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Suffolk Birds 2011


West Area Recorder Colin Jakes, 7 Maltward Avenue, BURY ST EDMUNDS IP33 3XN Tel: 01284 702215 Email: colin@jakes.myzen.co.uk

South-East Area Recorder North-East Area Recorder Scott Mayson, Andrew Green, 8 St Edmunds Close, 17 Cherrywood, Springfields, WOODBRIDGE, HARLESTON IP12 4UY Norfolk IP20 9LP Tel: 07766 900063 Tel: 01394 385595 Email: Email: andrew@waveney1 .fsnet.co.uk smsuffolkbirder@gmail.com


SUFFOLK BIRDS VOL. 61 A review of birds in Suffolk in 2011

Editor Nick Mason

Greatly assisted by Philip Murphy (Systematic List) Adam Gretton (Papers) Bill Baston (Photos) Phil Whittaker (Artwork)

Published by SUFFOLK NATURALISTS' SOCIETY in collaboration with SUFFOLK ORNITHOLOGISTS' GROUP 2012


Published by The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH Š The Suffolk Naturalists' Society 2012 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 10-11, The Sterling Complex, Farthing Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 5 AP.

Front cover: Sandhill Crane at Boyton Richard Allen The Copyright remains that of the photographers and artists


CONTENTS Page Editorial: NickMason 5 Review of the Year: Lee Woods 8 Minsmere RSPB Reserve 2011: Adam Rowlands and Robin Harvey 14 Suffolk Tree Sparrow Project 2008 - 2011 : Steve Piotrowski, Simon Evans and John Walshe 16 A study into the breeding population of the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo in West Suffolk: Chris Gregory 28 A study of Sparrowhawks in a small area of Suffolk, 2000 to 2011 : Reg Woodard . . . . 31 Sandhill Crane - a new bird for Suffolk: Steve Abbott 38 Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii at Minsmere - a new bird for Suffolk: John H Grant . . 40 Oriental Turtle Dove - a new bird for Suffolk: Richard Doe 42 Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla - a first for Suffolk: Oliver Slessor . . . . 43 September 16th, 2011 - a day to remember. The seabird movement off Suffolk: John Grant 45 The 2011 Suffolk Bird Report Introduction 47 Systematic List 49 Appendices 164 List of Contributors 168 Gazetteer 170 Earliest and Latest Dates of Summer Migrants 172 A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk 173 Rare Birds in Suffolk 2011: David Walsh 177 Suffolk Ringing Report 2011: Simon Evans 183 The artwork in this Report is by Richard Allen, Colin Ayers, Peter Beeston, Mark Ferris, Su Gough and Rebecca Nason. List of Plates Plate No.

1. Whooper Swans Clive Naunton 2. Tundra Bean Geese Sean Nixon 3. Eurasian Wigeon Alan Tale 4. Garganey Chris Mayne 5. Red-throated Diver Peter Ransome 6. Black-throated Diver Peter Ransome 7. Little Egret Jon Evans 8. Spoonbill Jon Evans 9. Little Grebe Bill Baston 10. Great Crested Grebes Alan Tate 11. Sparrowhawk chicks and egg Reg Woodard 12. Sparrowhawk Kath Langbridge 13. Possible Steppe Buzzard Chris Mayne 14. Hobby Kath Langbridge 15. Peregrine Falcon Bill Baston 16. Sandhill Crane David Hermon 17. Sandhill Crane Jon Evans 18. Pectoral Sandpiper Jon Evans 14. Little Stint Jon Evans 20. Spotted Redshank Jon Evans 21. Curlew Sandpiper Jon Evans

Facing Page

Plate No.

Facing Page

22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41.

120 120 120 121 121 121 121 121 121 160 160 160 160 160 160 161 161 161 161 161 161

Black-tailed Godwit Amanda Hayes Arctic Skua Kath Langbridge Mediterranean Gull Amanda Hayes A u d o u i n ' s Gull James Kennerley Iceland Gull Chris Mayne White-winged Black Tern Chris Mayne Cuckoo James Kennerley Oriental Turtle Dove Richard Doe Long-eared Owl Bill Basion Little Owl Liz Cutting Kingfisher Amanda Hayes European Bee-eater Clive Naunton Roller Bill Baston Woodlark Clive Naunton " C h a n n e l " Wagtail James Kennerley Booted Warbier Chris Mayne H u m e ' s Leaf Warbier Sean Nixon Nuthatch Liz Cutting Short-toed Treecreeper Chris Mayne Isabelline Shrike Jon Evans 42. Woodchat Shrike Oliver Slessor

40 40 40 40 41 41 41 41 41 80 80 80 81 81 81 81 81 120 120 120 120

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Suffolk Bird Report 2011

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 présentation, especially in relation to references and tables. Where relevant, nomenclature and order should follow the latest published for The British List by the British Ornithologist's Union and available on their web site at www.bou.org.uk. English names should follow the same list. Contributions should, if possible, be submitted to the editor by e-mail or on a CD/DVD 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 altérations must be confined to corrections of printer's errors. The cost of any other altérations may be charged to the author. Photographs and line drawings are required to complément each issue. Suitable photographs of birds, preferably taken in Suffolk, can be either digital or in the form of 35mm transparencies. A payment of £12 will be made to the photographer for each photograph published and £12 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 décision on such matters will rest with him or her. Material submitted for publication should be sent to the editor no later than March Ist of each year. Authors of main papers may request up to five free copies of the journal. Any opinions expressed in this Report are those of the contributor and are not necessarily those of the Suffolk Naturalists' Society or the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group.

Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee: Chair: Steve Abbott Area County Recorders: Colin Jakes, Andrew Green, Scott Mayson Bird Report Editor: Nick Mason (non-voting) Secretary: Craig Fulcher (craigfulcher@btinternet.com) Other Committee Members: Steve Abbott, Will Brame, Lee Woods, Dave Fairhurst, John Walshe, Derek Beamish. BBRC correspondent: Dave Walsh (non-voting)

ADDRESSES Papers, notes, drawings and photographs: The Editor ( S u f f o l k Birds), The Suffolk Naturalists' Society, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH. Records: See inside front cover. Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee - correspondence: The Secretary, SORC, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH or craigfulcher@btinternet.com.

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Suffolk Bird Report 2011

Editorial Nick Mason What a year 2011 was for the all-round birder. There was plenty of surveying to do during the last year of the Atlas, alongside regular monitoring schemes such as WeBS and BBS and checking on populations of those birds most liable to have suffered from another cold winter spell. And alongside that came all those exciting rarities. When was the last time that Suffolk had four new species in the same year? The Atlas work was completed and all the records have now been checked - some of the provisional maps have been released by the BTO. During validation some records were found that would need to pass through the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee and so could not be accepted. Those who sent those records in were encouraged to submit them to SORC so that they could be included. The cold spell at the end of 2010, and lasting into 2011, did not seem to be as devastating as the previous year's. Dartford Warblers, for instance, maintained their levels on Hollesley Commons, possibly because the freeze came earlier when the birds were still well fed? Many were lucky enough to catch up with the Sandhill Crane and possibly the Short-toed Treecreeper, Suffolk's second Booted Warbler (how well that showed!) and those sprite-like Hume's Warblers in Lowestoft. Unfortunately the Audouin's Gull did not hang around and those keeping our economy going will have most likely missed it. The strangest record of the year, the Oriental Turtle Dove, was only identified from photographs sent to the RSPB because the finders had seen that they were interested in Eurasian Turtle Dove records. Each of these occurrences has been written up in articles in this Report (crane by Steve Abbott, gull by John Grant, dove by Richard Doe and treecreeper by Oliver Slessor). Other articles include a round-up of recent management for wildlife at Minsmere (Adam Rowlands and Robin Harvey), separate surveys on Sparrowhawk (Reg Woodard) and Common Buzzard (Chris Gregory) in parts of Suffolk, the long-awaited report on the Tree Sparrow Survey (Steve Piotrowski, Simon Evans and John Walshe) and a report on the seabird extravaganza of September 16th (John Grant). The latter article was John's third input into this report and I am really grateful for his efforts - as well, of course, as I am for all of the aforementioned authors. Practically all the contributors above are volunteers as are the writers who do the systematic list who, as usual, have done a fantastic job. Thank you to all of them: Gi Grieco, Andrew Green, John Davies, John Grant, Chris Gregory, Mike Swindells and John Glazebrook, James Wright and Andrew Easton, Malcolm Wright, Phil Whittaker, Nathaniel Cant, Andrew Gregory, Richard Attenborrow, Steve Fryett, Paul Gowen and Peter Kennerley who writes the Appendices. The Rarities Report, on rare birds considered by the British Birds Rarities Committee, has, as usual, been put together efficiently by David Walsh. The ringing report has again been compiled and written by Simon Evans. He has done another fantastic job piecing it all together and producing something of interest for ringers and non-ringers alike. 2011 was another excellent year for BINS and the service provided in texts and on the website remains first-class. Lee Woods has put together the Review of the Year based on the website. Both Lee and John, in his article on the September seawatch day, make the same perennial point about the lack of submission of records. These need not necessarily be of rarities for them to be important in giving a true picture of Suffolk's birdlife. The relevant addresses of the three County recorders, Andrew Green, Colin Jakes and Scott Mayson, can be found on the inside of the front cover. The names of those making up SORC can be found on page 4. It should be noted here what a sterling job your SOG chairman, Roy Marsh, is doing for 5


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 the Organization. Council meetings are lively and relevant and reveal just how much préparation Roy has put in - alongside the likes of Phil Brown (Harrier Editor). We should like to encourage all Suffolk birders/birdwatchers to join SOG. As usuai Philip Murphy has been incredibly diligent in checking my editing and has added countless historical facts and picked up inaccuracies where they have occurred. Thanks also go to Laurie Forsyth for his proof reading. In communication with Andy Stoddart, the Norfolk Bird Report editor, it is sad to see how the fate of some species mirrors those in Suffolk. "As ever, the story ofbreeding birds is one of 'winners ' and 'losers '. Amongst the most obvious 'losers ' are three species now very much reduced in the county. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was recorded from just a handful of sites whilst Willow Tit has been shown to be almost extinct. Turtle Dove is now also only infrequently recorded. Only eight 'booming' Bitterns were reported in 2011 and only two pairs were confirmed to have bred. Ringed Plovers continued their steady decline with only 142 pairs, Snipe were only 'drumming' at five sites and there were no breeding Honey Buzzards in 2011." On the more positive side " Winners were, however, numerous. Red Kite continues its colonisation with now at least three, and possibly seven, pairs and five young raised. Two pairs of Peregrines bred and Hobby increased to at least 18 pairs. Common Buzzards are nowfar too common to count properly! Over 40 pairs ofLittle Egret were spread across four colonies and the recently-established Spoonbill colony increased in size to eight pairs which raised 14 young. The number of Mediterranean Gull pairs reached towards 30. Firecrests continue to do well with around 90 pairs spread across three main areas. Our two pairs of Dartford Warbiers continue to hang on despite the poor weather and Wheatear bred for the first time since 2008. "And from Cambridgeshire - how long will it be before we have regulär Ravens in our skies? Fenland récréation in Cambridgeshire and the work on Wallasey Island by the RSPB in Essex are both exciting developments in our neighbouring counties that will be beneficiai to birds and wildlife as a whole. I have been concerned for some time about the behaviour of some bird photographers. It was no surprise, therefore, when I started to ask fellow birders about what I perceived as a problem. With little prompting respected members of our birding fraternity endorsed my feelings about the problem. I took the subject to a SOG council meeting and there was unanimity that I should write about it in this éditorial.

Little Ringed Piover Richard Allen

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Editorial The issue has two sides; firstly the disturbanee of nesting birds, and when these are Schedule 1 species then the activity is illegal. Wading through heather to get a better shot of Dartford Warbiers is such an instance. The nests of such birds are really difficult to pin down by experts who are licensed to do so. Using tapes to Iure them near their nest simply flies in the face of those trying to preserve these rare species. Secondly the wilful hounding of rare or unusual birds so that they leave the vicinity. This is both unfair on the bird that may be exhausted having found its way here and completely selfish as it prevents others from being able to see the bird for themselves. So rnuch for a common bond. David Tipling has produced a useful code of practice an edited version of which is produced here:• A well-used mantra but one that is paramount is that the welfare of the bird is more important than the photograph. • Birds should not be harassed by continuai pushing and flushing. Most rarities soon settle into a pattern and successful photography can often be achieved by waiting patiently and allowing the bird to come to you. • The use of playback vocalisations should be employed sparingly, if at ail; if a reaction is not forthcoming immediately, then playback is unlikely to work and should not be repeated in a given territory. It should be noted that the use of playback for species protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act may be considered illegal. • Photographing breeding species listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act requires a licence. It is an offence to recklessly disturb a Schedule 1 species when that species is nest-building, at, near or in a nest containing eggs or young. This includes the photography of dépendent young, too. To apply for a licence to photograph Schedule 1 species you need to contact the respective licensing bodies. In the UK these are Natural England (www.naturalengland.org). • Photography at or near a nest should be undertaken only by those with a good understanding of the species involved and who are, therefore, able to keep disturbanee to a minimum. If photography is likely to inhibit normal behaviour, a hide should be used and moved slowly into position; normal practice is for a hide to be moved a short distance each day. A competent bird photographer will be able to identify whether the birds have accepted the hide and this should be checked after every move. If the birds show signs of rejecting the hide, it should be moved back to its previous position. If signs of rejection persist, photography should be abandoned. Good hide etiquette requires the photographer to be seen into the hide by another person and duly collected. Hides used for nest photography should not be left erected at sites that might attract public attention. • Vegetation, whether around a nest or in other circumstances, for example concealing a shrike's larder, should not be chopped away; judicious gardening, including the tying back of branches, is acceptable, as long as the habitat can be returned to the state in which it was found. • Live mammals such as mice should never be used to bait predatory birds such as raptors and owls. • Always ensure you have the landowner's permission if you are venturing into an area away from public rights of way or common land. • Nesting colonies, roosts and important feeding areas should not be disturbed in pursuit of photographs. The thoughtless actions of one photographer can jeopardise the réputation of others. • Respect the rights of fellow photographers. If a photographer is in a position close to a bird, resist the urge to immediately join him or her without first gaining their acceptance. A photographer may have taken a considérable amount of time to carefully approach a bird and by assuming it is fine to approach you run the risk of both flushing the bird and making yourself unpopulär with your fellow photographer. 7


S uffolk Bird Report 2011

Review of the Year 2011 Lee Woods January As with most years, Suffolk's keenest birders were out at dawn taking part in the annual New Years day bird race and among the birds found that day were two flocks of Tundra Bean Geese with 12 being on the levels at Minsmere and 13 birds at Boyton Marshes. A Great Northern Diver was seen on the Orwell Estuary viewable from Woolverstone Marina, Slavonian Grebes were noted with a single bird present at Alton Water and five noted in Holbrook Bay on the Stour. A Little Stint was present on the flood at Boyton. The juvenile Iceland Gull remained from 2010 and continued to show well around Ness Point / Links Road car park, Lowestoft through-out the month. Small flocks of Wax winy were evident around the county on 1st with the largest gathering being 50 birds at both Ipswich and Lavenham. The drake Green-winged Teal from 2010 was on the levels at Minsmere before moving to West Scrape where it showed well until 2nd and, what was presumably the same individual, was seen the next day further down the coast at North Warren and remained until 11th. A Black-necked Grebe was seen on the Deben Estuary, Waldringfield from 2nd to 4th and was then joined by a Slavonian Grebe, 3rd and 4th. What was presumably the same Black-necked Grebe was seen on the Orwell Estuary at Freston on 7th. Taiga Bean Geese are a scarce winter visitor to the county, so the news of four birds at Boyton Marshes on 2nd, staying until 14th, and visiting Hollesley Marshes, proved popular. A Hooded Crow was seen at Slaughden on 22nd. A Great White Egret was discovered on the mere at Thorpeness on 10th and remained until 23rd though proved elusive at times. Caspian Gulls were seen on occasions throughout the month at the stronghold sites for this species North Warren and Minsmere. Fourteen Pink-footed Geese were seen on Boyton Marshes on 2nd and up to 65 birds were seen to fly upriver from Melton on 13th. Two Shore Larks were noted on the beach at Landguard on 2nd and the following day 14 birds were seen along the shingle ridge at Dunwich remaining all month although numbers did fluctuate. Waxwings continued to be seen throughout the month with 60 birds taking up residence at Rendlesham from 5th. The returning flock of wild swans at Blythburgh were popular throughout the month with peak counts being 91 Bewick's and three Whooper Swans. An overwintering Curlew Sandpiper was found amongst the waders on the high tide roost at Dock Lane, Melton from 14th. A Rough-legged Buzzard was seen well over the Kings Forest, Breckland on 16th and remained in the area until the month's end. Eight Hawfinches were seen on this date within the grounds of Sotterley Park. A first-winter female Ferruginous Duck was an excellent inland discovery on Needham Lake on 19th, the bird then moved the next day to nearby Bosmere Lake were it remained until the 27th. Two adult Black Brants were seen on the Deben Estuary, viewable from Bawdsey Quay on 25th and then from Felixstowe Ferry from 29th until Feb 4th. On 25th an impressive count of 74 Lapland Buntings was seen in fields from the South wall at Breydon Water. February A drake Ferruginous Duck was found at Oulton Marshes from 21st and was perhaps the same bird seen at Leathes Ham on December 17th. Up to six Greater Scaup were at Leathes Ham until 17th and six were seen at Benacre Broad, 11th and up to four at Wherstead Strand until 9th. The Iceland Gull remained in the Lowestoft area. Up to 23 Shore Larks were on Havergate Island and a dozen or so remained at Dingle 8


Review of the Year 2011 Marshes. Another was at Landguard, 10th. A Northern Bullfinch was seen on Dunwich Heath on 6th. A Great Grey Shrike was trapped at Alderton, 4th and one was at Santon Downham, 13th. Small flocks of Tundra Bean Geese were seen in the county throughout the month with 12 at North Warren and 14 on Walton Marshes, near Kingsfleet. A Black Brant was present at Falkenham Marshes until 4th. A Black-necked Grebe was off Pakefield, 1st and another was viewable from Lakenheath Fen from 27th. A Red-necked Grebe was at Nacton, 26th. A Great White Egret was seen at Thorpeness and Minsmere. A presumed over-wintering Willow Warbler was seen on the outskirts of Ipswich on 27th. March The first mega of the year was discovered in the form of a Short-toed Treecreeper (first for the county) that was trapped at Landguard on 24th and stayed into early April. A Serin was also at Landguard, 16th. A White-spotted Bluethroat sang for a day at Carlton Marshes, 20th and the drake Ferruginous Duck remained nearby at Oulton Marshes until 18th. A Cattle Egret was also at Carlton Marshes, 28th. The Iceland Gull remained in the Lowestoft area. Three Penduline Tits were at Minsmere 14th and 15th and two were at Dingle Marshes, 24th. Rough-legged Buzzard sightings in March included birds seen at Minsmere on 21st and Ipswich 27th, although many more were reported but the relevant documentation to support these was not forth-coming. A Great Grey Shrike was discovered at Upper Hollesley Common from 17th. Up to ten Shorelark remained at Dingle Marshes. Up to six Greater Scaup were at Trimley Marshes and the Tundra Bean Goose was still there, 6th. The River Orwell threw up some interesting sightings off Levington during the month with a Red-necked Grebe and Long-tailed Duck. Black-necked Grebe was viewable from Lakenheath Fen until 6th and up to four Common Cranes were there. A Glaucous Gull was at Lackford Lakes on 5th and, what was presumed to be a Baltic Gull, roosted there during March. A Coues's Arctic Redpoll was at Mayday Farm, Brandon on 12th and 13th. There was the expected arrival of Black Redstarts, Firecrest and White Wagtails. The first Wheatear in Suffolk was at Landguard on 9th, Swallow at Lackford Lakes, 17th, Garganey at Minsmere, 21st and Osprey at Blaxhall on 23rd. April 2011 News of yet another first for the county filtered out in the form of an Oriental Turtle Dove that was seen and photographed in a garden near Beccles from 13th to 15th but unfortunately wasn't seen by anyone other than the finders. A Black Stork was a notable discovery as it drifted over Felixstowe, 7th and near-by, the Short-toed Treecreeper remained at Landguard until 6th. The juvenile White-tailed Eagle, which wintered in Hampshire, strayed into Suffolk along the coast as far south as Carlton Coleville, before doubling back to Norfolk, 4th. A male Montagu's Harrier was at Kessingland, 17th. Others were seen, Orfordness, 25th, Minsmere 25th and Landguard, 26th. Rough-legged Buzzard sightings in April were at Southwold, 17th, Orfordness, 21st and at Shingle Street on 24th. From the Mediterranean came a Bee-eater seen over Ashwell, near Sizewell, on 17th, an adult summer-plumage White-winged Black Tern lingered at Minsmere, 30th at least and a male Woodchat Shrike stayed near Halesworth from 28th into May. A Purple Heron flew north at Minsmere on 24th. A Serin was at Minsmere, 22nd. Wrynecks were at Shingle Street on 9th and Minsmere, 25th. 9


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 The Iceland Gull remained in the Lowestoft area all month. It had now been there for five months. Another was seen at Great Livermere 20th to 26th often accompanied by a Glaucous Gull, 20th to 30th at least and another Glaucous Gull was at Dingle Marshes, 3rd. The Great Grey Shrike remained at Upper Hollesley Common until 3rd. A Great White Egret was at Pipps Ford, 25th and a Raven seen over Chelmondiston on 24th. A Shore Lark was still at Landguard at the end of April at least and up to six were around Kessingland Sluice until 20th. Another was at North Warren and 15 were on Havergate Island, 10th. The Tundra Bean goose remained atTrimley Marshes until 22nd. Fresh easterly winds at the end of the month produced some good seawatching with a few Pomarine Skuas being noted. May 2011 For the third consecutive month, Suffolk hit the headlines with the discovery of an adult Audouin's Gull that spent just over four hours on 9th at Minsmere before flying south. It was the first record for Suffolk, although this "Mediterranean" Gull has become almost annual to the UK since the first record in 2003. The White-winged Black Tern remained at Minsmere until 3rd and another appeared on 30th. Also at Minsmere were a Roseate Tern on 29th and a Purple Heron from 16th to the month's end. The juvenile White-tailed Eagle wandered from Lincolnshire again and was seen at Eastbridge, Leiston and Walberswick, 4th and Oulton Broad, 5th. There were single Montagu's Harriers at Westleton Heath, 11th and Sizewell and Minsmere on 12th. A late Rough-legged Buzzard was seen at Ramsholt, 14th. A female Honey Buzzard flew low over Trimley Marshes on 7th and other sightings included a bird over Westleton on 12th. A Black Kite was seen over Island Mere, Minsmere on the afternoon of 8th. The male Woodchat Shrike stayed near Halesworth until 3rd. The first Golden Orioles returned to Lakenheath Fen on 7th and the only others were two at Newbourne Springs, 12th. There was just one Red-rumped Swallow sighting, at Minsmere on 14th. A White Stork was seen over several sites including: Needham Market, Reydon and Southwold, 4th, Barnby Broad, Minsmere and Shadingfield, 6th, Castle Marshes, 7th, Carlton Coleville, 9th, Bawdsey, 9th and Lakenheath Fen 9th and 11th. Red-necked Phalaropes were seen on Orfordness, 7th and Livermere Lake, 30th. The only Temminck's Stint was at Trimley Marshes, 20th and a Pectoral Sandpiper was there from 15th to 17th. The Iceland Gull remained at Lowestoft until 14th and a Glaucous Gull was still at Great Livermere on 1st. A Great White Egret was at Pipps Ford, 10th. The Shore Lark remained at Landguard until 5th. Several Quail were noted by the end of the month. June The highlight for many in Suffolk this June was the adult Roller found at Upper Hollesley Common on 13th. The last in the county was surprisingly way back in 1991 when a juvenile bird was on Orfordness! Minsmere remained the focus of a lot of attention with the Purple Heron being last reported 8th, a female Ferruginous Duck there from 16th until August 2nd and one or two Roseate Terns. A Broad-billed Sandpiper was at Breydon Water from 1st to 3rd and viewable from the South Wall. Other highlights during the month included a Bee-eater over Dingle Marshes on 14th and a Great White Egret was at Southwold on 11th. With Manx Shearwaters, an influx of Crossbills, many Spoonbills and up to five singing Quail, June was not that quiet for birds.

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Review of the Year 2011 July An early White-rumped Sandpiper was seen on Orfordness on 6th. A Cattle Egret spent an afternoon on the South Levels at Minsmere, 30th. The female Ferruginous Duck probably remained at Minsmere all month and a drake was seen there on 17th. Other highlights were up to eight Spoonbills and up to two Roseate Terns, one of which was seen off Sizewell. There was a gathering of Little Gulls in the area with up to 150 birds by 31 st. One or two Black Terns were at Minsmere and off Sizewell. A bird showing plumage features of an Eastern Common Tern (form longipennis) was seen at Pakefield on 14th and Minsmere on 22nd and it, or another, showing similar plumage details was at Alton Water on 11th and 24th. The best count of Spoonbills was of 13 on Havergate Island on 24th. August South-easterly winds and rain on August 23rd resulted in an Icterine Warbler at Minsmere (until 24th), a Red-backed Shrike at Lowestoft, a Dotterel at Landguard and a Red-necked Phalarope at Livermere Lake. Next day there were Wrynecks at Pakefield and Minsmere and, the following day, at Thorpeness (until 29th) and Corton. A juvenile Woodchat Shrike at Pipps Ford on 20th was an excellent inland find. There was just one report of a Roseate Tern which flew south past Landguard on 23rd. A juvenile Purple Heron was present on the Broad at Benacre on 16th and 17th. The first five Pied Flycatchers of the autumn were at Bawdsey, Orfordness and Minsmere on 6th. A male Red-backed Shrike at Castle Marshes stayed until 5th having originally been found in July. The female Ferruginous Duck remained at Minsmere until 2nd. Covehithe Broad had an interesting selection of waders with a maximum count of 17 Curlew Sandpipers on 27th. Early-returning winter visitors included a Black-throated Diver past Kessingland on 25th and a Purple Sandpiper at Landguard on 27th. September A possible Fea's Petrel, a potential first for the county, was seen north past Lowestoft, 15th. The next day there was an unprecedented movement of scarce seabirds along the Suffolk coast with Great, Cory's and Balearic Shearwaters all being seen from several coastal locations. However, despite numerous sightings, documentation was only received for the following; Great Shearwater off Landguard and Southwold, Cory's Shearwater off Felixstowe, Slaughden and Sizewell and Balearic Shearwater off East Lane, Bawdsey. Other notable seawatch sighting's included Balearic Shearwaters off Sizewell, 10th and three off Southwold, 11th. Sabine's Gulls were seen off Felixstowe on 12th and Sizewell, 16th. Despite the wind blowing predominately from the south-west scarce passerines did manage to arrive from Europe: a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling dropped in at Minsmere, 11th and a Yellow-browed Warblers was there, 18th and an Icterine Warbler was at Lowestoft, 25th. Another Yellow-browed Warbler was at Lowestoft, 30th. Wrynecks were at Bawdsey, 7th, Covehithe Broad, 8th, Landguard, 16th and Beccles, 17th. Of the six Pectoral Sandpipers in Suffolk during September up to five were at Minsmere 11th to 20th and 29th to 30th at least. The other was at Covehithe Broad 4th to 10th. A Grey Phalarope was at Minsmere, 15th and a Dotterel at Levington Creek, 19th to October 3rd. A drake Ferruginous Duck dropped in at Lowestoft, 26th. A Quail was flushed at Pakefield, 19th. Two Great White Egrets were at Covehithe Broad, 14th and a Cattle Egret flew over Ipswich, 17th. Early-returning winter visitors included a Redwing at Thorpeness, 1st, three Greater 11


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 Scaup at Alton Water Reservoir, 1st and 2nd, Lapland Bunting at Covehithe Broad, 9th and Great Northern Diver at Landguard, 15th. October The Sandhill Crane, first found in Scotland, was relocated in Suffolk in October. It was first seen at Kessingland, before stopping briefly at both North Warren and Sudbourne Marshes, before settling in at Boyton Marshes from 2nd until 7th. This was the first record for Suffolk and was admired by visitors from across the country. A Cory's Shearwater was seen past Felixstowe and Landguard on 9th. A single Balearic Shearwater was seen off Thorpeness, 10th. A drake Green-winged Teal was present on Benacre Broad from 21st until mid-November. The Lowestoft area produced several scarce birds with a Woodchat Shrike, 8th to 14th and Olive-backed Pipit 15th and 16th being the highlights. There were two Red-flanked Bluetails: one on Orfordness, 13th to 16th and the other at Minsmere on 13th and 14th. Other quality birds included a Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike at Dunwich Heath on 14th, a Little Bunting on Orfordness, 13th, a Booted Warbler seen at Landguard on 16th, a Dusky Warbler at Kessingland, 22nd and, finally, a Pallas's Warbler at Shingle Street, ringed on 16th. There were several sightings of Glossy Ibis in the county. Two Great White Egrets flew over the Orwell on 19th. Rough-legged Buzzards were seen over Southwold and Covehithe, 19th; two were on Havergate Island, 20th (with one bird remaining until November 17th); singles were at Boyton Marshes, 20th; Butley, 20th; Sudbourne, 23rd and Orfordness, 20th and a different bird from 22nd to November 3rd. There seemed to be Yellow-browed Warblers everywhere. Other scarce migrants included up to two Great Grey Shrikes at Corton, 13th to 16th, with singles at Dunwich 13th, Shingle Street 13th to 15th, Kessingland 13th to 17th, Pakefield, 13th, Castle Marshes, 13th, Westleton 14th, Brandon CP 16th, Sutton Heath 20th to 23rd, Covehithe 21st and West Stow CP on 31st. The Pectoral Sandpiper remained at Minsmere from 1 st to 6th and the Levington Creek Dotterel until 3rd. A juvenile Ferruginous Duck was at Lowestoft on 1st. November Another Red-flanked Bluetail this autumn this time being trapped at Landguard on 14th the second-latest ever recorded in the UK. The small influx of Hume's Yellow-browed Warblers continued with birds at Gunton 13th to 15th and one or two in Lowestoft from 15th to 23rd. There were Dusky Warblers at North Warren, 6th to 10th, Orfordness, 13th and Shingle Street, 15th. Pallas's Warblers were at Corton from 2nd to 5th and Lowestoft 9th, 12th and 16th. Yellow-browed Warblers were at Lowestoft, Kessingland and Bawdsey. A Glossy Ibis was at Minsmere, 26th and 27th. A Great White Egret was at Minsmere on 8th and another at Oulton Marshes on 12th. The Green-winged Teal at Benacre Broad stayed until 14th. There was an influx of Tundra Bean Geese with a few double-figure counts. There having been three Taiga Bean Geese at Barsham from 9th to 11th two were at Lackford Lakes at the end of the month. 39 Little Auks flew past Southwold on 7th. Rough-legged Buzzards were seen on Orfordness, 1st and Falkenham Marshes, 20th. Great Grey Shrikes were at Castle Marshes and West Stow CP on 1st, Lowestoft, 7th and Ickworth Park, 14th. The first Waxwing of the autumn was at Castle Marshes on 1st soon to be followed by a high double-figure count at Eastbridge. Some late-summer visitors included: Common/Pallid Swift at Leiston, 6th and two 12


Review of the Year 2011 Sizewell, Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, 12th, Willow Warbler at Gunton, 4th, Common Tern at Oulton Broad all month, Arctic Tern at Lowestoft, 22nd, House Martin at Thorpeness, 9th and Yellow Wagtail at Thorpeness on 12th. December One of the Hume's Yellow-browed Warblers remained in Lowestoft until 6th. Several other good birds were found in the area with a Black-throated Diver on Lake Lothing from 24th, a Hoopoe from 31st and the long-staying Common Tern at Oulton Broad was last seen in Hamilton Docks on 2nd. Nine Shore Larks were on Havergate Island on 18th and two were still there, 31 st. A Glaucous Gull flew south past Havergate Island, 27th. Also in the area were seven Common Cranes that found it to their liking at Gedgrave and Boyton Marshes RSPB until 22nd. The Stour Estuary, as is usual in winter, had several scarce waterbirds: Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, up to five Slavonian Grebes and a Red-necked Grebe. That Great Northern Diver, or another, was found on the River Orwell at the end of December. Ten Tundra Bean Geese settled in the Minsmere, Westleton and North Warren area and nine were at Boyton Marshes on 3rd at least. Two Tundra Bean Geese remained at Lackford until 11th. A Black Brant was seen at Trimley Marshes and nearby Levington Creek throughout the month. A few Pomarine Skuas lingered along the Suffolk coast with one seen regularly off Landguard. Grey Phalaropes flew past Thorpeness on 17th and Southwold on 8th. There was a massive count of just over 5,700 Red-throated Divers past Thorpeness on 31st and five Black-throated Divers having flown past there the proceeding day. Iceland Gulls were at Great Livermere and Lackford Lakes. Single Rough-legged Buzzards were seen at Gedgrave Marshes, 8th and Barsham Marshes from 3rd remaining into the New Year. Great Grey Shrikes were at Shottisham on 1st and Marlesford on 11th and two others lingered at Upper Hollesley Common from 23rd and Lower Layham from 26th. The number of Waxwings at Eastbridge peaked at around 100 at the beginning of the month. The action then moved to Ipswich, Martlesham Heath and Reydon, with doublefigure counts from each. The above Review of the Year was based on information taken from Birdline East Anglia and Suffolk BINS. During 2011 several other notable birds were reported. However the relevant documentation required to support such claims was not forthcoming and, therefore, do not feature in this article.

13


Suffolk Bird Report 2011

Minsmere RSPB Reserve 2011 Adam Rowlands and Robín Harvey It is hard for the breeding season not to remain the key focus of a reserve manager's attention and 2011 represented the usual mixture of triumphs and challenges. The reedbed hosted 11 booming male Bitterns, with six nesting attempts by females recorded, both figures representing a welcome increase on the numbers recorded in 2010. Twelve female Marsh Harriers nested, fledging 21 young. On the Scrape and adjacent lagoons 108 pairs of Avocet fiedged 15 young. Four pairs of Mediterranean Gull attempted to breed amongst record numbers of Black-headed Gulls. Breeding waders across the wetland habitats were represented by 35 pairs of Lapwing and 24 pairs of Redshank, both representing increases on the previous year. On the acid grassland and heathland the continuing success with breeding Stone-curlews was maintained, with seven pairs fledging eight young. A pair that attempted to breed cióse to the visitor centre provides us with hope that we should soon be able to show these 'wailing heath chickens' to folk visiting the reserve. Ten churring male Nightjars, 11 Woodlark territories and 13 pairs of Dartford Warbler all represented declines compared to the previous year. The reasons for potential declines are several, including the impacts of the cold winter and adverse impacts from increased numbers of Red Deer on the heathland vegetation and through disturbance. We continué to monitor potential factors and are increasing our efforts to devise solutions to attempt to reverse these steady declines. On the downside, Little Terns failed to attempt to breed and the male nominate-race Blacktailed Godwit (Limosa limosa limosa) that has been attempting to attract a mate along a significant length of the Suffolk coastline did not take up residence, with only one bird seen on a single date. A survey of the fish population in the reedbed in October recorded a biomass of nearly 74kg per hectare. This is incredibly high and indicates that there should be a plentiful supply of food for breeding Bitterns in the 2012 season. Monitoring of the benthic invertebrate biomass on the Scrape continued to indícate that the volume of food is below target levels. This illustrates the difficulty of maintaining coastal lagoons in good condition to attract feeding waders, but we continué to attempt to redress this balance with the fallowing scheme and the management of salinities. These efforts were rewarded with some wader interest, including at least six Pectoral Sandpipers during September-October, with a record count of four present simultaneously on one autumn day (September 15th). Other rare visitors during the year included the first Audouin's Gull for the county in May, our second Red-flanked Bluetail in October, a Serin in the spring and a Cattle Egret (muchneeded on many a Minsmere list) in July. These were accompanied by White Stork, several Glossy Ibis, Green-winged Teal, Ferruginous Duck, Black Kite, White-tailed Eagle, two White-winged Black Terns, several Wryneck, Grey-headed Wagtail, Red-rumped Swallow, Icterine Warbler, Rose-coloured Starling, two Penduline Tits and a singing Savi's Warbler on a single date. Although not genuinely rare visitors, the single territories of Grasshopper Warbler and Redstart represent a continuing concern. Other wildlife highlights included a count of over 3,000 adult Silver-studded Blue butterflies and 165 flowering Red-tipped Cudweed plants. A Gypsy Moth was the rarest of four new species of moth trapped during the year: the reserve Lepidoptera list has now risen to an impressive 1,096. On the downside, no NatteijackToad spawn was recorded and the localised Grey Hair-grass was confirmed as extinct in the dunes - a victim of the surge tide in 2007. Habitat management to ensure ideal conditions for breeding reedbed species included reedcutting using the 'Truxor' amphibious machine, along with brushcutting by reserve staff (which was hampered by bad weather in the autumn, preventing access to some areas). Elsewhere in the reedbed, ditch slubbings were levelled off by a digger and outlet pipes were 14


Minsmere RSPB Reserve 2011 repaired to ensure improved control of water levels in areas of reedbed due south of Bittern hide. The same digger slubbed-out over half a kilometre of ditches on the grazing marshes, improving conditions for wetland plants and invertebrates as well as birds. On the scrape, vegetation was cut, raked and burnt at the end of the breeding season and Konik ponies maintained short vegetation by grazing from November onwards. We turned over a number of islands on west Scrape to create bare ground, as well as fallowing and rotavating a section to improve benthic invertebrate biomass as food for waders. Foot drains were also reinstated, improving the habitat visible from North Hide. The complement of cattle, Konik ponies and sheep grazed across the wetland habitats, whilst sheep and Exmoor ponies grazed the drier acid grasslands and heathland. Birch and gorse were felled and cut to open up areas and restore heathland and we continued a policy of zero-tolerance in relation to the ground-hugging New Zealand immigrant, Pirri-pirri Bur, which continues to attempt to proliferate across the acid grassland. Machinery was deployed to strip heather litter from the reserve and adjacent sites which will be spread onto heathland reversion areas to encourage dwarf shrubs to establish. This provides a win-win situation, managing the heather on the donor sites to provide a varied age structure that benefits a wide variety of wildlife, whilst enabling the spread of heather into new areas. In the woodland, we were grateful for the work of Lowestoft RSPB Local Group volunteers, who undertook selective felling of young Sycamores. The Environment Agency began a large-scale construction project in the autumn to raise and strengthen the North Wall to protect the majority of the reedbed, grazing marshes and the scrape from incursion by the sea. It is anticipated that the North Marsh, lying between the North Wall and the Dunwich Coastguard Cottages will be inundated by the sea at some point in the coming years. Progress was assisted by the favourable autumn weather and was completed early in 2012. This scheme has been nearly seven years in preparation, so it is great to see the habitats and breeding species at Minsmere afforded appropriate protection before a catastrophic event associated with a North Sea surge tide. Nearly 89,000 visitors were recorded, including 1,306 children from 40 schools on organised visits. This is an area of the reserve operation that we are hoping to expand through the Discover Nature project, which will provide a new 'Discovery Centre' and Wild Zone for children and families to explore. Building work started in October 2011 and was completed in spring 2012. As part of this package of works we are also re-furbishing the Visitor Centre, providing an expanded reception area, larger cafĂŠ and improved (and more environmentally-sustainable) toilets. We have improved the car park (a frequent gripe of visitors and their cars) and we have replaced the Island Mere hide, which was 33 years old. The new hide represents a change in design, with all the viewing from the equivalent level of the upper storey in the old hide. This was to provide equivalent views for all visitors, allowing everyone to appreciate good views across the mere. The big aspiration of Discover Nature is to use the available space at Minsmere to offer a range of activities for visitors to enjoy getting closer to nature. As part of this, we are keen to maintain and improve the birding experience and undertook a variety of activities to assist this in 2011. Seasonal trails were opened again in the north bushes and reedbed, with a new route through the woodland opened in the autumn. The last option proved very popular and we are looking into making this a permanent feature. Reed-cutting in front of Bittern and Island Mere hides to encourage Bitterns to forage in the open close to the hides proved successful. We are grateful for all the support provided by our visitors and volunteers that ensures that we can save nature at Minsmere. We are also extremely grateful for the funding provided by Natural England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Interreg IVA Two Seas project, Suffolk Environmental Trust, Essex and Suffolk Water, Suffolk Coastal District Council, and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, alongside other trusts and donors. Here's looking forward to 2012, the 65th anniversary of the RSPB becoming involved at Minsmere. 15


S uffolk Bird Report 2011

Suffolk Tree Sparrow Project 2008-2011 Steve Piotrowski, Simon Evans and John Walshe Introduction Thirty years ago, the Tree Sparrow Passer montanus was a familiar sight in the East Anglian countryside and no one would have dreamt that it would ever become threatened. However, over the past hundred years, its population levels have fluctuated greatly, changes that have been strongly linked to agricultural practices (Marchant et al. 1990). At the turn of the 19th/20th Century, numbers were high, but there soon followed a long phase of range contraction and population decline. A fivefold increase occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, when the species became locally abundant but at the turn of this Millennium, the Tree Sparrow was on the verge of extinction, both as a breeding and wintering species, and locai ornithologists feared the worst. Tree Sparrows bred in loose colonies frequenting a variety of rural habitat types: around farmsteads, in hedgerows, along woodland edges, parks, large gardens and old orchards. They nest in holes in trees, thatched buildings, under roof tiles, on ivy-clad trees and walls, old ruins and even in Sand Martins' burrows in coastal cliffs. They were, and stili are, prolific in the breeding season producing up to four broods per year and readily take to nest boxes. Although the national decline is well documented, the trae status of the county's breeding and wintering populations over the last 20 years was unclear. Suffolk Bird Reports listed scant information and it was possible that relict populations, surviving in the heart of the countryside, remained. Locating any "lost" colonies would be difficult as they were likely to occur in areas seldom visited by birdwatchers. However, the SufFolk Tree Sparrow Project was timed to coincide with fieldwork for the British Trust for Ornithology/ BirdWatch Ireland/ Scottish Ornithologists' Club Bird Atlas 2007-11 Project, with a locai aim of covering the whole county by "Timed Tetrad Visits" (TTVs). Surely, any "lost" colonies, together with any newly established ones, would be found? The recent decline CBC/BBS England 1966 -2010 Nationally, the Tree Sparrow population Tree Sparrow crashed catastrophically between the late 1970s and the early 1990s as shown in Figure 1. A UK decline of 93% in breeding numbers was noted on farmland between 1968 and 1999, and déclinés across western and northwestern Europe during the 1990s, resulted in the species being entered onto the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern (see http ://www.bto. org/science/monitoring/psob ). Year The Tree Sparrow has also been classified Figure 1: Smoothed population index, relative as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species. The UK BAP, published in 1994, was to an arbitrary 100 in 2009, with 95% confidence non-continuous iines. Reproduced with the Government's response to signing the permission from the British Trust for Ornithology Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at from www.bto.org/birdtrends.net accessed the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The distribution September 17th, 2012. maps show a marked change between the 1968-72 (Figure 2) and 1988-91 (Figure 3) Atlas periods with a range contraction in the west and south of England. The déclinés continued throughout the 1990s with many locai extinctions and by 2000 the population had reached an all time low of 68,000 territories (www.bto.org/birdfacts.net). Bird Atlas 2007-11 is stili in préparation and has not yet been 16


Su ff Olk Tree Sparrow Project 2008-2011 published. However, the provisionai map for this period shows a severe range contraction in south and south-east England with the species lost from most southern counties as well as coastal districts of Norfolk and Suffolk.

Figure 2: The national breeding distribution of Tree Sparrow in 1968-1972. Reproduced with permission from the British Trust for Ornithology from Sharrock (1976). Large dots represent Confirmed Breeding, medium dots Probable Breeding and small dots Possible Breeding. Figure 3: The national breeding distribution of Tree Sparrow in 1988-1991. Reproduced with permission from the British Trust for Ornithology from Gibbons et al. (1993). Large dots represent Confirmed or Probable Breeding, small dots Possible Breeding.

Agricultural intensification, especially rĂŠductions in winter stubble, is the likely cause of the decline. A failure in breeding productivity is not considered to be a factor as clutch and brood sizes have increased since 1968 and there have been fewer nest failures at both egg and chick stage (Parkin and Knox 2010). Status in Suffolk Babington (1884-86) stated that the Tree Sparrow was generally distributed throughout the county and plentiful in some places. Ticehurst ( 1932) downgraded this status saying that he could hardly call it "generally distributed" but said it was "peculiarly local and distributed in colonies, so that where it occurs it may be quite common ". He went on to say "one may go far through the country side and not see one and then suddenly come on quite a number ". He cites the lack of suitable nesting holes in trees as being responsible for its somewhat local distribution. However, nationally the species was in a period of decline, a fact that may have been unknown to him. Their liking for nest boxes was realised by Ticehurst and he discussed fixing nest boxes at Hopton (East Suffolk), where he had previously seen no Tree Sparrows, but found every box (numbers not documented) hosting nesting pairs the following spring. Payn (1962) described the Tree Sparrow as a common and widespread resident, winter visitor and passage migrant and said there were few parishes in the county in which it did not breed. Tree and House Sparrows' P. domesticus liking for ripening cereal crops just before harvest meant that they were never the farmer's friend. They often gathered in huge mixed flocks to feed, so were actively discouraged and, in some instances, killed in their hundreds. 17


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 T r a : S p a m m comparisi»)

Figure 4. Breeding Distribution of Tree Sparrow in Suffolk 1987-1995 (Piotrowski 2003). Figure 5. A comparison of breeding distribution of Tree Sparrow in Suffolk between 1987-1995 and 2008-2011. Data for 2008-2011 are from the Suffolk Local Atlas and collected as part of the BTO/IWC/SOC Bird Atlas 2007-11 project.

The mobility of the species is well known. Ticehurst (1932) said that the numbers of resident birds "are as nothing compared with the numbers that corne in autumn from overseas or pass south along the coast. " He said that the Tree Sparrow had been known as an immigrant across the North Sea for a hundred years and he cites an example of a flock resting on a ship in the late 19th century and flocks arriving from the sea from the east or south-east. When the species was most plentiful, especially in the late 1970s and early 1980s, migrating Tree Sparrow flocks were a feature of late-autumn migration at watch points such as Landguard Point. National ringing data support the idea of interchange with the near Continent, with seven birds ringed in Britain and Ireland being found on the Continent and seven foreign-ringed birds being recovered in Britain ( Wernham et al. 2002). None of these recoveries were in Suffolk. hrf Spamm Wbrirr 200"-201l

Tree Sparruw 2007-2011 Breeding data

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Figure 6. The summer distribution of Tree Sparrow in Suffolk 2007-2011. Data are from the Suffolk Local Atlas and collected as part of the BTO/IWC/SOC Bird Atlas 2007-11 project. Figure 7. The winter distribution of Tree Sparrow in Suffolk 2007-2011. Data are from the Suffolk Local Atlas and collected as part of the BTO/IWC/SOC Bird Atlas 2007-11 project.

The most recent national decline has been mirrored locally and the Tree Sparrow is now absent from most of Suffolk. This has occurred simultaneously with decreases in numbers and/or range of other farmland birds, which share its diet of grass, wildflower seeds and 18


Su ffOlkTree Sparrow Project 2008-2011 some cereal grains. The importance of invertebrates, essential for chick f'ood, should not be underestimated. Changes in agricultural practices, including changes in livestock management, the switch from spring-sown to autumn-sown crops and the consequent loss of winter stubble fields are the most likely causes of the decline (Parkin and Knox 2010). However, the general reduction in farmland habitat diversity due to the loss of mixed farming, increased specialisation, the increased use of herbicides and fertilisers and habitat fragmentation has also played its part. Large flocks formerly gathered on stubbles and weedy fields during winter and sizeable movements were logged at coastal watch-points. Flocks of 100-150 were regularly recorded up to the mid-1980s and, occasionally, there were four-figure gatherings. However, between 1985 and 2005, flocks of 30 or more became very rare indeed, although three-figure flocks have since been noted (see Table 2), perhaps signalling a pardal recovery. Suffolk Tree Sparrow Project 2008-2011 The Suffolk Tree Sparrow Project was a four-year project with distinct aims and objectives. Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) instigated a conservation management theme, which was to raise public awareness on the plight of the Tree Sparrow, to stabilise core populations and create opportunities for the species to thrive, disperse and re-colonise. Suffolk Naturalists Society (SNS) and Suffolk Ornithologists Group (SOG) supported fieldworkers studying the movements and behaviour of Suffolk Tree Sparrows. The latter included an extensive ringing programme that involved mist netting at feeding stations at a few key sites, throughout the project period, from late July to the following March. Chicks were also ringed in nest boxes at various locations across the county during the breeding season. The bulk of the ringing effort centred on two key breeding populations in West Suffolk where over-wintering birds were also present, substantially bolstering the local population. The project's aims and objectives were as follows: Aim 1 -stabilising core populations 1. AU know colonies to be visited and their numbers logged. Wintering and summering locations to be mapped on to a GIS layer and records made available to Suffolk Biological Records Centre (SBRC). A watching brief to be maintained to determine local population fluctuations. 2. Any reports of breeding or wintering activity away from known sites to be investigated and protection measures and perhaps supplementary feeding employed. 3. Wintering birds to be encouraged to stay and breed. Around 400 nest boxes, to be provided and located at suitable sites. Boxes to be fixed in small groups and monitored in the breeding season by community groups, SWT staff and volunteers. 4. Proactive advice and training to be provided to farmers, landowners and community groups to focus on the necessary requirements to stabilise core populations. Advice to be given directly to landowners hosting Tree Sparrow colonies and their neighbours along with others who wished to encourage the species on to their land. Presentations, local workshops and training courses to community groups to be held in Tree Sparrow breeding areas. Aim 2 - create opportunities for the Tree Sparrow to thrive, disperse and recolonise 1. Wintering flocks to be attracted by the seed in the wild bird seed plots and landowners to be encouraged to re-sow with the same attractive mix. 2. Further investigation to be carried out to determine the seed mixes that are more favoured by Tree Sparrows. As some strips are less favoured by flocks, which is probably due to different constituents in the mix. 3. Supplementary feeding with wild bird seed at strategic feeding stations to be employed to encourage the wintering birds to prolong their stay. The importance of cottage gardens, in the principal Tree Sparrow breeding zones, was 19


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 realised at an early stage of the project. It was also recognised that Tree Sparrows were easily identified by the general public. Reported sightings were followed up and records verified wherever possible. The involvement of local communities, especially those in villages that host Tree Sparrow colonies, was encouraged. To achieve this objective, SWT offered starter packs and information leaflets to householders willing to encourage Tree Sparrows into their gardens, which included nest boxes, bird feeders and seed. The advice leaflet gave details on identification and tips on how to site and maintain the nest boxes, including the necessary cleaning out in late autumn or winter. Research by Field and Anderson (2004) had demonstrated the importance of wetland sites forTree Sparrows. It was found that a variety of wetland edge habitats were frequently used by foraging adult birds when feeding nestlings and that invertebrate prey of aquatic origin was frequently recorded in chick diet. Therefore, surveyors were asked to note the presence of wetland habitats at nesting sites as part of the Suffolk study. To meet the objective of stabilising core populations and creating opportunities for the species to thrive, disperse and re-colonise, the provisión of seed food, invertebrate food and nest-sites (often known as 'the big three' farmland bird requirements) were considered to be most important. Methodology All known colonies were visited and the numbers of individuáis logged. A watching brief was maintained at known colonies to determine local population fluctuations. Any reports of breeding or wintering activity away from these sites were investigated and often supplementary feeding employed. Wintering birds were encouraged to stay and breed and new nesting opportunities were created by the provisión of nest boxes. Advice and training was provided to farmers, landowners and community groups to focus on the necessary requirements to stabilise core populations. Advice was given directly to landowners that hosted Tree Sparrow colonies and those nearby to encourage the species onto their land. This was achieved through one-to-one discussions, local workshops, training courses and presentations to community groups. Once identified, each site was assessed and favourable management strategies sought to enhance the site by all possible means, both within and beyond the scope of agri-environment schemes. Significant breeding colonies were identified and measures were put in place to protect and enhance the population. Landowners were encouraged to retain the availability of wild birdseed plots to prolong the stay of wintering Tree Sparrow flocks (previously there was a trend to plough these up in late January towards the end of the shooting season). Breeding pairs were located and nest boxes provided in and around the wintering and known breeding areas. Key to success was the plentiful supply of seeds throughout the year and this included supplementary feeding to ensure overwinter survival and maintain the condition of adults during the breeding season. A mark and recapture programme was introduced in 2009 to gain a better understanding of the mobility of the species, its site fidelity and longevity. This was achieved by using colour rings in addition to the standard BTO metal rings, thus helping fieldworkers identify individual birds. The metal ring was placed on the bird's right leg with a single colour ring above this to signiíy the year of capture (dark blue for 2009, light green for 2010 and black for 2011). One or two colour rings were placed on the bird's left leg to signify its location of original capture: in total 17 location colour codes were used. Regular updates on project progress were given to Natural England Advisers who are responsible for drawing up Higher Level Environmental Stewardship (HLS) agreements with local landowners. The Tree Sparrow is one of the six key arable farmland bird target species and thus an HLS priority. Updates were provided to birdwatchers and the general public through articles in The Harrier, SWT's Suffolk Wildlife and through local media outlets.


Su ffOlkTree Sparrow Project 2008-2011 Study Results Early mapping showed a few nesting Clusters, mostly in west Suffolk, and these were made known to conservation bodies. However, it became obvious that there was an absence of suitable habitat on intensively managed arable farmland to encourage nesting activity, but instead cottage gardens, especially those with ponds, were preferred.

Site/region Fenland Ridge Lakenheath Mildenhall Fen Whistle Drove Breckland & VV Suffolk Thetford Hall Meadow, Brandon Sapiston The Barracks, Ampton Culford Heath New Zealand Cotts, Bamham Wordwell Seven Hills, Ingham Lackford Village Hcath Fm, Lt Livermere North Farm, Livermere Puttocks Hill, Pakenham Ruffin's Fm. Whepstead Troston Central Suffolk Battisford Earl Soham Bolton's Farm, Bedfield fiettleburgh Thorndon North Suffolk Flixton Mettingham/ Ilketshall St Andrew Mutford

Habitat Type

Nearest aquatie food source

2008

2009

2010

2011

Nature Reserve Cottage garden Cottage garden

< 10m < 10m

10 2

16 2

7 22 1

28 2

1 12 900m < 10m c.lOOm c.lOOm < 10m

35 10

6 2 1

7 3 2

6 8 6

< 10m unknown

4 1

Cottage garden Cottage garden

< 10m < 10m

1

38 14 1 7 4 6 1

4 2 1 1

2

2

4

2

25

25

137

133

1

Cottage garden

< 10m

14 4

Cottage garden

< 10m

20

15

Cottage garden Cottage garden

< 10m < 10m

1

3 1

Cottage garden

< 10m < 10m < 10m

16 1 1 8 7 102

1 2

Suffolk coast & Stour vallev Corton Middleton/Eastbridge Iken/Sudbourne Bures Lt Cornard

3

1 25 10

?

Cottage garden Cottage garden Cottage garden Cottage garden Cottage garden Cottage garden Unknown Unknown Cottage garden Cottage garden Cottage garden

Unknown Unknown

TOTAL

95

Table 1. Tree Sparrow breeding sites and numbers in Suffolk 2008-2011.

Table 1 dĂŠtails breeding sites and numbers and shows that only six sites muster doublefigure counts of nesting pairs. Birds occurring as migrants in unsuitable habitat during the breeding season such as those at Orfordness and Landguard Point have been omitted from the table, as have overwintering flocks that have lingered at favoured feeding areas such as 21


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 those at Timworth (30 still present on Ist April 2009) and Levington (three to April 24th 2008). Although a major withdrawal from coastal localities was already underway at the start of the study, this continued during the survey period with Tree Sparrows abandoning important nesting colonies at Corton, Benacre, Middleton, Sizewell, Iken and Sudbourne between 2008 and 2011. Game cover and wild birdseed plots hosted large numbers ofTree Sparrows during the early winter months of the first two winters of the study and it was hoped that these birds could be persuaded to recolonise their former breeding haunts nearby. However, this did not happen and the species was more or less absent from coastal localities during the 2010/11 and 2011/12 winters. It was noted that the few remaining Tree Sparrow colonies were concentrated in mixed farmed areas with access to at least small wetland patches and artificial nest sites or old/pollard trees. However, there are others that are thriving in isolated cottage gardens in the middle of 'arable deserts' (e.g. Flixton and Ampton), surviving almost exclusively on supplementary seed. Bearing in mind the intense fieldwork taking place as part of the Bird Atlas 2007-11 Project during the period, we can say with some confidence that almost all breeding colonies would have been located. The county's current breeding population is likely to be around 150-200 pairs, and Table 1 shows that almost 50% of these are at two key sites: Mildenhall Fen (West Row) and Ampton and that 79% are at four sites: these two plus Culford and Flixton. Productivity was found to be good at these key sites although, occasionally, the pressure of rearing up to four broods and then moulting ended with adults found dead in some of the boxes. As wintering numbers are known to be supplemented by immigrants from elsewhere in the UK and perhaps abroad, a diffĂŠrence between wintering and breeding numbers was expected. Table 2 shows that Suffolk's wintering population to be in the rĂŠgion of 700-1,000 birds, with many of these likely to be products of the local breeding population. Ringing studies at Ampton show that July to September is the peak period for local juvenile dispersai and that flocks of first-year birds could increase quickly to 200 birds with many congregating around the feeders. Very few of these young birds were ringed in the nest boxes provided. However, recently-fledged birds showed well in the August ringing returns: 2009 - 58 new birds and seven ( 11 %) re-traps; 2010 - 130 new birds and 25(16%) re-traps; 2011 - 26 new and two (7%) re-traps and 2012 - 113 new and 22 (16%) re-traps. Site/region Fenland Ridge Mildenhall Fen Whistle Drove Lakenheath/Eriswell

Habitat Tvpe

2006/7

2007/08

2008/09

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

Garden Garden Unknown

38 5

40

120 5

200 23 8

265 17 2

300+ 4

220 15 47 39 35 40 10

280 25 116 55 84

10

Newmarket area Moulton Dalham Burv St Edmunds area Barnhamcross/Thetford Ampton Bowbcck, Bardwell Cavenham/Tuddenham Culford/Wordwell Seven Hills, Ingham Lackford Nature Reserve Pakenham/Ixworth Risby Poors Heath

9 15

Unknown WBS plot

Unknown Game cover Garden Game cover Gardens Gardens Nat Res. Game cover Game cover

51

3 10

200

14

2 200

22

35 1

2

2 306 4 12

22 22

23 14

12

15 62

3


Su ffOlkTree Sparrow Project 2008-2011 Site/region Fornham St Mtn/Timworth Little Livermere/Troston Southwest Suffolk Whepstead Lavenham Somerton Stradishall/Depen Central SufTolk Bedfield Earl Soham Rishangles/Thomdon Lodge Farm, Westhorpe Stradbrook Onehouse Little Stonham Waveney Valley FHxton (west) Barsham/Ilketshall St And. Mutford Suffolk Coast Bradwell Somerleyton/Flixton (east) Benacre South Cove Black Street, Gisleham Henstead/Rushmere Hulver Iken/Sudbourne Westleton/Sizewell

Habitat Type Pig field Gardens

2006/7

Garden WBS plot Garden

Garden Gardens Game cover Unknown Garden WBS plot WBS plot WBS plot Garden

2008/09 76

2009/10 2010/11 30 1

2011/12 32

Garden WBS plot Garden Unknown

Garden Garden Garden WBS plot Unknown Garden Game cover

2007/08

4

1 1 4 1

4

2 2

l

9 3 2

5 1 10

3

10 2 2

12

2 30

1 16

8 2 5 10 7

15 10

2

40 1 1

40 5

1 2 122 5

7

7 46

80

1

1 4

South Suffolk Stutton/Brantham East Ber^holt Gt/Lt Cornard/Bures Withermarsh Green Stratford St Mary Levington TOTAL

WBS plot Garden Unknown Game cover Unknown Game cover

10

10

5 30 7

509

10 1 315

374

1 804

12

9

842

945

Table 2. Maximum counts at Tree Sparrow wintering sites in Suffolk 2006/07 to 2011/12.

Where wintering floeks were attraeteci by the seed, landowners were encouraged to resow with the same favourable mixes. The constituents of the mix of plots favoured by flocks were investigateci, so that this could be replicated elsewhere. It was noted that flocks often built to a high level and then the birds suddenly departed as the food source became exhausted. Wintering populations are very mobile and probably flit from site to site as new food sources become available and others become exhausted. The presence of a flock of 70 birds that wintered alongside free-range pigs at Timworth Green is worthy of note. Despite a significant number of similar pig fields on the coast, Tree Sparrows were not attracted elsewhere. 23


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 Movements Table 3 summarises the annual and overall total number of Tree Sparrows ringed during the project. In addition, some pre-2009 data for West Row are included for site continuity purposes. Tree Sparrows have been ringed at this site since 1997 where a well established population has expanded to around 20-30 pairs using several nest boxes provided by the landowner. Year-round experimental supplementary feeding since before 1997 has no doubt assisted this population as it has withstood the widespread decline suffered elsewhere. Site

Pre 2009

2009

Pulli FG Cntl Total Pulii Ampton West Row

• 1B4

5

i n * 'til

Wordwell Culford Heath Lackiord Village Lackiord Res Troston Lavenham

2011

1 2

0

73 c m

140

TOTALS

Retrap Retrap site Local end Totali Pulii FG Site Local Cntl Totali1 Pulii

1

i

2010

Retrap FG Site Local Cnfl TotatlPulli FG

6

2 3

15 6

1 KillBIIM EÎ5HB1K1 15 6

1

13

66

1

3

401 313

841

2

3

2

242 347

344

3

Tnorndce FliHton Westhorpe Bedfield Barsham

4 7

13

T

2

u

DIU

i 7

20 4

ars

m

1

Lt. Stonham Pakenham

1

Herrstead Glsleham

IT 10

1

20

2 1

b 1

:

2 4

4

2

2 2 2

2 2 am

"""

— 9 10

0 184 5 189 80 326 0 2 0 408 308 436 66 2 5 1065 356 286 [individual total excludes retraps ringed at other project sites and control to Ampton from West Row - 8 records

77

3

5

706

T ~

1167 704

"ST

'S? TT

15 15 12 12 2 11 T T ' 2

11

m

Local Cntl Total

1

15 15 12

208

Retrap FG

68

~2~

H

2

21 12 100 11 2

4 27 2 4 3

4 27 2 8 3

3 4

3 4

3 10

9 10

744 1321

7

15

2117 2049

Table 3. Suffolk Tree Sparrow Project - Ringing Totals.

Table 3 indicates the capture of some 2,049 individuals of which 1,291 were ringed as full-grown birds and 744 were ringed as pulli. In addition, 14 other birds were recaptured at Suffolk sites, having originally been ringed elsewhere. Tree Sparrows are well known for their ability to recognise mist nets and thus avoid capture, so the positioning of these nets from an early stage was important. Looking back at the seasonality of captures, peak captures of full grown birds occur in August and September, presumably during juvenile dispersal and when these youngsters are not "net wise". As they became more and more "net wise", catching proved to be more difficult, often despite large numbers of birds being present. As a result, it was hoped that the colour ringing would allow field observation of any movements that might occur. However, despite a few local movements: nine in total between Ampton, West Row, Wordwell and Lackford, no sightings of any colour-ringed birds were reported more than 20km from their original ringing site. Similarly, only one individual, ringed in 2009, survived to be observed in 2012 at Ampton. One additional bird, colour-ringed in 2007, was observed at West Row in 2011. With this in mind, colour ringing was not seen to be adding much to our overall picture of the bird's behaviour, so a decision was made to stop colour-ringing at the end of the 2011 breeding season. All birds subsequently handled were ringed with just a standard BTO metal ring. To date, there are 39 known movements greater than 5km for Tree Sparrows involving Suffolk. Six of these are within the county, 12 are of Suffolk-ringed birds being reported elsewhere and 21 of birds originally ringed elsewhere and subsequently found in Suffolk. Of the 33 inter-county movements, 15 involve exchanges with Humberside. In more recent years, Spurn Bird Observatory has recorded some large southerly movements of Tree Sparrows in late autumn, trapping in excess of 3,000 birds in the autumn of 2011; presumably some of these birds are likely to overwinter in East Anglia and on farmland in 24


Su ffOlkTree Sparrow Project 2008-2011 other south-eastern counties. Peak daily counts in excess of 300 birds at the West Row and Ampton feeders would certainly support such immigration. There is an apparent east-coast movement pattern as might be expected; however, the extent of this is not yet clear. Tables 4 and 5 below summarise these movements. RINGING D A T A

FINDING DATA DIST

DATÉ RING» AGE HN50594 4 25.Feb.68 4 HN50670 12-Jan-68

II.Jul-69

SITE Bungay

Leiston

23-Mar-73

Chalgrave

Reydon Wastleton

18-0ct-61 02-May-61

Rendlesham 01-Feb-72 Rendlesham 11-0ct-70 02-Sep42 Landguard 30-Mar-04 29-Dec-03 Mildenhall 22-May-04

H48815 H23648

3

25-Aug51

2

JH63936

2

16-No*60 09-0ct-71

JA29502

3

P145372 R583672

3

T811375 X364601 1549772

2 2 4 3

X901158

2

V903477

2

V903477

2 7

DATE

SITE Leiston

26-OCI-69

26

DAYS 502

Dunqeness Spurn

SW ssw

58 167

1897 54

HUMBS

Control

NW

177

Dunn Street Spurn

KENT

Dead Control

SSW

HUMBS

105 188

Swaffham

NORFOLK

Burnt Fen

24-Feb-07 16-Mar-11

22-Sep-10 15-Sep-09

L üvermere

29-Apr-11 19-Oct-Q9

Brookville Sapiston

11-Nov09 D2-Dec-09

Kilnsea Clays

¡001263 1549771

3

22-Sep-10

L£83364 L793514

2 2

27-Sep^)9 17-Oct-11 28-Nov-10

Cavenham Frampton

L Livermere 15-Nov-09 L Livermere 05-Jun-11 Mildenhall

IO-Nov-11

Lackford

26-0ct-11

Km

Dead Control

Dunwich Lavenham L üvermere Iken Marsh Iken Marsh

DIRECT C0ND. Long Dead NNW

ESSEX KENT

24-Sepi5 19-Jan-11

23-DBC-07 23-Dec-07

COUNTY SUFFOLK

Control S U F F O L K Fresh Dead SUFFOLK Control LINCS

Control Control

NORFOLK S U F F O L K Fresh Dead HUMBS

Control

Kilnsea Clays HUMBS Control Tilney St.Law'nce N O R F O L K Long Dead

NNW NNW

115

NNW

90 6

W NNW

70 108

518 56

NNW

29 7 188

219

NE NNW NNW

188

710 49

NW

53

Creeton

UNCS

Fresh Dead

NNW

100

L Livermere Kilnsea Clays

SUFFOLK

Control Control

ENE NNW

22 ISO

HUMBS

167 350 575 145

34 689

256 24 332

Table 4. Suffolk-ringed Tree Sparrows found >5km from ringing site.

It should be noted that the 1960 and 1969 movements to Humberside involve recovery sites that are now in the sea! HN50670 demonstrates the longevity of the species having been ringed at Leiston in January 1968 and being found at Chalgrave, Essex, five years and 70 days later. RINGING DATA

FINDING DATA DIRE DISI CT Km

RING #

AGE

DATE

SITE

COUNTY

DATE

SITE

COND.

KHE5707

2

IO-Oct-76

Foulness

ESSEX

29-0ct-77

Bildeston

Dead

VS81137

1

10-JuHM

Colney

HERTS

17-Sep-00 Landquard Control ENE

112

69

VT37092

1

26-JuM)1

Gt Easton

LEICS

16-Feb-02 Iken Marsh Control ESE

164

205

P394231

2

24-Sep-02

Kilnsea

HUMBS

24 Febfl3 Mildenhall

153

TA74104

1

15-May-03

London Colney

HERTS

N

56

0 A YS 384

Control

S

140

25-NOV03 Mildenhall Control

NE

88

194

05-Janil4

NE

88

235

Mildenhall

Control

TA83579

1

04-Jut03

Broad Hintoo

WILTS

B - D e c -03 Mildenhall

Control ENE

B-Feb^4

Mildenhall

Control ENE

186

220

R302439

4

21-Mar-03

Mowbray

LEICS

08-Jar>04

Mildenhall

Control ESE

100

293

V037530

2

08-0ct-06

Sandholme

LINCS

22-Mar07 Cavenham Control SSE

82

165

V546909

2

08-001-07

Kilnsea

HUMBS

23-Dec-07 Iken Marsh Control SSE

ISO

76

TJ50604

1

05-Jurvœ

Kilnsea

HUMBS

28-No»08

141

176

X399993

2

25-OcKB

161

3

09-JuHS

Winterton Kilnsea Clays

NORFOLK 04-Apr-09

X452572 TP43133

1

25-May-03

Wakefield

>913709

2

H-Oct-09

Kilnsea

X920764

2

26-Oct-IO

Clays

TH44168

1

L653827

2

22-JuHO Wymondham Kilnsea Clays 04-0ct-10

Y372309

2

07-0ct.11

Y373547

2

17-Oct-11

L743190

2

28-Oct-IO

Spurn Head Kilnsea Clays Kilnsea Clays

X319300

2

02-0ct-09

Kilnsea Clays

158

Fen

Control

S

Ftixton

Dead Fresh Dead

SSW

40

S

147

124

W. YORKS D1-Mar-10 L üvermere Control

SE

207

280

HUMBS

18-Jan-10 Mildenhall Control

S

141

99

HUMBS

06-Jan-10

Mildenhall Control

S

139

18-Jan-10

Mildenhall Control

S

HUMBS

LEICS

10-No»09 Tuddenham

12-Dec-10 L üvermere Control ESE Control

84 143

139

17

HUMBS

21-0ct-10 Mildenhall

HUMBS

20-Nov-l 1 L üvermere Control SSE

147

44

HUMBS

10-Nov-H L Livermere Control SSE

152

24

HUMBS

05-Jan-11

Mildenhall Control

S

139

63

HUMBS

23-Mar-11

Mildenhall

S

139

537

Dead

S

72

139 113

Table 5. Ringed Tree Sparrows found in Suffolk but ringed elsewhere.

Table 5 includes the furthest movement involving a bird found in Suffolk (ring number TP43133), which travelled 207km from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, to Little Livermere. 25


S uffolk Bird Report 2011 Discussion Suffolk's large areas of intensively managed arable farmland no longer host breeding Tree Sparrows probably as a resuit of a lack of invertebrates. The importance of wild birdseed cover plots was identified as an important winter food source for a number of seedeating species at an early stage of the project. The continued provision of areas of wild birdseed together with supplementary feeding was the mainstay, but once wild birdseed plots became exhausted supplementary feeding was essential to bridge the hunger-gap and prolong their stay until the breeding season. It should also be noted that the bulk of Suffolk's wintering population, away from garden feeding stations, favoured either game cover or wild birdseed plots established before a tightening up of the HLS/ELS rules prohibited the use of tali plants such as giant sorghum (e.g. flocks of c. 200 in game cover strips at Cavenham/Lackford in 2006/07 and 122 at Benacre in 2007/08 - see Table2). The study showed that wild birdseed plots, without tali cover, did little to help Tree Sparrows in Suffolk with the largest concentrations favouring game cover, especially those under-sown with millet. There was no evidence to suggest that the availability of wild birdseed mix plots within one kilométré of the nest-site influenced Tree Sparrow nest-site choice or affected productivity. Tree Sparrow populations using wild birdseed cover plots, established after the Defra rule change, were small and rarely reached double figures. Plots favoured by Tree Sparrows were often planted alongside tali hedgerows of at least 3m in height. Tree Sparrow's predator awareness appears to be good, but birds may feel vulnerable to Sparrowhawks in low cover, whereas taller crops provide better shelter. Observations at Ampton showed that flocks arrived into the game cover en masse and quickly dropped to the floor to forage on millet, completely hidden from avian predators. There is no evidence to suggest that population changes have been significantly influenced by predators despite the fact that Tree Sparrows were most abundant during periods when the Sparrowhawk was not. At the Ampton study site it became quite clear that Tree Sparrows can co-exist with their predators and increase their numbers despite a high population of breeding Sparrowhawks in the area. There was little evidence of Sparrowhawks hunting the nesting colony at Ampton, but they did make frequent visits to the West Row colony. This could well have contributed to the failure of some broods at the egg and chick stage as one or more of the adults fell prey to these birds. However, juvenile Sparrowhawks occasionally became fixated on winter flocks, spending long periods at sites and even roosting there, causing sparrow numbers to fall temporarily. Although there was little evidence of prédation, the hawks must be having some success to remain there. It is possible that now the Tree Sparrow is a mainly garden bird, rather than a bird of the open countryside, the balance of the predator/prey relationship with Sparrowhawks has changed. The availability of insects for chick food for the young, and a good supply of nesting holes are essential for successful breeding. The future SWT is anxious to build on the success of encouraging nesting Tree Sparrows into rural gardens and has circulated a flier to households in Tree Sparrow zones offering advice and starter packs. This has been very well received and to date 26 householders have taken up the offer. A further study (Foraging Farmland Bird Project) is underway in Suffolk to monitor the foraging ranges of the Tree Sparrow along with three other key species: Linnet Carduelis cannabìna, Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and Reed Bunting E. schoeniclus. The aim is to determine the food preferences between spring and autumn sown crops, to record flock sizes and species mix of birds using wild birdseed cover plots and their weight gain and/or weight loss throughout the winter months. Any supplementary feeding (tonnage and grain type) to bridge the hunger-gap is recorded as well as net immigration or émigration e.g. as 26


Su ff Olk Tree Sparrow Project 2008-2011 a resuit of cold snaps as well as any large-scale exchanges of individuรกis between farmland and other habitats. With such a high proportion of the breeding population (79%) limited to just four sites, the Tree Sparrow in Suffolk remains vulnerable. If feeding stopped at these garden sites, then those populations would probably quickly collapse as they have done on farmland. It is clear that a few dedicated householders are spending considerable time and money on caring for "their" Tree Sparrow populations that visit their gardens. The provision of birdseed to householders has become a very lucrative business as millions of bird lovers, throughout the country, spend millions of pounds caring for "their" birds. Therefore, providing seed for a few householders may be difficult to justify. However, we should bear in mind the millions of pounds that Defra makes available to farmers, so small schemes ought to be made available to assist people who are helping threatened birds such as the Tree Sparrow. Or are we prepared to see their extinction in Suffolk? Acknowledgements Thanks are due to the principal recorders: the authors plus Vanessa King, Chris Mclntyre, Colin Jakes and David Cawdron. The County Recorders Andrew Green (NE Suffolk), Scott Mason (SE Suffolk) and Colin Jakes (West Suffolk) provided additional data. Margaret Regnault, in conjunction with SBRC, prepared the Suffolk maps based on Bird Atlas 2007-11 data. Suffolk Naturalists' Society and Suffolk Ornithologists' Group provided funding for the study on movements. The efforts of Derrick, Pauline and Vanessa King to support the West Row population for over 15 years should also be applauded along with those of Graham and Aaron Sayer of Flixton for the provision of food and nesting opportunities for East Suffolk's most significant nesting colony. SWT would have been unable to undertake this study without the support of Natural England and a grant allocated to them as part of the Countdown 2010 Project. The D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust funded SWT's starter pack project and money was made available from the Dedham Vale AONB Sustainable Development Fund to search for Tree Sparrows and instali boxes in the Dedham Vale. Information provided by Paul Collins and staff at Spurn Bird Observatory on Tree Sparrow movements is very much appreciated. Thanks also to Adam Gretton, Peter Lack, Dorothy and John Casey, David Tomlinson and Dawn Balmer for their comments on the draft. References Babington, C. 1884-1886. Catalogue ofthe birds of Suffolk. John Van Voorst. London. Field, R.H and Anderson, G.Q.A. 2004. Habitat use by breeding Tree Sparrows Passer montanus Ibis 146: (Suppl. 2), 60-68. Gibbons, D. W., Reid, J. B. & Chapman, R. A. 1993. The new atlas of breeding birds in Britain andlreland: 1988-1991 British Trust for Ornithology, Scottish Ornithologists' Club and Irish Wildbird Conservancy. Poyser, London. Marchant, J. H., Hudson, R, Carter, S. P. & Whittington, P. 1990. Population trends in British breeding birds. British Trust for Ornithology. Tring. Payn, W. H. 1962. The birds of Suffolk. Barrie and Rockliff, London. Parkin, D.T. and Knox, A.G. 2010. The status of birds in Britain and Ireland. Helm. London. Piotrowski, S. H. 2003. The Birds of Suffolk. Ticehurst, C. B. 1932. A history ofthe birds of Suffolk. Gurney and Jackson, London. Sharrock, J. T. R. 1976. The Atlas of breeding birds in Britain andlreland. British Trust for Ornithology, Poyser, Berkhamsted. Wernham, C. V, Toms, M. P., Marchant, J. H., Clark, J. A., Siriwardena, G. M. and Baillie, S. R. (eds) 2002. The Migration Atlas - movements of the birds of Britain and Ireland. T. & A. D. Poyser, London.

27


S uffolk Bird Report 2011

A study into the breeding population of the Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) in west Suffolk Chris Gregory Introduction The study was carried out between 2008 and 2011 and ran concurrently with the British Trust for Ornithology's Bird Atlas and the Suffolk Breeding Bird Atlas. It is intended to be an update on the 'Return of the Buzzard to Suffolk ' article published in the 2006 Suffolk Bird Report, but is focussed entirely on establishing how widespread the Common Buzzard, (hereafter referred to as "Buzzard") has become as a breeding species in the west of the county. Method The tetrad-based study covered the West Suffolk région as defined by Watsonian Vicecounty 26, which comprises, when ali the parts are added up, a total of 27 kilométrés squared. There are 492 tetrads (2-km squares) ail of which were included in the study regardless of how small an area fell within the Vice-county boundary. Ail tetrads were included regardless of what percentage of each one is actually in the Vice-county of West Suffolk. A small number of pairs may have been nesting outside Suffolk or in the adjoining East Suffolk Vice-County. I estimate this number to be no more than 5 pairs and only two of these were classed as "Definitely Breeding". The vast majority of the data were gathered by the author by visiting approximately 80% of the tetrads at least once. Repeat visits were made to sites where single birds or pairs were present or apparently holding territory to try to confirm their breeding status. A significant amount of data were also made available from local birders and the BTO. The same breeding criteria were adopted as in the Atlas, but the methodology was différent in that • the survey period was over a longer period • visits were not restricted to a pre-determined time or month(s) • birds categorised as just 'Present', with no spécifié breeding evidence noted, were included in the results of the study • birds seen just 'Flying over' the tetrad were not included • more effort was put into surveying any optimal and sub-optimal habitats within the tetrads during the visit(s) • some tetrads were visited more than twice The fieldwork started in March of each year to pick up any early signs of breeding behaviour, such as nest-building and display flights. Since display activity alone is not always indicative of breeding, wherever possible, sites where displaying birds were seen early in the survey period were visited again at a later date to confirm the breeding status and to eliminate the possibility of passage migrants. The study period ended in mid-September, to allow sufficient time to check for fledged young before they dispersed from their natal area. Birds occupying woods which spanned more than one tetrad were recorded in both tetrads (as per BTO Atlas methodology). Inevitably a few records were duplicated using this method and this was also the case where territories overlapped tetrad boundaries and where the same bird(s) was recorded in more than one tetrad. However, neither of these factors was considered to be a significant factor in the final analysis. Background Unrelenting persécution from the Middle Ages and into the 18th century resulted in the loss of the Buzzard as a breeding species in Suffolk by the end of the 19th century. For most 28


A study into the breeding population of the Common Buzzard in west Suffolk of the 20th century it was largely recorded as a winter visitor or passage migrant up until 1999 when the first proven breeding in Suffolk in recent times was reporteci near Newmarket. A growing population then gradually spread out from this area, initially occupying suitable habitats mostly north of the A14 between Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds, before dispersing more widely. At first colonisation was relatively slow, but by 2006 the population across the whole of Suffolk was estimated at between 60 and 70 pairs. This increase mirrored the broad expansion of this species eastward across England during this period, which saw numbers rise significantly in many counties. The most likely reason for this remarkable expansion was a rĂŠduction in persĂŠcution, combined with a steady increase in the abundance of the Buzzard's main prey, the Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus. Results It became apparent early on in the study that Buzzards now occupy a large proportion of the woodlands in West Suffolk. There was an obvious preference for larger mature, deciduous woods, but much smaller stands and even mixed-tree belts were often occupied as well. Population density varied considerably across the rĂŠgion depending on the availability of suitable nesting habitat and abundance of prey. The mean density of Buzzards in the UK is estimated at 1.6 pairs per square km, though densities of up to 2.4 pairs per square km can occur. The highest densities encountered during the study were a maximum of three pairs per tetrad. Population densities were significantly lower on some sub-optimal habitats such as the Fen margins and in Thetford Forest, where mixed-age conifers dominate. There was a discernible concentration of records to the west of a diagonal line running roughly from Redgrave in the north-east, to Long Melford in the south. However, within this area there were significant gaps in the Newmarket area, to the east of Brandon and in the extreme north-western corner. The latter area is where the Fens begin and even here Buzzards are starting to spread out into tree-belts and isolated plantations. The reason why the area immediately around Newmarket had so few records is unclear, as there is no shortage of suitable nesting habitat. One explanation may be more intensive Rabbit control

Common Buzzard distribution in West Suffolk - 2008-2011

0 9 8 7 6 5

3 6

7

8

9

0

1 29

2

3

4

5


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 and/or game interests locally. The area around Sudbury also had relatively few Buzzard records, probably due to a combination of under-recording and lack of suitable habitats. Distribution was also patchy along the eastern edge of the study area between Wattisham and Stowmarket and in the north-east between Stanton and Hinderclay, where there is a lot of open farmland and the woods are fairly sparse and isolated. Analysis The data show that Buzzards were recorded in 369 tetrads in west Suffolk, which is 75% of the total number. "Definite Breeding" was confirmed in over 17% of these tetrads, though this figure is likely to be an underestimate given the inherent difficulty there is in proving that breeding has taken place. This is borne out by the high 'Probable Breeding' category figure which was almost 46%; therefore a combination of the two totals, which is 63%, may be closer to the true figure. The 'Possible Breeding' category was considerably lower at 26% and finally, tetrads where birds were categorised as 'Present', made up just over 10.5% of the total. There were just three 10 km squares where Buzzards were recorded in every tetrad. Only one of these, TL77, was completely within the vice-county boundary, i.e. contained the full 25 tetrads. Other 10 km squares with high occurrence rates included TL75, TL76, TL87, TL96 and TM04 (see map for further details). Conclusion This study underlines just how widespread the Buzzard has become across West Suffolk in a relatively short period of time. Today there are very few places where one can scan the horizon and not see a Buzzard soaring in the sky. Based on these results a conservative estimate of the current breeding population for West Suffolk would be 250 to 275 pairs. It has become the most commonly reported raptor species in Suffolk and the true extent of its distribution across the whole of the county will no doubt be revealed in the forthcoming national and regional breeding bird atlases. One would expect the Buzzard population to continue to rise, albeit at a slower pace and without another catastrophic drop in Rabbit numbers such as there was in the 1950s. Another ever-present threat comes from the shooting lobby which has recently been pressurising the government for a licence to cull Buzzards. Thankfully the level of public outrage at this proposition has led to the government dropping plans to license the destruction of Buzzard nests, as well as the capture of adult birds on shooting estates in order to protect non-native species for commercial gain. Acknowledgements I am extremely grateful to the BTO for making the Atlas data available to me during the study. I should also like to thank all the local birders who directly contributed to the study. References Gregory, C. 2007. "The Return of the Buzzard to Suffolk"; 2006, Suffolk Birds 2006: 22-26 Hardy, J., Crisk, H., Wernham, C., Riley, H., Etheridge, B. and Thompson, D. "Raptors: A Field Guide to Survey & Monitoring". Stationery Office Books (15th Nov, 2006)


A Study of Sparrowha wks in a small area of Suffolk, 2000-2011

A Study of Sparrowhawks in a small area of Suffolk, 2000-2011 Reg Woodard Introduction 'Suffolk Birds 2004' contained an article with détails of the above study of the Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus, (hereinafter Sparrowhawk) for the years 2000-2004. I continued this study until 2011 and now give an account of the full twelve years. Some répétition of my previous article is inévitable, but this will be kept to a minimum. The Sparrowhawk has been of special interest to me since the early 1950s when as schoolboys my friend and I found our first nest and added an egg to our collection. I maintained a casual interest in birds, alongside my main hobbies of angling and running. In the mid-90s I joined the BTO Garden Bird Watch and later the Nest Record Scheme and also took part in the final year of the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group survey of breeding raptors and owls (Wright, 2001). After reading Ian Newton's book 'The Sparrowhawk' 1 decided to conduct my own amateur study of this species. Objective To find all Sparrowhawks' nests, every year, within a defined area of typical mid-Suffolk farmland, indicating the likely breeding density and favoured nesting sites in this sort of habitat. Finding the nests provided the opportunity to record breeding success, ring the young and identify prey species. Main Study Area Thanks to the co-operation of several landowners I was able to obtain permission to search an area ofjust over 20 sq km. This is mainly heavy arable farmland, with large fields growing winter cereals, oilseed rape, sugar beet and some vining peas, a commercial orchard, several small woods/plantations of about 0.2 to 1.2 hectares, mainly broadleaf, but some mixed broadleaf/conifer, two conifer plantations and one much larger broadleaf wood, of about 12 hectares. Method Within the main 20+ sq km study area all wooded areas were searched every year, with the exception of single trees and single row hedges (records show that these are very unlikely nesting sites), although tali wide hedges such as those found along 'green lanes' were searched. The search was in two stages, the first from mid-May looking directly for nests, which often have the teli-tale signs of moulted down and feathers around them, the second from late June, looking on the ground for the distinctive white droppings of the young, indicating a nest which was missed on the first search. To get a wider view of Sparrowhawk breeding, I decided in 2002 to search outside the main study area (but within a radius of about 20km). This was successful when after obtaining permission, I found nests in ali the places that I considered suitable. These searches 31


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 were done on a more random basis, but as can be seen in table 2, with the exception of 2005 and 2008, results were similar to the main study area which was searched strictly to a plan. Sightings and prey finds were recorded throughout the year, but the numbers of Sparrowhawks seen outside the breeding season were very few considering the number of nests in the area. 00

01

02

X

03

04

X X

X

05

06

07

08

09

10

11

X X

X

X X

X X

X X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X X

X

X

X X X X

X

X

X

X

X X

X X

X X

X

X X

X

X X

X X

X

X X

X

X

X X 5

4

3

6

3

5

4

4

4

4

5

Nest Ref

Grid Ref

Nest Sites Spruce K Plantation A3 B4 S Mixed L C3 Mixed Spruce N D3 Plantation V D5 Broadleaf E Broadleaf F7 R F5 Mixed P FI Broadleaf M Mixed Cl W Cl Mixed T B1 Broadleaf Y E5 Broadleaf 53 Nests : Average 4.4 per year

6

Table 1. Breeding Years 2000 to 2011 Main Study Area.

Breeding Density I can only give figures for breeding density within the main study area, which as stated above was searched consistently every year. Figure 1 shows the extent of the area searched, with about 1 sq km (shaded) which I was unable to search. The letters indicate ail sites where nests with eggs were found. As can be seen in Table 1, most sites were used on a regular basis with one, site N, used every year throughout the study. The total nests found with eggs, 53, averages 4.4 nests in 20 sq km per year. Breeding Nearly ali the nests were found in small woods/plantations, the exceptions being one nest in a narrow belt of broadleaf trees between a paddock and a residential bungalow, the nest only about 20m from the front door of the bungalow, and two nesting sites in small groups of spruce on the edge of large mainly broadleaf woods; these large woods were not searched as they would have taken more time than I had available. Outside the main study area, 14 small woods were searched, two broadleaf, ten conifer or mixed, plus the conifer section of the two large, mainly broadleaf woods, as detailed above. Nests were found in ail sites searched. In the main study area 18 small woods/plantations plus one large wood were searched. There were no nests found in the large wood nor in four of the smaller woods, ail of which were broadleaf. About 2km of tali wide hedges with trees, ail broadleaf, along 'green lanes' were searched but no nests were found. Two broadleaf woods had new nests, but were without eggs. The 12 sites where nests were found with eggs were two spruce plantations, five spruce and broadleaf mixed and five broadleaf. Sparrowhawk nests were found in a variety of tree species including Spruce, Scots Pine, Field Maple, Hawthorn, Oak, Ash and Blackthorn, with Spruce being by far the most favoured of ail and Field Maple the most favoured Broadleaf. From my experience with this study, it seems that almost any small wood, containing some spruce, or Scots Pine about 8 -15m tali, 32


A Study of Sparrowha wks in a small area of Suffolk, 2000-2011 reasonably spaced to give a fairly clear flight path, will at some time have Sparrowhawks breeding. In the absence of conifere they will readily nest in broadleaf woods. A newly built Sparrowhawk's nest is usually fairly easy to find and identify from the ground, in a fairly stable part of a tree normally at a height of about 7-10m (min 3m, max 12m in this study). It is about 45-50 cm in diameter, fairly fiat with a central cup, built of twigs with a thin platform around the outside, often extending around the trunk of the tree. When an old nest is refurbished, or the old nest of another species is used, it can be very difficult to identify from the ground, but when incubation starts, which is done by the female, she moults, when down and sometimes flight feathers may be seen in variable amounts on and around the nest. When the young hatch they eject their very distinctive white droppings over the nest edge, the area under the nest looking as though white emulsion paint has been flicked over the woodland floor. With experience, the age of the young can be estimated from the size and spread of the droppings. The Sparrowhawk will often refurbish an old nest, or use the old nest of another species as a base. One nest in this study was used, with fledging success on three occasions, another seven were used twice, some in successive years, but old Carrion Crows' nests were the most often used probably because Carrion Crows, unlike Rooks, tend to build their nests in a fairly stable part of a tree. One exception to this was on an old Carrion Crow's, or more likely an old Ione Rook's nest (there is a Rookery nearby) at about 14m in the top of a thin Ash and swaying strongly in the wind. I had a clear view of the tail of the female Sparrowhawk as she moved about on the nest. This nest was later deserted. Eggs and Young In the 12 years of this study 118 nests have been found altogether. Fourteen were without eggs, as some were lined and 'downy' and it is likely that they were predated before I found them but others may not have had eggs laid. In the main study area I was able to climb to ali nests found, and therefore get an accurate record of eggs and young although it is possible that some eggs may have been lost before I found the nest. In the places outside the main study area some nests were not found until the young had hatched. With other nests, I could not climb the tree, or the young were too well grown to risk climbing, which might cause them to leave the nest prematurely, i.e. 'explode'. Table 2 gives the overall fledging results of the 90 nests that I was able to follow from the egg stage. Failure or part failures occurred at ali stages, from egg laying to just before fledging, with some nests 100% successful.

Nest V'car with l

11 10 09 08 07 06 05 04 03 02 01 00

RSs 6 5 4 4 4 4 5 3 6 3 4 5 53

No. of Eggs 25 23 17 13 19 18 13 14 22 13 14 21 212

Young Fledged 12 11 16 7 12 14 9 11 15 5 10 15 137

Average voung per nest 2 2.2 4 1.75 3 3.5 1.8 3.6 2.5 1.6 2.5 3 2.58

OUTSIDE MAIN STUDY AREA Nest No. Young Average with of Fledged young per nest Eggs Eggs 2 1 2 2 6 1.5 4 18 4 12 3 13 H 3.66 3 13 19 4 16 4 3.2 27 16 5 2.8 6 28 17 11 3.6 12 3 15 3 5 21 2 6 3 12

37

165

33

112

3.02

COMBINED TOTALS Young Average Nest No. of Fledged young with per nest Eggs Eggs 14 2 27 7 1.88 9 41 17 30 28 4 7 26 18 2.57 7 38 28 3.5 8 9 45 30 3.33 11 2.36 41 26 3.66 26 22 6 11 30 2.72 43 11 6 25 14 10 2.5 4 15 3 5 21 377 249 2.76 90 be

MAIN STUDY AREA


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 Egg laying normally starts early to mid-May; clutches may be from two to six eggs with four or five being the usuai number. Incubation lasts about 30 days, with the young leaving the nest at about 25-30 days. For about a further three weeks the adults bring prey to the nest area, frequently using the nest as a feeding platform. This is a good time for recording prey species. After this period the young leave the area and fend for themselves. Their lifespan is up to about seven years for males and ten years for females (Newton, 1986). In 2006, a nest was found containing ten warm eggs. This is very unusual and almost certainly caused by two females laying in the same nest. When this happens the nest is often later deserted (there is a report, by Jason Fathers, with photographs, of a similar occurrence in British Birds, Volume 99, May 2006). Upon checking this nest, six days later, after warm overnight rain, I found nine eggs, a few pieces of eggshell and the nest wet, including the area around the eggs, and thought it was deserted. About four and a half weeks later I returned to confimi desertion only to find four large young. All four fledged during the following week. Incubation takes about 30 days, with young fiedging at about 28 days, so it would seem that incubation was well advanced when I checked and found the eggs cold and wet. Upon enquiring by téléphoné to Ian Newton, Keith Orford and Mick Wright about young hatched from eggs that have gone cold during incubation I was told that this is not uncommon and instances were cited of Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Dartford Warbier all raising successful broods from eggs that had been found cold during incubation. When searching the site in 2010 I found a nest about 5m from the one I found in 2006. This one contained nine eggs which failed to hatch and were later deserted. Ringing The male and female Sparrowhawk are considerably différent in size, the female weighing about 300g and the male about 150g, which means that a différent ring size is required for each sex. When the chicks are small the sexes look very similar, but at about 10-12 days of age the tarsus and tarsus joint become larger on the female; this is the first visible différence. Recovery Date 07/01/2002 25/11/2004 25/08/2005 30/08/2005 06/08/2006 16/08/2006

Duration (days) 552 143 49 61 33 45

Distance (km) 8 7 31 10 5 1

Sex

Circumstances of Recovery

1 2 3 4 5 6

Date Ringed 04/07/2000 05/07/2004 07/07/2005 30/06/2005 04/07/2006 04/07/2006

M M F M M F

7 8 9 10 II 12

10/07/2003 04/07/2006 04/07/2006 04/07/2006 04/07/2006 04/07/2006

26/10/2006 04/09/2006 11/11/2006 29/11/2006 06/01/2007 25/04/2007

1204 62 130 148 186 295

6 2 60 14 30 4

F M M M F F

13 14 15

07/07/2005 07/07/2005 07/07/2005

28/12/2007 24/08/2008 27/08/2008

904 48 51

3 3 35

M M F

16 17 18 19

15/07/2008 06/07/2006 05/07/2010 05/07/2010

28/08/2008 25/11/2009 08/01/2011 14/09/2011

44 1240 187 436

26 3 8 6

M F F F

Hit Window Hit WindowHit Window Fresh dead? Hit Window Hit chicken netting, found on lawn, died later Controlied by "Ringer" Road Casualtv Hit bv lorry, stuck in front grill Controlied by "Ringer " Hit Greenhouse Wing injury, possible airgun pellet? Controlied by "Ringer " Dead, Not fresh Hit Window, chasing Collared Dove Fresh dead Hit Glass Dead Road Casualty

Table 3. Sparrowhawk Recoverles since 2000.

34


A Study of Sparrowha wks in a small area of Suffolk, 2000-2011 It is after this that they can be safely ringed. The ideal âge from my experience, and that of other ringers, is about 15-17 days. If ringing is delayed beyond 19-20 days there is a danger that they will leave the nest when the tree is climbed, flutter down into the undergrowth and perish if not found and returned to the nest (not an easy task). A total of 245 nestlings has been ringed during this study, 143 females and 102 maies. To date, there have been 19 recoveries détails of which are in Table 3. National ringing recoveries indicate that British-bred Sparrowhawks are non-migratory and do not travel far from their birthplace. The distances shown in Table 3 are fairly typical. However, some Sparrowhawks from Scandinavia and Europe pass through, or stay in, Britain during the wintering period. Prey The prey of Sparrowhawks is almost exclusively birds. I give a list of the numbers and species that I have identified in Table 4. Species were identified by feather comparison with a text book or by an experienced ringer. I have not listed anything where identification was uncertain. Therefore many of the prey items found were not recorded. It has been calculated that a breeding pair of Sparrowhawks requires the équivalent of about 2,200 sparrow-sized birds per year (Newton, 1986). With the exception of Cuckoo, Moorhen and Pheasant, I have not attempted to separate juveniles, fledglings and nestlings from adults. I have seen very small Blackbird nestlings taken and I've also found naked Wood Pigeon squabs being eaten and remains of several species at various stages of growth. It appears that many species may be taken at any stage of development. Discussion This study was never intended to be a scientific paper - it is simply a record of what 1 have seen. It would be wrong to place too much reliance on such a small study, but 1 think it would be fair to say that Suffolk farmland holds a healthy population of Sparrowhawks. They will readily nest in almost any wood, small groups of trees or tali bushes that have a reasonably clear flight path, but they have a preference for Spruce, Larch or Scots Pine. I can only speculate as to why breeding success varies from year to year. If there is suitable nesting habitat then prey availability could be the main reason. Over the course of this study I have kept a record of the general weather conditions during the breeding season of April to July. Cold, wet weather seems to reduce success of prey species, which usually provide large numbers of easily-caught fledgling prey to satisfy the demands of egg production, and later, the feeding of hungry chicks. The lowest fledging average (Table 2) occurred during a cold, wet season and the highest fledging average during a warm, dry season. However, over the course of this study I could not find any definite weather-related pattern of breeding outcome, this study probably being too small to give a reliable indication of this factor. During 2010 and 2011 the weather seemed ideal, but only low numbers of Sparrowhawks fledged. One reason for this may have been the close proximity of some nests. In 2010 five nests were within a 1.5 km radius and only six young fledged from the 19 eggs recorded in these nests. In 2011 the situation and results were very similar. It therefore seems possible that there was not enough prey available to support five pairs of breeding Sparrowhawks within this area, which is mainly large arable fields, where three nests had been the norm in previous years. The reason for nest failures is again spéculation. I suspect shortage of prey accounts for some failures, either directly or indirectly, by causing the female to spend long periods hunting away from the nest, leaving the eggs or chicks exposed to rain and prédation - Ian Newton ( 1986) refers to this possibility. Also when chicks are too large to be sheltered from 35


S uffolk Bird Report 2011 Prey found on or near nest sites during breeding season

Prey found throughout the year, mainly on local footpath and my garden

Blackbird Wood Pigeon Chaffinch Greenfinch Goldfinch Dunnock Song Thrush Blue Tit Collared Dove Linnet Bullfïnch Skylark Pied Wagtail Grey Partridge Starling Robin Moorhen (Juvenile) Red -legged Partridge Great Tit Mistle Thrush Yellowhammer Green Woodpecker House Sparrow Turile Dove Treecreeper Cuckoo (Juvenile) Kingfisher Pheasant (poult) Swift Magpie Garden Warbler

Blackbird Dunnock Greenfinch Collared Dove Starling Wood Pigeon Robin Fieldfare Blue Tit Chaffinch House Sparrow Song Thrush Goldfinch Turile Dove Great Tit Wren Linnet Bullfinch Green Woodpecker Mistle Thrush Lapwing White Dove Long - tailed Tit Stock Dove

109 59 42 38 19 12 11 9 9 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

46 24 15 13 12 12 10 8 8 7 7 6 3 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Table 4. Prey specied of the Sparrowhawk Recorded May 1999-September 2011.

the rain by the adult, they can beeome ehilled by heavy rain and die. On three occasions, after heavy rain, I have found 'ready to fledge' iemale chicks wet and dead, one on and two under the nest. Prédation may also cause nest failure - on one occasion I disturbed a Grey Squirrel at a Sparrowhawk's nest with the female trying to protect her clutch of five eggs. At a later visit the nest was empty. Carrion Crows and Magpies are also numerous in this area. Human visits to nests, provided normal care is taken, are unlikely to cause desertion (Newton, 1986). The list of prey species includes most of what one would expect, with a Swift being perhaps the most unlikely species to be caught - my only guess is that it became grounded and was then taken. A few game birds were found; three Red-legged Partridge and four Grey Partridge, but only one Pheasant poult. As a novice 'birder' I have had a lot of pleasure and learnt a lot over the past 12 years especially during ringing with Mick and Paul and from conversations with the many people who have helped me. I also hope that the reader may have found something of interest in this article. Unfortunately due to my wife's declining médical condition I shall not have time to continue with this study. 36


A Study of Sparrowhawks

in a small area of Suffolk, 2000-2011

Acknowledgements I should like to thank all those who helped with this study; the landowners who gave me access to their private land; Mick Wright and Paul Newton for ringing the young and sending me details of all recoveries and also for identifying some of the prey species; John Walshe for some of the ringing when Mick and Paul were not available; Ian Newton, Keith Offord, Jason Fathers and Derek Holman for advice and confirmation on the more unusual aspects discovered; my wife for accepting my absence during the nesting season; the BTO Ringing Scheme and the people who returned the ring numbers. The BTO Ringing Scheme is funded by a partnership of the British Trust for Ornithology, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (on behalf of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the Countryside Council for Wales, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage), The National Parks and Wildlife Service (Ireland) and the ringers themselves. Also thanks to Adam Gretton for comments after reading a draft of this paper and Lucy Forsdike (Paul Newton's daughter) and Paul for typing and arranging the tables. 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. Fathers, J. (2006). Polygyny in the Eurasian Sparrowhawk. British Birds, Volume 99: 265266 (May 2006). Newton. I, (1986), The Sparrowhawk, T&AD Poyser, Calton. Woodard, R (2005). A Study of Sparrowhawks in a small area of Suffolk 2000-2004, Suffolk Birds 2004: 16-22. Wright. M.T, (2001), Survey of Breeding Raptors and Owls in Suffolk 1995-1998, S.O.G., Ipswich. WARNING: Climbing trees is dangerous and should only be undertaken by fully trained persons. No responsibility can be taken by the author, editor or SNS.

37


S uffolk Bird Report 2011

Sandhill Crane - a new bird for Suffolk Steve Abbott The events of Sunday October 2nd, 2011 at the Haven and North Warren will long be remembered by me as the most exciting birding ever in Suffolk! Many birders were on tenterhooks hoping that the Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis that had been present in the UK for several days would be relocated over the weekend. Birders had been following its progress down the east coast from Scotland. I certainly did not expect the bird to come to my local patch! Whilst packing up after an early-morning ringing session at the Haven, Thorpeness, a BINS message was received at 1 lam about a crane species having been seen over Kessingland at 10:30 am by Chris Darby. Any crane reported in Suffolk is always of interest. 1 got back to the car at about 11:25am and packed away the ringing gear. At 11:301 had a scan of the sky and over the north marsh of North Warren, as I usually do before leaving. Viewing north towards Thorpeness Meare I picked up a large grey bird flying towards me at low altitude with the jizz of a head-on crane! A sudden shot of adrenaline sent me running the short distance to the car to get my 'scope. Once in the 'scope the bird's ID was obvious. It was the adult Sandhill Crane! At a range of about 80m, about 40m above the marsh and at x30 in the 'scope all of the bird's structure, plumage and vocal features were enjoyed. Enjoyed is an understatement! By this time I was in headless-chicken mode having difficulty controlling my digits to text BINS. Since this proved impossible I phoned Roy Marsh who, despite being on Shetland, was able to get the news out. 1 then phoned Bird Net to alert the nation! As the bird flew past, the extensive red forehead, bright yellow/orange iris, white cheeks/nape, generally mid-grey plumage with blackish primaries and secondaries, outstretched neck and trailing legs were all noted in excellent light. The bird called several times, higher pitched than Common Crane Grus grus, as two Carrion Crows Corvus corone mobbed it. The crows provided a very good size comparison. As the seconds ticked by I was willing the bird to land. As it reached the southern marsh it dropped down and landed! I quickly drove down to the car park overlooking the marsh. Through the 'scope I could now enjoy the bird on the ground as it was drinking and walking sedately along the back margin of the main pool. At about 11:45am Scott Mayson arrived, then a female RSPB warden unknown to me and then Paul Green and family at about 11:55am. Everyone had excellent views of the bird and a few record digiscoped photographs were taken. At 12:00 noon the bird flew up, circled, gained height, and then flew south low over Aldeburgh town towards Aldeburgh Marshes. Shortly after its departure several birders arrived including Adam Rowlands who carried on to Slaughden and located the bird, still in flight, over Sudbourne Marshes/woods. During the next hour and a half, Scott, manning BINS messaging mobiles, and I fielding incoming requests for information on the bird, were able to help several birders catch up with it quickly, including the SOG field trip party 'marooned' on Orfordness, as it fed briefly on fields at Sudbourne adjacent to the Ness. After touching down briefly at Sudbourne the bird flew further south and made its way to Boyton and took up residence in a stubble field where it fed on spilt grain for the rest of the day. The rest is history! All Suffolk birders in the county and hundreds of birders from far and wide were able to catch up with the bird while it was in residence at Boyton from Sunday afternoon until the following Friday morning, October 7th. Despite initial parking difficulties on the Sunday this was one of the largest and most successful twitches in the county on record. Special thanks go to the residents of the village for their tolerance and especially to the Boyton Parish Council for organising parking for visiting birders to use. During its stay the bird moved from the stubble field on higher ground down onto the turned 38


Sandhill Crane - a new bird for Suffolk stubble fields on the marshes where it continued to feed mainly on spilt cereal grains. It made frequent visits to Hollesley Marshes, just to the south, where it spent time drinking and preening. I visited the site every evening with my wife up to Thursday 6th to study the bird further and establish where it was roosting. We did not see it go to roost for certain on 6th but it did fly pre-dusk to an area of maize slightly inland. According to Peter and James Kennerley the bird flew onto the stubble fields from Havergate Island at first light on 3rd so it almost certainly roosted there. At dusk on 4th and 5th the bird was seen to fly from the stubble fields over to Havergate Island putting up the assembled gulls on each occasion. On 6th at dusk it changed its roost site and roosted on the main permanent pool at Boyton. On each occasion as the bird dropped down to its chosen roosting spot it went through extravagant manoeuvres, rather like the "whiffling" of geese as they descend to land. The bird, having spent a few hours feeding on the stubble at Boyton on the morning of 7th, flew up at about 10:25am and headed off south. On this occasion it did not put down on Hollesley Marshes but kept going. It was not seen again anywhere in the UK. The chronology of the bird's time in the UK as it travelled south, confirmed records only, as of July 2012:Loch of Strathbeg, NE Scotland, identified by an RSPB warden, September 22nd-26th Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and Holywell Pond, Northumberland, September 29th Marsden Cleadon, Durham, September 29th Hartlepool, Cleveland, September 29th Snettisham, Norfolk, October 1st Kessingland, Suffolk, seen and identified by Chris Darby, October 2nd North Warren, Suffolk, October 2nd Aldeburgh, Suffolk, October 2nd Sudbourne, Suffolk, October 2nd Boyton, Suffolk, October 2nd-7th Previous records for the UK:This bird is the fourth for the UK. The record previous to this is of a bird which toured South Ronaldsay, Orkney and several sites in the Scottish Highlands between September 22nd and 29th, 2009. The first record is of a first-summer bird on Fair Isle, Shetland on April 26th and 27th, 1981. It is interesting to consider from where this bird might have originated, how it reached the UK and where it went. There is some speculation that this was the adult Sandhill Crane which spent some time in Finland and Estonia during September, 2011. Some have also pointed out that the adult Sandhill Crane which was observed wintering with Common Cranes in the Cork and Holm Oak woods of Extremadura, Spain in late 2011 might also have been 'our' bird. More recently a report of a Sandhill Crane in Norway during spring 2012 might also have been the bird. This is certainly consistent with a New World vagrant undergoing instinctive migratory movements. Nice thoughts as they are, we shall never know for sure. What is for certain is that Sandhill Cranes of the smaller migratory nominate taxon Grus canadensis canadensis, known as the Lesser or Northern Sandhill Crane, which is our bird's likely form, have a proven record for long range movements from their arctic north-east Siberian and Canadian/North American/Baffin Island breeding grounds to their southern USA wintering areas. So trans-Atlantic vagrancy should not be a problem for such a powerful flier. There has been some debate over the bird's age. Most birders have been happy to age it as an adult. Some have suggested it was a sub-adult or second-summer based upon plumage features and the apparent ages of the bird's flight feathers. Since the amount of brown on the body and wing coverts is highly variable in full-grown birds, coupled with the difficulty in ageing different generation flight feathers in the field, and also from good photographs, it is safer to record our bird as an adult. Not surprisingly the Sandhill Crane was voted by Suffolk birders as Bird of the Year! 39


Suffolk Bird Report 2011

Audouin's Gull, Larus audouinii, at Minsmere - a new bird for Suffolk John H Grant Rather bizarrely, when I am in Minsmere's East Hide on days such as May 9th, 2011, a really glorious spring one with a definite "feel" of visible raptor/large soaring bird passage about it, I sometimes "lock onto the sky" and search the blue yonder for hours, only looking infrequently at The Scrape. This was very much the case on the above date and when my fellow RSPB volunteer bird guide Mick Muttitt came in at about 11.15am and asked if there were any of my "questionable" birds about - a mischievous, tongue-in-cheek reference to my prédilection for gulls - I answered that I didn't think so and told him I had been skywatching for most of the morning. We had a little chuckle and we did then pay attention to the gulls, but only the usuai cast was present - Black-headed, Herring, Lesser Black-backed, Common and Mediterranean. At about 11.30am I continued skywatching and Mick left the hide. At about 11.45am 1 scanned The Scrape again and had the biggest shock I have ever experienced in about 50 years of birdwatching! At the near end of one of The Scrape's main bunds, in the middle distance but at an entirely manageable range, was a beautiful, red-billed, white-headed, dark-eyed, pearly-greybacked gull which I immediately recognised as an Audouin's Gull! I was simply astonished! I gasped out loud, shouted out to the few people in the hide - there were only about five and asked if anyone had a camera. Visitors Mervyn and Val Broughton kindly obliged with some passable record shots and I radioed the news out to the reserve's visitor centre. In a few moments several of the reserve's staff arrived, including Robin Harvey, Katie Smith, Ricky Whelan and BBRC chairman Adam Rowlands (who watched the bird through my scope!). The bird at this time was in sleeping posture with its head obscured and I said to Adam: "Just wait until you see the bill on this one!" A few seconds later the bill became visible and there was an audible gasp among the assembled throng! Ail agreed that this was an adult, full summer-plumaged Audouin's Gull and it was watched continuously until I left the reserve at about 1.30pm. It went missing for about an hour after this time but returned before leaving again, this time for good, at about 4.20pm. Description An élégant, long-winged, medium-sized gull, a little smaller than the nearby Lesser Blackbacked Gulls but noticeably larger than the Black-headed Gulls. The most obvious feature was its bill. This was for the most part a very striking, deep red. It was rather stout, parallel-sided but noticeably blunt-ended and showed a black subterminal bar and a small, yellowish tip. The gape-line was relatively long, reaching to a point below the eye, and there were narrow red eye-rings surrounding what appeared at this range to be dark eyes. These features stood out well against a pristine, pure-white head and hind neck. The head shape was distinctive, showing a sloping forehead, reminiscent of Caspian Gull, but also showing a rather fiat crown. The mantle was a subtle shade of pearly grey, perhaps just a little darker than the mantles of the nearby Black-headed Gulls. Concolorous with the mantle were the scapulars, ali the wing coverts and the tertials. The latter were narrowly-fringed pure white. I did not see the bird in flight, but at rest the primaries looked long and each of the outer primaries was tipped with a 'droplet' of pure white. I could see the underside of PIO, which was largely black but with a small white ovai sub-terminal patch. 40


2. Tundra Bean Geese at North Warren in January.

S

Sean Nixon

4


3. Eurasian Wigeon.

A l a n Tate

4. Garganey at Lakenheath Fen in May.

Ă


r

7. Little Egret.

Jon Evans

9. Little Grebe fishing at Minsmere in Aprii.

8. Spoonbill.

Jon Evars

Bill

Bastor


Audouin's Gull, Larus audouinli, at Mlnsmere The breast and flanks showed a subtle, almost imperceptible, light-grey cast and the belly and undertail coverts were puré white, as was the unmarked tail. The legs, which appeared neither overly long ñor short, were ashen grey. The bird was stunningly beautifül but rather inactive for the whole time 1 watched it. As a result, I did not see the pattern of the underwings very well but it is shown in several of the photos taken by other observers. Occasionally the bird would bow its head so that its bilí was pointing downwards and nearly making contact with the ground, as if in some form of display posture. On several occasions it stretched its wings, revealing black outer primaries and clearly showing the line of white "droplets" on the primary tips of each wing. Discussion I would venture that identification of this gull was as clear-cut as it is possible to be. There were no dissenting voices. It was 100 per cent Audouin's Gull. Until the 1980s the species, which breeds solely in the Mediterranean Basin, was globally threatened, with only about 1,000 breeding pairs. Thankfully habitat protection has greatly improved the species' fortunes. Increases have been especially marked in the western Mediterranean and there has been a significant range expansion in the eastern Mediterranean. Spain's Ebro Delta hosts 70 per cent of the world's breeding population which is now estimated to comprise more than 25,000 nesting pairs. This population growth and range expansion are thought to be the reasons for the recent British occurrences of the species. The Minsmere bird represents the first record for Suffolk but it is the sixth record for Britain, although it is the first to be definitely aged as an adult.

Audouin's Gull Mark Ferris

A full list of Britain's previously accepted records is as follows:2003 - Kent, Dungeness, second-summer, May 5thto 7th 2005 - East Yorkshire, Beacon Lane Ponds, Kilnsea, second-summer, June Ist 2007 - Kent, Dungeness, second-summer, May 16th 2007 - Devon, Seaton Marshes, adult or third-summer, August 14th 2008 - Lincolnshire, Huttoft Bank, sub-adult, August 15th, presumed same bird at Chapel Point area, August 17th to 23rd This species had been "on the radar" as a potential addition to the Suffolk list for a considerable time, certainly since the occurrence of the first British record. Indeed, I spoke to several Suffolk observers assembled at Landguard on March 24th, 2011, just a few hours after Suffolk's first Short-toed Treecreeper, Certhia brachydactyla, had been caught, and I tipped Audouin's Gull to be the next "first for Suffolk." I wish I could predict the National Lottery numbers as weil as that, but, in any event, the electrifying buzz that finding this supremely beautiful and, in British terms, extremely rare gull gave me was worth an absolute fortune! References Grant, J. 2011. The Audouin's Gull in Suffolk. Birding World 24, (5): 199-201. Birding World Volume 25: No. 5 - pp 199-201. 41


Oriental Turile Dove Streptopelia

orientalis

Orientai Turile Dove Streptopelia orientalis - a new species for Suffolk Richard Doe I live with my wife Sarah at Barsham Hill, Barsham, just outside Beccles. On Wednesday Aprii 13th, 2011, I arrived home from work and, as always, walked down the garden to see the chickens. As I approached the top of the garden I noticed a dove-like bird on the bird bath. It was obviously not a Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto so I checked in the book and thought it was a Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur. I hadn't before seen a Turtle Dove before so 1 nipped indoors, got the camera and took a few photos of it. Sarah noticed the bird over the following two days, 14th and 15th. On the Friday Sarah noticed online that the RSPB was conducting a survey of Turtle Dove sightings so I reported it and sent the photos. I had an exciting email back from a lady at the RSPB telling me that they thought it was an Oriental Turtle Dove, the first sighting of one in Suffolk, and could someone come and take a look? Sadly we didn't see it again after the Friday. [We are very grateful for Richard's piece, above, on the Orientai (or Rufous - BOU) Turtle Dove. Interestingly, and perhaps amusingly, Steve Piotrowski noted "the garden ofNo 2 Ink Factory Cottage is around 100 metres from one of our net lanes on one ofWaveney Bird Club 's principal ringing sites - we ali walk past the garden and bird bath on many occasions and may have done so when the bird was present ". A photograph is included in this report - Editor]

42


Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia

brachydactyla

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla - a first for Su (folk Oliver Slessor I had only just started working as the Warden for the year 2011 at Landguard Bird Observatory on March 15th after working there previously as Warden in 2005 and 2006.1 was looking forward to the year ahead, hoping for a sprinkling of scarce migrants or, if lucky, a national rarity. I am, of course, familiar with Landguard's réputation for the odd mega such as Crested Lark Galerida cristata and Blyth's Pipit Anthus godlewskii. It had been several years since the site had pulled in a really extreme rarity, so I was hoping 2011 would be a very good year! On Thursday, March 24th, 2011,1 was undertaking the regular early morning net rounds at the 'obs'. The weather conditions were fairly good for migration, but there didn't appear to be many birds around. Just before 7am, upon checking the very first net, I noticed a treecreeper species. Our native Eurasian Treecreeper C. familiaris is itself an uncommon species at Landguard, with only 12 records to date, so catching one was a very good start. Short-toed Treecreeper had occurred in late March before in Britain at other coastal Bird Observatories like Dungeness and Sandwich Bay, Kent, so I thought I'd better check this bird very carefully. Having completed the net round, back in the 'obs' ringing room, I began to look in détail at the bird. I'd informed Nigel Odin that I had caught a treecreeper species and would be checking extremely carefully for Short-toed. With the bird in my hand next to the identification guides, I soon became convinced that 1 had a Short-toed; Nigel was in agreement. What was obvious straight away was the distinctive alula pattern. While Nigel made some phone calls, I continued to check features on the bird. Other observers arrived and on further examination, we ail agreed there was no doubt that we had Suffolk's first Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla. Clear indications that the bird was a Short-toed included the white on the largest alula feather extending right around the outer edge of the feather; this is most unusual on Eurasian Treecreeper. The inner primaries had obvious white tips, rather than the less distinctive pattern of Eurasian Treecreeper. Probably the most obvious feature of ail was on the pale wing-bar, with the edges of each feather nearest the wing-tip on the folded wing being triangular at the ends or 'toothed', as opposed to the square-ended pattern on Eurasian Treecreeper. Also along the top edge of the wing-bar, the black steps appeared more graduai, which isn't the case in Eurasian Treecreeper. The bill appeared slightly longer than Eurasian Treecreeper, with the pink on the lower mandible extending to the tip. Many measurements were taken, and the bird was ringed and weighed before being released. The bird was declared a Short-toed Treecreeper, the news was put out, and it showed very well throughout the next 13 days for many visiting birders to enjoy. At times it was heard calling, helping its location and identification in the field. Throughout its stay at Landguard the Short-toed Treecreeper increased in weight from 7.8g to 9.2g and the fat score increased from no fat to a fat score of 3. It was great to see that the bird was doing so well and finding plenty of food. Weight gain and increase in fat score during stay:Date 24 Hour 07 -Wà£hLÎSl_ 7.8 Fat 0 Pectoral 2

25 06 7.6 1 2

26 06 8.0 0 2

27 07 8.2 2 2

29 07 8.6 2 2 43

31 09 8.7 2 2

1 09 8.7 3 2

4 10 9.0 3 2

5 10 8.9 3 2

6 14 9.2 3 2


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 This is the rarest bird I have found in Britain and, along with the Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus which I also found at Landguard in November 2011, made my year, and probably that of many other birders too. Short-toed Treecreeper now beats the Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius that I found at Sandwich Bay in March 2001; interestingly, in that month a Short-toed Treecreeper also turned up in Britain. Short-toed Treecreeper is widespread on the continent and found mostly in mature deciduous woodland. It is a species that has been long-anticipated in Suffolk. Although still an extremely rare bird in the British Isles it is worth thinking about how many Short-toed Treecreepers might have reached our shores without being noticed or correctly identified. In my opinion Short-toed Treecreeper and Eurasian Treecreeper are the most difficult Western Palearctic species to identify positively. There had been 25 previous British records with the last record before this being on May 8th, 2005, at Dungeness - making the Landguard bird the 26th British record. In 2012 there was another record in March at Dungeness, so now to date there are 27 British records. Short-toed Treecreeper has only been recorded six times outside Kent and has only been recorded once away from a coastal hot-spot when a lone bird was trapped and ringed in Epping Forest, Greater London/Essex, on 26th May, 1975. The closest record of Short-toed Treecreeper to Suffolk had been of one at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex on April 6th, 2005. So it was just a matter of time before one reached Suffolk's shores!

44


September 16th, 2011 - A Day to remember

September 16th, 2011 - A Day to remember The seabird movement off Suffolk, September 16th, 2011 John Grant Introduction The seabird movement noted by observers fortunate enough to be watching from the Suffolk coast on September 16th, 2011, was one of the most exciting ever to have been witnessed in the county. Several scarce species were involved in this dramatic, if short-lived, event and this alone would have made the movement remarkable by any East Coast standards. However, this exhilarating spectacle illustrâtes at least three other factors. The first is the need for the seawatching enthusiast to be constantly alert to the prevailing weather conditions. The second is how lucky we are in Suffolk to have the enormous benefit of BINS, the local birders' instant information service set up by Roy Marsh and Lee Woods which, in events such as those of September 16th, 2011, provides an unmatched source of news and, indeed, great excitement and camaraderie. The third factor is the obligation on all observers to submit their records, and descriptions of county rarities, within a reasonable time period rather than simply letting them gather dust over weeks and months and then doing so or, worse still, dreaming up the détails after the memory fails way down the line! Even at the time of writing, almost a year after the event, some reports of scarce birds involved in the September 16th, 2011, movement have, inexplicably and, I would say, inexcusably, still not been submitted to the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee. Not with standing this lamentable situation, the following overview of the movement takes a pragmatic approach and includes ali received reports, whether or not they have been considered by the records committee. Seabird enthusiasts in Suffolk have, over many years, been only too well aware that onshore winds at the right time of year can induce notable passages and scarce species off our coast. While perhaps not being in the same league as, say, the Bridges of Ross in County Clare, Porthgwarra, Pendeen and St Ives in Cornwall, or Flamborough Head in East Yorkshire, we do, indeed, have our moments. The key has always been, and always will be, the weather and observers are often glued to their computers, télévisions or radios, hanging on every word of meteorological forecasts and assessing the potential for the next day's watch. On the evening of September 15th, 2011 , several observers were alert to the conditions forecast for the next day and were on station to witness what was undoubtedly a seabirding classic. Setting the scene What happens in the preceding days also clearly has a major hearing on any day's seabird movements and the meteorological events in western Europe from September 12th, 2011, appear to have been of the utmost significance when considering the movement of September 16th. It is worth surmising how the conditions are likely to have played their part. On September 12th a deep depression was centred off the west coast of Ireland. The strong westerly and south-westerly gales on the southern flank of this low pressure system could well have displaced seabirds up the English Channel and into the southern North Sea. On September 13th the low pressure system had tracked north-east across the British Isles, with continuing westerly winds pushing seabirds further east. By the next day the low pressure had tracked slightly further east, with the winds turning north-west in the North Sea, potentially driving further seabirds from the north into the southern North Sea. Increasing northerly winds in the northern North Sea on September 15th would have potentially increased displacement of birds from the north. The dominant low pressure systems, with their associated north and westerly winds, were displaced by a high pressure system over the southern North Sea on September 45


S uffolk Bird Report 2011 16th, with light south-easterly winds on the southern flank encouraging seabirds driven into the southern North Sea to re-orientate along the Suffolk coast. That is the theory! In any event, what observers witnessed was a veritable procession of species - common and scarce, heading north and south, in overcast, murky conditions. What was seen Interpreting the records is something of a minefield. Inevitably there was some duplication among the reports as birds were tracked north or south and the BINS messages were sent out thick and fast. However, the undoubted highlight was the occurrence of the much-soughtafter Great Shearwater, only seven of which had previously been recorded in Suffolk, the last of which was off Southwold on October 9th, 2002. On this occasion there were four reports of "definites" and two of "probables". The firm reports involved birds moving north off Southwold at 08:40hrs and south off Landguard later in the day. The latter was seen by two visiting birders from "The Emerald Isle" - one of whom was Ken Perry, a good friend of several Suffolk birders, and both of whom were familiar with this impressive species, having seen it many times on their home territory. Two were noted moving north off Kessingland at 11:50hrs and "probables" were reported moving north off Kessingland at 09:05hrs and Lowestoft at 09:1 Ohrs. "Large shearwater" was frequently referred to in the numerous BINS messages and it is clear that both Great and Cory's were caught up in the movement. There were at least 12 Cory's reported. Manx Shearwaters were not especially numerous, however, with the maximum day-counts being ten from both Kessingland and Southwold, and there were just two reports of Balearic Shearwater - singles off Lowestoft and Bawdsey. Sooty Shearwater always excites the seawatcher and the species certainly didn't fail on this occasion. The largest day-count was 20 north off Southwold with other notable totals, undoubtedly involving duplication, being 15 off Lowestoft, 16 off Kessingland, 15 off Benacre, 11 off Thorpeness and 12 off Slaughden. Sabine's Gull is certainly a seawatchers' favourite and the species featured in the movement with a juvenile heading south off Sizewell at 10:15hrs, it or another offBawdsey at 12:30hrs and an adult reported from Thorpeness at 14:50hrs. Four species of skua headed the supporting cast, with, for example, up to 20 "small skuas" seen off Sizewell likely to have been Long-tailed in addition to the observer's two "definites". Also at Sizewell, at least 15 Bonxies headed south, as did 33 Arctics and two "Poms". These figures were mirrored by several other observers along the coast, to the north and south. The species referred to above may well have been the "cream of the crop" but one of the most exciting aspects of the day's movement was the variety of birds involved - it was a thoroughly "mixed bag". In addition to a strong presence of Gannets and Fulmars - at least 600 of the former moved south off Sizewell and 38 of the latter moved north there , for example - terns, waders and wildfowl were well represented. Snapshots included more than 100 Common Terns moving south during the morning off Sizewell, along with several Arctic and Sandwich Terns, and the season's first hefty Brent Goose passage, with about 275 past Sizewell alone. September 16th, 2011, will go down in the annals of Suffolk ornithology as a great seawatching day, without doubt. When will we experience such drama again? Who knows? I'd recommend constant checking of the weather forecasts though. Keep a close eye on BINS t o o . . . and submit your records quickly! Acknowledgments I should like to thank Adam Rowlands for his invaluable assistance in interpreting the weather system that preceded and prevailed during the Suffolk seabird movement of September 16th, 2011, Nick Mason for access to his personal records relating to this event, and the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee for access to records that were relevant for this article. 46


Systematic

List

The 2010 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 order has changed and follows the revised BOU list. The raw data have been collated and interpreted by the following:Swans and geese Gi Grieco Ducks Andrew Green Game birds, rails to Crâne John Davies Divers to Spoonbill Raptors

John Grant Chris Gregory

Oystercatcher to Ruff Snipes to phalaropes

Mike Swindells John Glazebrook

Skuas to gulls Terns to auks Pigeons to woodpeckers Shrikes, corvids, crests, tits

James Wright Andrew Easton Malcolm Wright

Larks, hirundines Warblers, inc. Long-tailedTit Waxwing, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Starling, Dipper, Wren, thrushes Spotted Fly, Robin, chats, wheatears, other flycatchers, Dunnock Sparrows, wagtails, pipits, finches, buntings

Nathaniel Cant Andrew Gregory

Appendices

Peter Kennerley

Richard Attenborrow

Steve Fryett

Paul Gowen

Phil Whittaker

The 'officiai' British list is maintained by the British Ornithologists' Union (BOU). Species are included in various catégories according to their status, as follows: • Category A - species which have been recorded in an apparently natural state at least once since January Ist 1950; • Category B - species that would otherwise be in Category A but have not been recorded since December 3Ist 1949; • Category C - species that, although originally introduced by man, either deliberately or accidentally, have established self-sustaining breeding populations; • Category D - species that would otherwise appear in Catégories A or B except that there is doubt that they have ever occurred in a natural 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 2011, which fall into Catégories A and C. Where a species is included in multiple catégories, this is shown in the initial status summary. Catégories D and E do not form part of either the British or Suffolk lists. Species from these Catégories that occurred in Suffolk in 2011 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 2011). This list can be accessed on their web site at www.bou.org.uk 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 170 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 47


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 estuaries, then inland from the northeast to the southwest of the county. To minimise any Potential threats to site security, some records of rare breeding birds are published anonymously and under a vague site heading. As much use as possible is made of systematic monitoring schemes such as the WeBS counts. Using such co-ordinated data instead of maximum counts gives a better idea of the populations of each species wintering in the county on a given date. However, fluctuations in numbers due to changing weather patterns will affect totals and higher counts are given in the text after the table where appropriate. Counts from North Warren include Thorpeness Meare, Church Farm Marshes and the shoreline between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh; the Aide/Ore 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 - further information can be found on the BTO website. See 'A Guide to Recording Birds in Suffolk' elsewhere in this Report for information on submission of records. The following définitions 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 détails. The following abbreviations are sometimes used in the systematic list:— N bird(s) flying north adult ad NNR = National Nature Reserve Breeding Bird Survey BBS Constant Effort Site R River CES Country Park res = reservoir CP S bird(s) flying south Golf Course GC SW = sewage works gravel pit GP WM = Water Meadow ¡mm = immature WP = Water Park Ind. Est. = industriai estate WR = Wildfowl Reserve juv = juvenile

48


Systematic List MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor Common resident. Amber List. Categories A and C. The majority of the records came from the south-east of the county but there were only four sites with breeding records from this area. Breeding numbers overall were slightly lower than last year with 29 breeding sites, fairly evenly split between the west and north-east, with the total number of pairs being 44 with a count of 95 young. Of the two pairs that bred on Orfordness, one near the quay was originally seen with five cygnets, two of which were 'Polish' morphs although unfortunately only two of the cygnets survived, one being one of the 'Polish' birds. Smaller herds were recorded in the north-east in 2011 with Flixton Gravel Pits having the highest count of 61 on March 27th although this is a lot lower than the 178 recorded there in 2010. Other larger herds in the area included 46 at Shipmeadow, January 16th, 55 at Carlton Marshes on March 22nd and 51 atThorpeness Meare on September 11th. The counts from North Warren and Minsmere, which peaked at 52 in December, can be seen in the table below along with the Deben WeBS counts which show the estuary to be an important area for the species. Peak monthly counts at selected sites:

Minsmere North Warren Orfordness Aide WeBS Deben WeBS Orwell Estuary HW* Stour WeBS Lakenheath Fen WeBS

Jan 24 33 17 36 183 34 17 17

Feb 13 28 6 68 190 22 3 31

Mar Apr Sep Oct 7 8 5 23 47 51 17 W0Ì 14 6 8 21 íftjSpí 54 53 197 157 102 114 11 15 12 23 44 18 40 il 102 19 85

Nov 9 -

4 43 103 5 30 162

Dec 52 32 4 53 192 -

17 88

* HW = High Water

Lower numbers were recorded in the west of the county with the highest counts being 23 at Higham (near Hadleigh) on March 11th, 40 at Lackford Lakes on May 29th and 31 at Lackford Lakes on August 13th. Sudbury Common Lands was the site that had the best breeding record with five broods and 17 juveniles. TUNDRA (BEWICK'S) SWAN Cygnus columbianus bewickii Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. 2011 was a good year for this species, especially in the first winter period with a sizeable herd in a winter cereal field at Toby's Walks, Blythburgh by the A12 during January and February. The highest count was 102 on January 23rd with some of the birds roosting at night at Minsmere which recorded a peak of 85 on February 8th. There were smaller herds in the same period further down the coast with up to 11 noted on a few dates at Boyton Marshes and birds were regular on the Deben Estuary, particularly at Falkenham Marshes, reaching a maximum of six at Bawdsey, January 9th. A flock of 50 wild swans north-east over Lackford Lakes on January 5th were thought to be this species. On February 8th some movement was noted across the county where at Bamham Cross Common 29 flew east, 11 flew east over Fritton Marshes and at Lowestoft, 30 flew east out to sea. There was further movement later in the month on 27th at Ness Point, Lowestoft where 86, in flocks of 36 and 50, flew east out to sea and on March 5th at Oulton Marshes flocks of 35 and 24 flew east. The first returning birds were two at Minsmere on October 30th and the species was regularly seen there during November and December with a peak of 30 on the Scrape on December 29th. 49


S uffolk Bird Report 2011 Other records include:Breydon South Shore: 19, Feb 8th; 15, Nov 29th; eight, Dec 22nd. Great Yarmouth: Southtown, 27 low west, Nov 11th. Gorleston: 11 high east out to sea, Feb 6th; five west, Nov 12th; 29 in off the sea, Dec 18th. Lowestoft: 42 low west over Sussex Road, Dec 7th. Oulton Broad: eight south-west, Dec 15th. Kessingland: two over, Nov 12th. Beccles Marshes: ten, Dec 28th to 30th. Barsham Marshes: two, Dec 12th and 17th; six including four over east, Dec 14th. North Warren: South Marsh, three, Nov 7th. Aldeburgh: three, Nov 15th. Iken: three, Nov 14th. Boyton Marshes: six, Dec 11th. East Lane Bawdsey: three north, Nov 11th. Ramsholt: two, Dec 14th. Falkenham Marshes: Dec 27th. Martlesham Creek: 18, Dec 14th. Lakenheath Fen RSPB: two, Jan 1st; nine including three juveniles, Jan 8th. On Orfordness, after seven noted on the Airfields on February 6th, nine were present from February 13th to March 6th, the first time any have stayed for a lengthy period. In November, one flew south on 5th, while two adults were noted at nearby Orford on the same day, and in December, seven came in off the sea and continued west on 10th. 2010 Addition: Landguard Bird Observatory: nine in off the sea, Oct 16th. W H O O P E R SWAN

Cygnus

cygnus

Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. In the first half of the year there were single-figure counts at a number of sites with a small herd regularly occurring in a winter cereal field by the A l 2 at Toby's Walks, Blythburgh with initially a single bird on January 1st rising to a maximum of seven on January 9th, that included a mixture of adult and first-winter birds. Later in the month these birds then started to be seen at Minsmere on Island Mere and then continually throughout February and March when a single bird was seen to fly high north-east out to sea on March 2nd. Elsewhere in the north-east four flew west at Breydon South Wall on January 2nd and an adult bird was present at Share Marsh, Carlton Colville on March 22nd and again on April 2nd and 4th. In the south-east two adults were at Boyton Marshes RSPB on January 1st and again on 8th and 27th, while at Falkenham Marshes a juvenile was present from the end of January until February 2nd. The species is now being seen regularly at Lakenheath Fen RSPB where seven were noted on January 29th. An adult and juvenile seen at Gifford's Hall, Stoke-byNayland on January 28th and 29th were thought to be the same birds seen at nearby Higham on March 5th. Minsmere was once again the main site for this species in the second winter with the first sighting of three on the Scrape on October 19th and up to six birds seen up to the end of the year either on Island Mere or the South Levels. At Flixton Gravel Pits two adults and four juveniles were present on October 28th and two were at Dingle Marshes, Dunwich on November 20th. At Kessingland one flew in off the sea then headed south on December 1 st. There were two on Havergate Island on October 19th and at Landguard Bird Observatory, the site recorded its 9th, 10th and 11th records with six south on October 29th, three north November 7th and one south December 13th. On December 14th, at Kirton Creek a notable count of 18 was recorded and these birds flew towards Woodbridge. Nearby there were three at Falkenham Marshes on December 50


Systematic

List

27th. Good numbers were also noted in the west with initially a single bird at Cavenham Pits on October 7th and on the same date two at Lakenheath Fen RSPB where later in the month 16 were present on 19th and 22 on 22nd. At Sedge Fen, Lakenheath eight adults and four juveniles were present on November 25th. (TUNDRA) BEAN GOOSE Anserfabalis rossicus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. A good year for this species with flocks reaching double figures and again recorded in the west. The most regular site in the first winter period was North Warren where up to 15 were present during January and February. On January 1st, 13 were present at Boyton Marshes and 12 circled Minsmere south levels, then headed north, with ten at the latter site on the north levels on January 18th. Another double-figure flock of 14 birds was at Walton Marshes between February 3rd and 9th with the same birds at Kings Fleet/Felixstowe Ferry between February 11th and 13th. In the second winter period up to 16 were on Benacre Broad during mid-November, up to ten were on Minsmere south levels in December up to 29th with the same birds noted at both Westleton on 22nd, where five birds had been on 19th and at North Warren on the last day of the year. This sub-species was noted a few times on Orfordness where in January one flew south on 2nd and four south on 16th and in February, four south on 6th. On November 25th eight flew south over Pig Pail and 14 south over Lantern Marshes on December 3rd. At Lackford Lakes there were four on the Slough on November 17th with the birds noted in the village on a field opposite the church on November 25th and 27th in the company of two Taiga Beans and one Greater White-fronted Goose. There were then two at Lackford Lakes from December 8th until the end of the year. Further sightings include:Breydon: Humberstone Marshes, six, Nov 16th. Bradwell: Hobland Hall, ten, Dec 20th. Beccles Marshes: Dec 28th. Barsham Marshes: north, Nov 6th. Kessingland: two north, Nov 12th; two south, probably the same birds, over the beach the following day. Minsmere: Levels, Mar 5th. North Warren: seven, Nov 25th. Aldeburgh Marshes: three, Nov 20th. Boyton Marshes: Jan 8th; eight, Dec 3rd. Butley: nine, Dec 13th. Bawdsey: Nov 15th. Ramsholt: two, Jan 4th. Landguard: south, Jan 20th, the site's ninth record. Trimley Marshes: Jan 11th and 13th; Mar 6th and 9th. Loompit Lake: Apr 18th and 22nd; again, May 2nd. Alton Water: on WeBS count, Dec 11th. Lackford: Clamps Heath, with Pink-footed flock, Feb 17th. (TAIGA) BEAN GOOSE Anser fabalis fabalis Rare winter visitor. A good year for this sub-species with four present at Boyton Marshes in the first two weeks of January, which were also noted at nearby Hollesley Marshes on 9th. With more recent records of this scarcer nominate race occurring in the west, the Lackford record is notable. Boyton Marshes: four, Jan 1st to 14th (S Abbott et al.). Barsham: three, Nov 9th to 1 Ith (S Howell). Lackford: two in the village with four Tundra Bean Geese, Nov 25th; with Greater White-fronted Geese and various feral geese on a field opposite the church, Nov 25th to 30th (L Gregory et al.). 51


S uffolk Bird Report 2011 PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus Increasing winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. This species has followed the pattern of recent years of large skeins regularly encountered in north-east Suffolk, often noted in flight, with lower numbers further down the coast and a continuation of records from the west. The species is generally seen in the county from January to March and again from October to December but one lingered at Boyton, being noted on Aprii 16th and May 13th while the first birds of the autumn were 24 over Burgh Castle on September 15th on which date nine flew in off the sea at Minsmere and landed on the North Levels. A single bird, of unknown origin, was at Redgrave Fen from September 8th to 13th. Often noted at Flixton with a peak of 1000 on January 11 th; other high counts include 2000 at Blundeston Marshes on January 8th while at the same site 3000 were noted on November 24th and 3000 over Somerleyton on November 30th. Flixton again had several skeins fly over in the second winter period with a maximum count of 3000 on December 5th, whilst the largest flock of the year was when 10000 flew south-east at Burgh Castle from the roost at Berney Marshes on December 20th, of which 1200 landed at Hobland Road, Bradwell. A selection of notable counts include: Burgh Castle: 10000 south-east, Dee 20th, of which 1200 landed at Bradwell; 500 flew north-east at dusk, Oct 29th. Bradwell: 300 over Mill Lane, Dee 24th. Gorleston: 120 north, Dee 21 st. Fritton: Waveney Forest, 250 north-east at dusk, Jan lst. Ashby: 250 west, Dee 3rd. Lound: 150, Nov 18th. Blundeston Marshes: 2000, Jan 9th; 200 south, Nov 2lst; 3000 south, Nov 24th. Somerleyton: 3000 north, Nov 30th. Oulton Broad: 70 west, Jan lst; 48 north, Nov 6th. Oulton: Fisher Row, 80, Jan 2nd. Lake Lothing: 170 north-west, Dee 17th. Ellough: 100 south, Nov 22nd. Barsham Marshes: two skeins totalling 80 north, Nov 6th. Shipmeadow: 120 west over Laurel's Farm, Jan 27th. Flixton: 400 north, Jan lst; 1000 west, Jan 1 lth; 500 west, Feb 25th; 400 north, Oct 20th; 3000 south, Dee 5th; 1000 north-west, Dee lOth. At Minsmere, the species was noted on a number of occasions including 65 which flew in off the sea, January lst, on which date 122 circled South Levels then headed north while another 20 flew "" f Pink-footed Geese north the following day. Other records Su Gough W from the first day of the year include four at Hen Reedbeds, 80 at Lakenheath Fen RSPB which flew over the ' reserve twice during the day and 16 at Mickle Mere. Up to three birds were at Trimley Marshes in January. At Lackford Lakes there were ten on February 17th and on the same day 42 at nearby Clamps Heath, Lackford. There were one or two on North Warren up to March 12th and at nearby Aldeburgh 30 flew south on January 14th. Up to 15 were on Boyton Marshes and nearby Gedgrave Marshes during January and at Melton 65 flew over the fishing lake by Wilford Bridge and carried on up the Deben Valley on January 13th. Seven were present at Timworth on November 23rd, 14 at Sudbourne Marshes on November 26th and 144 flew low south-west over the A12 at Wrentham on December 31 st. A few records from Landguard Bird Observatory included three north January 16th, in October. one south on 13th, two south on 15th and one south on 25th while in November

52


Systematic

List

ten north on 6th, two north the following day and 33 north on 14th. One or two feral birds were present in the first half of the year at Mickle Mere and Lackford. G R E A T E R W H I T E - F R O N T E D G O O S E Anser albifrons Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. There were good flock sizes at a number of localities in the first winter period with North Warren again the favoured site with the peak monthly counts in the table below. Other large counts in January include 200 at Dingle Marshes, Dunwich on 2nd, 210 at Reydon Marshes on 12th, 267 at Aldeburgh Marshes on 15th and 512 on the Aide WeBS count on 16th. The largest flock at Minsmere was 215 on February 22nd and at Hazlewood Marshes 135 were present on February 19th. Peak monthly counts at principal site: Other records from the Jan Feb Mar Oct Nov Dec period include:North Warren 600 500 183 451 65 250 Pakefield: two, Jan 19th. Belton Marshes: 41, Jan 3rd. Bungay: Outney Common, five including a juvenile, Jan 16th. North Cove: Castle Marsh, seven, Jan 4th. Southwold: Town Marshes, six, Jan 12th; five, including three first-winters, Jan 14th to 16th. Thorpeness: 86 north and two south offshore, Jan 1st; 80 flew north offshore, Jan 2nd. Orfordness: on Airfields, Jan 2nd and 16th; further 32 north. Jan 16th. Slaughden: 32 and 87, Jan 24th. Sudbourne Marshes: 75, Jan 16th. Boyton Marshes: 80 north, Jan 1st; five, Jan 8th; 18, Feb 11th. Landguard: two north, Jan 14th; eight, south Jan 19th; two north and one south, Jan 24th. Trimley Marshes SWT: two, Jan 11th to 22nd; Feb 6th. Stoke-by-Nayland: Gifford's Hall, Jan 1 st with feral Greylags but wary and thought to be wild. In the second winter period the first birds noted in October were 55 at Boyton Marshes which flew from the flashes, 3rd, two at Minsmere, 15th and 16th and six south offshore at Covehithe on 26th. Throughout November and December the species was recorded from a number of sites with the highest count of 250 at North Warren on December 26th. Other sites with regular flocks included Oulton Marshes, Barsham Marshes, Belton Marshes, Kessingland sewage works, with a peak of 60, and the same birds at nearby Benacre Broad and Dingle Marshes, Minsmere with a high count of 120, and Boyton Marshes. At Alton Water in December there were six birds on 16th and 12 on 27th and 31 st, with the same birds likely to have been at Flatford on 20th. A single bird at Landguard on November 11th spent most of the day on the reserve. As with the other species of migratory wild grey geese, the west of the county had a number of sightings including two at Great Livermere on November 13th and on the same day three flew over and around the reserve at Nunnery Floods, Thetford and the Bamham area. Two days later two flocks of eight and ten flew over Thetford and at Lackford one was with the Taiga and Tundra Bean Geese on November 25th and five associated with two Tundra Bean Geese at Lackford Lakes on December 16th. Further records from the second winter period include:Breydon: Humberstone Marshes, 29 south, Nov 8th; 45 over, Nov 30th. Gorleston Cliffs: four south, Nov 14th. Bradwell: 50 south, Nov 30th. Lowestoft: North Denes, three, Nov 11th; Ness Point, 11 north, Nov 12th; 11 north, Nov 16th. Carlton ColvUle: Share Marsh, 40 over, Nov 26th. Thorpeness: 46 south, Dec 31 st. Sudbourne Marshes: 86, Dec 12th; 44, Dec 18th. Gedgrave Marshes: 28, Nov 28th; 41, Nov 29th. Havergate Island: eight over, Dec 10th. Hollesley Marshes: five, Nov 20th. Hemley: Dec 12th. 53


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 GREYLAG GOOSE Anser anser Common resident from feral flock. Amber List. Categories A, C and E. Widespread across the county, predominately along the marshlands on the Suffolk coast and valleys and inland on the lakes, reservoirs and meres in the south and west, although there were fewer records from the central area. Fewer breeding records were received for the year with a reduction of sites to 17 and a total of 39 broods. Livermere Lake was the main site with a count of 12 broods while there were two broods totalling 13 goslings at Long Melford and a pair with eight young at Shelley was notable. Peak monthly counts at selected sites: Jan Feb Minsmere 274 302 North Warren 37 143 Dingle Marshes 180 142 32 Aide YVeBS 68 6 Deben WeBS 5 Orwell Estuar) H\V* 395 112 Alton Water 157 83 *HW = High Water

Mar 158 13 90 42 13 86 71

Apr 77 -

Sep 241 -

150 -

11 3 44

-

141 406 551

Oct 322 48 154 293 110 2 441

Nov 191 297 80 59 463 242 437

Dec 197 220 6 57 91 44 640

In early January, the flock from the previous December at Belton Marshes still included three birds with neck collars that were ringed in Orkney in July 2010. One of these birds was at Lound Waterworks at the end of the month. There were fewer of the large flocks recorded from the west with 708 at Mickle Mere on January 22nd being the largest flock recorded in the county for the year. Other notable flocks in January include 367 at Trimley Marshes on 16th, 340 at Covehithe Broad on 27th, 300 at Gifford's Hall on 28th and 420 on Havergate Island on 29th. There were lower numbers in the summer months with 350 at Covehithe Broad on August 7th being the largest and the start of a build up in numbers for the rest of the year with other high counts including 256 at Tendring Hall, Stoke-by-Nayland, on August 23rd. Two hundred and fifty were at Boyton Hall Farm on October 5th, 450 at Thorington Street Reservoir on October 7th, 370 at Livermere Lake on November 27th with 300 flying southwest at Timworth the following day. The highest count was 640 at Alton Water on December 11th. There was a notable increase in records at Dingle Marshes, Dunwich with fewer noted at North Warren although the latter site did peak at the end of the year with a count of 297 on November 20th. GREATER CANADA GOOSE Branta canadensis Common resident. Categories A, C and E. Widespread around the county with the species found at more sites in the south-east but with still big numbers at a number of sites in the west. Slightly lower numbers of breeding sites and pairs were received compared with the previous year although the number of young was comparable, with a total of 73. It was noted that at Livermere Lake the number of goslings, a count of four, was much lower than previous years and in comparison with Greylag Geese. Most sites had one or two pairs nesting although Orfordness had three nesting pairs and two broods totalling 11 goslings and at Ickworth Park there were three broods. A large flock was regularly noted on the adjacent marshes of Boyton and Gedgrave in both winters with 300+ at Boyton in January, 400 at Boyton Hall Farm in October and the highest single count of 663 at Gedgrave on November 29th. A selection of other three-figure flocks include 132 at Gifford's Hall, Stoke-by-Nayland on January 1st, 119 on Havergate Island on March 13th, 167 in flocks of 92 and 75 on the Deben at Melton on June 15th and 137 at Covehithe Broad on August 7th. 54


Systematic Peak monthly counts at selected sites: Jan Feb Minsmere 70 38 Aide WeBS 183 393 Deben WeBS 42 36 Orwell Estuary HW* 129 63 Stour WeBS 99 93 * HW = High Water

Mar 27 263 24 26 187

List

Apr 30 • •: -

32 -

79

Sep 212 •

-

211 260 325

Oct 104 1027 in 69 7

Nov 27 290 48 48 351

Dec 49 314 12 299

In September there were counts of 317 at Hall Farm, Fornham St Martin on 3rd, 360 at Redgrave Fen on 8th and 160 at Bridge Farm, Pakenham on 25th. In October 306 were at Thorington Street Reservoir on 7th, 150 at Barton Mere on 8th, 154 on a reservoir at Aldringham Walks on 29th with 153 on Cavenham pits November 19th, 207 on Dingle Marshes, Dunwich on November 20th, 127 at Sudbourne Marshes on December 18th and 200 at Flatford on December 20th. The four Canada x Greylag hybrids that were fledged at Melton last year were still present on the Deben while in the flock at Thorington Street Reservoir there were a further six Canada x Greylag hybrids present and at Lound Waterworks a single Canada x Barnacle hybrid. BARNACLE G O O S E Bruntu leucopsis Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant; increasingly common feral resident. Amber List. Categories A and E. There were fewer breeding pairs at Minsmere in 2011 with a count of 35 pairs compared with 47 pairs in 2010. A new breeding site was at Old Hall Farm, St. Nicholas South Elmham with a nesting pair on a large farm pond where a total of 17 birds was present on April 22nd. Lower numbers were recorded than last year, being well short of reaching the peak numbers at Southwold and Reydon, although interestingly no records were received from these sites. Minsmere and North Warren were again the main sites for this species with peaks in the first winter, fewer numbers in the spring and summer and an increase from August and September to the year's end. The highest count of the year was at Minsmere with 508 on the Scrape on September 30th. Away from the two main sites, large flocks elsewhere include 122 at Kessingland on January 2nd, 69 at Lound Waterworks January 15th, 100 at Benacre Broad August 9th and 400 north over nearby Covehithe Broad on August 21st. At the end of the year there were 100 at Sizewell SWT on December 19th and 300 on Kessingland Levels on December 26th. Peak monthly counts at the principal sites: Jan Feb Mar Minsmere 84 330 9 North Warren 271 250 -

Apr 60 -

Sep 508 22

Oct 413 312

Nov 275

Dec 294 250

Small numbers were present elsewhere in the county with flocks of 22 at Boyton Marshes, 25 at Trimley Marshes and 35 on Havergate Island in January, while in the same month some movement off Landguard Bird Observatory was observed with counts of 58 and 61 on consecutive days. On the Stour WeBS count in February a total of 28 was recorded. One, two or three feral birds were again noted at various sites in west Suffolk including Clifford's Hall and Thorington Street Reservoir, although 16 were at Elveden on August 7th. Of note was a Barnacle x Red-breasted Goose hybrid seen on a couple of dates at Minsmere in April.

55


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 (DARK-BELLIED) BRENT GOOSE Urania bermela bermela Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Categories A and E. From January to the beginning of April small numbers were frequently noted flying north or south offshore in the north-east with the principal sites being Kessingland, Minsmere Beach and Thorpeness and a peak count of 82 flying north at Kessingland on January 29th. Earlier in the month 80 flew north at Ness Point, Lowestoft on 2nd. Further down the coast higher counts were on the estuaries with the Deben having a high concentration including 1000+ which flew inland late afternoon at Waldringfield on January 6th, 800+ at Bawdsey Quay on January 25th, 1,000+ at Felixstowe Ferry on February 1st and 604 on Falkenham Marshes on March 1 st. Noted at a few other sites elsewhere in the south-east with 69 on Havergate Island on January 24th, 175 on Gedgrave Marshes on January 26th, 600 at Trimley Marshes on February 5th, 117 at Cattawade on March 20th and a late flock of 100 at Levington Creek on May 7th. On Orfordness they were a regular visitor to the Airfields and saltmarsh with counts listed in the table below. Late spring and early summer records include three at Trimley Marshes on June 5th and a single bird south at Thorpeness on July 18th. Peak monthly counts atselected sites: Jan Feb Orfordness 12 440 Deben WeBS 956 1173 Orwell Estuary HW* 1610 1101 754 1150 Stour Estuary 602 Trimley Marshes 125 * HW = High Water

Mar 267 83 221 90 78

Apr 4 6 4 696 43

Sep 6 -

: -

807

Oct 20 20 121 298 619

Nov 50 -

481 360

Dec 92 159 151 -

300

Autumn passage began on September 3rd when one flew past Landguard with a small number seen flying south a week later at a number of sites including Covehithe, Orfordness and East Lane on September 10th. Further movement continued during the month with regular sightings of birds moving south off Thorpeness. In October passage became more pronounced with a couple of peaks including some very large numbers, the first on 9th when 5,000 flew south off Dunwich Beach, 5,637 at Thorpeness and 10,008 south at Landguard, where an all-white bird was noted. There was another peak four days later on 13th, with 3,460 offThorpeness and 11697 off Landguard, where 2,016 were counted the following day. The final peak count of the month came on 24th with 500 south off Ness Point, Lowestoft, in parties of one to 50 in 75 minutes, 2,251 offThorpeness and 3,007 at Landguard, the latter site having a very notable total count of 28,599 for the month. During November and December there were further regular sightings off the coast with numbers building up on the Suffolk estuaries in the south-east including 198 on Sudbourne Marshes, November 26th, 400 at Levington Creek, December 12th, 81 at Cattawade on December 12th and 400 on Falkenham Marshes, December 27th. In the west a single bird was at Livermere Lake on November 15th. (PALE-BELLIED) BRENT GOOSE Branta bermela hrota Uncommon winter visitor. Following on from the end of the previous year, good numbers were still present at Humberstone Marshes, Breydon with a maximum count of 155 on January 1 st that included an individual colour-ringed as a juvenile at Lindisfarne on January 25th, 1997. Three-figure counts continued at the site into February with 102 on 2nd and they were last noted on March 2nd when eight were present at Breydon South Wall. Elsewhere in the north-east a single flew south at Hopton-on-Sea on January 9th and two were present the following day on 56


Systematic

List

Southwold Town Marshes. Further down the coast at Orfordness, five flew up river on January 9th with four birds on the Airfields on 30th. In February, four were at the site on 6th with March records of two on 5th, six on 6th and one on 13th. Nearby, two were present at Gedgrave Marshes on January 26th, a single bird on Havergate Island on February 21 st and one on the Aide WeBS count on March 13th. In the south-east they were regularly recorded between January and early March on the Deben Estuary with six initially on January 9th at Falkenham and a maximum of seven at Bawdsey Quay on January 29th, Kings Fleet on February 17th and again at Falkenham on February 22nd. This flock included a family party of five birds comprising two adults and three juveniles. A single bird was noted at Trimley Marshes SWT on January 30th. There were fewer records in the second winter period which included one south past Landguard on September 16th, the seventh site record. On October 9th at Bawdsey, one flew south offshore with the large movement of Dark-bellied Brents that day. A single flew south off Minsmere beach on October 25th and nearby two flew south at Sizewell beach on November 13th. Finally a single bird was on the River Orwell on November 8th and what was likely the same bird nearby at Chelmondiston on November 11th. BLACK BRANT Branta bernicla nigricans Very rare visitor. On the Deben Estuary two adults were at Bawdsey Quay on January 25 th with the same birds noted across the river at Felixstowe Ferry from January 29th to February 4th. A single bird was at Levington Creek from December 4th to the end of the year. Bawdsey Quay: two, Jan 25th (J A and P R Kennerley). Felixstowe Ferry: two, same birds as above, Jan 29th to Feb 4th (W J Brame). Levington Creek: Dec 4th until year end (W J Brame). EGYPTIAN G O O S E Alopochen aegyptiaca Locally fairly common resident. Categories C and E. The species continues to spread with more records received from the south-east and an increase in the number of sites in the north-east. There was also an increase in the number of breeding sites to 20 locations, predominately in the west with two-thirds of the records; overall 29 pairs raising 67 young were recorded. Of note, on Weybread Gravel Pits, three pairs raised 19 young and at Oulton Broad one pair were with four recently hatched young in early October. Egyptian Geese are often quick to colonise new patches of water and this was noted at Pipps Ford at Barking where two adults and four juveniles were on the new pits. There were regular large gatherings at North Cove/Castle Marsh with the highest count being 30 on January 30th. Elsewhere, notable counts were from Lound Waterworks with 37 on September 4th, Lackford village with 53 on November 27th and New Road, Bradwell with 102, the highest count of the year, on December 30th. Other counts of note came from Timworth with 20 on January 2nd, Redgrave Fen with 48 on June 9th, Burgh Castle with 44 on June 16th, Oulton Broad with 43 on July 16th, pig fields north of Great Livermere village with 29 on August 12th, the Cattawade area with 30+ on September 9th, Belton with 22 on November 21st and Breydon Water south shore with 70 on December 8th. The 15 at Lakenheath RSPB reserve on June 7th were noted as a high count for the reserve. COMMON S H E L D L C K Tadorna tadorna Locally common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Overall numbers in the first winter period compared favourably with recent years, with the low-water WeBS count on the Orwell Estuary in February being the highest there since one of 1518 i n March 1996. Aside from those in the table, the only other significant counts were a non-WeBS count on the Blyth Estuary of 255, March 6th and unseasonably high 57


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 monthly maxima on Havergate Island of 162, June 11th and 208, July 14th. Monthly counts from the key sites:

Minsmere* Aide/Ore Estuary Deben Estuary* Orwell Estuary HW Orwell Estuary LW Trimley Marshes* Stour Estuary Livermere Lake* ""monthly maxima

Jan 40 826 610 922 921 161 1146

Keb 116 802 635 922 1130 339 844 -

Mar 57 804 602 313

Apr 35 *311 327 36

May 42 *130 12

Sep 9 83 9 23

Oct 3 331 42 44

Nov 15 708 223 231

Dec 31 951 429 398

133 263 120

76 115

7 165

1 229

30 622 2

22 718

_

-

371 734 170

HW = High Water

LW = Low Water

This species enjoyed an excellent breeding season at Livermere Lake, where 115 young were present in at least nine broods in late May, the best total at this site since 1997. On the coast, a minimum of 18 pairs raised 103 young at Orfordness, although the fact that few large juveniles were noted in early July hints at poor breeding success for the second successive year. At Flixton GP four pairs raised a total of 28 young and there were three breeding pairs at Sizewell. Dingle Marshes, Havergate Island, Butley, Fornham St Genevieve and Bury St Edmunds Sugar Beet Factory each Common Shelduck supported two pairs, while single pairs were recorded at Peter Beeston Burgh Castle, Hen Reedbeds, Minsmere, Melton, Trimley Marshes, Alton Water, Cavenham Pits, Pakenham, Barton Mere and Fornham St Martin. Notable offshore passage occurred on three days in the first half of November, a typica time for this species to be returning from its moulting grounds. On 6th a significant northerl; movement was recorded from a number of coastal watch points in the north-east of the count}, including 301 off Gorleston, 154 off Lowestoft, 117 off Minsmere and 120 offThorpeness, while on 12th 133 flew south offThorpeness and on 14th 111 flew south off Landguard. M A N D A R I N D U C K Aix galericulata Uncommon feral visitor. Small breeding population. Categories C and E. A pair bred for the first time in a purpose-built nest box at Ipswich Golf Club, Purdis Farm, where six young were seen on June 1st and 2nd, but not subsequently. Breeding was also proved at Holy wells Park, Ipswich, with a female accompanying five ducklings on May 18th. However, no young were seen here again until a total of 12 advanced juveniles of unknown origin were present on June 11th. Lowestoft: Leathes Ham, male, Nov 19th and 20th. Covehithe Broad: male, Sep 22nd. Ipswich: Christchurch Park, 16(11 males), Jan 2nd; pair, June 1st; four, Aug 20th; ten (six males), Sep 28th. Holywells Park, 12, Jan 3rd; ten, Feb 22nd and 28th; eight (four males), Mar 19th; six (three males), Apr 15th and 23rd; female with five young. May 18th; 19, including 12 juveniles, June 11th: 15, Aug 20th; 17(11 males), Sep 26th; 21 (15 males), Oct 6th; nine (six males), Nov 2nd; six (three males), Dec 18th. Victoria Nurseries, Westerfield Road, pair, Jan 31st. Purdis Farm: Ipswich Golf Club, pair, Jan 19th and 20th and Mar 2nd; two pairs, Mar 6th; pair. Mar 12th and 14th; two pairs, Mar 18th; pair. Mar 19th; Mar 22nd; pair, Apr 9th to June 1st, nested in box where 14 eggs laid and six young fledged, June 1 st, with additional males Apr 25th (two), May 19th and June 1st; female and six young, June 2nd; two males, June 13th. 58


Systematic

List

Oulton Broad: male, Oct 23rd. Thorndon: female, Dec 13th. Santun Downham: Little Ouse River, two, Feb 12th; three, Feb 27th; pair, Mar 7th to 12th; three, Mar 13th; eight (three males), Mar 20th; pair, Mar 23rd; seven (three males), Mar 27th; three, Apr 2nd. Brandon: pair, Apr 6th. Bamham: Heath, five, Feb 21st. WattisField: male, Feb 11th. Tuddenham St Mary: female, May 9th. West Stow: Country Park, male, Oct 5th. Lackford Lakes: male, Nov 17th. Ickworth: Park, pair, May 27th; seven, Aug 11th; nine, Sep 8th; eight, Oct 21st. Sudbury: Common Lands, male, Jan 1st and 2nd. Stoke-by-Navland: Tendring Hall Park, Aug 23rd. EURASIAN W I G E O N Anas penelope Common winter visitor and passage migrant. A few oversummer. Amber list. A and E.

Categories

Monthly counts from the key sites:

Minsmere* North Warren* Aide/Ore Estuary Deben Estuary Orwell Estuary HW Orwell Estuary LW Trimley Marshes* Stour Estuary Mickle Mere* GifTord's Hall* Thorington Street Res.* "monthly maxima

Jan

Feb

Mar

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

2500 4200 3632 757 1016 1809 1000 2466 256 2500 256

271 1800 1826 1010 620 1022 329 1123 120 200

305 282 1146 367 345

164 9 79 15 86 V-

194 42 1164 522 339

408 226 2120 528 249

236 627 2902 737 437

32 216

1 1288

§

-

'

147 855 141 250

-

-

HW = High Water

-

67

-

-

68 629

?> -

318 620 LW = Low Water

-

.137 1437

M

••-

270

Following the bumper numbers of January 2010, normality was restored in January this year, although four-figure counts were more widespread than usual. For the first time the highest count of the year came from North Warren, where a non-WeBS count of 4200, January 7th is a site record (see also Pintail). A count of 2,500 at Minsmere, January 1st is the highest there for 25 years, while a gathering of 2,500 at Gifford's Hall, Stoke-byNayland, January 11th is a record for the west of the county (see also Pintail). By contrast, the WeBS count of 3,632, January 16th on the Aide/Ore Estuary, the only site in the county to regularly support nationally important numbers (threshold of4,400), is the lowest annual peak there since 1994. Aside from sites included in the table, other three-figure counts in the first winter period were received from Lake Lothing, Lowestoft, where 800 flew north, January 1st; Oulton liroad, 150 flew east, January 1st; Kessingland, 107 on the sea, January 18th; Outney Common, Bungay, 250, February 12th and Higham (near Hadleigh), 350, January 1st and 150, March 5th. In the second winter period additional significant counts were of 110, Burgh Castle, November 13th; 134 flying east over Oulton Broad, November 7th and 290, Botany F arm, Farnham, December 19th. There was no evidence of breeding, although small numbers were present in suitable habitat along the coast throughout the summer. In addition, eight flying north off Kessingland, July 26th is atypical for the time of year. There was a notable northerly movement off Minsmere on January 1st, otherwise all other S1 gmficant offshore migration occurred between mid-September and mid-December. 59


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 Autumn passage, which began with seven south o f f N e s s Point, Lowestoft, September Ist, peaked on three dates, September 17th, October 9th and November 6th. An impressive total of 2066 south off Landguard, October 9th is the largest movement logged in the county since 1990, when 5000 flew south off Minsmere on October 2Ist. Three-figure offshore counts were as follows:Gorlcston: 376 north, Nov 6th. Lowestoft: Ness Point, 143 north, Nov 6th; 110 north-east, Dee 10th. Kessingland: 101 south, Nov 4th. Southwold: 150 south, Sep 17th. Minsmere: 130 north, Jan Ist; 363 north, Nov 6th. Thorpeness: 166 south, Sep 17th; 152 south, Oct 2nd; 63 north and 222 south, Oct 9th; 118 south, Oct 14th; 363 north and 77 south, Nov 6th. Orfordness: 385 south, Sep 17th; 200 south, Oct 9th. Landguard: 2066 south, Oct 9th. GADWALL Anas streperà Common resident and winter visitor. Amber list. Categories A and C. Monthly counts from the key sites:

Nov

Dec

52 104 56 10 86 102 216 177 84 100 105 227 > 105 103 39 12 74 195 216 4 4 72 : 66 79 110 48 % 33 0 225 112 341 254 68 16 23 1 • 156 49 9 10 8 18 25 68 120 72 25 81 56 34 64 76 26 47 -37 HW = High Water LW = Low Water

50 300 101 37 2

Jan Lowestoft Leathes Ham* Minsmere* North Warren* Aide/Ore Estuary Orwell Estuary HVV Orwell Estuary LW Trimley Marshes* Alton Water Flixton Decoy* Barton Mere* Thorington Street Res.* 'monthly maxima

Feb

Mar

Sep

Oct

-

2 235 250 32

Countrywide, wintering numbers of this subtly attractive dabbling duck are at an all-timt high, resulting in the threshold for national importance being revised upwards recently tc 250. The county retains three sites with five-year mean maximum counts exceeding this threshold, Minsmere, the Orwell Estuary and Alton Water, although only counts at Minsmere were above 250 in 2011. Following the run of high winter counts between 2003 and 2009 the last two years have seen numbers fall, and unusually the highest count of the year came in mid-summer, with 415 at Minsmere on July 5th. Indeed Minsmere maintained good numbers throughout the spring and summer with 91, April 17th; 77, May 17th; 192, June 12th and 90, August 14th. Apart from those in the table, further significant WeBS counts were made at Dingle Marshes, 127, February 13th; on the Deben Estuary, 220, November 13th and on the Stour Estuary, 115, January 23rd, while high non-WeBS counts included 105 on the Blyth Estuary, January 16th; 97 at Mickle Mere, January 22nd and 300 at Lackford Lakes, August 13th. The number of breeding pairs was down by over 50% on last year at Minsmere, the principal breeding site. A similarly-poor season was experienced at the majority of other sites in the County, although the number of pairs at Hen Reedbeds rose by four to 12. The total of 44 pairs at Minsmere is the lowest there since 2004, as is the overall county total of 79 pairs. Gadwall Anas streperà x Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope hybrid A male hybrid deemed to be of this parentage was present at Orfordness from March 20th 60


Systematic

List

to April 16th. It associated with Wigeon and was noted to be very aggressive towards other males. A similar hybrid, possibly the same individual, was present at Leathes Ham, Lowestoft on December 25th 2009. EURASIAN TEAL Anas crecca Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce resident. Amber list. Monthly counts from the key sites:

Dingle Marshes Minsmere4 North Warren* Aide/Ore Estuary Deben Estuary Orwell Estuary HW Orwell Estuary LW Trimley Marshes* Stour Estuary Lackford Lakes* Gilford's Hall* Higham (near Hadleigh) Tendring Hall* 'monthly maxima

Jan

Feb

Mar

244 1231 1250 1639 408 658 2454 2330 1567 550 400 60

214 487 412 768 348 372 618 354 409 491 200

242 278 550 543 226 81

-

Apr -

117 62 *158 33 20 ':-••'

184 445 150 100 50 -

HW = High Water

-

84 33

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

166 930 101 206 20 176

475 1703 1 234 67 21

461 1032 370 1087 70 574

1400 1295 400 1437 630 448

-

145 113

-

1 274

-

110

-

-

556 354 100 ...

124 " ; LW = Low Water

170

380 767 335 -

100 40

Numbers in both winter periods were down on the high counts of last year. In particular, on the vast Aide/Ore Estuary complex the January WeBS count of 1,639 is the lowest yearly maximum there since 1999, and at Orfordness, part of this complex, the year's highest count of 534 on January 16th is comfortably this site's lowest-ever annual peak. That said, elsewhere there were two notably high WeBS counts. The low-water count of 2,454 on the Orwell Estuary, January 13th is the highest ever on the estuary, and was due largely to a site record 2,330 at Trimley Marshes. In the second winter period, the count of 1,400 at Dingle Marshes, December 18th is a further site record. Aside from the sites covered in the table, other three-figure counts in the first winter period came from Benacre Broad, 185, January 27th; Outney Common, Bungay, 155, January 16th and 120, February 12th; Abbey Farm, Snape, 270, February 24th; Mickle Mere, 250, January 4th and 350, March 18th and Lakenheath Washes, 250, February 11th. There were high counts in the summer at Minsmere of 151, July 16th (WeBS count) and 403, August 26th, followed by additional significant counts in the second winter period of 450, Breydon South Flats, December 19th; 100, East Lane, Bawdsey and 150, Botany Farm, Farnham, both December 16th. Three coastal sites held small numbers throughout the spring and summer, but breeding was not suspected. Return offshore passage began very early with three south off Kessingland on June 8th, and was more pronounced than usual, with significant peaks on September 16th and 17th, November 6th and December 8th. The following notable movements were logged:Lowestoft: Ness Point, 123 south, Sep 16th; 376 south, Sep 17th; 278 north and one south, Nov 6th. Kessingland: 170 north, Nov 6th; 156 south, Dec 8th. Southwold: 450 south, Sep 17th. Minsmere: 395 north, Nov 6th; 170 south, Dec 8th. Sizewell: 400 south, Sep 16th. Thorpeness: 110 south, Sep 2nd; 300 south, Sep 16th; 186 south, Sep 17th; 36 north and 70 south, Oct 9th; 517 north and 61 south, Nov 6th; 285 south, Dec 8th. 61


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 Orfordness: 379 south, Sep 17th. Landguard: 380 south, Sep 16th; 333 south, Dec 8th. G R E E N - W I N G E D TEAL Anas carolinensis Rare visitor. Benacre Broad: male, Nov 2nd to 14th (C A Buttle). Minsmere: male from December 28th 2010 remained until January 2nd (S Mayson et al.). North Warren: male, Jan 3rd to 1 Ith (C Holden et al.). The male present at Minsmere from late last year presumably moved south along the coas to North Warren from January 3rd. The one new individual for the year, the fifth record foi Benacre Broad and the third found by diligent patch-worker Carl Buttle, brings the Count} total to 31. M A L L A R D Anas platyrhynchos Very common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Monthly counts from the key sites; Jan Feb Mar Lowestoft Leathes Ham 115 55 45 154 Dingle Marshes 360 36 Minsmere* 437 134 203 North Warren4 114 85 109 Aide/Ore Estuary 593 228 241 219 Deben Estuary 161 59 Orwell Estuary HW 134 46 113 Orwell Estuary LW 298 373 244 Trimley Marshes* 217 38 Stour Estuary 76 67 63 Thorington Street Res.* 144 *monthly maxima HW = High Water

Aug

Sep 110 f ' s i ? s 144 145 136 -50 20 41 6 -

Oct 80 33 106 29

90 50 49

Nov 85 102 49 36 395 95 90

Dec 97 330 619 86 365 269 107

20 44

70 105 134

-

1 6 132 48 79 227 255 126 LW = Low Water

-

Total numbers in the first winter period were similar to the equivalent period last yeai and slightly above average for recent years. Additional counts exceeding 100 in the first three months were received from the Blyth Estuary, 130, January 16th; Lackford Lakes. 140, January 8th; Mickle Mere, 227, January 4th; Livermere Lake, 225, March 15th and Sudbury C o m m o n Lands, 200, January 2nd. Minsmere maintained good numbers throughout the spring and summer, with WeBS counts of 113, May 17th; 97, June 12th and 297, July 16th. Further three-figure counts in August came from Covehithe Broad, 130 on 7th; Campsea Ashe, 100 on 8th and Lackford Lakes, 129, on 13th. In the second winter period additional significant counts were of 144, Cavenham Pits, October 27th and 110, Sudbury Common Lands, October 29th. As usual, high counts were received from Flixton GP (2,600 in June) and Livermere Lake (700 in November), but these largely comprised birds released for shooting. Reports of breeding success were rather patchy, and the total of 207 pairs (from 26 sites) is the lowest in the past ten years. However, vagaries in recording do not hide the fact that it was in general a relatively poor breeding season. At two of the main sites, Minsmere with 87 pairs and Hen Reedbeds with 25 pairs, totals were at their lowest since 2008. N O R T H E R N PINTAIL Anas acuta Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant; a few oversummer. Amber list. Categories A and E. Although no single count reached 290, the threshold for national importance, overall 62


Systematic

List

numbers in the first winter period were a marked improvement on the corresponding period in the previous two years. For the first time North Warren took the honour of hosting the highest count of the year, a site record 268 were present on February 4th (see also Wigeon), highlighting the increasing importance of this well-managed reserve to wintering wildfowl. By contrast, numbers on the Aide/Ore Estuary were at their lowest levels since 1994. Aside from the table, two further coastal sites supported sizeable gatherings, with 100 at Benacre Broad, October 22nd and 225 on the Blyth Estuary, January 16th. Monthly countsfromthe key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Nov North Warren* 237 268 127 113 Aldc/Ore Estuary 129 »11 19 153 113 3 70 Deben Estuary 176 53 2 0 27 0 0 Orwell Estuary HW 0 3 62 38 5 123 5 Orwell Estuary LW 202 — '"'il r ' ' 183 Trimley Marshes* 64 24 173 3 - 4 1 123 Stour Estuary 67 16 12 0 17 40 43 'monthly maxima HW = High Water LW = Low Water

Dec 170 192 91 140 -

4 54

A pair held territory at Hen Reedbeds and mating was observed, but evidence of successful breeding was not forthcoming. Elsewhere along the coast, June records involved •i maximum of nine birds at three sites. Records from the west of the county were as follows, and include an impressive January count of 150 at Gifford's Hall, Stoke-by-Nayland, a site record (see also Wigeon):Lakenheath Fen/Washes: three, Jan 8th; five, Feb 11th; seven. Mar 5th; male, Nov 26th. Cavenham Pits: Oct 7th. Lackford Lakes: three, Jan 8th and 12th; five, Feb 22nd; five, Mar 2nd and 8th; Aug 31st. Mickle Mere: two, Jan 22nd and 23rd. limworth: male, Mar 15th. Fornham St Genevieve: male, Mar 18th. Fornham St Martin: seven, Jan 26th; Apr 6th. Stoke-by-Nayland: Gifford's Hall, 150, Jan 16th; 32, Feb 9th; eight, Mar 9th. Coastal passage was logged as follows, and include three-figure day-counts off fhorpeness in October and Landguard in November:(iorleston: three north, Jan 22nd; ten north, Nov 6th. Lowestoft: Ness Point, eight south, Mar 14th; 53 south, Oct 24th. Kessingland: 24 south in January; seven north and two south in February; three north in March; 11 south in October; 16 north and 73 south in November, including 59 south on 11th; three south in December. Southwold: south, Sep 17th. Minsmere: five in off the sea, Sep 5th; 24 north, Nov 6th; ten south, Dec 8th. 1 horpeness: nine south in September; four north and 196 south in October, including 156 south, 24th; five north and 26 south in November; ten south in December. Orfordness: 11 south, Sep 17th. Landguard: 158 south, Nov 12th. GARGANEY Anas querquedula Uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The first record of the year involved four on the Scrape at Minsmere on March 21st, and was followed by further March sightings at Trimley Marshes and Lackford Lakes. There was a particularly strong showing in April from the second week onwards, with birds noted at nine sites, including five on Orfordness on two dates. Records then tailed off, although in the west of the county a pair probably stayed to breed at Lakenheath Fen and there were regular sightings at Minsmere throughout the summer. The last record of the year was of two at Minsmere on October 6th. 63


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 Southwold: Golf Course, female, Apr 8th. Hen Reedbeds: male, May 31st; female, Aug 5th. Minsmere: four (one male). Mar 21 st; male, Apr 20th to 29th; pair, May 4th; male, May 26th and 30tl : maximum of two (one male) in June; three, July 13th; Aug 4th and 16th; up to four in Septembe : two in October until 6th. Orfordness: pair, Apr 17th; five (two males), Apr 21 st and 23rd, with three (one male), Apr 22nd. Snape: Abbey Farm, male, June 21st. Bovton: Marshes, pair regularly Apr 16th to May 3rd; juvenile, July 23rd, 28th and 29th. Bawdsey: East Lane, July 28th and 29th; two south offshore, Aug 13th. Landguard: offshore, Aug 6th. Trimley Marshes: pair, Mar 27th to 29th, Apr 11th and May 4th. Brantham: Cattawade Marshes, male, Apr 21st; Seafield Bay, male, Apr 30th. Lakenheath Fen/Washes: pair, Apr 14th, 18th and 27th; male, Apr 29th; up to five (three males) i i May; three (two males), June 15th. Livermere Lake: pair, Apr 16th to 21 st and 30th, with three (two males), Apr 24th. Lackford Lakes: male, Mar 25th; pair, June 15th. Mickle Mere: pair, Apr 17th. NORTHERN SHOVELER Anas clypeata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon resident. Amber Monthly counts from the key sites: Jan Feb Mar Apr Sep Oct Lowestoft Leathes Ham* 84 46 10 2 60 42 Minsmere* 104 150 68 74 90 82 North Warren* 212 200 158 20 6 154 Aide/Ore Estuary *60 27 54 161 131 Orwell Estuary HW 52 60 23 5 49 1 Orwell Estuary LW 101 100 Trimley Marshes* 101 112 69 33 44 1 â&#x20AC;˘monthly maxima HW = High Water LW = Low Water

Nov 28 307 57 81 0

list.

Dec 33 141 174 132 38

-

-

-

38

The first winter period saw an above-average showing for this distinctive dabbling duck, with North Warren in particular holding nationally-important numbers (threshold of 180 For the second successive year numbers were concentrated at Minsmere in Novembei forming the year's largest gathering in the county of 307 on 20th, before becoming mor; dispersed in December. Elsewhere, other counts exceeding 30 were received f r o m : Trimley St Martin: Loompit Lake, 40, Nov 14th. Alton Water: 51, Dec 11th (WeBS count). Lackford Lakes: 46, Jan 8th. Bury St Edmunds: Sugar Beet Factory, 32, Feb 20th; 90, Oct 18th. Minsmere supported a very impressive total of 59 pairs during the breeding season. Otherwise, broods of six and three were seen at Pakenham in May and Hazlewood Marshes in June respectively, a nest was predated at Orfordness, and single pairs held territories at Hen Reedbeds, Dingle Marshes, North Warren and Boyton Marshes. R E D - C R E S T E D P O C H A R D Netta rufina Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Categories A and E. Records from the coast in both winter periods could refer to wild birds, but the pair in the west of the county, which possibly attempted to breed, is almost certainly of feral origin. In addition to the records listed, small numbers of released birds remain at Flixton GP and account for occasional sightings at nearby locations in the Waveney valley. Minsmere: two males, Feb 2nd and 3rd; female regularly from Oct 6th to Dec 29th. Trimley Marshes: female, Jan 9th and 11th. 64


Systematic

List

Alton Water: female, Jan 16th; two (one male), Jan 20th; iemale, Feb 12th and 17th. t'avenham Pits: pair regularly from June 1 Ith to 25th (same as Lackford). Lackford Lakes: pair regularly from Mar 14th to May 29th; three males, Oct 16th. COMMON POCH A R D Aythya ferina Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon resident. Amber list. A and E. Monthly countsfromthe key sites: Jan Feb Mar Jul Orwell Estuary HW 143 23 95 Orwell Estuary LW 185 68 Trimley Marshes* 284 181 61 Alton Water 23 0 0 *monthly maxima HW = High Water

Aug Sep ivo.; 0

Oct 40

: -

-

-

; 7 53 118 LW =Low Water

Catégories

N'ov Dee 41 5 5 184

5 359

Following a run of five successive poor years for this species 2011 saw a vast mprovement. The WeBS count at Alton Water of 359 on December 1 lth is the highest in lie county since 2002, while the gathering of 284 at Trimley Marshes on January 19th is a ite record. However, high numbers were exclusively concentrated in the south-east. The ear's peak count at Lackford Lakes, of 80 on August 13th, failed to reach three-figures for he first time since 1997, and elsewhere no count exceeded 30. Evidence of breeding was confined to single broods seen at two sites in the south-east of ;he county. FERRUGINOUS DUCK Aythya nyroca •'are winter visitor and passage migrant. owestoft: Leathes Ham, maie, Sep 26th (A C Easton et al.); juv, Oct lst (A C Easton et al.). >1 insmere: female, June 16th to Aug 12th (M Muttitt et al. ); male, July 2nd (B Leech, D F Walsh et al.). 'ulton: Marshes/Broad, first-winter maie, Feb 2lst to Mar 26th (multi-observer). Needham Market: Needham Lake, first-winter female, Jan 19th to 29th (J Rankin et al.). A total of five individuals in one year is unprecedented, although movement between sites or one or more cannot be ruled out. Furthermore, with potentially 11 différent individuals n the past three years, their origins are also open to conjecture. ! UFTED D U C K Aythya fuligula ommon resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Monthly countsfromthe key sites: Oct Nov Dee Jan Feb Mar 47 84 85 71 76 61 Aide/Ore Estuary Orwell Estuary HW 49 134 62 64 13 74 Orwell Estuary LW 46 89 . - • • . Alton Water 402 454 192 408 289 78 •monthly maxima LW = Low Water HW = High Water Alton Water hosted substantial numbers in both winter periods, and the WeBS count of 454 on December 1 Ith is the highest in the county for three years. Outside the two winter Periods, further WeBS counts at this site of 73, April 17th; 135, August 14th and 71, ^eptember 18th were also noteworthy. Otherwise, in addition to those in the table, the lowing c °unts of 50 and above were received, including the largest gathering at Trimley Marshes since 1998:Lowestoft: Leathes Ham, 68, Jan 3rd. "insmere: 59, Feb 13th.

65


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 Trimley Marshes: 237, Feb 2nd. Wherstead: River Orwell, 180, Jan 1st. Aldringham Walks: farm reservoir, 59, Sep 27th; 53, Oct 5th. Cavenham Pits: 60, Mar 18th; 80, Oct 27th. Lackford Lakes: 154, Aug 13th; 50, Nov 27th. Shelley: 54, Sep 1st. The breeding population appears to be relatively stable, with a total of 75 breeding pai rs at 18 sites comparing favourably with recent years. Minsmere, again the principal site I >y some margin with 46 pairs, has supported 40 plus pairs in each of the past three years. There were no large offshore movements, although two off Kessingland in early June ai d four in July are of note for the time of year. Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula x Greater Scaup Aythya marita hybrid A male hybrid, presumed to be of this parentage, was at Trimley Marshes on May 17 :h and 19th. GREATER SCAUP Aythya murila Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Red list. The good, widespread showing of late 2010 continued throughout the first winter period, with maximum counts of six at Lowestoft, Benacre Broad and Trimley Marshes ai d sightings at four inland localities. The last record of the period involved two at Triml y Marshes on March 22nd. Lowestoft: Leathes Ham, three (one first-winter male), Jan 1st to 4th (also Lake Lothing); first-win: ;r male and female, Jan 10th to 21 st; six (two first-winter males), Jan 22nd to Feb 1 st; five (one fir twinter male), Feb 5th; six (two first-winter males), Feb 6th to 8th; four (one first-winter male), F b 9th and 13th; female, Feb 17th. Benacre Broad: six, Feb 11th; Mar 17th. Minsmere: Island Mere, female, Feb 24th; male, Mar 6th and 8th. Havergate Island: Jan 18th (WeBS count). Melton: Fishing Lakes, first-winter female, Jan 24th to Feb 2nd. River Deben: two, Mar 20th (WeBS count). Martlesham Creek: two, Jan 3rd. Waldringfield: River Deben, female, Jan 4th; two females, Jan 8th to 10th and 19th; female, Feb 12th. Trimley Marshes: female, Jan 19th; three, Feb 27th; six females, Mar 5th; four females, Mar 6th; six, Mar 8th and 9th; two females, Mar 12th and 13th; six, Mar 14th; Mar 15th; three females, Mar 19th; five, Mar 20th; two females, Mar 22nd. Orwell Estuary: three, Jan 23rd (WeBS count); Feb 11th (WeBS count). Wherstead: five, Jan 1st; female, Jan 2nd and 3rd; two, Jan 25th; female, Jan 26th; three, Feb 5th; four, Feb 9th and 11th; three females, Feb 12th; five females, Feb 17th. Alton Water: first-winter male and female, Jan 5th; male, Jan 16th; female, Jan 20th; first-winter maie, Jan 23rd; three (one male), Feb 3rd. Stutton: River Stour, two, Feb 13th. Weybread GP: male, Jan 2nd. Lackford Lakes: two females, Jan 16th. Mickle Mere: male, Feb 25th and 26th. Thorington Street: Reservoir, female, Jan 1st. There was one spring record of six flying south off Thorpeness on May 4th, and then no further sightings until September 1 st. Records in the second winter period were far fewer, but did include a total of 18 off Thorpeness in northerly winds on November 6th, the largest offshore movement since 1997. Breydon Water: south shore, two, Nov 15th and 16th. Lowestoft: Ness Point, two north, Nov 6th. Leathes Ham, Nov 20th (WeBS count). Benacre Broad: Nov 9th and 10th; five (three males), Nov 13th; three (one male), Nov 14th to 16th. Thorpeness: four south, Oct 9th; 14 north and four south, Nov 6th; three south, Nov 17th. Bawdsey: two north offshore and one in off the sea, Nov 6th. East Lane, Dec 12th. Alton Water: three females, Sep 1st; two females, Sep 2nd; three, Oct 3rd; female, Oct 29th. 66


Systematic

List

COMMON EIDER Somuteria moltissima Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Has bred. Amber list. This popular large seaduck was far more numerous in the first winter period than in recent ears, with several small groups, of up to nine, lingering offshore between Pakefield in the lorth and Bawdsey in the south. Small movements were also regularly recorded, with a peak • f 22 north past Landguard on January 6th. Away from the immediate coastline, one was on the River Orwell, January 8th and 23rd; two at Havergate Island, February 17th, and a ! irst-winter male was on the River Aide at Slaughden, March 13th and 16th. Frequent records continued through spring until mid-May, including five north off .cssingland on May 5th. Unusually, Orfordness hosted small numbers throughout the .ummer, with up to six in June, four in July and three in August. Elsewhere, summer ightings involved five off Ness Point, Lowestoft, June 5th; six north off Kessingland, July i 2th, and four lingering on an offshore bar at Shingle Street, July 9th and 10th, with up to ,ght regularly there in August. Return passage began early with offshore movements noted from July 23rd. Counts xceeding 20 are listed below, including 133 offThorpeness on December 18th, the highest ay-count recorded at a single site since December 2002:owestoft: Ness Point, 40 north, Nov 7th. Jkefield: 31 south, Nov 12th. enacre:

Ness, 30 north, Nov 8th.

luthwold: 2 1 , N o v 6 t h .

linsmere: 30, Nov 7th; 26 north, Nov 13th.

ìorpeness: four north and 26 south, Nov 13th; 33 north, 100 south, Dec 18th. indguard: 22 north, Nov 6th. Away from the immediate coastline in the second winter period, one was on the River ide at Sudbourne, September 12th and one at Martlesham Creek, November 15th. ONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis ncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. With just three records, all in the first winter period, it was the poorest year since 2004. rfordness: female present from Nov 12th 2010 stayed until Mar 20th «ver Orwell: first-winter male ranging between Trimley Marshes and Levington Creek, Mar 17th to 28th. ¡indguard: female north, Mar 2nd OMMON SCOTER Melanitta nigra 'eclining non-breeding resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Red list. vssingland North South > horpeness North South

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dee

58 16

59 27

86 7

247 15

89 5

22 77

74 50

10 20

_

120 153

90 189

274 46

132 32

2 6

15 74

5 0

70 41

29 160

102 141

23 200

28 228

32 312

180 288

132 267

-

Accumulated monthly totals from Kessingland and Thorpeness are shown in the table, ^umbers were highest at both sites in the second winter period, although the November total for Thorpeness in November, the peak month, was over 50% down on the same month ast year. All significant day-counts are listed below, including the year's highest of 254 off Landguard on December 8th:J^orleston: 67 north and three on the sea, Nov 6th. Hopton-on-Sea: 90 north, Dec 4th. kessingland: three north and 68 on the sea, Jan 2nd; three north and 87 on the sea, Jan 11 th; 174 north, A Pr 4th; 16 north and 34 south, Oct 8th; 33 north, 33 south and one on the sea, Oct 13th; 59 north 67


Suff Olk Bird Report

2011

and 110 south, Nov 18th; 12 north and 55 south, Nov 19th. Covehithe: 50, July 27th; 128 north, Dec 1 Ith; 60 north, Dec 19th.

Southwold: 60 south, Sep 17th; 65, Dec 8th. Dunwich: 50 on the sea, Jan 29th. Minsmere: 60, June 1 Ith; 50, June 27th; 60 south, Oct 13th; 50 south, Nov 2nd; 200 on the sea, Nov 6tl.

Sizewell: 100 south, Sep 16th. Thorpeness: 65 north, Jan Ist; 11 north and 55 south. Mar 18th; eight north and 56 south, June lOtl; 50 north and 27 south, July 22nd; one north and 77 south, A u g 13th; 68 south, Sep 16th; nine nort l and 78 south, Oct 9th; eight north and 118 south, Oct 13th; 69 south, Oct 14th; 46 north and foi r south, Nov 6th; 52 south, Nov 12th; six north and 44 south, Nov 28th; 124 south, Dec 8th; 102 nort i and 37 south, Dec 1 Ith; five north and 60 south, Dec 31 st. Landguard: 176 south, Oct 13th; seven north and 247 south, Dec 8th.

Away from the immediate coastline, there were regulär records from the River Orwell i l both winter periods, together with an unexpected one in mid-summer, and one from th: River Deben in December. Hemley: River Deben, female, Dec lOth. Orwell Estuary: Feb 20th (WeBS count), Mar 19th, 26th and 27th; three males, June 27th; Nov 5tl; three, Nov 8th; Nov lOth; two, Nov 15th; three, Dec Ist, 3rd and 5th; female, Dec 2 I s t and 27th.

VELVET SCOTER Melanitta fusca Uncommon winter visitor andpassage migrant. Amber list. Following the trend of the past three years, there was a poor showing in the first winter perioi . Hopton-on-Sea: Feb 14th. Lowestoft: Ness Point, north, Jan Ist; two north, Jan 2nd. Pakefield: two north, Jan 27th.

Minsmere: two, Jan Ist. Thorpeness: south, Jan lOth.

In the spring a male was tracked off Landguard, Orfordness, Thorpeness and Southwold as it flew north on May Ist. There was an unexpected June record, the first since 1992, ( f three in a flock of Common Scoters off Minsmere on 27th, followed by two August recort s of single females flying south off Landguard on 13th and 3 Ist. All records from Septemb* r onwards are listed below:Gorleston: four north, Nov 6th. Lowestoft: Ness Point, south, Sep 2nd; two north, Nov 27th. Benacre: Ness, three south, Nov 1 Ith; south, Nov 15th. Covehithe: south, Oct 26th. Kessingland: one north and one south, Oct 8th; three south, Oct 13th; south, Oct 27th; three, Nov 6t i; two south, Nov 8th; three south, Nov 1 Ith; north, Nov 18th; two north, Nov 27th; north, Dec 19 h and 23rd. Southwold: first-winter male north, Nov 1 Ith. Thorpeness: north, Nov 5th; north, Nov 7th; four north and two south, Dec 18th. Orfordness: three north, Oct 27th.

Felixstowe: two, Nov 29th. Landguard: one north and one south, Sep 15th; south, Nov 12th and Dec 19th.

COMMON GOLDENEYE Bucephala clangula Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Overall numbers in the first winter period were the best since 2003, and the peak count, the high-water WeBS count on the Orwell Estuary of 96 on January

Monthly counts from the key sites: Dec Mar Jan Feb Nov -9 Alde/Ore Estuary 0 4 *13 10 30 Deben Estuary 20 26 2 2 0 0 Orwell Estuary HW 6 2 96 â&#x20AC;˘ Orwell Estuary LW 40 60 .10 26 6 Alton Water 13 10 29 Stour Estuary 68 74 18 38 13 18 7" Lackford Lakes* 15 *monthly maxima H W f High Water LW = low Water 68


Systematic

List

23rd, is the highest on the estuary for 15 years. Although as usuai widely reported, particularly in the east of the county, aside from those in the table no other count reached double figures. The last of the spring were six at Cavenham Pits on Aprii 27th. There was an unexpected August record of three off Shingle Street on 22nd, otherwise the first returning birds were not until October 3rd, when nine were on the River Deben at Waldringfield. Autumn passage was light, peaking with eight south off Landguard on November 1 Ith, and in general numbers in the second winter period were disappointing. SMEW Mergellus albellus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. The first winter period continued where the previous year had left off, with good numbers present along the coastal strip between Minsmere in the north and Alton Water in the south. Records at Minsmere, where numbers peaked at 11 on January 2nd, the largest gathering in the county for 15 years, included a displaying pair on the Scrape on January 17th. Again redheads predominated, with the only males at Minsmere (maximum of two) and \lton Water (one). The last of the winter was a redhead on the Orwell Estuary on March 18th. Minsmere: up to seven regularly until Feb 15th, with eight Feb 12th and 13th, nine Jan 17th, 27th and 28th and Feb 9th, ten Jan lOth and maximum count of 11 (two males) Jan 2nd; then up to six (one male) regularly until Feb 27th; up to four in March, with last record of Smew Richard Alien three (one male) on 17th. Havergate Island: redhead, Feb 21st to 23rd and Mar 5th. â&#x20AC;˘ edgrave: redhead, Jan 25th. Martlesham Creek: redhead, Jan 3rd. iawdsey: East Lane, redhead, Jan 30th. waldringfield: River Deben, redhead, Jan 19th. rimley Marshes: redhead, Jan 7th and 8th; two redheads, Jan 9th and 13th; then redhead regularly until Mar 6th; two redheads, Mar 13th. rimley St Martin: Orwell Estuary, redhead, Feb 1 Ith, 12th and 20th and Mar 18th. Same as Trimley Marshes. Nacton: Orwell Estuary, redhead, Jan 28th. Uton Water: redhead, Jan 1 Ith; three redheads, Jan 16th; male, Jan 19th and 20th; two (one male), Jan 21st to 23rd; male, Jan 24th; three (one male), Jan 29th; two, Feb Ist; male, Feb 8th; male and redhead, Feb 1 Ith; male, Feb 12th; redhead, Feb 17th. There were just two records during the second winter period, although they did include a â&#x20AC;˘ are offshore movement in October. ! ritton: Decoy, male. Dee 3rd. l andguard: three (one male) south, Oct 25th. KED-BREASTED M E R G A N S E R Mergus serrator l-airly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Maximum counts from the Stour Estuary, the main wintering site, are summarized in the table. After two good years numbers on the Orwell Estuary were disappointing, with peak counts of 14, January 13th (WeBS count) and ten, February 22nd, and none at ali in the second winter period. The last of spring was at Covehithe Broad on May 5th. This was followed by a S1 ngle summer record of one south 0 " Thorpeness on July 30th, while Jan Feb Mar Nov Dee ne 50 69 x t was not until two off 28 48 62 Stour Estuary 69


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 Kessingland on October 8th. Autumn passage was the heaviest since 1982. DĂźring extensive seawatching of ~ Thorpeness, Dave Thurlow and Tim Hodge logged an impressive total of 186 betweei; October 9th and December 23rd. Numbers were greatest between November 6th and 14th and peaked with 139 south ofFLandguard on 12th, the highest count since 160 off Pakefielti on November 6th, 1982. On the same day 72 were recorded south offThorpeness and othe significant counts in the first half of November included 27 off Southwold and 23 o f ' Thorpeness on 6th and 22 offThorpeness on 14th. G O O S A N D E R Mergus merganser Locally fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Has bred recenti}'. Maximum counts from the main Jan Feb Mar wintering site are summarized in the table. Other records in the first winter Lackford Lakes 21 23 24 period came f r o m : Gorleston: male south offshore, Jan 27th. Minsmere: male and redhead, Mar 8th. Felixstowe: King's Fleet, redhead, Feb 16th and Mar Ist.

Nov 1

Dee 4

Alton Water: three redheads, Jan 11 th; four redheads. Jan 21 st; two redheads, Jan 22nd; four redhead:, Jan 23rd; three, Jan 26th; two redheads, Feb 1 st; four redheads, Feb 12th and Feb 20th (WeBS count . Fritton: Decoy, five, Mar 9th. North Cove: River Waveney, four redheads, Jan 3rd; redhead, Jan 4th. Beccles: River Waveney, seven redheads, Feb 28th. Barsham: Marshes, seven over, Mar 5th. Bungay: Outney Common, redhead, Jan 16th. Weybread GP: redhead, Mar 19th to 2Ist. Lakenheath Fen/Washes: male, Jan 21st and Feb 8th. Icklingham: Berner's Heath (all Aying over), 14, Jan23rd; 15, Jan29th; 17,Jan30th; 13, Feb 6th; tw > redheads, Feb 14th. Barton Mills: redhead, Jan 3rd. West Stow: Country Park, ten, Mar 17th. Cavenham Pits: redhead, Mar lOth and 12th. Sudbury: Common Lands, four, Jan Ist; three, Jan 2nd. Higham (near Hadleigh): River Stour, five, Mar 5th. Nayland: four, Feb 12th. The last of spring were three at Lackford Lakes on March 26th. There no further records until one flew past Landguard on October 9th, with the main arrivai following in Novembef. Ali records received for the second winter period are listed below:Breydon Water: south shore, two, Dee 8th. Gorleston: north offshore, Nov 6th; south offshore, Nov 14th. Hopton-on-Sea: male on the sea, Novl3th. Kessingland: north offshore, Nov 6th; six north and five south offshore, Nov 13th. Minsmere: seven offshore, Oct 18th; male south over Scrape, Nov lOth; two, Nov 14th and 16th. Thorpeness: offshore, three south, Nov 28th; two south. Dee 19th. Boyton Marshes: redhead Nov 13th. Landguard: offshore, north, Oct 9th and Nov 6th; three south, Nov 8th; north, Nov 19th; south, Nov 27th and 29th; two in off the sea, Dee 31 st. Alton Water: two redheads, Dec 22nd; Dee 28th and 3Ist. Lound: Waterworks, male, Dee 30th. Oulton Broad: six, Nov 1 Ith; two redheads, Nov 14th; redhead, Nov 18th and Dee 15th, 27th and 28th. Oulton: Dyke, redhead, Nov 13th. Carlton Colville: River Waveney, three redheads, Nov 13th. Beccles: River Waveney, redhead Nov 13th. Barsham: River Waveney, two redheads, Nov 2 Ist to 23rd; redhead, Nov 24th. Weybread GP: two redheads, Nov 21 st. 70


Systematic

List

Barking: Pipps Ford, two redheads, Nov 8th; seven redheads, Nov 9th; male, Dec 31 st. Lakenheath Fen: three, Nov 21st. West Stow: Country Park, 12 (eight males), Dec 14th. Thorington Street: Reservoir, male, Dec 7th. There was no report of breeding in 2011. RUDDY DUCK Oxyura jamaicensis Uncommon and declining resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Categories C and E. For the first year since 1978 there were no records in the county in 2011. At its peak in 2001 the UK population of this species was estimated to be around 6000 birds. By April 2011 the Defra eradication programme had reduced this to 90, with the aim for complete eradication by 2015. R E D - L E G G E D P A R T R I D G E Alectoris rufa Common resident; numbers augmented by releases. Categories C and E. Some 107 records were received from 58 sites with only 17 reports of breeding or probable breeding having occurred. The highest count outside the breeding season, excluding iarge scale releases, was 62 at Blythburgh Water Tower on September 3rd. The more isolated populations on the coast continue to struggle, with no confirmed breeding and only a maximum of three seen on Orfordness and four on Havergate Island. GREY P A R T R I D G E Perdue perdix Formerly common resident, now localised. Red List. Categories A, C and E. A 23% reduction in records received, down from 101 in 2010 to 78 in 2011, suggests that this species is still in difficulty. Birds were recorded from 48 sites, a decrease of 13 on the i'revious year. The west of the county continues to be the stronghold with over 70% of all reports eceived. Confirmation of breeding remains rare with only five reports received, as shown:^essingland: Kessingland Sewage works, pair with three juveniles. Oecold: pair raised young. Westhorpe: Westhorpe Lodge Farm, pair raised four young, aktnham: Puttockshill, pair and nine juveniles, Aug 6th. Fornham St Martin: adult and four juveniles, Aug 9th. C O M M O N QUAIL Coturnix coturnix Scarce summer visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Records were received from 15 sites relating to a probable total of 19 birds. No reports of breeding were received. Singing records are normally accepted as long as they have been heard for long enough and cannot be possible mimicry by the likes of Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus. < iunton: Warren, May 24th (R Wilton et al.). Mutford: singing male, June 6th (Lowestoft Lounge Lizards). Barsham: two singing males, June 9th (S H Piotrowski). thorpeness: flushed from dunes, May 30th (J A Davies). Orford: Havergate Island, first for the reserve, June 10th (K Alexander). Erwarton: May 21st (R Tomlinson). Shotley: three, June 26th (M Packard). Miotley Gate: July 1st (E I Peters). P'pps Ford: June 14th (J Rankin). Hadleigh: Cosford Hall, May 30th (A Gretton). ÂŤalsham-le-Willows: singing male, July 1st (A Nairn). Lakenheath: singing male, June 9th (Breckland Birding Group). AKKnha" F e " : t w o s i n ĂŞ i n g m a l e s ' May 19th (N Mason, P Whittaker); May 21st (D F Walsh, S Abbott); two singing, July 15th (N Mason, P Whittaker). r Mkenham: June 21st, (N Mason, P Whittaker).

71


Su ff Olk Bird Report 2011 COMMON PHEASANT Phasianus colchicus Very common resident; numbers augmented by releases. Catégories C and E. Only 171 records from 57 sites were received. Breeding was reported from a mere sevei sites, though many of the reports cover the breeding period. With the widespread releast s of birds bred in captivity, this remains a very common, though seldom recorded, species. GOLDEN PHEASANT Chrysolophus pictus Scarce resident. Catégories C and E. The ten reports received from four sites paint a slightly more encouraging picture for th s naturalised species. Ali but one record were from the west of the county, the exception beir g a male at Ipswich Golf Club, Purdis Farm, on October 3rd. Reports of pairs of birds beir g present at one location in Aprii are indicative of a continued very low incidence of breedin RED-THROATED DIVER Gavia stellata Common winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. It appeared as if 2011 was going to be unremarkable for this species in Suffolk - but f 11 that changed on the very last day of the year. Each month's day-counts were for the most part relatively low compared with recent years and so the Suffolk record-breaking 5,6( 9 logged offThorpeness by DavidThurlow was especially surprising. A total of 5,642 head' d south, with a mere 27 moving north. Thus the previous county day-count record of 4,7 0 off the same location - amassed by the same observer, on January 4th, 2004 ,was easi !y surpassed. Quite what it was that triggered such a sudden upsurge in numbers remains a matter of conjecture but it would seem likely that it was related to fish movements, as are most of the winter wanderings of this species off our coast. As is usuai, the north-east recording area consistently produced the highest numbe s. Peak day-counts for selected months in this area, with the dates on which the observatio is were made, were: Jan 429 2nd

Feb 104 3rd

Mar 200 13th

Apr 104 3rd

Sep 7 15th

Oct 56 1 Ith

Nov 363 28th

Dec 5669 3 Ist

Numbers logged in the south-east recording area were rather meagre, the highest be ng 80 south off Orfordness, January 30th, 160 south off the same location, March 13th and 68 north and 27 south there, December 18th. Landguard's highest day-count of the year vas 54 south, December 18th. Somewhat surprisingly, more than usuai were seen in the months of May, June and July. with the totals being 35, six and four respectively. Thankfully, there were no reports of oiled birds in 2011. Given that the go-ahead for the highly controversial ship-to-ship oil transfers olf Southwold, which were referred to in the Suffolk Bird Report 2010, has now been granted by the Government, we are left to hope that oiling of this species - for which Sole Bay is such a key wintering area - and indeed ail other seabirds, will not become a regulär occurrence off our coastline. BLACK-THROATED DIVER Gavia arctica Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Taking possible duplication of records into account, it is likely that about 60 birds were involved in the reports received. This compares favourably with the previous year's estimateti 46 and the approximation of 80 in both 2008 and 2009. By any interprétation of these totals. it is clear that we are now receiving far more reports of this species than we did even in the recent past. Doubt still remains among some observers that this is a true reflection of the species' status in Suffolk. Some observers think that it is, in fact, far rarer than the reports 72


Systematic

List

would suggest and that this diver's identification is not as traightforward as some would have us believe! The pitfalls of summer-plumaged Red-throated Diver, or that species being seen in varying light conditions, are perhaps more troublesome ihan is sometimes appreciated. Reports in selected months were:North-east -outh-east

Jan 8 1

Feb Mar 3 5 2 -

Apr 1

Sep I -

Oct 9 3

Nov 22 2

Dec 16 10

The only August report received involved a singleton off -lessingland on 25th. Reports of single birds are the norm but his year the number of multiple records among observers' cports was an eye-catching feature. There were several "twos." Threes were reported at Thorpeness on November 10th, 12th nd 21st, four from Lower Holbrook, on the Stour Estuary, on )ecember 26th and five from Thorpeness on December 30th.

Black-throated Diver Peter Beeston

REAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavin immer ncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. In another relatively poor year for this species the reports received contained two eyeitching features, both relating to events in November. As can be seen from the table below, aturing the north-east recording area, there was a "spike" of passage birds during this ionth. In addition, Landguard Bird Observatory notched up a day-count record for the lecies, with two north and five south observed on November 12th. It is also worth noting lat the north-east's November surge included three offThorpeness, 14th. North-east area reports, per selected months:Jan 3

Feb 0

Mar 3

Apr 2

May 3

Oct 1

Nov 12

Dec 1

ln the south-east recording area, and apart from the events of November 12th, numbers ere low. The Orwell Estuary, a favoured locality in other years, was the source of just one port in the first winter period - a single on January 1 st. An early passage bird was noted off Landguard, September 15 th, with more conventional ecords being singles off Bawdsey, November 6th and 8th, and Felixstowe, November 29th. 'wards the end of the year reports came from Holbrook, on the Stour Estuary, on December ud and the Orwell Estuary, December 27th, the latter two records possibly relating to the same bird. NORTHERN F U L M A R Fulmarus glacialis ccasional summer visitor and declining passage migrant. Formerly bred. Amber list. The continuing decline of this species off Suffolk is worrying and probably reflects a reader slump in its fortunes further north. The table below indicates a distinct temporal trend, with April and May producing a noticeable rise in numbers encountered and e Ptember giving a secondary "spike". The table, inevitably, includes much duplication as ^ii us are logged at several points on their journeys north and south off our coast and it should ^ orne in mind that these monthly totals include several "big days" on which weatherrelated movements are involved and which are highlighted below. ombined monthly totals for the north-east and south-east recording areas were:Jan Feb 20 |

Mar 45

Apr 247

Mav 277

Jun 27

Jul 14 73

Aug 7

Sep 282

Oct 2

Nov 0

Dec 4


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 April's total included 108 north off Southwold on 30th. Around this time there was i marked northward passage, with May 1 st producing counts of 33 north off Kessingland, 3 5 north off Southwold and 37 north offThorpeness. The bulk of September's total was amassed on the extraordinary seawatching day of 16t i when totals for this species included 100 off Lowestoft, 38 north off Southwold and Sizewe 1 and 76, mostly north, offThorpeness. Two 'blue' morph individuals were noted during the year. One was off Ness Poin., Lowestoft, December 31 st (Lowestoft Lounge Lizards) and one flew south off Thorpenes October 24th (D Thurlow). CORY'S SHEARWATER Calonectris diomedea Rare passage migrant. The events of September 16th were quite remarkable and are the subject of a no e elsewhere in this report, but anyone seeking seabirds off Suffolk that day would not ha e been disappointed! This species was one of the highlights of this exciting movemet t, although quite how many were involved we shall never know. For example, the observer >f the Sizewell birds listed below considered that at least five 'large shearwaters' passed tint locality during the morning and, if pressed, would have said that all were Cory's. Howevt r, for only two of these could "cast iron" descriptions be submitted. The BINS messaging service was kept busy for several hours in this spell and plenty of references were made o other 'large shearwaters' being seen but some claims of Cory's were not backed up by not :s to SORC. On only one other day was this species encountered and all the accepted records for t te year are listed:â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Sizewell: singles north 10:59hrs and 12:53hrs, Sep 16th (JH Grant). Slaughden: Sep 16th (D Marsh). Felixstowe: south, 12:55hrs, Sep 16th (P Oldfield). Landguard: south, Oct 9th (WJ Brame, N Odin, EW Patrick). GREAT SHEARWATER Puffinus gravis Very rare passage migrant. This impressive, much sought-after and all-too-scarce visitor to Suffolk was the ch ef prize for a lucky few observers on the "Big Day" of September 16th. The two records listed below are only Suffolk's eighth and ninth of this wanderer from the southern hemisphere which, although it is annual off the west coast of Britain during its mega-migrations in the South Atlantic and the North Atlantic, is only rarely seen in the North Sea. The last time Great Shearwater featured in the Suffolk Bird Report was in Vol. 52 as the county's seventh record referred to a single off Southwold on October 9th, 2002. Southwold: north, 08:40hrs, Sep 16th (R Drew, D Eaton, M Riley) Landguard: south, Sep 16th (J Clarke, K Perry). The Landguard bird was seen by two visiting birders from "The Emerald Isle" - both o! whom were familiar with the species through numerous observations in their homeland The phrase "the luck of the Irish" springs readily to mind. SOOTY SHEARWATER Puffinus griseus Uncommon passage migrant. Quite what the bird flying north offThorpeness on May 1st was up to was anyone's guess - if it was intent on breeding it was months out in its timing and many thousands of kilometres out in its navigation - it wasn't even in the right hemisphere! It represents Suffolk's first May record of the species and raised as many eyebrows as the two which flew north off Southwold on February 6th, 1999 - both records illustrating that you just never know what's going to happen when you sit down for a seawatch. 74


Systematic List A singleton off Thorpeness on July 24th represented a record that was almost as isolated as the May individual as the next report, of three north off Ness Point, Lowestoft, was not antil September 6th. Between then and the "Big Day" of September 16th a total of 24 was joted on four dates. Precisely how many were on the move on September 16th is difficult to assess as ibservers' records undoubtedly involve much duplication. The largest day-count was 20 lorth off Southwold, with other double-figure counts being 15 off Lowestoft, 16 off K.essingland, 15 off Benacre, 11 off Thorpeness and 12 off Slaughden. Only two were noted during the rest of September; a total of 11 was reported during )ctober and the last of the year was a singleton flying north off East Lane, Bawdsey, November 3rd. MANX SHEARWATER Puffmus puffinus ncommon passage migrant. Amber list. The north-east recording area produced the vast majority of the records, with a surprising aucity in the south-east area. Monthly accumulated records for the north-east area, with much duplication of records leing inevitable, were:Apr 3

May 16

Jun 29

Jul 43

Aug 3

Sept 58

Oct 7

Nov Dec 0 0

Some noteworthy day-counts are included in the above totals. For example, 18 were noted •ff Kessingland on June 5th. At Thorpeness, 21 went past on July 24th and 13 were noted nere the following day. The highest counts made on the "Big Day" of September 16th were ten off Kessingland ad the same number off Southwold. This species is only rarely encountered at inland localities, usually as part of a stormriven "wreck". The one at the Bury St Edmunds sugar beet plant on September 15th was ertainly "wrecked" - the unfortunate creature was found dead. BALEARIC SHEARWATER Puffinus mauretanicus ore, but nearly annual, passage migrant. Critically endangered. Red list. A total of five individuals of this species, Europe's only "critically endangered" seabird, «-'presents a reasonable return, given that, for example, the totals in 2009 and 2010 were wo and one respectively. Since Suffolk's first record in 1998, the county's best year for the species has been 2002, when 14 were recorded. »uthwold: south, 'early morning', Sep 1 Ith (LG Woods et al.); another south, 12:39hrs, Sep 11th (S Mayson et al.). Sizewell: south, Sep 10th (JH Grant). I horpeness: north, Oct 10th (S Mayson, T Hodge). Bawdsey: East Lane, north, Sep 16th (N Mason). 1

EACH'S STORM-PETREL Oceanodroma leucorhoa Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. For the second successive year, only one record was received, but that was one more than was received for the species' cousin European Storm-petrel Hvdrobatespelagicus. Maughden: south, Oct 24th (D Fairhurst) NORTHERN GANNET Morus bassam,s Common passage migrant. Amber list. he table below broadly illustrates what has become something of a pattern in several recent years - that of north-bound birds moving along our coast, especially in March but. 75


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 in 2011 also markedly in May, followed by mid-summer feeding concentrations, albeit this time with a dip in August, and a southerly surge in September and October. Tt e year's peak monthly total, amassed in the latter month, was noteworthy in comparison wi h the previous year when the highest total was a mere 2,362 recorded in March. An eyecatching feature in 2011 was December's relatively large total, probably accounted for 1 y fish-stock movements. A s ever, it is as well to be aware that the table below inevitably contains some duplicatic n and should be treated only as a guide to temporal patterns.

Combined Peak day

Jan 239 47

Feb 462 144

Mar 789 148

Apr 363 73

May 773 163

Jun 848 97

Jul 2407 384

Aug 443 63

Sep 1767 400

Oct 5574 745

Nov 751 161

Dec 1888 328

In addition to the peak day-counts in the above table there were some other big day-tota Is worthy of mention. For example, July's peak of 384 on 24th off Thorpeness was prompt y followed by 366 off the same locality the next day. The seabird spectacular of Septemb :r 16th, referred to elsewhere in this report, included 400 of this species off Sizewell. There was a concentration of high counts in the period October 7th to 10th. For exampl the month's peak of 745 was noted offThorpeness on 9th, a day on which 663 were count'd off Kessingland, 500 were off Minsmere and 400 passed Sizewell, with 642 logged cff Thorpeness on 10th. GREAT C O R M O R A N T Phalacrocorax carbo Common winter visitor and passage migrant: has nested since 1998. The roost assembly at Fritton Decoy appears to be going from strength to strength a d the 727 birds which flew towards the coast from this site on January 29th represented t le highest count of this species ever made in Suffolk - until, that is, it was topped at the RSPE 's Havergate Island on February 21st when there was a mind-boggling gathering of 787. Indec i this island reserve and the nearby RSPB Hollesley Marshes also notched up some additior il remarkable counts at other times of the year and the high totals reflect the fact that t le species is thriving among us - some fishermen may not welcome them as we would, howev r. The table below charts this species' peak monthly counts from Fritton Decoy, which is clearly a hugely significant roost, and all the other high counts in the Lowestoft area mi st have related to movements to or from this site:â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Jan 727

Feb 265

Mar 154

Apr 51

Jul 53

Aug 51

Sep 59

Oct 124

Nov 234

Dec 563

On Orfordness the largest gatherings were 230 on April 16th, when observers reported that this was " a remarkably close date to last year's maximum on April 18th", and 240 on December 24th. A s referred to above, R S P B Havergate^ 1Âť and RSPB Hollesley Marshes are emerging as key sites for the species. In addition to the c o u n t y ' s record gathering mentioned previously, the highest totals from these two sites were as follows: Havergate, 408 on February 17th and1380 ^ on March 13th; Hollesley Marshes, 330 on January 31st. A little further south, eyeGreat Cormorant(s) catching counts submitted Rebecca Nason

M

76


Systematic List eluded 310 off East Lane, Bawdsey, December 25th, 300 at Falkenham, December 27th and )0 there on December 31 st. A feeding flock of270 was busy off Landguard on January 27th. Some of the above counts rather overshadowed the totals at the traditionally-important ¡te of Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, where nesting has occurred since 1998. The only mnts received from this locality to exceed 300 were the 340 on December 2nd, 421 on •cember 30th and 560 the following day. The ever-diligent Robin Biddle, who keeps close watch on the Loompit Lake Cormorants, ported that the site held 95 nests in 2011 and "guestimated" that, on average, two young edged from each one. This represented a slight decrease as he counted 113 nests there in 010 and 123 in 2009. In the west of the county, the year's largest gathering was 85 at Lackford Lakes, •ptember 17th. UROPEAN SHAG Phalacrocorax aristotelis ncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. In the Lake Lothing/Hamilton Dock area of Lowestoft, one of the county's traditional nter haunts of this species, singles were reported on three dates in January and six dates February, although two were noted on April 23rd and 24th, and again on April 29th. Two ere also noted on the sea off Pakefield, February 1st. Up to two frequented Ipswich Wet Dock - another favoured winter haunt - during January id a singleton was in Holbrook Bay on January 4th. Singles flew past Felixstowe on March 10th and Landguard, March 22nd, with spring ovement also being indicated by singles at Thorpeness, May 16th and Lowestoft Harbour, lay 22nd. Unlike 2010,2011 did not produce any mid-summer surprises and the first returning bird as recorded at Ness Point, Lowestoft, on August 6th. There were two reports in September, f singles at Ness Point, Lowestoft, and Lake Lothing on 17th and 24th respectively. An increase in October sightings clearly referred to autumn passage. After two were noted Wherstead, 10th there followed a run of records from 23rd, with singles at Kessingland nd North Beach, Lowestoft, on that date, two at Kessingland, 25th, singles at Lowestoft's ¡amilton Dock and Landguard, 29th, and two off Kessingland on 30th. Singles were noted at Kessingland, November 1st, Bawdsey, 8th and Gorleston Pier, 21st. hree were in Lake Lothing, November 23rd, with two there, 26th and a single, 27th. After -ingles at Southwold on December 13th, and two at Mutford Lock, 14th, it was the Lowestoft ••rea that produced all the year's remaining records. At least three and possibly five were in he area on 17th and three were in the harbour on the following day, rising to four between December 24th and 26th. The year's highest count from any site came from Lake Lothing with six on December 27th and at least four remained there at the year's end. GREAT BITTERN Botaurus stellaris Slowly increasing breeding population, scarce resident, passage migrant and winter visitor. Red list. The joint RSPB and Natural England summary of this iconic Suffolk species' breeding season for the whole of Britain in 2011 highlights some very encouraging trends and our county certainly features strongly in the Bittern's current success story. The summary's key findings nationally were an increase in the number of booming males, rom 87 in 2010 to 104 in 2011, a dramatic increase in the number of confirmed nests, up rom 41 in 2010 to 63 in 2011, and an increase to 51 in the number of sites occupied by boomers. All this was despite the fact that the 2010/2011 winter was very cold - with the coldest December for over 100 years. Even so, booming was heard earlier at most regular re eding sites. For example, on the Suffolk coast, grunting was heard on February 8th 77


Suffolk Birci Report

2011

compared with March 6th in 2010 and February 14th in 2009. The summary puts this down to the fact that the winter's coldest speli came early, giving male Bitterns time to recover their condition. On the Suffolk coast there were 25 booming maies at a total of seven sites, a slight decline of one from the previous year. There were 11 boomers at Minsmere, up from nine in 2010, but only one at North Warren. In the Fens, boomers increased to 15 at a total of seven sites, not ail in Suffolk, with Lakenheath Fen holding seven. Fourteen confirmed nests on the Suffolk coast was a rise of three on the previous year. At Minsmere there was a slight increase to six nests but there was only one nesting attempt at North Warren - but this followed a blank year in 2010. There were seven nests at Lakenheath Fen, the highest total for any site in East Anglia. The summary concludes: " I n recent years there has been some concern that the number of nesting attempts has not been increasing at the same rate as the number of booming maies. There was an increasing discrepancy from around 2003, which was particularly noticeable between 2008 and 2010. The large increase in nesting attempts this year is, however, very encouraging, and suggests that more sites are now in much more suitable condition for nesting." Birds observed away from known breeding haunts included singles at Breydon South Wall, January 18th, Barsham Marshes, January 18th, Weybread GP, January 21st and Hazlewood Marshes, November 20th. At Lackford Lakes, in the first winter period, two were present with final sighting on March 23rd. In the second winter period one was present from December 5th with two on 27th. CATTLE E G R E T Bubulcus ibis Rare visitor. This species was recorded in the county for the third successive year, reflecting the fact that several héron species, formerly regarded as being among the scarcest of visitors to the UK, are now much more likely to be encountered. They appear to be in the vanguard of wildlife's responses to climate change and perhaps we shall see the day when some of the scarcer héron species commence breeding in the county? The following records bring the county's total to nine records, involving a total of 11 birds:— Carlton Colville: P e t o ' s Marsh, following the plough with gulls, M a r 28th (A Easton, M Tickner, R Wilton et al.). M i n s m e r e : South Levels, July 30th ( M r s E Dennis, P Green et al.). Ipswich: in flight, S e p l 7 t h (M Riley)

LITTLE E G R E T Egretta garzetta Locally common and increasing resident and passage migrant. Amber list. A quite staggering total of 640 reports of this relatively recent colonist was received during 2011. Some of the county's older observers can well remember when this gleaming little héron was a real rarity - how times can change! At the main breeding colony at the Hen Reedbeds a total of 14 nesting pairs was reported, although there were no data relating to the level of breeding success. There were five nests at Stutton compared with nine in 2011. In addition, breeding reports came from three other sites and involve at least six pairs. Although now remarkably widespread throughout the county, the highest day-counts were comparatively low, with, for example, nothing like the previous year's tally of 120 on the Suffolk shore of the Stour Estuary in October. The north-east recording area's highest count involved a flock on the move - 14 flying north together over Minsmere on September 15th. In the south-east recording area the most noteworthy counts - away from Alton Water included 17 at Iken, July 30th, 16 on Havergate Island, July lst, and 20 there on August 78


Systematic

List

14th, 18 at Melton, August 21 st, 23 at Loompit Lake, Trimley St Martin, October 4th, "50+" on the River Stour, September 2nd and 30 at Cattawade, August 21st. The winter gathering at Alton Water was an eye-catching feature of the records received. The site's November peak was 53 on 13th and December's peak was 73 on 27th. In the west of the county the maximum counts were a mere seven at Redgrave, July 27th and the same number at Lakenheath Fen, February 4th. Comments from observers at Orfordness give some insight as to the species' migratory pattern. The observers said: "As in the previous year, present on all visits with a build-up during the summer months. The peak counts this year were a little lower with 19 on May 28th and July 31st." A table of peak monthly counts from the site also adds some insight:Jan 3

Feb 4

Mar 8

Apr 7

May 19

Jul 19

Jun 14

Aug 15

Sep 15

Oct 15

Nov 12

Dec 8

GREAT (WHITE) EGRET Ardea alba Rare, bid increasing, visitor. This imposing heron is now on the list of British breeding species, courtesy of a pair which raised young in Somerset during the spring of 2012. It is being widely tipped as a potential addition to Suffolk's breeding avifauna and the number of reports for 2011, which include a number of interesting multiple records, peaking at an unprecedented four at Iken on September 20th, would appear to bode well for such a forecast. All records received are listed below:Breydon Water: Humberstone Marshes, Nov 15th (Lowestoft Lounge Lizards). Oulton M a r s h e s : Nov 12th (Lowestoft Lounge Lizards). Lowestoft: Harbour, Jul 15th (Lowestoft L o u n g e Lizards). Flixton GP: three, Sep 3rd ( L Charlton): two, Sep 14th (R Drew). Southwoid: Easton Marshes, Jun 11th (BJ Small). Dunwich: Dingle Marshes, Nov 14th to 16th (R Jennings). Minsmere: N o r t h Marsh, Nov 8th (R Drew), South Levels, Feb 15th to 21st (RSPB). Thorpeness: Meare/North Warren, Jan 10th to Feb 13th (multi-observers). Iken Cliff: four, Sep 20th (J MacGuire). Wherstead/Ipswich: Orwell Bridge, two, Oct 19th.

Cattawade: Aug 21st. Pipps Ford: Apr 25th (P Whittaker).

Needham Market: May 10th. Cavenham: Oct 22nd (P Aldous).

Lakenheath Fen: Jan 8th (N Sills).

GREY HERON Ardea cinerea Common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Breeding was confirmed at six sites. A total of 24 pairs was found at five of these localities hut from the sixth no additional data were received. In 2010 breeding was confirmed at eight sites, which was an increase of two over 2009's total. This species' visible migration is often noted by seawatchers in the county, but records this year were relatively few and far between. In the north-east recording area passage birds were noted as follows:Gunton: Beach, in off the sea, Feb 12th. Lowestoft: Ness Point, in off the sea, Dec 10th.

79

Grey Heron

Su Gough


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 Southwold: three south offshore, S e p l รณ t h ; two south offshore, Oct 23rd. M i n s m e r e : six south offshore, J u n e 9th.

Thorpeness: south, Sep 7th.

Elsewhere there were even fewer reports. Indeed, observers at Orfordness remarked on the paucity of birds "on the move" and the fact that, although seen on "most visits", it was present in smaller numbers than its diminutive relative the Little Egret. The site's monthly totals were:Jan 2

Fcb 1

Mar 5

Apr 5

May 5

Jun 5

Jul 3

Aug 4

Sep 4

Oct 6

Nov 4

Dee 2

In the west of the county the highest number reported in a non-breeding context was 11 at Lackford Lakes, March lst. PURPLE HERON Ardea purpurea Scarce passage migrant. For the third successive year a somewhat disappointing number of sightings were reported. Given that the species has now bred in Britain, and that hopes of nesting in Suffolk were raised by the events at Minsmere in 2007, any optimism looks as if it is best placed on hold. The reports received were as follows, with the number of individuals at Minsmere being open to question: Benacre Broad: Aug 6th and 7th (C Buttle, C Darby). Minsmere: adult f l e w north, Apr 24th, (R Drew, JH Grant); May 16th (multi-observer); adult, May 20th to June 2nd (multi-observer); Jun 7th and 8th ( R S P B ) .

BLACK STORK Ciconia nigra Very rare visitor. This spectacular bird must have given the observer quite a shock as it drifted south-west over his home! It represents only the third record of the species in Suffolk this century, the others being seen in 2002 and 2006. Felixstowe: M a i d s t o n e Road, flying south-west, A p r 7th ( W J Brame).

W H I T E STORK Ciconia ciconia Very rare passage migrant. A roving individual was seen at several sites between May 4th and 9th, roosting at Castle Marsh, North Cove, from at least May 6th to 9th. However, how many birds were present in Suffolk on May 9th is impossible to ascertain from the records received - it could be one, two or even three, as indicated by the list below, which involves fly-over birds and not the roosting records:Blundeston: May 5th (Lowestoft Lounge Lizards). Barnby M a r s h e s : May 5th (Lowestoft Lounge Lizards).

Carlton Colville: May 5th (N Loth); May 9th (N Loth). North Cove: Castle Marsh, intermittently, May 6th to 9th (R Fairhead, S Fisher, J Trew).

Shadingfield: May 6th (J Trew). Southwold: 17:40hr, May 4th. Reydon: same as above, 18:14hr, M a y 4th (B Small, D Fairhurst). M i n s m e r e : M a y 4 t h (multi-observer); May 6th (multi-observer). Bawdsey: in flight, south-west over church, May 9th (N Andrews). N e e d h a m Market: same as others, 13:50hr, M a y 4th (J Rankin).

Lakenheath: May 9th (multi-observer).

GLOSSY IBIS Plegadis falcinellus Rare but increasing visitor. Not quite the glut of records we received in 2009, but an increase over 2 0 1 0 ' s two records 80


13 Possible Steppe Buzzard at Su bourne in June. Chris Mayne

14. Hobby juvenile at Bawdsey in September.

Kath Langbridge


17. Sandhill Crane feeding at Boyton.

Jon Evans


Systematic List that almost certainly related to just one bird. The exact number that occurred in the county in 2011 is difficult to assess as the records below contain some obvious duplication:D u n w i c h : D i n g l e M a r s h e s , intermittently, O c t 7th to 20th (P D G r e e n , J T r e w et al.). M i n s m e r e : t w o i n c l u d i n g s a m e bird as above, Scrape, O c t 9th a n d lOth (P D G r e e n ) ; over r e e d b e d a n d h i g h to the n o r t h , O c t 2 0 t h ( J H G r a n t et al.); 2 6 t h a n d 27th N o v (I B e e t o n , B T o r o d e ) . O r f o r d n e s s : O c t 2 0 t h ( D C r a w s h a w , E Shields).

Boyton Marshes: two, Oct 5th (J Reece et al.). B o l l e s l e y M a r s h e s : t w o , O c t 5th, s a m e birds as a b o v e ( O Slessor). I p s w i c h : three in flight, O c t 15th (R a n d Y M a r s h ) .

EURASIAN SPOONBILL Platalea leucorodia Uncommon passage migrarti. Now increasingly oversummers. Has overwintered. Amber list. An overwintering juvenile on Orfordness, first noted on December lOth, 2010, was seen on many dates in January, February and March, and joined by an adult on March 23rd, the day after one arrived on Minsmere Scrape. Minsmere, Orfordness and Havergate again produced the bulk of the records and these sites' monthly peaks were as follows:-

Minsmere Orfordness Havergate

Jan 0 1 0

Feb 0 1 0

Mar 2 2 0

Apr May 4 6 3 2 1 1

Jun 8 1 1

Jul 6 l 13

Aug 1 12 14

Sep 6 20 19

Oct 1 3 3

Nov Dee 3 0 4 3 1 3

This species is now a regular breeder on the north Norfolk coast and its regular breeding in Suffolk is eagerly anticipated. Hopes were perhaps strengthened by the events on Minsmere Scrape witnessed by John Grant over 90 minutes on June 2nd. He wrote of a group of seven: "Lots of social interaction among the group. Reed fronds were carried in bilis and fought over, Vegetation on islands was tugged and islands were apparenti'y being inspected. Possible prelude to breeding in subsequent years?" We wait in hope. LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis Locally common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. If ever there was a species which illustrates the fact that some are taken for granted by observers, this is it. The data received indicated that, excluding Lakenheath Fen, there were only 18 sites which held breeding Little Grebes, with a total of 40 pairs. At Lakenheath the number of breeding pairs was unclear but 26 individuรกis were counted there on August 6th. Another year goes by, therefore, in which the overall picture is impossible to assess as this species' breeding status in the county simply cannot be construed from the scant details submitted. Hopefully a clearer idea will come from the Atlas data. On a more positive note, for the first time the species was confirmed to have bred on Orfordness, with an adult and chick seen on the site's Lantern Marshes on August 7th. The largest concentration of breeding pairs appeared to be at Hen Reedbeds, where there were ten. Apart from tables below and the 26 referred to above, the year's highest count from any one locality was 23, at Thorington Street Reservoir, August 23rd. There were precious few other counts that reached double figures, but these included 18 at the same site, October 7th, and 15 at Woodbridge, presumably part of the Deben total below, October lOth. Observers on Orfordness submitted the following table which illustrates the species' use of the site:Jan 18

Feb 12

Mar 9

Apr 2 --.

81

Sep 7

Oct 2

Nov 22

Dee 17


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 The Deben Estuary's importance for this species is well established and can be seen, once again, from the tabulated WeBS counts, although the totals were rather low compared with recent years:Jan 56

Feb 30

Mar 9

Sep 16

Oct 26

Nov 38

Dec 56

GREAT C R E S T E D G R E B E Podiceps cristatus Locally common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. A minimum of 17 sites were occupied by breeding birds and there was a total of at least 28 pairs. The previous two years' respective totals were 34 pairs at 16 sites in 2010 and 25 pairs at 13 sites in 2009. Alton Water, the county's traditional breeding stronghold, was overtaken in 2011 by Weybread GP, where seven pairs were noted, although the former site's vigilant observer John Glazebrook remarked that "the earliest chick for years" was hatched there " d u e to constant water levels" in contrast to fluctuations in previous years. Offshore, the mainly rather meagre totals were dwarfed by the 1,000 assembled off Southwold on January 18th, a day on which there was probably a glut of the species' fish prey. The county's record count, of 1,439 in Sole Bay in April 2000, remains unchallenged however. The second-highest count of the year was 700 off Minsmere, December 31 st. Otherwise, the only three-figure counts received were as follows: 123 off Southwold, February 26th, 215 o f f D u n w i c h , March 6th, 130 off Minsmere, January 20th, 109 offThorpeness, October lOth, 143 at Alton Water, November 13th and 178 at the same site, December 1 Ith. R E D - N E C K E D G R E B E Podiceps grisegena Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. For the second successive year a relatively impressive crop of records was amassed, given the scarcity of this species is recent times. However, it must be borne in mind that there may well be at least some duplication in the records below. Ail records received are listed:Breydon Water: south shore, Jan 28th. Gorleston Pier: north, Nov 7th. Pakefield: south, May 18th. Minsmere: Dec 30th. Thorpeness: north, Aug 14th; south Sep 4th; south, Nov 17th; north Nov 28th; south, Dec 3Ist. Landguard: north, Apr 28th. Trimley St Martin: Thorpe Bay, Mar 18th. Shotley: Hare's Creek, same bird as above, Mar 18th. Nacton: Feb 26th. Lower Holbrook: Jan 21st. Stutton: Dec 22nd to 29th. SLAVONIAN G R E B E Podiceps auritus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Suffolk's largest-ever group, a tight-knit gathering of eight birds, was reported in Holbrook Creek on the last day of 2010 and it would appear that most, if not all, of these birds remained for several weeks into 2011. Seven on January 23rd off Lower Holbrook was the highest count, however, with six there on February 17th, a day on which they may have had an outing to Alton Water as the same number was reported there. This group then

Slavonian Grebe Richard Allen

82


Systematic

List

dwindled, with the last of the first-winter period in this area being reported on February 21 st. Elsewhere in the first winter period, singletons were noted offKessingland, January 4th, Minsmere, Januarylst, and on the Butley River at Boyton, January 9th. The first returning bird was noted on the River Deben offWaldringfield, October 3rd, an individual that preceded singles at Alton Water, October 16th and Lower Holbrook, October 28th, and two at Alton Water, October 29th. November records came from Benacre Ness, 7th, three off Landguard on 12th, representing only the third record for the site, and three at Alton Water on 20th. In December, a single was reported off Southwold, 13th and during the month the Holbrook area's flock built up to a peak of five, 31 st. BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Dare we say that this species, which was until quite recently a very difficult bird to catch up with in the county, is now becoming more common? That may be tempting fate and perhaps we may soon return to the previous scarcity of records, but it was another relatively good crop of records in 2011. All records received are listed:â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Pakefield: north, Feb 1 st (Lowestoft Lounge Lizards). Kessingland: Sep 25th (Lowestoft Lounge Lizards). Minsmere: Island Mere, Jan 29th (I Levett).

Thorpeness: two, Nov 5th (E Lucking). Havergate Island: Mar 29th; Apr 6th (K Alexander). Waldringfield: Jan 8th (S Abbott), Oct 3rd ((P Oldfield). Trimley Marshes SWT: May 18th and 19th (P O l d f i e l d J Zantboer), Jun 17th (P Holmes, P Oldfield).

Levington Creek: four, Sep 17th. Ipswich: Orwell Bridge, Jan 7th. Alton Water: two, SeplOth (S Babbs), Sep 18th (J Glazebrook).

In addition, an individual could be seen from the RSPB's Lakenheath Fen reserve on February 27th but was said to have remained on the Norfolk side of the river throughout its brief stay. EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD Pernis apivorus Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. There were just two accepted records of this species in 2011, a female seen at Trimley Marshes on May 7th and one over Westleton Heath five days later. Westleton Heath: May 12th (R Drew). Trimley Marshes: 09:45am, May 7th ( W J Brame, E Marsh, D Pearson).

BLACK KITE Milvus migrans Rare passage migrant. There was just a single accepted report of this species in 2011, which brings the county total to 34. Minsmere: May 8th (R Harvey).

RED KITE Milvus milvus Uncommon but increasing winter visitor and passage migrant. Bred in 1996 and 1997. Amber list. 2011 produced the highest-ever number of reports of this species. The total of 217 is more than double the number of reports for last year and continues the general upward trend for this species in Suffolk (see table below) and across the UK. High breeding success along with good annual survival rates are cited by the Rare Birds Breeding Panel as the main factors for this species' year-on-year increase across the UK. Year No. of reports

2002 16

2003 20

2004 24

2006 69

2005 48 83

2007 82

2008 54

2009 89

2010 98

2011 217


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 The year got off to a quiet start; there were a handful of reports from January and February including one bird which remained in the Thorington Street/Nayland area for two weeks. Spring passage started in the third week of March and lasted until mid-May, peaking early in May. Reports during this period accounted for 64% of the total number of reports and there was a strong north-east bias. Multiple sightings during this period came from several coastal sites, including three moving south-west at Lowestoft, April 3rd, two flying west over Carlton Marshes, April 4th and three south at North Warren, March 22nd. Single birds were seen on several dates in the Minsmere area and there were seven reports from the southeast, including two at Trimley Marshes, April 24th. The west also had its fair share of sightings including two together at Ixworth on April 11th. Coastal records diminished in May, but two or three birds remained in the west of the county during May and into June. In the east up to four birds were still drifting up and down the coast in June; two birds were seen circling low over Snape on June 22nd and, possibly the same birds, were seen at Trimley Marshes the following day. In the west two were at Stradishall on June 13th and singletons were seen at several other sites in that area through the summer. There were relatively few reports between July and September, but sightings increased in October. The only report in November came from the Wickhambrook area where one bird remained until early December at least. Also in December single birds were seen at Minsmere on three dates and at Beccles and Chelmondiston. A bird first reported in the Boyton/Gedgrave area on December 20th remained until the end of the year at least. Wing-tagged birds were observed at Minsmere on March 30th and June 30th. Another seen at Cowlinge on April 11th then Lackford Lakes three days later was tagged in Northumberland in 2010. A ringed bird was also seen in the west at Undley Road, Lakenheath, on June 27th. In April a bird was seen feeding on a Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa at Cavenham. WHITE-TAILED EAGLE Haliaeetus albicilla Very rare winter visitor. Red list. Categories A and E. There were several reports all relating to a first-summer bird which briefly ventured into the county from Norfolk on two occasions during spring. It initially put in a brief appearance on April 4th, first being seen at Bradwell and then Breydon South Wall, 09:38 (R Fairhead) before going out to sea. It then returned inland at Hopton-on-Sea at 10:10 (Bird News Services) before being seen at Corton at 10:33 (Bird News Services). At 10:38 it was seen and photographed over Lowestoft (A Easton) and at 11:00 it was over Carlton Colville (C Buttle, R Hammond). The same individual then returned a month later on May 4th and 5th causing a stir among local observers as it passed up and down the coast. It was first picked up as it flew north at 17:45, May 4th at Leiston (M Cartwright) and at the same time it was seen distantly over the town, being mobbed by gulls, from Thorpeness Caravan Park (S Mayson). Between 17:50 and 18:10 it was seen flying north in the Eastbridge/Minsmere area (R Harvey, J H Grant et al.) before it was observed at Walberswick in a Scots Pine, presumably roosting, from 18:40 until dusk (S Abbott, D Fairhurst, R Marsh). This is the first record of this species in Suffolk since 2000. WESTERN MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosas Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. Increasing numbers overwinter. Amber List. This species continues to be widely reported along the coastal margins of the county and increasingly from the west of the county. Counts during the first winter period came from Reydon Smear Marshes where 12 roosted on February 8th, Dingle Marshes where six were present on January 22nd and Lakenheath 84


Systematic

List

Fen where nine were counted on January 31st. It was a fairly successful breeding season with nesting pairs confirmed at a total of 14 sites. Productivity was generally good, although there was mixed success at some sites. At Benacre Broad two nests produced four young and a third nest failed. At Easton Broad there were 11 nests, two fewer than in 2010, but 30 young fledged compared with 24 in 2010. At Hen Reedbeds there were three nests, but two were abandoned and the third fledged two young. There were seven active nests at Westwood Marshes in early June, but by June 20th only two of these remained active and a disappointing total of five young fledged (same as last year). Minsmere fared much better despite six nests failing; the remaining 12 nests fledged 21 young, compared with six nests and 17 young in 2010. Single W e s t e r n Marsh Harrier Mark Ferr/s pairs also bred at Hare's Creek, Shotley, and close to Boyton Marshes. A pair nested on Orfordness for the first time since 2008. Away from the coast Lakenheath Fen had another bumper season, producing an impressive 45 young from 18 nests, compared with 34 from 13 last year. In late summer two were seen flying in off the sea at Lowestoft North Denes on August 27th. Autumn migrants included singles south offshore at Thorpeness on two dates in September and at Landguard on September 4th and November 30th. At Kessingland one flew south on October 19th and one flew south offshore at Gunton on November 11th. In December counts included five at Castle Marsh, four at Blundeston Marshes, seven along the Butley River, eight on Orfordness, four at Hemley and Sudbourne Marshes and a maximum count of 21 birds roosting at Lakenheath Fen. HEN H A R R I E R Circus cyaneus Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Red List. Despite its precarious status as a breeding bird in the UK, the number of reports of wintering Hen Harriers continues to rise in Suffolk. The total of 240 reports comfortably exceeds last year's total of 206. The estimated total of between 20 and 22 birds present across the county at the beginning of the year is the highest since 2003. Of these at least 12 were present along the coastal margin and nine were in the Breck (including Lakenheath Fen). Notable counts during January included four birds at Walberswick and three at Minsmere, Dingle Marshes and Lakenheath Fen. The roost at Berner's Heath held five birds in January and a maximum of six in February. During April, single birds were logged at 12 coastal locations and one lingered into May passing south along the coastal belt. It was last seen at Tinker's Marshes on May 6th. The first returning bird was seen at Minsmere Beach on September 11th, with further sightings during that month from Landguard and Lakenheath Fen. Autumn passage began in earnest in October with visible migration involving single birds flying in off the sea at Benacre, Minsmere and Sizewell. Reports came from a further 18 coastal sites in October and from four sites in the west. There were far fewer birds during the second winter period; an estimated eight to ten were present. Notable counts included two at Dingle Marshes, Bawdsey and Berner's Heath in November and two at Somerleyton Marshes, Reydon Smear Marshes and Stradishall in December. Table showing estimated total number of wintering birds between 2003 and 2011. Year 1st winter period 2nd winter period

2003 32 14

2004 19 12

2005 8 6

2006 7 4 85

2007 6 7

2008 10 6

2009 6 6

2010 15 13

2011 22 10


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 MONTAGU'S

HARRIER

Circus pygargus Uncommon passage migrant. Formerly bred. Amber List. There were six accepted reports of this species in 2011 but presumably some duplication. The bird at Kessingland Levels is the earliest in Montagu's Harrier Mark Ferris

S u f f o l k since o n e w a s at Sizewell on the

same date in 1988. Kessingland Levels: photographed, Apr 17th between 17:53 and 19:30hrs (C Darby). Minsmere: ringtail over South Levels, Apr 25th. (R Drew, C Fulcher, S Mayson, L Woods); male south over reedbed behind West Hide, 09:25hrs, May 12th (P D Green). Sizewell: Broom Covert, male, probably same as above, May 12th (J H Grant, E Patrick). Orfordness: ringtail mobbed by a juvenile Peregrine, possibly same as at Minsmere on same day, north, Apr 25th (M Marsh). Landguard: immature male in off the sea, Apr 26th (T Holland, D T Langlois, B Mackie, N Odin).

2010 Addition: Cavenham Heath: female, June 5th (T Humpage).

NORTH ERN GOSHAWK

Accipiter

gentilis

Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Uncommon resident. Pairs were confirmed at six sites in the Breck, one less than in 2010. Other records of single birds may indicate that they are becoming more dispersed across Thetford Forest where suitable locations are available. Out of the six pairs in the forest (i.e. in both Norfolk and Suffolk) there were three successful nests, including a pair in Suffolk which successfully fledged three young from a nest in a Scots Pine. Other reports included a male at the Olley's Farm site, Thetford, on two dates in February and a pair there in late February and again mid-March. There were also reports from another two non-forest sites in the west including one at Ampton on January 30th (C Fulcher). At one of these a female was seen sparring with a ringtail Hen Harrier and, on another occasion, a Common Buzzard. There were no accepted coastal records. FIELD

NOTE

One interesting record involved an almost complete set of plucked feathers of a freshly dead adult female Goshawk, without the carcass, 30 metres from an active nest with an ineubating bird. Goshawks, especially females, will defend their nesting area against other intruding G o s h a w k s but examples of this defence resulting in death or possibly cannibalism are apparently rare. B Pleasartce

EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK

Accipiter

nisus

Common resident, winter visitor andpassage migrant. Though still widely recorded, the number of reports in 2011 was 361, which is about 21% down on last year's total of 458. The number of sites was also lower - 152 compared with last year's record figure of 182. BBS data for 2011 show a 5% decrease nationally, but the population continues to fluetuate in the East of England. In 2010 there was an increase of 9% compared with a 12% decline in 2009 and a 16% increase in 2008. Spring migrants included one in off the sea at Corton Cliffs on March 20th, three birds 86


Systematic List on Orfordness on the same date and four there on March 27th which were also considered to be migrants. Breeding was confirmed at 16 sites and included three pairs at North Warren. Birds were seen displaying at another four locations. Autumn passage was noted at Lowestoft North Beach and Sizewell Beach where singles flew in off the sea on October 9th. At West Stow Country Park a male was seen targeting Pipistrelles as they emerged from their maternity site in the roof of the visitor centre in June. What was probably the same enterprising individual was also seen entering barns opposite the country park trying to grab Swallow chicks from their nests on three occasions in July. Elsewhere, a female was seen hunting Pied Wagtails at Long Melford. FIELD

NOTE

On a dull January afternoon I noticed a pure white domestic-type pigeon flying erratically over my local gravel pits at Pipps Ford. On closer inspection through binoculars I saw that it was being chased by a female Sparrowhawk. The birds gyrated through the pits back and forward until the Sparrowhawk made a final grab, catching the pigeon by its tail and dragging it down into the bottom of a hedge some distance away. There was a flash of white wings for about a minute then nothing. I assumed the bird had been killed but I continued to watch the spot for about five minutes. 1 was very surprised to see the pigeon fly up almost vertically and head off towards some distant conifers. The Sparrowhawk was again in hot pursuit. What actually happened on the ground in those five minutes is a mystery to me - did the pigeon feign death and lie inert but ready to fly? I think there must have been an element of surprise in it for the Sparrowhawk too! The pigeon could not have been able to make its skyward escape so easily, unless the predator had stood back from its prey for a while. Phil Whittaker

COMMON BUZZARD

Buteo

buteo

Fairly common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant; increasing breeding population. A total of 689 reports was received underlining how widespread this species has become across the county. Confirmation of breeding came from just nine sites, but it is evident that this species occurs quite densely across large areas of the county. The Buzzard study featured earlier in this report provides a much more accurate picture of the breeding population of this species in the west of the county at least. BBS data show an increase of 1% nationally and, more significantly, a trend for this species was produced for the first time for the Eastern region-up 1000%! Now that there are so many resident birds, separating migrants is never an easy task, but during spring there were two or three periods when groups of potential migrants were seen at several coastal locations. These included 11 birds drifting south over Kessingland on March 27th, three north at Minsmere the next day and five at Corton and nine moving southwest at North Warren the day after that. Further concentrations of birds were observed in the second half of April, including 13 at Ashby and eight birds at Kessingland. Spring passage continued into early May when six drifted north at Covehithe on 4th then, presumably the same six birds, returned south two days later. Elsewhere six were at Westleton on May 4th; nine flew south at Boyton Marshes on May 7th and five were at Cattawade three days later. Inland multiple counts of 16 at Pipps Ford and 13 at Cavenham Heath in April probably involved mostly, if not entirely, resident birds. 87


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 Probable autumn migrants during September included six at Minsmere, five at Mutford and between 11 and 18 birds over Lakenheath Fen all on September 24th. One was seen feeding on a deer carcass at Westleton Walks on March 2nd. Also of interest was a bird showing some characteristics of a Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus) present around the area of Sudbourne Great Wood area from June 15th until June 20th at least. R O U G H - L E G G E D B U Z Z A R D Buteo lagopus Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. 2011 was another good year for this species even though there was no repeat of last year's influx. A total of 22 reports was received from 19 sites; 14 of these came from the early part of the year and eight from the latter part. Unusually, the first record of the year came from the west of the county where a firstwinter bird was discovered in the Breck in mid-January and frequented the The King's Forest and Berner's Heath area until March. Elsewhere, the overwintering bird close to the Norfolk border around Fritton Marshes was seen just once in late January. There were no other records from the coastal region until March when single birds were seen at a number of locations up and down the coast. Records indicate that two birds were present in March and April. There was also a late report of one on the Deben Estuary in mid-May:Fritton: Waveney Forest, the long staying individual flew east from Haddiscoe Island over Fritton M a r s h late p m , J a n 25th ( A C Easton). L o u n d : Waterworks, flew over, 15:20hrs, A p r 2 n d (P C Napthine, C Mutimer).

Rushmere (near Lowestoft): Mar 28th (R C Smith). Benacre Broad: Apr 22nd (C A Buttle). S o u t h w o l d : south over B u s s Creek M a r s h e s , 10:55hr, A p r 17th (S V Howell). M i n s m e r e : p h o t o g r a p h e d , over west e n d of main reedbed, M a r 21st (R Chittenden, D A Fairhurst); high over Bittern Hide, 12:35hr, M a r 23rd (J H Grant). O r f o r d n e s s : A p r 1 st ( M Marsh); A p r 21 st (A Howe, D Fairhurst, G W h i t e ) . S h i n g l e Street: A p r 24th (E M a r s h , P J Kennerley). Ipswich: f e m a l e west over Holywells Park, M a r 27th (G G r i e c o et al.). R a m s h o l t : May 15th ( M L C o r n i s h , N Mason). B e r n e r ' s Heath: first-winter, Jan 29th and 30th (L G r e g o r y et al. ); Feb 8th (Breckland Birding Group). T h e King's Forest: photographed, first-winter ( s a m e bird as above), Jan 16th (D F Walsh, N Moran. L G r e g o r y et al.)\ s a m e bird, M a r 8th (C G r e g o r y ) .

There were fewer reports from the latter part of the year, all involving single birds at coastal sites. The first flew in off the sea at Covehithe on October 19th, then was subsequently seen as it made its way south at Southwold and Orfordness. A couple of days later a different bird appeared on Orfordness which was also seen on a number of occasions on Havergate Island until mid-November. The last sighting of the year was on December 4th at Barsham Marshes. Benacre Broad: Nov 18th (R Drew). C o v e h i t h e B r o a d : in o f f sea at 0 9 : 3 5 h r , O c t 19th and landed in a tree briefly b e f o r e flying south (C A Buttle).

Barsham Marshes: Dec 4th (P Woolnough). S o u t h w o l d : south, 09:50hr, Oct 19th (L J Townsend). O r f o r d n e s s : O c t 20th ( D Crawshaw, G J Jobson, E D Shields et al.)\ different bird present, Oct 22nd to N o v 3rd ( D Crawshaw, M M a r s h ) . S u d b o u r n e : Oct 23rd ( D Marsh). Havergate Island: singles b e t w e e n Oct 20th a n d Nov 17th (K Alexander). F a l k e n h a m : N o v 20th (P J H o m e s , P Oldfield).

OSPREY Pandion haliaetus Uncommon passage migrant. Amber list. 31 reports were received in 2011, slightly fewer than last year's total of 37, but still a respectable total. The first returning bird was seen over Blaxhall on the early date of March 88


Systematic

List

23rd, but the majority of reports came during April and May. These included single birds seen at Woodbridge and Trimley Marshes on April 11 th and then at another four sites in April and three sites in May. Late birds were seen at Livermere Lake on June 7th and at Lakenheath Fen two days later. Another was seen at the latter site exactly a month later. Oulton M a r s h e s : along Oulton Dyke, 10:30hr A p r 24th. Linstead Parva: early afternoon, A p r 22nd. Minsmere: north, Apr 25th. Blaxhall: Mar 23rd, second-earliest ever in Suffolk.

Woodbridge: Apr 11th. Falkenham Marshes: north, Apr 7th. Ipswich: M a y 6th; M a y 12th.

Trimley Marshes: Apr 11th; May 8th. Nayland: May 5th. Lakenheath Fen: Jun 9th; July 9th. Livermere Lake: June 7th.

A similar number of reports were received in late summer/autumn; single birds were seen flying south at four coastal locations and a wing-tagged bird was seen circling over Minsmere. There were three sightings from three sites on the same date in late August. The last report came from Landguard where one flew south on September 27th. Carlton Marshes: south, Aug 28th. Minsmere: r a d i o - t a g g e d bird circling over then flew north, A u g 2 2 n d ; south, Sep 7th; south, Sep 9th.

Havergate Island: Sep 9th. Deben Estuary: Sep 5th. Bawdsey: Sep 1st. Ipswich: Aug 21st. Landguard: south, A u g 29th; south, Sep 27th.

Trimley Marshes: Sep 11th. Levington Creek: Aug 17th. Alton Water: Aug 29th. Lackford Lakes: Aug 29th; Sep 7th.

Long Melford: Sep 10th. Osprey Sue Gough Glemsford: Sep 10th. Apparently an Osprey called Ozwald, which was ringed in Nairnshire in July 2011, was tracked passing to the west of Ipswich on October 19th. This was his first journey and he seemed rather reluctant to leave Scotland judging by the late date! The details of Ozwald's journey, as well as the other tagged birds of prey, are all on the RSPBs and Roy Dennis's websites. The latest-ever record also involved a juvenile which remained on the Stour until December 12th, 2006. The wing-tagged bird which was seen circling over Minsmere on August 22nd could not be identified, so it is possible the transmitter was no longer working or it was a bird from a different project. COMMON KESTREL

Falco

tinnunculus

Common resident. Scarce passage migrant. Amber list. Nearly 300 reports were received from across the county from 117 sites. Breeding was confirmed at 16 sites (the same as in 2010) and included two pairs at North Warren and a large brood of six chicks at a nest in Lower Holbrook. Birds were seen at Lavenham Railway Walks on six out of 12 visits, one fewer than in 2010. This species continues to decline across the UK; BBS data for 2010 and 2011 show a decline of 2% nationally and a 17% decline in the East of England (similar to 2010). The number of birds on Orfordness fluctuated throughout the year, peaking at eight in 89


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 May, seven in September and six in October. Autumn passage was noted at Thorpeness where two flew south offshore on September 13th. RED-FOOTED FALCON

Falco

vespertinus

Rare visitor. There were no reports of this species in 2011. The last blank year was 2003. MERLIN Falco columbarius Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List. Last year's high total of 108 reports could not be repeated in 2011 and the 79 reports received were probably more representative of the average annual total for this species. Reports came from 42 sites compared with 36 in 2010 and records suggest up to five birds were present in Suffolk in the first winter period. Singles were seen at seven coastal sites in January, including two on Orfordness. There were also two sightings of single birds in the west. It was a similar picture in February and March. A maximum of three birds was present on Orfordness on March 26th and they remained until at least April 2nd. Other reports during April came from Minsmere, North Warren, Boyton and Lackford. Back on Orfordness two birds lingered into early May and elsewhere likely migrants were seen at Gorleston Harbour and Corton Sewage Works. In late summer returning birds were seen at several coastal locations in September, including singles flying south at Gunton Beach, Southwold and Thorpeness. Elsewhere, single birds were also seen at Oulton Marshes and Orfordness and one flew in off the sea at Southwold. During October further migrants were logged at Lowestoft, Breydon Water. Minsmere, Dunwich and Bawdsey. Two birds were on Orfordness in early October and b> 23rd three birds had returned there. In the west of the county there were reports of a single bird at Puttockshill, Pakenham on October 16th and 17th. It is likely that six or seven birds overwintered in Suffolk during the second winter period A late migrant was seen flying in off the sea at Landguard on November 3rd; elsewhere twc birds remained on Orfordness and singles were reported from a further seven sites. Also ir November a female was seen on two dates and a male on one date at Lakenheath Fen Towards the end of the year reports of single birds came from nine locations and two bird; were still present on Orfordness on December 10th. EURASIAN HOBBY

Falco

subbuteo

Fairly common summer visitor and passage migrant. A total of 337 reports was received in 2011, compared with 351 in 2010 and 335 in 2009 BBS data for the UK show an increase of 14% for this species and it seems likely that the population is fairly stable in Suffolk. The first returning bird was seen at Minsmere on April 2nd, beating the previous earliest record, set in 2009, by two days. A further 21 reports were received during April as more birds returned. At the beginning of May multiple counts included 15 at North Warren on May 2nd, but it was Lakenheath Fen which hosted the highest counts again with an estimated 50 on May 1st peaking at 60 on May 3rd. Breeding was reported from seven locations across the county including Minsmere, where four pairs nested, North Warren where three pairs bred and at Chillesford where the chicks were ringed in the nest. It was the ninth consecutive year of the breeding study in Thetford Forest (i.e. Norfolk and Suffolk) and eight pairs were found on territories. The study has revealed that the population continues to thrive at a very high density in the forest; unfortunately the colour-ringing project has now been suspended. PEREGRI N E FALCON

Falco

peregrinus

Uncommon but increasing winter visitor and passage migrant. Has bred since 2008. Categories A and E. 90


Systematic List The 249 reports received in 2011 were only slightly down on the 251 reports in 2010. These carne from 89 sites compared with 68 sites in 2010. Sightings carne from every month of the year and included a significant number of reports during the summer months. Longstaying birds included the Orwell Bridge pair which nested successfully for the fourth successive year and fledged three young. A pair held territory at a confidential site in west Suffolk, and even though they did not breed in 2011, a first-year bird seen associating briefly with the resident female was considered to be a progeny from the previous year. Finally an adult bird was present on Lake Lothing grain silo throughout the year; it was joined by a first-winter bird on at least two dates. Notable reports from January included two overwintering birds on Orfordness and two birds at both Trimley Marshes and Wherstead Strand. Also of interest, a male thought to be of the tundra race 'calidus' was seen at Waldringfield on January lOth. Numbers peaked in February when as many as 12 to 14 birds may have been present in the county. The five birds seen around the Orwell Bridge area on February 9th were presumably the family group from 2010. Elsewhere, two birds were seen at several sites in February, March and April, and during May and June birds were still being seen regularly at Lowestoft Grain Silo, Orfordness and Bury St Edmunds. Several reports of single birds were received from sites across the county in July, August and September. October produced the first evidence of passage movement, including singles flying south at Kessingland and Minsmere. At Landguard two juveniles flew south on October 19th, the usual wintering pair returned to Orfordness mid-month and two were present at Minsmere >n October 31 st. November sightings also included probable migrants at Lowestoft North Oenes, Gorleston, Southwold and Landguard. Reports suggest that at least six birds were present during the second winter period. In íecember reports carne from 16 sites, all but one of these being coastal locations, including he pair on Orfordness which remained until the end of the year. Hunting behaviour included one seen taking a Teal Anas crecca off the Scrape at Minsmere on February 4th; it was then mobbed by a Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus and ropped its prey into the water. One was seen hunting Starlings Sturnus vulgaris going to >ost at North Warren on February 14th and a juvenile was seen to take an exhausted íeldfare Turdus pilaris off the sea at Thorpeness on October 20th. Single birds were also een chasing a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus at Botany Farm, Snape and a Dunlin Calidris ! pina on Havergate Island. On Orfordness Woodcocks Scolopax rusticóla were caught then 'ropped by Peregrines on two dates in December and on another occasion a pair forced a •'oodcock onto the dunes, but it managed to fly off apparently unscathed. Finally, on hristmas Eve, presumably the same two Peregrines were seen chasing and killing a Knot Calidris canutus. WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus i 'airly common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Records were received from 53 sites, 18 less than in 2010. However, this shy species remains widely dispersed in suitable habitat throughout the county. Records of breeding, or probable breeding, were received from ten sites, a reduction of almost 50% compared with 2010, though still slightly higher than 2009. Healthy breeding populations remain at Minsmere and Hen Reedbeds, each supporting 32 breeding pairs, and North Warren where •9 territories were recorded. COMMON M O O R H E N

Gallínula

chloropus

y

ery common resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. This common species remains widespread throughout the county, though continually under-recorded. Breeding or probable breeding was reported from only 20 sites. The highest eount of 81 birds was recorded from Alton Water, December 1 lth. The results of winter 91


Suffolk Birci Report 2011 counts at all regularly-monitored sites are shown below:-

Minsmere Alde/Ore Est Deben Estuarv Orwell Estuar} Alton Water Stour Estuar)

Jan 3 0 30 9 3 17

Feb 4 0 32 8 4 10

Mar 7 0 21 15 13 12

Apr 17 0 16 8 5 5

Sep 7 -

11 26 15 21

Oct 13 7 7 24 44 10

Nov 10 10 10 17 30 5

Dee 1 4 15 5 81 18

C O M M O N COOT Fulica atra Very common resident, winter visitor andpassage migrant. This species remains common in suitable habitat throughout the year. Breeding, oi probable breeding, was reported from only 21 sites; again clearly under-recorded. High winter counts were recorded at Alton Water (peaking at 833 on December 1 Ith); Lackfort Lakes (262 on August 13th) and Thorington Street Reservoir (230 on November 9th). Tht results of winter counts at all regularly-monitored sites are shown below:-

Leathes Ham Ben Reedbeds Minsmere Alde/Ore Est. Deben Estuar) Stour Estuarv Orwell Estuarv Alton Water

Jan 54 4 14 0 14 2 101 150

Feb 46 35 71 0 13 0 62 113

Mar 26 18 45 0 4 6 31 89

Apr -

58 0 ! 3 25 52

Scp 30 3 24 J5S 2 3 114 335

Oct 9 2 1 0 0 30 351

Nov 18

Dee 35

-

2 0 0 135 557

5 0 0 43 833

C O M M O N C R A N E Grus grus Scarce passage migrant. Has bred since 2007. Amber List. Lakenheath Fen RSPB reserve continues to play host to SufFolk's only breeding bird Again two pairs were recorded during the breeding season and one young bird w; > successfully reared. Up to seven birds were recorded on the reserve on various occasiona throughout the year with a peak of ten on October 2nd. Elsewhere in the county some 44 reports were received from 16 sites. A party of fivs adults and two juveniles which settled at Boyton, Gedgrave and Havergate for a period of several weeks, arrived via Dingle Marshes and Minsmere on November 27th and remained until December 22nd. A report of the seven adult birds at Lakenheath during this period strongly suggests that these were not the same birds. All these records are included below: Burgh Castle: seven (five adults and two juveniles) in field, Nov 16th; single bird remaining, Nov 17th. Somerleyton: Somerleyton Park, two, possibly included in the Oulton Broad birds, flew north-west at 12 noon, Apr 3rd. Flixton: one flew north, 10.50am, Oct 21st. Oulton Broad: four circled before drifting north-west, 11.50am, Apr 3rd. Pakefield: two south, 11.15am, Apr 3rd. Beccles: circling then drifted north, 2pm, June Ist. Covehithe: two south, 11.05am, Nov 28th. Dunwich: Dingle Marshes, seven, Nov 26th and 27th. Minsmere: seven over, Nov 27th; two in from the north, 12.50pm, Nov 28th; two north, 12.10pm, Dec23rd. Havergate Island: seven, Dee 22nd. Butley: Butley River, two landed briefly, Dee 22nd. Gedgrave: Gedgrave Marshes, seven on ten dates, Nov28th to Decl8th. Boyton: Boyton Marshes RSPB, seven on 16 dates, Nov 27th to Decl9th; two. Dee 20th. 92


Systematic

List

evington: Levington Creek, two, A p r 4th.

'rimley St Martin: six, Nov 16th. ivermere Lake: two, Apr 30th.

SANDHILL C R A N E Grus canadensis iccidental. Arguably the most surprising event of the year was the arrival of Suffolk's first Sandhill rane, causing great excitement amongst the birding community and not a little onsternation amongst the more-down-to-earth residents of Boyton. It was first positively ighted and photographed flying south over Kessingland sewage works. Following a stop at Vorth Warren it was then observed by a SOG group on Orfordness flying south over udbourne Marshes, where it made a brief stop, before it finally settled down to feed on rabie land and marshes at Boyton allowing thousands of birders to enjoy it during the fternoon and over the next few days. During its stay, it went to roost on Havergate Island n October 3rd, 4th and 5th; it also put in at least one appearance at Hollesley Marshes, on )ctober 4th. The bird was last seen flying out to sea on October 7th. essingland: Sewage Works, south, 11:30am, Oct 2nd (C Darby). arth Warren: flew in from the north and landed on South Marsh for about 30 minutes, Oct 2nd (S Abbott), udbourne M a r s h e s : seen flying south f r o m O r f o r d n e s s , O c t 2nd (S B u f f e r y et al.). ayton: Boyton M a r s h e s RSPB, O c t 2nd r e m a i n i n g until Oct 7th (multi-observers), avergate Island: bird roosted, 18:55hrs, Oct 3rd, 4th and 5th (P and J Kennerley, S Abbott), ollesley: Oct 4th. (G Grieco, N Mason).

See page 38 and 179. URASIAN

OYSTERCATCHER

aematopus ostralegus 'ry common winter visitor and passage migrant, ommon resident. Amber list. The highest site count was 170 at Nacton on ctober 2nd (500 at Pin Mill in 2010). The highest land count was a repeat of last year from Livermere ake with 22 birds present on March 7th. Breeding records were received from only 12 sites ross the county (16 in 2010), of which only two ; even in 2010) were inland. There were six pairs at : insmere. Confirmed fledging was only reported >m Boyton Marshes. Orfordness had an estimated Eurasian Oystercatcher Su Gough --24 pairs, but no recorded fledging success. Maximum southward movement was 58 on August 6th at Landguard. Peak movement south at Orfordness was 28 on September 17th. WeBS counts were as follows:Jan Aide Estuary 29 Deben Estuarv 123 Orwell Estuarv 1483 Stour Estuary 900

Feb 240 218 1764 991

Mar 182 197

Apr

-

223

-

363

Aug -

346

579

Sep 16 88 782 768

Oct 40 94 861 542

Nov 70 103 603 751

Dec 26 118 1451 465

PIEDAVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta Fairly common resident, summer visitor and passage migrant on the coast. Amber list. Breeding records were received from just six sites. At Minsmere, 15 fledged from 108 n ests. On Orfordness a total of 26 pairs nested on the King's Marshes pools and a minimum 93


Suffolk Bird Report 2011 of 24 young fledged; an adult with an unusually large brood of five small chicks was seen At Boyton Marshes 11 pairs fledged 14 young. The inland records received were as below with the September records probably r e l a t i f to the same bird:Livermere Lake: June 7th; Sep 14th; Nov 15th. Timworth: Sep 18th. L a c k f o r d : M a r 29th; Sep 22nd.

Lakenheath Fen: two, Mar 23rd.

The Alde/Ore complex maintains its position as being of international importance whik the Deben, Orwell and Stour are of national importance for wintering Avocets. WeBS counts were as follows:Jan Aide Estuary Deben Estuarv Orwell Estuary Stour Estuary

810 306 83 14

Feb 1456 176 72 5

Mar 205 25 -

Apr

S ÂŽ 9

. -

-

0

Aug

v:..

0

0

Sep 123 221 59 0

Oct 494 185 61 134

Nov 804 292 64 250

Dec 1154 324 286 0

Counts of 200 and over, other than WeBS, were as follows:Blyth Estuary: 300, Mar 6th. Snape: 510, Jan 30th; 310, Mar 17th. A i d e Estuary: Stanny Point, 220, Jan 29th; L o n g R e a c h , 263, Jan 31st; 440, Feb 12th; 535, M a r 8tl Iken, 213, O c t 16th; 238, Oct 27th; 220, N o v 14th. Havergate: 2 1 5 , J a n 18th; 348, July 16th; 234, July 2 2 n d ; 212, July 23rd; 547, July 29th; 200, Au , 12th; 300, A u g l 4 t h ; 350, A u g 23rd; 500, A u g 3 I s t ; 450, Sep 4th; 357, Sep 8th; 2 0 0 , Sep 14th; 26t . Sep 15th; 350, Sep 27th; 4 0 0 Sep 29th; 288, Oct 16th; 206, N o v 16th; 273, N o v 20th.

Gedgrave Marshes: 300, Nov 29th. Boyton Marsh/Butley River: 293, Feb 13th; 347, Feb 24th; 310, Aug 28th; 300, Oct 22nd; 293, Ne 30th; 260, D e c 2nd.

S T O N E - C U R L E W Burhinus oedienemus Locally fairly common summer visitor. Amber List. There were no overwintering birds recorded for the first winter period. The first recor i was a single at Foxhole Heath on March 13th, coincidentally the same site and date as 20H . A minimum of 65 young fledged over the whole Breckland area. At Minsmere eight young fledged from seven nests. Post-breeding there was a count of 157 birds at a Breckland site on September 23rd, probably the highest site-count in the UK for 50 years. At this site two birds were presei t throughout December and into 2012. LITTLE RINGED PLOVER

Charadrius

dubius

Uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. The first arrivai was at Carlton Marshes on March 20th, with birds seen at a variety of mainly inland sites over the following fortnight. Ten birds were present at Flixton Gravel Pits on April lOth. Confirmed breeding records came from just two inland sites, with possible breeding at six other sites. The last record of the autumn was a single at Livermere Lake on September 14th. RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula Declining resident, winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Present in every month of the year. Counts over 50 in the first winter/spring period were:Breydon South Fiats: 53, Jan 5th; 70, Jan 28th; 396, May lOth; 60, May 19th; 136, May 20th.

Orfordness: 94, May 7th; 134, May 8th; 189, May 14th, 94, May 15th; 134, May 18th.

/

94


Systematic

List

Birds considered to be of race tundrae were recorded at:iinsmere: ten, Apr 17th; two, Apr 21st; eight, May 10th to 15th. inker's Marshes: 11, May 6th. Breeding was confirmed at only four sites:— ossingland-Pakefield: pair brought off one young successfully, »ingle Marshes: three breeding pairs, 'rfordness: four to six pairs with at least seven young, andguard: four pairs, unsuccessful. During the autumn/second winter period flocks over 50 were:i'eydon South Flats: 57, Oct 28th oben Estuary: Melton, 100, Aug 24th; 80+, Sep 13th oompit Lake: 70, Nov 24th ;tndguard: 62 south, Sep 17th; 90, Nov 11th WeBS data:Aide Estuary Deben Estuary Orwell Estuary Stour Estuary

Jail 0 51 87 69

Feb 35 200 39 44

Mar 14 16

Apr

Sep 10 61 12 81

Aug -

-

0 Sii -

-

-

9

0

-

193

Oct 19 77 180 22

Nov 73 41 0 72

Dec 20 83 26 68

URASIAN DOTTEREL Charadrius morinellus arce passage migrant. Amber list. There were just two sightings in 2011. ndguard: Aug 23rd (J Zantboer) vington Creek: Sep 19th to Oct 3rd (W Brame) JROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis apricaria ' >mmon winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber list. Recorded in every month of the year except June, with the highest single count of the ar being 2000 at Felixstowe Ferry on February 11 th. Counts of 300 and over were widespread:1 ••singland: Sewage Works, 379, Jan 5th. ^ dbourne Marshes: 1005, Nov 26th, 470, Dec 12th. Cedgrave Marshes: 330, Nov 29th; 450, Dec 22nd. Royton Marshes: 350, Dec 22nd. li twdsey: 1000+, Jan 25th; 300+, Nov 8th. Felixstowe Ferry: 2000, Feb 11th. I vington: 500+, Nov 23rd. Ellough: 400, Dec 2nd. Metfield: 900, Nov 8th. Hinderclay: 500, Oct 15th. Slowlangtoft: 500, Mar 21st. I ivermere Lake: 300, Nov 26th. Brettenham: 300, Mar 2nd. I ong Melford: 600, Mar 14th; 450, Apr 1st. Higham (west of Bury St Edmunds): 600, Mar 21st. Kedington: 300, Nov 15th. WeBS counts were higher than in 2010, with 6449 on the Deben Estuary in January being 'he highest. WeBS data:Jan Aide Estuary 254 Deben Estuary 6449 Orwell Estuarv 78 Stonr Estuary 0

Feb 38 1101 46 170

Mar 680 168

Apr

Aug

-

0

% -

-

-};.

1

55 95

-

170

Sep 0 94 5 691

Oct 642 415 480 60

Nov 2318 930 0 11

Dec 1001 1142 10 615

Suffolk Birds 2011 Part 1  

Volume 61

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