both Potter's Bridge and Minsmere during January. Spring passage was only reported from Orfordness where seven flew south, May 3rd. The number of pre-breeding birds during Aprii reached six at Minsmere, five at North Warren and four on Orfordness. It was another successful breeding season and produetivity was high. The 41 confirmed nests at 11 sites compares well with the previous year and a minimum of 98 young was fledged. At Benacre Broad NNR, seven of the 11 nests were successful, producing 23 young. At Walberswick NNR, nine nests produced 22 young and nearby at Minsmere it was a record year, with 28 young fiedging from eight nests. Inland at Lakenheath Fen, ten young fledged from three nests. These totals included two broods of five and two broods of four. Inland, wandering birds turned up during the summer at Stowmarket, June 28th and at Lackford Lakes and Livermere Lake late in July. 63


Suffolk Birci Report 2003 Early departing birds were reported from Landguard, July 27th and Minsmere, where a juvenile flew out to sea until lost to sight at 07.45 hours on August 10th. These were followed by singles at Shingle Street, September 7th; Landguard, October 4th and 24th and Thorpeness, November 15th. An estimated total of 37 birds was present during the second winter period, a significantly higher figure than the 20 birds in 2002. The traditional roost at Westwood Marshes held a maximum of ten birds and eight were at North Warren. At Minsmere three were present in November and up to four were seen at Orfordness between October and December. Singles were present at three other sites, including a female at Lakenheath Fen. An interesting field observation involved a female fighting with a ringtail Hen Harrier at Blundeston Marshes, January 16th. The female with a green wing tag, originally seen in 2002, put in another appearance at North Warren, January 4th. HEN HARRIER Circus cyaneus Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Red List. Reports were received from 37 sites compared with 59 in 2002. The number of overwintering birds was down on last year's exceptional total, but was still about average. An estimated 32 birds were present during the first winter period, compared with a maximum of 35 in 2002. Reports were received from 25 sites, and included at least 12 males. Roost counts during January peaked at seven at Walberswick and Orfordness; three at Potter's Bridge and four at Butley Creek. The only inland record came from Lakenheath Fen, where a ringtail was present in January and February. Spring migrants were noted at five sites; one flew out to sea at Landguard, April 21st and another was at Sutton Heath on the same date. The following month, single ringtails were seen at Dunwich, May 10th; Reydon, May 15th and Benacre Broad, May 23rd. An early returning bird was reported from Havergate Island, August 15th. During autumn passage there were reports of single birds at Felixstowe Ferry, October 13th; Landguard, November 6th and 13th; Sizewell, October 15th and finally at Shingle Street, November 4th. On Orfordness up to two were present on several dates in October and a pair was seen together, November 2nd. As usual there were fewer reports from the second winter period, with numbers peaking at about 14 in December, a similar number to 2002. Once again all but one came from coastal sites; roost counts reached a maximum of six at Westwood Marshes, two at Minsmere and two at Orfordness. A single bird was at Lakenheath Fen in December. MONTAGU'S HARRIER Circus pygargus Uncommon passage migrant. Formerly bred. Amber List. There was a whole series of sightings at Dunwich Heath and Minsmere between April 26th and May 19th, which involved four different birds. Another interesting record was that of a second summer male, which was watched hunting over arable fields near Ixworth for three days in mid-May. The sole autumn migrant was a juvenile at Trimley Marshes in September. Dunwich Heath: "ringtail" at 16.45hrs., Apr.26th (M.L.Cornish, D.Sutton); immature flew south at 10.45hrs„ Apr.30th (M.L.Cornish, D.Sutton); immature between 09.30 and 1 l.OOhrs. and second year flew south at 10.20hrs„ May 6th (M.L. Cornish); second year. May 7th (P.Etheridge); "ringtail" north, May 19th (R. Drew.) Minsmere: "ringtail", Apr.26th (D. Ireland); "ringtail", Apr.27th (I. Hawkins); immature/"ringtail". Apr.30th (M.L. Cornish et al); "ringtail", May 6th (R.S.P.B.); "ringtail" flew north. May 19th (R. Drew). 64


Systematic List Trimley Marshes: juvenile, Sep.9th to 1 Ith (R. Biddle, N.Odin et at). Kalkenham: King's Fleet, adult female. May 25th (J. Zantboer). Ixworth: second-summer male, May 15th to 17th (T. Stopher el at). At least five other birds were claimed during the year but the observers failed to provide the Records Committee with supporting notes. NORTHERN GOSHAWK Accipiter gentilis Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant, uncommon resident. Northern Goshawks seem to be getting scarcer in Suffolk. Most of the records came from the west and involved male birds. At the beginning of the year a male was seen displaying over The King's Forest on January 21st. Nearby, at Lackford Lakes, a male was seen on several dates at the beginning of February and later that month another male was seen over Thetford Golf Course. Yet another male was seen at Shingle Street, March 6th. The only report of displaying birds came from North Stow, where a pair was seen, March 23rd. A male was seen the same day near Risby, soaring with three Common Buzzards and another bird was seen at Thetford Warren, March 25th. The final spring record came from Kessingland where one flew west across the A12, April 4th. The only summer records involved a male at Cavenham, June 9th and again, July 10th. Sightings from the second winter period came from the west, including what was possibly a female over Cavenham Pits, November 11th and a male being mobbed by a Carrion Crow near Risby five days later. Goshawks appear to be struggling to maintain their foothold in the county. As a predator at the top of the food chain they have no enemies apart from Homo sapiens and there seems a very strong likelihood that they are suffering from illegal persecution from game rearing interests. EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK Accipiter nisus Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Reports came from 88 sites, which is a significant increase on the 52 sites in 2002 (91 in 2001, 118 in 2000). The only reports of displaying birds came from Chelmondiston and Nowton Park, but breeding was later confirmed at eight sites. These included Hen Reedbed, two pairs; North Warren, eight pairs (six in 2002) and Sizewell Estate, two pairs. At Ipswich Borough C emetery, two pairs each reared two young and a pair was seen nest-building at Combs Lane W.M. Elsewhere, juvenile birds were heard calling from the nest at West Stow, Pakenham Fen and at The Nunnery in Thetford. In addition, some interesting breeding data were received from a site in mid-Suffolk where a 20sq.km. study area of arable land and a few small woods supported no fewer than six breeding pairs. Of these, two failed at the egg stage but 15 young were fledged from the remaining four nests, including one brood of six. The study also showed that the Sparrowhawks preferred to nest in spruce, or hawthorn and field maple in broadleaf woodlands. In the last four years a total of 61 young has been ringed in the study area. The same observer also found five nests outside the study area. All were successful, fledging a total of 17 young (five, five, four, two and one). Multiple counts were received from several sites. Most notable were 12 at Minsmere, February 7th and six over Benacre Broad, May 23rd. Reported prey items included a Little Grebe at Hen Reedbeds and a juvenile Green Woodpecker and a Yellowhammer from a garden in Flixton. At the study area in midSuffolk mentioned above, remains of 30 species of birds have been identified since 1999 (see Field Note). 65


Suffolk Birci Report 2003

FIELD N O T E

At a site in mid-Suffolk, a four-year study of local Eurasian Sparrowbawks showed that Common Blackbirds were the most common prey, although Common Wood Pigeons were taken at all stages from nestling to juvenile. More unusual items included Northern Lapwing, European Turtle Dove, Common Kingfisher and Fieldfare. The feathers of very few game birds were found, although if taken as a chick few remains would be evident. R.Wood 25th, three on Orfordness, April 13th and another three at

Hunting behaviour includec birds harassing "racing' pigeons and chasing House Martins at Kessingland. A male was seen hunting Red wings at Stonham Aspal anc two females were seen hunting Fieldfares, also at Stonhan Aspal. The only evidence o passage was of three soarinj together at Lowestoft, Marci Landguard, September 4th.

COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buleo Fairly common and increasing winter visitor and passage migrant; small, localised breeding population. Common Buzzards continue to go from strength to strength in Suffolk, as well as in th adjoining counties of Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. Over 100 reports were received from 66 sites across the county and at least six pairs nested in the west. During the first winter period, singles were seen at Ashby and Kirton Lodge and on several dates in February at Trimley Marshes. In the west, there were ten reports durin January and February, many involving more than one bird. Most notable were three at Cavenham, January 26th and five at the same site, February 21st. In the south-west of th : county, one flew over Haverhill East Town Park, February 10th. Spring passage started in early March and produced some impressive counts at severi 1 sites in the north-east. At Ashby, 16 were present, March 23rd; there were nine at Covehithe, March 18th and 22nd and seven at North Warren, March 14th. However, thes ; high numbers were not duplicated in the south-east region where there were only thre; reports during March and only one of these involved more than one bird. After a fairly quiet April another wave of migrants moved through the county in May. In all about 30 birds were seen during the month, including single birds at ten coastal locations and thre: inland sites. In addition to this, eight birds were present at Benacre, May 23rd and four flew south over Lackford Lakes three days later. It was another landmark year for the small but increasing breeding population in Breckland. Confirmed breeding came from six sites, and at least another two pairs held territories. The only other summer sightings, away from the west, came from Westleton, July 13th; North Warren, June 5th and Woodbridge, where three flew north west, June 27th. Autumn passage started in late August and included a single bird moving south at Benacre, August 26th and three flying south at Minsmere, August 20th. Further south, singletons were also seen at Grundisburgh, Bawdsey Manor and Trimley Marshes in August, while in the west one was in the Pakenham area from August 20th until S e p t e m b e r 17th. Passage peaked around mid-September along the coast; all but one of the 19 sightings involved single birds, the exception being three flying south at Hen R e e d b e d s . September 21st. There were eight reports from the west, though it is impossible to say whether they all involved genuine migrants or some birds from the resident population. A group of six was seen at Kentford, September 13th; three were at Tuddenham St Mary. September 7th and three were at Thetford, September 24th. The bulk of the October 66


Systematic List sightings carne from the west, including singles at Tendring Park, Stoke-by-Nayland, October 26th and flying south at Pakenham, October 5th. The only October reports from the coastal strip carne from Minsmere, Orfordness and Havergate Island. The only November sighting carne from the Breck at Weather Heath, Elveden and reports from December were also mostly centred on the west. However, one was seen over the A12 at Brightwell, December 17th; two were seen towards the Essex border at Stokeby-Nayland, December 28th and one was also seen there, December 3Ist. Finally, one was in the Lavenham area between December 6th and 12th. ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD lĂŹ meo hit-opus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Nearly ali the reports received related to the three birds that spent the 2002/2003 winter in the Orfordness area. They favoured the Lantern Marshes, on Orfordness, at the beginning of the year and during February they also made occasionai forays to neighbouring sites, such as North Warren, Aldeburgh and Havergate Island. The last record from Orfordness was of two, Aprii 24th. There were six other reports in April but it is not known whether these records involved the birds dispersing from Orfordness or different birds moving through. The second winter period proved to be rather disappointing as the only record was of a single bird on Orfordness, November 1 Ith. Dingle Marshes: north, Apr.20th. Dunwich Heath: an immature over the heath drifted south, Apr.29th; high in off the sea, 11.15hrs, Apr.30th. Minsmere: north over the car park, Apr.20th; south, Apr.29th; west, Apr.30th. North Warren: two late p.m., Feb.l7th. Udeburgh: three south, Feb.l7th. < >rfordness: two seen on Lantern Marshes on at least five dates in January; three there, Jan.Ăłth and Jan.l5th; three Feb.l5th; two, Mar.9th and two, Apr.24th. One again, Nov.l Ith. lavergate Island: landed briefly on the river wall, then flew north, Feb.Bth. OSPREY Pandion haliaetus ncommon passage migrant. Amber list. An average year with at least 13 different birds reported from 12 localities. Spring passage was rather late as the only two Aprii records carne from Orfordness and Minsmere, on Aprii -4th and 26th respectively. This was followed by eight reports in May and up to three in early June. Westleton Heath: south, May Ist. Minsmere: Apr.26th; south, May Ist; over Island Mere, June 3rd. North Warren: south, May Ist (the same bird as at Westleton and Minsmere); northwest, May lOth. I horpeness Common: south, Jun. 5th. Orfordness: Apr.24th. Boyton Marshes: May 9th. Redgrave and Lopham Fen: May 25th. Redgrave Lake: May 26th. Lakenheath Washes: Jun.7th. Late-summer sightings included one at Minsmere, which was present on three dates in Ju| y- A sub-adult bird with a red colour ring was at Blythburgh on August 4th. Untortunately, it was too distant to enable the observer to read the white lettering on the nn g. The final bird of the year passed through Lakenheath Fen on September 15th. %th Estuary: Aug.2nd. Mhburgh: sub-adult with a red colour ring on its right leg, Aug.4th. 67


Suffolk Birci Report 2003 Hen Reedbeds: Aug.5th. Minsmere: singles, Aug. 1 st and 2nd; Aug.22nd and Sep. 11 th. Laekford Lakes: Aug.30th. Lakenheath Fen: Sep. 15th. COMMON KESTREL Falco tinnunculus Common resident. Amber list. Reports were received from a meagre 38 sites in 2003, compared with 50 in 2002 and 7 in 2001. Although the status of this species in Suffolk remains unclear, these figure seei is to reflect a worrying decline of this once-abundant falcon. As usual, the reports or ly provide us with a sketchy picture of its abundance. At Brent Eleigh for instance it w is described as still "fairly common", while at Lavenham Railway Walks it was encountei d on just four out of 13 visits. At Pakenham it was recorded only intermittently, but at Sudbury Common Lands it was still common. Reports from Orfordness indicate that it w is unusually scarce during the second winter period. However, on a more positive note, reports of breeding suggest that this species is at le st holding its own at the majority of its regular breeding localities. Breeding was confirm d at eight sites and there was an increase in the number of pairs at North Warren a id Aldringham Walks, from eight in 2002 to 11 in 2003. Elsewhere, three pairs bred at Dim le Marshes and two pairs bred at Hen Reedbeds, Dunwich Heath and the Sizewell EstĂ e. Reports of single breeding pairs were received from a further four sites and a female w h three juveniles was seen at Kessingland. Passage was noted at Landguard, where one flew south, March 17th and a total of ft ur flew south between September 7th and 23rd. Multiple counts included eight on Orfordness, March 23rd; six at The King's Fore it, October 7th and six at Lakenheath Fen, January 21st. Elsewhere, four were seen togetl er at Euston, October 5th and at Cavenham Heath, July 11th. RED-FOOTED FALCON Falco vespertinus Rare visitor. 2002 addition Aldeburgh: North Warren, female, Jul. 10th (R.N.Macklin). MERLIN Falco columbarius Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Another good year for this species. The first winter period produced 23 reports from -t sites and the distribution of these suggests that six or seven birds were present. Once again the favoured locations were the Minsmere area and the Sudbourne/Orfordness region. The 15 reports from January included single birds at Havergate Island, Hemley, Alderton and Brantham plus an inland report from West Stow C.P. Another inland record was of one attacking Common Linnets going to roost at Creeting Road, Stowmarket, January 10th. During February there were sightings at Hen Reedbeds, Boyton Marshes and Thorpe Bay The only March records came from Oulton Marshes and North Warren. Spring migrants included an immature/female a t Minsmere, April 1st, one at C o v e h i t h e . April 26th and a late bird on Orfordness, May 10th. Autumn passage was more rewarding as eight reports were received from seven c o a s t a l sites. Once again, Minsmere featured heavily with singles reported, September 26th and 27th and October 13th and 18th. The only other September records came from Ness Point and Orfordness. A female, trapped on September 16th at the latter site, had been ringed as a pullus in County Durham on June 1st 2003. One flew north at Potter's Bridge, O c t o b e r 68


Systematic List ìrd, four birds was an impressive total at Corton, October 13th and another single was at )unwich Heath, October 16th. Migrants at Landguard included singles in off the sea, ictober 8th, 15th and 23rd. A similar number of birds was present during the second winter period. Singles were at Havergate Island, November 15th and 18th and Falkenham, November 16th. The seven ports from December included a female at North Warren, December 5th; singles at Minsmere and Holbrook Creek, December 23rd and two on Orfordness, December 14th. inland, a female was seen near Lackford, December 7th, and one was seen nearby at nckford Lakes, December 19th. Also in the Breck, one was at Wangford Warren, December 14th. U RASI AN HOBBY Falco subbuteo airly common summer visitor and passage migrant. Reports were received from 76 sites in 2003, very close to the previous year's total of 80. he first bird of the year, seen at both Dunwich and Minsmere on April 14th, is one of he earliest ever recorded (the record is held by one at Ipswich on April 10th 1997). Its rival was well ahead of the main influx of birds, which took place during the last week April. During this period, reports came from ten sites across the county, many ivolving multiple sightings. Along the coast three were at Minsmere, April 26th; four ere at North Warren, April 30th and four flew south at Landguard, April 26th. However, ese reports were eclipsed by a staggering count of 19 birds (a record county total) ver the reed beds at Lakenheath Fen, April 29th, 13 of which were still present on May Ith. 1

Visible passage was noted at four coastal sites in spring, including Thorpeness, essingland and Orfordness, where single birds were seen flying in off the sea in early May. Breeding was confirmed at 11 localities, although one of these, Thetford Forest, held veral pairs (see Field Note). Elsewhere, nine pairs bred at four coastal locations and nother pair nested in an old Common Kestrel's nest in the north-east of the county. FIELD N O T E utumn passage migrants were logged at A partial survey of Thetford Forest in late Kessingland, September 11th; Southwold, summer located ten successful nests. Four August 30th; Orfordness on three dates in of these were in Suffolk and fledged eight September and Landguard on six dates young. All were in Scots Pine - none in Corsican Pine. It is estimated that given between August 22nd and October 2nd. Reports were received from seven sites the extent of suitable habitat, the actual m October, involving singles at Boyton population within the forest could well be twice that number. Marshes on 1st; Landguard on 2nd; MinsRon Hoblyn arid John Seeker mere on 3rd; Lackford Lakes on 4th; North Warren on 6th and Sudbury Common Lands °n 13th. The last bird of the year was seen at Bawdsey, October 29th. ELEONORA'S FALCON Falco eleonorae Accidental. file first county record of this rare Mediterranean falcon and the fifth record for Britain, lowing Previously accepted records from Lancashire, Yorkshire, South Uist and Norfolk, was watched for several minutes before drifting off towards Easton Broad, but it could n°t be relocated (see description on page 171). Revdon: a pale-phase adult between 13.00 and 13.07hrs„ Oct.3rd (B.J. Small.) 69

Suffolk Birds 2003 Part 1  

Volume 53

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