Page 1

SUFFOLK

BIRD

REPORT

1962 Editor W.

H.

PAYN

assisted by The Recorders H.

R . BEECROFT a n d

C. G .

D.

CURTIS

and The County Records Committee H.

E.

AXELL,

G.

B.

P. H .

T.

G.

BENSON,

F.

K.

HARTLEY a n d A . E .

COBB, F .

C.

COOK,

VINE

O N C E again acknowledgement is made to the following societies for kindly supplying information and for permission to publish records from their reports :—The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Lowestoft Field Club, the Dingle Bird Club and the Essex Bird Watching and Preservation Society. Grateful acknowledgement is also made to Eric Hosking, F.R.P.S., for permission to reproduce in this Report the photograph of the houbara bustard.

Will observers please send their 1963 records to C. G. D. Curtis, 100 Camden Road, Ipswich, by the end of February, 1964, W I T H O U T FAIL. All other correspondence in connection with the Bird Report should be sent to the Editor at Härtest Place, Bury St. Edmunds, telephone Härtest 224. Separate copies of this report, as well as back numbers, can be obtained from the Editor, price 4/-. INTRODUCTION :

T H E YEAR IN RETROSPECT

Nineteen sixty-two will long be remembered by ornithologists for the consistently cold and sunless conditions that prevailed practically throughout the year. It opened with a blizzard and it ended with one. From January to March there were frequent spells of snow and ice, while unusually severe frosts and icy winds continued until early May. The summer months were generally cold and sunless. Winter set in early, with the first snowfalls in November. More snow feil on December 26 and from then onwards, for nine weeks without a break, ice and snow gripped the land with steadily increasing rigour.


BIRD REPORT

271

As a result of the dry, cold and sunless conditions during May and June, breeding results of most insectivorous species were very poor and many observers reported broods of thrushes and blackbirds, tits, robins, wrens, swallows, hedge-sparrows and larks being found dead in the nest apparently from lack of food. It was also noted that young rooks, normally on the wing by May 9, were in at least one instance, still in the nest on June 28. Once again many of our summer migrants showed a decline in numbers, the decrease in willow-warblers, chiffchaffs, whinchats, wheatears, redstarts, nightingales, lesser whitethroats and blackcaps being particularly marked in most areas. On the other hand some of our less plentiful species did better. Stonechats again showed a slight increase in breeding numbers near the coast, the black redstart bred again—though unsuccessfully—at Lowestoft after a lapse of three years, while the numbers of the red-backed shrike were probably up on recent years. Suffolk's bearded tits and bitterns had an average season and once again extended their breeding areas. Marsh harriers bred only at Minsmere where they had a good year with nine—probably ten—young reaching the Aying stage. Again there were a number of new species to add to the county list, the most remarkable being a houbara bustard which spent some weeks in a very restricted area at Hinton, near Westleton. Other newcomers to the county were a rustic bunting and a white-rumped sandpiper. Among rarer vagrants were sooty shearwaters, a sea eagle, an alpine swift, water and tawny pipits and a Caspian tern. The autumn passage also produced three examples of the pectoral sandpiper and there were two bluethroat records. N o phalaropes, goshawks or quail were reported but an exotic note was provided by a flamingo, believed to be of the Chilian race and evidently an " escape " . First recorded on the Stour in November, 1961, it subsequently took up its quarters at Havergate Island, where it stayed from January 14 to March 15. What was probably the same bird was also reported from the Deben on July 6. A Ross' snow goose also occurred among Canada geese at Culford and Livermere in December. Two records from 1961, a little bittern and a pair of great reedwarblers, can now be made public. Although the really severe weather of the winter of 1962/63 did not set in until the early days of the New Year, no picture of the ornithological events of the year under review—which of course includes parts of two winters—would be complete without a brief reference to the snowy months of January and February, 1963, in which the temperature feil at times to as low as 37 degrees of frost.


272

BIRD REPORT

Under such conditions great numbers of redwings and wood pigeons perished while other species to suffer severely were woodcock, fieldfares, wrens, moorhens and herons. At the time of writing—early April—it is difficult to judge how severe have been the winter losses among many species, but generally the small passerines seem to have come through surprisingly well. Fair numbers of bitterns and bearded tits have survived and stonechats, long-tailed tits, kingfishers and green woodpeckers have been reported in various parts of the county. SuRVEY OF SELECTED

SPECIES

Once again information on the status in the county of certain selected species was asked for. Results are summarised below : Sparrow-hawk. Is now very largely a winter visitor and passage migrant. No nest was recorded with absolute certainty in the county though one, possibly two pairs may have bred in one area on the coast. Another pair were seen near Stowmarket in July. Otherwise all reports refer to single birds seen casually during spring, autumn and winter at Walberswick, Hinton, Minsmere, Aldeburgh and Havergate and in West Suffolk, in Breckland. Kestrel. Now found in any numbers only during the nonbreeding season, though a few breeding pairs still survive near the coast and in the Breck. It seems highly probable that our resident population will soon be reduced to vanishing point if the widespread use of mercurial seed dressings continues. Tawny Owl. Widespread and in some places, e.g., the outskirts of Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds and at Minsmere, comparatively common, even increasing. It is said to be scarce in the vicinity of Southwold and to have decreased markedly at Shotley. Numbers at Aldeburgh and Härtest are much as usual. Barn Owl. Not numerous anywhere though probably a pair or two are to be found in most parishes. Has much decreased in recent years. Little Owl. Very few records were received. Although apparently widespread this species is generally considered to be less plentiful than, say, five years ago. There were several " nil " reports from areas in East Suffolk. Lesser spotted woodpecker. Records continue to be rather sparse. Three pairs bred at Minsmere and possibly one at Brandeston and there were spring and autumn records from


BIRD REPORT

273

Kesgrave and Yoxford and in the west from Tuddenham, Herringswell and Thetford. Single birds were reported in winter from Playford, Woolverstone, Bungay, Eye and Badingham and in West Suffolk from the Lark Valley, Fornham St. Martin and Lavenham. There were no records from the Southwold and Aldeburgh areas. Woodlark. Continues to decrease. Six pairs bred at Minsmere and probably two at Blythburgh. A pair or two also bred at Walberswick, Hollesley and Staverton. Poor numbers in Breckland. Tree pipit. There have been no breeding records for some years from the agricultural areas of central and south Suffolk, due perhaps to lack of observers there. Small numbers continue to breed here and there in the coastal belt and Breckland. Lesser whitethroat. The small number of records sent in suggests a decrease. However at Minsmere at least fifteen pairs nested—a slight increase ; four or more pairs bred at Shotley. In the Southwold area numbers were down, as they were at Härtest and generally throughout West Suffolk. Here the sweeping away of high hedges and much wasteland is adversely affecting all sylviidae and phylloscopi. T h e lesser whitethroat was also recorded on various dates in spring and summer at Brandeston, Playford, Purdis Heath, Benacre and Reydon. Not noted during year round Aldeburgh. Hawfinch. There were rather more reports of this bird during the year, particularly during the hard weather. In the west about six pairs (about average) bred in their Breckland stronghold and single birds were seen at Lavenham in April and at Herringswell, Culford, Risby and the Fornhams during autumn and winter. One killed itself against a window at Bury St. Edmunds in February. A flock of eight occurred at Barrow in October. A single hawfinch was observed at Minsmere in August and two were trapped and ringed at Playford in December. Corn bunting. Numbers in coastal belt were probably much as usual but very few records were received and there is no evidence that this species is either increasing or extending its ränge. Breeding numbers at Minsmere (twelve pairs) and Shotley (four pairs) were much as usual. A flock of c. 80 wintered on a stubble field at Barrow. N.B. T h e following species have been selected for special survey during 1963 : Canada goose, magpie, collared dove, cuckoo, whinchat, lesser redpoll.


274

BIRD REPORT

MIGRATION

No very outstanding migratory movements were observed in the county during the year, apart from the spectacular hardweather " rush " that took place down the coast on New Year's Day. This coastal passage, which appears to have been on a very narrow front, has already been described in our previous report but further details have since come in. At Minsmere, in addition to two hundred bullfinches, over a thousand chaffinches, two thousand lapwings and a thousand fieldfares and redwings were noted moving down the coast during the morning ; so also were large numbers of starlings, greenfinches, goldfinches, bramblings, yellow hammers and tree sparrows. The majority of species passing over Havergate Island were " finches"—chiefly chaffinches, bramblings and twites, with about forty bullfinches and small numbers of yellow hammers. As there were no reports of this great coastal movement having been observed south of Orfordness, it must be presumed that it followed the usual pattern of coastal passage in heading out seawards towards the Kent coast instead of following the indented Essex coastline. As a result of the cold weather in March and April, most summer visitors were late in arriving, some as much as a fortnight behind their usual time. On the other hand the red-backed shrike and nightjar were a few days early. Arrival dates are given in the table at the end of this Introduction. A few days of southerly winds at the beginning of April brought the first garganeys and sand martins to the coast at Walberswick on April 4. They were followed by a small " fall " of chiffchaffs on April 16/17, with the first willow-warblers Coming through next day. Odd swallows and tree pipits, sedge warblers and redstarts were recorded here and there along the coast during the following week, but the main arrival of chats, warblers and nightingales were delayed until the onset of warmer weather between April 23-30. Ä small passage of Continental robins occurred at Minsmere during this period. It was also estimated that at the same locality at least 12,000 linnets passed south on April 20, this being the peak of a linnet passage that continued from late March to the end of May. By the first week in May, northwards passage was in fßll swing with many house-martins, sand-martins and swifts passing up the coast. Small numbers of black terns occurred at Walberswick


BIRD REPORT

275

and Minsmere between May 4-7 and the usual ruffs, whimbrels, turnstones and spotted redshanks were in evidence, though wader numbers were in general rather below average. A few spotted redshanks, black-tailed and bar-tailed godwits and grey plovers lingered on the coast until well into June and black terns were still passing through West Suffolk on June 6. The first immigrant lapwings were observed at Minsmere on June 12. The most marked feature of a rather poor autumn migration was the comparatively small number of wagtails, finches and tree sparrows coasting south. This was in contrast to 1960 and 1961. Even the coastal passage of meadow pipits was less marked than usual though 2,375 were counted moving south at Minsmere in two hours early on October 2. Visible immigration of thrushes and starlings was also on a small scale both on the coast and inland and there was little sign of the usual chaffinch immigration. A small influx of song thrushes into the Orford area took place on September 24, while easterly or north-easterly winds during the period October 9-23 brought a considerable immigration of night migrants, among which blackbirds predominated. At Lowestoft several dead redwings, fieldfares and blackbirds were washed ashore. A number of robins were also present in the area during this period ; two which were critically examined appeared to be of the British race. During the same period a small rush of goldcrests (some 30-50 daily) occurred at Minsmere. Ring ouzels were also present in some numbers at Walberswick and Minsmere and blackbird numbers remained high until the end of the month. There was a small immigration of shorelarks, hooded crows and hen harriers during the early days of November. [The foregoing is based on very fĂźll migration reports provided by F. C. Cook and E. W. C. Jenner (Lowestoft), G. B. G. Benson (Southwold), D. J. Pearson (Walberswick), H. E. Axell (Minsmere), H. Pease (Sudbourne), E. F. Crosby (Aldeburgh), M. Packard (Shotley) and C. G. D. Curtis (Ipswich).]


276

BIRD REPORT

FIRST AND LAST DATES OF SUMMER VISITORS,

Species

First seen

Locality

Chiffchaff Willow w a r b l e r Swallow

Apl. 6 Apl. 8 Apl. 10

Minsmere Thorpeness Walberswick Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere

Sedge w a r b l e r Yellow wagtail Redstart Nightingale T r e e pipit Cuckoo Grasshopper warbler House martin Whinchat Whitethroat Blackcap Lesser w h i t e t h r o a t Garden warbler T u r t l e dove Swift Reed warbler R e d - b a c k e d shrike Spotted flycatcher

Apl. 10 Apl. 11 Apl. 12 Apl. 12 Apl. 13 Apl. 16

Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere D u n wich Minsmere Minsmere

Nightjar

M a y 11

Wheatear S t o n e curlew Sand martin

M a r . 23 1 Apl. 4 Apl.

Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. May May May

16 17 17 21 21 22 22 23 27 1 1

7

Minsmere Aldeburgh Aldeburgh Minsmere Witnesham Walberswick Minsmere Shotley Southwold Lowestoft Minsmere Walberswick Minsmere Minsmere

Last seen

l

Locality

Oct.

18

Havergate

Oct.

7

Minsmere

R

Oct. Sept. /Nov. \ Nov. Oct. Oct. Oct. Aug.

15 29 15 16 14 2 7 20

Sept. 30 Oct. Nov. Oct. Oct. Oct. Sept. Sept. Oct. Sept. Oct. Sept. \ Sept. R

1962

2 16 4 5 11 22 27 9 27 8 6 29

Sept. 14

Minsmere Walberswick Orford Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Benacre Minsmere Minsmere Havergate Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Shotley Walberswick Walberswick Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere

SYSTEMATIC L I S T

Numbers refer to the B.O.U. Check List (1952). 1. Black-throated Diver.—Single birds at Oulton Broad, Jan. 15 to 28 (RSB), Benacre, Jan 28 (RWC), Henham for several days from Mar. 15 (GBGB), Minsmere, Jan. 7 and Oct. 24 (HEA) and Walberswick, Dec. 8 (DB). Dead birds at Havergate, Jan. 15 (RSPB) and Lowestoft, Jan. 16 (FCC). 2. Great Northern Diver.—Minsmere, single birds Aying north above cliffs Dec. 2 (GAP) and over dunes Dec. 19 (HEA). Havergate, one Nov. 16 and 27 (RSPB). 3. Red-throated Diver.—In Jan. and Feb. irregulär and generally small numbers offshore between Benacre and Minsmere, but c. 70 at Dunwich Jan. 5 (DJP) and northwards passage noted Minsmere on morning of Jan 25 with some 95 birds passing in hour and half with thirteen others resting on sea. On Jan. 27


BIRD

III

REPORT

eighty in small groups on calm sea (HEA, HD) thirteen off Walberswick, Mar. 6 (JELP). Thirty-five at Benacre, Mar. 16 (JB). Single birds at Havergate on a number of dates in Jan. / Feb. (RSPB). One Freston, Feb. 4 (CGDC). Small numbers Sept. to Dec. at Walberswick, Minsmere, Havergate. Twenty to thirty at Dunwich, Dec. 16 (JB). 5. Great Crested Grebe.—One to three offshore Benacre/ Dunwich, Jan., and five Minsmere, Nov. 27 (DJP). Minsmere : one pair made two unsuccessful breeding attempts and were not seen after June 16. Singles at sea Sept. 5, Oct. 15 and 19 (HEA). Havergate, singles Jan./Apl. Two Nov. 23, one in Dec. (RSPB). Probably no breeding took place on Holbrook Lake (WHR). One on R. Stour at Sudbury in Feb. (MM). 6. Red-necked Grebe.—All records were from Minsmere, viz. Singles Apl. 23 (HEA, RGHC, PJM), May 20 (HEA) and two Nov. 27 (DJP). 7. Slavonian Grebe.—Singles Minsmere, Feb. 17 to 21 and Mar. 11 (HEA). 9. Little Grebe.—Breeding numbers at Minsmere were down from twelve pairs to three, probably due to destruction of nests by coypus (HEA). Elsewhere numbers were generally maintained. C. thirty at Benacre Pits, Sept. 25 (JELP). 12. Leach's Petrel.—An marshes, Dec. 25 (EFC).

exhausted

bird

on

Thorpeness

16. Manx Shearwater.—Single birds at Havergate, July 6 (RSPB) and Minsmere, Aug. 23 (RB). 21. Sooty Shearwater.—Single birds Aying south quarter of a mile off-shore at Minsmere on Oct. 4 and 12 (HEA, JMA, Jff). 26. Fulmar.—Numerous corpses washed up on beaches between Yarmouth and Bawdsey during period Feb. 22 to Mar. 11 (many observers). One to three at sea off Minsmere on nineteen occasions between Apl. 18 and end Aug. (but none in July). One Sept. 5 and four on 12 (HEA). 27. Gannet.—Single birds off Minsmere, June 29, Aug. 21 /22 and three Aug. 20 (HEA, MD). Three Aug. 21 (DS). An im. Havergate, Nov. 2 (RSPB). Singles Walberswick, Sept 27 (RGG) and Dec. 2 (GAP).


278

BIRD REPORT

29. Shag.—A considerable " wreck " took place during March when following were recorded, at least twenty Ipswich docks (FKC), eight/nine R. Orwell (CGDC, WHR), one alive and two dead Bury St. Edmunds (WHP), one Helmingham (T), one Waveney Dock, Lowestoft, Apl. 20 and July 28 (FCC), two off Minsmere, Apl. 9 (HEA) and one Iken, May 12 (RVAM, MSJS). 38. Bittern.—Breeding numbers on coast seemed about average, with one former site recolonised. At Minsmere one seen Aying north three-quarters of a mile off-shore Apl. 7 (HEA). An inland record from Lackford, Jan. 26 (CSL). 42. Spoonbill.—Fewer records than usual. Single birds at Blythburgh, July 13 (FAC) and Minsmere, July 31, Aug. 22 to 24, Sept. 25 (HEA). 45. Mallard.—About 300 together Tuddenham, West Suffolk, Oct. 14 (CAEK). Abroodof newly-hatched young at Cavendish, Nov. 8 (WHP). 47. Garganey.—One, perhaps two pairs bred at Minsmere, where first seen Apl. 10 (HEA). Passage birds at Walberswick, Apl. 4 (DJP), Apl. 26 (RLR, AJG) and Aug. 5 (DJP), two at Havergate, Apl. 17 and one July 30 to 31 (RSPB), two at Butley, Apl. 29 (CGDC). 50. Wigeon.—Maximum numbers at Havergate were 6,000 in Jan. and 10,000 in Dec. (RSPB). 52. Pintail.—Numbers on coast about average with maximum two hundred at Havergate in Dec. (RSPB). 55. Scaup.—Only small numbers reported during year from Oulton Broad in Jan. (FCC), R. Orwell, Jan. 4 to 21 (MP), Minsmere, Mar. 6, Apl. 24 and May 16 (HEA), Benacre, Dec. 2 (DJP) and Havergate, Dec. 31 (RSPB). 57. Pochard.—Sixteen on Drinkstone Lake, Mar. 24 (ALB), one on Holbrook Lake, Oct. 7 (WHR). Usual numbers on coast and in North-West Suffolk. 60. Golden-eye.—Fair numbers during cold weather in both winters. Up to twenty at Benacre in Jan., eight on Mar. 4 and four on Apl. 19 (GBGB, DJP). Small numbers (maximum three) at Minsmere, Jan. to Apl. and Nov. to Dec. (HEA) and Havergate (RSPB). About twelve on R. Orwell, Jan 17 (CGDC). One in West Suffolk at Tuddenham, Feb. 4 (CAEK).


BIRD REPORT

279

61. Long-tailed Duck.—Two females frequented Benacre Pits from early Jan. to Apl. 19 (many observers). Two Aying south off Aldeburgh, Jan. 20 (EFC), a juvenile at Minsmere, Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 (HEA, PJM). 62. Velvet Scoter.—One offshore at Minsmere, Oct. 11 (HEA), eight at Walberswick, Oct. 30 (JG, JN) and two there, Nov. 4 (DJP). Thirty-three Aying south off Felixstowe, Nov. 5 (WHP) and four on shore pools, Shingle Street, Dec. 23 (GD). 64. Common Scoter.—Summering Aocks were c. 1,000 Walberswick, end July (DJP) and 200 Minsmere at same period (HEA). About 150 off Benacre, Nov. 5 (GBGB). 67. Eider.—No over-summering Aocks reported. Small numbers (maximum twelve) on R. Orwell, Jan. 14 to Mar. 4 (MP). Single birds at Havergate, Mar. 1 and through Apl. and May, Sept. 27, Oct. 28, Dec. 24 (RSPB). Ten at Walberswick, Sept, 24 (DJP) and one Southwold, Sept. 29 (GBGB). Up to thirteen in Lowestoft harbour and coast, Dec. 2 to 29 (BJB, FCC, EWCJ, DJP). One at Minsmere, Sept. 29 and up to four, Nov. 4 to Dec. 2 (HEA). 69. Red-breasted Merganser.—A most unusual record is of a Aock offshore at Walberswick, June 4 (RDE). 70. Goosander.—Two at Oulton Broad, Jan. 6 (FCC). Singles at Minsmere, Jan. 18, Mar. 28 and Sept. 20 with up tofourthere during Dec. (HEA). One or two at Benacre and Walberswick in Jan. and Dec. (DJP). 71. Smew.—Up to three at Benacre, Jan. 2 to 10 and four on sea off Walberswick, Dec. 1, all being females (DJP). At Minsmere up to three from Jan. to early Mar., with four there in Dec. (HEA). 75. Greylag Goose.—Two at Havergate, Jan. 2 and one Jan. 4 to 5 (RSPB) and one at Minsmere, Mar. 4 and Apl. 18 to 19 (HEA, DJP) are only records. 76. White-fronted Goose.—Largest Aock was twenty-one at Havergate, Jan. 4 to 11. There was also a single bird there on Mar. 3 (RSPB). Other records were, one at Minsmere, Feb. 11 and two at Benacre, Dec. 12 (DJP), nine Aying south off Minsmere, Nov. 11 (HEA) and one or two Aldeburgh, Mar. 30 to 31 (EFC). 78. Bean Goose.—Single birds at Minsmere, Jan. 5 (HEA) and Eastbridge, Mar. 22 (DW, MW).


280

BIRD REPORT

78. Pink-footed Goose.—Fifteen on Burgh marshes, Jan. 9 (FCC). One at Minsmere, Jan. 4 to 14, nine Mar. 4, seventeen Nov. 6 and two Nov. 7 (HEA). One at Havergate, Mar. 13 and between six and twenty-four on three dates in Dec. (RSPB). 80. Brent Goose.—One in Waveney Dock, Lowestoft, Mar. 11 (FCC). Odd birds at Minsmere and Havergate in Jan. with forty-five at latter on Mar. 15 and one Apl. 18 to 30, up to twentytwo in Dec. (RSPB). A number of flocks passing south from early Nov. to year's end off Walberswick and Minsmere (HEA, DJP). Usual winter flocks on R. Orwell (maximum 210) between Jan. 7 to Mar. 11 (CGDC, MP) and R. Stour where maximum 450 present, Feb. 11 (EBWPS). 82. Canada Goose.—At present reports of this species are only received piecemeal. It is obviously very wide-spread and increasing and füll details of breeding /transient numbers are asked for for 1963. Wild or semi-wild status should be specified. 85. Whooper Swan.—A herd of thirty-two in from sea at Aldeburgh, Jan. 1 (EFC). Otherwise only small numbers noted at Minsmere (maximum eleven) and Havergate during early and late months of year. Last record Apl. 4 (Minsmere) and first in autumn one on Orfordness, Aug. 21 (RSPB)—the latter an exceptionally early record. 86. Bewick's Swan.—Two main herds were present on coast during Jan. to Mar., at Minsmere with maximum 48 in mid-Jan. (HEA, DJP) and at Havergate with maximum 61 in Jan. (RSPB). Peak numbers in autumn were forty-one at Minsmere, Nov. 28 (HEA) and seventeen at Havergate, Dec. 17 (RSPB). Single birds lingered tili Apl. 3 at Havergate and Apl. 8 at Minsmere. First autumn bird at Minsmere, Oct. 13. 91. Buzzard.—Single birds reported at Thorington, Jan. 2, Walberswick, Mar. 3 and Sept. 15, with three there Sept. 18 (DJP), also singles at Minsmere, Sept. 14 and Dec. 2 to 4 (HEA). One " probable " Combs in autumn (JCR). 92. Rough-legged Buzzard.—One at Minsmere, Apl. 22 (HEA) one Corton area, Oct. 27 to Nov. 4. This bird was seen to capture and eat a domestic pigeon (FCC, EWCJ). There were also a number of records, all possibly referring to the same bird, from the Walberswick /Westleton /Minsmere area between Oct. 29 and year's end. 93.

Sparrow Hawk.—(see Introduction).

97.

Sea Eagle.—An immature at Havergate, Feb. 14 (RSPB).


BIRD REPORT

281

99. Marsh Harrier.—Two and a half pairs (three females) bred at Minsmere, raising nine—very probably ten—young (HEA). A pair were present on North Warren in Apl. but no breeding was proved (EFC). Many casual records from coast during spring, auturnn and winter with up to five at Walberswick in Jan. and evidence of immigration in Sept. when a harrier was seen to come in off the sea on Sept. 19 (DJP). 100. Hen Harrier.—Usual coastal records between Jan. and Apl. with late birds at Minsmere, May 3, 18 and 19 (HEA). Above average numbers reported mid-Nov. to end of year, including six " ringtails " at Walberswick, Nov. 25 (DJP) and up to three males at Havergate during that month. A female or immature at Framsden, Dec. 1 (T). 102. Montagu's Harrier.—One in Breckland, May 11 (CG), a female at Minsmere, June 6 and a pair June 10 to 22. One, Aug. 10 (HEA). On Easton Broad, June 14 (ALB). 104. Hobby.—Single birds at Minsmere, May 7 and June 11 (HEA) and Walberswick, May 12 (RVAM, M S J S ) and June 6 (DJP). 105. Peregrine.—Only records are of single birds at Walberswick on Mar. 4, Apl. 20 and Sept. 21 (DJP). 110.

Kestrel.—(see

Introduction).

120. Water Rail.—A curious record is of one found trapped behind a water-pipe in a house at Southwold, Mar. 26 (BAC). 125. Corncrake.—One in a lucerne field at Shotley, Sept. 15 (MP) and one killed by a car on Westleton Heath, Oct. 14 (HEA, MSVO). 130. Houbara Bustard.—One of the most remarkable events of the year was the occurrence near Westleton of a houbara bustard, this being the first known record of the species in Britain during the present Century. It was first seen by a farmer at Hinton, on Nov. 21. P. Muttitt saw it there on Nov. 25 and reported its presence to members of the Dingle Bird Club who identified it as a houbara bustard. During the next month it was watched by a large number of ornithologists from all Over the country.


282

BIRD

REPORT

Not greatly concerned by all this attention, it spent much of its time feeding or resting in a small mustard field or making occasional journeys on foot or on the wing to adjoining stubble and barley fields. It would also remain immobile for long periods at a time. Düring its pedestrian journeys from one field to the next it frequently made use of the road, passing in the process within a few yards of cars füll of interested spectators. It was seen to eat leaves of mustard and blades of com and also to pick up small unidentified objects—grain, peas, snails ? And it was once seen, at very close quarters, to eat an earth-worm. On some occasions it would allow a very close approach, squatting until the observer had come to within a few paces ; on others it was shy and took wing immediately. When crouching with neck partially or completely withdrawn into its shoulders but not pressed close to the ground as with a stone curlew, it was remarkably inconspicuous for so large a bird and in tall stubble was almost invisible. When mobbed by a crow it erected its head and neck feathers bittern-fashion and repeatedly snapped upwards with its bill. It flew strongly with measured deliberate wing-beats, the striking black and white pattern on primaries and secondaries being most conspicuous. As the amount of black and white on the head and neck-ruff was restricted, it was probably an immature bird. It was last seen, just before the onset of blizzard conditions, on Dec. 29. 134. Ringed Plover.—A nest with eggs at Bury B.F. Ponds, July 28 (CAEK). Between eight to twelve examples of the Arctic race tundrae were recorded at Minsmere, Sept. 2 to 16 (HEA). 135. Little Ringed Plover.—One displaying at old breeding site, Apl. 19 to 27 but no evidence of nesting (GBGB). Two at Bury B.F. Ponds, June 11 (CAEK). Reports of up to three birds at a number of coastal localities between Apl. 22 to June 11 and July 30 to Sept. 8 (HEA, RSPB, DJP, RW). 136. Kentish Plover.—One at Havergate, Apl. 22 and June 1 (RSPB), two then one at Walberswick, Apl. 26 to 28 (AJG, GJJ, RLR), one at Minsmere, July 22, Aug. 26 to 27 (HEA et al). 140. Golden Plover.—Smaller numbers than usual were present inland, with very few after mid-Nov. One of the northern race at Minsmere, May 19 to 29 (HEA).


BIRD REPORT

283

151. Whimbrel.—A big spring passage from Apl. 18 to May 28, with peak numbers during first fortnight in May, when c. 100 present (May 14) on Havergate Island (RSPB). Smaller numbers at Walberswick, Reydon and Minsmere. A late bird at Walberswick, June 11 (MS). Autumn passage noted between July 7, Reydon (RVAM, MSJS) and Oct. 22, Freston (RDE). A big movement at Aldeburgh, Aug. 30 (EFC). Exceptional winter records were single birds at Havergate, Nov. 4 and Dec. 1 (RSPB). 154. Black-tailed Godwit.—Numbers generally were about average, though Minsmere reported a poor year for this species. First recorded on R. Blyth on Jan. 28 when c. thirty present, numbers rose to maximum 300 between Feb. 11 and Mar. 7 (GBGB, DJP). At Havergate up to ten were present throughout most of June. A peak of 134 reached there Aug. 8 (RSPB). About twenty on R. Deben, Nov. 18 (CGDC). 155. Bar-tailed Godwit.—Winter records were, one at Minsmere, Jan. 11 (HEA), one at Easton, Dec. 23 (GBGB). Main spring passage, with about average numbers between Apl. 15 and May 24, with exceptional numbers on Breydon where 116 were present on Apl. 29 (RHH). Three at Minsmere, June 24 (HEA). A very thin autumn passage between July 26 and Nov. 10. An interesting inland record is of c. 120, east-north-east at Risby at 19.30 hours, Apl. 29 (CAEK). 156. Green Sandpiper.—Numerous records from coastal belt between Apl. 10 and May 2 and from July 7 to Oct. 24 (many observers). Recorded at Playford in every month except May and June (CGDC, WHR). Very few in inland Suffolk during autumn and winter (WHP). 157. Wood Sandpiper.—The only spring records were single birds at Minsmere, May 9 and June 4 (HEA) and six at Walberswick, June 26 (DJP). Autumn passage, July 11 to Oct. 6 with one to three Reydon/Walberswick, up to ten Minsmere (Aug. 15 to 29) and up to six at Havergate (July 27). 162. Spotted Redshank.—Recorded in every month of the year and present at Minsmere daily between July 11 and Nov. 11 with peak numbers of forty-five to fifty, Aug. 20 to 22 (HEA). Small and irregulär numbers at Reydon, Walberswick, Blyth Estuary, Minsmere and Havergate between Nov. and Mar. with only small numbers in Dec. (HEA, GBGB, RSPB, DJP).


284

BIRD REPORT

165. Greenshank.—Spring passage was late, withfirstbird noted at Minsmere, Apl. 22 and numbers generally were much below average. Return passage from July 5 to Oct. 29. Largest numbers werefiveto ten daily at Minsmere, between5 Aug 7 and Sept. 2 (HEA).

169. Knot.—About twenty on R. Orwell, Feb. 4 (CGDC). At Havergate a few almost daily Jan. to June, occasional June-midJuly, then almost daily until end of year withflocksof up to sixty (RSPB). Small parties (maximum six) at Minsmere between Mar. 3 and Apl. 1 Three, June 23, one June 24 with autumn passage from July 5 to end Sept. with one or two occasionally in Oct. and fifty-two south on Nov. 5 (HEA).

170. Purple Sandpiper.—Single birds at Walberswick, Aug 30 RB) and Sept. 6 to 10 (GJJ, DJP). Two at Lowestoft, Nov. 20 (EWCJ), one Dec. 8 (FCC) and three there Dec. 29 (BJB, RSB ll

\\r ,Fttle Stint.—Spring passage from Apl. 25, when one seen at Walberswick (AJG, RLR) to June 10 when two present at Buss Creek (GBGB). Main passage at Havergate, May 14 to 28 with average two to four. Autumn passage here was from July 19 to Nov. 13 with peak of eighteen on Oct. 1 ß (RSPB). At Minsmere first noted July 29 with peak numbers (fourteen tofifteen)between Aug. 2 /5 (HEA). Walberswick, Aug. 26 to Oct. 21 with maximum of seven (DJP, ADR). 173. Temminck's Stint.—The only record was one at Minsmere May 9/10 (EMB, HEA). I75' White-rumped Sandpiper.—This bird wasfirstseen on Aug. 20 at Minsmere where it remained for two days. It then apparently moved to Walberswick where on the night of Aug. 25 it was netted, examined, ringed and released. It then returned to Minsmere where it remained until Sept. 7. New to the county (many observers). 176. Pectoral Sandpiper.—Three examples occurred during Minsmere, July 27 (HEA, PJM), Easton Broad, Aug. 23 (GBGB) and Aldeburgh, Sept. 27 (EFC). I79-, C^lew Sandpiper.—Two spring records, May 7, Buss Creek (GBGB) and May 25, Havergate (RSPB). A small autumn passage between July 16 and Sept. 27 at Walberswick, Minsmere and Havergate with maximum of twelve birds at latter place One late bird at Reydon, Oct. 6 (GBGB).


BIRD REPORT

285

181. Sanderling.—There was the usual small spring passage between Apl. 10 and June 17 with return migration from July 15 to end Oct. Wintering numbers were very small, single birds only being reported from Walberswick in Feb. (GBGB, DJP) and Minsmere in Dec. 184. Ruff.—There were no winter records. First arrivals were two at Minsmere on Mar. 14, then generally small numbers (maximum thirteen) there until Apl. 28, with one or two until May 16 (HEA). One at Havergate, Apl. 12 (RSPB) and one at Walberswick, Apl. 17/18 (DJP). Autumn passage at usual localities between July 12 and Sept. 22 (many observers) with greatest numbers (twenty-four) at Havergate between Sept. 12 to 21 (RSPB). 185. Avocet.—Seventy-seven pairs bred at Havergate, but only about twenty-five young reached Aying stage. First bird arrived on Jan. 23. Main arrival Mar. 18 and last birds left Nov. 10 (RSPB). One was found shot at Walberswick, Jan. 1 (GBGB) and one or two occurred there Apl. 11 to 22 (AJG, RLR). Twelve at Reydon, Apl. 22 (EMB). Odd birds visited Minsmere on Apl. 19 and between July 1 to 14 (HEA). Fourteen seen at Iken, July 21 (RVAM, MSJS). 189. Stone Curlew.—Only one pair occurred at Minsmere and they failed to breed owing to disturbance by bird watchers (HEA). One heard north of Easton Broad at dusk June 12 (ALB). One to four noted on Havergate or Orfordness on Apl. 26/28, June 18/23, Aug. 11/13, with one at Havergate on Oct. 6 (RSPB). Very little information available from Breckland but numbers probably about average (WHP). 193. Arctic Skua.—Once again there were no spring records with first bird at Havergate, June 16 and three at Minsmere, June 25. One or two occurrences at Walberswick, Minsmere and Havergate from July 8 to Sept. 19 (HEA, RSPB, DJP, ADR). Five at Minsmere, Aug. 19 (HEA) and a late bird on Easton beach, Nov. 4 (GBGB). 194. Great Skua.—One at Havergate between Sept. 27 and Oct. 2 (RSPB) is the only record. 207. Little Gull.—There were a number of records of single birds during the period Apl. 22 to Dec. 2, mainly from Havergate and Minsmere. Two visited Buss Creek, June 18-23 and there were two juveniles at Minsmere on Aug. 30 (many observers).


286

BIRD REPORT

211. Kittiwake.—A considerable number of records covering all months except December (many observers). T h e breeding colony on South Pier, Lowestoft, contained thirteen nesting pairs on June 4, but once again many nests and young met with disaster due to the weather and the inadequacy of the nesting-ledge. It is probable that no more than three young reached Aying stage (EWCJ). 212. Black Tern.—Spring passage extended between May 4 and June 11 on coast and inland but no great numbers were reported. Maximum being six at Livermere, June 6 (WHP). Small numbers again in autumn between July 10 and Sept. 22 (many observers). A flock of sixteen at Minsmere, Sept. 3 (HEA) and a very late bird at Havergate, Nov. 6 (RJP). 216. Caspian Tern.—One at Minsmere, June 6 (HEA, P J M et al). 217. C o m m o n Tern.—First arrival, Apl. 13. Breeding colonies at Buss Creek c. thirty-five pairs and sitting, June 1 (GBGB). Walberswick c. six pairs (DJP). Minsmere two pairs bred for first time on artificial island (HEA). Inland one at Livermere, June 23 (RVAM, M S J S ) and two on R. Stour at Sudbury, July 3 (MM). 218. Arctic Tern.—-Small numbers at Minsmere and Havergate between June 24 and Sept. 23. 219. Roseate Tern.—There were more records than all from Minsmere or Havergate, viz. Minsmere, five June 24, one July 12 and 17, two July 18 and Aug. 26 (HEA). gate, one July 10, 14 and 16, and two July 11. One Aug. daily between Aug. 27 to 31 (RSPB).

usual, 21 and Haver10 and

223. Sandwich Tern.—-Havergate colony reached c. 800 breeding pairs—the highest since colony established in 1951. First bird arrived March 28. Last departed Oct. 14 (RSPB). Havergate birds observed fishing as far north as Minsmere and Benacre. 224.

Razorbill.—One at Walberswick, Oct. 30 ( J G , JN).

226. Little Auk.—Four at Dunwich, Dec. 16 (JB) and one at Aldeburgh, Dec. 25 (HP). 227. Guillemot.—Single birds at Minsmere, Mar. 4 to Apl. 15 and again between Aug. 13 and year's end (HEA). One at Felixstowe Ferry, Nov. 25 (PCS). More than twenty off Dunwich, Dec. 16 (JB). Many oiled corpses washed up during autumn and winter.


BIRD

287

REPORT

Collared Dove.—Continues to spread and increase along coast but there is very little evidence that it is spreading inland. At least ten pairs are thought to have bred at Gt. Yarmouth (RHH) and twenty-eight were seen in a flock at Pakefield, Oct. 28 to Nov. 3 (BJB). Probably bred Corton and definitely at Lowestoft—at least two pairs (EWCJ). Also at Aldeburgh where six young seen in July (EMB, EFC) and at least one pair in Ipswich (Lady Mears). Probably bred as usual at Lakenheath (WHP). Nonbreeding records were, Gt. Glemham, May 4 (C), Minsmere, May 23, 29 and June 9 (HEA), Ixworth, May (per WHP). 237. Cuckoo.—At Minsmere breeding population much above average with an estimate of thirty-five birds on May 30, but some of latter were probably still on passage (HEA). Elsewhere a continued decrease is reported both as summer visitor and passage migrant. None heard during summer at Beccles (GBGB) and very scarce indeed now in South-West Suffolk (WHP). 241.

Barn Owl.—(see

Introduction).

246.

Little Owl.—(see Introductioti).

247.

Tawny Owl.—(see

Introduction).

249. Short-eared Owl.—Very few records were received, indicating perhaps a poor immigration. Three pairs bred at Havergate (RSPB). 252. Nightjar.—About sixteen pairs bred at Westleton /Blythburgh area (DJP) and about twenty pairs at Minsmere (HEA). Three pairs at Purdis Heath, May 24 (WHR). Breckland numbers generally low (several observers). 256.

Alpine Swift.—One at Minsmere, July 12 (PJM).

261. Hoopoe.—One at Helmingham for a few days in Apl. (T), one found injured at Westleton, Aug. 15 (HEA, MSVO). One at Orfordness, two or three days about June 1 (per RJP). 264.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.—(see

Introduction).

265. Wryneck.—There was one record only, a single bird at Minsmere, Apl. 22 (HEA). This is a startling decrease compared with say, 1956, when eight to ten pairs probably bred in Suffolk. 271.

Wood Lark.—(see

Introduction).


288

BIRD REPORT

273. Shore Lark.—Higher numbers than usual were reported in both winters. At Havergate, seven were present on Jan. 2 (RSPB). In autumn first noted—a single bird—at Lowestoft on Oct. 12 (FCC). One at Minsmere, Oct. 21 (GH) and four there Nov. 2 (HEA, PJM). One to nine reported by many observers from Walberswick between Oct. 27 and Dec. 2. 281. Hooded Crow.—Small numbers on coast Jan. to Mar. and again Oct. to Dec. (many observers). Highest numbers were seven at Havergate (RSPB) and Benacre (DJP) in Dec. Two summer records were at Havergate, June 2 and Minsmere, June 10 to July 4 when bird was shot by keeper (HEA). Two at Freston, Oct. 22 (RDE). 295. Bearded Tit.—Unusually high numbers were present during the winter of 1961 /62 in the Waveney Valley from 9t. Olaves seawards (EWCJ) and at Minsmere, where up to 250 seen during Jan. But breeding here was late (c. forty pairs) and not very successful and there were no third broods. Eruptive flights were noted from Sept. 24 to end of year (HEA). Large numbers for time of year were also present in early April at Walberswick where fifty+ pairs bred, and there was probably a population of 500 during Sept. Eruptive behaviour began suddenly on Sept. 19 and continued into Oct. with flocks of up to 100 seen together (DJP). Fair to good numbers at other localities in spring and autumn (many observers). In West Suffolk two at Tuddenham Fen, Oct. 14 (CAEK). 302. Fieldfare.—A very early bird caught at Aldeburgh, Aug. 15 (EFC). 307. Ring Ouzel.—Above average numbers recorded in both spring and autumn. Spring records were : singles at Sizewell, Apl. 7 to 12 (DJP), Minsmere, Apl. 17 (HEA), Benacre, Apl. 19 (GBGB, DJP), Aldeburgh, Apl. 19 and May 4 (EFC). In autumn, at least three at Walberswick, Sept. 19 (DJP), up to ten in Walberswick area, Oct. 10/12 (PM per DJP), one at Minsmere, Oct. 10 and c. ten Oct. 12 to 14 (HEA). 317. Stonechat.—At least nine pairs and probably more, bred along the coastal belt (HEA, GBGB, DJP, WHP). Single birds or pairs were also present in spring, autumn or winter at Southwold (GBGB), Benacre (BAC), Aldeburgh (EFC) and Shingle Street (WHR).


B I R D REPORT

289

321. Black Redstart.—A pair bred unsuccessfully at Lowestoft (H. E. Jenner, per EWCJ). Two at Minsmere, Apl. 18 to 20 (HEA, D J P ) and one there May 21 (HEA). A male at Dunwich (DJ) and a female at Witnesham (HRB) on May 1. A female at Easton Broad, June 12 (ALB) and one at Havergate, Sept. 20 (RSPB). 322. N i g h t i n g a l e . — A further decrease noted in most areas. At Minsmere c. forty-five pairs bred but few fledged young were seen. Most local birds appeared to depart about July 18 (HEA). 324. Bluethroat.—A male of the red-spotted form was seen and heard singing in a garden at Aldeburgh, May 5 (EFC). A late bird was also reported on Orfordness, Nov. 8 (per RJP). 325. Robin.—There was a small autumn passage on coast between Sept. 6 and early Oct. U p to four examples of the Continental form were identified at Minsmere between Apl. 17 and 24, with one there also on Oct. 10 (HEA). 343. B l a c k c a p . — A pair overwintered in a garden at Lowestoft. Seen by a number of observers between mid-Dec. to mid-Mar. (FCC). 348.

L e s s e r Whitethroat.—(see

Introduction).

365. Firecrest.—One at Walberswick, Apl. 21 to 22 (AJG, RLR). Singles at Minsmere, Apl. 21, Sept. 26 to 30, Oct. 27 to 28 and Nov. 16 with two on Sept. 27 (HEA). One at Lowestoft, Oct. 24 (BJB). 368. P i e d Flycatcher.—There were only two spring records— one at Herringfleet, Apl. 23 (EWCJ) and one at Minsmere, May 15 (HEA). Rather a poor autumn passage on coast between Äug. 14 and Oct. 9, with ten to twelve maximum numbers (many observers). One at Knodishall, Oct. 5 (EV). 371. H e d g e Sparrow.—About ten were noted at Minsmere during hard weather movement on morning of Jan. 1. Small numbers also seen along shore, Sept. 22 to 24 (HEA). 373. M e a d o w Pipit.—A nest which still contained young at Blythburgh, Sept. 2 ( G B G B ) . 375.

T a w n y Pipit.—One at Walberswick, Sept. 7 (HB).

376.

T r e e Pipit.—(see

Introduction).


BIRD REPORT

290

379. W a t e r Pipit.—One at Minsmere daily between Oct. 30 and Nov. 4 and on Dec. 6 and 9 (HEA). 380. White Wagtail.—One to three at Minsmere on most days between Apl. 5 and May 5 (HEA). One at Walberswick, May 9 (DJP). 382 Blue-headed Wagtail.—Single birds at Minsmere, Apl. 19 to 20 and May 12 to 14 (HEA). 383. Waxwing.—Single birds at Ipswich, Jan .1 ( C G D C ) and at Oulton Broad, Jan. 2 ( K L ) , two at Lowestoft, Mar. 24 (EWCJ). At Aldeburgh a party of twelve flew in from the sea at dusk, Nov. 2. Later up to seven feeding on pyracantha berries in gardens during Nov. and early Dec. ( E F C ) . 384. Great Grey Shrike.—Single birds at, Westleton, Blythburgh and Haddiscoe between Jan. 10 and Mar. 30 (many observers). Minsmere, Oct. 16 to 30, Nov. 13 to 18 and irregularly throughout winter (HEA), Blythburgh, Nov. 23 to 25 ( P M ) and Walberswick, Dec. 16 (DJP). In West Suffolk one at Tuddenham, Oct. 28 ( C A E K ) and one trapped Newton, Dec. 4 ( M M , WHP). 388. R e d - b a c k e d Shrike.—Breeding numbers of this species seem to be well maintained wherever wasteland is still to be found but from the agricultural areas of central and south west Suffolk it has almost disappeared. At least thirty-five pairs bred in four localities on coast (HEA, E F C , D J P , WHP). Twelve to twenty pairs known on Breck ( L R F ) . 391.

Hawfinch.—(see

Introduction).

394 Siskin.—Numbers generally were high in both coastal belt and north west Suffolk during Jan. to Apl. and Oct. to Dec Flocks of up to forty were reported (many observers) with one ol c. 300 at Dunwich, Apl. 27 ( J E L P ) . A few birds seen Minsmere early summer, with one there on June 16 (HEA) and a juvenile trapped at Blythburgh Fen, Aug. 5 ( D J P ) may indicate local breeding. 397. M e a l y Redpoll.—At least fourteen in a mixed flock with lesser redpolls at Minsmere from Feb. to mid Apl. (HEA). Three seen inland with linnets on Apl. 21 (HEA, GH, P J M ) . Two Aying south at Walberswick, Apl. 11 (DJP). 398 A r c t i c Redpoll.—A small party of six, with one lesser redpoll, on Bungay Common, Mar. 9, which from their large size, greyish head and mantle, pale underparts and pure white rump, could only have been one of the races of the Arctic redpoll ( W H f ) .


BIRD REPORT

291

401. Bullfinch.—Further increases reported in some areas, e.g., Aldeburgh (EFC), but in West Suffolk numbers showed a marked decrease except in fruit orchards. A possible example of the northern race at Lowestoft, Jan. 6 (RWC). 404. Crossbill.—Immigrant crossbills were in evidence in the county from early June to end of year. Numbers reported were, flocks of up to thirty in Beiton /Herringfleet /Lound area between July 1 and Nov. 5 (RWC, RHH, EWCJ et al), Walberswick up to eight in Aug. to Dec. (RGB, DJP), Westleton, thirty in June and parties of eighteen, twelve and seven in July to Aug. (EMB, MSVO) Minsmere, twenty on June 27 and small numbers to mid-Aug., then again small parties from Sept. 22 to year's end. Two Aying south along shore, Oct. 18 (HEA). Aldeburgh flocks up to eight in Oct. and to twenty in Nov. (EFC). In Breckland good numbers reported several localities from June to year's end (LRF, CAEK). Several Risby throughout winter including c. thirty on Nov. 4 (WHP). 410.

Corn Bunting.—(see Introductiori).

413. Red-headed Bunting.—There were two records viz. Lakenheath, Apl. 13 (JBC) and Walberswick, May 29 (JMJ). All examples of this species are of course suspect as possible " escapes ". 419. Rustic Bunting. A female was trapped and ringed at Minsmere, Oct. 24 (many observers). This is a new species for the county. 422. Lapland Bunting.—One at Buss Creek, Sept 10 (DJP), one at Minsmere most days Sept, 16 to Nov. 12 with two on Nov. 21 (HEA). Flock of nine, North Warren, Aldeburgh, Dec. 2 (EFC). ADDENDA 1961

37. Little Bittern.—One at Thorpeness, May 13 (GD). Bird rose practically at observer's feet and flew a short distance before dropping again into reedbed. 332. Great Reed Warbier.—A pair were present for nearly two months during the summer in a reedbed near Aldeburgh. The male, first heard singing on May 18 was joined on June 18 by a second bird and both were watched at very close quarters on various dates up to July 2. One bird had clearly defined territory with favourite song post. No evidence of breeding was obtained (HEA, EFC, GD).


292

BIRD REPORT

L I S T OF OBSERVERS A. K. Allen H. E. Axell Mrs. J. M. Axell R. Bacon Mrs. E. M. Bale P. Beckett H. R. Beecroft H. Bentham G. B. G. Benson R. G. Bibby R. S. Briggs D. Broome J. Brock B. J. Brown R. G. H. Cant J. B. Christian F. A. Clowes Miss B. A. Coney F. C. Cook F. K. Cobb R. W. Coleman The Earl of Cranbrook E. F. Crosby C. G. D. Curtis F. Cutts M. Davenport G. Dent H. Dockerill G. Dunnett R. D. English T h e Essex Bird Watching and Preservation Society Mrs. J. ffennell R. C. Foster A. G. Futter L. R. Flack A. J. Gaston R. G. Gibbs Miss E. D. Goldsmith J. Gooders C. Gosling T h e Rev. P. H. T . Hartley R. H. Harrison Miss G. Houghton

Mrs. D. Jay E. W. C. Jenner G. J. Jobson J. M. Jones C. A. E. Kirtland C. S. Lawson K. Long Miss M. Lynn-Allen O. Marks P. J. Makepeace R. V. A. Marshall Lady Mears Mrs. M. Mills P. Muttitt J. Newsome M. Packard R. J. Partridge W. H. Payn D. J. Pearson H. Pease J. E. L. Pemberton G. A. Pyman W. H. Ramsay J. C. Robson A. Rogers R. L. Rolfe Maj. F. Ross-Lewin A. D. Rowe W. E. Rowe The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds D. Savile M. Shaw M. S. J. Snoxell P. C. Steggall Lord Tollemache Miss M. S. Van Oostveen E. Venis The Hon. Mrs. J. Watson R. Webster D. West Mrs. M. West Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Wightman


293

BIRD REPORT

THE DINGLE BIRD

CLUB—WALBERSWICK

RESULTS OF T E N YEARS OBSERVATION AND

RINGING

THE Dingle Bird Club was formed as a ringing group in 1953. Several places were considered before permission was obtained to build a Heligoland trap on the larger of the two Dingle hills between Walberswick and Dunwich. These areas of gorse, bramble and eider cover are situated about three hundred yards behind the sea wall and are almost entirely surrounded by reeds. Over 600 birds were ringed late in 1953 after completion of the first trap. By the Spring of 1954 this trap had been moved to a more favourable site and a second Heligoland built on the seaward side of Little Dingle hill, where pipits had fed in numbers on the East Coast Flood debris the previous year. The two Heligolands together with water-drip baited funnel traps caught almost 1,000 birds that year and in each of the four following years. Annual ringing totals have doubled since then owing to the use of mist nets.

MIGRATION T H R O U G H THE AREA

Dingle is well situated for studying coastal migration. With the exception of reeds the cover on the hills is the first reached by passerine migrants Coming from the sea or crossing on a coastal route from north to south of Walberswick marsh in Autumn. In spite of the small wood inland of Great Dingle most small newly-arrived migrants tend to remain on the hills for much of the day. Visible migration along the coast can be observed and birds Aying in from the sea and inland up Westward marsh pass close to Dingle. Passage waders feed on the nearby shore. Numbers of passerine migrants are usually low on Dingle during the Spring and much higher in the Autumn. During late March and early April redwing, fieldfare and woodcock numbers are often high immediately inland but at this time there is normally little on Dingle. A few robins and goldcrests may appear with easterly winds with perhaps an odd black redstart or firecrest. Small coastal falls of willow warblers, chiffchaffs and occasionally redstarts commonly occur on one or two days of south-easterly winds during mid-April. These often coincide with days of large inland arrivals of willow warblers, tree pipits, redstarts and sedge warblers and the first appearance of species such as whitethroats. A small passage of whitethroats with a few lesser whitethroats and willow warblers normally occurs on the coast at the end of April and beginning of May with migrants on Dingle each day over this period.


294

BIRD REPORT

By contrast with the Spring there is a concentration of warblers and flycatchers on the coast in early Autumn. Whitethroats are passing through Dingle with willow warblers, reed and sedge warblers and spotted flycatchers throughout August. These are presumably British birds taking the natural southward coastal route. Increased numbers of migrants due to Scandinavian arrivals seem to occur from about 5th August onwards when overnight winds are between north-north-east and south-east. Species involved are mainly wheatears, pied flycatchers, whinchats and willow warblers with smaller numbers of garden warblers, reed warblers, redstarts and tree pipits. Apart from a few blackcaps, passerine migrants are only present on the hills in September during and after " d r i f t " conditions. An easterly breeze may bring pied flycatchers, chats and redstarts and later in the month continental robins, song thrushes, redwings and goldcrests. Several days with some overnight drift occur between mid-August and mid-October each year. Larger falls occurred in early September in 1956, 1958 and 1961. A north-easterly gale with a depression in the Channel was accompanied by the arrival of over 100 pied flycatchers and many redstarts, garden warblers and whinchats to Dingle on September 2nd, 1956. More usually " drift " is associated with light or moderate east winds from a high pressure area over Southern Scandinavia. Overcast skies and light rain or mist usually cause larger coastal falls and occasionally an overnight arrival of migrants has occurred at Dingle in conditions of poor visibility with winds other than from the east. About 100 willow warblers and chiffchaffs were present on the foggy overcast morning of September 14th, 1956, after an overnight south-westerly breeze. During periods of September " drift " wrynecks, red-backed shrikes and barred warblers have been seen at Dingle and ortolans, hippolais warblers and bluethroats have occurred. In similar periods at the end of the month and in early October ring ouzels, lapland buntings and occasionally firecrests may be seen. Early morning coasting movements between late September and mid-November have been a feature of migration at Dingle in many years, especially in 1960 and 1961. For two or three hours after sunrise on days with a light south and south-west wind hundreds of linnets, goldfinches, meadow pipits, skylarks and starlings may pass southward. Coasting tree sparrows, greenfinches, chaffinches and wood pigeons may be in quite large numbers and species such as siskin, redpoll, snow bunting, lapland bunting, brambling, tree pipit, rock pipit, pied wagtail and grey wagtail are sometimes involved. A curious feature of Suffolk coast migration is the movement of linnets northwards on October days with a northerly breeze and, more noticeable, the steady southward into-wind movement of parties of this species during


BIRD

REPORT

295

April sometimes with a few goldfinches. Assuming that the coasting birds visible are those brought low by a head wind, it seems that these may be two separate populations of linnets Aying in opposite directions. Perhaps those Aying in the " wrong " direction are birds taking this coastal route for part of the journey between Southern England and wintering grounds in the low Countries. It would be of interest to see how far north and south along the East Anglian coast this movement extends. DĂźring October large Aocks of Anches may congregate on Dingle and many meadow pipits on the sea wall. Later in the month blackbird numbers are usually high for a week or two when north or north-west winds bring the main Scandinavian thrush immigration. Small numbers of birds only are present on the hills at the end of the year.

BREEDING

B I R D S OF T H E

AREA

In addition to its value as an area for observing migration, Walberswick has many interesting species of marsh, heath and woodland breeding birds. Numbers of many have been much reduced in recent years. There are only one to two pairs of longeared owls regularly breeding and wrynecks last nested in 1957. These species were both well established in the area before the war. Red-backed shrikes are probably in about half their numbers of ten years ago and the cuckoo, a few years ago extremely common, has become scarcer since 1959. The loss of rabbits may be blamed as the original cause for the disappearance of two common breeding species from Walberswick. The wheatear, of which about forty pairs nested prior to 1954 has not bred since 1957 and lack of short grass may be the reason for the reduction of woodlarks' numbers from about twenty pairs in 1956 to two in 1962. The marsh harrier is another recently lost breeding species, presumably as a result of the coypu invasion. Of other once regularly breeding birds of prey, the montagu's harrier last attempted to nest in 1958 and sparrow hawks, of which about Ave pairs were known m 1958 were reduced to one unsuccessful pair in 1962. Only four pairs of Kestrel were known to nest in a six square mile area last year. Apparently maintaining their numbers as breeding species are nightjar, whinchat, grasshopper warbler, tree pipit and bittern. The Arst of these will presumably decrease where it is now found on newly planted forestry areas. A few pairs of stone curlew breed successfully on arable land and in forestry.


296

BIRD REPORT

Stonechats have increased as a nesting species since 1955 and long-tailed tit, bullfinch and bearded tit have become more numerous. It seems however that like most other parts of the country Walberswick is losing uncommon species faster than it is gaining them.

RINDING

M E T H O D S AND RESULTS,

1953-62

Prior to 1959 birds were trapped almost exclusively by means of Heligolands and funnel traps, but Japanese mist nets were used a little to catch shore-feeding passerines during the Octobers of of

1956-58.

The depletion of rabbits due to myxamotosis in 1954 created two main changes for the worse in the cover on the Dingles. The once short-cropped grass which had been a feeding place for migrant redstarts and wheatears became a knee-high jungle in following summers, through which paths had to be cut to drive the Heligolands effectively. The partial return of rabbits and arrival of coypus have partially solved this problem. The unchecked growth of gorse is more of a menace to the efficiency of the traps of both hills. In spite of attempts to clear large areas, newly spread gorse probably makes the hills less attractive as a landing place to many migrant birds. Since 1959 most birds have been caught with mist nets, the Heligolands having become less efficient and less relied' on. Funnel traps baited with a water drip continue to catch several hundred small birds each year including many willow warblers. Mist nets have made possible much larger catches and have been used to extend trapping areas to the reed beds round Dingle and to the shore. Trapping has always been confined to the passage seasons and summer months. Several hundreds of warblers are ringed annually, numbers caught on passage on Dingle being supplemented by local sedge and reed warblers and local and passage willow warblers and whitethroats caught nearby in mist nets. During the years 1955-60 young sedge warblers were caught in the Little Dingle Heligoland during July when they emerged onto the hills from the wet reeds just after dawn. Large numbers of sedge and reed warblers are now netted in the reeds near Dingle in July and August. Quite a high number of blackcaps and lesser whitethroats are normally caught on Autumn passage. Nearby sand martin colonies have been mist-netted in recent summers, but the most valuable use made of nets has been the


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297

catching of waders and of bearded tits. Since 1959, every year has seen the appearance in numbers of bearded tits round Dingle during September and over 100 have been ringed each year. These birds are easily caught in twenty foot nets placed across dykes in the reed beds into which parties of about twenty to thirty birds can be concentrated and then driven along. T h e birds are active and best trapped on still mornings in late September between 8 a.m. and mid-day. On fine misty mornings they are more active but for a shorter period, as they retire to the bottom of the reeds when the sun has dried them. In the exceptional breeding year of 1960 many juvenile birds were trapped prior to the late August moult in addition to those caught in September. Waders have been trapped on the shore during April, May, July and August. T h e first successful experiments were made in 1960 with ordinary sixty foot British nets. Catches were made for the three hours after sunset and the three hours before sunrise on thirteen nights of that year. 350 waders of twelve species, six species of duck and a few gulls and terns were caught. Two bar-tailed godwits and a whimbrel were ringed on the first night. T h e year 1961 was a bad one for waders and few attempts to trap them were made. 100 were caught in 1962, including the second white-rumped sandpiper to be ringed in Britain. Each year the majority of the waders ringed have been dunlin, with lesser numbers of redshank. Japanese mist nets were used with some success to catch greenfinches and meadow pipits on the shore as early as 1956. With larger quantities of net October trapping of finches on calm days has been successful in more recent years. In 1961, many linnets and smaller numbers of goldfinches, twites, larks and pipits were caught and in 1962 a few twites and snow buntings were ringed as well as two shorelarks, one of which was recovered three weeks later in Essex. During the last ten years 12,000 birds of 110 species have been ringed at Dingle and nearby parts of Walberswick marsh. With the main exception of 600 waders and 900 thrushes, these have been small passerines. 900 bearded tits and over 4,500 warblers have been caught. T h e recovery rate of such birds is very low and the total of 128 recoveries of Walberswick-ringed birds must be considered satisfactory. It is surprising that the majority of birds recovered more than ten miles from Walberswick have been abroad. As examples of various rates of recovery there have been, since 1953, twelve warbler recoveries (0.27% of the total ringed) six of them abroad, sixteen thrushes (1.8% of those ringed) ten from abroad, and eighteen shore-birds (a 3 % recovery rate) with six abroad.


298

BIRD REPORT

There have been some foreign recoveries from Belgium and Scandinavia but the majority have been at places on a line southsouth-west f r o m Dingle—North and West France, North Spain and Portugal. Of birds ringed at Dingle between July and November, eight have been reported from Scandinavia and North Germany, seven of these between March and August. Twenty-eight have been recovered in France and Iberia, many of these being ringed as first autumn birds and recovered before the next spring. Five Belgian recoveries are interesting. T h e y are all finches reported between October and May, three of which were ringed as local juveniles. Winter recoveries of linnets and goldfinches ringed at Walberswick in July and August have all been from Belgium, West France and Spain ; none from Britain. T h e following are summarised details of species recovered abroad :— ( T h e figures in brackets show the month of year the bird was ringed at Walberswick and that in which it was recovered). (i.e., 8-9 means ringed August, recovered Sptember). Species Redshank Dunlin Cuckoo Sand martin Song thrush Redwing Blackbird Ring ousel Redstart Robin Reed warbler Whitethroat Willow warbler Pied flycatcher Red-backed shrike Starling Greenfinch Goldfinch Linnet Redpoll

Details (Country and times of year) No. Abroad 3 All from France (7-1, 8-6. 7-12) 3 2 France (8-5, 8-5), 1 Sweden (8-7) 1 France (7-9) France (8-4) 1 France (7-1), 1 Spain (9-1) Portugal (10-12) 2 Sweden (10-8, 11-6), 1 Norway (10-11). 1 France (10-1), 2 N . G e r m a n v (10-3, 10-3), 1 S. Ireland (10-1) France (10-11) 1 France (8-4), 1 Jersey (9-10) 1 Finland (10-4), 1 Spain (10-11), 1 France (9-5) Portugal (8-9, 7-9) 2 France (9-9, 8-8), 1 Portugal (7-9) Spain (8-9) Portugal (9-9) France (7-8) Denniark (10-7) Belgium (10-3) 2 Belgium (8-5, 8-10), I France (9-1) 1 Belgium (7-1), 1 France (8-10) 1 Spain (8-1) Belgium (10-10)

It is interesting that of the 1,600 birds ringed during the Spring at Dingle none have so far been recovered abroad.


BIRD

REPORT

299

British recoveries of Walberswick birds include two, those of bearded tit and shore lark, which are first ever recoveries of these species ringed in Britain. Listed below are selected British recoveries. Species Shelduck Ringed plover Redshank Redshank Redshank Dunlin Shore lark Bearded tit Sedge warbler Whitethroat Wiilow warbler Willow warbler Chiffchaff Twite

Ringing

Details

Juvenile 31.8.60 Pullus 6.7.58 Pullus 19.6.60 Juvenile 25.8.62 Juvenile 28.7.62 Juvenile 16.8.60 Adult <J 1.11.62 Juvenile 31.7.60 Juvenile 15.7.60 FĂźll -grown 23.8.58 Full-grown 10.4.59 Full-grown 8.9.61 Adult c? 11.4.62 Full-grown 15.10.61

Recovery

Details

Nr. King's Lynn (Norfolk) 13.9.60 Isle of Wight 20.1.63 Rochester (Kent) 28.1.63 Breydon Water 26.1.63 Isle of Sheppey (Kent) 15.9.62 River Medway (Kent) 17.8.62 River Colne (Essex) 30.11.62 Gravesend (Kent) 18.2.62 Woodstock (Oxon) 5.8.60 Silverdale (Lancs) 12.5.62 Nr. Swansea (Glams) 5.4.60 Gib Pt. (Lines) 26.8.62 Tacolneston (Norfolk) 13.4.62 Foulness Is. (Essex) 22.10.62

Over 900 bearded tits have been ringed since 1959. In addition to the Gravesend Recovery, ringed birds have been found in Winter at Easton and Minsmere. About 500 birds also had colour rings added and bearded tits with colour rings which almost certainly came from Walberswick have been seen between October and February in Herts, Essex and Norfolk, as well as Suffolk. At Benacre and Minsmere many colour rings have been seen, including a few in the breeding season. Some of our own retraps have been of interest, in particular those involving summer migrants in subsequent years. Such retraps include whitethroats, reed warblers, willow warblers and nightingales, blackcaps, redstarts and sedge warblers. These are mainly birds returning to the same breeding territory, but some seem to show passage through Dingle at approximately the same date in different years. Two whitethroats, two reed warblers and a willow warbler have been trapped in three successive years. A reed warbler ringed August, 1959, was recovered July, 1962, and another ringed as an adult in May, 1955, was recaught on August 17th, 1960. A blackcap ringed mid-September, 1957, and retrapped late September, 1961, was most probably a passage bird in both cases, and a whitethroat ringed as a young bird in 1956 was found as a breeding $ in 1961. A redstart was recovered as a breeding bird in 1957, three years after being ringed.


300

BIRD REPORT

Other ringed birds caught at Dingle include amongst those ringed elsewhere, the first British recovery of a dunlin ringed abroad as a chick. It was ringed in South-West Finland and caught on August 16th, 1960. A garden warbler ringed on Heligoland in May, 1958, was caught during the drift of early September of that year. Ringing and frequent watching at and near the Dingle hills has thrown some light on Suffolk coast migration as well as raising many new problems. Walberswick has great potential as a locality for the trapping of bearded tits, shore birds and warblers and with adequate manning would produce many more interesting results. D . J . PEARSON.

RINGING,

1962

LESS ringing was done in the Area than during the three preceding years. This was a result of the lack of local young birds, very poor manning during August, a bad September for passerine falls and strong winds during the blackbird immigration in late October. T h e total of 1,842 trapped birds includes two new species. T h e white rumped sandpiper caught in August was the second to be ringed in Britain and one of the two shorelarks trapped in the Autumn has already been reported from Essex. Over 300 sand martins were ringed, but the Dunwich Cliff colonies were rather inaccessible and most of these birds were caught during July at Westleton. T h e number of waders caught was again low compared to the 1960 totals. Several foreign recoveries of 1960 waders have now been reported and it would be worth catching more in future years. Lack of trapping in early August is reflected by low warbler catches for the year, less than 500 being ringed. Very few whitethroats were caught although willow warbler and reed warbler numbers compare favourably with other recent years. Very few bearded tits were caught until late September. D uring the sudden appearance of birds round Dingle 140 were caught during the weekend September 22 to 24. T h e final catch of 249 reached by early October was considerably higher than that of 1961. Most of the bearded tits ringed were also given a yellow ring. Several blue colour-ringed birdsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;ringed 1961â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and some colour rings from 1960 were retrapped. T h e proportion of red birds from previous years increased as the eruption period progressed, presumably indicating that the first birds to disperse and arrive at Dingle from the centre of the marsh are birds of the year. T h e same pattern was noticed in 1961.


HOUBARA BUSTARD,

[Copyright Eric Hosking, F Hinton, Suffolk, December, 1962.


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301

Passerines were never numerous during September but a good total of pied flycatchers and several redstarts were caught towards the end of the month and quite a few reed warblers, chiffchaffs and lesser whitethroats were ringed during the period September 21st to 26th. Few birds were trapped during October. There were very few finches moving through and little trapping was done until 20th. Forty blackbirds were caught, but after 26th winds became gale force. In spite of the weather attempts to net the shore larks on the beach met with some success and a few snow buntings and twites were also caught. D. J . P.

Suffolk Bird Report for 1962  
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