Page 1

SUFFOLK BIRD REPORT 1971 Editor W . H . PAYN

assisted by The County Records Committee H . E . AXELL, G . B . G . BENSON, F . K . COBB, F . C . COOK, C . G . D . CURTIS, T h e V e n . P . H . T . HARTLEY, a n d A . E . V I N E .

Obituary. The death took place during the year of Lt.-Col. J. K. Stanford, O.B.E., one of Suffolk's veteran ornithologists and a talented and versatile author. Acknowledgements. We are as always most grateful to the R.S.P.B., the Lowestoft Field Club, and the Dingle Bird Club for providing us with records from their logs. Also to R. P. Bagnall-Oakeley and the Editors of the Norfolk Bird Report, the Essex Bird Report, and the Cambridge Bird Club Report for passing on relevant records and correspondence. We are also very greatly indebted to Peter Makepeace who produced the coloured frontispiece and the black and white vignettes especially for this Report and to Geoffrey Hollis for once again providing the photographs. Records for Suffolk for 1972 should be sent to the Editor at Härtest Place, Bury St. Edmunds (telephone Härtest 224) by the end of January next. Please ensure that all species are arranged in the order of The Check List of Gt. Britain and Ireland. It is regretted that owing to the number of records received they cannot be acknowledged individually unless accompanied by a stamped addressed envelope.


6

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 7

Species for Special Survey. Breeding records for 1972 of the following are again asked for: Green woodpecker, cuckoo, lesser whitethroat, redstart, whinchat, vvheatear, and nightjar. N.B.

Also that this is the last year for the B.T.O. Atlas Survey.

Some of the Year's Events Like many of its recent predecessors, 1971 was chiefly remarkable for the number of rarities which occurred during the course of the year. Among them were five birds new to the county, three being natives of the New World—Wilson's phalarope, the semi-palmated sandpiper, and the yellow-billed cuckoo. The phalarope, a female, was in füll breeding dress, a most splendid creature which greatly impressed those who were lucky enough to see it during its short stay at Minsmere. The cuckoo, one of a number of American species driven across the Atlantic by an exceptional north-westerly gale, was found moribund at Reydon in October. The fourth newcomer was a black kite; the fifth an adult slender-billed gull. A sixth species, a trumpeter bullfinch was, of all unlikely birds, also reported from one of our Suffolk beaches, but the record has still to be accepted by the B.O.U. committee. Other out-of-the-ordinary species which appeared during the year included a night heron, a Sabine's gull, a goshawk, a pectoral sandpiper, a woodchat shrike, and, for the second year running, a melodious warbler. A honey buzzard, a red-crested pochard, two sooty shearwaters, two purple herons, and two tawny pipits also deserve special mention, though the last named are becoming almost commonplace with us nowadays. On this subject it is rather startling to realise that during the past ten years well over twenty new species have been added to the county list, while many more, once looked upon as mere vagrants, are now proving to be of quite regulär occurrence. Of these twenty-odd species ten—eight of them waders—were from North America, six were natives of southern Europe or the Mediterranean while the remainder were of Asiatic origin. It is tempting to wonder how many more new birds are likely to be located during the next ten years by the battalions of birdwatchers who now occur in Suffolk as summer or winter visitors or on passage. The possibilities seem limitless. Despite a fairly fine summer our breeding birds had only mixed success. Some once common species, whose numbers have fallen off sharply in recent years, showed slight local upswings—


BIRD REPORT

7

notably little owls, magpies, and whitethroats. So perhaps did cuckoos. Both partridges did well and goldcrests and perhaps kingfishers seem to have recovered most of their lost ground. But habitat destruction continues to reduce the numbers of nightingales, lesser whitethroats, and green woodpeckers. Missel thrushes and greenfinches showed local declines and in West Suffolk the goldfinch is fast becoming scarce both as breeding bird and winter visitor. In one Härtest garden, basically unchanged for the past forty years, and where four or five pairs of goldfinches formerly bred regularly, only one pair now survives. The decline of the heathland birds continues—woodlarks, tree pipits, red-backed shrikes, stonechats and whinchats, being particularly hard hit. At Minsmere the numbers of the latter have fallen from fifteen pairs in 1959 to three pairs in 1971. Com buntings seem to have decreased almost everywhere during the past two years and several observers report a marked drop in their areas in the population of sand-martins—for the third year running—redstarts and spotted flycatchers. On a more cheerful note two or three pairs of Savi's warblers again over-summered in the reed-beds at Minsmere and Walberswick while bearded tits again did exceptionally well, with very high autumn numbers. The renewed breeding, after a long interval, of grey wagtails on the River Stour and of two pairs each of stonechats and short-eared owls in Breckland was particularly welcome, though stonechat numbers feil again elsewhere. Less encouraging, unfortunately, is the position of our marsh harriers. Information available since the publication of last year's report clearly indicates that the species did not, as reported, nest at Benacre in 1970. Nor did it do so in 1971, so the birds now breeding at Minsmere almost certainly constitute the entire British breeding stock. Even here their survival, once they leave the reserve, is precarious. Equally disappointing was the fact that not a single Montagu's harrier was reported anywhere in the county during 1971. Numbers have declined steadily since 1967 when Suffolk had four successful nests. As usual small numbers of ospreys put in an appearance during the spring and autumn, transient and wintering hen harriers were probably about average but very few merlins were recorded. The generally mild weather during both winters covered by this review did not favour the visits of northern species and the scarcer grebes, seaducks, sawbills, and divers were not much in evidence.


8

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 1

Eiders were the exception, more being recorded than for some years. Bewick's swans were again very widespread and in high numbers in both winters but whoopers occurred only in January and December and were represented by but one herd of eighteen and by a few small family parties. Only small numbers of barnacle geese—odd pairs and singles— appeared on the coast and at a couple of inland sites. Some were possibly feral birds. In this context, there are, at the present time, a good number of apparent ex-captive birds loose in the county. These include at least two blue snow-geese, mandarin and wood ducks, Egyptian geese, and ruddy shelducks (see Systematic List). T h e flamingo which appears from time to time on the coast and at Livermere, belongs to the Chilian race and is of course an "escape". All over-summering greylag geese are also suspect. Early in November the now almost annual irruption of waxwings took place after stragglers from the 1970/71 winter had lingered on into early May. It is curious to note how certain towns such as Ipswich, Leiston, and Bury St. Edmunds are particularly favoured by this species. More food? More observers? Finally, at least three little auks were reported, including a very tame bird which spent some weeks on the Benacre Pits, giving many people an opportunity to watch at close ränge this not very frequent visitor to East Anglia. Sadly most reports of the other auks refer to "oiled" birds. Among the divers a high proportion also were oiled. Migration (Based on information provided mainly by the Lowestoft Field Club, G. B. G. Benson, H . E. Axell, C. R. Cuthbert, and M. Packard.) It was in general a rather poor year so far as visible migration was concerned, the result probably of a marked lack of easterly winds, particularly in autumn. Düring the few short spells of hard weather in January, small weather movements of lapwings, redshanks, and redwings took place on the coast and the only pinkfooted geese of the year occurred at Orford and Minsmere during the month. February and March were mild and wet and little of note occurred apart from the arrival—well on time—of the first chiffchaff and wheatear at Minsmere on March 21st.


BIRD REPORT

9

However, a rather prolonged spell of cold north-easterly winds during the first fortnight of April delayed the arrival of all but a sprinkling of summer visitors, the first swallow and willow warbler appearing on April 4th. T h e same north-east winds evidently held u p the departure of wintering great grey shrikes, niore than usual heing reported along the coast during the early part of the month. T h e main April rush took place between the 13th and 20th, when for a short time t h e wind went round to the south-west. During that week "first arrivals" of fourteen species of summer visitors occurred, followed a few days later by a small passage of hoopoes, four in all. T h e usual coastal movements of linnets and goldfinches was also noted during the period and at Minsmere, on April 19th, a very unusual arrival of willow warblers took place, the birds Coming in from seawards in face of a stiff westerly wind. Wader migration during spring and early summer was generally light but included three Kentish plovers and a number of wood and curlew sandpipers, with the usual greenshanks, godwits, and whimbrels. T h e only osprey of the spring visited Minsmere on May 5th, a n u m b e r of black terns were reported at Livermere and near the coast, mainly towards the end of the month and there were two, possibly three, spoonbills. As usual, wader passage continued into June but this year it included an unexpected transient, a Wilson's phalarope, which arrived at Minsmere on lOth. This bird, so far from its rightful home in western America, was the first of five American vagrants to occur in the county during the next few months. It was followed, early in August, by two interesting gulls, a Sabine's gull and an adult slender-billed gull, which spent a short time on "the Scrape" at Minsmere on August 15th. Curlew sandpipers were prominent among a light wader passage during the first part of August and good n u m b e r s of arctic skuas came inshore following a strong north-easterly gale. D r i f t migration from Scandinavia was also on a very light scale throughout most of August but wheatears and whinchats were arriving at Lowestoft f r o m the 18th and on the 23 rd more wheatears, with pied flycatchers and wrynecks, were recorded elsewhere. An icterine warbler at Minsmere on the 25th was followed by a melodious warbler at Slaughden four days later. T h e year's only honey buzzard occurred at Walberswick on t h e last day of the month.


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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part I

The main autumn passage, such as it was, took place dunng the first fortnight of September, particularly between September 7th to llth, when easterly winds brought a steady trickle of whinchats, wheätears, whitethroats, and redstarts, and, after rain on the lOth, increased numbers of piedflycatchersand goldcrests. Other drift migrants included two tawny pipits and two barred warblers. A more pronounced "fall" of goldcrests was recorded about September 26th and 27th. However, the outstanding feature of this period was the occurrence at Minsmere, all in the same week, of a pectoral sandpiper, a white-rumped sandpiper, and a semi-palmated sandpiper, the latter new to Suffolk. October opened with a light passage of lesser whitethroats and goldcrests and the rather early arrival of thefirstredwings and fieldfares at Shotley. On the lOth thefirstsnowbuntings were coasting south at Southwold in Company with linnets and goldfinches. On October 14th, 150 lapwings made their landfall at Minsmere and on the 20th a big influx of skylarks,fieldfares,and goldcrests recorded at Lowestoft, Southwold, and Minsmere, included two woodlarks seen Coming in from seawards at the latter place. Wheatears, whitethroats, and willow warblers were still on passage at Shotley on the 25th and right at the end of the month there was another influx, at Lowestoft and Southwold, of goldcrests and thefirstblackbirds. On the 27th a lone nutcracker, one of five or more in East Anglia at that time, had been located at Lowestoft. Skylarks, jackdaws, and a sprinkling of hooded crows were prominent among immigrants recorded on the coast during the first week in November and the first waxwings were noted on November 18th. December was uneventful, though three summer visitors— swallow, house martin, and chiffchaff—lingered on the coast tili within a day or two of thefirstsnowfall on December 19th. W.H.P. FIRST AND LAST DATES OF SUMMER VISITORS, 1971

Speeles Wheatear Chiffchaff Sandwich tern Willow warbler Swallow Cuckoo

First seen Mar. 21 Mar. 21 Mar. 25 Apl. 4 Apl. 4 Apl. 7

Locality Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Needham Market

Last seen Locality Oct. 31 Boyton Dec. 11 Southwold Oct. 4 Minsmere Sept. 25 Minsmere Dec. 15 Corton Sept. 10 Minsmere


11

BIRD REPORT First seen Apl. 9 Apl. 10 Apl. 12 Apl. 13

Locality Minsmere Minsmere Reydon Livermere

Last seen Sept. 27 Oct. 5 Oct. 31 Nov. 13

Stone curlew Redstart C o m m o n tern House martin T u r t l e dove Swift Whinchat Little tern T r e e pipit Nightingale Grasshopper warbler Whitethroat Lesser whitethroat Reed warbler Nightjar G a r d e n warbler Spotted flycatcher

Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl.

13 14 14 15 16 16 16 17 18 18

Foxhall Minsmere Minsmere Culford Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Herringswell Minsmere

Oct. Nov. Dec. Oct. Sept. Oct. Sept. Sept. Sept.

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

18 18 20 23 29 30 4

Walberswick Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Foxhall Reydon Reydon

Red-backed shrike

May

7

Lavenham/ Minsmere

Speeles Sedge warbler Yellow wagtail Blackcap Sand martin

6 8 17 15 22 14 27 16 26

Locality Reydon Minsmere Minsmere Havergate Island Minsmere Minsmere Kessingland Southwold Reydon Minsmere Southwold Wangford Henham

Sept. 25 Sept. 27 Oct. 6 Oct. 15

Reydon Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere

Sept. 20 Sept. 26

Minsmere Bury St. Edmunds

Sept.

Minsmere

3

SYSTEMATIC LIST

Records refer to single birds unless otherwise indicated. 1. Black-throated diver.—Orford, Jan. 13th (PAB); Ness Point, Jan. 23rd (RVAM); Minsmere, Jan. 30th (RVAM); Southwold, Feb. 16th (CRN); Boyton, Feb. 16th (FK and AEC); and Minsmere on two dates in Feb. (HEA). At least three of the birds vvere "oiled".


12

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 1

2. Great northern diver.—Jan. 24th (MASB) and May 9th (CRN), both at Covehithe, second bird in partial summer dress. 4. Red-throated diver.—Wintering numbers off coast were again low, with a high proportion of "oiled" birds, many of which later came ashore and died. 5. Great crested grebe.—Breeding numbers much as usual, with one or two new gravel pits colonised. Up to thirty on R. Orwell in Feb. and Mar. (CGDC, WHR) is high for this species. 6. Red-necked grebe.—Two or three at Benacre Pits between Oct. 28th and Nov. 24th (BJB, L K ) . 7. Slavonian grebe.—Bury B.F. pits, Aug. 24th to Sept. Ist (CAEK, AJL, RVAM). 8.

Black-necked grebe.—Benacre Broad, Jan. 2nd (CRN).

9. Dabchick.—Breeding numbers remain low but there were good numbers in autumn and both winters on coastal creeks including thirty-eight together off Ipswich docks in Jan. (AB), twenty-three at Trimley in Sept. (WHR), fifteen at Minsmere in Apl. (HEA), and at least sixty together on R. Deben at Woodbridge in Nov. (JELP). 16. Manx shearwater.—Three off Minsmere, Oct. 14th (HEA, BJB, RL). 21. Sooty shearwater.—Lowestoft, Sept. 26th (BJB) Minsmere, Oct. 4th (JPW), both Aying north just offshore.

and

26. F u l m a r . — T h e usual small numbers offshore early Apl. to early June, with majority on northward passage in latter month, including forty off Covehithe, June 5th (CRN). Southward movement between Aug. and mid-Oct. 27. Gannet.—Small numbers along coast between Apl. and Nov. 28. Cormorant.—Numbers inland during autumn and winter were higher than usual, with up to eight on R. Stour between Sudbury and Long iVlelford (AAB, RWC) and up to three on Redgrave Lake (CAEK, DMSO). Up to a dozen wintered on marsh at Minsmere (HEA). Forty, Lake Lothing, Dec. (BJB). Dead bird found Burgh Castle in Jan. had been ringed as nestling on Farne Island in Aug., 1967 (DRM).


BIRD REPORT

13

29. Shag.—Lake Lothing, Jan. and Covehithe, Aug. (13JB); Minsmere, Feb. (HEA). 30. H e r o n . — N o new heronries were reported but a pr. bred in the Minsmere reedbeds, the first recorded instance of herons breeding on ground in Suffolk. 31. Purple heron.—Minsmere, June 19th (PJC, P G L , AL) and Lowestoft, Aug. 8th ( B J B ) . 36.

Night heron.—An ad. Walberswick, June 19th ( A T M R ) .

38. Bittern.—About twenty prs. bred much the same as last year. Inland records: Stoke-by-Nayland, Jan. 7th ( J F R ) and Redgrave Fen, Dec. ( D M S O ) . 42. Spoonbill.—Covehithe Broad, May 15th and 16th (CRN, SAW, J W W ) ; Blythburgh, May 16th ( C R N ) ; Minsmere, five single birds between May 18th and July 19th (HEA). 46. Teal.—Numbers were low in West Suffolk during both winters but up to 200 at Tostock during Apl. ( R J C ) and nine near Sudbury in Aug. (AAB) are unusual for those areas. 47. G a r g a n e y . — T h r e e or four prs. bred Minsmere; a pr. at Bardwell, R. Blackwater, Apl. 2nd (JAS). 49. Gadwall.—Numbers probably about average, but c. forty on Thorpe Mere, Dec. 12th ( G S t J H ) . 50. W i g e o n . — R . Stour: c. 1,700 in Jan. and 3,000 in Oct. ( R V A M ) ; 500 plus at Waldringfield in Nov. ( G S t J H ) ; up to thirty-five at Livermere in Mar. ( N J E , A J L ) . A single drake over-summered at Minsmere. 52. Pintail.—Flocks of approximately one hundred recorded on each of Rs. Deben, Orwell, and Stour in both winters. Odd birds on Breck rivers and lakes. 53. Shoveler.—About thirty prs. bred Minsmere, where 420 in Feb. was highest count (HEA). At least two prs. bred Sudbury area (RVAM). Sixty-seven at Livermere in Dec. ( C A E K ) . 54. R e d - c r e s t e d p o c h a r d . — A f. at Benacre Broad, Sept. 26th to Nov. 6th ( E J J , R V A M , CRN, DBC). 55. Scaup.—Small numbers only in both winters. Single drakes at Walberswick, May 2nd ( C A E K ) and Easton Broad, July 24th and 25th (CRN, G J J ) .


14

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 1

60. Goldeneye.—Numbers also low, highest numbers being forty-seven on R. Deben in Feb. (GStJH). Singles at Tuddenham in Jan. and Livermere in Dec. (CAEK). 61. Long-tailed duck.—Two at Covehithe, Jan. 24th (MASB) and one at Minsmeie, late Oct. (HEA et al). 62. Velvet scoter.—Only recorded in latter months of year, with odd birds at Benacre and Minsmere from Oct. 2nd, five offshore at Easton, Nov. 20th (GJJ) and six off Hopton, Dec. 30th (DRM). 67. Eider.—More present than for some years. Singles at Cliff Quay, Ipswich, Jan. Ist (AMG) and Wherstead, Nov. 20th (GStJH) and at Minsmere, Apl. 6th (HEA). Two, Ramsholt, Dec. Ist (AMG); up to fourteen at Benacre during Nov. (FKC, GJJ, DBC); five at Kessingland (CRN); and sixteen off Hopton (DRM) in Dec. 69. Red-breasted merganser.—Generally low numbers reported from all coastal localities. Five at Livermere on Oct. 27th (NJE). 70. Goosander.—Odd birds only on coast and on inland lakes, etc. 71. Smew.—Minsmere, Jan. 17th (HEA); Freston, Feb. 2nd (AB); and three or four, Benacre in Jan. (CRN, DRM). 73. Shelduck.—Winter counts included 1,340 in Feb. and 1,320 in Nov. on R. Stour (RVAM). Singles, Härtest, Apl. 15th (WHP) and Sudbury, Apl. 22nd with two there May 16th (AAB). 74. Ruddy shelduck.—A pr. at Trimley, Apl. 5th (CGDC) and singles Benacre, Oct. 27th (DRM) and Freston, Nov. 20th (GStJH). These may have been escapes from Norfolk. 75. Greylag goose.—Singles at Minsmere, Mar. to May; Southwold, Apl. 14th (DV); and Butley, Oct. 16th (AB). Eight at Livermere, May 31st (NJE) and two at Minsmere, July 21st to Aug. Ist (HEA). 76. White-fronted goose.—Peaks of fifty-six at Minsmere and 180 at another locality in Jan. (many obs.); nineteen at Livermere in Jan. (NJE) and a single at Tostock, Apl. 17th (RJC). Very few in Nov. and Dec.


BIRD REPORT

15

78. Pink-footed goose.—Only records were twelve in Orford area, Jan. 9th (FKC) and two at Minsmere, Jan. 22nd (HEA). 80. Brent goose.—Numbers in latter part of year rather down on 1970 with max. for R. Stour 200 and R. Orwell 300. Four at Havergate Island, Sept. 24th (RJP) and a late straggler at Walberswick, May 3Ist (GJJ). 81. Barnacle goose.—Very few compared with last year; a pr. over-wintering with Canadaflockto Apl. 17th at Minsmere (HEA); and one or two Sudbourne/Orford area in Jan. (FKC, AJL). Inland one at Livermere, end May (NJE) and two at Redgrave Lake, late winter (per WHP). 82. Canada goose.—Düring 1972, a complete survey of breeding and non-breeding numbers for the whole county is being undertaken. Counts of breeding prs., non-breeding birds, and winter populations from any area of Suffolk will be most useful. 84. Mute swan.—Numbers probably about normal everywhere except on R. Stour where max. was only c. 350 (RVAM). Up to 400 in Ipswich Docks in winter (CDGC, HEPS). 85. Whooper swan.—Numbers reported were very low. In Jan. a herd of eighteen at Reydon on 8th (WER), thirteen at Benacre next day (many obs.) otherwise only odd birds—all in Jan.—at Minsmere. Two or three only on coast in Dec. 86. Bewick's swan.—The very high numbers reported during the early winter months of 1970 were carried on well into 1971, eighty-four at Sudbourne in Jan. and Feb. and eighty at Minsmere in early Feb. were highest counts. There were also herds of up to seventy at Southwold in Feb., thirty at Shotley, and fifty plus at Shingle Street. Fifty Aying eastwards over Brandeston in Mar. (JELP). A herd of forty-seven also at Havergate Island in February. One in aflockof nine at Benacre on Mar. 21 st had been marked with yellow dye on back and rump. Inland: five onfloodwaterat Ixworth in Jan. with twelve at Livermere and small parties on R. Lark between Jan. and early Apl. Autumn and early winter numbers were by contrast quite small, with up to twenty at Minsmere and seventeen at Benacre in Dec. Small numbers too on R. Stour and at Livermere in Nov. 91. Buzzard.—One or two were reported from the Benacre/ Covehithe area during Jan. (MASB, CJMG, BWJ). One Minsmere, July 15th (HEA); one Walberswick, Aug. 31st (FKC). Inland: one all summer Elveden/Santon Downham (PAB).


16

Suffolk Natural

History,

Vol. 16, Part l

92. Rough-legged buzzard.—One at Walberswick/Minsmere on Sept. lOth was only record for the year. 93. Sparrow hawk.—Reports of this species were again few. One pr. bred at Minsmere and reared two young (HEA). There were reports of two other prs. on coast. Also noted on six dates during summer in Breck, so possibly bred there. Five autumn and winter records from coast. 94.

Goshawk.—Dunwich, May 28th (MD).

96. Black kite.—Westleton, May 9th (AGD, AP) and Blythburgh, June 6th (DAR, RP)—almost certainly the same bird. NEW

98.

TO

SUFFOLK.

Honey buzzard.—Walberswick, Aug. 3Ist (FKC).

99. M a r s h harrier.—One pr. only bred Minsmere, rearing two young. Very few reports outside breeding season, even at Minsmere to which breeding pr. returned on Dec. 23rd (HEA). Inland a "probable", f. or im. at Bardwell, Aug. 30th (ANS). [Also see E R R A T A p. 27.] 100. H e n harrier.—Passage and wintering birds at usual level to mid-Apl. and from Oct. 28th. Included one ad. m. Five reports from Breck. 103. Osprey.—Only spring report was of one at Minsmere, May 5th (HEA). Autumn passage birds were: Blythburgh, Aug. 12th to 18th (GBGB, CRC) and Sept. 13th to 18th (DBC, DV); two Covehithe, Sept. 2nd (FKC); Beccles, Sept. 3rd (per DRM); and Walberswick, Sept. 12th (CRN). 104. Hobby.—Four reports, probably covering two birds, from Walberswick/Benacre between May 15th and June 19th (AB, DRM, ATMR) and from Beccles, June 6th (DRM). In autumn from Minsmere only on July 27th and on four dates in Aug. (HEA). 105. Peregrine.—Coastal reports, some doubtless referring to same bird from Havergate Island, Jan. 2nd, Feb. 22nd, and Mar. 22nd (RJP), from Minsmere, Feb. 5th and 7th, Mar. 27th, and Apl. 27th with two there Feb. 6th (HEA, BJB, PJM, GJJ). One Benacre, Nov. 20th (DRM). 107. Merlin.—There were fewer records than in past years of wintering or passage birds on coast. Seven singles on or near Breck, Jan. to Apl., including one present for several weeks at Tuddenham in Jan.


18

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 1

155. Bar-tailed godwit.—Very small numbers on coast during Jan. and Feb., followed by a light spring passage in Apl. and May and small numbers again in autumn. 156. Green sandpiper.—Passage numbers were much as usual but there were comparatively few reports of wintering birds, particularly in West Suffolk. 157. Wood sandpiper.—Numbers migrations.

were low during

both

159. Common sandpiper.—Again an over-wintering bird was reported, from Cavenham, on Jan. 6th (MJFJ). 162. Spotted redshank.—Irregulär on coast throughout the year, with up to twenty during Mar. to May passage and a peak of c. fifty-five at Minsmere in Sept. Three at Walberswick in Jan. 165. Greenshank.—Spring and autumn passages were light. Odd birds inland in Sept. 169. Knot.—Wintering numbers on R. Orwell and other estuaries were low, due perhaps to mild weather. Northward migration to mid-June, with returning birds from July 1 Ith. 170. Purple sandpiper.—Three at Lowestoft, Jan. (BWJ) and Oct. (BJB); singles Covehithe/Easton, Nov. (GJJ); and Minsmere, Sept. (HEA). 171. Little stint.—Spring and autumn passages were both very light. 173. Temminck's stint.—Singles at Minsmere, Feb. 12th to 14th (HEA, PJM, DM)—a very unusual date. May 16th to 23rd and June 13th, and at Havergate Island, June 3rd and 7th (RJP). 175. White-rumped sandpiper.—Minsmere, Sept. 3rd to 8th (HEA, BJB, RGHC, H, GJJ, RJM). 176. Pectoral sandpiper.—Minsmere, Sept. 5th to 7th (HEA, DM, PJM, H, GJJ et al). 179. Curlew sandpiper.—Odd birds only from late May to late June. Return passage from July 25th to early Oct., but numbers generally low. Most at Minsmere were thirteen at end July. 180. Semi-palmated sandpiper.—Minsmere, Sept. 3rd to 8th (HEA. BJB, RGHC, H, GJJ, PJM). NEW TO SUFFOLK.


19

BIRD REPORT

181. Sanderling.—Small numbers wintered as usual on coast including two in Ipswich Docks, Jan. (AB). Passage birds between mid-Apl. and mid-June and from early July to Nov. 184. Ruff.—Not as plentiful as usual during late winter and spring, with no ad. ms. reported. Peak of c. forty at Minsmere during autumn passage to late Sept., with odd birds tili Nov. 6th (HEA). U p to nine at Bury B.F. ponds in Aug. (CAEK, AJL). 185. Avocet.—At Havergate Island ninety-three prs. reared 103 young and at Minsmere twenty-five prs. reared fifty-five young. Fifty of the Minsmere young were colour ringed on left leg, one being subsequently recovered in the Netherlands on Sept. 24th while at least one other wintered on R. Tamar (HEA). 187. Grey Phalarope.—Walberswick, Aug. Minsmere, Oct. 16th (HEA, GJJ, RL et al).

27th

(NJE);

188. Red-necked phalarope.—Minsmere, Aug. 21st (HEA, PJM, DM). Wilson's phalarope.—An ad. f. in f.s.p. at Minsmere, June lOth to 16th (HEA, D M , PJM, RAR et al). NEW

TO 189. belt.

SUFFOLK.

Stone curlew.—Only four probable breeding prs. in coastal Breckland population about average.

193. Arctic skua.—Odd birds only in May but a good southwards passage offshore between mid-July and end Aug., highest number being sixteen at Minsmere on Aug. 7th. A late bird there Oct. 24th (HEA). 194. Great skua.—Eleven reports were received, referring probably to nine or ten individuals—highest for many years—all being between Aug. Ist and Oct. 29th, including two together at Thorpeness on Sept. 8th (many obs.). 195. P o m e r i n e skua.—Covehithe, Benacre, Nov. 24th (CRN).

Sept.

Ist

(FKC)

and

200. Herring gull.—Two prs. bred at Minsmere (HEA). Again there was no information on the Orfordness colony. 201. C o m m o n gull.—One, ringed in Denmark in July, 1963, was found dead in a chimney at Ipswich in Aug. (HEPS). About 1,000 moving south off Minsmere on Dec. 18th (HEA).


17

BIRD REPORT

110. Kestrel.—Numbers much as last year, with a good autumn passage. Füll information on local status, particularly inland, would be valuable. 115.

R e d - l e g g e d partridge.—Did well in places.

116. Partridge.—Good coveys were again noted, particularly on the light land in north-west and coastal Suffolk. 117. Pheasant.—Had a generally poor season, with many late broods and some local losses from "fowl pest". 120. Water rail.—As usual comparatively few reports of this elusive species were received. Reported from Playford (ECG), Shotley—"good numbers" (MP), and from four localities in West Suffolk (WHP). 121. Spotted crake.—Noted at Minsmere on following dates: May 5th to 28th and Sept. 6th (HEA) and Aug. 28th and 29th (GJJ). "Probable", Brantham, Oct. Ist (JBL). 125. Corncrake.—A very unusual over-wintering record was a first year m. found dead near Mildenhall on Jan. lOth (RPB-O). Thcre were no other reports of this species. 135. Little ringed plover.—Breeding not confirmed but two prs. were present during summer at one site near coast and at least one pr. between May and Aug. at a new site inland. Scattered records elsewhere in spring and autumn, with passage birds on coast. 136. Kentish plover.—During May and June single birds occurred at Minsmere on four dates and at Havergate on five dates. 140. G o l d e n plover.—Good wintering numbers in many parts of the county, with flocks of up to 100. An early bird in f.s.p. at Risby on July 22nd (WHP) and fifty-one there also on Aug. 15th (ALB). 143. Turnstone.—Coastal numbers much as usual with first autumn migrant at Minsmere on July 15th. Single birds there in Jan. and Dec. (HEA). Two at Bury B.F. ponds, Aug. 17th (AJL). 148. W o o d c o c k . — T h e appeared to be high. 151. 154.

passage

and

wintering

population

Whimbrel \ Spring and autumn passage for both Black-tailed godwit J species was unusually light.


20

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 1

202. G l a u c o u s gull.—A total of seven along coast during mid-winter months, the majority being at Aldeburgh. 203. I c e l a n d gull.—Two ads. at Benacre, Nov. 6th ( G B G B ) , ims. at Aldeburgh, Jan. ISth (RVAM) and 24th (BWJ, F K C ) — same bird? Covehithe/Benacre, Nov. 16th and 17th ( C J M G , R H L , J H M , C R N ) and Benacre, Nov. 7th ( G J J ) . 205. M e d i t e r r a n e a n gull.—The Covehithe bird, now at least ten years old, departed on Feb. 13th and reappeared on Aug. 28th. One north of Lowestoft, Aug. 28th (BJB).

206 S l e n d e r - b i l l e d gull.—An ad. with pink breast at Minsmere, Aug. 15th (MB, CH, J G , DM). NEW TO SUFFOLK. 207. Little gull.—Rather fewer records than usual between Apl. and late Sept. An im. inland at Bury B.F. ponds, Aug. 23rd (AJL). 209.

S a b i n e ' s gull.—Minsmere, Aug. 5th (PJM, DM).

212. B l a c k tern.—A moderate spring and autumn passage both inland and on coast during Apl. to June and mid-July to midSept., but numbers were never high, nine being largest flock counted in either season. 215.

Gull-billed tern.—Covehithe, May 23rd (CRN).


BIRD REPORT

21

217. Common tern.—At Minsmere, c. 400 prs. bred. One found dead there in June had been ringed as a juv. at Blakeney, Norfolk in 1953 (HEA). About forty prs. also tried to breed at Havergate, but results were poor (RJP). A pr. also bred just inside the county boundary near Sudbury, a nestling estimated at seven days old being found in Aug. with ads. which had been present all summer (AAB). Others recorded on passage at Livermere and Bury B.F. ponds in May. 218. Arctic tern.—One found dead at Minsmere, May 5th. Also recorded there on seven other occasions between May and Sept., including seven on Aug. 30th (HEA). One Sizewell, Oct. 16th (GJJ). 219. Roseate tern.—Two at Havergate Island, July 27th (RJP) and one Minsmere, Aug. 15th (HEA). 222. Little tern.—At Minsmere, twenty prs. bred within reserve and did well; two only on beach. About twenty prs. also successful on Orfordness (RJP). 223. Sandwich tern.—Six_ hundred prs. bred at Minsmere, rearing about one Aying young per pr. Did not breed at Havergate, but c. 750 there at end Apl. (RJP). 224. 227.

Razorbill \ O d d birds only on coast the majority "oiled" Guillemot f during autumn and winter.

226. Little auk.—Two Aying inland at Minsmere in C o m p a n y with a Aock of starlings, Nov. 7th (BW). Another remained at Benacre pits between Nov. 12th and Dec. 12th. 230. Puffin.—Minsmere, May 16th (JMA, GH) and Nov. 7th (GH). 235. Collared dove.—Newly colonised parishes were: Westleton, Long Melford, Little Waldingfield. 237. Cuckoo.—Although a few observers considered that numbers in their areas were probably up on recent years, there seems little real evidence of any widespread recovery. Four young were known in Hadleigh area (AB) with odd nestlings elsewhere, a high proportion—two out of three—being killed by cats. One observer kept most careful records of all cuckoos seen or heard during Apl., May, and June in one parish—Härtest. First seen on Apl. 26th, an apparent lone m. was heard irregularly to June 28th. On two dates, May 9th and June 21 st, it was joined


22

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 1

by a f. No other birds were seen or heard in the parish where thirty years ago three or four could be seen in the air together. Elsewhere cuckoos were only seen by this observer at Lavenham and Acton, where one was calling on July 3rd. On eleven other all-day outings in West Suffolk or North Essex, cuckoos were seen or heard on only two occasions (WHP). Up to six ims.—migrants?—in one small area at Southwold, end Aug. ( G B G B , DV). 239. Yellow-billed cuckoo.—One found exhausted at Reydon on Oct. 18, following severe westerly gales. It died next day (M. F. Forward per G J B ) . NEW TO SUFFOLK. 241. B a r n owl.—Still very low in numbers and now seldom seen in car headlights at hight, which underlines its scaracity. Only eight breeding prs. were reported, mostly from the east side of county, with birds present in breeding season at four other places. 246. Little owl.—Despite a local increase in a few areas, remains very scarce. Reported from sixteen localities, in five of which it was thought to have bred. 248. L o n g - e a r e d owl.—Probably bred at two sites on the coast and at least three in Breckland. 249. S h o r t - e a r e d owl.—Four prs. bred Havergate, producing six or seven young (RJP). Two prs. probably bred in north-west Suffolk (per PAB). One at Minsmere in May (HEA). 252. Nightjar.—There is little information on the present status of this bird. 258. Kingfisher.—Numbers continue to build up from the 1962 low and the species is now evidently thinly but widely spread. Breeding was confirmed in eight areas, with birds reported during year from twenty-four other places. 261 Hoopoe.—Singles at Lowestoft, Apl. 17th (DF), Oulton Broad, Apl. 19th and 20th ( C R N , DRM), Wisse«, Apl. 24th (ACH), and Aldeburgh (per RPB-O). 262. G r e e n woodpecker.—Reported from about thirty localities, twenty of them during the breeding season. Ten prs. bred at Minsmere, and two in the Hadleigh area. Seen at Stansfield for the first time for twelve years (LH-M).


BIRD REPORT

23

265. W r y n e c k . — T w o at Minsmere in Apl., and one or more at a Breckland parish during the summer. There was a small passage through the county between Aug. 8th and Sept. 17th, when one was noted at Dennington. 271. Woodlark.—There were very few records. Present at only five sites in coastal belt, at two of which breeding took place. A few prs. reported from the Breck. 273. Shorelark.—Up to twelve, including a ringed bird, at Aldeburgh/Slaughden in Jan. and Feb. (AB, C D G C ) and nine there in Dec. ( G J J ) . An interesting record was of five Coming in from the sea at Benacre at 15.00 hrs. on Oct. 25th ( F K C ) . 277. Sandmartin.—Again a marked drop in numbers was noted in many areas. 278. Golden oriole.—Minsmere, ( P J M ) and June Ist (HEA).

May 4th (JMA)

and 7th

280. Carrion c r o w . — 1 8 4 Aying east to roost, Redgrave, Dec. (CAEK). 281. Hooded c r o w . — M o r e widespread than for some time though numbers were small. Near coast two at Sudbourne in Jan., with odd birds only at Minsmere. In autumn first birds were two or three at Southwold on Oct. 27th ( G B G B , H E C , DV) and three at Minsmere next day (HEA). More inland records too with one at Pakenham, Oct. 27th ( M J F J ) , two Livermere, Nov. 7th and three Honington, Dec. 4th (RNH), and three at Redgrave, Dec. 2nd (CAEK). 282. Rook.—A pilot survey of breeding population in West Suffolk undertaken by one observer indicates some 6,000 prs. (MJFJ). 284. Magpie.—Slightly on the increase, but still very local and apparently not widespread. 285. N u t c r a c k e r . — O n e on Lowestoft seafront, Oct. 27th (per B J B , F C C ) was part of a small influx at that time. 295. B e a r d e d tit.—This species again had an outstanding season with high numbers in autumn. At Minsmere c. eighty prs. bred, many producing three to four broods. This was followed by a very large autumn eruption (HEA). Also did well at Easton Broad, where eighty counted on Oct. (CRN) and at Walberswick (DBC). Also reported Falkenham, Nov. 7th ( C G D C ) , and


24

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 1

inland at Livermere, Oct. 29th to Nov. 8th (NJE), Tuddenham, Nov. (WHP), and Redgrave Fen, Dec. (CAEK). 307. Ring ouzel.—Both spring and autumn passage were rather light but twenty were present at Minsmere on Oct. 4th. 311. Wheatear.—At least one pr. bred on coast. numbers probably about average for recent years.

Breckland

317. Stonechat.—Apparently only three prs. bred near coast, a very serious drop from sixteen prs. seven years ago. However, two breeding prs. were located in the Breck (PAB). 318. Whinchat.—Showed a marked decline everywhere. three pairs nested at Minsmere (HEA). 320.

Only

Redstart.—Much the same applied to this species.

321. Black redstart.—One pr. bred at Sizewell (A. Cook per HEA) with another pair at Lowestoft all summer which apparently did not breed (LFC). Small numbers on coast during both migrations. 322. Nightingale.—Many observers report a continued reduction in breeding numbers. 324. Bluethroat.—Minsmere, Sept. 1 Ith and 12th and Walberswick, Sept. 19th (HJL). 329. Savi's warbler.—Bred at Minsmere, a pr. (HEA) and probably two prs. at Walberswick (GJJ). Easton Bavents, May l l t h (JELP). 339. Melodious warbler.—Slaughden, Aug. 29th and Sept. 4 (AW). Same bird?

(CGDC)

340. Icterine warbler.—Probably four on autumn passage, viz. Walberswick, Aug. 19th (AW), Minsmere, Aug. 25th (HEA, DM), Covehithe, Aug. 29th (CRN), and inland near Bury St. Edmunds, Sept. 21st (AJL). 343. Blackcap.—One ringed at Sandnes, Norway, on Oct. 24th, 1971, was recovered at Kessingland four days later (RPB-O). 344. Barred warbler.—It appears that this is now a regulär bird of passage through the county in very small number in autumn. Recorded at Shotley, Sept. 4th (IP, MP) and Thorpeness, Sept. 6th (AW).


BIRD REPORT

25

348. Lesser whitethroat.—Though numbers are being maintained in a few localities, there has been a marked decline over much of the county. This applies particularly to the western side. 357. Wood warbler.—Noted only on spring migration, when singles occurred at Reydon, Apl. 21st (GBGB), Culford, late Apl. ( H P G G ) , Foxhall, May 8th (CGDC), and Brandon for about a week at end of June (PAB). One or two at Minsmere, May 8th to lOth. 365. Firecrest.—There were rather more than usual including four separate individuals at Minsmere between Apl. 2nd and 9th (HEA), and singles at Benacre, Apl. 12th (CJM-G) and Havergate Island, Apl. 29th (RJP) and in autumn a further nine, seven at Minsmere, and single birds at Southwold (DV), Walberswick (GJJ) and Sizewell (FKC) between late Sept. and early Dec. 368. P i e d flycatcher.—There were two spring records—both for Apl. 29th—at Benacre (CRN) and Elveden (PAB); autumn passage to late Sept. was very light. 371. H e d g e sparrow.—Eight apparent migrants on Minsmere beach, Sept. 22nd (HEA). 375. T a w n y pipit.—Benacre, Sept. 5th and 6th (FKC), Oct. 20th (CRN) and—same bird?—Oct. 28th (BJB). 376. T r e e pipit.—Status now rather uncertain but from paucity of reports numbers are probably very low. Another waste-land bird rapidly declining. 379. Water pipit.—Up to three, one with a ring, at Minsmere between Jan. and mid-Apl., and another five or six there, one again with a ring, during Nov. and Dec. (HEA). Two at Southwold, Dec. 18th (CRN). 380. White wagtail.—Scattered records of passage birds in spring and autumn. 381. Grey wagtail.—After a lapse of nearly ten years, breeding again took place, with one pr. successful on R. Stour (AB) and probably another pr. elsewhere on the river, a f. and two young being seen on July 14th (RH). Autumn and winter reports were more widespread and numerous than for some time. At Härtest one spent most of the winter in a flooded lane (WHP).


26

Suffolk Natural

History,

Vol. 16, Part 1

382. Yellow wagtail.—Ten prs. bred at Minsmere but otherwise there were few breeding reports. A few scattered pairs cling on in R. Stour Valley, westwards from Sudbury. Blue-headed wagtail.—Boyton, Apl. 25th ( C G D C ) , Havergate Island, May 20th (RJP), and a breeding m. throughout summer Minsmere/Sizewell (HEA). 383. W a x w i n g . — S c a t t e r e d flocks, over-wintering from 1970, remained until Apl. when sixty-five were counted at Ipswich on 9th ( W H R , R J W et al)\ most unusually two of these lingered at least tili May 4th (AB, AW). Once again immigration took place from early Nov. onwards but numbers were small—max. thirteen at Felixstowe—and was confined entirely to the coast except for a single bird far inland at Pakenham on Nov. 18th. 384. Great grey shrike.—Winter numbers were probably much as usual, with ten records from scattered inland localities and at least a score near the coast. First arrivals noted from late October. 386 W o o d c h a t . — O n e at Walberswick between July 18th and Aug. 30th (CRN, G B G B , F K C , G J J et al)~an unusually long stay for a passerine migrant.

388. R e d - b a c k e d shrike—Numbers remain very low, with a total of only twelve prs. reported from four places near the coast and eleven prs. in the Breck of which seven were probably successful. Also present at one heavy-land locality where breeding may have taken place.


BIRD REPORT

27

391. Hawfinch.—Recorded only at Minsmere (PJM) and Walberswick, where two prs. possibly bred (GJJ) and in northwest Suffolk at Brandon (AEV), Culford (WHP), Tuddenham, and Bury St. Edmunds (CAEK). 393. Goldfxnch.—Breeding and wintering numbers in the western side of the county continue very low. 394. Siskin.—Winter numbers were nowhere high. A nest at Brandon, 50 feet up in a Scots pine, with hen incubating on May 28th. There were large young in nest on June 21st but they were not seen to fledge and pr. were busy building again on June 23 rd (PAB). 396. Twite.—Inland records were: six at Tuddenham and two at Elveden in Oct. (CAEK). 397. Redpoll.—Widespread records of good numbers—flocks of up to 150—from both sides of the county during winter and present in many areas in summer. M e a l y redpoll.—Up to four at Minsmere, Mar. and Apl. (HEA, GJJ). 401. Bullfinch.—Four observed Coming in from the sea at Benacre, Oct. 30th (BJB). 404. Crossbill.—It was a poor year for this species with only scattered prs.—two of which possibly bred, or singles near the cuast. Numbers low too in Suffolk Breck forests and no broods were reported though one observer located ten prs. 408. Brambling.—Numbers were low during both winters, though one flock of up to 400 was feeding on beechmast in the Breck in Jan. and Feb. (PAB). 410. Corn bunting.—A very marked reduction in both breeding and wintering numbers is noted by almost all observers. This decline has been taking place during the past two or three years. 422.

L a p l a n d bunting.—One at Benacre, Oct. 25th (DRM).

423. Snow bunting.—Small numbers only—max. thirty to forty —during both winters. ERRATA 1 9 7 0

99. M a r s h harrier.—Information since received indicates that this species did N O T breed at Benacre in 1970.


F O U R A M E R I C A N WADERS W H I C H OCCURRED AT M I N S M E R E I N 1 9 7 1 . T O P — W I L S O N ' S P H A L A R O P E , W H I T E - R U M P E D S A N D P I P E R , PECTORAL

PIPER AND SEMI-PALMATED SANDPIPER.

Copyright:

P. J.

FROM SAND-

Makepeace


BEWICK'S SWANS, SHINOLE STREET, M A R C H ,

1971

Copyright:

G. St. J. Hol Iis


WAXWING,

IPSWICH, APRIL,

L')71

Copyright:

G. St. J.

Hollis


28

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 1

188. Red-necked phalarope.—The observers concerned now consider that the bird at Boyton on Oct. 26th was more likely to have been a grey phalarope. L I S T OF OBSERVERS

N. E. Agar B. Asher H . E. Axell Mrs. J. M . Axell G. J. Baker P. A. Banks M . A. S. Beaman G. B. G. Benson B. J. Brown M. Bruyntjes A. Botwright A. A. Butcher A. L. Bull S. J. Burnell R. G. H . Cant C. G. Cartwright Mrs. N . C h a p m a n H. E. Chipperfield F. Chipperfield J. W. Clarke A. Cook F. C. Cook Mrs. A. E. C o b b F. K. C o b b R. J. Copping T h e Earl of Cranbrook R. N. Creasey N. Cribb C. G. D . Curtis C. R. C u t h b e r t M . Davison G. Dent Dingle Bird Club D. A. Dorling A. G. Duff J. N. D y m o n d N. J. Evans D . Fletcher P. M . and E. M . Fisk J. A. Foster

J. Galton Mrs. E. C. Green H . P. G. Goyder A. M . Gregory C. J. Mackenzie-Grieve M . A. Harris C. Herring A. T . Heffer R. Howard G. S. Hoare R. N. Hopper G . St. J. Hollis Mrs. D. Hollis Miss G. Houghton Lord H u r c o m b Mrs. D. Jay B. W. Jarvis M . J. F. Jeanes G. J. Jobson Col. A. A. Johnson G. C. Johnson Mrs. L. Kellow Mrs. M. Kershaw C. A. E. Kirtland A. J. Last II. J. Lee J. B. Longhurst Mrs. H . Ross-Lewin R. H. Loyn R. Levett R. V. A. Marshall D r . L. HarrisonMatthews P. J. Makepeace R. H. Marchant Lord Medway M . Miller D . M o wer D . R. Moore C. R. Naunton

D . Nesling M . Nugent R. P. Bagnall-Oakeley D . M . S. Orr M . Packard A. Parker 0 . B. Parker R. J. Partridge W. H. Payn R. Payne H . Pease J. E. L. Pemberton 1. Peters W. H . Ramsay M . Redman R. A. Richardson D. A. Riley Sir J. F. Rowley, BT. R. Rolph W. E. Rowe Dr. I. A. Roxburgh A. T . M . Ruck J. Sheppard Mrs. M . Smith R. Spall H. E. P. Spencer T h e Earl of Stradbroke C. W. R. Storey A. N . Sykes P. T ä t e D. Vaughan A. E. Vine F. C. G. Wayman R. J. Waters Mrs. G. Webb B. Wentworth A. Westcott S. A. Woolfries J. W . Woolfries J. P. Widgery

Suffolk Bird Report 1971  
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