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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:

South-East Area Recorder Keith Bennett, 21 Nunn Close, Martlesham, WOODBRIDGE IP12 4UL Tel: 01394 380110 E-mail:

SUFFOLK BIRDS VOL. 54 A review of birds in Suffolk in 2004

Editor Malcolm Wright

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

Published by S U F F O L K N A T U R A L I S T S ' SOCIETY in collaboration with SUFFOLK ORNITHOLOGISTS' GROUP 2005

Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH Š The Suffolk Naturalists' Society 2005 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 5AP.

CONTENTS Page Editorial

Malcolm Wright


Review of the Year Malcolm Wright


A Study of Sparrowhawks in Suffolk Reg Woodard


Wood Larks in Breckland 1971-2004 Ron Hoblyn


Wood Larks on the Suffolk Coast 1998-2004 Rob Macklin


Great Cormorants on the Orwell Estuary


Mick Wright

Nesting Bearded Tits in the W. Suffolk Fens Norman Sills


The 2004 Suffolk Bird Report: Introduction


Systematic List




List of Contributors




Earliest and Latest Dates of Summer Migrants


A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk


Rare Birds in Suffolk 2004 David Walsh


Regional Review Adam Gretton


Suffolk Ringing Report 2004 Peter Lack


List of Plates Facing

Plate No.

1. Bean Geese Alan Tate 2 . Green-winged Teal Lee Gregory 3 . Lesser Scaup Lee Gregory 4 . Slavonian Grebe Tim Brown 5 . Storm Petrel Tim Brown 6 . Shag Tim Brown 7 . Glossy Ibis Alan Tate 8 . Sparrowhawk Reg Woodard 9 . Kestrel Alan Tate 1 0 . Sanderling Tim Brown 11. Ring-billed Gull Lee Gregory 1 2 . Kittiwake Alan Beaumont




























Citrine Wagtail Andrew Easton Wryneck Bill Baston Hoopoe Clive Naunton Swallows Mark Bullimore House Martins Alan Tate Nightingale Bill Baston Grey Wagtail Bill Baston Blackbird Bill Baston leterine Warbier Alan Tate Red-backed Shrike Bill Baston Long-tailed Tit Bill Baston


F r o n t c o v e r : K i n g f i s h e r Su Gough T h e c o p y r i g h t r e m a i n s that o f t h e p h o t o g r a p h e r s / a r t i s t


97 97 97 97 97 144 144 144 145 145 145

Suffolk Birci Report 2004

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 website at 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, John Grant, Peter Ransome, Richard Waiden, David Walsh, Lee Woods, 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 IP1 3QH.


Suffolk Birci Report 2004

Editorial This editorial covers several issues which are currently topical. Later in this Report, the reader will find articles on the Wood Lark populations of Breckland and the Sandlings. These chart the recent spectacular rise from quite small numbers to a strong and viable population. A few decades ago the Forestry Commission was heavily criticised for the dull nature of its plantations, especially the monocultures of Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole Pine in upland Britain, which were almost devoid of wildlife. As Ron Hoblyn records, in his paper on Breckland, as the first crop of trees is felled, the Commission is taking the opportunity to change the nature of the forest, breaking it up into smaller units, diversifying the habitats, setting 300 ha aside as heathland reversion and allowing about 10% of the trees to grow on to maturity. The Breckland forests have not only become much more attractive from a landscape point of view, but also have thriving populations of Wood Lark, Nightjar and Hobby and provide space for much other wildlife, including species as varied as Woodcock and Stonechat and perhaps, in the future, Dartford Warbler. The Commission is to be congratulated on its work in this area over the past twenty years, which has undoubtedly added to the diversity of our county. There has been much discussion in the ornithological press, in recent months, on the English names of our birds and this still continues, with a new IOC-approved list due out in the next year. One can just imagine the rumpus this is likely to cause! Some of the new names adopted in recent years make sense and are widely accepted, Red Kite and Grey Partridge to give two examples, but while compiling this Report over the past three years, I have grown to heartily dislike the long-winded prefixes of "Eurasian", "European" and especially the much-overused "Common". There is nothing Common about a Buzzard or a Redstart, even if the sense is quite different! You will find the full BOU-approved English name at the head of each species in the systematic list, but after consultation with colleagues, a decision has been made to drop the recent prefixes in the rest of the Report, except where there is any possibility of ambiguity. It certainly makes for easier reading. Observers are reminded that all biological recording in Suffolk is carried out using the Watsonian Vice Counties system, which is the generally accepted basis for wildlife recording in the United Kingdom. Contrary to what some people believe, the geographical county boundaries were not changed by the Local Government Act 1972 - the different "boundaries" established in certain areas are purely used for administrative purposes by the county councils. It is essential to have stable boundaries for wildlife recording and the administrative areas are subject to change from time to time. The main areas affected in Suffolk are the parishes of northern Lothingland; please note that our recording area goes up to the channel of the River Waveney, which bisects Breydon Water. Justin Zantboer, the secretary of the Suffolk Ornithological Recording Committee, has contributed the following, which all the committee fully endorse. "Since taking over the role as secretary of SORC, it has become apparent that each year we are aware of more records that are being lost. By the completion of the 2001 Suffolk Bird Report, we were only missing eleven descriptions of county rarities for that year, yet by the completion of this Report, the number of records with missing descriptions stands at thirty-nine. This is in spite of reducing the list of category 2 species (notes detailing observations will always be required) by eight and publishing a list of outstanding, missing descriptions in "The Harrier". The crux of the problem seems to be that with the proliferation of pagers, bird phone lines and web sites, many birders think that all they have to do is phone or e-mail their sightings in to one of the information services. We cannot generally use such records, as 5

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 they are frequently lacking in détails and do not include the observers name, so we have no idea whether they have been submitted by an experienced birder or a complete novice. So, please submit all your records to one of our three recorders and be prepared to write descriptions of category 2 species, otherwise they will not be included in the annual Bird Report and will be lost to posterity. If properly submitted, many of your observations can be used in the increasingly difficult battle to conserve our countryside and its wildlife. There is a guide to the submission of records later in this Report. Please also send in your records promptly, if possible monthly, or at least three monthly, in order to spread the load for the recorders". My thanks are owed to many people who have contributed to this Report. First to ali the observers who did send in their records to the recorders and a special thanks to those who did so on a regulär basis throughout the year. The three recorders, Dave Fairhurst, Keith Bennett and Colin Jakes, have entered all the records onto the database from which this Report is written; theirs is a timeconsuming task and they deserve our appréciation. My thanks also to the sixteen différent authors who have written the systematic list; their names are credited at the beginning of the list. Two people in particular have helped me greatly with the préparation of this Report. Philip Murphy has done his usuai meticulous job in combing through the systematic list and has greatly improved it by correcting errors and suggesting improvements, while Adam Gretton has edited all the extra papers and has always been Willing to offer advice and encouragement. Trevor Kerridge has collected together the photographs and Tony Howe has similarly collated the artwork. The observers on Orfordness and at Landguard Bird Observatory both produced annual reports on their work at these important sites in good time and this has been most helpful. The various extra papers and articles have been written by Reg Woodard, Ron Hoblyn, Rob Macklin, Mick Wright, Norman Sills, David Walsh, Adam Gretton and Peter Lack. Our thanks are due to all of them for their work, which has added considerably to the variety of this Report. Philip Murphy and Richard Drew both read and commented on the Review of the Year. Our thanks to the artists and photographers for allowing us to use their work; they are credited in the appropriate places. Su Gough painted the Lapwing Mark Ferris splendid Kingfisher on the cover and Peter Lack helped to sort out various IT problems. Justin Zantboer has done much valuable work as secretary of SORC, members of the committee answered many queries and David Walsh made certain that ali the BBRC records tallied. Paul Gowen has liaised with the printers and Mike Gaydon, at Healeys in Ipswich, has seen it ali into print. Andrew Gregory has helped with publicity and distribution of the Report. The monthly weather summaries in Review of the Year were compiled with the help of Ken Blowers monthly analysis in the EADT and also data from the Met Office website. My thanks also to my family for help in various ways and Rosemary in particular, who has read the whole Report and corrected various errors. Malcolm Wright Pakenham 6

Suffolk Birci Report 2004

Review of the Year Malcolm Wright Weather Most of the first winter period was unsettled and mild, although there was a short cold speli of three days near the end of January and then a longer one of 11 days, late in February and through into March. On both occasions the snowfall was fairly brief and it did not appear to do any damage to the populations of the more-delicate species. There was a major storm on March 20th, with 110 kph (70 mph) winds along the coast. The spring and early summer were rather warm, which probably helped many of our breeding species, but July and August were very changeable with well-above-average rainfall, much of it due to thunderstorms. Early September was fine and warm but October was another wet month, with twice the average rainfall. However, both November and December were drier than normal and rather calm and quiet, with no hard, cold spells. The total rainfall for the year in Ipswich was 664mm (26.16ins), which is 60mm (2.37ins) above the long-term average. So the long run of mild winters, with no prolonged freezing cold conditions, continues. Rarities There was just one addition to the county list in 2004, a first-year male Lesser Scaup found at the Suffolk Water Park, Bramford, on March 16th. Three male Penduline Tits were trapped on Orfordness in February and a female Citrine Wagtail at East Lane, Bawdsey, in May is only the fourth for Suffolk. There was another Alpine Swift at Minsmere, Great White Egrets were seen at Landguard/Trimley Marshes and Minsmere, three Red-rumped Swallows were found together at King's Fleet and a male Red-footed Falcon was enjoyed by many at Minsmere in early June. A female Blue-winged Teal at Trimley Marshes in July is only the fifth county record. A Glossy Ibis which arrived at Minsmere in July quickly moved on to Breydon Water, where it was seen intermittently for the rest of the year. DĂźring the autumn there were four White-rumped Sandpipers, a Baird's Sandpiper, two Radde's Warbiers, three Dusky Warbiers and at least ten Pallas's Warbiers. There were also several reports of Pallid Swifts, which are still under scrutiny and in November a Red-breasted Goose flew down the coast with a flock of Brent Geese. Breeding Birds Little Egrets have only nested in Suffolk for three years, but already the population has increased to 26 pairs and a new record count was set on September 30th, when 97 went to roost at Loompit Lake. There were 19 booming male Bitterns, up one on 2003 and at least 41 pairs of Marsh Harriers nested at eight sites, fiedging close to 100 young. Buzzards continued to increase in the west, where "about ten pairs" were reported on one large estate and they now have a toehold in the south-east, with four pairs holding territory and two of these were confirmed as nesting. Goshawks are struggling to maintain a presence in the county, while Hobbies go from strength to strength, with 40+ pairs present in summer and nine of these were confirmed as breeding. The news was a little better for Pied Avocets, as for the first time for several years some young were fledged at Minsmere. In Breckland, the Stone Curlew population showed a healthy increase on 2003 and a minimum of 86 pairs nested in Suffolk. At last the Mediterranean Gull shows signs of really establishing itself; nine pairs nested and they 7

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 fledged 8-10 young. Little Terns had a rather mixed year but 37 pairs were reported on nests at Benacre Broad and about 20 young were fledged from the beach colony at Minsmere. Wood Larks showed a further decline in the forestry areas of both Breckland and the Sandlings, but there is stili a considérable population within the county. There was a further increase in Cetti's Warblers, with a minimum of 54 singing maies plotted, while Dartford Warblers continued their upward trend to 91 pairs, 14 up on 2003 and they maintained a presence in Breckland. Bearded Tit numbers along the coast were similar to last year but they nested in the west for the first time in 104 years, with at least three pairs at Lakenheath Fen. Two pairs of Golden Orioles nested successfully at Lakenheath Fen and two pairs of Tree Sparrows nested in boxes in a garden in the west of the county. There were indications that many of the small passerines, such as warblers, enjoyed a productive breeding season in 2004. At Lackford Lakes, the number of adults of ail species trapped on the Constant Effort Scheme (CES) ringing totalled 128, down on the five-year average (1999-2003) of 143, but the 318 juveniles trapped is well up on the five-year average of 227. Some populations continue to decline; the Tree Pipit population in the Sandlings has collapsed (although it appears to be stili plentiful in the Breck), Whinchat is ail but extinct as a Suffolk breeding bird and there is no sign of an upturn in Willow Tit, Spotted Flycatcher or Tree Sparrow numbers. January New Years Day was fairly mild but with rain at intervais throughout. It quickly turned colder and the day temperature on 3rd was only IC, but then a sériés of Atlantic depressions and their associated fronts took control and gave a long speli of unsettled and mild but quite wet and windy weather for much of the month. It turned much colder from 26th, with northerly winds and then a widespread snowfall on 27th, with 6cm recorded in Ipswich. Another low then brought a stormy, wet end to the month on 31st, but with temperatures as high as 12C. Among the notable birds found on lst were Smew at Kessingland and Minsmere and 100 Snow Buntings at the former site. Also on lst, no less than 1002 Little Gulls flew south past Thorpeness, a record one-day count for Suffolk, followed by 429 south past Kessingland on 2nd. Two Black Brants were present on marshes adjacent to the Deben and Orwell Estuaries between 1 st and 17th and a third was at Falkenham on 6th, while the long-staying Ferruginous Duck was skulking in the reeds at Minsmere throughout the month. Up to 35 Marsh Harriers were present in winter roosts, at least eight Peregrine Falcons were wintering and many observera enjoyed the five Long-eared Owls at their roost in young oak trees in the reedbed at Lower Holbrook. An impressive count of 4710 Red-throated Divers was made at Thorpeness on 4th and a Ring-billed Gull was found in the large gull roost at Lackford Lakes from 9th to 1 lth. Another flock of Snow Buntings, numbering 150, was on Orfordness on lOth, while inland there were wintering Bitterns at Lackford Lakes and Lakenheath Fen. Up to 190 White-fronted Geese were at North Warren throughout the month. After a quiet speli, 40 Waxwings flew south at Blythburgh on 23rd and the January WeBS count of Wigeon on 25th on the Marsh Harrier Su Gough Alde/Ore Estuary, was an impressive 6380. 8


Review of the Year The five white-headed Long-tailed Tits of the northern/eastern race caudatus, found on Westleton Heath on 25th were enjoyed by many, as they stayed in the area until March. The count of 920 Barnacle Geese at Southwold on 30th is the highest-ever made in Suffolk, although their origins are uncertain. There are no doubts about the 770 Great Crested Grebes on the sea off Minsmere on 30th, however, and this is the second-highest-ever count in the county. February This was a month of contrasting weather, with the first half notably mild. Records were broken on 4th, when the temperature in Ipswich reached 17.8C (64F'), the highest earlyFebruary value ever recorded. An anticyclone covered most of Britain mid-month, keeping conditions settled and dry but this began to change from 20th, when cold continental air reached East Anglia and the last week was very cold. There were snow showers in many places from 23rd onwards, with bitter northerly winds and sharp night-time frosts and it remained cold until the end of the month. The month was also dry, with just 3cm (1.19ins) of rain recorded in Ipswich. No doubt the good weather helped, but the 22 Cetti's Warblers singing around Minsmere on the 1st were surely signalling that the breeding season was not that far off. Among the long-staying wintering birds present through February were up to six Jack Snipe on Orfordness, a first-winter Iceland Gull at Sizewell and a Great Grey Shrike at Weather Heath, in Breckland. A first-winter Glaucous Gull was seen roosting intermittently at Weybread GP up to 17th and an immature Goshawk was watched chasing Coot and Teal in front of the Island Mere hide at Minsmere on 10th. Three Slavonian Grebes were at Alton Water on 12th and then, unexpectedly, came one of the highlights of the year, with three male Penduline Tits trapped and ringed on Orfordness on 15th. The American Wigeon, which was found at Cattawade on 16th, was surely the same individual which had appeared in this area in the previous two springs and on 18th, 35 Bewick's Swans flew north-east off Kessingland. The 22nd was an interesting day, with a drake Green-winged Teal found at Minsmere, two Red-necked Grebes on the River Deben, a flock of five Shore Larks discovered on the sea defences on Orfordness and ten Hawfinches in Sotterley Park. The February WeBS count of Grey Plover on the Stour Estuary was a massive 2472. March The cold weather from February continued into the first few days of the month, with very chilly north-westerly winds and a sprinkling of snow. This cold snap totalled eleven days and actually ranked as the longest cold spell in the region since 1997. Temperatures improved from about 5th and then dipped back again on 9th, with cold north-easterlies and snow showers. Milder weather on south-westerly winds reached the area on 13th and Atlantic lows then dominated; on 17th the temperature rose to I7C and this was followed by a major storm on 20th, with winds reaching up to 110 kph (70 mph) along the coast. The gale felled many trees and thousands of homes were without power. A northerly airstream on 22nd brought wintry showers of sleet and hail, but the final days of the month saw south-easterly winds, bright sunshine and temperatures up to 16C. It was another dry month. A wintering flock of Twite on Southwold Town Marshes peaked at 103 on 1 st and 63 Waxwings were at the BT laboratory complex at Martlesham on 4th. The first summer visitors appeared early in the month; a drake Garganey at North Warren on 6th, followed by a very early Swallow flying north up the dunes at Minsmere on 8th. The first Wheatear 9

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 was at Cavenham Heath on 14th and the first three Sand Martins at Lackford Lakes on 15th; it would have been a surprise if these two species had appeared earlier anywhere else in the county. The first Stone Curlew was decidedly atypical, however, as it was heard calling at night flying over Lowestoft on 15th and the Breck had to wait until 21st before any were found on the breedÂżUi? tfL-JrÂť!,

ing grounds. The Lesser Scaup found at the Suffolk Water Park, Buzzard Mark Cornish Bramford on 16th was a splendid find and a new bird for the county list and a Raven flew over Saunders Hill, Minsmere the same day. Records of Buzzards are increasing in the county year on year and there were 12 together over Minsmere on 22nd, almost certainly migrants. An early Tree Pipit reached Cavenham Heath by 30th and on 31st there was an inland record of a Long-tailed Duck at Weybread GP and a Great White Egret was seen at Minsmere. April The first week was unsettled, with some measurable rainfall on every day, but from 9th the temperature gradually rose to reach 17C on 16th. A deep depression then ensued and the 18th was very wet, followed by heavy showers on 19th. High pressure intensified from 22nd, giving a very warm spell for six days, with long hours of sunshine and the temperature reached 21C on 24th. This spell ended with thunderstorms on 28th and this helped to push the rainfall for the month well above average. A Great Grey Shrike was found on Westleton Heath on 1st and this stayed until 11th. More summer migrants appeared in the first few days, with Grasshopper Warbler at Minsmere on 2nd, an Osprey there on 3rd, House Martins at Lackford Lakes on 3rd and a Nightingale at Minsmere on 5th. Minsmere also hosted ten Water Pipits on 2nd and an Alpine Swift briefly on 4th. A Cuckoo at Sudbury Common on 8th, a Hobby at Trimley Marshes on 10th and a Turtle Dove and six Swifts at Beccles on 11th were all quite early, but the Nightjar found at Boyton during a moth-trapping expedition on 17th was exceptional, being the earliest recorded in Suffolk for 128 years! Several Red Kites were seen during March and April and one at the Mickle Mere on 18th is the first record for the site. Also on 18th, a Wryneck was on Westleton Common, a Hoopoe was briefly at South Cove on 19th, while the Green-winged Teal discovered on the Dunwich shore pools on 20th was probably the same bird as that at Minsmere in March. The summer migrants were flooding in by now and there was a fall of 69 Wheatears at Landguard on 22nd, with five Ring Ouzels at Kessingland on that day and then Wood Warblers at Minsmere and Aldringham on 26th. The 27th was nicely varied, with a drake Long-tailed Duck north off Kessingland, a Rough-legged Buzzard over Corton and a Savi's Warbler trapped and ringed on Orfordness. The month ended with five Cranes at Minsmere on 29th and 30th.



Review of the Year May The first nine days or so were largely unsettled, with generally cool temperatures and some rain on most days. Thereafter anticyclones dominated and the remainder of May was predominantly dry with above-average temperatures. By 19th the daytime maximum reached 23C. The anticyclone was centred to the west of Ireland by mid-month, but this later transferred to the North Sea, bringing a spell of south-easterly winds to the region. The month opened in splendid style with three Red-rumped Swallows at King's Fleet, adjacent to the Deben Estuary, followed by a Bee-eater calling in flight over Landguard on 2nd. The first Spotted Flycatchers were also seen on 1st, on Orfordness. It was an excellent spring for Temminck's Stints, with at least 13 arriving at seven sites between 4th and 21st and the first of these was at Minsmere. There were two at Hen Reedbeds between 16th and 25th, three at Minsmere on 17th, two on Orfordness from 16th to 21st, two at Boyton on 15th and two north at Landguard on 15th. There was also one at Livermere Lake on 21st, which was seen to display and sing. A Hoopoe was in the north bushes at Minsmere from 7th to 11th and a Honey Buzzard flew over Fagbury Cliff on 9th. On 11th, five Cranes were seen flying over both Covehithe and Reydon, a male Red-backed Shrike was at Minsmere on 12th, with a Montagu's Harrier there the next day. Minsmere's run of good birds continued on 14th, when a White Stork flew north and on 15th with a male Pied Flycatcher. Another mobile Bee-eater was seen briefly over Southwold on 19th and then a Purple Heron arrived at Minsmere on 20th, which was to stay into June. An adult White-winged Black Tern which flew north up the coast off Thorpeness on 23rd was seen by just one observer. Another White Stork flew over Ipswich on 25th and the only Golden Orioles seen away from the nesting site at Lakenheath Fen, were at Dunwich Forest on 26th and Santon Downham on 27th. Two Icterine Warblers were found on 31 st; the first was trapped and ringed on Orfordness and the second was a singing male at Outney Common, which was to remain until July 3rd. Also on 31st, both Honey Buzzard and Montagu's Harrier were seen at Bungay. June The month began with high pressure building to the south-west and the first two weeks were settled, very warm and dry. This changed from 17th onwards, as it turned cooler with north-westerly winds and then a deep depression moved in from the Atlantic on 22nd. This gave two days of strong winds and about 18mm (0.70 ins) of rain in places. Warm weather returned by 27th and the last three days were dry, with sunny intervals. Rainfall for the month was below average. A first-summer male Red-footed Falcon was found in Minsmere s South Belt on 1st and this was admired by many during its six-day stay. A Great White Egret on 4th was seen flying west up the Orwell Estuary past both Landguard and Trimley Marshes. A singing male Marsh Warbler, found at Carlton Marshes on 5th, stayed until 29th and a possible female was also seen on several occasions at this site; there was a male Red-backed Shrike nearby at Carlton Colville, also on 5th. In the pm of 9th and into the early hours of 10th, another Savi's Warbler was singing in the reedbeds at Minsmere, but its stay was too brief for most observers to catch up with it. A full adult Long-tailed Skua flew north up the coast past Kessingland on 10th, only 200m offshore and a due reward for the observer's long hours of sea-watching. On 11th a Spotted Crake was calling in the early hours at Eastbridge, the only record for 2004 and then another Bee-eater flew over Felixstowe on 12th. After a totally unseasonable Fieldfare, seen from the Bittern hide at Minsmere on 15th, there was a quiet spell until the end of the month. On 17th, 1095 Swifts flew south over Landguard and another Marsh Warbler was at Landguard on 29th and 30th. 11

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 July The first fortnight was unsettled, with rain on most days and temperatures often well below normal. A depression on 7th produced about 24mm (one inch) of rain, with gale force winds along the coast and on 9th the maximum temperature was only 14C. An improvement set in on 14th and the rest of the month was very warm, with a peak of 26C in Ipswich on 29th. On 23rd, thunderstorms moved up from France and gave another 24mm (one inch) of rain. The total rainfall in Ipswich was 102mm (4.02ins), almost twice the long term average for July. A Glossy Ibis arrived at Minsmere on 2nd and on 3rd it moved on to Breydon Water, where it was seen intermittently until the end of the year, often around Burgh Castle. A female Blue-winged Teal was present at Trimley Marshes from 13th to the end of the month and on 15th, a White-rumped Sandpiper was found at the same site, the first of four to occur in autumn 2004. An adult Roseate Tern was at Minsmere from 9th to 19th and two adults of this species were seen at Benacre Broad on 21 st. By the end of the month, the first warblers were beginning to trickle south and there was an early departure of Swifts from their breeding areas, with many gone from around Ipswich and villages in the west by 28th. August The very warm weather continued for the first week and temperatures reached 27C on 7th and 8th. The night of8/9th was the hottest-ever recorded in East Anglia, with a minimum temperature of 22C. The weather then broke down and there were frequent thunderstorms for the rest of the month, although it remained warm. Total rainfall in Ipswich was 124mm (4.88ins), more than twice the normal. August opened with a juvenile Black-necked Grebe Glossy Ibis Su Gough on the sailing lake at Lackford on 1st and 2nd and also on 2nd a female Red-backed Shrike appeared at Landguard. Mid-month there was an excellent passage of Black Terns off the coast, culminating in a count of 140 off Sizewell on the evening of 10th. Also on 10th, there was a peak count of 22 Spoonbills on Orfordness and a Red-necked Phalarope arrived at Havergate Island, where it was also seen on 12th. Another Honey Buzzard flew over Trimley Marshes on 11 th. A strong passage of waders developed during the second week and this produced counts of 47 Greenshank at Benacre Broad on 10th and 37 Curlew Sandpipers at Havergate Island and 22 Wood Sandpipers at Walberswick, both on 12th. Landguard was the place to be on 14th, with both an adult male Common Rosefinch and a male Red-backed Shrike. On 15th, a juvenile Purple Heron arrived at Breydon Water, where it was seen along the south wall until September 3rd and a Wryneck was well inland at Newmarket on 18th. A post-breeding flock of 1017 Greylag Geese, at Livermere Lake on 19th, probably contained most of the west Suffolk population of this increasing species and a Montagu's Harrier flew past Alderton on 20th. The mist-netting overnight of two Storm Petrels at Covehithe on 22nd was a first-ever in Suffolk and raises the question of just how frequently does this species occur off our coast in summer? 12

Review of the Year A Cory's Shearwater was seen offshore at Kessingland on 23rd and there was a large reedbed roost of 426 Yellow Wagtails counted at Burgh Castle on 26th; where had all these birds nested? The month ended with a Marsh Warbler trapped and ringed at the Dingle Hills ringing station on 31st. September The first half of the month saw unbroken very warm, dry conditions, with long hours of sunshine and on 4th the mercury reached 21C. Atlantic depressions finally took control on 16th and a series of fronts brought more cloud, rain showers and quite strong southwesterly winds. Strong winds were a feature of late September and, in spite of heavy, thundery showers on 30th, rainfall for the month was well below average. A Wryneck at Minsmere on 1st was perhaps the same bird as that seen there on August 27th. There were four more on the coast early in the month and also one inland at Coney Weston on 3rd. Another skulking species, the Barred Warbler, was located at Landguard on 2nd and trapped at Orfordness on 4th. No less than 48 Yellow-legged Gulls were on the Blyth estuary on 4th and up to four Caspian Gulls also frequented this river estuary during the month. A second Cory's Shearwater flew north offshore at Southwold on 9th and another Montagu's Harrier was at Benacre Broad on 14th. A second White-rumped Sandpiper was found at Minsmere on 18th and it was joined there that day by its rarer compatriot, a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper, which stayed well into October. The trio was completed by a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper on the Scrape on 19th and it was possible to see all three species at the same time. Also on 19th, the first Lapland Bunting of the autumn flew south past Covehithe. With the strong winds in the second half of the month, skua passage was quite strong. Monthly totals for Arctic and Great Skua were 124 and 86 respectively and both peaked on 23rd off Southwold, with 22 Arctics and 16 Greats. At least ten Long-tailed Skuas were seen during the month. Another Barred Warbler was at Landguard on 24th and the first two Yellow-browed Warblers arrived on 29th, at Minsmere and Orfordness. A Sabine's Gull flew north off Southwold on 25th and the month came to a close with a new record count of 97 Little Egrets roosting at Loompit Lake. October The month started with very changeable conditions and was quite often wet and windy during the first week. An anticyclone over Scandinavia from 8th to 12th gave a more settled spell and briefly, the much-sought-after north-easterly winds, which certainly sparked off a movement of thrushes and brought in a few good birds. Thereafter, low pressure prevailed for most of the month and it was often windy and showery but generally mild. A sharp ground frost occurred overnight on 27th, but then the last few days were quite sunny and rainfall was close to the long-term average. A male Bluethroat at Landguard on 1st was the only one seen all year in the county. Also on 1st, two Yellow-browed Warblers were at Lowestoft (about 14 were seen along the coast between 1st and 28th) and a Radde's Warbler was trapped on Orfordness. In windy conditions on 2nd, a Sabine's Gull was seen off Landguard and four Long-tailed Skuas flew north up the coast off Thorpeness. Another Sabine's Gull was off Southwold on 8th (and again on 10th) and a total of 20 Leach's Petrels was seen off the coast between 9th and 16th. Three of the rarer, in Suffolk terms, Storm Petrels, flew north off Southwold on 10th. A large movement of Redwings was noted over 8/9th, with at least 1200 flying west over Alton Water on those dates. Fieldfares came slightly later, with the biggest flock of 600 13

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 over Thorpeness Common on 12th. There was a large influx of Firecrests between 10th and 13th, with 43 noted at just five coastal sites and others elsewhere and on 10th the first of at least eight Pallas's Warblers was seen at Southwold. Red-breasted Flycatchers considerably enhanced the environs of Felixstowe on 10th and Southwold on 11/12th. The third White-rumped Sandpiper was at Minsmere from 13th to 22nd (with a fourth, ringed bird on 14th) and it was joined on 15th by another Pectoral Sandpiper, which is considered to be different to the September bird. Immigrant Long-eared Owls were discovered at Gunton on 19th and nearby Lowestoft on 20th. A Dusky Warbler, trapped and ringed at Landguard on 20th, was seen again at the same site on 31st and it stayed into November. A Richard's Pipit was found at Levington Marina on 26th and the following day saw another Radde's Warbler at Landguard and a fifth Sabine's Gull, also at Landguard. There were five Black Redstarts at this productive site on 28/29th and a Grey Phalarope was seen at both Lowestoft and Dunwich on 28th. A major passage of Brent Geese took place on 28th; it was noted all down the coast, but 12530 south off Thorpeness, was the largest count. November A persistent anticyclone was stationed to the west of the British Isles for the first half of the month and this kept the weather rather quiet, dry, calm and fairly mild. A colder Arctic airflow intruded from 18th, giving a brief snowfall late that day and then a hard frost early on 20th, with temperatures as low as -7C. It quickly became milder again and the quiet conditions of early November returned. Total rainfall in Ipswich was not much over half the long-term average. Two more Pallas's Warblers were at Landguard on 1st and Suffolk's latest-ever Tree Pipit was at the same site on 2nd. Also on 2nd, a first-winter Red-breasted Goose flew south past Southwold in a flock of Brent Geese. The Grey Phalarope found at Levington Marina on 5th was quite seasonal, but the Wryneck inland at Whepstead on 5th and 6th is the second-latest-ever found in Suffolk. A flock of 25 Whooper Swans flew south over Weather Heath on 7th and the final Swallow of the year was seen at Landguard on 10th. A first-winter Iceland Gull was at Sizewell on 13th and the 14th saw a good movement of Little Auks off the coast, with a peak of 85 north at Thorpeness and a splendid flock of 200 Snow Buntings at Kessingland. The flock of 2500 Pink-footed Geese, feeding on stubble at Corton on 19th, is the largest seen in Suffolk for about 60 years. The 24th produced further sightings of Grey Phalarope and Iceland Gull, both at Landguard and a flock of 89 Bewick's Swans flying west over Minsmere. Three Slavonian Grebes were on Alton Water on 25th, a female Ferruginous Duck was located at East Lane on 27th and an adult Crane was at Hopton from 29th through into December. December The quiet, settled conditions of much of November persisted well into December and by the time rain fell on 17th, there had been a 20-day dry spell. After 12mm of rain fell on 17th, it turned colder with northerly winds and night-time frosts. It was sunny over the Christmas period, but with sharp night frosts and air temperatures down to -3C. It was an abnormally dry month, with rainfall only about half the average. As in winter 2002/03, a wintering Dusky Warbler was found at Kessingland; initially located on 3rd it was to stay right through into the early spring of 2005. It also turned out to be a Waxwing winter and the peak flocks were of 96 in Christchurch Park, Ipswich on 3rd and 120 at the Ipswich Hospital on 17th. There was an influx of Tundra Bean Geese early in the month; this included a flock of 14 at Flempton, near Bury St Edmunds, on 7th 14

Review of the Year and then a peak count of 80 on the coast at Oxley Marshes/Hollesley on 19th and 20th. Stonechat is a species which is currently doing well in the county and nine were on Berner's Heath in Breckland on lOth. Also in Breckland, the Great Grey Shrike had returned to Weather Heath in late October and it was present right through December and into 2005. Nearby at Elveden, 500 Bramblings were feeding on beechmast on 17th. Yet another Dusky Warbier was found, at East Lane, Bawdsey on 16th and 18th. The December WeBS count of Pied Avocets for the Aide/Ore Estuary system totalled 894 and a red-headed Smew was on Alton Water on 24th and 27th.

Waxwings Peter Beeson


Suffolk Bird Report 2004

A Study of Sparrowhawks in a small area of Suffolk 2000-2004 Reg Woodard Summary This paper describes a five year study of Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus (hereinafter Sparrowhawk) in a 20 km 2 area of mid-Sufifolk. DĂźring the study, 26 nests were found within this area and a further 16 in nearby areas (during 2002-2004). Of the 42 nests, eight had no eggs recorded; the remaining 34 nests had 129 eggs in total, of which 19 were lost (presumably predated) from six nests. Five young were known to have perished, along with other pre-fledging losses, leaving a total of 88 young fledged from 110 eggs in 28 nests - an overall fiedging rate of 2.59 young per nest in which eggs were laid. Almost all suitable nesting areas were used, with most containing old nests, suggesting that nesting has been at a similar density for several years, following the recovery from earlier pesticide-induced declines. A wide variety of prey was recorded, varying in size from Wren to Wood Pigeon, with Blackbird the most commonly recorded. All details from this study have been submitted to the BTO (both ringing records and nest records) and the Raptor Research Register. This paper also includes a summary of the 69 Sparrowhawk ringing returns relating to Suffolk (both those ringed in Suffolk and those recovered in Suffolk). Background The Sparrowhawk has interested me since the early 1950s, when, as a schoolboy, a friend and I found our first Sparrowhawk's nest and added one of the eggs to our collection. As an adult, my interest in birds continued, but I took no active part until the mid 1990s when I joined the BTO, getting involved in Garden Birdwatch and later the Nest Record Scheme. Now in my 60s, 1 still feel some of that childhood excitement when I climb a tree, look over the nest edge and see a clutch of beautiful eggs - with nest recording now being the reward. In 1997 I took part in the final year of the SOG survey of breeding raptors and owls (Wright 2001). This rekindled my interest in the Sparrowhawk. I found two nests in 1999 and also read The Sparrowhawk by Ian Newton, which has been a most useful guide throughout this study. In 2000 I obtained permission to study the species on some 20 km 2 of land in midSuffolk. The study area is mainly heavy arable land, with large fields mainly growing winter cereals, as well as sugar beet, oilseed rape and some vining peas. There are also a commercial orchard, a few small woods and plantations, 0.2-1.2 hectares (0.5-3 acres) in extent, with one larger wood. The woods are mostly broadleaved, with some mixed and two coniferous woods. The objective of the study was to find all nests within the study area and thus reveal the breeding density and nest site preference on what appears to be typical Suffolk farmland. Finding the nests provided the opportunity to ring the young, record breeding success and the details of prey species. Method Within the study area, all possible nesting habitat was searched. Hedges and isolated trees were general ly not searched, except where hedges were very wide and tali - records suggest that ordinary hedges and isolated trees are very unlikely nest sites. Nest searches were carried out from about mid-May to mid-June, with another search in 16

A Study of Sparrowhawks

in a small area of Suffolk


July to look for the distinctive white droppings of the young on the ground, which can indicate a nest that has been missed on the first search. To check if the nest sites found in the study area are typical of this type of habitat, I obtained permission to search several similar places within a 20km (12 mile) radius of the main study area. Although these searches were done on a more random basis and only in the last three years of the study, the nest sites found were very similar to those in the study area. Sightings and prey finds were also recorded throughout the year. Breeding Density The areas searched were mainly small woods on arable land, as described above. Almost every wood that appeared suitable (plus one that did not) contained nests. Some of these woods were used every year, whilst others were used less often, but contained old nests; interestingly no nests were found in the large wood. In the 20 km 2 study area, the two closest active nests were about 1 km apart, with the greatest distance between active nests some 4 km. The number of active nests (with eggs) recorded each year was as follows: 2000: five; 2001: four; 2002: three; 2003: six; 2004: three. In the main study area, Sparrowhawks bred in nine woods/plantations (three broadleaved, four mixed and two coniferous). In addition, there were two broadleaved woods where nests were found without eggs. Outside the main study area, the results were very similar, with active nests found in nine of the eleven woods searched. The study area is thought to be typical of the Suffolk "claylands", but in the west and east of the county (where there is more heath and conifer plantation), Sparrowhawk breeding density may be very different. In addition, the size of the study area may be too small to allow the results to be reliably extrapolated to the county as a whole. With this caveat, however, it is stili interesting to compare the average nest density in this study area (4.2 nests in 20 km 2 , or 0.21 per km square) with the breeding density of 0.11 per km Square suggested by Wright (2001 ). If this study area is representative of the whole county, then it would suggest a county population of some 800 breeding pairs of Sparrowhawk (no estimate of non-breeders). This compares reasonably well with the upper limit of the estimate in Wright (2001) of between 480 and 700 pairs. Breeding The breeding areas in this study were ali in the countryside, but Sparrowhawks are known to breed readily in town and city gardens and parks, perhaps encouraged by the increase in garden bird feeding stations. The nest sites found in this study varied considerably, although they ali have a certain similarity that is difficult to describe. In general, any wood or plantation (usually with fairly young trees) that has a reasonably clear flight path, with some overhead cover, may be used. Many different trees species are used for nesting; those found in this study included spruce, Scots pine, field maple, hawthorn and oak, with spruce being the most favoured species. The height of the nest varied from 3m to 12m. Of the 42 nests found in this study, 24 had been freshly built and 18 were built on an old nest, either of Sparrowhawk or another species. The nest is about 45cm in diameter, built of twigs, with a platform round the edge and a shallow centrai cup lined with pieces of bark. When searching for nests, a newly built Sparrowhawk nest is usually fairly easy to find and identify from the ground, with a light 'airy' platform and solid centre, usually built d o s e to the trunk, with the platform edge sometimes going round the trunk. When an old 17

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 nest of another species (or an old Sparrowhawk nest) is used, it can be impossible to identify from the ground, until the Sparrowhawk starts to incubate. At this time, the female (who does ali the incubation) starts to moult and flecks of down progressively build up on and around the nest throughout incubation. Flecks of down around an apparent squirrel drey, crow's nest or 'old' Sparrowhawk's nest is a good indication of breeding Sparrowhawks. Binoculars may be needed to spot the small flecks of down in the early stages of incubation. Egg laying and young Egg laying usuai ly starts about mid-May and most clutches are complete by the end of May. The earliest that eggs were found in this study was 16th May - two nests, each with the first two eggs of five. The latest egg was found on 5th June, but as this later disappeared and it had been found on the first visit to the nest, the laying date is not known (but as there was no down on the nest it was probably recently laid). Clutch size varies from three to six, but with four or five being usuai. The eggs are off-white with brown blotches, some more heavily marked than others. Incubation takes about 30 days, peak hatching being around 19th June. Most eggs hatch within a day or so of each other, with the young usually of an almost even size - although in some nests there may be one smaller chick. In my view, the newly hatched young, covered in pure white down, are perhaps the prettiest chicks of any species. Accurately recording the hatching date is particularly important if the young are to be ringed. As adult females are much larger than the maies, they take a diffĂŠrent ring size. The young must be at least 12 days old in order to determine their sex, but it is not safe to ring the young at more than 19 days old, as there is a risk of them leaving the nest prematurely ('exploding'). The ringing date is therefore planned carefully (with wet days being avoided); for most nests the ringing 'window' has been between the 2nd and 5th July. After ringing, the nests are watched from a distance, sometimes by climbing another tree. The young normally leave the nest some 25-30 days after hatching, but it is hard to pinpoint the true fledging date as the young return to the nest to feed. The adults will bring food to the nest for some three weeks after the young are capable of flying; it is during this time that the prey species can most readily be recorded. At this stage, the young will often fly round the nest site calling loudly (the calls may be heard from a considĂŠrable distance and may indicate breeding in inaccessible places, such as private gardens). About eight weeks after hatching the young disperse, to eventually establish their own territories. Of the 84 young ringed during this study, two have been recovered: a maie ringed on 4/7/00 was found freshly dead on 07/01/02 about 4 km from its hatching site; another maie survived for only 143 days and was found about 6 km from its nest site. Both had died as a resuit of colliding with windows. Other Sparrowhawk ringing recoveries relating to Suffolk are discussed below. Nest failures It can be difficult to be sure which nests have had no egg laid and which have had eggs predated. Eight new nests were found without eggs, some of them lined and with traces of down, indicating that eggs may well have been laid but had been taken before the nest was located. Six nests in this study had eggs that subsequently disappeared (in only one nest were eggshells left). On one occasion, a Sparrowhawk was seen, calling loudly and with wings spread, on the edge of the nest, trying to chase a grey squirrel away. There were no 18

A Study of Sparrowhawks

in a small area of Suffolk


other direct observations of attempted prédation of eggs, but both Carrion Crows and Magpies are numerous throughout the area. Once chicks have hatched, there have been no total failures in this study, but on four occasions single nestlings have disappeared without trace. On one occasion, a female chick died just before fledging, following heavy overnight rain. The nest was rather exposed, but three maie chicks fledged successfully, leaving the very wet female in the nest - on the next visit it was found dead on the ground under the nest. There was no evidence of cannibalism. Wet weather during nesting (as in 2002 and 2004) appeared to reduce nesting success. There was one case of the nest falling from the tree just after the young fledged. Sparrowhawks are generally quite tolérant of human visits to the nest, provided that normal précautions are taken (e.g. not visiting when rain is likely or in failing light). Where nests have failed, there has been evidence, such as further moulted down and feathers, to indicate that incubation continued after the observer's visit and that the visit did not cause desertion. Individuai hawks do react differently to human visits, however, with some leaving the nest silently and others staying on the nest, with wings spread until the observer is very close. Other hawks will fly round the nest calling loudly, sometimes joined by the male, which has a higher pitched cali. Sometimes they will fly very close to the observer, but in this study did not strike anyone. Prey species The prey of the Sparrowhawk is almost exclusively birds; the female taking prey up to the size of a Wood Pigeon and the male taking smaller prey, up to the size of a Collared Dove. Newton (1987) suggests that a breeding pair could account for the équivalent of 600 Blackbird-sized birds per year. During this study, Wood Pigeon remains were found in Sparrowhawk nests, but it is thought unlikely that a Sparrowhawk could carry a complete Wood Pigeon. It is probable that partly eaten Wood Pigeons would be easier to carry to the nest - on several occasions they were found on the ground with head, crop and insides removed. It is hard to be sure of the extent to which Sparrowhawks prey on nestlings, but during this study both male and female Sparrowhawks were seen to take very small, naked Blackbird fledglings and a newly fledged Sparrowhawk was seen feeding on a naked Wood Pigeon squab. Apart from such fortunate chance observations, there is unlikely to be other evidence of naked nestlings being taken, as they would usually be entirely consumed, leaving no trace. I contacted Ian Newton on this aspect, who replied: "I do believe the small proportion of nestlings I recorded (2%) could have been an underestimate of the proportion in the diet. Like you, I have seen Sparrowhawks taking songbird nestlings which are then probably eaten completely, leaving no remains. More than half of those I recorded were Wood Pigeons, which are, of course, quite large and perhaps more likely to be taken to the nest or recorded." Table 1 lists the 33 prey species recorded during the five years of this study; Brown et al. (1987) was used to help identify prey remains. These records may not be in proportion to the actual prey species taken, due to the detectability of remains. There would be more obvious remains for comparatively large species, such as Blackbird, than for smaller species. In addition, when prey is plucked before being taken to the nest, the smaller species may then be almost entirely consumed by the Sparrowhawk young, whereas for larger prey, their cleanly picked skeletons are left. This would again lead to the underrecording of smaller prey species at the nest. From casual observations, the most common prey species also appear to be common in the study area. 19

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 Table 1. Prey species recorded on or near the nest, and in the local area (Sparrowhawk kills fourni), during this study Prey species Blackbird Greenfinch Chaffinch Wood Pigeon Goldfinch Collared Dove Dunnock Grey Partridge Song Thrusb Starling Bullfinch Blue Tit Great Tit Skylark Pied Wagtail Robin Red-legged Partridge Li n net Yellowhammer Cuckoo (juv) Kingfisher Green Woodpecker Pheasant (juv) Turile Dove Mistle Thrush Treecreeper Lapwing Stock Dove Ferai Pigeon (white) Fieldfare Wren Long-tailed Tit House Sparrow

On/near nest 65 23 23 21 9 8 7 4 4 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 g •


• •



In locai area 43 14 6 12 2 12 21 -

5 9 -


8 2 : -

10 -


_ 1 -

1 -

2 1 i 1 1 1 8 2 1 3

Recoveries of ringed Sparrowhawks relating to Suffolk John Walshe has obtained the détails, from the BTO, of ali Sparrowhawk ringing recoveries relating to Suffolk, a summary of which follows. This data includes a total of 69 recoveries between 1913 and 2004, with the majority since 1990. There were only two recoveries during the 1960s, one from Holland and the other also a probable migrant, and no recoveries at ali during the 1970s, when the species was almost entirely absent as a resuit of organochlorine pesticide use. Only nine of the recoveries involved retraps; no less than 20 recoveries involved hawks colliding with windows (in only one case did the bird survive). Five hawks were killed on the roads and four were shot - sadly including a case as recently as 1995. All the Suffolk recoveries involved man-made objects, apart from a male Sparrowhawk that was found entangled in a thorn bush and released alive. It is likely that most hawks dying of naturai causes are in remote or secluded places and are not found. 20

A Study of Sparrowhawks

in a small area of Suffolk


Fifteen of the 69 recoveries were ringed as nestlings (one in 1913, three in the 1940s and the rest since 1983). Eleven of the ringed nestlings were recovered 6-25 km from the nest, whilst four travelled between 34 and 104 km. The longest period before recovery was a nestling ringed in July 1943 and recovered (shot) in Aprii 1950, 23 km from the nest site. The only reference to the speed of dispersal comes from John Walshe, who heard young calling near their nest site on 04/08/98; a female from the brood was found dead 25 km away just six days later. Turning to Sparrowhawks ringed after fledging, there are 45 recoveries (27 of which were ringed in their first year). Interestingly, there were 33 males but only 12 females, perhaps in part due to the greater likelihood of the smaller male being caught in mist nets (the larger females tend to "bounce" out). Newton (1986) says the sex ratio is equal at fledging, but thereafter higher male mortality leads to more females in the adult population. There was no tendency for older birds to travel further; it is thought that once Sparrowhawks establish a territory they remain in the same general area for the rest of their life. Males can live up to 7.6 years, and females 10.8 years (Newton 1986). Over 80% of the recoveries (37) were within 23 km of the ringing site, with ali but six of these within 8 km. The maximum distance travelled was 126 km, and the maximum duration was four years and four months. A female bird of the year was ringed at Landguard at the end of August 2002 and recovered (sick) 114 km away in Bedfordshire six days later, perhaps suggesting it was a Continental bird moving quickly inland. Of the 45 recoveries of hawks ringed after fledging, 32 were either ringed or recovered from coastal sites (mainly Landguard). Ali ringing and recovery dates were outside the breeding season, apart from a first year male ringed at Landguard 27/09/98 and recovered near East Harling (c.60 km inland) on 18/07/00. Might this bird have been fledged in Continental Europe, but subsequently nested in Norfolk? Migrant Sparrowhawks There have been six recoveries in Suffolk of Sparrowhawks ringed outside the UK (two from The Netherlands and singles from Germany, Denmark, Norway and Finland), and three birds ringed at Landguard have been recovered abroad (two in Denmark and one in Norway). The furthest distance travelled was a nestling from Finland, ringed 06/07/80, found at Dunwich with a broken wing 09/11/80 - a distance of 1823 km in 126 days. The longest duration was an immature male ringed on Heligoland, 05/09/96, and caught at Landguard on 22/10/01 (1873 days). From the ringing and recovery dates, ali but one of the above appeared to be breeding abroad and wintering in, or passing through, Suffolk. The one exception was a female ringed as a nestling in The Netherlands and found at Nacton (shot) a year later on 29/05/95. The BTO Migration Atlas records this as the only foreign nestling recovered in the UK during the breeding season. No British-ringed nestlings have been recovered abroad to date. Acknowledgements I would like to thank ali those who have helped me with this study, including Mick Wright for his advice and for ringing the young Sparrowhawks and, most importantly, ali the landowners who allowed me free access to their land. John Walshe obtained the ringing data from the BTO; I am grateful to John and the BTO as well as those who ringed and recovered the Sparrowhawks. The BTO ringing scheme is funded by a partnership of the 21

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 BTO, the JNCC (on behalf of EN, SNH, CCW and EHSNI), the National Parks and Wildlife Service (Ireland) and the ringers themselves. Ian Newton kindly answered my questions on the prey and calls of Sparrowhawks and my wife accepted my absence during the nesting season. Adam Gretton typed up and edited this paper and Jacquie Clark commented on a draft of the section on ringing recoveries. Warning: Climbing trees is dangerous and should onlv be undertaken by fully trained persons. No responsibility can be taken by the author, editor or SNS if this warning is not fully heeded. References Brown, R., Ferguson, J., Lawrence, M. and Lees, D. 1987. Tracks and Signs of the Birds of Britain and Europe: an identification guide. Christopher Helm. London. Newton, I. 1986. The Sparrowhawk. T&AD Poyser. Berkhamsted. Wright, M.T. 2001. Survey of Breeding Raptors and Owls in Suffolk 1995-1998. SOG. Ipswich.


Suffolk Bird Report 2004

Wood Larks in Breckland 1971-2004 The Impact of the Felling and Re-planting of the Forestry Commission's First Rotation Pine Crops on the Wood Lark Population in Breckland Ron Hoblyn Throughout the last decade, the Wood Lark Lullula arborea population of Breckland was probably higher than at any time in living memory. What follows is a brief account of how this has come about and is a story of two phases. Firstly, prior to about 1970, there is very little Wood Lark data in existence and because of this situation, it is impossible to say how common or otherwise the species was, with any degree of accuracy. Since 1970, however, there has been comprehensive and, apart from the foot and mouth year of 2001, continuous monitoring of the population right up to the present time, particularly in Thetford Foresi. Ali the data given in this paper refers to both the Norfolk and Suffolk parts of Breckland. Between 1922 and the beginning of the second World War, the Forestry Commission planted up 21000 hectares (52500 acres) of impoverished heathland and low grade arable, creating not only Britain's largest lowland forest (occupying 20% of Breckland), but also the largest man-made pine forest in Europe. This venture was eventually to have unforseen and long term benefits to certain scarce, traditionally heathland species, notably Wood Lark and Nightjar; both birds of conservation concern. It was widely known that Britain's Wood Lark population had been in decline throughout most of the 20th century, to the extent that in 1986, at the time of the first national survey, there were only an estimated 250 pairs in the country, probably an all-time low. This precarious situation was to dramatically change over the next two decades. During its establishment years and beyond, Thetford Forest contained very little suitable habitat for open ground species like Wood Lark, so consequently for several decades the species did not feature as it does today. On the sandy Breckland soils it is possible to grow pine to the âge of economie maturity in as little as 50 years, so that by 1970 the oldest crops of the first rotation were ready for felling, allowing the subséquent planting of the second rotation to begin. This felling/re-planting programme has been on-going for the past 35 years at the rate of 300-400 hectares (750-1000 acres) per year. There is stili more to come; to date approximately two-thirds of the forest has been managed in this way. Felling will now continue at a reduced annual amount until about 2020, with some 10% of the first rotation crops left to progress towards physical maturity as permanent retentions. The sheer scale of these fellings has brought about a dramatic change to the forest landscape, which is now a complex mosaic of uneven âge structure forest, invaluable to wildlife in general. Felling and re-planting provides Wood Larks with ail their essential habitat requirements of bare ground for foraging and sparse végétation for nesting. It is also usuai practice, whenever possible, to leave a scattering of the deadwood content of an area, or even the occasionai broad-leaved tree to act as perches, much favoured by the male Wood Lark as look-out posts. Clear-fell habitats are naturaily unstable and suitable only for a short period before tree-growth advances and excessive ground cover establishes. But as one area goes over, so another replaces it, enabling the Wood Lark to follow the pattern of the re-stocking in order to utilise the optimum sites. The period of suitability is directly related to ground cover, rather than tree height and as a general rule lasts approximately four to six years, depending on the particular site. The vast amount of habitat generated by felling regimes at Thetford, has been exploited by Wood Larks to an extent unrivalled in Britain. At the same time, the exploding forest population has served as a reservoir which has enabled the species to expand, not only into the heathland and arable sites found within and around the forest itself, but also farther 23

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 afield to other parts of its breeding range in Britain. This has happened particularly to the north, with expansion into Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. Thelford Foresi Wood Lark Survey 2000 Distribution by Planting Year Planting Year

Singing Males

Open Space Felled Unplanted 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 Total

47 29 65 41 53 70 42 49 33 15 12 456

Prior to 1970, the only Wood Larks to be found in the forest were located along a narrow strip of permanently open ground parallel to the railway line and stretching for three miles, between Brandon and Thetford in the River Little Ouse valley. Annually ploughed as a fire prĂŠcaution from steam engines, it supported a small but stable population and was eventually to be the nucleus of the remarkable spread of the species throughout the forest and beyond in the years that followed. Wood Larks stili persisi along this corridor even today, due entirely to a programme of sensitive heathland habitat management instigated after steam trains were replaced by diesels in the mid-1970s. In fact, the area now forms part of a large riverine Forestry Commission nature reserve along the Little Ouse valley. Wood Lark monitoring in Breckland has run as follows. From 1971 to 2005 (with the exception of 2001) ail potential forest habitat has been covered each year. Up to 1999, attempts were also made to survey the whole of Breckland. By this time, the difficultĂŠs associated with monitoring what was by then a thriving population in such a large area, were becoming increasingly more apparent. Whereas the discrete compartmented nature of Thetford Forest lends itself more readily to thorough and reliable coverage, the same could not be said for other habitats. Agriculture, for instance, by far the largest land component in Breckland, occupies three-fifths of its total area and here the problems encountered with a full survey are obviously more than considerable. In view of this, it was decided that from year 2000 surveys would be confined to Thetford Forest. Moreover given the healthy state of the population at the time, the necessity for total coverage was much less criticai and could safely be left until the next national survey, projected for 2006. The spread of Wood Larks into the new clear-fells, from the small core population of six pairs present in 1971, was a long slow process. In the 15 years leading up to the first national survey in 1986, numbers had risen to 48 singing males, the entire Breckland population at the time. There was to be little change in the situation for the remainder of the 1980s. But then, through the 1990s, came a remarkable and largely unforseen population explosion, with numbers in the forest peaking at a massive 456 singing males in year 2000. At the same time numbers on other habitats were rising steeply, to the extent that in 1999, the last year of a full Breckland survey, 153 singing males were recorded on non-forest sites (i.e. heathland, farmland and other marginai land). In fact the total 24

Wood Larks in Breckland


Breckland population in that year had soared to 599 singing maies, probably an all-time high. It must be remembered too, that this figure was quite likely to have been on the low side, given the problems associated with a survey on such a scale, particularly on farmland. A further factor which helped to boost the population in the 1990s, was a sériés of very warm dry summers, which burnt off the végétation on the free-draining, sandy Breck soils and improved the habitat. Number of Singing Male Wood Larks in Breckland 1971 - 2004 500










Solid Dot = Forest Sites

Open Triangle = Non-forest Sites

No survey in 2001

One interesting statistic to emerge from this highly successful period for Britain's Wood Larks was that in the two national survey years of 1986 and 1997, Breckland held approximately one-fifth of the national population, which is now in a healthy and hopefully stable condition leading up to the third national survey planned for 2006. Also in 1997, Suffolk held 30% of the UK population and had more pairs than any other county. It was perhaps inévitable that the upward trend in numbers could not continue at the rate sustained for most of the 1990s. By the late 1990s, the forest population had most certainly reached saturation point, with very high densities at some sites of greater than one pair per two hectares, compared with one pair per 5-6 hectares in the early days of surveying. The inévitable happened and Wood Lark numbers are now declining in the forest, with 286 singing maies recorded in 2004. The cumulative decrease since the peak year of 2000 now stands at 43%. A combination of higher végétation growth due to recent wet summers and a shortage of clear-felling in certain areas, may be partly responsible for this current situation. Of late, re-stock habitat seems to be deteriorating earlier than normal and this would have an adverse effect on Wood Lark densities. Numbers are now heavily weighted m favour of the younger barer re-stocks (P2000 - P2004), felled/unplanted land and areas of permanent open space. In the last few years, the Forestry Commission has embarked on a 300 hectare programme of heathland restoration within Thetford Forest, which will have lasting Denef ìts for Wood Lark by providing permanent open ground, invaluable both now and in the future, when re-stock habitat may well be at a premium.


Suffolk Birci Report 2004 The national survey planned for 2006 is most timely, since it should enable us to obtain a clearer picture of just how many Wood Larks are now on heathland and farmland, an unknown factor at present and one which, in the case of Breckland, may help explain why numbers are declining on forest habitats. Acknowledgements My thanks are owed to all the field-workers who have helped with censusing Wood Larks in Breckland over the past 35 years. Without their assistance, our knowledge of this fascinating species would be much poorer. Greg Conway drew the graph of the number of singing male Wood Larks.


Suffolk Bird Report 2004

Wood Larks on the Suffolk Coast 1998 to 2004 Rob Macklin Introduction The breeding population of Wood Larks Lullula arbรณrea on the Suffolk Coast, showed a dramatic increase after the great storm of October 1987. A survey carried out by Suffolk Wildlife Trust in 1989 located 71 territorial Wood Larks at 47 sites. In comparison with the 1986 BTO census, the number of territories in the forests of Dunwich, Rendlesham and Tunstall had increased by 39% and on coastal heaths by 57%. The great storm of 1987 left large tracts of windblown timber and on Forestry Commission land alone this amounted to 1400 hectares. This timber was cleared and the forests replanted, which created an enormous increase in the habitat for breeding Wood Larks. Numbers reached a peak in the forests in 1998, with up to 95 territories recorded. Since that year, numbers have declined dramatically in all three forests, with just 24 territories located in 2004. Most of the forest area has now become unsuitable for breeding Wood Larks, although 80 hectares have been set-aside by the Forestry Commission as open space suitable for the species. There was also a series of very warm, dry years from 1989 to 1992, which burnt off much of the vegetation on the light sandy soils, providing ideal conditions for Wood Lark expansiรณn. In the late 1990s, the Suffolk Sandlings Group was successful in obtaining a ยฃ587,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the English Nature project "Tomorrows Heathland Heritage". This gave a great boost to heathland management on the Suffolk Coast, with all the major sites receiving intensive management. This funding stream built on the substantial resources provided by Defra through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and the Suffolk River Valleys ESA. This has allowed Wood Larks to breed more successfiilly on the open heaths and numbers reached a peak in 2000, with sample counts of 85 territories at Aldringham Walks and 33 territories at Minsmere. Since that time numbers have declined dramatically, in spite of intensive heathland management by groups such as the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, RSPB and English Nature. By 2004, numbers had declined by 30% right across the Sandlings. Habitat Requirements Essential habitat requirements, such as bare ground, short grass, longer grass or heather for nest-sites and scattered trees for song posts, have been well documented. In coastal Suffolk, just about all of the territorial males are found on sandy soils and are particularly attracted to open, grazed areas of heathland and acid grassland. Several pairs are now breeding on set-aside or fallow land and following the rotation of this around several sites (A.Millar pers comm). Recent milder and wetter winters have encouraged more luxurious grass-growth on our heaths, which has proved detrimental to Wood Larks. It will be important to maintain extensive grazing of the heaths to counter this problem. The optimum habitat on the Suffolk Coast appears to be areas of clear-felled forest which are then re-planted and these remain suitable for several years. It is important that the trees are well-spaced and not planted too ciรณse together. Both Rendlesham and Tunstall forests were re-planted after the 1987 storm and large areas of clear-fell are not expected in these areas for many years. It will, therefore, be important to maintain intensively-managed open areas within the two forests, which will offer suitable breeding habitat for Wood Larks.


Suffolk Birci Report 2004 Population of Suffolk Coast Wood Larks Breeding Territories - 1998-2(104 2004 SITE Benacre 5 Wenhaston Heath 0 Walberswick 8 Potton Hall 4 Dunwich Forest and Westleton Heath g Dunwich Heath 3 Dingle Marshes 0 Minsmere 17 Sizewell 5 North Warren and Aldringham Walks 37 South Warren, Aldeburgh ne Church Common, Snape 2 Snape Warren 10 Tu ristali Forest 7 Rendlesham Forest 17 Woodbridge Golf Course 2 RAF Bentwaters 0 Hollesley Common 6 Sutton Common 5 Foxburrow Hall, Melton 0 Purdis Heath, Ipswich ne Sudbourne Village 0 Sutton Hoo 4 Other Sites 3 Total 143

2003 4 0 8 ne

2002 2 0 8 ne

2001 2 ne 9 ne

2000 ne 1 ne ne

1999 2 ne 9 ne

4 0 1 9 4

12 0 0 22 3

11 0 0 22 4

12 0 2 33 ne

12 0 2 29 6







1 3 4 13 22 ne 0 7 4 0 ne 0 4 3 135

ne 2 2 29 28 ne 2 6 6 ne ne 1 ĂŽ 2 / 1 184+

ne 2 ne 34 25 ne ne 7 6 0 ne 2 ne ' 2 197+

3 2 4 21* 23* ne 2+ 5 6 1 1 ne ne 1 202+

ne 4 4 18* 37 ne ne 7 7 ne 1 ne ne 4 225+

ne ne 6 34-45 31-43 ne ne 6 6 ne ne ne ne 11 194+

1998 ne ne 9 ne :

7 0 ne 22 ne

Numbers of singing males in breeding habitat at North Warren and Aldringham Walks in 2004 Acid grassland Calluna dominated heath Mixed plantation woodland Arable/heath interface Arable land

15 5 7 4 6

40% 13% 19% 11% 17%

Discussion The population explosion after the great storm of October 1987 was concentrated in the Sandlings Forests, followed by an overspill onto the Sandlings heaths. Numbers peaked in 1999/2000, followed by a decline across all habitats. Sandlings Forests It was inevitable that breeding numbers within the forests would decline as the re-planted trees began to mature, thereby shading out areas of open ground. Eighty hectares of open space was designated within the forests and these areas originally attracted good numbers 28

Wood Larks on the Suffolk Coast 1998 to 2004 of breeding Wood Larks. Unfortunately birch and gorse scrub plus bracken quickly invaded these areas and numbers dropped to an all time low in 2004 viz. Dunwich Forest, one; Tunstall Forest and Commons, seven; Rendlesham Forest, 17, totalling just 25 pairs. The Blyth/Alde Partnership is currently working on a new design plan for Dunwich Forest, which should deliver a mosaic of open heath and deciduous woodland. This should produce many more opportunities for species such as Wood Larks and Nightjars, thereby reducing recent declines. As Tunstall and Rendlesham forests mature, rotational clear-felling should increase to ca.43 hectares per annum, creating many more opportunities for Wood Larks. The Forestry Commission have just started more regular clear-felling of the material that was undamaged in 1987 and these new clearfells will also provide more habitat. Once the forestry areas get into a regular rotation, there should be good sustainable habitat, which will require minimum management input. Some bracken and scrub control was carried out in Tunstall and Rendlesham Forests in 2004 and this work is set to increase in intensity in future years; this should deliver optimum habitat within the forests to maintain the population. Sandlings Heaths Wood Lark numbers on the open heaths rose aĂąer the 1987 storm, with most birds attracted to areas of acid grassland; areas of dense heather growth are usually avoided. Their basic requirements are substantial areas of extremely short vegetation and/or bare ground on well-drained soil with very sparse cover of bushes and trees. The majority of the large areas of Sandlings heaths are now under management by conservation organisations, which has provided an increase in bracken treatment and removal, scrub clearance and particularly grazing. RSPB and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust have their own sheep flocks of Manx Loghtans, Hebrideans and Beulahs, which are used to control vegetation growth on the heaths. In addition, both RSPB and English Nature also use commercial sheep breeds, such as Wiltshire Horns on their reserves. Sheep grazing alone would not be enough to maintain the acid grassland habitat in optimum condition for Wood Larks; rabbit populations are essential to provide the necessary areas of bare ground and to tight-graze large areas. Myxomatosis is still a problem in most areas, with large numbers of animals being affected in most years on the Suffolk Coast. Even with this level of resources being used on the heathlands, Wood Lark numbers are in decline. Recent mild and wet winters have encouraged luxurious grass growth and livestock/rabbit numbers have been unable to keep it under complete control. Intensive cutting of excess growth has helped to alleviate the problem, but there is no doubt that this has made the heaths less attractive to the species. In recent years, agricultural practices on the Suffolk Coast have intensified, particularly in relation to turf growing, vegetable production and outdoor pigs. The latter activity, in particular, may well be having a detrimental effect on the breeding success of heathland breeding Wood Larks. A recent study by the Suffolk Sandlings Group, funded by English Nature, has shown that these outdoor pig units attract large numbers of the bigger gulls and corvids (particularly Carrion Crows and Jackdaws). Food, in pellet form for the pigs, is spread out in the open across the units, which allows easy access for the birds. This extra and nutritious food source is allowing a very high over-wintering survival rate, particularly for the corvids, leading to a substantial increase in breeding numbers. Large roosts also develop in the vicinity of the units, which, in many recent cases, are adjacent to some of our best acid grassland heaths (eg. Walberswick, Minsmere, Aldringham Walks and North Warren). Large numbers of corvids tend to use the open grassland heaths to forage over 29

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 during the day (eg. 200 throughout May at North Warren ¡n 2004), probably leading to subsequent declines in breeding success for Wood Larks. Conclusions For Wood Larks to continué to thrive on the Suffolk Coast, it is essential that the current level of habitat management is maintained on the heathlands and within the coastal forests. Resources must continué to be made available by the statutory agencies and the landowning/conservation fraternity for habitat management. The Suffolk Wildlife Trust have already decided to scale down their Sandlings Project to concéntrate on their core areas in the south of the county; it is important that those sites affected in the north of the county continué to be well managed by other organisations and voluntary groups. The advent of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act must be closely monitored, as many of our best Wood Lark heaths will be open access areas - acid grassland sites will be particularly vulnerable to increased access, with uncontrolled dogs a particular concern. The launch of Defra's Environmental Stewardship scheme in March 2005 may also encourage landowners on the Sandlings to revert some of their more marginal land to acid grassland, thereby providing more habitat. Wood Lark monitoring on the heaths and within the forests will continué, but it would also be prudent to measure breeding success, if the resources could be made available. References: Wright, M.T. 1990. Census of breeding Wood Larks in Coastal Suffolk 1989. Suffolk Birds 1990: 11-14. Sitters, H.P., R.JÍuller, R.A.Hoblyn, M.T.Wright, N.Cowie and C.G.R.Bowden, 1996. The Wood Lark Lullula arbórea in Britain: population trends, distribution and habitat occupancy. Bird Study 43: 172-187.


Suffolk Bird Report 2004

Great Cormorants on the Orwell Estuary Mick Wright Summary The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) core counts show that Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo numbers on the Orwell Estuary have remained relatively stable over the winter periods from 1984/85, whilst the low water counts show a steady decline. This is over a period when the national population has increased significantly. However, the number of Cormorants now roosting on the Orwell at Loompit Lake is the highest ever recorded and during the winter of 2003/04 reached levels of national importance. Coupled with the numbers now breeding there, this clearly demonstrates the importance of the Orwell Estuary for this species. Introduction This report sets out to show, using all available count data, the changes in Great Cormorant numbers on the Orwell Estuary since 1984 and the importance of the Orwell Estuary for this species. A British site is considered to be nationally important for Great Cormorant if it regularly holds 1% or more of the estimated British population (the NW Europe 1% threshold is 1,200 birds, which would make a site internationally important). The British 1% threshold for this species, in line with an increased population, has recently been raised to 230 (Kershaw & Cranswick 2003). The Orwell estuary is exceptionally diverse and important for waterbird populations. It has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Ramsar site for its importance as a wetland habitat and, with the Stour estuary, a Special Protection Area (SPA). However, more recently it has become apparent that the Orwell is undergoing significant losses and changes to the intertidal habitat and, as a consequence, this appears to be affecting waterbird numbers. According to Wright (2000), for the period 1985 to 2000, the WeBS figures indĂ­cate a decline of 21 % in the number of waders, while wildfowl have increased by 9%. In a more recent research report by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), 11 out of 17 species cited for the Stour and Orwell SPA were declining. Eight of these had declined by more than 25% in the five-year period between 1994/95 and 1999/2000 (Armitage & Rehfisch 2002a). In Suffolk during the last century, Babington (1886) regarded the Cormorant as rare and apparently a single bird was worthy of mention. However, by the 1930s it was said to have increased considerably (Ticehurst 1932). Numbers continued to increase and Payn (1962) stated that, during the winter months, high numbers congregated on the estuaries of the Stour and Orwell, where up to 100 birds had been counted. The county record count involved a feeding flock that totalled 430 birds, off Pakefield on January 31st 2002. Another large gathering totalled 358 at Alton Water in December 1990, the highest count from a freshwater site, when water levels were exceptionally low (Piotrowski 2002). The first birds to over-summer on the Orwell were in Ipswich Docks in 1976. Now, Cormorants are present all year round, with peak numbers occurring either during autumn passage or the winter period. WeBS High and Low Water Counts For the Stour and Orwell SPA, Armitage et al. (2003) documented a decline in Cormorant numbers of 32% over 10 years, thus triggering a MĂŠdium Alert for that period up to the 31

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 winter of 2000/01. This was at a time when the national and régional trends were eonsidered to be stable. The high water counts tabulated below show that, in the 1980s and early 1990s, Cormorant were present in nationally important numbers. During that period, the national population was less and thus the 1% threshold was less - before it was recently updated it was 130. From the mid-1980s to the mid- 1990s, numbers appear to have steadily declined and thereafter recovered; however, the present trend appears to be downward once again (the last two years only). The means in Table 1 and 2 have been calculated over the five winter peaks up to and including that given year, except where stated in Table 2. Table 1. Great Cormorant Winter Peaks and Five Year Average Maxima based on High Water WeBS Counts Year Peak Mean

84/85 188

85/86 130

Year Peak Mean

94/95 96 117

95/96 145 109


86/87 174 -

96/97 90 109

87/88 88/89 172 141 161 j®! 97/98 98/99 114 150 112 119

89/90 155 154

90/91 182 165

91/92 89 148

92/93 101 134

93/94 115 128

99/00 161 132

00/01 127 128

01/02 169 144

02/03 88 139

03/04 110 131

The low water counts tabulated below show that, based on means calculated between the five-year periods 1985/86-1989/90 and 1988/89-1992/93, Cormorants were present in numbers of national importance. In the years that followed to 2002/03, numbers have been steadily declining at a time when numbers nationally have increased. Certainly a more striking decline is shown here than for the high water counts (see graph). Whilst the site has declined a little for roosting birds, it has declined more steeply at low tide, suggesting that the food resource may be affected, or that there may be low tide spécifié disturbance issues, such as bait digging. Table 2. Great Cormorant Winter Peaks and Five Year Average Maxima based on Low Water Counts Year Peak Mean

84/85 225

Year Peak Mean

94/95 99 112

85/86 86/87 87/88 167 M ï -

88/89 188 193*

89/90 126 160*

90/91 151 155*

91/92 128 148*

92/93 71 133


95/96 92 98

98/99 43 90

99/00 90 88

00/01 60 81

01/02 77 82

02/03 55 65

03/04 81 73



96/97 75 84

97/98 139 101


*These means are over 3 or 4 counts The Cormorants recorded during both the high and low water counts include feeding birds found throughout the estuary or loafing, drying and preening birds located on buoys, boats, hards, mud-banks or on the rocks below the Orwell Bridge. Although Cormorants can be found feeding throughout the day, peak feeding occurs during the morning. Additionally, and regardless of the state of tide, some birds will be at their night roosting location or involved in overland movement between estuaries and inland sites. Thus their daily routines appear complex. The high and low water counts show that numbers were similar up until the mid-1990s, thereafter the counts start to diverge, with the numbers during low tide continuing to fall.


Great Cormorants on the Orwell


Night-time Roosts Cormorants first formed a night time roost on the Orwell in 1991 at Loompit Lake. The birds arrive at their roost site towards the end of the daylight hours, with the greatest numbers arriving at dusk and some when the light has completely gone. At dawn, normally before first light, they leave for their feeding areas. Numbers remained relatively low until the winter period of 1997/98, when there was a dramatic increase to a peak of 152 roosting birds. In the winters that followed, roosting numbers steadily increased to a then record peak number for the Orwell of 260, on January 8th 2004. This number was exceeded on December 22nd 2004, when at least 270 were counted (this count is not given in the table below as it relates to the 04/05 winter). The number now roosting at Loompit Lake is the highest ever recorded and during the winter of 2003/04 reached levels of national importance.

Table 3. Winter Peak Counts of roosting Great C o r m o r a n t s on the Orwell Estuary at Loompit Lake Year Peak Mean

94/95 41 -

95/96 30 -

96/97 43 -

97/98 152

98/99 160 85

99/00 166 110

00/01 206 145

01/02 183 173

02/03 225 188

03/04 260 208

Breeding Cormorants used to nest in Suffolk at Fritton, in the north-east of the county. In 1825, however, according to a quote by Ticehurst ( 1932), the colony was "wiped out in a day by a single man's stupidity". After an absence of almost 175 years, a breeding colony was recently founded at Loompit Lake. In 1998, a single pair reared one young to the flying stage. The following year there were 19 pairs and then between 2000 and 2002, the breeding numbers averaged 64 pairs; in 2003 there were approximately 100 pairs and in 2004 there were 74 pairs.


Suffolk Birci Report 2004

Table 4. The Number of Breeding Cormorants at Loompit Lake 1998 1999 2000 1 pair 19 pairs 63 pairs Fledged ly Fledged 33y

2001 2002 64 pairs 66 pairs Fledged 73y

2003 ca. 100 pairs

2004 74 pairs

Ac knowledgements I would like to thank all the fieldworkers who have participated in both the high and low water Wetland Bird Surveys and all those who have sent in breeding and roost count figures. In particular, thanks to Robin Biddle for all the hours spent counting Great Cormorants at Loompit Lake. I would also like to thank Andy Musgrove for reading a draft of this paper and for his constructive comments. References Armitage, M.J.S., Austin, G.E., Ravenscroft, N.O.M. and Rehfisch, M.M. 2003. Towards Determining the Causes of DĂŠclinĂŠs in Waterbird Numbers on the Stour and Orwell Estuaries SPA. BTO Research Report No. 338. Babington, Rev. Dr C. 1846-86. Catalogue ofthe Birds of Suffolk. Kershaw, M. and P.A. Cranswick. 2003. Numbers of Wintering Waterbirds in Great Britain, 1994/1995-1998/1999: I. Wildfowl and selected waterbirds. Biological Conservation 111: 91-104. Piotrowski, S. 2003. The Birds of Suffolk. Christopher Helm, London. Ticehurst, C.B. 1932. A History of the Birds of Suffolk. Gurney and Jackson. London. Wright, M.T. 2000. Orwell Estuary, Systematic Review of Waterbirds. English Nature Research Report No. 381.


Suffolk Birci Report


The Return of Nesting Bearded Tits to the West Suffolk Fens Norman


Summary The last reported breeding of Bearded Tits Panurus biarmicus in the west Suffolk Fens was on the River Lark in 1900. Nesting did not occur again until 2004, when three pairs (possibly four) bred and reared young in the developing reedbeds of Lakenheath Fen reserve. Düring the following winter a population of 10-20 Bearded Tits was resident on the reserve. A brief history Almost ali of Suffolk's breeding Bearded Tit population is concentrated at sites bordering the east coast. Historical changes are well documented, the last estimate being of over 150 pairs in 2003 (Wright 2004). Further west, at Redgrave Fen, six or seven pairs "were seen" in 1931 (Payn 1978), birds may have bred between 1988 and 1991 (Gibbons et al. 1993) and up to two pairs were present in spring in 2001 and 2002 (Andrew Excell, pers comm ). Confirmed breeding was reported at a site several miles south of Thetford between 1968 and 1972 (Sharrock 1976) but not in the subsequent survey between 1988 and 1991 (Gibbons et al. 1993). Still further west, breeding was recorded in the Suffolk Fens between 1879 and 1883 (at Mildenhall Fen) and up to 1900 on the River Lark (Piotrowski 2003). No breeding has been reported in these west Suffolk Fens since then. The next nearest regulär breeding population is at Wicken Fen NNR, in Cambridgeshire, where up to five pairs have bred since the early 1980s (Friday 1997). The Lakenheath Fen reedbed création project Between 1995 and 1997 the RSPB purchased 300 hectares of mainly arable land, immediately south of the Little Ouse river, with the sole purpose of creating a wetland reserve dominated by reedbeds. Between 1996 and 2002 major land-forming work took place, followed by the introduction of water and the planting of over 300,000 reed seedlings. Presently there are over 50 kilométrés of reed-fringes (varying in width from five to 20 métrés), a few hectares of reedbeds, plus open water in the form of meres and Channels.

Occurrence of Bearded Tits at Lakenheath Fen between 1997 and March 2004 In 1997 three or four birds were seen in January, in an old eight hectare reedbed in Botany Bay (part of the river washland) at the western end of the reserve. Reeds have been present there since the 1960s, so small numbers may have occurred - and may stili occur - occasionally in winter, unnoticed. Breeding has never been recorded, possibly due to the absence of permanent open water and risk of periodic deep flooding (over a metre ) at any time of year. From January 1997 to September 1999, no Bearded Tits were seen, either in Botany Bay s reedbed or in the newly-planted reed-fringes on the ex-arable land. From mid to late October 1999, three to five birds occurred in reed-fringes, which had been planted in 1996, but ìt was noticed that these birds moved very quickly between the reed-fringed Channels, called very infrequently and were not seen feeding in the reed panicles. It is likely that they were en route to a better wintering habitat. None was seen again until two occurred in November 2001 and another two in February 2002. 35

Suffolk Birci Report


Winter 2002/03 was the first occasion when birds stayed throughout the winter. Betweer two and eight birds occurred between late October 2002 and mid-February 2003, in a 0.35 hectare area of reeds, which had resulted from existing reeds (bordering a field drain) spreading quickly after water-introduction in 1998. Over-wintering occurred again from mid-October 2003, but this time the birds stayed to breed. From October 2003 to February 2004 inclusive, a total of approximately six to eight birds occurred in seven localities within the ex-arable reed-fringes. By March 3rd there was a pair in each of four of these localities and at the month-end three of these still had birds present. Breeding in 2004 Düring April and May birds were present in or near the same localities. The first fledged juvenile was seen on May 20th; a group of three juveniles occurred in another area, 1300 métrés away, on May 29th, and in early June birds were taking food into nests at two other places. Taking other détails into account, it seems that three or four pairs bred, one pair may have failed to rear young and two pairs probably reared more than one brood. One nest was located and visited soon after the young had left in early June. It was in the centre of a three-metre wide reed-fringe (emanating from reeds growing on the bank of an existing drainage Channel), i.e. open water 1.5 métrés away on one side and rank grass on d a m p ground 1.5 métrés away on the other side. The water depth at the time of laying was several centimètres. The nest was about 10 cms above the ground in the base of a dense d u m p of reeds, but within 50 cms of the nest /nlCk there was open mud between the adjacent clumps of reeds. There was very little "litter layer" on the ground, which agrees Bearded Tit Mark Cornish with findings at Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk, where an eight year study showed that the peak nest-density occurred two years after reed-cutting, when the litter layer was very sparse (2.8 kg/m 2 ), Sills in prep. At a différent locality, birds were seen taking food into and removing faecal sacs from a nest. Although the nest was not found during a search after the young had disperseci, the végétation in the immediate area was noted. The nest site was approximately six métrés from a wide, open Channel, the reed (which had emanated from seedlings planted in 1998) was tali and dense, adjacent reed was in isolated clumps on open mud, a few remnant clumps of Juncus occurred within a few metres and there was a 60 m 2 patch of Glyceria maxima a little further away. Water-level and ground-level data showed that the nest must have been built above a 30 cm depth of water. 36 _ J

The Return of Nesting Bearded Tits to the West Suffolk


Therefore, based on the first two nest-sites found in this new reedbed, it seems that Bearded Tits do not necessarily require unbroken tracts of monoculture reed in which to nest, but are able to utilise reeds in areas containing open mud, other species of Vegetation and with open water/non-reed habitat close by. Subsequent wintering population Between October and December 2004, between ten and 20 Bearded Tits occurred in reed areas on the ex-arable land. The majority ranged widely over an area of approximately ten hectares of reeds - much of it in blocks - which emanated from seedlings planted in summer 1998 and the remainder were more or less resident in reed fringes elsewhere on the reserve, which were planted in 1999 and 2000. It remains to be seen whether these birds form a breeding population in 2005. References Friday, L.E. 1997. Wicken Fen: the Making of a Wetland Nature Reserve. Harley Books, Colchester. Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993. The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1988-1991. British Trust for Ornithology, Scottish Ornithologists' Club and Irish Wildbird Conservancy. Poyser, London. Payn, W. H. 1978. The Birds of Suffolk 2nd Edition. Ancient House Press, Ipswich. Piotrowski, S.H. 2003. The Birds of Suffolk. Christopher Helm, London. Sharrock, J.T.R. 1976. The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. British Trust for Ornithology. Poyser, Berkhamstead. Wright, M. (Ed). 2004. The 2003 Suffolk Bird Report, Suffolk Birds 53: 138.


Suffolk Birci Report 2004

The 2004 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 Shag Raptors Oystercatcher to Ruff Snipes to phalaropes Skuas to gulls

Tom Bamber Malcolm Wright John Davies Adam Gretton Chris Gregory John Grant Philip Murphy James Brown

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

Will Brame Nathaniel Cant 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 inciuded 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 3 Ist 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 2004, which fall into Catégories A and C. Where a species is inciuded 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 2004 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 English names follow the same list. 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 166 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 counts. Using such co-ordinated data instead of maximum counts gives a better idea of the 38



populations of each species wintering in the county on a given date. However, fluctuations in numbers due to changing weather patterns will affect totals and higher counts are given in the text after the table where appropriate. Counts from North Warren include Thorpeness Meare, Church Farm Marshes and the shoreline between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh; the Aide/Ore Estuary includes the complex of the Aide, Ore and Butley rivers as well as Orfordness, Gedgrave reservoir and Havergate Island; and the Orwell includes Trimley Marshes, Loompit Lake and Bourne Park Water Meadows. Counts from the Stour all refer solely to the Suffolk side of the estuary. The larger part of the report, particularly for the more common species, is based upon ad hoc records. Data of that type are influenced by the distribution of birdwatchers, the weather and other factors that result in imperfections. We are nonetheless indebted to those observers who have persevered with other studies, such as Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), Constant Effort Sites (CES) and transect counts and for making the results available for use. A summary of the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is given for all those species for which meaningful data are available. See A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk' elsewhere in this Report for information on submission of records. The following dĂŠfinitions are intended as a guide to the relative status of each species: Very common: Occurs in large numbers in suitable habitat and season. Common: Occurs regularly or widely distributed in suitable habitat. Fairly common: Occurs in small numbers in suitable habitat and season. Uncommon: Occurs annually in small numbers. Scarce: One or two records each year or restricted to specific habitats. Rare: Occurs less than annually. Very rare: Less than 15 records in past 30 years. Accidentai: Less than three records in past 30 years. Included in the status description is a note if the species is included in either the Red or the Amber List of 'Birds of Conservation Concern '. This is a paper jointly produced by the leading bird conservation organisations in the UK. See Suffolk Bird Report Vol.47:6-10 for further dĂŠtails. The following abbreviations are used in ad. = adult imm. = immature juv. = juvenile FMD = Foot & Mouth Disease N = bird(s) Aying north s = bird(s) Aying south WM = Water Meadow CP = Country Park SW = Sewage Works

systematic list: GP GC Ind. Est. = NNR = R res. = WP WR


gravel pit Golf Course industriai estate National Nature Reserve River reservoir Water Park Wildfowl Reserve

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor Common resident. Categories A and C. Amber List. Wright (2002) showed a 20% population increase since 1990. There is evidence that this highly visible and well-recognised species continues to flourish, though it is not entirely clear as to what extent. The 42 pairs that were recorded as nesting across the county must surely be an underestimate of the actual number involved. The Breeding Birds Survey (BBS) recorded Mute Swans in 12% of the 41 squares surveyed (5% in 1995, 16% in 2000), with a combined total of 46 birds. Success varied, with only one young surviving on Orfordness from three nests and only two young from five nests at Alton Water. However, at Lackford Lakes three pairs raised at least ten young, with 11 cygnets being seen on July 13th. Sadly, at Loompit Lake the pen was reported to have died on the nest. Piotrowski (2003) discussed interchange between the Dutch polders and Suffolk, using Dutch and Danish-ringed birds to support his argument. Although there are no reports of similar activity in 2004, three Mute Swans were seen flying south at Landguard Bird Observatory, May 21st. Other notable concenPeak monthly counts from selected sites: trations were: Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec Beccles: 38, Mar.29th. Minsmere 16 10 18 11 Ipswich Docks: 91, Dec. North Warren 42 29 19 26 80 82 72 60 12th. Aide/Ore Estuary 84 126 106 74 94 105 Sudbury Common: 95, Deben Estuary 115 135 177 131 204 225 January. Orwell Estuary 74 64 63 83 85 56 Summering non-breedStour Estuary 6 6 8 21 10 9 4 1 ing flocks were at North Lackford Lakes 11 5 9 16 37 10 14 15 Warren, Stutton Mill, and Lakenheath Fen 66 100 22 Lakenheath Washes. TUNDRA (BEWICK'S) SWAN Cygnus columbianus bewickii Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. In the first winter period at coastal locations a few birds lingered into March, but mainly they had gone by mid-January. At Minsmere, 19 birds from 2003 stayed only until January 5th, after which no more were reported there until the autumn. However, at North Warren five were present, January 9th, three, February 1 st and one, March 6th. A party of 35 headed north-east off Kessingland, February 18th. Southwold Town Marshes and the adjacent Reydon Marshes also held parties of Tundra Swans. A party of nine, February 29th, included a "blue neck-collared bird", seven were present, March 6th and of the 16 below St Felix School on March 13 th, three were "colourmarked birds." This was the last sighting of the first winter period across the county. It is highly likely that these distinctive birds were on return passage from further west and had not wintered in the east of the county. Other occurrences in the same period were: Westleton: four, Jan 4th. Orfordness: flying south with a Whooper Swan, Jan 18th. Boyton: three adults and two juveniles, Jan. 24th. Shingle Street: Jan. 1st Deben Estuary: three on several occasions between Jan. 18th and Feb. 2nd; two, Feb 7th and Feb. 15 t h .

Trimley Marshes: two, Jan 4th. Santon Downham: 16, Jan. 2nd. Lakenheath: five, Mar. 2nd and six, Mar 4th. The first to return were three which arrived at Minsmere, October 15th. By 22nd, 40



numbers there had increased to 14, which remained until October 30th. The main influx carne on November 24th, when five flew west over Oulton Broad, 89 flew west over 4 Minsmere and 23 flew west over Westleton Village. Other occurrences in the second winter period were: Dingle Marshcs: 16 heading north, Nov. 14th. Minsmere: 16 throughout December. North Warren: two, Dec. 28th. Orfordness: on the lagoon, Nov. 12th; two, Dec 28th. Barnhamcross Common: six, Nov. 9th. Cavenham Heath: three, Dec. 12th. Lakenheath: Sedge Fen, six, Dec 18th. WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus Uncommon winter visitor. Amber List. Categories A and E. This was an excellent year for the species. There were several sizeable flocks although, as usual, many sightings involved birds in flight. The two at Minsmere from January 1 st to 7th and again on January 18th, were probably birds that carried over from 2003. All records received are given below: Lowestoft, Gorleston and Lound: 12, Nov.l4th. Kessingland: Dec.21st. Benacre Broad: 13, Nov.óth. Dunwich: Shore Pools, two, Dec.l2th to end of year. Minsmere: two, Jan.lst to 7th and Jan. 18th; two, Feb. 22nd; two, Mar. 6th; two, Dec.6th and 27th. Orfordness: south, Jan. 18th; adult and juvenile on the airfield, Nov. 13th. Havergate Island: three, Oct.26th. Levington Creek: 30, Dec.l9th. Landguard Point: four, Jan. 28th. Stour Estuary: six, Nov.l4th. Beceles: 20 flew over, Nov.8th. Barnham: four, Nov. 1 st. Boxford: 50 flying north-east, Mar.6th. Bury St Edmunds: eight north-east, Nov.5th. Lakenheath: Fen, four, Jan.5th; 19, Mar.2nd. Sedge Fen, 41, Dec.28th. Elveden: Weather Heath, 25 south, Nov.7th. Immigrant flocks were particularly prominent, with a flock seen by different observers over Lowestoft, Gorleston and Lound, November 14th. Other incidents of birds in off the sea were at Kessingland and Benacre Broad. The arrival of four in over the sea at Landguard Point on January 28th, which then turned north up the coast, is particularly interesting. Two fortúnate observers saw a party of 30 Whooper Swans at Levington Creek heading towards Ipswich on December 19th, "V-formation, long-necked and big-headed appearance and looked tail-heavy in flight - too high to hear calis". BEAN GOOSE Anserfabalis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. In the first winter period the small numbers of birds that were present in the coastal región may possibly have ranged over a wide area; 2003 had been disappointing for this species and few birds had lingered to the end of the year. However, early December 2004 brought a fine showing of these splendid visitors, which gathered momentum throughout the month. To the delight of west Suffolk birders, two or three small flocks gave excellent views as they fed, characteristically, on arable land. On the coast, numbers built up well at North Warren, their traditional site and a memorable flock was present in the Shingle Street area in the middle of the month. 41

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 The west Suffolk birds were truly wild and exceptionally vigilant, taking off for distant fields away from roads if disturbed. A typically small flock of seven was first discovered at Lackford feeding on arable land, but numbers in the area peaked at 14 three days later. At Flempton, they were seen several times in the company of White-fronted Geese, yet they maintained a respectful distance from feral Greylag and Canada Geese that were feeding in the same field. Tundra Bean Geese continue to be the predominant Bean Goose subspecies in Suffolk and no valid records of wild Taiga Bean Geese were received. Up to 14 escaped birds were reported at Flixton G.P. from June 30th to October. All records are given below: South Cove: five, Dec. 18th. Southwold: two, Dec.25th. Minsmere: two, Jan.4th. Leiston: seven, Jan. 14th to 20th. Aldringham Common: seven, Jan. 16th to 22nd. North Warren: three, Jan.3rd; 11, Dec.3rd; Dec.4th; 24, Dec.5th; 20, Dec. 14th; 41, Dec. 18th; 53, Dec.26th; 47, Dec.29th. Thorpeness: eight in off the sea headed south-west, Dec. 2nd. Saxmundham: 17 feeding in a winter wheat field, Dec.5th. Oxley Marshes: 80, Dec. 19th. Hollesley: 80+, Dec.20th. The same flock as at Oxley Marshes. Shingle Street: 55 (plus a probable 14 which flew over), Dec. 10th. Bawdsey: East Lane, three, Dec.4th. Waldringfield: south, Feb. 2nd; eight, Dec.24th. Trimley Marshes: two, Dec.4th. Alton Water: Jan. 25th; Feb.22nd. Lackford: seven feeding by the Lackford to Cavenham road Dec.4th and 5th; Flempton: 12, Dec.6th; 14, Dec.7th; 13, Dec.8th to 10th. PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. An unusually large number of Pink-footed Geese in the Belton and Corton area in midNovember was one of the highlights of the birding year. The flock of 2200 birds that was found in fields at Belton on November 15th and 16th had increased in size to 2500, when observed feeding on stubbles at Corton on 19th. The Belton birds had joined the 450 that had been feeding on stubbles at MoD Corton on November 16th. Piotrowski (2003), considered it to be " the rarest of the grey geese regularly visiting Suffolk" and quoted Allard (1990), that "the population peaked (in the Lowestoft area) at ca.3000 between 1943 and 1946". Payn (1978), described it as "variable in numbers and irregular in its visits", but 80 at Lackford in 1969 is the largest flock he mentioned. In this context the significance of the Belton and Corton flocks can be more fully appreciated. The wintering population of Pink-feet in the Breydon/Berney/Halvergate/Lower Bures area of east Norfolk has increased in recent years and reached as many as 7100 in February 2003. This is the most likely source of the Belton/Corton flock. Maintaining a reputation for earlyautumn arrival were good-sized flocks at Thorpeness, Kessingland, Minsmere and Ness Point in late September. In the west of the county this goose is extremely scarce, although two or three feral birds are regularly recorded at Livermere Lake, Lackford Lakes and Mickle Mere between September and April. It is not known where these birds spend the summer months. However, two at Livermere Lake on January 25th were considered to be wild by their observers. 42



Other records are listed below: Lowestoft: Ness Point, 36 in off the sea, Sep.24th. Lound: 47 south, Jan. 18th. Kessingland: 28 north offshore, Sep.25th; five, Oct. 15th. Outney Common: five, Apr.l Ith; May 31st; Jul. 11th. Flixton G.P: Oct. 1st. Weybread G.P: two, Dec. 30th. Covehithe Broad: two, Apr. 16th Southwold: Town Marshes, two, Jan.llth; 16, Jan.l5th to Feb.รณth; 37, Feb.22nd; 42, Feb.24th; 34, Feb.26th. Minsmere: four, Jan.2nd; 16, Jan.l4th; two, Apr.l6th; 12, Sep.22nd; 26, Sep.25th; six, Oct.8th; two, Oct. 11th; Nov.29th. Leiston: 14, Jan.2nd; 16, Jan. 14th. Thorpeness: 26 north offshore, Sep.28th. North Warren: 11, Jan.2nd; five, Jan.3rd; 35, Feb.8th; Feb.l6th; four, Nov.20th; one regularly throughout December; 33, Dec. 12th; 21 (including 20 that arrived from the north), Dec.26th. Orfordness: north with Greylag Geese, Oct.21st. Hollesley: two adults, Dec.20th. Shingle Street: seven, Dec. 10th; 110 north then south, Dec.30th. Trimley Marshes: Apr.23rd. Loompit Lake: Apr.24th (same as at Trimley Marshes). Brantham: 20 east, Oct. 16th; 20 feeding, Oct.24th; heard calling after dark, Oct.28th. GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser


Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. This goose remains the commonest-visiting grey goose and low-lying coastal marshes remain its preferred habitat. Flock sizes were good on the whole and reflect the pattern that has evolved since the wintering population in the county crashed in the 1960s. Its favoured haunts are the traditional sites of Minsmere and North Warren and there is interchange between them. Peak monthly counts at the three principal locations: Jan Feb Mar Oct Nov Dec The latest birds to linger 0 3 149 175 60 2 were five at Landguard Mimmere 175 12 190 145 140 2 Point, March 26th and one North Warren 30 53 33 flying south there, October Southwold Town Marshes 15th,party was the first to return. The at Flempton in December was considered to contain seven adults and a juvenile by one observer. Two other occurrences in west Suffolk, of single birds, at Cavenham Heath, April 24th and at Lackford Lakes, October 3rd to 7th, probably involved escaped birds; however, the origin of one at Livermere Lake, December 6th, is more open to speculation. Other occurrences were: Walberswick: Tinker's Marshes, 50, Feb. 17th. Aide/Ore Estuary: 54, Jan.25th; 15, Nov.l4th; 15, Dec. 12th. Orfordness: north, Oct.26th. Havergate Island: six, Nov.30th. Boyton: three, Jan. 10th; three, Jan.24th. Hollesley: first-winter bird, Dec.20th. Bawdsey: East Lane, two north-east, Nov.29th. Deben Estuary: two, Oct.l7th. Trimley Marshes: two, Jan.4th. Bucklesham: six, Dec.8th. Stowmarket: north-west, Jan.21st. Flempton: eight, Dec.6th to 10th. 43

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 G R E Y L A G G O O S E Anser anser Common resident from feral stock. Amber List. Categories A, C and E. Estimates of the population of wintering birds of this species across the county have increased from 650-800 in 1991-1992 to 2500 in 2002 and possibly more in 2003. It is quite likely that the population is continuing to increase. Interchange between sites certainly exists and this makes establishing the exact total tricky. Nor is it clear as to the extent to which Greylag Geese roam away from their wintering grounds. For example, local movement in large numbers is common enough between Livermere Lake, Mickle Mere and Lackford Lakes, especially when birds are disturbed from Livermere Lake by shooting, but it seems that Greylag Geese are not as mobile and far-reaching as Canada Geese. However, a post-breeding and post-moult flock at Livermere Lake of 1017 on August 19th probably involved most of the West Suffolk birds and this is a record total for the west of the county. The county record total is 1150 at Loompit Lake, January 19th 2000. The BBS found Peak monthly counts at selected sites: Greylag Geese on Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec 17% of the 41 ; - 236 318 " . - .. , .Benacre Broad squares surveyed i Minsmere 100 75 .96 (3% in 1995, 11% in North Warren 60 225 100 27 220 295 121 246 with a 27 - n p a 2000), Havergate Island 2 20 264 combined total of 35 Orl'ordness 136 2 2 19 2 127 304 61 — Aide/Ore Estuary 40 200 131 257 351 350 birds. There were Deben Estuary 87 20 6 345 0 285 63 breeding records 374 394 Orwell Estuary 177 326 382 475 involving 337 gosStour Estuary 36 23 101 46 1 14 31 43 lings, but this is Trimley Marshes 300 j «Ì 635 258 612 457 clearly an underAlton Water 310 430 69 145 221 120 228 estimate, as large Livermere Lake 775 336 357 133 653 885 600 370 areas of the county _ - 672 J ' i s - i 704 500 are Lackford Lakes 619 218 unrecorded. Mickle Merc 500 116 110 85 277 232 550 500 Greylag Geese conNunnery Lakes 250 118 56 20 64 224 96 329 tinue to prosper at the expense of other species; they are adaptable and will build a nest in places that other feral geese would not use. Small parties of wild Greylags have occurred in the county from time to time and have been identified by neck-collars and rings that were placed on them abroad. There were no instances of this in 2004, but three in over the sea at Landguard Point, November 4th, are of obvious interest, as were two other flocks there, of 26 south, December 3rd and 33 south on the following day. CANADA G O O S E Branta canadensis Common resident. Categories A, C and E. The Canada Goose remains widespread and numerous but there seems to be little doubt that it is continuing to decline as a breeding bird. The 28 broods that were reported in 2004 are surely an underestimate of the real situation but, nevertheless, loss of nest sites and control measures are taking their toll on numbers. In 1989 it was estimated that the county population was ca.5000 and while it remains difficult to assess the total population accurately, it seems probable that the population has peaked. The BBS found Canada Geese in 20% of the 41 squares surveyed (11% in 1995, 26% in 2000), with a combined total of 202 birds. The large wintering flocks of the 1980s in west Suffolk are no more, although 44



high counts can st.ll be obtained at coastal sites. There is interchange, however, and the Canada Goose is no longer always faithful to traditional sites. The mobility of Peak monthly counts at selected sites: this species is shown Oct Nov Dec Sep Apr Feb Mar Jan by comparing peak Minsmere 31 22 46 t\-, ~ i -• S- # 330 333 100 100 numbers of birds North Warren 44 26 7S 38 676 598 1256 341 601 896 present at the main Aide/Ore Estuary 37 227 153 95 6 6 124 107 breeding sites in Orfordness 78 115 416 46 93 46 west Suffolk during Havcrgate Island 58 93 540 141 58 161 160 May and those Dehen Estuary 403 274 61 152 ••' 250 74 moulting there in Orwell Estuary 906 337 54 161 113 317 250 649 Stour Estuary late June and early 163 220 600 Trimley Marshes July (see below). It 8 ;'-'. 2 7 "Ü 1 1 Alton Water can be seen that Livermere Lake 46 2 270 37 14 7 8 126 the resident west Lackford Lakes 144 113 204 256 169 135 146 107 87 Suffolk population Micklc Mere 17 51 190 29 47 42 156 299 400 244 108 increases dramati- Nunnery Lakes 118 47 183 78 cally with the arrival , , there of non-breeding birds from other parts of East Anglia and possibly beyond. These figures include goslings from the resident breeders. The Livermere total for May includes a flock of 76 non-breeding birds that turned up on May 30th and stayed for only a few days. Finally, a bird present at Lackford Lakes on December 4th was considered by its observer to be an escaped bird that belonged to one of the dark-breasted races.

Redgrave Lake Nunnerv Lakes Livermere Lake Lackford Totals

May 54 127 93 61 335

June/July 283 288 53 413 1037

BARNACLE G O O S E Branta teucopsis Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant; increasingly common feral resident. Amber List. Categories A and E. This species continues to both increase in numbers and to pose problems in <establishing a true picture of status and distribution at different seasons of the year. A flock of at Southwold on January 30th is a county-record total and represents a three-fold increase in peak flock size since 1999, when "300 going to roost at Benacre, August 30th, is the largest ever recorded in Suffolk." (Piotrowski 2003). The source f the influx into the Southwold area at the end of January is not clear and remains open to speculation. The resident feral birds are increasing in number, although in most years there are few breeding records. Likely sources of winter immigrants are the well-established feral population in The Netherlands and genuine wild birds from the tar north. In 2004, there was no direct evidence to support either Peak monthly counts at selected sites; Jan Feb Mar Sep Oct Nov Dec theory; no neck-ringed or ringed 66 130 •r Benacre Broad birds were reported and there 650 510 920 635 Southwold were no reports of birds 91 97 143 90 180 386 Minsmere in numbers arriving in over the North Warren 1 V'" 50 60 15 sea. There were three instances , .of birds moving south at Orfordness, with three, January 10th, four, May 15th and 15, October 31st. At Landguard Bird Observatory seven flew south, October 9th and 15 tlew 45

Suffolk Birci Report


south, October 28th. Other occurrences of interest involved 23 south offshore at Thorpeness, January 5th and one south offshore with Brent Geese, also at Thorpeness, Octobei 28th. Birds in moulting flocks were found in the summer at The Otter Trust, near Bungay (291), Sibton Park (120) and Sotterley Park (70). The feral population thus currently totals at least 481 and is probably even higher. This total included 70 goslings. Post-moult gatherings continued to occur at Benacre Broad (240) and Covehithe Broad (60) in August. Inland, feral birds occurred in small numbers at Weybread Pits, Gifford's Park, Little Cornard, Nunnery Lakes, West Stow Country Park and Mickle Mere. ( D A R K - B E L L I E D ) B R E N T G O O S E Bran ta bermela bermela Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. This was a typical year for the species, with good numbers concentrated in their traditional sites on river estuaries. Apart from those in the table, other significant counts during the first winter period occurred at: Thorpe Bay. 2000, Jan.26th. Loompit Lake, 600, Jan.3rd. Trimley Lower Street: 1000, Jan. 17th. Shotley Marshes: 1500, Feb.4th; 1305, Feb. 13th. Spring passage was rather quiet, with only a few records of small flocks being received Landguard Bird Observatory noted the last spring movement on May 28th and single birds flew south there on June 20th and 26th. Single, unseasonable birds were noted at Havergate Island, June 15th, Stutton Mill, throughout July and August and Minsmere, south offshore August 15th. A major passage Peak monthly counts at selected localities: took place on Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec October 28th, when Aldc/Ore Estuary 191 290 72 44 ' 7 95 3423 flew south off Deben Estuary 1295 1312 44 13 418 667 Kessingland, 12530 Orwell Estuary 149 313 305 508 177 400 Stour Estuary 513 729 1137 554 0 114 780 237 flew south offshore at Thorpeness, 5000. Trimley Marshes 1300 300 700 25 presumably some of the same birds, passed south off Dunwich on the same day, 3063 flew south off Orfordness between 11.00 and 12.00 and 9208 passed Landguard Point. A grand total of 16486 was recorded at Landguard Bird Observatory during October. A flock of 166 at Shotley Marshes, November 5th contained 77 juveniles (46%), and a flock of 80 at Loompit Lake, November 3rd contained 27 juveniles (34%), suggesting that 2004 was a very good breeding year for this species. There were no records from the west of the county. ( P A L E - B E L L I E D ) B R E N T G O O S E Hranta bermela hrota Uncommon winter visitor. Kessingland: four north offshore Sep.23rd had been seen earlier that day flying north off Covehithe. Thorpeness: south offshore, Jan. 3rd. Havergate Island: Jun.l4th and 15th. 2004 proved to be a quiet year for this sub-species. The June record is unusual. BLACK B R A N T Branta bermela nigricans Very rare visitor. Kirton/Levington/Trimley/Shotley: two with flocks of Brent Geese were mobile in this area, Jan. 1st 46



to 17th, with a single Feb.9th to 28th and also Mar.Oth (W.J.Brame, P.& J.Kennerley, J.Zantboer et al). Falkenham: a third, différent, bird, Jan.óth (J.Zantboer). These three maintain the recent run of wintering birds. RED-BREASTED G O O S E Branta ruficollis Very rare visitor. Southwold: first-winter, flying south with Brent Geese, Nov.2nd (B.J.Small). This is considered to have been a wild bird and has been accepted by the BBRC. EGYPTIAN G O O S E Alopochen aegyptiaca Locally fairly common resident. Catégories C and E. Essentially a bird of parkland with lakes and with a preference for mature oaks for nesting, the Egyptian Goose is also content to exploit gravel workings and riverside habitats for breeding purposes. The populations are quite static and as a rule they do not wander far. There were 15 breeding records in 2004, at Flixton, Oulton Broad, Redgrave and Lopham Fen, Weybread GP, Livermere Lake, Ixworth Thorpe, Mickle Mere, Lackford Lakes and Nunnery Lakes. At least 20 young fledged. Some of the earlier broods perished because of the effects of heavy rain. The largest gatherings were 42 at Nunnery Lakes in June, 41 at Livermere Lake in mid-August, 25 at Blundeston, April 20th, and 22 at Mickle Mere, September 25th. Egyptian Geese are not common on Suffolk's river estuaries, but a resident population of up to ten birds in the Dedham area sometimes visits the River Stour upstream. One at Landguard on May 6th is the first record for the site. At Orfordness, three flew north, May 15th and one flew south, October 3rd. COMMON SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna Locally common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The Breeding Birds Survey (BBS) found Monthly counts from the key sites: this species in 30% Oct Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep of the 41 squares Blyth Estuary 515 576 233 ¡5® 368 776 895 897 surveyed (16% in Alde/Ore Estuary 285 784 802 623 1995, 24% in 2000), Dehen Estuary i | | g ! 111 w 406 422 761 ' t h a combined Orwell Estuary 159 273 306 581 548 865 total of 113 birds. Stour Estuary 111 Trimley Marshes* 208 107 123 29 65 Orfordness was 19 88 186 Livermere Lake* 88 167 7 again the premier Lackford Lakes* 7 23 3 0 5 6 breeding site with 27 *monthly maxima broods producing

Nov M 637 326 223 333 223 67 13

Dec 476 962 528 377 686 386 72 15

- 2 2 young. Unfortunately one brood died on the reserve as, at ground level, there was no way out of the building in which the female had nested. Elsewhere on the coast, there were P a i r s at the Blyth Estuary/Walberswick NNR, two pairs on Dunwich Heath, eight pairs at Minsmere and up to 22 birds prospecting at Landguard. There were 19 juveniles at frimley Marshes, July 9th. Inland breeding was confirmed at Flixton GP (pair with eight young), Weybread GP (pair with two young), Gifford's Park (pair with nine young), Mickle Mere (two broods in u "e), Livermere Lake (minimum of seven broods, at least 46 young fledged) and Dales ond, West Stow (female with eight ducklings seen crossing the road).


Suffolk Birci Report


On January Ist, 210 flew south off Kessingland and 305 south off Thorpeness and the January total south off Before 1980, Common Shelducks nested abundantly in some Thorpeness was 471. The of the woods on Walberswick NNR and scores of duckiings only other coastal passage appeared each summer on the Blyth Estuary. The population count during the year to has since been decimated by fox prédation and remaining reach three figures was numbers appear to have declined further since 1999. 153 south off Thorpeness, David Pearson July lOth. Off Landguard the largest movement was 79 south, October lOth. FIELD N O T E

M A N D A R I N D U C K Aix


Uncommon visitor. Categories C and E. At least some of the records may refer to introduced birds or escapees. Melton: pair, May 2nd. Ipswich: Christchurch Park, spring maximum of 12 males and five females, Feb.7th; pair with a juvenile. May 15th; five females, Aug.29th. New Cemetery, five in flight, Mar.24th. Two in flight over Ipswich, Mar. 16th. EURASIAN W I G E O N Anas penelope Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. Amber list. Categories A and E. The monthly WeBS counts are usually carried out at high water. However, on the River Orwell, additional low-water counts have recently been carried out in each of the four midwinter months and these are given in the table for comparison. Interestingly, the low-water counts are substantially higher in each of the four months. Apart from the Monthly counts fromthe key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec table, other counts of 2427 -Blyth Estuary 875 211 .' ^ ~ 580 note included 187 at Minsmere* 1128 1000 298 42 109 389 350 389 Benacre Broad, North Warren* 3600 1360 3150 700 2040 3190 November 10th, 730 970 60 1 :§ 2452 4440 5327 Alde/Ore Estuary 6380 5433 2730 at Gifford's Park, Deben Estuary 1310 670 516 870 847 1054 February 1st (a site -s Orwell Est. High W. 1422 1441 509 665 430 828 record) and 284 at : Orwell Est. Lo» W. 1463 2334 998 1920 Ixworth Thorpe dur524 1100 1000 Trimley Marshes* 14 284 306 1920 25 ing March. Alton Water 105 131 1 .r ï 48 159 Stour Estuary Micklc Mere* Livermerc Lake* Lakenheath Fen* •monthly maxima

1120 233 159 178

1621 70 85 863

867 : 7 107 228

1 7 16

101 40 0 -

656 186 22 -

339 167 30

803 111 35 84

Sightings indicated that an overall total of up to 15 birds over-summered at three coastal and two

inland locations, but there was no reported suspicion of nesting. The highest offshore passage counts came from; Kessingland: 422, Jan.Ist (see Common Shelduck). Thorpeness: 750, Jan. 1st; 1732 south during October, with a maximum of 995 on 28th. Landguard: 3255 south during October, with a maximum of 896 on 2nd. A M E R I C A N W I G E O N Anas americana Very rare visitor. The 16th county record and probably the same bird as that which occurred at Cattawade in the springs of 2002 and 2003. Brantham: Cattawade, adult male, Feb.löth to Mar.l5th (many observers). 48

ÂŤ Bean Geese: between Lackford and Cavenham, December.

Green-winged Teal: from the West Hide at Minsmere, early March.

Alan Tate

Lee Gregory


7. Glossy Ibis: seen at Minsmere and Breydon Water.

Reg Woodai



GADWALL Anas streperà Common resident and winter visitor. Amber list. Catégories A and C. Totals have increased dramatically on the Aide/Ore Estuary in recent years - the figure of 352 in December is Monthly countsfromthe key sites: a record for this Dee Oct Nov Sep Jan Feb Mar Apr 224 extensive site. Other Minsmere* 100 306 91 62 182 100 127 30 22 counts to exceed 50 North Warren4 104 61 63 352 178 54 10 293 226 43 were 120 at Cove- Aide/Ore Estuary 204 23 65 25 20 17 21 76 hithe Broad, August Trimley Marshes* 202 113 ;25 10 29 8th, 145 on Orford- Orwell Est. High W. 81 204 90 •• 73 158 Orwell Est. Low W. ness in March, 243 182 52 4 6 6 29 17 on Havergate Island, Alton Water 49 78 189 55 Lackford Lakes* November 26th, 114 44 142 48 167 78 •• - y 29 Mickle Mere* at Thorington Street *monthly maxima reservoir, December 26th and 130 present at Lakenheath Fen throughout November/December. Confirmed breeding reports were rather meagre: just 13 broods of ducklings at two coastal and four inland sites surely understates the true position. However, on the coast ca.21 pairs were reported from the Walberswick NNR/Dingle Marshes/Hen Reedbeds complex and a "potential" 19 pairs from Minsmere. Typically coastal passage was very light. Thorpeness recorded 17 south offshore, October 28th and Landguard logged just eight south between August 2Ist and November 4th.


EURASIAN T E A L Anas crecca Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. Amber list. In the table note the high water and low water counts on the Orwell Estuary and that in each case the low water counts are substantially higher. Other notable counts included 500 at Hazelwood Marshes, January 6th, 100 at Staverton Lake, December 7th, 170 at Gifford's Park, January 4th and ca.100 at Lakenheath Fen during the second winter period. It is very pleasing to report three confirmed instances of breeding this year. At Minsmere a pair nested for the first Monthly countsfromthe key sites: Bec Oct Nov Sep Feb Mar Apr Jan time since 1998 and 210 310 530 1425 326 382 Benacre Broad* a brood of young Blyth Estuary 159 ..••.,53 792 1265 was seen. At the Minsmere* 80 1000 1500 1500 1000 177 400 1000 Mickle Mere, a North Warren* 980 1640 380 155 120 320 80 1300 2134 2915 2031 family group of Aide/Ore Estuary 395 2413 2016 819 403 225 6 203 nine, which con- Deben Estuary 484 158 140 85 137 150 tained seven fully- Orwell Est High W. 131 665 651 416 Orwell Est. Low W. 421 fledged juveniles, 665 300 600 404 150 36 326 303 was seen on July Trimley Marshes* 30 1 21 49 60 Alton Water 28th and had very 442 151 112 260 .12 191 149 Stour Estuary 530 probably been bred 105 59 86 45 107 25 175 Mickle Mere* 51 locally. At Lackford 201 HO 448 26 65 20 334 65 Lackford Lakes* Lakes, a pair with *monthly maxima five large young was seen on the Slough on August 4th. Coastal offshore passage was noted at the following sites: »outhwold: 210 south, Sep.lOth. 49

Suffolk Birci Report


Thorpeness: 245 south, Jan.Ist; 191 south, Oct.28th. Landguard: a total of 1290 flew south between early August and late November, with 365 on the peak day, Sep.30th. G R E E N - W I N G E D TEAL Anas carolinensis Rare visitor. Minsmere: adult male, Feb.22nd to Mar.3rd (many observers). Dunwieh: shore pools, adult male, Apr.20th to 25th (D.Fairhurst, R.Drew, A.Miliar). These reeords are assumed to refer to the same bird and this is the 20th county record for this North American duck.

CO m

M A L L A R D Anas platyrhynchos Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. The January count on Livermere Lake also includes birds on Ampton Water. Numbers at this joint site are inflated by birds released for shooting; on August 2nd, for instance, 1,200 reared birds were released. Counts of 100 or Montfcly counts from the key sites: more at other sites Jan Feb Mar Apr Oct Nov Sep Dec were: 400 at CoveBenacre Broad* 92 50 34 hithe Broad, August - 349 Minsmere* 104 183 8th; 550 at Flixton North Warren* 169 196 172 100 135 185 250 i ; - 571 465 564 GP, August 8th; 100 Alde/Ore Estuary 366 341 164 - 172 120 215 at Weybread GP, Deben Estuary 199 189 189 132 •• Orwell Est. High W. 233 • t * 189 107 77 172 267 January 25th; 471 _ • Orwell Est. Low W. 497 449 on Orfordness in 324 424 Trimley Marshes* 142 77 34 136 154 424 54 82 September; 124 at Alton Water 120 ..'. 61 46 69 77 - 57 75 Thorington Street Stour Estuary 164 171 83 157 117 182 31 157 reservoir, December Mickle Mere* 77 87 189 104 110 26th and 163 at Livermere Lake* 1857 399 460 240 l ì i S l ì 2461 1539 1188 Redgrave and LopLackford Lakes 184 185 »';.: 264 235 ham Fen, February "monthly maxima 3rd. The BBS found Mallards on 78% of the 41 squares surveyed (62% in 1995, 74% in 2000), with a combined total of 148 birds. A total of 232 pairs or broods was reported from ten sites but this is clearly a considérable under-statement of the true position. At least 80 pairs were reported from the Walberswick NNR/Dingle Marshes/Hen Reedbeds area, 33 pairs from Minsmere and 85 pairs from North Warren, but the most productive site appears to have been Orfordness, A pair nested in the grounds of St. Matthew's School, Ipswich. where 22 broods were Ten ducklings hatched but by April 29th only four survived; seen, containing ca. 140 these were fhen caughf by the RSPCA and transferred to young. At Weybread GP a female was seen with 22 Christchurch Park. young, surely the product Philip Murphy of more than one nest. Landguard logged just 15 south during August and four south in November. FIELD NOTE

NORTHERN PINTAIL Anas acuta Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant; a few oversummer. Amber list. Categories A and E. The figures in the table indicate that Suffolk currently supports a mid-winter population of 50

Monthly countsftomthe key sites: Feb Jan 190 371 Blvth Estuary 15 4 Minsmere* 41 -26 North Warren* 341 402 Aide/Ore Estuarv 140 96 Deben Estuary 10 Orwell Est. High \V. 152 166 Orwell Est. Low W. 325 350 110 Trimlev Marshes* 79 -71 Stour Estuary "monthly maxima

Mar 72 14 24 88 H 12 6 6




Oct 5



2 -

15 6 -


p -




6 0

2 3

Nov -

S 4 16 184 151 92 127 27 103 74 197 227 10 ffi 7

Dec 57 .. 3 24 248 75 55 135 135 94

close to 2000 birds. Note that this is yet another species for which the R.Orwell low-water counts are higher than the highwater totals. High counts additional to the table came from Hazelwood Marshes, 140 on January 6th and

Havergate Island, 102 on February 15th. Both these sites are part of the Aide/Ore Estuary complex. Inland counts were received from: Gifford's Park: 12, Feb.8th. f „ M„1(;1(l Mickle Mere: seven, Feb. 14th, then 1-7 present daily until Mar.28th, wrth max.mum of 11, Mar. 16th. Livermere Lake: Jul.25th and Aug.22nd. Lackford Lakes: singles on Jan. 17th, Feb.23rd and Sep.28th. A pair flew west Nov.20th. Lakenheath Fen/Washes: six, Feb.25th; three, Mar.l7th; four, Mar.24th; Apr. 16th. Offshore coastal passage was noted at: Kessingland: 61 south, Jan.lst. Thorpeness: 80 south, Jan.lst. 273 south during October, including 195 on 28th Landguard: 256 south between Sep.Sth and Dec. 10th, with peak day count of 97, Oct.28th. January 1st was obv.ously an excellent day for offshore wildfowl passage (see also Shelduck, Wigeon and Teal). GARGANEY Anas querquedula Uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. . . . tu- • A very early drake was found on the grazing marsh at North Warren on March tth T h i s i s the earliest in Suffolk since 1973, when one was at Walberswick on F e b r u a r y 28th. 1 he next record was a pair at Minsmere, March 27th. Two juveniles were seen at the Mick e Mere in late September but were not considered to have been bred locally. The last record was from Minsmere, October 20th. Benacre Broad: two, Aug.31st. Covehithe Broad: Aug.8th. , ... Minsmere: pair, Mar.27th was seen "on and off" to Apr.21st. Then 1-2 through the summer, nme on Aug.5th and a late bird, 0ct.20th. North Warren: male, Mar.6th. Orfordness: Jul.25th. Havergate Island: two, Aug.7th. Landguard: south, Sep. 10th. Trimley Marshes: May 14th, 24th (male) and 25th. Two, Aug.31st. Barton Mere: Sep.5th. _ .. Mickle Mere: male, May 5th and 6th is the first site record. Sep.6th, 8th and 23rd. Two juvemles. Sep.29th to Oct.2nd, with one remaining to 6th. Livermere Lake: male. May 3rd. Lackford Lakes: Apr.6th. Lakenheath Fen/Washes: Apr.21st; three (two males), May 1st; May 3rd. 51

Suffolk Birci Report


BLUE-WINGED TEAL Anas discors Very rare visitor. Trimley Marshes: female, probably first summer, Jul. 13th to 31st (W.J.Brame et al). The fifth record for the county and at the same site as the fourth (September 2001).


NORTHERN SHOVELER Anas clypeata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon resident. Amber list. Other counts of more than 20 came from: Blyth Estuary: 66, WeBS count, February. Redgrave and Lopham Fen: 22, Jan.27th. Barton Mere: 94, Sep.21st; 76, Nov.4th; 56, Dec. 19th. Livermere Lake: 31, Apr.4th; 35, Aug.25th; 36, Sep.6th. Breeding was confirmed at three sites. At Trimley Marshes there were 12 young in two broods on July 9th: Monthly coiintsfromthe key sites: Jan Apr Feb Mar Sep Oct Nov Dec at the Mickle Mere full-grown Minsmere* 180 45 34 KM) seven 128 150 222 North Warren* 120 106 15 51 20 49 62 juveniles from one 27 113 44 110 Aide/Ore Estuar) 213 164 brood, July 28th and 90 Orwell Est. High W. 34 46 i.'Ì % 34 38 22 25 at Livermere Lake a Orwell Est. Low W. 33 50 . Ì ; 64 36 f e m a l e with foui Trimley Marshes* 36 103 69 79 101 25 :V P u large young, August Mickle Mere* 15 64 18 ? 109 96 Bp 135 1st. The WalbersLackford Lakes* 23 19 22 43 12 10 14 31 .wick NNR/Dingle *monthly maxima Marshes/Hen Reedbeds reserves reported ca.ten pairs, Minsmere nine pairs and North Warren three pairs, but no young were seen at these sites. A notable passage occurred off Thorpeness on October 28th, when 87 flew south, while Landguard recorded eight south between August 6th and October 29th. RED-CRESTED P O C H A R D Netta rufina Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Categories A and E. Lowestoft: Leathes Ham, male, Jan. 1st to Feb.22nd; male. May 16th. Minsmere: Island Mere, two males, Mar.8th. Flixton GP: juvenile, Jul.28th to Aug.6th. Weybread GP: juvenile, Jul.25th, the same bird as at Flixton GP. Alton Water: male, Mar.20th. Lackford Lakes: male, Apr.25th to Aug. 14th; male with a hybrid female, Red-crested Pochard x Common Pochard, Nov. 13th. Some of the above records may refer to introduced birds or escapees. C O M M O N P O C H A R D Aythya


Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon resident. Amber list. Categories Monthly coimts from the key sites: A and E. Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec Aside from the table, „ Minsmere* 31 11 4 Ïtîsï 5 • w 15 there were just two Aide/Ore Estuary ' _ 82 50 1 7 18 16 counts over 50; 75 at Orwell Est. High W. 75 59 15 30 84 29 Redgrave and LopOrwell Est. LowW. 136 127 82 84 ham Fen, February Trimley Marshes* _ 104 96 24 28 162 181 Alton Water 3rd and 78 at Liver43 18 ' 8 12 5 Lackford Lakes* 74 69 54 mere Lake, February 86 143 197 276 "monthly maxima 14th. 52



At Orfordness there was an unexpected increase in the breeding population, with a total of nine broods seen, containing 41 young. At another site near the coast, four females had broods of nine, four, three and one, while three pairs nested and produced single broods at different sites in the west of the county. Unusually, no coastal passage was reported this year and Landguard recorded their first blank year for this species since the observatory was founded in 1982. FERRUGINOUS DUCK Aythya nyroca Rare winter visitor and passage migrant. Minsmere: the male from Nov.3rd 2003 was present intermittently to Mar.21st (D.Fairhurst, R.Drew, RSPB et at). Bawdsey: East Lane, female, Nov.27th and Dec.llth (P.Hobbs, P. and J.Kennerley). A male had been seen regularly on the reedbed pools at Minsmere each winter since January 26th 2000 but it did not return during the winter of 2004/05. The reports from Benacre, November 4th 2003 and Minsmere, November 3rd to December 31st 2003 (Suffolk Birds 2003: 45) have been accepted by BBRC. TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Apart from the table, Monthly counts from the key sites: counts of 50 or more Dec Oct Nov Sep Feb Mar Apr Jan came from: 22 -22 41 57 41 Minsmere* Weybread GP: 72, Aide/Ore Estuary 87 162 99 94 57 Ä 89 Jan.25th. 29 1 6 15 25 -13 16 Deben Estuary Redgrave and Lop- Orwell Est. High W. 128 86 52 41 126 61 ham Fen: 57, Orwell Est. LowW. 139 84 •• Si - ' 43 74 Feb.3rd. 540 485 299 132 46 682 703 Alton Water Livermere Lake: 64, 77 137 171 120 148 97 120 163 Lackford Lakes Apr. 10th. 36 36 14 23 . 36 27 87 35 Nunnery Lakes Lakenheath Fen: 85, 'monthly maxima Nov.27th. Confirmed breeding was reported from 13 sites, with 27 broods of ducklings seen. However, some sites such as Minsmere did not attempt to count this species in 2004, so the picture is incomplete. This species, like most ducks, is capable of considerable productivity. On Orfordness a nest was found which contained 11 eggs; at Gifford's Park a female was seen with a brood of 15 and at the Mickle Mere well-grown broods of five and seven were seen. At Thorpeness, 12 flew south, January 2nd, nine south, May 23rd and five south, October 28th. Landguard logged five south between October 26th and November 24th. Aythya hybrids Birds presumed to have the following parentage were seen at: Southwold: Boating Lake, Pochard x Tufted Duck male, Nov. 1st to Dec.31st. This bird also visited Hen Reedbeds and Covehithe Broad. Melton: female "Aythya hybrid", resembling female Redhead, several dates in late December. Lackford Lakes: female hybrid considered to be Common Pochard x Red-crested Pochard, November 13th; "Aythya hybrid", considered to be Common Pochard x Ferruginous Duck, December 15th. GREATER SCAUP Aythya marUa Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. With generally mild weather in both winter periods, numbers remained quite low. Records in the first winter period came from: 53

Suffolk Birci Report


Oulton Broad: female, Jan. 1st to 22nd; Feb.27th. Benaere Pits: two, Jan. 14th; female, Apr.9th and 17th. Benacre Broad: three. Mar. 18th. Covehithe Broad: female, Apr. 16th. Minsmere: Island Mere, female. Mar. 15th. Thorpeness: eight south, Jan. 1st. Weybread GP: three females, Mar.31st. Bramford: Suffolk Water Park, female, Mar.l6th to 18th (present on first date with Lesser Scaup). Alton Water: female, Jan.23rd. Livermere Lake: Apr. 14th. In July, two adult males were on the east scrape at Minsmere from 5th until 14th and three flew south off Thorpeness on 23rd. Records in the second winter period were received from: Oulton Broad: female, Nov. 1st. Kessingland: south, Oct.28th; six north, Nov.8th. Benacre Pits: six (three males), Nov.7th to Dec.31st. Benacre Broad: two, Oct. 16th; pair, Oct.21st to 31st. Thorpeness: six south, Sep.27th; singles south, Oct.2nd, 27th and 28th; 15 north, Nov.8th. Landguard: immature male south, Oct. 14th. Stour Estuary: Cattawade, female, Dec.24th to 31st. LESSER SCAUP Aythya affinis Accidental. Bramford: Suffolk Water Park, first year male, Mar.l6th (R.Marsh, L.G.Woods, G.J.Jobson et al). The first Suffolk record of this North American diving duck. A full account of this occurrence can be found on page 174. C O M M O N EIDER Somateria mollissima Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Has bred. Amber list. Small numbers were reported fairly often off the northern half of the coast (Lowestoft down to Aldeburgh). The only counts of more than 20 for this sector came from: Kessingland: 27 north, May 16th; 61 north, Nov.29th and 25 north, Dec. 1st. Minsmere: 64 north, Nov.30th. Thorpeness: 34 north, Jan.3rd; 82 south, Dec.20th. South of Aldeburgh the only records were received from: Orfordness: ten north, July 7th. Bavvdsey: East Lane, 27 (four males), Dec.4th. Stour Estuary: Erwarton Bay, female, Jul.28th. Alton Water: female, 0ct.30th to Nov.8th (T.C.Nicholson). Landguard: four males and a female inshore, Nov.2nd. Movement past the Point can be summarized as follows: .North South

Jan 0 0

Feb 0 0

Mar 7 0

Apr 0 0

May 0 0

Jun 0 3

Jul 0 0

Aug 0 0

Sep 6 11

Oct 5 2

Nov 30 3

Dcc 6 0

The Alton Water record is the first for the site and is only the fourth county record ever away from the saltwater of the coasts and estuaries. LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. A very poor year with just two reports. The Weybread bird is the first inland record since November 24th 1999, when two flew over Nunnery Lakes, Thetford. 54



Kessingland: adult male north, Apr.27th (P.Read). Weybread GP: first-summer, Mar.31st (R.Walsh). COMMON SCOTER Melanitta nigra Common non-breeding resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Red list. Regulär sea-watching at Kessingland (Peter Read), Thorpeness (Dave Thurlow) and Landguard Bird Observatory can be summarized in the following table of movements. Oct Nov Dec Jul Aug Sep Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jan 35

33 , -


10 18 12 ssi-1a ! 0 0

0 0

27 5






44 0

3 6

68 21

V 1 ' i l : 339 685 -

137 440

199 68

104 556

434 632

137 210

143 302

299 1483


213 427

42 967

ne ne

116 167

2 16

35 40

4 51

29 239

45 391

0 I

35 â&#x20AC;˘


9 19

tv oo

Kessingland North South Thorpeness North South fandguard North South

17 139

The peak day counts were; Kessingland, 132 north and 75 south, November 1st; Thorpeness, 445 south, October 28th and Landguard, 117 south, October 29th and 222 south, November 1st. Although widely reported from elsewhere on the coast, the only flocks to exceed 50 were: Lowestoft: 66 south, Nov.7th. Southwold: 185 south, Sep.30th. Minsmere: 60 offshore, Jul.8th and 150 offshore, Aug. 1st. These two counts from Minsmere were noted as the "offshore peaks for the month". The flocks summering in Sole Bay are now much smaller than those of a few years ago. Up to three immatures and two females were seen on the R.Orwell in the Levington/ Thorpe Bay area between November 3rd and December 4th and eight adults and three immatures there on November 8th. There were no inland records. VELVET SCOTER Melanitta fusca Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Red list. Scarce in the first winter period when records came from just two sites: Kessingland: four south, Jan. 10th; south, Apr. 17th; south Apr.21 st and on sea, Apr.22nd. Thorpeness: two, Apr. 15th. More plentiful in the second winter period with records from: Lowestoft: three south, Nov.7th. Kessingland: two south, Aug. 10th and 24th; eight north and 12 south during October; 11 north and four south during November; singles south, Dec. 10th and 15th. Benaere Broad: two south, Oct.28th. Southwold: south Oct. 10th; three, Nov. 10th. Minsmere: two, Nov. 1st and two south, Nov.27th. Thorpeness: six north, ten south during October; two south, Nov.20th; south, Dec. 19th and two south, Dec.20th. Landguard: north, Oct.9th; three south, Oct.27th and three south, Nov.lOth. COMMON G O L D E N E Y E Bucephala clangula Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The count of 32 (ten males) at Lackford Lakes on January 19th is a new record total for the site. Other interesting counts included 14 on Havergate Island, January 15th; 12 on 55

Suffolk Birci Report


Orfordness in February and 80 at Stutton Mill (Stour Estuary), December 16th. One at the Mickle Mere, February 9th and Monthly counts from the key sites: two there, November 20th are the Jan Eeb Mar Apr Oct Nov Dee first records for the site. 3 1 18 2 10 11 Minsmere* 9 The last spring report was a 0 13 27 2 0 25 Aide/Ore Estuary bird at Lackford Lakes, April 1 16 0 39 3 Deben Estuary 35 0 1 : 2 3 Orwell Est. High W. 21 25 18th and the first to return was 0 8 55 Orwell Est Low W. 16 iiift one on Orfordness "in Septem- 24 5 21 " ' - :I # 1 0 Alton Water 21 ber", the only record before one 54 4 0 0 56 61 Stour Estuary 35 at Minsmere, October 15th. 11 18 30 3 3 Lackford Lakes* 32 31 Offshore passage was noted at *monthly maxima Thorpeness during October (23 south) and November (six north, 20 south). Landguard logged a total of 31 south on nine dates between October 27th and December lOth. SMEW Mergellus albellus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Almost all the records came in the first winter period from the following sites: Kessingland: male south, Jan.Ist. Minsmere: two redheads, Jan.lst; male, Jan.9th and lOth; a drake and two redheads intermittently. Feb.lst to 29th; redhead Mar.Ist to 1 Ith. Havergate Island: Jan.25th; Mar.9th. Stour Estuary: Cattawade, two redheads, Jan.IOth and Feb.21st. Alton Water: up to two redheads and two males during January and a single, February 22nd. Landguard: male south, Jan.22nd. Weybread GP: male, Jan.28th and 29th. The only record late in the year came from: Alton Water: redhead, Dec.24th and 27th. RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Ten remained on the R.Stour at Shotley on March 5th. Records of 1-4 were widely reported from the coast and estuaries but Records from weH-monitored sites: the only larger counts were those Jan Feb Mar Apr Oct Nov Dee for passage birds listed below. Minsmere* 1 â&#x20AC;˘ 1 The last of the spring was a bird Orwell Est. High W. 1 0 0 0 0 1 off Thorpeness, May 14th and â&#x20AC;&#x17E; 5 Orwell Est. LowW. 7 11 '' 0 0 the first autumn bird flew south Stour Estuary 28 1 18 0 0 43 28 off Orfordness, September 1 Oth. *monthly maxima However, exceptionally, there were five July records; singles south off Kessingland on 5th and 6th, two south there on 28th and singles at Orfordness, 8th and Benacre Broad, 18th. Autumn passage reports came from: Kessingland: 41 south during October, with a peak of 16 on 28th; 11 north and 11 south in November. Thorpe'iess: 43 south during October, with a peak of 31 on 28th; 18 south in November and then 25 south, Dec.2nd. Landguard: 74 south between Sep.30th and Nov.24th, with a peak of 20, Oct.29th. G O O S A N D E R Mergus merganser Locally fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Aside from the table, records in the first winter period came from: 56



Kessingland: south, Jan.2nd; two males and a Monthly counts from the key sites: Jan Feb Mar Nov Dec female on the sea, Jan.30th. 2 % -f Thorpeness: south, Jan. 18th Minsmere Melton: male, Feb. 16th. Alton Water 2 1 : 1 24 19 3 Trimley Marshes: Feb.21st. Lackford Lakes 20 8 21 7 10 Weybread GP: male, Jan.5th; Feb.4th and 5th; Nunnery Lakes 24 26 iwu, r c u . u u i .

I avcnham: two redheads on a farm pond, Feb. 1st. The last of the spring were birds at both Lackford Lakes and Nunnery Lakes, April 1st and the first to return was an immature male at Lackford, October 19th. Further records then came from: Lowestoft: Ness Point, north Nov.20th. Oulton Broad: male north, Nov.20th. Kessingland: two north, one south, Nov. 19th; south, Nov.21st. Covehithe Broad: redhead, Nov. 10th. Halesworth: male SW over sewage works, Nov.l5th. Thorpeness: redhead on Meare, Dec. 12th. Landguard: south, Dec. 11th. Weybread GP: 14 (two males), Nov.24th; pair, Nov.25th; Nov.26th. Stowmarket: two flew west, Nov.7th. Pakenham: Mickle Mere, two, Nov.20th. West Stow: Country Park, up to 15, November and 13, December on the angling lake. The same birds as at Lackford Lakes. RUDDY DUCK Oxyura jamaicensis Uncommon resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Categories C and E. Apart from those in Records from well-maintained sites: the table, other Sep Oct Nov Dec Feb Mar Apr Jan 7 records came from: 7 7 27 4 12 23 6 Trimley Marshes 3 : 1 Covehithe Broad: two, Alton Water 5 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; S.~ â&#x20AC;˘4 May 17th; Aug.8th. 11 8 2 ^ > Livermere Lake 1 Hen Reedbeds: May Lackford Lakes 1 1 1 2 16th and 18th; male, Jul.22nd; juvenile, Sep. 12th. Minsmere: up to five in each month between Apr.3rd and Nov.24th. Bawdsey: East Lane, juvenile, Oct. 12th; two, Oct.31st. Great Blakenham CP: two males, May 14th. The first site record. Bramford: Suffolk Water Park, male harassed by Coots, May 31st. Weybread GP: Nov. 11th. Great Barton: Barton Mere, up to six between Mar.24th and Sep.26th. The maximum count at Livermere Lake was 21 on July 30th and this included 15 males. The birds are disturbed from this site by shooting during the winter months. Breeding was reported from Loompit Lake, Trimley St. Martin (three juveniles, August 11th); Barton Mere (brood of five young, August 7th) and Livermere Lake (four broods seen during June to August). The origins of the juveniles seen at Hen Reedbeds and Bawdsey are uncertain. RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE Aleetoris rufa Common resident; numbers augmented by releases. Categories C and E. With reports received from only 24 sites in the county, this widespread, introduced species remains under-recorded. The largest counts were 65 at Nunnery Lakes, December 13th and 30 at Wyken Hall, near Stanton from April to June during the BTO Farmland Bird Study. The BBS found this species in 61% of the 41 squares surveyed (81% in 1995, 68% in 57

Suffolk Birci Report


2000), with a combined total of 97 birds. Breeding was confirmed at only four sites, with all but one being on the coast. On Orfordness, the species was recorded in every month except June and October, but apparently did not breed there. This species is struggling to survive at Landguard, with only five birds at the start of the year, dropping to three by the end; only one brood of chicks was recorded and none of these survived. G R E Y PARTRIDGE

PerdixperdLx Formerly common resident, now localised. Red List. Catégories A, C and E. With reports received from only 32 sites, this species remains scarce. The BBS found Grey Partridge in 12% of the 41 squares surveyed (8% in 1995, 18% in 2000), with a combined total of 12 birds. Only two records oí confirmed breeding were received, from Weybread Gravel Pits and Wyken Hall, where there were probably eight nesting pairs and 44 were recorded following the breeding season. There was one report of birds reared for shooting, a flock of 40 at Nunnery Lakes, September 27th. A further 12 reports were received of pairs present during the breeding season. Grey Partridge Peter Beeson although no evidence of breeding was reported. The next largest counts came from: Ramsholt: 14, Feb.l5th. Troston: ten, Dec.óth. Culford/Ingham: 25, Dec.Ist and 2nd.

Quail Mark Cornisti

C O M M O N QUAIL Coturnix coturnix Scarce summer visitor and passage migrant. Red List. A slightly improved year for this secretive species, with eight reports received. There were no records of confirmed breeding. The Landguard bird is only the second for the site, the first having been recorded there on May 23rd 1994. Breydon Water: calling, Jun.5th. Minsmere: calling briefly, Jun.IOth. Landguard: May 2nd. Harkstead: calling repeatedly, May 21st. Barnhamcross Common: calling at 02.40am, while the observer was moth trapping., Jun.l7th. Livermere Lake: flushed from set-aside by Great Livermere church, Jul.25th. Groton: Castlings Heath, calling, Jun.25th. Lakenheath Fen: calling, Jul.31st.

C O M M O N PHEASANT Phasianus colchicus Very common resident; numbers augmented by releases. Catégories C and E. Reports of this extremely common species were received from only ten sites. Although few breeding records were received, they ranged from the Ipswich Borough Cemetery (2-3 pairs) to the wilds of Orfordness, where eight broods were noted. The BBS found this species in 85% of the 41 squares surveyed (89% in 1995, 87% in 2000), with a combined 58



total of 271 birds. The largest population, numbering 115 individuĂĄis, at Wyken Hall between April and June, was recorded during the BTO Farmland Bird Study. At North Warren and Aldringham Walks, a 15% drop in the breeding population was recorded; 56 maies were located, down from 66 in 2003. A pure white Common Pheasant was seen at Trimley, October 12th. GOLDEN PHEASANT Chrysolophus pictus Scarce resident. CatĂŠgories C and E. Another poor year for this naturalised gamebird. Only three records were received, ail from the west of the county. A male was seen at Santon Downham on May Ist and up to two males and a iemale were reported from a confidential site, also in Breckland. There was also a report of another small population surviving on a large Breckland estate, well away from public roads. RED-THROATED DIVER Gavia stellata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Both the total count from Thorpeness, in the table below and the highest day-total of 4710 are unprecedented, with the previous highest year-total from Thorpeness being 31,588 in 2000. A rather more meaningful picture than that in the table, which inevitably includes overlaps, is provided by the peak day-counts from the last five winters at Thorpeness (by the same observer, D. Thurlow): 1999/00 - 2680 (Jan.l5th 2000) 2000/01 - 3 5 6 1 (Dec.3rd 2000) 2001 /02 - 3760 (Dec. 15th 2001 ) 2002/03 - 2843 (Dec.30th 2002) 2003/04 - 4710 (Jan.4th 2004) These figures fully confirm the international importance of the area for this species indeed Sole Bay supports the UK's only such concentration of this species. Kessingland 1 horpeness Other sites

Jan 1737 25332 1046

Feb 127 4533 62

Mar 322 485 1

Apr May 9 2 17 5 4 -

Jun 1 1

Jul 1

Aug Sep - ' 54 1 42 1 8


NOY Dec Total 1658 1458 5427 84 5889 11357 47747 430 1087 2648 9 59

Selected records only are given below: Kessingland: monthly totals above, including 1600, Jan.4th; singles north on May 14th and 26th and

Jun.30th. Southwold: 700 north, Jan.20th; one south, Aug.31st. Minsmere: 148, Jan.3rd; 503, Dec.9th. Thorpeness: (see table); a record peak day count 4710, Jan.4th; also 1029, Feb.lst; 2141, Nov.27th and 1559, Dec.31st. Summer birds: two, May 24th and singles, Jun.26th, Jul.28th and Aug.31st. Orford: Orfordness, 150, Jan.l8th; last bird in first winter period, Mar.7th; first returning bird. Sep.l2th; 133 north, Nov.23rd; 139 north, Dec.2nd; 126 north, Dec.29th. The following was the only bird recorded on an estuary (WeBS count): River Stour: Holbrook Bay/Harkstead, Feb.22nd. BLACK-THROATED DIVER Gavia arctica neommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber total


of 35 birds represents an increase on the 24 in 2003, but is well below the 2002 record total of 54. The records from the Orwell and Stour are the first from these estuaries 'or four years. 59

Suffolk Birci Report


Black-throated Divers Su Gough

Kessingland: 14 records, including Apr.9th and Oct.5th. Minsmere: one close inshore, Nov.30th; two, Dec.4th. Thorpeness: a total of ten records, with the latest spring bird on Apr. 10th, and the first of autumn or Oct.31st (two). Felixstowe: Landguard, singles north, Nov.6th and 30th. Orwell Estuary: Freston, Mar.21st, 24th and 26th. Stour Estuary: Stutton Mill, Oct.26th and Dec. 16th. GREAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavia immer Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. With 17 individuals, up from the eight last year, and equalling 2 0 0 l ' s second highest Suffolk total. Kessingland: north, Sep.26th and Nov.27th. Southwold: north, Jan.20th. Minsmere: south, Sep.30th and Nov.28th. Thorpeness: Jan. 11th; Apr.30th; Nov.21st; two, Dec.5th; Dec. 18th. Felixstowe: Landguard, Oct.2nd, 15th, 18th and 27th and north Nov. 19th. Stour Estuary: Stutton Mill, Nov.24th. LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruftcollis Locally common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. An exceptional 103 pairs were reported from 24 sites (compared with 80 pairs at 12 sites in 2003), just exceeding the estimate of 80-100 pairs in Piotrowski (2003). Minsmere had 23 pairs, up two from 2003 and North Warren 16 pairs (down four from 2003)Walberswick held nine pairs, Dingle and the Hen Reedbeds each eight pairs. There were five pai-s at Loompit Lake, four pairs each at Great Blakenham chalk pit, Layham gravel pits and Lakenheath Fen, three pairs at Barton Mere and Lackford Lakes, two pairs at Shotley, Great Cornard and Livermere, and single pairs at ten other sites. The highest winter count was 109 on the Aide/Ore Estuary, December 12th, with 96 on November 14th and 83 on October 17th. The count of 109 is the highest single-estuary total ever recorded in Suffolk. The maximum count from the Deben Estuary was 65 on December 12th, with 54 at Orfordness, also in December. Other notable counts included 16 at Benacre Broad, November 10th; 23 at Covehithe Broad, August 4th; 34 at 60



Minsmere, December 20th; 28 at Martlesham Creek, October 6th; 22 at Ipswich Docks, January 25th and 27 at Barton Mere, September 5th. A bird seen on the Wilderness Pond, Christchurch Park, Ipswich, February 7th and 19th, is the first the observer had seen there in 30 years. GREAT C R E S T E D GREBE Podiceps cristatus Locally common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. At least 48 pairs were recorded from 14 sites (compared with 58 pairs from 22 sites in 2003), including at least 20 pairs from five Gipping Valley sites (but up to 30 estimated for the whole valley). Alton Water had 11-12 pairs, but early attempts failed; 12 young were seen on August 22nd. There were four pairs at both Lakenheath Fen and Minsmere (up from two in 2003), three at Weybread GP and at least two pairs at Livermere Lake. Single pairs were reported from four sites (Walberswick, Hen Reedbeds, Trimley Marshes and Lackford Lakes). A count of 770 off Minsmere, January 30th, is the second highest-ever for Suffolk, while counts of 220 at Dunwich, 388 at Minsmere and 455 at Sizewell, all on November 30th, give a total of 1063 for Sole Bay, if there is no overlap. Kessingland: 76, Feb. 12th. Dunwich: 220, Nov.30th. Minsmere: 770, Jan.30th; 388, Nov.30th. Sizewell: 455, Nov.30th. Thorpeness: 350, Jan.25th; 300, Nov.27th. Aide/Ore Estuary: 40, Nov. 14th. Orwell Estuary: the highest WeBS count was just 26, Jan.25th. Alton Water: 95, Sep.l9th; 76, Oct.l9th; 79, Dec.l2th. Stour Estuary: the highest WeBS count was 84, in April. RED-NECKED G R E B E Podiceps grisegena Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The nine individuals represent an increase on the five in 2003, which was a poor year. Southwold: south, Sep.30th; north, Nov. 10th. Dunwich: north, Nov. 14th. Orfordness: Sep. 13th. River Deben: Jan.25th and two, Feb.22nd. Waldringfield: Feb. 1st. Wherstead: Dec.30th. SLAVONIAN G R E B E Podiceps auritus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. A very good year with up to 15 individuals (compared with up to nine in 2003), the highest total since 1997, when at least 17 were recorded. Lowestoft: Lake Lothing, Jan.3rd to 19th. Thorpeness: north, Nov.7th. Alton Water: Jan. 15th and 25th; three, Feb. 12th; Oct. 19th; two, 0ct.30th; three, Nov.25th; Dec.7th and 9th. Stour Estuary: Mar.21st; Stutton Mill, Nov.8th BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis ncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Another poor year, with only four individuals reported. The record of a juvenile at Lackford is of interest, following a similar record on August 21st and 22nd 2002. 61

Suffolk Birci Report


Minsmere: Island Mere, mainly summer plumage, Aug.l5th. Trimley Marshes: Aug.8th and 9th. Bramford: Suffolk Water Park, summer plumage, May 5th. Lackford: juvenile on sailing lake, Aug.Ist and 2nd. NORTHERN FULMAR Fulmarus glacialis Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. Formerly bred. Amber list. Numbers overall were about 15% down on those of 2003, which in turn were only 47% of the exceptional numbers recorded in 2001. However, while the Kessingland total was only 47% of the 2003 figure, at Thorpeness there was a 55% increase on the 2003 total. At othei sites there was a more dramatic reduction to only 27% of the 2003 total. Whilst there wa> an April peak at Kessingland, the highest Thorpeness counts were in May and the peak ir observations ffom other sites carne in September. Two or three blue-phase morphs were seen, taking the Suffolk total to 12-15 (plus two found dead). Ali submitted day-counts of 15 or more are included in the list below: Jan Kessingland Thorpeness Other sites

9 1

Feb Mar 26 17 85 21 1 -

Apr May 172 155 521 608 28 2

Jon 92 186 -

Jul 30 68 2

Ă&#x201E;ug 109 83 12

Sep 113 64

Oct 4 4 19

Nov 2

l)ec 1 -

Total 605 1701 129

Lowestoft: blue-phase bird north, Feb.29th. Kessingland: 15, Feb.20th; 33, Apr.9th; 139, Apr.llth; 23, May 2nd; 15, May 9th; 34, May 23rd; 32. May 26th; 22, May 27th; 29, May 28th; 19, Aug.l4th (all going north). Southwold: 50 north, Sep.9th. Dunwich: blue-phase bird offshore, Jan.lst. Minsmere: blue-phase bird north, Jan.lst (apparently different to the Dunwich bird). Thorpeness: (peak day-counts, by month) 29, Feb.20th; 130, Apr. 14th; 102, May 23rd; 38, Jun.26th: 18, Jul.7th; 36 (34N, 2S), Sep.l Ith. Orfordness: six dead on the shoreline, Mar.l7th and another, Jun.lst; 26 (12N, 14S), Apr.l8th. Felixstowe: Cobbolds Point, 18, Oct.l2th. Note the six birds found dead on Orfordness in March. A "wreck" of Fulmars was recorded in the southern North Sea in February and March 2004 (British Birds 97, 247249). British records included 130 found dead on Blakeney Point, March 1 Ith, of which 24 were "blue phase" birds. CORY'S SHEARWATER Calonectris diomedea Rare passage migrant. A return to a more usual year with two records, after the exceptional 17 records in 2003. The Southwold bird was about 1.5kms (one mile) offshore; it was seen at 08.55, 10.18 and 11.15 and all sightings are presumed to be of the same bird. Kessingland: Aug.23rd (J.A.Brown, P.Read, R.Wilton). Southwold: north, Sep.9th (B.J.Small). SOOTY SHEARWATER PufĂ&#x;nus griseus Uncommon passage migrant. The total of up to 39 birds is well down on the exceptional totals in 2002 and 2003. Only two biids were seen going south, and all but three birds were seen in August, September or October. All going north, except where noted, with all records listed: Lowestoft: Ness Point, four, Aug.22nd; Aug.30th; three, Sep.l6th. Kessingland: Aug.22nd; two, Sep.8th; Sep.9th. Southwold: six, Sep.9th. 62



Thorpeness: Jul.31st; three, Aug.22nd; two Aug.28th and 29th; three, Sep. 1st; Sep.7th and 25th; singles south, Oct. 9th and 10th; Nov.7th and 28th. Orford: Orfordness, Sep. 10th. Felixstowe: Landguard, singles, Sep.25th, Oct.2nd and 10th. MANX SHEARWATER Puffinus puffinus Uncommon passage migrant. Amber list. The total of 48 individuals (including one found dead) is well down on the 84 in 2003, with the first on June 2nd at Kessingland and the last an exceptionally late bird at Southwold, 22nd December (the previous latest Suffolk date was December 2nd, in 1987 and 2003). Numbers peaked at 16 in June, with 12 in September and 13 in October. All sightings are listed: Lowestoft: Ness Point, singles north, Oct.8th, 9th and 10th. Kessingland: three, Jun.2nd; eight, Jun.24th; three north, four south, Sep; singles, Oct.9th and 11th. Southwold: two, Aug.22nd; singles Sep.30th, Oct.8th, 9th and 10th and Dec.22nd (B.J.Small). Walberswick: Tinkers Marshes, Jul. 17th. Minsmere: north, Oct.28th. Thorpeness: Jun.l5th; two, Jun.l8th; Jun.l9th, 23rd and 24th; Jul.25th; Oct.9th and 28th. Orford: Orfordness, south, Sep. 18th. Bawdsey: south, Oct.29th. Felixstowe: Landguard, singles north, Jul.7th and Oct. 10th. Stour Estuary: single seen from Erwarton Bay, flying towards Harwich, then returning up-river ten minutes later, Sep. 13th (T.C.Nicholson). Long Melford: Sep. 15th (D.K.Underwood). Barnhamcross Common: one found dead, Sep.24th. These are the first records for west Suffolk since 1988 (Wortham, September 8th). FIELD NOTE

Manx Shearwaters have a habit of turning up in odd places inland and getting themselves into trouble, often after autumn gales. Their legs are set far back on their bodies (lor swimming) and with their long wings they have difficulty getting airborne from flat ground. Goodness knows what the bird at Tinker's Marshes on July 17th was doing - it was reported as "shearing over hedges, heading east". The bird at Long Melford in September was fortunate; it was "rescued from the road by Tesca's supermarket and released onto the River Stour", the one at Barnhamcross Common nine days later was less fortunate presumably it had landed on the Common and perished before it was found by anyone. Various observers

EUROPEAN STORM-PETREL Hydrobates pelagicus Rare passage migrant. Amber list. The extraordinary tape-luring of the two birds at Covehithe was described in The Harrier as the event of the year' and a full account of the capture was given (The Harrier 139: 34). The three others seen were significant in their own right, following a blank year for this species in 2003. Covehithe: two caught and ringed at night, Aug.22nd (C.Carter et al). Southwold: three north, Oct.lOth (16.00, 17.00 and 18.05; R.Drew, D.A.Fairhurst, B.J.Small etat). LEACH'S STORM-PETREL Oceanodroma leucorhoa Rare passage migrant. Amber list. A very good year (following the record total of up to 40 in 2003), with up to 22 birds seen (all but two between October 9th and 16th). Prior to 2003, the previous annual maximum 63

Suffolk Birci Report


was the 23 reported in 1997. As not all observers gave the time of their sightings, it is impossible to assess fully the degree of overlap in same-day records. The degree of synchrony with the dates of the 2003 sightings (all but two of which fell between Octobei 11th and 14th) is remarkable. Lowestoft: Ness Point, south, Oct.lOth; north, Oct.l 1th and south, Oct.lóth. Kessingland: north, Oct.lOth and south, Oct. 16th. Southwold: Sep.9th; Oct.9th; two, Oct.lOth; three, Oct.l 1th; Oct.l2th (all north). Minsmere: north close inshore, Oct.l 1th. Thorpeness: north, Oct.9th. Orfordness: north, Oct.lOth, 11th and 12th (on the latter date pursued by a Peregrine Falcon outcome unknown). Felixstowe: Landguard, offshore, Sep.30th; singles north, Oct.lOth, 11th and 12th. NORTHERN GANNET Morus bassanus Common passage migrant. Amber list. At Kessingland and Thorpeness there was a significant increase on numbers reported in 2003 (though not up to the record-breaking totals of 2001), but numbers from other sites were reduced. Numbers peaked in July, as was the case in 2000 and 2002. The following daily totals of over 150 were recorded: Kessingland: 247, May 24th; 201, May 25th; 151, May 27th; 324, Jul.l4th; 254, Aug.l 1th. Southwold: 180, Sep.9th. Thorpeness: 286, Jun.24th; 480, Jul.lOth; 252, Aug.29th; 400, Sep.25th; 712, Oct.2nd. Jan North Kcssingland Thorpeness Other South Kcssingland Thorpeness Other Unspecified

Feb Mar Apr May







Dec Total

290 1150 1085 3561 1689 814 482 382 2294 1112 3195 1169 1347 1111 16 5 12 310 120 389 99

275 268 30

34 9874 37 12402 22 1007

78 117 3 ••


226 1265 1

190 105 -



4 ;







42 -

217 1



113 674 -

132 377 53



129 153

149 278 196

167 180 9

30 Ï 7

6 746 50 45 3 2018 5 i f s 264 88 10 l i f t

GREAT C O R M O R A N T Phalacrocorax carbo Common winter visitor and passage migrant; has nested since 1998. Amber list. The monthly maxima for the well-watched sites are given in the table below, with the importance of Loompit Lake for the species being clear. The colony at this site contained 63 nests on April 20th and 74 on May 14th, figures which are close to the 66 in 2002, but down on the estimate of approximately 100 nests in 2003. For a discussion of the issues at this colony, see Mick Wright s paper, page 31.

Aide/Ore Est. Orfordness Dcben Estuary Orwell Estuary' Loompit Lake Stour Estuary Alton Water Lackford Lakes Livermere Lake

Jan - 77 60 30 40 260 17 18 115 11

Feb 65 46 49 60 144 38 8 93 3

Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug : _ 47 ; 10 5 10 4 8 9 : -, _ 33 30 : i: : fi 77 ;• - J 200 173 196 170 49 33 ; '4-. ¡5 : 37 38 " ~ /; _ 2 1 7 41 10 22 15 40 22 3 2 4 1 .11 20 64

Sep 9

_ 185 55 12 68 26

Oct 57 32 63 45 145 30 36 73 26

Nov 82 35 24 36 235 54 33 78 4

Dec 549 30 30 24 270 16 32 97 1



The count on the Aide/Ore Estuary in December is high. The following records are also notable: Sizewell: 190 at roost, Dec.27th. Thorpeness: 78 north and 190 south, Jan.4th; 76 north and 195 south, Dec.31st. Havergate Island: 200, Jan.l5th; 140, Dec.14th. E U R O P E A N S H A G Phalacrocorax


Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. At least 20 birds in the first winter period, and 16 in the second, mostly from the regular sites, apart from the one inland record. The August record at Hamilton Dock is notable. Lowestoft: Lake Lothing, four, Jan.2nd; five, Jan. 11th; four, Feb. 1st; singles, Nov.20thand Dec. 18th, and two, Dec.30th. "Kittiwake wall", maximum of 11, Jan.24th. Hamilton Dock, singles, Aug.9th and Dec.28th. Minsmere: offshore, Feb. 16th. Sizewell: one, freshly dead, Jan.9th; two, Nov. 14th. Aldeburgh: North Warren, Feb.lรณth. Orfordness: Feb. 11th; four, Nov.21st; Nov.23rd. Felixstowe: Landguard, Feb.5th and 7th; imm. dead Dec.28th; confiding imm. Dec.30th. Irimley Marshes: Feb.28th. Ipswich: Docks, two, Jan.25th to 27th; three, Feb.22nd; four, Dec.12th. Stour Estuary: Stutton Mill, two, Dec.31st. West Stow: Country Park, first winter, Jan.3rd, GREAT BITTERN Botaurus stellaris Slowly increasing breeding population, scarce resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. Red List. This was an encouraging and successful year for this species. The British population continues to rise, with a total of 55 booming males found in 2004. The Suffolk total of 19 booming males, therefore, represents 34% of the national population. Nine booming males was located at Minsmere (eight in 2003) and one of the nine nests there was a second brood (RSPB). Other breeding records were received from Site A: four booming males; three nests, all apparently successful. Site B: one booming male. Site C: one booming male; a single nest failed. Site D: three b o o m i n g males throughout the season. Great Bittern Peter Beeson Site E: one male and two females. The male boomed regularly throughout the season. A female was considered to be making feeding flights on June 25th. Away from the coastal breeding areas Great Bitterns were seen at the following locations: Melton: Jan.28th. King's Fleet: Nov.21st. 65

Suffolk Birci Report


Trimley Marshcs: Dec.5th. Lackford Lakes: 1-2 regularly Jan.Ist to early March, last seen, Mar.l3th. Lakenheath Fen: single present until at least Mar. 9th; May 15th; one present throughout Novembei and December. Botany Bay, Feb.4th. Nunnery Lakes: Mar. 4th. One was at the Sizewell estate on March 5th. Bitterns have been recorded at Lackford Lakes in each of the last three winters and have delighted observers by appearing by the pond in front of the Visitor Centre. Winter records at Lakenheath Fen continue to increase and give hope that in time breeding birds will once again be resident in the Suffolk fens. LITTLE E G R E T Egretta garzetta Uncommon, but increasing resident and passage migrant. Amber List. As part of the national trend in the last decade, the Little Egret continues to establish itsell in Suffolk and in parts of the coastal rĂŠgion it is now quite common. Nesting was first confirmed in 2002 and the number of pairs is increasing rapidly. Site A B C D

2002 2 pairs/2 flcdged no information 1 nest/failed no attempt made

2003 8 nests/successful 6 nests/successful no attempt made no attempt made

2004 7 nests/successful 17 nests/suecessful no attempt made 2 nests/successful?




No. pairs/nests

Notable counts came from: Minsmere: 16, Jun. lOth. Alde/Ore Estuary: 29, Feb.22nd. Gedgrave: roost of 32, Sep.7th. Loompit Lake: roost of 97, Sep.30th; 58, Nov.3rd. The count of 97 at Loompit Lake, September 30th, is a new county record, eclipsing the 76 there on October 2nd 2003. Monthly maxima at Orfordness: Jan Feb Mar Apr 7 7 11 9

May 16

Jun 8

Jul 21

Aug 17

Sep 14

Oct 8

Nov 12

Dec 12

Excluded from the table is a flock of 47 seen briefly on King's Marshes, August 6th, the largest group ever recorded on Orfordness. Wandering birds travelled inland where they remain uncommon. Up to five on the R. Stour at Long Melford, between January and March, often crossed info the county from the Essex side of the river. The Mickle Mere recorded its first-ever on March 28th, as did Cosford Hall, April 3rd and two were at Gifford's Park, May 9th. In mid-summer what was probably the same bird wandered between Mickle Mere, Ampton Water, Livermere Lake and Lackford Lakes and was noted between June 26th and August Ist. Probably a diffĂŠrent bird was present at Sudbury Common Lands, July 12th to 16th. A single bird was at Playford Meadow, December 30th. At Landguard Bird Observatory birds were seen moving offshore in most months of the year, with eight south on June 25th being the largest total. GREAT EGRET Ardea alba Rare visitor. Minsmere: Mar.31st to Apr.3rd (RSPB, I.Hawkins, R.Drew et al). Landguard/Trimley Marshes: flew west, Jun.4th (N.Odin, J.Zantboer). 66



The Landguard record is the first for the site. The two above have been accepted by the BBRC and also the record of one at Minsmere on July 24th 2003 ( S u f f o l k Birds 2003: 59). GREY HERON Ardea cinerea Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Breeding records were received from just four sites. There were at least six active nests in Flixton Decoy Wood and a pair with three young at a nest in Summer Wood, Somerleyton. At Peak monthly counts at selected sites: Henham, near the Dec Sep Oct Nov Jan Feb Mar Apr 2 Hen Reedbeds, North Warren 2 4 3 5 5 1 2 4 4 4 6 5' 3 ca.ten pairs bred in Orfordness 2 7 15 16 26 ; 9 4 22 33 the heronry and Dcben Estuary 7 7 8 4 3 9 there were about 20 Orwell Est. HighW. 12 26 : ' 10 39 Orwell Est. Low W. nests in the heronry 9 11 5 11 4 10 5 1 5 in The King's Forest. Stour Estuary The largest gathering found during the year was 57 on the River Orwell, July 17th. There were several interesting sightings of birds apparently on passage. At Thorpeness, five were seen flying out to sea 30 minutes before dark on March 31st, one flew north offshore at Kessingland, April 13th and one came in over the sea at Ness Point, October 15th. At Landguard Bird Observatory two flew north, March 25th and another flew north, April 5th; autumn movements there totalled 23 birds between June 17th and October 27th, including nine south, September 28th. Two Grey Herons were seen actively hunting in a stubble field at Hengrave, December 3rd "presumably for small mammals" and there were nine in the same field four days later. At Sotterley, December 27th, one was reported as "feeding on moles"! PURPLE HERON Ardea purpurea Scarce passage migrant. Brey don Water: south wall, juvenile, Aug. 15th to Sep.3rd (I.Smith, et al). Minsmere: first-summer, May 20th to Jun.2nd (RSPB, many observers). The bird at Breydon Water is the latest in the county since 1990 (Shotley, October 15th to November 3rd). The Purple Heron remains an elusive bird in Suffolk. WHITE STORK Ciconia ciconia Rare visitor. Categories A and E. Minsmere: north over the car park, May 14th. (RSPB, I.Barthorpe et al). Ipswich: flying east, high over Suffolk College, May 25th (L.G.Woods). GLOSSY IBIS Plegadis falcinellus Very rare visitor. Minsmere: Jul.2nd and 3rd; Aug.3rd and Oct.8th and 9th (RSPB, C.McIntyre, J.Zantboer et al). Breydon Water/Burgh Castle: Jul.4th intermittently to Nov.21st and into 2005 (J.A.Brown, PRansome et al). The above records involve just one individual. After coming into the county from the south, 11 moved quickly on to Breydon Water, where it was seen along the South Wall and at Burgh Castle and also frequently on the Norfolk side of the river. It returned briefly to Minsmere on at least two occasions. 67

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 EURASIAN SPOONBILL Ptatalea leucorodia Uncommon passage migrant. Now increasingly oversummers; has overwintered. Amber List. Orfordness and the adjacent Havergate Island and Trimley Marshes remain the main over summering sites for this species. The first bird of the year was at Orfordness from March 5th to 14th and the next appeared there, May 8th. Numbers varied as the summer wore on with peak monthly counts of eight on May 19th, four on several dates in June, 17 on Juh 31st and 22 on August 10th, 13th and 15th. Seven flying south and one north on Augusi 29th were the last for the year on Orfordness. At nearby Havergate Island the first arrival was on May 13th. Peak monthly counts were one in May, seven on June 19th and 21st, 16 on July 15th, 21 on August 22nd and 15 or September 3rd and 4th. Two birds were at Trimley Marshes from May 23rd to June 4th. with one remaining until June 6th. Up to 12 were present from June 18th until July 27th and the last report received from this site was of four, September 8th. There were no reports of attempted breeding during 2004. Other records received were from: Pakefield: south, Jun.6th. Kessingland: four south offshore. May 19th; five north offshore. May 23rd. Benacre Broad: two, May 14th; two, May 25th; Jun.8th. Minsmere: up to two on and off, May 15th to 30th; three, Jun.lst to 17th; five seen briefly on the scrape before heading north, Jul.24th. North Warren: Jun. 1 st. Reports of colour-ringed birds were received from Orfordness, with green A9 (May 15th and 22nd), and green L5 (May 15th, 22nd, and 31st) seen again. These are birds that were originally ringed as pulii in the Netherlands in May 2003 and seen on Orfordness during summer 2003. A long list of sightings of these two birds at various sites in Britain during 2003 is given in the Suffolk Bird Report for that year (Suffolk Birds 2003 182). Green L5 was also seen on Aug. 12th and 14th with orange on black NX. EUROPEAN HONEY-BUZZARD Pernis apivorus Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. There were six records of this species in 2004, one more than the five confirmed in 2003. There was also a report of one present for several days during June at a confidential site in the south-east of the county, "in potential breeding habitat". In addition there were, once again, several initial reports for which the observer(s) failed to submit notes. All observers are reminded that this is a category 2 species (county rarity) for which full supporting notes are required. Barnbv: over the Broad, Jun.28th (R. Fairhead ). Bungay: May 31st (R.and Y.Marsh). Dingle Marshes: May 9th (P.D.Green). Aldringham Common and Walks: Jun. 11th (R.N. Macklin). Trimley St. Mary: dark phase bird over Fagbury Cliff, May 9th (W.J.Brame). Trimley Marshes: female, Aug. 11th (W.J. Brame). 2003 Additions Easton Bavents: Easton Broad, May 16th (W.Miles, S.Pinder). Walbersvvick NNR: Westwood Marshes, Jun. 19th (W.Miles, D.J.Pearson). RED KITE Milvus milvus Uncommon but increasing winter visitor and passage migrant. Has bred in recent years. Amber list. The 24 reports received in 2004 represents a slight increase on the 20 reports from 2003 68

Systematic List and the 16 in 2002. Seventeen of the reports came from the north-east of the county, including ten from Minsmere but it seems likely that only four or five fairly wide-ranging birds were involved in this total. One of these birds eventually settled around the Minsmere area until late March at least. There were reports of single birds from three coastal sites on March 2Ist, probably involving two diffĂŠrent individuals. There was also one seen inland at Barnardiston on the same date; what is assumed to have been the same bird passed over Great Cornard the day before. The only Aprii sightings came from Trimley Marshes (the sole south-east rĂŠgion sighting in 2004) and the Breck. Minsmere again played host to a single bird during May and into early June. The only two July records came from Beccles and Thetford. The final record for the year came from Minsmere on October 7th and 8th. Oulton: Mar.21st. Mutford: Feb.7th. Red Kite Peter Beeson

Beccles: Jul.7th.

Blythburgh: Jan.25th.; Feb.lst. Westleton Heath: Mar.21st. Minsmere: Jan.IOth.: Mar.8th, 21st and 26th.; May lOth, 15th and 19th.; Jun.3rd.; Oct.7th and 8th. Vldringham Common and Walks: Mar.2nd. Trimley Marshes: Apr.20th. Great Cornard: Mar.20th. Barnardiston: Mar.21st. Barrow: May 16th. Mickle Mere: Apr.l8th (first site record). Livermere Lake: Apr.24th. Nunnery Lakes: Jul.24th. EURASIAN MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosus Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. A few overwinter. Amber List. Upto 35 birds were present during the first winter period, an increase on the estimated total of 29 in 2003 and 2002. Once again, all but one of the reports came from coastal sites. Data from roost counts was rather sketchy, but included nine at Walberswick and five at Dunwich in January, while in March there was a count of nine at Minsmere and up to three on Orfordness. Inland a iemale overwintered at Lakenheath Fen. P a s s a g e b i r d s w e r e n o t e d at s e v e r a l sites. A t K e s s i n g l a n d a f e m a l e f l e w in o v e r t h e s e a , M a r c h 12th, o n e f l e w s o u t h at L a n d g u a r d , M a r c h 2 7 t h a n d s e v e n w e r e t h e r m a l l i n g t o g e t h e r at F a l k e n h a m , A p r i i 2 4 t h . I n t h e w e s t o f t h e c o u n t y , l i k e l y m i g r a n t s w e r e s e e n at L a c k f o r d

Lakes, March 16th and nearby at The King's Forest, March 29th. C o n f i r m a t i o n o f b r e e d i n g c a m e f r o m e i g h t s i t e s (11 s i t e s in 2 0 0 3 ) , w i t h 4 1 n e s t s l o c a t e d a n d c l o s e to 1 0 0 y o u n g a r e k n o w n t o h a v e f l e d g e d . B r e e d i n g w a s s u s p e c t e d a t a f u r t h e r t w o sites. It w a s a r e c o r d y e a r at M i n s m e r e , w i t h t e n f e m a l e s a n d e i g h t m a l e s p r e s e n t a n d 3 0 young fledged f r o m ten nests. A t Walberswick N N R

there were eight nests


s u c c e s s f u l ) , w h i c h p r o d u c e d 2 0 y o u n g . O n B e n a c r e B r o a d N N R t h e r e w e r e a f u r t h e r 11 nests, w h i c h p r o d u c e d a b o u t 3 0 y o u n g . B r e e d i n g w a s c o n f i r m e d at a n o t h e r t h r e e c o a s t a l sites. A t o n e o f t h e s e s i t e s t w o n e s t s h a t c h e d y o u n g b u t b o t h n e s t s w e r e f o u n d e m p t y a n d u n d a m a g e d at t h e s t a g e w h e n t h e y o u n g w o u l d h a v e b e e n h a l f w a y t o f l e d g i n g . I n l a n d at


Suffolk Birci Report 2004 Lakenheath Fen six nests produced 14 young, a considerable increase on the ten young from three nests in 2003. Inland, wandering birds were seen around the Bury St Edmunds area on several date; during May. In late summer a juvenile also put in appearances at Lackford Lakes Timworth and Livermere Lake between August 8th and September 6th. Autumn passage was observed at Landguard on four dates in August and one in November. Elsewhere, six flew south at The Grove, Felixstowe, September 23rd. Reports indicate that there were about 26 birds present in the second winter period compared with 37 in 2003 and 20 in 2002. Once again roost counts were incomplete, bu included counts of six at Minsmere, five at North Warren in November and up to five or Orfordness. In the west of the county two were at Lakenheath Fen in December. HEN HARRIER Circus cyaneus Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Red List. The number of Hen Harriers overwintering in our region continues to fluctuate and 200" was disappointing when compared with the last two years. Reports were received from ÂŁ meagre 25 sites, compared with 37 in 2003 and 59 in 2002. A maximum of 19 birds wat present during the first winter period, about 40% of the totals from the last two years. Roos' counts from the early part of the year included three at Minsmere, April 8th and up to six on Orfordness in March. Inland records came from Thetford Warren, January 18th Foxhole Heath, March 24th and Lakenheath Fen on March 1st and 27th and April 2nd. In late spring lingering birds were noted at Eastbridge, April 17th, Orfordness, April 18th and Lakenheath Washes, May 5th. The first autumn reports came from Minsmere, September 7th, East Lane, September 16th, and Lakenheath Fen September 10th. The number of birds in the second winter period was more encouraging and the estimated total of a dozen was only slightly down on the last two years. Roost counts were generally low but included December maxima of three at Walberswick and five at Minsmere. MONTAGU'S HARRIER Circus pygargus Uncommon passage migrant. Formerly bred. Amber List. Just four reports were received for this species in 2004, a disappointing total. Observers are reminded that this species is also a county rarity, for which full supporting notes are required by the Records Committee. Mutford: first-summer male near Ash Farm, May 31st and Jun.lst. (R.Wilton et al). Benacre Broad: "ringtail", Sep. 14th (R. Drew, B.Leech). Minsmere: "ringtail", May 13th. (L.G.Woods). Alderton: juvenile, Aug.20th. (W.J.Brame). NORTHERN GOSHAWK Acciptergentilis Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant; uncommon resident. There was a total of 14 reports of this species in 2004 and the only two away from the Breckla id area came from: Minsmere: first-winter (probably female) chasing Coot and Teal in front of the Island Mere hide, Feb. 10th (D.A.Fairhurst). Nacton: male, Apr.9th (P.M.Battle, J.Zantboer). In Breckland, single males were seen in The King's Forest on several dates in February and March and single records of females also came from Kings Forest and nearby at Mayday Farm. A pair of displaying birds was seen at another location in the west of the 70



county. Once again there was no confirmation of breeding and Goshawks appear to be struggling to maintain a presence in the county. Later in the year an immature male was seen tussling with a crow near Lackford on September 26th, a male was soaring with a Sparrowhawk over The King's Forest, October 25th and a male was seen at West Stow on November 20th. The most unusual sighting was of a male circling low over Bury St Edmunds town centre on November 30th. EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK Accipiter nisus Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Reports were received from 104 sites across the county, the second-highest number in recent years after 2000, which produced 118. This figure is an increase on the 88 reports from 2003 and exactly double the total number of records from 2002. The Breeding Birds Survey found this species on 27% of the 41 squares surveyed (24% in 1995, 13% in 2000), with a combined total of 12 birds. Displaying birds were noted at a handful of sites, including four together at Long Melford, March 17th. Confirmation of breeding came from eight sites across the county, and a further six pairs are thought to have bred. At North Warren eight pairs nested for the third year running and an estimated six pairs held territories in Ipswich, where juveniles were heard food-begging at both Ipswich Old and New Cemeteries, August 9th. Elsewhere, three downy young were seen in a nest at Creeting St. Mary, June 27th and juveniles were also heard food-begging at West Stow, Pakenham Fen and The Nunnery, Thetford. Notable counts included 6 at Thetford Warren, March 30th and six at Minsmere, April 24th. In November two were found roosting in blackthorn scrub in Bourne Park, Ipswich. Passage was noted at Kessingland where two flew south offshore, April 3rd and at Landguard, where four flew south, September 19th. Prey items included a Stock Pigeon in Lowestoft, October 7th and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which was taken by a male in the bird-feeding area at West Stow Country Park, October 2nd. A female was seen making a mock attack on a Grey Heron at Loompit Lake, December 20th and two were feeding on dragonflies at Herringfleet, October 7th. f inally, a road casualty was found at Aldham in late August. COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buteo Fairly common and increasing winter visitor and passage migrant; small, localised breeding population. This species was widely reported from 70 sites in 2004, a slight increase on last year's total. As usual the majority of the records came from the west of the county, where it continues to establish itself as a breeding species. However, there were also signs of this species gaining a toehold in the south-east of Suffolk. In the early part of the year single birds were reported from the Shotley Peninsular, Brettenham and Northfield Wood, as well as several sites in the Breck. Passage birds were noted at a number of sites along the north-east coast during March and April, including 12 together over Minsmere, March 22nd. Up to three were seen at Minsmere during April and two flew over Lowestoft, April 24th. Inland, likely migrants were seen at Boxford, March 8th and Sudbury, April 13th. In Breckland the number of breeding pairs continues to increase and up to ten pairs were thought to be present on one large estate alone during the breeding season, though not all of them nested. At least two pairs nested successfully at other sites in the Breck, each Edging two young. Meanwhile, in the south-east of the county, at least four pairs held territories and breeding was confirmed at two sites, though only one pair was successful. 71

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 In autumn passage birds were noted at several coastal sites, including two flying norti at Blythburgh, August 28th; three south at Boyton, September 15th and another three south at Bawdsey, September 27th. Inland one was at Lavenham, October 2nd and one flew north at Hadleigh, October 16th. The five seen at Euston, October 10th, may also have involved migrants. There were several records from Breckland during the second winter period, all involving single birds except for four seer together at Risby, December 12th. Sightings in other areas included single birds at Debenham and Northfield Wood in November, and at Worlingham and Westle ton Heath in December. ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. There were six records in 2004 involving five birds, three in spring and two in autumn, all of which passed quickly through the region. Corton: over the disused railway line, Apr.27th. Minsmere: north over car park, May 1st. (RSPB); south, Oct. 18th (RSPB). Aldringham Common and Walks: south, Oct. 18th - the same bird as at Minsmere (D. Thurlow). Cavenham Heath: Oct.31st. (S. Bishop). Elveden: Feb.29th (J.Wright et af). OSPREY Pandion haliaetus Uncommon passage migrant. Amber list. There were 27 reports in 2004, compared with 21 in 2003. Records were received from 11 sites, one less than in 2003 and probably involved 18 or 19 birds, which is a slight increase on last year's total. The first returning bird was at Minsmere, April 3rd but the only other April records came from Felixstowe Ferry and Pakenham. The final migrant was a lingering bird at Lakenheath Fen/Washes, which was last seen on September 20th. Oulton Broad: west, May 4th. Blyth Estuary: Sep. 12th. Dingle Marshes: south, Aug.30th. Minsmere: Apr.3rd and 4th; May 13th to 15th; Jun.13th and 25th; south Aug.30th; Sep.6th; two south, Sep. 14th. North Warren: Jun.25th. (same as Minsmere). Sudbourne: Sep. 12th. Havergate Island: Sep. 13th. Felixstowe Ferry: Apr. 11th; north, Apr.26th. Pakenham: north-east over Fen Road and then the Mickle Mere, Apr.27th. Lackford Lakes: May 28th; Jul.8th and 10th. Lakenheath Fen and Washes: Jun.3rd and 22nd; Aug.2nd; Sep.6th, 10th, 16th, 18th and 20th. COMMON KESTREL Falco tinnunculus Common resident and passage migrant. Amber list. There was a welcome increase in the number of reports received in 2004. The species was recorded at 90 sites across the county, a considerable increase on the 38 sites in 2003 and the 50 in 2002. Nineteen reports came from the north-east region, 13 from the south-east and 58 from the west, which appears to indicate that the Kestrel is commoner away from the coast. 72



However, the status of this species stili gives cause for concerti in some localities. In the Walberswick area, for instance, there has been a major decrease in numbers since 1999, while at Sudbury Common Lands it is described as becoming scarcer. However, at Lavenham Railway Walks it was recorded on almost 50% of visits (compared with 35% in 2003) and the population at North Warren remained stable at its highest-ever level. The BBS found Common Kestrels in 24% of the 41 squares surveyed (32% in 1995, 37% in 2000), with a combined total of ten birds. Breeding was confirmed at seven sites, compared with eight in 2003. At North Warren and Aldringham Common and Walks there were six and five pairs respectively, the same as the previous year. There were two pairs at Flixton and Minsmere, and four or five at Creeting St Mary and up to three pairs at Boxford. Ali records of passage movements came from Landguard, where singles flew south on three dates in May. In late FIELD NOTE summer/autumn 12 passed The latest population figures from the BTO suggest a slight south between August 8th improvement in numbers in the last few years after a slump and October 3Ist and one in the 1990s. The decline was linked to the effects of came in over the sea, intensive farming on farmland habitats and a decrease in the September 27th. populations of small mammals. Interesting behaviour British Trust for Ornithology included a male seen with a dead Fieldfare at Long Melford in January, one on the bird-table at Lackford Lakes Visitor Centre in February and one feeding on dragonflies at Burgh Castle, October 24th. At Bury St Edmunds on July 2nd, one took a juvenile House Sparrow from the back garden of a house. RED-FOOTED FALCON Falco vespertinus Rare visitor. There was just one record in 2004, after a blank year in 2003. There have now been at least 43 Suffolk records of this east European falcon. Minsmere: first-summer male, in the South Belt, May 3Ist to June 6th. (P.Noaks, J.Zantboer et al). MERLIN Falco columbarius Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. It was another relatively good year for this species, although there were fewer reports from the first winter period (15 from nine sites, compared with 22 reports from 13 sites in 2003). Observations suggest that four or five birds overwintered, a slight drop on last year's estimate of six or seven. These included a maximum of two on Orfordness during February and March, and singles noted at a further five coastal locations. Inland sightings came from Stowmarket, January 10th and three Breckland sites early in the year. The only April records came from Havergate Island on 10th and Orfordness on 24th. Early returning birds included one at Minsmere, August 10th and an adult female on Orfordness, August 8th. Autumn passage was noted at several coastal sites. During September singles were seen on two dates at Landguard, and one flew north at Felixstowe Ferry. An immature female also put in regular appearances on Orfordness during September. In October sightings included singles in over the sea at Kessingland and also at Aldringham Walks; at Minsmere a male was present, October 13th and a female/ immature flew south, October 25th. Further south at Landguard, singles were logged on four dates and two were seen, October 28th. Reports indicated there were seven or eight birds present during the second winter 73

Suffolk Birci Report 2004

Merlin Mark Cornisti

period, compared with a mรกximum of seven in 2003. Over 20 reports were received from twelve sites, with the favoured haunts of Minsmere and Orfordness again producing most of the records. Up to three were present on Orfordness during October and two were there in November and December. Singles were reported from four other coastal sites during October. During November one was seen on three dates in the Minsmere area and in the west of the county, females were seen at Cavenham Pits, Lackford Lakes and Knettishall Airfield in October. There were reports from eight coastal sites in December, including one on three dates around the Shotley Peninsular. Meanwhile, in Breckland there were a further four sightings of single birds at Lackford Lakes, Knettishall Airfield and Lakenheath Fen. EURASIAN HOBBY Falco subbuteo Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. Reports were received from 80 sites in 2004, a similar figure to the last two years' totals. The earliest report was of a bird at Trimley Marshes, April 1 Oth, which equals the previous earliest-ever date, which occurred in 1997 (Ipswich). The next sightings came from Minsmere, April 14th and Lackford Lakes two days later. April records, mostly involving single birds, came from several other locations across the county, but a dozen birds had already congregated at Lakenheath Fen by the end of the month and this was just a taste of things to come! As usual the number of reports increased in May, as did the number of birds. This was most notable at Lakenheath Fen, where increasing numbers gathered to feed over the reedbeds. At the beginning of May, 15 birds were present; by May 7th this had risen to an impressive 25 and then to an unprecedented 36 on May 13th. This was almost double the record count of 19 at this site last year, and provided a memorable spectacle for many observers in search of the Golden Orioles. Other notable counts included 11 at Lackford Lakes in mid-May and six at Minsmere on two dates in June. There were reports from 47 different localities during June, July and August and this gives some indication of the Suffolk breeding population, which is now very probably in excess of 40 pairs. Thirteen of the sites were in north-east regiรณn, 14 in south-east and 20 in the west, including Breckland. Hobbies are very secretive during most of their nesting cycle but nonetheless breeding was confirmed at nine sites and at another two sites "pairs 74



probably nested". There was an estimate of a minimum 13-16 pairs for the whole of Breckland, including Norfolk (R.Hoblyn/J.Secker). Elsewhere, one pair nested high in an oak tree, fledging three young which were ringed under licence. Two were seen flying south offshore at Southwold on two dates in September and at Landguard singles were noted on four dates between mid-September and midOctober. There were a dozen reports from ten sites in October but most birds had departed by mid-month. Late reports came from Lackford Lakes, October 24th and Minsmere, October 25th. Food items included a Sand Martin at Covehithe, May 3rd; two feeding on St. Marks flies at North Warren, May 6th; a bat at West Stow CP, April 26th and four feeding on chafers at Lackford Lakes, June 29th. PEREGRINE FALCON Falco peregrinus Uncommon but increasing winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. There is little doubt that the Peregrine Falcon has become an increasingly common sight in our county during the winter months. This is reflected in the 117 reports received for 2004, which is 37% up on last years highest-ever total of 85 records. The usual east/west divide was not quite so evident as in previous years; of the 61 locations the majority were still coastal but the west was also well represented. During the first-winter period, reports came from a dozen sites along the Suffolk coast, mostly involving single birds. These indicated that eight or nine birds were present, compared with a maximum of ten in 2003. Up to two were present on Orfordness in January and this increased to three in February; in April, two were still present and one of these remained until June 19th. Reports of females seen at Boyton, April 22nd and King's Fleet, May 1st, may well relate to the Orfordness birds. Trimley Marshes also hosted a maximum of three birds between January and March. In the west of the county, singles were recorded at six sites early in the year, and involved two or three 'ndividuals. An immature male was seen at Cavenham Heath in January and a female repeatedly "buzzed" two Common Buzzards at Elveden on February 29th. In mid-April two Peregrine Su Gough were seen together over Berners Heath. Reports of spring passage included one south at Landguard, March 31st and a female at the same site the next day. Late-summer records included one at Trimley Marshes, August 1 3th, and singles at Havergate Island, August 29th and on Orfordness a week later. In autumn there were 18 reports from six sites in September including one which frequented Minsmere for at least three days. At Landguard a total of six flew south â&#x20AC;˘ncluding three, October 3rd. A further seven single birds were present on 11 dates between September 28th and November 5th. Elsewhere, one flew north offshore at Sizewell, October 26th and a late bird flew in off the sea at Landguard, December 5th. Inland one was seen at Thetford, September 7th. It is likely that a maximum of seven birds was present in the second winter period, 75

Suffolk Birci Report


slightly fewer than last year. These included an adult pair on Orfordness in November and December, and two at Trimley Marshes. Single birds were noted on several dates during this period at Minsmere, North Warren and the surrounding area and two were at the former site, November 11th. Reports were received from nine sites in the south-east and included one roosting in the nestbox on Orwell Bridge on three dates in December. Inlanc records, involving at least two birds, came from six sites in Breckland between Octobe' 1 Oth and December 31 st. There were several reports of interesting hunting behaviour. These included three obser vations from Orfordness, where on October 12th one was seen chasing a Leach's Storm petrel; on November 10th one flew inshore with a Blackbird caught out at sea and or December 5th one was seen repeatedly diving at a Barn Owl. Elsewhere, a large femali attacked a Canada Goose at North Warren in December, a juvenile was seen chasim pigeons between Bawdsey and Ramsholt in September and one killed a Lapwing at Micklt Mere in March. WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus Fairly common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. This species was recorded at 33 sites, the same as last year. Reports of breeding, oi probable breeding, were received from 13 of these sites, an increase of five on the 2003 total. The sites with the largest breeding populations were Westwood Marshes (129 territories), Minsmere (estimated between 63 and 80 territories), North Warren (48 territories, a drop of 15% on the previous year), Dingle Marshes (31 territories), Hen Reedbed (25 territories) and Lakenheath Fen (21 territories). Breeding was proven at Lackford Lakes, where a well-grown juvenile was seen, August 31st. Reports for the winter months suggest birds were widely dispersed throughout the county, occurring generally in small numbers. The highest counts of five birds were received from Lackford Lakes, February 17th and December 11th. Up to two birds were reported feeding underneath the bird table at the Lackford Lakes Visitor Centre from January to March and again from October 8th to the year's end; this is the second winter in succession that this behaviour has been noted. Also at Lackford Lakes, one was seen to catch and eat a small fish, December 8th. On Orfordness, recorded in every month except May, with a maximum of four, October 16th and December 8th. SPOTTED C R A K E Porzana porzana Rare passage migrant; rarely over-summers. Amber List. A quiet year for this elusive species with just a single record received. Minsmere: Eastbridge, calling, Jun.l 1th (L.G.Woods, R.Marsh).

C O M M O N M O O R H E N Gallínula chloropus Very common resident, winter visitor and passage


Counts from regularly monitored sites:

Jan Minsmere* North Warren* Alde/Ore Estuary Deben Estuary Orwell Ewuary Alton Water Lackford I.akes*


70 24 34 49 5 -


Feb 15 70 27 42 46 14 30

Mar 21 60 19 29 20 -

• -W

Apr 35












8 39


"monthly maxima


Oct ; .. 60 43 32 35 12 ;



Dec „

60 34 29 35 10 14

60 49 25 44 5 30

This remains a very common species, occurring in suitable wetland habitat throughout the county at all times of the year. The BBS found this species in 4 4 % of the 41 squares surveyed



(51% in 1995, 50% in 2000), with a combined total of 36 birds. Breeding records were received from only 12 sites, so this is clearly an under-recorded breeding species. The largest numbers of breeding pairs were recorded at North Warren (66 pairs), Minsmere (56 pairs) and Lakenheath Fen (47 pairs). At all three sites a drop in numbers was recorded of between 10% and 30% on the previous year. Outside the breeding season a notable count of 117 was received from the Mickle Mere, October 6th. In central Ipswich, up to 30 were in Christchurch Park, November 5th. COMMON COOT Fulica atra Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. The BBS found Coots in 17% of the 41 squares surveyed (14% in 1995, 18% in 2000), with a combined Counts from regularly moiritored sites: total of 15 birds. Nov Dee Apr Sep Oct Jan Feb Mar Reports of breeding Minsmere* ; ; â&#x20AC;˘< 71 200 200 30 51 200 were again received North Warren* 34 14 15 70 71 36 29 .. 120 210 67. 90 from only a handful Alde/Ore Estuary 97 94 7 2 15 3 9 20 8 0 of sites, 13 in total. Orfordness* 84 100 72 67 42 39 178 Lakenheath Fen Deben Estuary 84 132 193 - -- 126 112 98 retains the largest Orwell Estuary 142 124 132 126 Alton Water 337 59 281 breeding population 227 248 183 244 291 Lackford Lakes* -with 89 pairs, 'monthly maxima followed by Minsmere (49 pairs) and Walberswick N N R (28 pairs). A post-breeding count of 241 birds was reported from Trimley Marshes, July 20th. However, wintering numbers continue to be quite low, perhaps reflecting the recent run of mild winters. The highest counts of the winter were recorded at Alton Water (337, February 22nd) and Lackford Lakes (291, February 2nd).

COMMON C R A N E Grus grus Scarce passage migrant. Amber List. A good year with ten reported sightings, which appear to relate to between 13 and 18 birds. All but two of the records occurred in the spring. Common Cranes have now been recorded as spring visitors to Minsmere annually since 1999. Carlton Marshes: three north, Apr.l9th. Covehithe: five south, then north over Reydon, May 1 Ith. Westleton: Westleton Heath, north, Mar.21st. Minsmere: five circled the levels and flew south Apr.29th; the same five re-appeared from the south, circled and then returned south at 13.20hrs, Apr.30th; single north, Jun.l3th. Trimley Marshes: single, Apr.30th to May 3rd and also May 5th. Hopton: adult in fields between Hopton and Coney Weston, Nov.29th to Dec.3rd.

Boxted: Oct Ist.

EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Common resident. Amber list. A total of 41 pairs was reported from 17 sites, a stark contrast with the 478 pairs found in a full county census undertaken in 1988/89. Once again, however, it is to be hoped that this reflects under-recording rather than a steep decline in breeding fortunes. Of the 17 sites where breeding was reported, two stand out: Orfordness and WalbersWl ck. At the former, 19 pairs attempted to breed, compared with 27 in 2003. Although there 77

Suffolk Birci Report


was no clear picture of the breeding success, it was unlikely to be high and the only ringed youngster was taken by a Marsh Harrier when about half-grown. At Walberswick, which for these purposes can be taken as including the Blyth and Hen complex, 15 pairs were located and an additional four pairs were found between Walberswick and Dunwich. FIELD NOTE

There must be an easier way than this to raise chicks! A pair of Eurasian Oystercatchersfl nested on a warehouse roof at Melton and In late June the time came to leave the nest.jl The three young took the downward plunge, one landing on concrete, and all survived. It; took four hours for the parents to lure the young across grass, through link fencing andj brambles, through a yard and through a second fence. They were last seen crossing the; Ipswich-Lowestoft rail line en route for the River Deben. In this instance at least, it is* perhaps fortunate that this line carries only a limited service! All observed from an office: window. Nick Marsh J A pair nesting on disused industrial land at a site in the Gipping Valley, is possibly the valley's first recorded nesting attempt. Other inland breeding was reported from the Mickle Mere (pair fledged two young), Livermere Lake (pair with a fledged juvenile). Lackford Lakes (pair mating, March 31st) and Nunnery Lakes (pair fledged two young). WeBS counts and other monthly maxima are as follows: Jan 113 183 112 1167 1194

Blvtb Aide/Ore Deben Orwell Stour

Feb 177 152 164 1709 846

Mar 182 386 224 902 636

Apr .?




ij; 182 -


Sep -

'§• -

! A210



Oct ji-J 36 126 1137 753

Nov -

48 22 783 555

Dee 63 43 91 1103 1205

The importance to this species of the Orwell and Stour estuaries can be seen quite clearly in the above table. The following sériés of counts at Landguard gives some indication of the migratory pattern: Jan 0 0

Feb 0 0

Mar 8 19

Apr 10 32

May Jun 29 4 51 19

Jul 0 145

Aug 9 oo rn

North South

Sep 0 42

Oct 2 20

Nov 0 4

Dec 0 0

P I E D AVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta Fairly common resident, summer visitor and passage migrant on the coast. Amber List. At last, something upbeat to report. This species has had a hard time of it in recent years, suffering heavy prédation of chicks. However, in 2004 Minsmere reported its best season since 1998, a year in which 47 young fledged from 140 pairs. In 2004, 70 pairs made 148 nesting attempts, well up on the 42 pairs and 78 attempts in 2003. No young were fledged in either 2002 or 2003, but in 2004, 64 chicks were seen and, of these, 14 fledged. Also encouraging was the continuing use of Benacre Broad, where 16 nests were counted - up from 13 in 2003 - and at least 20 young were seen, although the rate of prédation on these chicks was not reported. It's always a case of swings and roundabouts 78



with this species, however, and at Orfordness the initially promising total of 35 pairs failed completely due to total prĂŠdation of chicks at the site's main colony. Two other nests were flooded and no young were fledged. At Havergate Island it was a similar story; 97 pairs nested but unfortunately no young fledged, despite good hatching success. The vast majority are known to have been predated by Lesser Black-backed Gulls. At yet another site, 21 pairs nested but again no young were fledged. Eight pairs fledged five young at Dingle Marshes. Up to eight pairs were located at a nearby site and at a third site close by up to seven pairs arrived late in the season, presumably after breeding failure elsewhere and eventually raised two young. Only a single pair appeared at Tinker's Marshes, Walberswick, and they failed to nest successfully. This, one observer commented, is "a sad contrast with the colony that thrived there during the 1980s and 90s." In 2003, at Shotley Marshes, on a scrape created by the farmer Michael Packard, six pairs hatched 11 young, of which five fledged. This was inadvertently omitted from the 2003 report. A pair was present here in April and May 2004 but did not nest. Avocets again appeared in the west of the county. The first was at the Mickle Mere, March 27th (first site record), then two were at Lakenheath Washes, April 16th. Possibly the same two were at Lackford Lakes, April 18th and two others were at Lakenheath Fen, May 13th. Five more were at Livermere Lake, July 13th, constituting the largest group ever to be recorded inland in Suffolk. The following counts were made on the estuaries: Evidence of the early Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar spring transfer from wintering Blyth Estuary 441 485 62 0 grounds to breeding sites was Aide/Ore Estuary 1134 1127 405 894 916 894 provided at Minsmere, where Debcn Estuarv 210 353 40 183 140 215 February's peak was two, Orwell Estuary 63 68 3 0 2 0 jumping to 151 in March. This Stour Estuary 0 0 6 25 0 0 feature can also be seen in the table above, the exodus from the favoured estuaries of the Blyth and the Aide/Ore between February and March being well illustrated in the respective counts. Numbers at Minsmere had dwindled to 18 in October and two in November. Two that spent December at this site were joined by an additional two, December 21st. S T O N E - C U R L E W Burhinus oedicnemus Locally fairly common summer visitor. Red List. The first report of the year involved a bird heard calling as it headed north over central Lowestoft, March 15th. Arrivals in the Suffolk Breckland took place from March 21st, a date on which two breeding sites recorded their first birds of the year. A total of 187 pairs was known to have nested in Breckland, which is a healthy 22 pairs more than in 2003 (RSPB Stone Curlew protection team). Eighty of these pairs nested >n Suffolk (79 pairs in 2003), so the increase was almost entirely in the northern, Norfolk Part of the Breck. A minimum of 117 young were known to have fledged and overall Productivity in the Breck in 2004 was 0.64 young per pair. On one large Suffolk estate, 48 Pairs nested, 37 chicks were ringed and at least 34 chicks were known to have fledged. Once again, there were some areas to which access was denied and a few pairs will have gone unrecorded. On the coast six pairs nested and at least four young were fledged. This includes a pair which nested successfully at Minsmere, after an absence of 35 years. They only succeeded at their third attempt, eventually fledging two young. A juvenile on The Scrape at 79

Suffolk Birci Report


Minsmere, August 28th, was probably from this population. Observers wishing to viev, Stone Curlews should continue to use existing viewing sites elsewhere, as there are ne visitor facilities for this species at Minsmere at present. Post-breeding flocks were reported from three sites. At the main site, the peak number was 47, September 17th, but other notable counts here included 13, July 24th; 25, Octobei lOth and, finally, ten, October 26th. At a second site, 22 had assembled on September 17th and at the third site, 16 had gathered, October 2nd. At the latter site the year's final report involved two on the late date of November 9th. LITTLE (RINGED) PLOVER Charadrius dubius Uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. It is not often that this species is seen on the coast earlier in the year than it is at its breeding sites in the west. This, however, was the case in 2004. Suffolk's first of the year was at Minsmere, March 13th, five days ahead of the west's first record, at the Mickle Mere. For the second consecutive year, four sites were occupied in the west, but this time only five pairs were thought to have been breeding, compared with six in 2003 and only three young were seen, one less than the previous year. In the north-east of the county, two sites were occupied, each by one pair, one of which is thought to be the last in the Waveney Valley. At this site, a juvenile was seen, July 24th, but it might not have been a locallyraised bird, as the adults were not seen after July 3rd. At the other site in the north-east. two young were raised. There were no confirmed breeding records from the south-east of the county. Mating was observed at one site, however, and an adult giving an alarm cali may possibly indicate that at least a breeding attempi was made at a site in the Gipping Valley. Autumn passage was typically condensed into a fairly brief period, commencing with singles at Minsmere, June 26th and Orfordness, June 27th. Only one report concerned a double-figure count, that being 11 at Orfordness, July 24th. The next highest count was eight at Benacre, August 8th and the final report came from Minsmere, September 29th. RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Breeding was noted at six sites and the 32 reported pairs produced a minimum of 18 chicks. This is a similar picture to that in 2003, when there was a total of 28 pairs located at six sites, although the number of chicks produced then was not clear. Ali records of breeding came from the coastal strip. The obvious conflict between human recreational activity on our beaches and the interests of this species has been referred to in previous bird reports. Suffice to say here that the pressure shows no sign of abating. There were no references to breeding in the data received from the west of the county, where, presumably, human recreational pressure is less and agricultural activities take its place. However, it is to be hoped that the true level of breeding in this area is not reflected in this 'blank' in the records. This species is often on the move early in the year and this trait was shown again, particularly in a run of February and March records from the west. For example, at Lackfor-J Lakes, the site's first of the year was noted February 22nd and was said by the observer to be a "typical date". Evidence of the exodus from our estuaries between February and March can al so be gleaned from the table below. After two blank years, there were two reports of birds which showed characteristics of the small, dark race C.h tundrae. At Lakenheath Fen, 20 were noted May lst (the largest gathering of passage birds ever recorded in the west of Suffolk), while at Tinker's Marshes, 80



Walberswick, "several" birds in a group of 20 Ringed Plovers on September 19th appeared to be of this race WeBS counts were as follows: In addition to the Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec table, the following 14 0 — Blyth Estuary 38 15 noteworthy counts Aide/Ore Estuary 25 22 4 39 12 16 ::•• > were made: 90 at Deben Estuarv 43 16 61 42 57 North Warren, SepOrwell Estuary 113 21 138 113 43 8 tember 19th; 235 at Stour Estuary 63 30 87 60 18 57 80 98 Landguard, February 5th and 370, November 14th; 80 at Stutton Mill, October 16th and 91 at Shotley, December 11th. EURASIAN DOTTEREL Charadrius morinellus Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. Orfordness: May 4th (J.R.Askins, D.Cormack). A typically-dated spring migrant. Previous records at this remote coastal site occurred in 1979 (five in over the sea, Slaughden, May 7th) and 1967 (a trip of 14, August 14th). EUROPEAN G O L D E N PLOVER Pluvialis apricaria Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. f h e wintering flocks of up to 7000 noted on the Blyth Estuary and in the west of the county in the few years either side of the turn of the century appear to be things of the past. In 2004, by far the largest flock reported was the 3500 at Lackford, January 24th and 25th. In addition to the WeBS data below, the only other four-figure flocks reported in the first quarter of the year were: Fressingfield: 1100, Jan. 19th. Great Waldingfield: 1800, Jan.21st Newmarket Heath: 1200, Feb.l 1th. At Landguard, singles in off the sea, January 28th and south, January 31st, provide evidence of hard-weather movement. The following monthly maxima at Orfordness provide a clear-cut cameo of this species' presence in the county, particularly its scarcity as a spring passage migrant: Jan 600

Feb 500

Mar 120

Apr 39

May 0

Jun 0

Jul 1

Aug 118

Sep 105

Oct 400

Nov 1400

Dec 400

In the final quarter of the year, the following four-figure counts were received in addition to the WeBS data: Ellough: 1000, Nov. 1st to 30th. Redgrave Lake: 1500, Dec.5th. Mendham: 1500, Dec.30th. Long Melford: 1250, Nov 7th, 1200, Dec.24th. Mickle Mere: 1500, Oct.28th; 1200, Nov.27th; 1000, Dec. 17th, Uvermere Lake: 1000, Dec.5th. Stanton: Wyken Hall, 1000, Oct. 15th. Ma

The only references to birds of the northern form were two, Southwold Town Marshes, y 17th, and a single, Great Livermere Lake, August 4th.


Sufioík Bird Report


The following WeBS counts were received: Blyth F.stuary Alde/Ore Estuary Deben Estuary Onvcll Estuarv Stour Estuary

Jan 1200 183 112 70 2006

Feb 1650 152 164 0 610

Mar 25 386 224 0 20

Apr -




182 -


Sep -





Oct :



326 101 500 26

249 341 422 185

Dec 587 1582 965 160 144

GREY PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The Stour Estuary maintained its pre-eminenee for this species over all other sites ir SufFolk. As can be seen from the table, two counts here exceeded 2000 birds. The Orwel Estuary's figures were consistently below those of the previous year and the scarcity of tht species on the Blyth is striking. Autumn passage got under way with a single at Minsmere, July 20th and by the month's end there were 14 Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec in Holbrook Bay ; — 4 16 Blyth Estuary 10 - " August saw the peal Alde/Ore Estuary 152 36 0 59 72 70 visible migration of -441 Deben Estuarv 656 446 399 220 280 Orwell Estuary 458 516 128 304 140 265 the species along Stour Estuary 2128 2472 1091 369 1854 122 962 1532 the coast, with 39 south at Landguard. August 12th and 65 south at Thorpeness, August 18th, being the highest passage counts and 133 had gathered in Holbrook Bay, August 1 lth. There was only one report from the west of the county. A party of four was at Cavenham Pits, December 6th.


NORTHERN LAPWING Vanellus vanellus Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Declining as a breeding species. Amber list. In the north-east and south-east recording areas, a total of 95 pairs was located, but only seven sites were referred to in observers' records . In the west of the county, ten sites were involved - the same number as in 2003 - but only 41 pairs were located as opposed to 60. In general, data received makes commenting on this species' breeding fortunes difficult. Suffice to say that on our nature reserves, where sensitive management work is carried out, the species seems to be faring rather well. For example, at Minsmere, an "encouraging increase" was reported with 12 pairs on The Scrape compared with five in 2003. Here, there were 15 nesting attempts and 22 young hatched, with three additional nests whose outeomes were unknown. On Minsmere Levels, ten pairs were found, with an additional pair just outside RSPB land, compared with seven in 2003. There was also a pair on arable reversión land and the general comment from Minsmere that "good numbers of young survived to fledge" looks to be good news. The BBS recorded Lapwings on 27% of the 41 squares surveyed (22% in 1995, 21% in 2000), with a combined total of 48 birds. On other reserves, 22 pairs nested at Walberswick/Dingle, 30 pairs at North Warren, ten pairs at Trimley Marshes and at least five pairs on Orfordness. In addition 12 pairs were located at Over Hall Farm, Shotley, with "many young" being seen. At the latter site, 15 pairs nested in 2003, raising at least nine young. 82



WeBS counts Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dee were as follows: Blyth Estuary ': 567 519 46 108 In addition, four- Aide/Ore Estuary 4 9 7 1 3 4 0 8 235 n - • 5 7 0 1430 5 4 7 2 figure counts in the Deben Estuarv - 372 239 3049 2554 552 21 first winter period Orwell Estuary 527 1042 77 304 570 2054 were as follows: Stour Estuary 2251 1511 58 455 824 81 193 1218 Vlinsmere: 1520, Feb.lóth. North Warren: 2580, Mar.8th. Redgrave and Lopham Fen: 1000, Feb.3rd. Troston: 1400, Feb.l4th. In the second winter period, four-figure counts included the following: Ilavergate Island: 2160, Dec.30th. Sutton: 1500, Dec.24th. Redgrave Lake: 3000, Dec.5th. Mickle Mere: 1000, Dec.23rd. As can be seen from the figures above, there were some high counts in both winter periods. Indeed, Minsmere's 1520 in February is thought to be a reserve record. These big gatherings were undoubtedly quick responses to worsening weather elsewhere, probably on the near-Continent. RED KNOT Calidrìs canutus Locally common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The colossal December WeBS total of 6840 on the Stour Estuary is the highest count of this species ever made in Suffolk. It carne after a November Stour count of 6210, which in itself was also a county record. The December Stour count is ali the more impressive when the same day's total of 1052 on the neighbouring Orwell Estuary is taken into account. There is often much interchange between these two estuaries where this species is concerned, and a large gathering on one estuary may sometimes mean there are very few birds, if any, left on the other. However, on this occasion we can clearly see the value of co-ordinated counts and can safely say that the two estuaries held a total of almost 8000 birds. The reason for these larger-than-usual gatherings is likely to be related to the onset of hard weather in other parts of the species' winter range, particularly those adjacent to the North Sea. WeBS counts Dee Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov were as follows: 100 Blyth Estuary 137 121 2 Spring passage ;V: 95 Aide/Ore Estuarv 33 62 - 2 9 31 was no more marked 64 24 Debcn Estuary 4! 100 0 69 than we have come Orwell Estuarv 1052 250 791 4021 2 38 to expect. Aprii saw Stour Estuary 6840 6210 1576 909 48 8 3000 the bulk of this movement. A total of 29 passed by Landguard, April 19th, and Minsmere's monthly peak was 23, Aprii 4th. A tideline corpse was found at Landguard, Aprii 7th. Very few May records were received; the highest number at this time was seven at King's Fleet, May 15th. A total of 13 was logged at Landguard during June and Havergate's tally in this month was five on 5th and eight on 12th. It is not clear whether these birds were late migrants still heading north or birds that were not tempted to undertake such travels in the first place. However, the 16 heading south off Thorpeness, June 23rd, may well have been our first sight of post-breeding southward passage. It was during July that return passage began to e noted in earnest, commencing on 4th with two at Havergate. 83

Suffolk Birci Report 2004 A series of records from Thorpeness gives some indication of the levels of offshore passage. Monthly totals from here were 22 south in July, 135 north and 157 south ir August, 19 north and 50 south in September, 304 south in October and 100 north and nine south in November. A single at Flixton GPs, September 26th, was the only inland record received. SANDERLING Calidris alba Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Remarkably few were reported from Lowestoft, until now the species' traditional wintei stronghold in Suffolk. In fact, if the records received give an accurate picture, the three there. January 6th and four, January 17th, were the only ones present at this site all year. Surely this must be down to slack reporting, rather than the site being shunned by the species. The first winter period produced the year's highest counts. The 17 at Benacre Broad January 1st, had risen to 24, February 19th and 32, February 21st to 29th. Twenty were still present at this site, April 13th. Nearby, at Kessingland, up to 18 were noted in January and 15 were still present, March 17th. Lighter-than-usual spring passage was noted in May, when the largest groups reported were eight at Havergate, 6th; six at Kessingland, 15th; six at Minsmere, 29th and eight at Orfordness, 30th. Four at Havergate, June 5th, completed the spring movement. Two at Benacre Broad, July 14th and one at Stutton Mill, July 19th, signalled the start of return passage, a movement in which the largest groups noted were 15 at Thorpeness. August 25th; 14 at Benacre Broad, August 10th, and 12 at Orfordness, August 15th. The only reports received in the final two months of the year were two at Orfordness. November 21st and one south at Landguard, November 23rd. SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER Calidris pusilla Very rare visitor. 2003 Addition Burgh Castle: Sep.26th (P.R.Allard). The county's fourth record of this Neararctic calidrid occurred on the Suffolk shore of the western end of Breydon Water. LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta Uncommon passage migrant. Occasionally overwinters. Spring passage was light, with only four birds reported. This trickle commenced at Minsmere, May 3rd, followed by one at Orfordness, May 15th and others were at Minsmere, May 23rd and May 28th. Return passage commenced in late July, with singles at Orfordness, 28th to 31st, and Minsmere, 29th. The largest migrating group during this movement was the 12 at Orfordness, September 13th to 14th. Minsmere's peak at this time was a disappointing four, September 23rd. Two long-stayers at Minsmere were present, October 1st to 30th and their departure marked the end of the species' autumn passage. Only one record was received in either winter period - a single at North Warren, December 30th. Records from the west of the county are always worthy of note. Two juveniles were at Mickle Mere October 6th to 10th, with one remaining on 11th. TEMMINCK'S STINT Calidris temminckii Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. There was a very good spring passage of this popular, diminutive visitor. The total of about 16 individuals makes this the best-ever recorded spring passage in Suffolk. 84



Hen Reedbeds: two, May 16th (A. Green); two, May 18th (R. Drew) and two, May 25th (R.Drew). Minsmere: May 4th (RSPB); two, May 15th (C.F.); three, May 17th (J.H.Grant); May 18th (P.Green) and May 21st (J.H.Grant). Orfordness: May 15th; two, May 16th to 17th and two, May 21st (D. Cormack et al). Boyton: May 14th (S. Abbott, G.J.Jobson) and two, May 15th (G.J.Jobson). Felixstowe Ferry: May 6th (W.J.Brame). andguard: two north, May 15th (N. Odin). Livermere Lake: May 21st, seen to display and sing (L.Gregory) - see Common Greenshank. Autumn records came from: Benacre Broad: two, Aug 19th (B.J.Small, D.A.Fairhurst). Orfordness: July 15th (D.Cormack et al). 2003 correction Hrantham: Seafield Bay, May 6th (Suffolk Birds 2003: 80). Correct date was May 7th. WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER Calidris fuscicollis Very rare passage migrant. Somewhat akin to the famous London buses, we wait eight years for one and then four turn up almost at once! The year's first was also the first since three were found in Suffolk territory at Breydon Water, July 23rd to 31st, 1996. The birds at Minsmere in September and October were considered to be different individuals and there have now been about 28 records in the county. The September bird, to the delight of hundreds of observers, could at times be seen in the same telescope field of view as the species' even rarer Nearctic cousin, Baird's Sandpiper, Calidris bairdii. Minsmere: Sep. 18th and 19th (RSPB, D.Fairhurst et al)-, Oct. 13th to 24th (RSPB, R.Drew et al); a different bird wearing a ring, Oct. 14th (N.Odin). All three were juveniles, rrimley Marshes: adult summer, July 15th (W.J.Brame et at). BAIRD'S SANDPIPER Calidris bairdii Very rare passage migrant. The sixth county record and the first since 1990 when juveniles visited Benacre Broad briefly on September 23rd and Easton Broad on October 27th.. Hundreds of observers were drawn to Minsmere's Scrape for this bird, which was added to many life and county lists. Although a long-stayer, the bird spent much of its time out of view on the difficultto-watch Minsmere Levels. Minsmere: juvenile, Sep. 19th to Oct.8th (D.Fairhurst, RSPB et al). PECTORAL SANDPIPER Calidris Scarce passage migrant.


A juvenile on the North Levels completed Minsmere's impressive 2003 hat-trick of rare or scarce calidrids . It is not known whether one or two birds were involved. Minsmere: juvenile, Sep. 19th (RSPB); the same or another, Oct. 15th (RSPB). 2003 correction Livermere Lake: Sep.30th to Oct. 12th (Suffolk Birds 2003: 80); correct final date is Oct. 11th. CURLEW SANDPIPER Calidris ferruginea Uncommon passage migrant. There were no April records and spring passage commenced with two at Minsmere, May 1 st. Three at Orfordness, May 5th, was the largest spring group reported in what was an unremarkable passage. 85

Suffolk Birci Report


Autumn passage was noted from July 5th, when a bird called in to Minsmere. July's largest group was 11 at Minsmere, 31st, just beating the ten at Orfordness on 25 h. Generally, smaller numbers were noted in August, although this trend was well and tri ly bucked by the 37 at Havergate on 12th. September's largest gathering was 15 at Tinke 's Marshes, Walberswick, 19th and the year's final report concerned a single on the Bl\th Estuary, October 22nd. P U R P L E S A N D P I P E R Calidris maritima Fairly common winter visitor. Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. In the first winter period, Ness Point, Lowestoft - traditionally the species' most favoured Suffolk site - dominated the records. Up to six were noted there in January, up to seven in February and up to six in March, with the last record being five on 13th. Elsewhere, the only other reports received referred to singles at Felixstowe, January 7th and Landguard, February 26th. Three at Orfordness, May 5th, and two there, May 28th, were clearly on northward spring passage. A single flying south off Southwold, September 30th, was the first indication of returning birds, but was followed by only two in October - at Felixstowe, 19th, and Landguard, 11th to 13th. November records centred largely on Ness Point, Lowestoft, where the month's peak was 11 on 2nd. The only other November records came from Southwold Boating Lake, where two were noted 17th, and East Lane, Bawdsey, which was frequented by a singleton, 2nd to 27th. December's peak was five at Ness Point, 18th. The only other December records came from Southwold, where two were seen, 1 st to 20th, and East Lane, Bawdsey, where two were noted, 4th to 12th. D U N L I N Calidris alpina Very common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. WeBS counts received neatly showed the exodus from our estuaries with the onset of spring, with big reductions in numbers between February and March, and the winter buildups from October to the end of the year. They were as follows: In addition, a Jan Sep Oct Nov Dec Feb Mar Apr high-tide roost S - 2722 Blvth Estuary 2500 1469 253 S- •• count of 1200, on 494 • Aide/Ore Estuary 2487- 2125 1102 1732 2885 grazing marshes at Deben Estuary 2650 3504 243 v: 1221 2251 2130 North Warren, Orwell Estuarv 507 1872 724 624 931 67 January 4th and Stour Estuary 249 398 304 5465 5351 7480 7626 3326 a similar count of 1300 at the same site, November 23rd, were of note. There is evidence of a marked decline in the numbers of Dunlin using the Orwell Estuary in the 21st century. Totals, at sites away from the estuaries, can illustrate the level of this species' spring and autumn passage. At Minsmere, for example, February's peak was 12, the peak in March was 69 and April's was 82. Overland migration was also taking place during this period as indicated by a plethora of sightings in the west of the county, albeit only involving small parties of up to three birds. Sites frequented were Livermere Lake, Lackford Lakes and Mickle Mere, the peak being three at both Livermere Lake and Mickle Mere, March 6th. Return passage was noted from July. Minsmere's peak count during this month was 145 on 13th and its subsequent monthly peaks were 85, August 11th; 53, October 2nd; 63. November 19th and 36, December 11th. Another cameo of southerly autumn passage is provided by the following monthly totals from Landguard: 86

Systematic List A handful of autumn migrants appeared in the west of the county, starting with a single at Livermere Lake, July 23rd to 24th. The area's peak number in this movement was three - an adult and two juveniles - at Livermere Lake, August 19th and the west's final record for the year came fn >m Lakenheath Washes, December 26th. Jul 42











RUFF Philomachus pugnax Common passage migrant. A few oversummer and overwinter. Amber list. This species was markedly more widespread in January than is usually the case, with records received from four locations. The first of the year was noted flying north at Kessingland, January 2nd. A party of seven was noted at North Warren, January 9th, and on January 25th three were noted on the Aide and a single was at Orfordness. Somewhat surprisingly after this good start to the year, the only site to hold this species in February v as Minsmere, where six noted on 22nd was the reserve's monthly peak. Four migrant groups were noted in March: three on Southwold Town Marshes, 13th; ven at Minsmere, 16th; five on the Sizewell Estate, 4th, and seven at North Warren, 8th. single at Lackford Lakes, March 31st, was the first to be noted during the year in the v est of the county. April's peak count came at Minsmere, where seven were reported on d. The only reports from other sites in April came from Orfordness, 4th; Trimley iarshes, 16th; Mickle Mere, two on 2nd, and Livermere Lake, 25th. In May, the most interesting report involved six birds at Minsmere on 15th. This group included four displaying males, although, sadly, breeding was not suspected. A singleton was at Orfordness, May 5th to 6th, seven called in there, 16th and three were there, 18th. In the west, a male frequented the Mickle Mere, May 2nd. Two sites held birds in June but, again, breeding was not suspected. Autumn passage commenced on July 9th, when seven were noted at Trimley Marshes. his site's peak count for the month was 23, followed by peaks of 23 in August and four in September. At Minsmere, the July maximum was 13 on 23rd, followed by other monthly maximum counts of 18, August 13th, and six, September 2nd. The county's only October record came from Mickle Mere on 2nd. A Dutch-tagged bird remained at Minsmere, November 1 st, until the year's end and in December it was joined by a second, untagged bird, which also remained throughout the month. The only other reports during the second winter period, referred to a singleton on the Blyth Estuary, December 1st and a male at Mickle Mere, December 2nd. 1

JACK S N I P E Lymnocryptes


Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. The highlight of an otherwise disappointing year for this species was the totals in the early Part of the year on Orfordness. Sightings at this excellent wetland site peaked at three in January and six in February. Overall, Jack Snipe were noted at only six coastal sites in the Period to early March (13 in 2003). However, during the same time, there were singles at four localities in west Suffolk - Livermere Lake and Lackford Lakes in January and Holywater Meadows (Bury St Edmunds) and Mickle Mere in March. The most unfortunate spring migrant was the individual that hit a window at Meadow ar k School, Lowestoft, March 30th. During April, there were sightings at four coastal sites up to 25th (Minsmere). A particularly popular bird was present in front of Minsmere North Hide, April 17th to 21st. 87

Suffolk Birci Report


None was then recorded until the first of the autumn at Dunwich shore pools, Septemb r 29th, followed by one at North Warren on 30th. Relatively few were noted during the ma n phase of autumn passage. In October, there were sightings at Minsmere, Sizewell, Norih Warren, Orfordness, Trimley Marshes, Erwarton Bay and Lakenheath Fen; all involved singles apart from three at North Warren, 12th and up to two on Orfordness during ti e month. Surprisingly, the only November reports were of one on various dates on Orfordness. n December, singles were noted in the coastal region at Shingle Street, 28th; Trimley St Martin, 12th; Wherstead, 24th and Erwarton Bay, 10th and up to two on Orfordness durirg the month. December inland records involved singles at Lackford Lakes, 28th and 29th and Lakenheath Fen throughout the month. C O M M O N SNIPE Gallinago gallinago Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Very small numbers breed. Amber list. Although there was no proven breeding, an increase in the number of displaying/singing birds offers some hope for the future. Up to five "drumming" males were at Minsmere n April (although not subsequently), while at Walberswick NNR, Westwood Marshes hosted a "drumming" male and up to three "chipping" birds from late April onwards into May. Elsewhere, singles remained into early May inland at Lakenheath Warren and Mickle Mei e and on the coast until mid-May at North Warren and Orfordness. There is some evidence that the species might have bred somewhere in the Orfordness area, where up to two birds were present in June. Totals had been unusually low in the autumn and second winter period of 2003 and, as the table illusCounts from the principal wetland sites were: trates, this trend Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov Dec continued into the 32 52 100 Minsmcre* 72 26 28 30 early months of 29 North Warren* 65 100 5 21 15 2004. Counts in: 32 11 - 4i. 21 37 Aide/Ore Estuary t 16 47 creased at some sites 16 8 7 4 7 10 33 Orfordness* 11 Deben Estuary 13 37 25 7 8 11 in February and the : ~ at North Orwell Estuary 30 1 ÂżIB' 1 0 5 1 figure Warren in March 4 0 1 24 Stour Estuary 8 18 5 9 44 101 11 Mickle Mere* 14 27 22 6 probably relates to spring passage birds. "monthly maxima This passage was particularly pronounced on April 13th, when there were 100 at North Warren and 28 at Minsmere and 14 flew north at Landguard. Returning birds were first noted in the second week of July when two were at Mickle Mere on 11th. Both Landguard and Livermere Lake recorded their first autumn passage birds on July 28th and Lackford Lakes on August 8th. The monthly maxima for July and August were 15, Orfordness and 25, Minsmere, respectively. The only other double-figure total in the late-summer period was of 20, Trimley Marshes, August 12th. Apart from events at Minsmere and Mickle Mere, autumn passage at the main sites was again on a low scale. Minsmere's totals gradually increased to reach a peak of 100 on November 26th before declining to only 30 on December 1st. In October at Mickle Mere, counts increased from 54 (4th) to 95 (6th) and 101 (8th), before decreasing to 54 on 10th. Figures elsewhere included 50 Lakenheath Fen, October 29th and 25, Knettishall, November 21st. Four flew in from over the sea on October 31st at Landguard, where one was also present on December 8th. 88

Suffolk Birds 2004 Part 1  

Volume 54

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