SUFFOLK BIRD REPORT 1975 Editor W . H . PAYN
and The County Records Committee H . E . AXELL, B . J . B R O W N , C . G . D . C U R T I S , G . J . JOBSON
A. E . VINE
Acknowledgements. Once again our thanks are due to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, for providing us with records from its logs, and to the Editors of the Norfolk Bird Report, The Cambridge Bird Club Report, The Lowestoft Field Club Report and the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group Bulletins for passing on valuable information. Information Required. Our knowledge of the presentday status of most of the waste-land birds is very incomplete and breeding-season records of such species as tree pipit, woodlark, stone curlew, whinchat, etc. are particularly needed. Records for 1976 should reach the Editor at Härtest Place, Bury St. Edmunds by the end of January next at the latest, NOT, please, in mid-March or later. A Brief Review of the Year Suffolk did not participate to any marked degree in the phenominal influx of new species and rare vagrants that took place over much of Britain during the year. Nevertheless 1975 produced plenty of interest for resident and visiting ornithologists. Two new species were added to the County List—a Petchora pipit from eastern Russia and—at long last—a pratincole. Among other vagrants were a short-toed lark and a buff-breasted sandpiper, the second occurrence in the county of this American species. Raptors were again prominent. The usual red kite occurred on the coast and one is tempted to guess that it may be the same individual in each instance. There were one or more goshawks, a species which seems to be on the increase here and may yet establish itself in our fir forests. Several rough-legged buzzards— such a feature of the '74 autumn—lingered on well into April. Fewer returned in the autumn.
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A male red-footed falcon turned up at Minsmere in October. This once very rare straggler has now visited Suffolk for three years in succession. Fewer ospreys came under notice and only one Montagu's harrier was reported. This bird has crashed disasterously since 1967 when three pairs at least nested in the county. It proved an exceptional year for spoonbills, with quite large parties on the Blyth estuary, at Havergate and up to nine at Minsmere at one stage. More little gulls, including many in fĂźll breeding plumage, appeared on the coast. Among our breeding birds marsh harriers at Minsmere and avocets at Havergate and Minsmere all did well, as did black redstarts at most of their usual coastal sites. A wigeon again nested and reared young but it seems possible that this is a feral bird, as was most probably the white Stork which lingered in the Darsham area right through the winter. The same bird, or another, was later seen on the Waveney near Bungay. More long-eared owls were reported, including several apparent immigrants on the shore-line. Rather unusually the spring passage produced three bluethroats, males in fĂźll breeding dress. The very mild winter enabled a number of our summer visitors to linger here long beyond their usual departure times. These included a turtle dove in January and February, a swift in November and several chiffchaffs, common sandpipers and of course blackcaps which seem to have survived through the winter. One or two fieldfares in June may have been belated emigrants or early immigrantsâ€”probably the former. There was also the usual crop of November swallows and martins. On the other side of the coin most of the warblers and all the wasteland species showed a continuing decline. Finally a note on feral species. The ring-necked parakeet seems set to become established, pairs and singles having been reported at various coastal localities from South Cove to Bawdsey during the year. Also present on the coast were the usual flamingo(s) and sacred ibis, a snow goose, mandarin ducks and a Dalmatian pelican which came in to Minsmere for a few hours in May. This could conceivably have been a wild bird. Migration (Based on information provided by B. J. Brown, R. S. Briggs, D. R. Moore, C. R. Naunton, G. J. Jobson, M. Packard, F. K. Cobb, RSPB et al.)
Another exceptionally warm winter encouraged a number of summer visitors to over-winter in Britain—whinchats and ring ouzels, a whitethroat and a redstart among others. In Suffolk we had a turtle dove, a number of common sandpipers, chiffchaffs and blackcaps, the latter now quite regulär with us. With mild conditions prevailing through much of February and March, little of note occurred and there were no marked weather movements. In mid-March a group of twenty rock pipits on Lowestoft Denes included four or five showing characteristics of the Scandinavian race. They remained tili April 4th. April opened with very cold weather and strong northerly winds, conditions which lasted until mid-month. Migrants were late, though a water pipit and white wagtail put in an appearance on April 6th. Heavy rain on 18th/19th brought marked 'falls' of flava wagtails at Lowestoft, including a grey-headed wagtail and two white wagtails, willow warblers and wheatears. At Shotley the first blackcaps appeared on 18th. Two days later a cuckoo, more flavas, sedge warblers, willow warblers and a sprinkling of wheatears were moving north at Lowestoft. Emigration by rough-legged buzzards was noted on April 20th when four soared away N.E. from Easton Bavents. The first spoonbill appeared at Felixstowe on 22nd and on 27th the rarity of the year reached Minsmere—a Petchora pipit from eastern Russia, the first for the county and the first in spring for Britain. May was another cold and wet month with spring passage still slow to get under way. The first marked 'rush' of migrants followed heavy rain between the 8th/l Ith and included three bluethroats, among some fifty/sixty of the species which, according to British Birds, reached Britain at that time. By mid-month wader passage was well under way and a sprinkling of pied and spotted flycatchers, firecrests and wheatears were moving up the coast. More spoonbills arrived at Minsmere and Havergate and a lone dotterel broke its journey at Felixstowe on May 29th. June opened with high winds and a fall of snow on 2nd but summer migrants continued to dribble in, notably house martins and turtle doves. At Shotley the numbers of cuckoos, sedge and garden warblers showed a marked decline from previous years but yellow wagtails and blackcaps appeared 'up' on 1974. July and much of August were dry and warm and little significant migration was recorded apart from the usual trickle of non-breeding waders and a few spotted flycatchers, reed warblers and phylloscopi. A dull spell was only redeemed by the arrival at Covehithe on August 22nd of a pratincole. The bird was seen to make its landfall from the N.E.
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Northerly winds at the end of the month produced a modest passage of waders, notably curlew sandpipers, little stints, greenshanks and knots and also, on August 28th, a buff-breasted sandpiper. This American wader was one of some fifty which are known to have reached Britain about this time. Southward passage built up steadily during September. In the first week thirteen species of wader including little stints, a Temminck, curlew sandpipers, ruffs and greenshanks were present at Benacre Broad. On the lOth a strong movement of hirundines took place along the coast followed, two days later, by Sandwich terns, swifts, more hirundines a.wi flava wagtails. Right at the end of the month a conspicuous southward movement took place of goldfinches, linnets, tree sparrows and meadow pipits. With them came the first of a number of immigrant longeared owls, one or two of which were actually flushed from the dunes by the seashore as well as one seen in Kensington Gardens, Lowestoft, on September 29th. October proved to be the peak month for both numbers and variety. Weather conditions were ideal for Scandinavian migrants and on October 10th/l Ith there was a massive influx of goldcrests, many hundreds being reported in various places from Lowestoft to Minsmere. The same rush included sylvia warblers and redstarts as well as the season's only Richards pipit which turned up at Benacre. T h e first Bewick's swans arrived on 12th, forerunners of the usual big wintering population, and at Gunton on 16th a number of late sylvias and phylloscopi were recorded. Immigrant Turdidae were arriving throughout most of the month and on into November, with swallows and martins still prominent on the coast. On November 2nd a late swift occurred at Walberswick, with the first waxwings of the winter arriving next day. On the 4th some 2,000 woodpigeons were seen over Ipswich and between November 8th and 1 Ith a strong passage of kittiwakes took place off Southwold and Benacre, "several thousand, mainly immatures" being counted by one observer in two hours. T h e high numbers of woodcock present in many woodlands throughout the very mild winter months indicate an aboveaverage immigration of this species. An interesting passage involved some 200 brent geese, seventeen of which appeared to be colour marked. They were heading south off Shotley on November 21st. Little of note occurred during December though wader numbers on our estuaries were high with big flocks of dunlin on the R. Orwell and more than 150 snipe present for a time on the Shotley marshes. W.H.P.
SYSTEMATIC L I S T
Records refer to single birds unless otherwise stated. Black-throated diver.—Shingle Street, March 15th (MM, PM). Great northern diver.—One present on R. Orwell as far up river as Cliff Quay from Dec. 2nd to year's end. It was seen to feed on small crabs. Red-throated diver.—Variable and mainly small numbers along coast in both winters. Highest numbers were c. 30 off Sizewell/Minsmere in Nov. Great crested grebe.—Breeding prs. recorded, including those sent to B.T.O. Census: Blundeston Lake 1 pr. Barham Pits 2-3 prs. Bosmere 1 pr. Bures 1 pr. Cläre Pits 2 prs. Culford 1 pr. Holbrook 1 pr. Homersfield 3 prs. Lackford Pits 1 pr. Livermere 5 min. Minsmere 1 pr. Oulton Broad 1 pr. Redgrave Lake 2 prs. Redgrave New Waters 1 pr. Trimley Lake 1 pr. Weybread Pits 4 prs. Wortham 1 pr. T h e pr. at New Waters, Redgrave were sitting on nest platform on Feb. 20th, with bird apparently incubating a few days later. One young hatched and reared from this nest (WHP). Out-ofseason numbers were high, particularly on river estuaries, e.g. forty-three, Holbrook Bay, Aug. 24th (PM), thirty plus, R. Orwell, Jan./Feb. (SOG) and thirty-three, Homersfield Pits, Nov. (LFK). R e d - n e c k e d grebe.—Havergate, Sept. 8th/9th (RSPB) and Benacre, Oct. 13th/26th (CRN, SC). Slavonian grebe.—Falkenham, R. Deben, Mar. 25th (SJB); Benacre, Nov. 30th (GWM). Black-necked grebe.—Benacre Feb. 14th (GWM). Little grebe.—At least fifteen prs. bred or attempted breeding, including two or three on newly created reservoirs. Winter numbers on sah water were very high and included fifty/sixty in Ipswich Docks, Jan. to early April, thirty-eight Falkenham and ninety-five at Waldringfield, Dec.
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Manx shearwater.—A 'probable' off Easton Bavents, May 3rd (DV); five off Minsmere, July 9th (RSPB); singles Aying north off Felixstowe, Aug. 22nd (AMG); Southwold, Sept. 14th (SOG); and Covehithe, Sept. 28th (JELP). Fulmar.—Generally small numbers offshore between April and Oct.
Gannet.—Majority along coast between Aug. and Nov. Twenty-eight passed north in two hours off Covehithe on Sept. 16th. Cormorant.—Winter numbers appear to be on increase with seventy-five on R. Orwell and a max. of sixty at a roost in dead trees at Melton in Feb. and Dec. Odd birds on inland waters during year. Shag.—Present in small numbers in estuaries and harbours during both winters, including up to five on R. Orwell in Nov./ Dec. and seven—all imms.—in Lowestoft harbour in Mar., a number lingering to mid-June. Heron.—Onlv incomplete figures were received for a few heronries. An attempt will be made to count all heronries in the county during 1976. Purple heron.—Walberswick, one, May lOth (GJJ), Minsmere, May 18th (RSPB). Bittern.—Population probably about normal level. were no winter records away from coast.
Spoonbill.—Unusual numbers occurred on coast between Apl. and Dec., the first being a bird at Felixstowe on Apl. 22nd. Also noted at Havergate, two in May and five on Aug. 17th and at Walberswick in June. Present also at Minsmere irregularly between May and mid-Sept., with nine there for two days in mid-July and six from end July to late Aug. Up to seven on R. Blyth during last fortnight of Aug. Two imms. were still on R. Ore in Dec. White Stork.—The bird which wintered—1974/5—in the Darsham/Yoxford area remained there up to Apl. 12th. It or another was then located near Bungay where it spent the period June 10th/16th (BJB, DRM).
Garganey.—Two prs. probably bred at Minsmere though no young were seen. Otherwise odd birds only elsewhere on coast with a pr. at Sutton Heath in May. Wigeon.—A duck and five small young noted at Southwold from May 30th to June 22nd (CRN), and four prs. were also present at Minsmere in June and July (RSPB), with others there in every month of the year. Inland: a number at Thorington St. reservoir in late Sept. (per JFR) and c. fifty at Livermere in Feb. (AJL). Pintail.—Non-breeding season populations included 190 on R. Orwell and 150 on R. Deben in Jan., 160 on R. Stour in Sept. Havergate had the highest number—a max. of 320. Gadwall.—Good numbers along coast and in N.W., including forty-five at Livermere in Aug. (PE) and c. 120 at Lackford Pits in Oct. (AJL). Probably thirty-five/forty prs. bred at Minsmere (RSpB). In the south a pr. at Higham, R. Stour in May (GRH). Scaup.—Small numbers only, nowhere more than five, on coast during both winters, due probably to mild weather. Düring May two drakes and a duck were recorded respectively from Minsmere, May 1 Ith and 18th, Holbrook Lake, May 31st and Walton ferry, May 8th. Tufted duck.—Probably increasing, particularly on west side of county where newly-created habitat is quickly occupied. A max. of 230 noted at Lackford Pits in Jan. Twelve present in Ipswich docks in Dec. Pochard.—Now breeds on several coastal broads including three prs. on Havergate. Winter populations: c. 100 at Benacre, Dec.; sixty-five at Levington in Feb. and c. 130 at Lackford Pits, Dec. Goldeneye.—Variable numbers on coast between Jan. and Apl., with c. eighty on R. Orwell in Jan. and c. twenty on Deben in Dec. One inland at Lackford in Jan. and a late f. at Benacre on June 5th. Long-tailed duck.—Very few recorded—and mostly singles— on coast from Oct. l l t h to end of year. Max. of three on R. Orwell in Dec. One at Kessingland in Jan.
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Velvet scoter.—Highest number was c. twenty off Kessingland in Jan. Otherwise up to four only at Benacre and Walberswick in Nov./Dec. Common scoter.—Very variable and fluctuating numbers off coast during year. Summer population off Walberswick increased from 150 in Apl. to 400 in July. Eider.—Fourteen on R. Orwell during Jan./Feb. and again in Dec.; also during same month up to eighteen—all imms.—at Lowestoft. Five at Felixstowe in July and scattered records of mainly singles some of which probably refer to same bird from Walberswick, Southwold, Benacre and Easton between May and Aug. Between twenty-five and forty off Sizewell and Benacre in Nov. Red-breasted merganser.—Numbers were low in both winters. One probably summered on R. Orwell (MM) and six occurred at Minsmere on July 17th (RSPB). Inland a f. at Thorington St., Nov. 9th (AB). Goosander.—Occurred in winter at usual coastal localities including seven/eight on Benacre Broad in Nov. Summer records from Minsmere, June 5th/8th, and Havergate July/Aug. Inland: three fs. at Lackford, Jan. Ist; a f. at Thorington St. also in Jan.; a pr. at Higham on Mar. 30th and a m. at Bosmere, Dec. 4th. Shelduck.—Bred inland at Livermere where ten prs. with three broods numbering at least seventeen young were seen (AJL, RVAM) and at Stoke by Nayland where about twelve birds present throughout summer (per WHP). Numbers on coast probably about average. Egyptian goose.—Up to three prs. present during year in Thorpeness area (DN). Also reported at Minsmere (RSPB) and Covehithe (CRN) in Apl. and at Reydon in July/Aug. (DV). Greyiag.—From one to twenty recorded on coast as well as one or two inland during year. Many—probably the majority— appeared to be semi-tame birds. White-fronted goose.—Highest count was 115 at one locality on coast in Jan. and with c. twenty 'probables' at Minsmere on Nov. 24th. Small numbers at East Bridge and Walberswick in March. One at Livermere on Feb. 20th showed characteristics of the Greenland race (TN).
Pinkfooted goose.—Sixteen at Minsmere on Dec. 12th (RB) was highest number noted. Otherwise only a single bird seems to have occurred, during Jan. at Southwold/Walberswick. B e a n goose.—The two examples of the race rossicus which over-wintered in the East Bridge area were last seen on Apl. lOth ( F K C ) . Brent goose.—Numbers at usual wintering localities were about average with 300/400 on R. Orwell in Feb. and Dec. Here six were seen to fly up-river and continue inland on Dec. 26th ( M M ) . A steady southward movement off Minsmere occurred from Oct. l l t h to 25th (RSPB). Four hundred odd also passed south off Benacre on Nov. 9th ( D R M ) . B a r n a c l e goose.—Variable numbers up to twenty at Shingle Street, Feb. 14th/16th (SOG, J F H ) , was unusual for East Coast. Singles at Minsmere, Feb. 9th to 16th ( R S P B , F K C ) and at Benacre Broad Apl. 20th ( D R M ) with two there, Apl. 4th ( B J B ) . One at Sudbury with Canadas, Dec. 23rd (AAB) was probably an escaped bird. Whooper swan.—Recorded only in Nov./Dec. from three coastal areas—Benacre, Minsmere and Havergate, with a max. of three at latter place. This swan is steadily decreasing in Suffolk. Bewick's swan.—By contrast to the former species, this bird might almost be termed an abundant winter visitor to suitable localities, having shown a steady increase for several years now. During Jan./Feb. a herd of up to eighty was recorded in the Southwold area ( B J B , F K C , DV), c. thirty at Minsmere and thirty-seven at Shingle Street. At Havergate c. 150 present in Feb. ( S J B ) . Majority had departed by mid-March. A single imm. consorted with mute swans in the Gipping Valley and Ipswich Docks from late June to Sept. ( C G D C , RBW). Returning birds noted from Oct. 12th at Minsmere, with numbers building up to seventy-six at Southwold in Nov. ( R J W ) , forty-three—twenty-two ads., twenty-one imms.—at Kessingland in Dec. (SA) and 127 at Sudbourne at end of year (HJL). Only one herd, numbering fourteen/fifteen was reported from the Breck rivers and Lackford Pits in Dec. (PE, CAEK). Buzzard.—Singles on coast—mainly at Minsmere and Walberswick, Feb. to Apl. lOth and on Breck to end Mar. Summer records were of single birds on Breck, June 19th ( C A E K ) and
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at Westleton, June 30th (JRR). Also recorded Leavenheath, Aug. 30th (RH), Cläre area, Sept. 12th (FGW) and Stoke by Nayland, Oct. 23rd (JFR). Rough-legged buzzard.—High numbers from the 1974 'invasion' remained during the early months of year, e.g. seven at Eastbridge/Minsmere late Jan. (FKC, AEC); one/six Havergate Jan. to Apl. (RSPB), with singlcs recorded over a wide area between the Deben and the Aide and as far inland as Grundesburgh (many observers). Up to four inland on Breck to Apl. 19th (PE, T T ) and up to eight at Iken (HD). Majority departed about mid-Apl., four being seen soaring N.E. out to sea at Easton Bavents on Apl. 20th (CRN) with laggards at Walberswick on June 5th (FAW). Second winter numbers were very low—probably no more than six birds in the coastal strip between Southwold and Orford during Nov./Dec. (SJB, RJW, DRM, MRM, PM et al). Sparrow hawk.—Shows no sign of increase. One pr. probably bred at Minsmere (RSPB) and a bird was seen at Butley on two dates in June (PT). There were scattered reports of wintering/ passage birds mainly near coast and including four at Havergate on Oct. 27th (RSPB). Goshawk.—An adult f. in the Walberswick/Blythburgh area from Nov. 13th to end of year (FKC, GJJ, CRN et al). One of the American race wearing jesses, on Breck in Dec. (CAEK). Kite.—The over-wintering bird in the Hinton/East Bridge area was recorded up to March 16th (FKC, RSPB). One probable at Cläre, Apl. 28th (FGW). Marsh harrier.—At Minsmere a pr. and a m. mated to three fs. bred or attempted breeding, three nests being successful and producing thirteen Aying young. Elsewhere one pr. was successful, rearing one young. At a third site the f. abandoned nest after mate disappeared. A number of birds were reported as usual, at various coastal localities in spring, autumn and winter. There were inland records from Thelnetham Fen, Apl. 20th (SOG) and a f. or imm. at Lakenheath on Sept. 13th (TT). H e n harrier.—Good numbers of wintering and passage birds on coast and in Breckland including up to five at Minsmere and Walberswick, late Nov. and Dec. Also four on Lakenheath Warren on Nov. 1 Ith. Several adult ms. were reported.
M o n t a g u ' s harrier.—One at Walberswick, May 22nd/23rd (CRN) was the only example recorded and marks a further sad decline in the fortunes of this species. Osprey.—Five passage birds occurred, two of them on inland waters, viz. Tuddenham (Breck), Apl. 19th (AJD); Ampton, June 23rd (AJL), Southwold, Apl. 25th/27th (DV); Minsmere, July 7th/9th (RSPB) and Havergate, Aug. 27th (RSPB). Hobby.—Singles: Breck, late June (per D R M ) ; Covehithe/ Easton, June Ist and 13th (CRN); Minsmere, June 29th, July 13th, Aug. 5th (RSPB) and seen over Ipswich, with swift in talons, Aug. lOth (MM). Peregrine.—One at Boyton on Jan. 28th seen chasing fieldfare and stock dove (RVAM); a juv. found dead at Framlingham, Oct. 6th ( S O G ) ; one Iken, Nov. 22nd (JFR). Merlin.—Small numbers on coast and Breck in autumn and winter. A late bird at Knettishall, Apl. 24th (ALB). Red-footed f a l c o n . — A m. at East Bridge, Sept. 28th (RVAM). Kestrel.—Breeding population is still low with majority near coast and in N.W. Suffolk. Widespread and not uncommon in winter and on passage. Accurate breeding records of this species would be valuable. A rather interesting record was of a m. kestrel taking young skylarks from their nest (CRN). R e d - l e g g e d p a r t r i d g e f F i n e w . e a t h c l ' i n J u n e benefited both Partridge 1 s P e c l e s a n d some good coveys were [_ seen. Q u a i l . — A bird at Shotley, Sept. lst/2nd (MP) and one calling for a week at Woolverstone in June (JCR) were only ones known to have occurred. G o l d e n pheasant.—Recorded at Lakenheath, Euston, Ampton and Tuddenham. Water rail.—Few breeding reports except from Minsmere where population was high (RSPB). Spotted crake.—Noted at Minsmere on four dates between Sept. Ist and mid-Dec. (RSPB). Oyster-catcher.—Inland: Lackford, Feb. 8th (EM-R), and two Mendlesham airfield, July 28th (SA). Good numbers on coast during year, including 450 at Felixstowe in Jan. (MM).
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Dotterel.—A bird in f.s.p. Felixstowe golf course, May 29th (MM, PM). Turnstone.—Inland: singles at Livermere, Aug. 15th and Sept. Ist (AJL). A late migrant at Benacre, June 5th (FAW). J a c k snipe.—Last recorded on coast on Apl. 26th with first in autumn on Oct. 12th. Incipient courtship flight noted at Henham in Jan. (S). Woodcock.—There was a high winter population in most areas. Little ringed plover.—Fewer breeding records than in past year or two, with two breeding prs. probably successful at one site, one pr. at a second site and one pr. which failed at a third site, all on east side of county. A fifth pr. near coast in June but no breeding proved. In north west numbers also lower with three/four known prs. at two sites, at least two successful. Passage birds noted from March 30th to early May and from late June to Oct. 2nd. Kentish plover.—Single passage migrants noted at four places on coast between May lOth and Aug. 1 Ith. Grey plover.—Average passage numbers during Apl./May and Sept./Oct. with max. of c. 100 on R. Stour in Apl. and R. Blyth in Sept. Golden plover.—High numbers inland during early months with 1,500 at Newton (HW), 400 Stanton/Wattisfield (SOG) and 500 Parham airfield (M). Whimbrel.—Main passage between mid-Apl. and end of May and from early July to mid-Sept. A few non-breeders during June. One inland feeding in a field at Tuddenham, May Ist (AJL) and one at Groton May lOth (CJL). Black-tailed godwit.—Passage numbers included 200 on Butley River on Apl. 16th, 130 on Boyton marshes in mid-Apl. and c. 280 on R. Stour in Aug. Inland, one "walking about on Long Melford Green", Oct. 26th (FHR). Bar-tailed godwit.—A few wintering birds here and there on coast. Spring passage from early Mar. to June Ist. Up to eightyseven at Walberswick on Apl. 27th (FKC, G J J ) .
Green sandpiper.—More widespread and numerous than for some years, with first autumn passage birds from late June onwards. Wood sandpiper.—Present on coast from Apl. 30th to Nov. 9th, some probably over-summering, e.g. at Buss Creek (DV). C o m m o n sandpiper.—Singles in winter on R. Orwell, Jan./ Feb. and Nov./Dec. (AC, SOG) and at Ramsholt in Jan. (SOG)'. Spotted redshank.—Again present in varying numbers throughout year with lowest numbers during winter months and gradual increases from mid-June to a peak of sixty-two—at Minsmere—on Sept. 16th. Two inland at Livermere Lake on Aug. 15tb. Greenshank.—A generally light spring and autumn passage, the highest number being ten at Minsmere on Sept. 29th (RSPB). One Cavenham Heath, June 19th (AEV). Knot.—Spring passage from early Mar. to mid-June with up to eleven irregularly throughout June and July. Average winter numbers on usual estuaries. Purple sandpiper.—Appears to be increasing as winter visitor, with a max. of thirteen present at Lowestoft—mainly Ness Point (BJB, LFK). Also reported from Felixstowe, one/ three in both winters (MM, SOG, CGDC), Minsmere, singles Oct./Nov. (RSPB), R. Orwell, Nov. (GJJ) and Benacre Broad, Nov. (DRM). Little stint.—A light spring passage from first week Apl. to mid-June. Return migration from mid-July with most during Sept. Last recorded at Shingle Street on Nov. Ist (RJW). Temminck's stint.—Two only in spring at Minsmere on May 22nd/23rd and one at Benacre Broad from Sept. 4th/llth. Pectoral sandpiper.—Singles at Minsmere, June 26th/28th and July 25th/Aug. 4th (RSPB, GJJ), and at Benacre Broad Sept. 9th/l Ith (FKC, DRM, JHM, RJW). Curlew sandpiper.—Spring passage from mid-May to midJune when a sprinkling of birds in füll 'red' plumage were recorded. Return migrants noted between late July and end Sept. with parties from twenty to thirty strong at Blythburgh, Walberswick and Minsmere.
Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 17, Part 2
S a n d e r l i n g . — A flock of twenty-seven at Lowestoft during last week of Mar. was highest number noted during either migrations. Small numbers also in winter. Buff-breasted sandpiper.—One at Walberswick between Aug. 28th and Sept. 5th, was the second occurrence of this Nearctic wader in Suffolk. There had been a considerable influx, some fifty in all, of this species into Britain. RufF.—Passage birds noted from Feb. 3rd to late May when a few ms. in f.s.p. were present at Southwold and Minsmere. In autumn from early July to mid-Nov. Recorded from several coastal sites and at Livermere but it was a generally poor year for this species. Avocet.—Good breeding results at both the R S P B colonies; at Havergate c. 100 prs. fledged eighty young and at Minsmere forty-one prs. reared between sixty/sixty-four young. Three prs. bred, one successfully, at a third site. Inland, ;wo at Livermere Lake, Aug. 28th, one of which remained tili Sept. Ist (AJL). R e d - n e c k e d phalarope.—Singles at Minsmere, May 27th/ 28th, July 28th/30th, Aug. 22nd/28th and at Havergate, Sept. 4th/5th (RSPB). Stone curlew.—Probably seven prs. bred in coastal belt, a distinct improvement on recent years. Breckland population probably low and decreasing. P r a t i n c o l e sp.—One seen to come in from sea at Covehithe, Aug. 22nd (JB). This record has been accepted by the Ranties Committee. They are not however agreed to which race it should be ascribed. NEW TO SUFFOLK. Arctic skua.—It was a poor year for all skuas. There was only one 'possible' spring record of this species and only some twenty-five individuals were noted inshore during Aug./Sept. A group of four off East Lane on Sept. 14th ( M M ) and three off Southwold on Sept. 29th (DV). One off Minsmere Oct. 12th (RSPB, SA) and off Slaughden, Oct. 22nd (SC). G r e a t skua.—Singles off Walberswick, July 20th ( G J J ) ; Benacre, Sept. 9th ( F K C ) and Southwold, Sept. 14th (SOG). P o m a r i n e skua.—An imm. at Minsmere, Sept. 16th (RJW).
G l a u c o u s gull.—One or more first year birds reported on coast during much of year. Lowestoft and Benacre are localities particularly favoured. I c e l a n d gull.—One 'probable' in first year plumage, Benacre, Feb. 3rd ( H J L ) . M e d i t e r r a n e a n gull.—Two, Minsmere during May (RSPB) and one, Dunwich, June 8th (SA). Also present at Benacre irregularly from mid-Sept. with two, ad. and sub-ad., there throughout Nov. (GWM, D R M , PAG et al). Little gull.—More present than for some years on coast between Mar. 21st and Nov. 20th. The majority were, as usual, immature but adults were noted from Apl. 23rd with up to eight in f.s.p. at Minsmere at end of May (GJJ). Numbers of ads. and imms. remained high during June with a max. of twelve at Minsmere during first week (RSPB). By Aug. return passage was noted with the first juv. recorded on Aug. 3rd. Occurred also at Felixstowe, Levington and Walberswick—all imms. during May, June and Aug. Inland an imm. at Livermere on Aug. 15th (AJL). B l a c k - h e a d e d gull.—Breeding colonies at Havergate and Minsmere had good success but of c. seventy nests at Bury B.F. Ponds at least fifty were abandoned because of disturbance (AJL). About 1,000 were seen hawking insects with swifts over Ipswich on Aug. 5th (AC). Kittiwake.—Fifty prs. bred at Lowestoft, rearing about one young per pr. after twenty nests had been destroyed (BJB). Black tern.—A rather protracted passage extending from May 7th to Oct. 12th with the largest party of eleven at Sizewell on Oct. lOth (SOG). Smaller numbers, singles up to seven, were observed at Walberswick, Havergate, Felixstowe and Levington with one in Ipswich docks on Oct. 3rd. There were, very unusually, no inland records. C o m m o n tern.—The bird wintering at Minsmere/Sizewell during Nov./Dec., 1974, remained there until Feb. 26th. About 130 prs. bred at Minsmere, twenty-five prs. at Havergate, with a few other prs. scattered along coast. Noted regularly on R. Orwell as far up as Ipswich docks.
Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 17, Part 2
Arctic tern.—Three prs. bred at Havergate Island, and reared one young (RSPB). Noted also at Minsmere and Lowestoft during Aug. and early Sept., including six at Sizewell, Sept. 25th (FKC). Roseate tern.—Singles at Walberswick, Apl. 22nd (SOG) and at Minsmere, May 29th (MJE) and Sept. 16th (FKC). Little tern.—At Minsmere nine prs. bred, including three— one successful, on beach (RSPB). Elsewhere two other colonies on beach were unusually successful thanks to active wardening and between forty and fifty young fledged (FJF, M R F , DRM CRN). Sandwich tern.—Bred successfully at Minsmere c. 200 prs. and at Havergate, c. 100 prs. (RSPB). Breeding and passage birds widespread along coast between end Mar. and late Oct. Little auk.—An offshore passage northwards took place during Nov. and early Dec. with eleven observed off Southwold and Benacre on Nov. 8th (DV, FKC); the same number off Felixstowe next day (PM, MM) with odd birds also off Benacre, Nov. 22nd (A&DW) and into Dec. (AB). Razorbill f The usual 'oiled' casualties were recorded along Guillemot ^ c o a s t b e t w e e n Feb. and Nov. A few apparently healthy birds also occurred. Turtle d o v e . - One or more over-wintered, a bird seen at Benacre Ness on Jan. Ist (RAH, DT, J T ) and another—or the same bird?—which remained in Holywells Park, Ipswich from Jan. 25th until well into April (MM). One also present in same place Oct. 21st/29th (MM, PM). Flocks of 150 at Icklingham in June (AJL) and c. 360 at Levington in Aug. (MM, PM). Collared dove.—Continues to increase and spread. Winter flocks of 120 at Icklingham (AJL), 250 at Ipswich docks (MM) and 445 on Acton airfield (RWG) indicate the species' presentday abundance. Cuckoo.—A continuing decrease, particularly noted at Ipswich, Southwold, Shotley, Waldingfield and Härtest, but ten were recorded at Stallode Wash, on edge of Fens on June 19th. Barn owl.—Shows a noticeable upturn in population, being reported as breeding or present during the year in thirty-three parishes.
Little owl.—Still scarce and present in only seventeen parishes—much the same as last year. Long-eared owl.—At least seven prs. believed or known to have bred, two being on Breck, remainder in coastal belt. Others noted during winter—a pr. in each case—at Barrow and Wortham (WHP) and a roost of eight/twelve in thorn trees near Sudbury (AAB). Probable immigrants seen at Languard Point, Oct. 16th (SOG), on open dunes at Shingle Street, Oct. 30th (SA) and in Kensington Gardens, Lowestoft, Sept. 29th (BJB). Short-eared owl.—Present in Apl. and May in Walberswick area (GJJ, CRN) with adults carrying food but no young seen. Also in Orford area but again no nest known. Migrants seen to come in from sea at Easton Bavents on Oct. 26th (SOG). Scattered winter reports mainly near coast and on Breck. Nightjar.—Too few records were received to allow an accurate assessment of present status but numbers are probably fairly static where habitat has not been destroyed. Bred Minsmere (RSPB), near Ipswich (IS, EMP), and Hollesley (FStGH). Present also at Sutton, Tangham, Walberswick and Blythburgh and, of course, on Breck. Swift.—A laggard at Walberswick on Nov. 2nd. Kingfisher.—Widespread but still far from its pre-1963 level. Hoopoe.—Only recorded in autumn, at Gisleham, Oct. Ist (S. J. Briggs per RSB) and at Tangham Forest, Oct. 26th (CGDC) and Rendlesham next day (JELP). Woodpeckers.—All three species are probably maintaining their numbers though the green woodpecker is now very scarce in the 'prairie' areas of Suifolk. The lesser spotted woodpecker is now more frequently reported than formerly. More observers? Wryneck.—It was a poor year for this species. There was again no suggestion that any bred here though one was present for some weeks in a garden at Copdock (SOG). Singles in spring at Creeting, May 19th (I & H Small) and Framlingham, May 22nd (SOG). In autumn at Walberswick, Aug. 31st (GJJ) and Minsmere on four dates in Sept. (RSPB) and at Worlington, Sept. 14th/16th (SOG).
Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 17, Part 2
Short-toed lark.—Walberswick, Sept. 7th (AC, FKC, AEC). Woodlark.—Possibly twelve breeding prs. located in the coastal belt—an improvement on recent years. Very few reports from the Breck. A single in Stowmarket area, Feb. 18th (JCR). Shorelark.—In Jan. and early Feb. flocks of up to 50 at Minsmere and twenty-five at Walberswick but thereafter numbers feil steadily tili last three noted at Minsmere on Apl. 29th. Recorded in autumn from Oct. 22nd but numbers much lower, with a max. of twenty at Walberswick in Dec.
Swallow House martin
A distinct fall in breeding numbers of both species was widely noted. Odd birds lingered on coast until late in Nov., e.g. swallow, Thorpeness Nov. 23rd and Sizewell—two—Nov. 28th. House martin, Woolverstone—two—Nov. 24th and Minsmere, Nov. 29th.
Golden oriole.—Two nests, both successful, were found in usual breeding area but it is probable that more than two prs. were present during summer as four singing ms. were located. Single birds heard or seen at four coastal localities between May 19th and June 13th. Hooded crow.—More and more widespread records than for many years, with first arrivals on coast about mid-Oct. Largest party was c. twenty on R. Blyth in Dec. (GJJ). Also noted were twelve Aying into roost at Walberswick in Jan. (DRM) and c. twelve at Kessingland and Covehithe in Dec. (PM). Inland up to ten on Breck, Oct. 30th (AJL) and singles at Burgate also on Oct. 30th (WHP) and Stoke by Nayland, Nov. 6th (MRF). Rook.—During the summer a count of rookeries was carried out by the Suffolk Ornithologists Group. It is thought that complete coverage of the whole county was obtained. Summary of results: Number of rookeries 929, number of occupied nests 15,850. Average number of nests per rookery 17.1. The great majority of rookeries contained fewer than twenty-five nests. Forty-seven colonies contained between fifty-100 nests. Only seven colonies contained more than 100 nests. The three largest colonies were: Ashmans Hall, Beccles, 170 nests; The Grange, Burgh Castle, 165 nests; and Wattisfield, 157 nests.
The only previous census undertaken in Suffolk was in 1945 when a much smaller area was covered. Comparable figures between exactly the same areas are: 1945 1975 Total rookeries 56 121 Total nests 3,183 1,724 i.e. Roughly twice as many rookeries but only half as many nests (MJFJ). A füll account of this survey has now been published by the Suffolk Ornithologists Group in a booklet The Rook in Suffolk by M. J. F. Jeanes and R. Snook. It includes also a number of general comments on rooks and their habits, a comparison with earlier Suffolk counts and an analysis of recoveries of ringed rooks. Bearded tit.—Recorded away from their normal breeding strongholds at Minsmere and Walberswick, at Holbrook—three plus—Apl. 13th (PM), 'small numbers' at Redgrave Fen, Dec. (SA) and singles at Shotley, Jan. and Aug. (MP, MM), Livermere, Aug. (SOG, AJL), Bourne Park and Brantham in winter (MM). Fieldfare.—Once again single late stragglers were recorded at Minsmere, June 5th (KO), South Cove, "june 6th (CRN) and at Lakenheath, June 7th (RTC). Early immigrants occurred at Lowestoft on Aug. 1 Ith (DSS) at Brightwell on Aug. 13th (AC) and at Minsmere on Aug. 29th (RSPB). Ring ouzel.—A very light spring passage between Apl. 18th and May 3rd, with one inland at Sudbury on Apl. 27th. Return passage, also very light, confined to October with the last on Oct. 26th. Wheatear.—Two prs. probably bred in a new area near coast (PM). Breck numbers were unclear but a minimum of twenty prs. were certainly present. These included six prs. some with young on wing, at an old breeding site, long abandoned but now recolonised by rabbits. Flere, on June 7th, a 'pest officer' was busy gassing rabbits and, doubtless, young wheatears in their nests (WHP). A few late birds, probably Greenlanders, to Nov. Ist. Stonechat.—Breeding numbers much as last year, e.g. nine/ten prs. on coast and one/two prs. on Breck. A good population of wintering birds along coast with probably up to four on Breck. Odd birds in Sudbury area in both winters.
Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 77, Part 2
Whinchat.—Breckland numbers low and none bred on coast. A very thin autumn passage. Redstart.—A continuing decrease. Perhaps ten/fifteen prs. scattered along coastal belt and only three/four prs. actually recorded on Breck where the bird was once plentiful. Black redstart.—Breeding: Lowestoft eight prs. bred with singing ms. regularly in five other places (BJB). Ipswich, two prs., one certainly successful (IS, EMP, CGDC, AB et al) and Felixstowe two prs. both successful (FJF, MRF). Autumn and winter records from many places on coast with one inland at Brockley on October 29th (Mrs. Coe, per WHP). Bluethroat.—Only occurred on spring passage which is unusual. Singles, all identified as, or believed to be of, red-spotted race at: Lowestoft May 12th, a dead bird in füll breeding dress (BJB) and at Minsmere May 17th/18th and Scotts Hall, May 27th (RSPB). Cetti's warbler.—A single at Minsmere, March 8th was only record (RSPB). Icterine warbler.—Minsmere sluice, August 20th (FKC). Blackcap.—Wintering birds were present at Southwold (DV) and Carlton Colville (DRM) in both winters, at Ipswich (two) in February and at Cockfield in March and Bury St. Edmunds in December (SOG). Whitethroat.—A higher summer population was reported by some observers though no improvement was noted in Lowestoft area (DRM). One killed by a cat at Framlingham on May 14th had been ringed at Dungeness on lOth (SOG). Lesser whitethroat.—A species which is very little recorded. T h e destruction of old high hedges which are its main habitat, has reduced breeding population to a very low level over much of the county, e.g. a minimum of twenty-five birds located in ten parishes north of Bury St. Edmunds (AJL). This would probably have been an average population for one parish in the 1930s. Chiffchaff.—Several winter reports; two at Ipswich, February 4 t h / l l t h (CGDC), and singles, East Bridge, December 4th (FKC), Southwold, stunned against window, December 8th (DV), and Sutton, December 27th (AB). Wood warbler.—Passage birds at Foxhall, May lOth (CGDC) and Tunstall, June 6th (SOG) and in Holywells Park, Ipswich, August 13th/17th and 26th (MM, PM).
Goldcrest.—Breeding population was well maintained possibly increasing. An exceptional influx of immigrants noted on coast from late September to mid-October with peak arrivals about October 1 lth/13th when concentrations of several hundred noted at Lowestoft, Carlton Colville, Southwold, Minsmere and Havergate. Firecrest.—Spring passage on coast between April 3rd and May 18th, involving some 12/15 birds. In autumn singles only at Minsmere on October 7 t h / l l t h and Ipswich, October 14th. One or more singing ms. in Breck during summer. Pied flycatcher.—Spring migration, between May 16th and June 25th with a total of seven birds—only one f. reported. A very small autumn passage during August and early September. Two inland at Wolves Wood, August 26th. Red-breasted flycatcher. exceptionally early date.
-Lowestoft, July 9th (JRR) an
Tree pipit.—Numbers generally low but nineteen singing ms. were located on Breck. Petchora pipit.—One on the Scrape at Minsmere April 27th
Rock pipit.—The usual coastal records during both winters and two inland at Sproughton B.F. Pits during December (MM). Small numbers of the Scandinavian race at Lowestoft in March and early April (BJB). Water pipit.—One to three at Lowestoft, Southwold, Boyton and Minsmere up to May 7th and inland at Lackford G.P. in March. One or two at Minsmere in November/December. Richard's pipit.—Benacre, October l l t h / 1 6 t h (BJB, D R M , CRN). White wagtail.—A small spring passage—all but one record from coast—between early March and early June with return migration during late September. Grey wagtail. -Breeding prs. on Rs. Lark, Box and Brett— a total of four prs.; also at Baylham and on north bank of R. Waveney. Present in summer on R. Gipping. Thinly but widely spread in winter. Yellow wagtail.—Small numbers during breeding season in of Rs. Stour, Lark and Gipping. Passage birds as usual April/May and August/September. Valleys
Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 17, Part 2
Blue-headed wagtail.—A marked coastal passage from April 19th to May 24th noted at Boyton, Minsmere, Benacre and Lowestoft, mainly single birds but at Minsmere three on April 19th and five on 20th. Also a late bird there on June 15th. Grey-headed wagtail.—(M. f thunbergi). One on Lowestoft Denes, during a large passage of flavas, April 19th (BJB, RSB, DRM, JRR). Waxwing.—Up to twelve from the 1974 influx lingered by the A12 at Woodbridge throughout January and February. A small immigration again in autumn from November 3rd, eig'nteen at Oulton Broad on November 8th, ten at Kessingland on November lOth and eight at Southwold in mid-month were the highest numbers reported. Scattered records of up to four birds from many coastal localities. Very few came far inland. Great grey shrike.—Widespread records during both winters. Red-backed shrike.—Fifteen breeding prs. were located in coastal belt. In Breckland only ten prs. reported though complete coverage of that area was probably not achieved. Hawfinch.—Reported during year, two or three only, from Reydon, Covehithe, Nacton, Playford, Ipswich, Rendlesham, Henham and Groton, but higher numbers occurred at Dunwich, eighteen in December (CRN), at Staverton thirty-three in April (AB) and in north Suffolk f. 30 in January (WHP). Siskin.—Good numbers, particularly on Breck, in both winters, some flocks numbering fifty or more. Reported as feeding on peanuts in some Ipswich gardens. Twite.—First autumn arrivals noted on September 30th. A max. of 400 at Havergate in October. Two inland at West Stow on December 14th (AJL). Redpoll.—Widespread and with high breeding populations at Hollesley, Minsmere, Walberswick and elsewhere. Mealy redpoll.—One or two at Minsmere, Walberswick and Thorpeness during January, February and March. Two at Oulton Broad in November, and 'several' at Walberswick. A lone bird at Leiston has visited the same garden for three years running to feed on Oenothera biennis seeds. Crossbill.—Low numbers at several places on the Breck and at Woolverstone, Sutton and Wolves Wood, Hadleigh.
Bramblings.—Flocks of up to 100 during both winters, with first arrivals on October 4th. Corn bunting.—Present in summer at Ampton, Acton, Bildeston, Cavenham, Fornham, Lakenheath, Livermere, Mendlesham and in coastal belt at Brightwell, Ellough, Freston, Falkenham, Tattingstone, Sutton, Woolverstone and Levington. A winter roost at Bourne Park of fifty plus. Lapland bunting.—Easton Lowestoft, November (LFK).
Bavents, October 2nd (CRN);
Snow bunting.—First on coast on September 20th with about average numbers both winters.
FIRST AND LAST DATES OF SUMMER VISITORS, 1 9 7 5
Speeles ChifTchaff C o m m o n tern Garganey Sandwich tern Wheatear Stone curlew
First seen Mar. 9 M a r . 27 M a r . 28 M a r . 30 Apl. 1 Apl. 5
Locality Holbrook Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere L a n g u a r d Pt. Breck
Last seen Oct. 9 Oct. 12 Aug. 21 O c t . 23 Nov. 2 Nov. 8
\ ellow wagtail Sedge w a r b l e r Sand m a r t i n Cuckoo Swallovv Willow w a r b l e r
Apl. 11 Apl. 12 Apl. 12 Apl. 14 Apl. 14 Apl. 14
Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Freston Minsmere Minsmere
Oct. Oct. Oct. Sept. Nov. Oct.
Whitethroat T u r t l e dove Blackcap Redstart House martin T r e e pipit Nightingale
Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl. Apl.
14 15 16 17 17 20 20
1 3 17 10 28 10
Locality Ipswich Sizewell Minsmere Covehithe Shingle St. Coney Weston Levington Sproughton Minsmere Gisleham Sizewell Oulton Broad Minsmere Ipswich Minsmere Tangham Woolverstone Pakenham
Freston S e p t . 15 O u l t o n Broad O c t . 29 Minsmere Oct. 27 Minsmere N o v . 22 Minsmere N o v . 24 Cavenham S e p t . 15 Minsmere/ Bromeswell Lesser w h i t e t h r o a t Apl. 20 A l d e b u r g h O c t . 16 L o w e s t o f t Little tern Apl. 20 Walberswick S e p t . 17 R. O r e G r a s s h o p p e r w a r b l e r Apl. 22 O u l t o n Broad Whinchat Apl. 24 C a v e n h a m O c t . 29 M i n s m e r e Swift Apl. 27 M i n s m e r e N o v . 2 Walberswick Reed w a r b l e r Apl. 28 M i n s m e r e Oct. 10 M i n s m e r e Garden warbler May 3 Minsmere S e p t . 21 M i n s m e r e Spotted flycatcher M a y 13 Ipswich Oct. 5 Ipswich Nightjar M a y 13 M i n s m e r e Red-backed shrike M a y 20 M i n s m e r e Aug. 18 M i n s m e r e (Some species a p p a r e n t l y over-wintered. T h e i r dates have not b e e n included b u t will be f o u n d in Systematic List.)
Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 17, Part 2 L I S T OF OBSERVERS
S. Abbott H. E. Axell Mrs. J. Axell J. Barber R. Berry A. Botwright Brig. R. H. C. Bryers B. J. Brown R. S. Briggs A. A. Butcher S. J. Burneil A. L . Bull A. Cage H. E. Chipperfield F. K. C o b b Mrs. A. E. Cobb R. J. Copping Dr. S. Cox R. R. Crofts C. G. D. Curtis J. F. D e n n y A. J. Digby Maj. H . D u m a s M . J. Everett P. Ewins M . R. Farmer F. J. French R. W . Gardiner R. W . H . Garner J. W . Gibbs P. G o t h a m Miss W . Griffiths A. M . Gregory P. A. Gregory P. Hansford Miss J. F. Hancock
M . A. Hall G. R. Hatch S. A. Holyfield R. Howard J. N. Holmes G. St. J. Hollis R. A. H u m e Mrs. E. M . Hyde J. O. James M. J. F. Jeanes G. ]. Jobson J. H. Jones Mrs. L. F. Kellow C. A. E. Kirtland Lowestoft Field Club A. J. Last H. J. Lee C. J. Lowe R. V. A. Marshall J. H. Marchant R. Mabey G. W. Maybury M a j . - G e n . P. H. M a n M . Marsh Lord Medway M . R. Morlev D. R. Moore P. M u r p h y C. R. Naunton D. Nesling T . Nightingale K. Osborne J. Partridge M . Packard W. H. Payn J. E. L. Pemberton
H . Pease Miss E. M . Prime J. R. Read E. Milne-Redhead J. C. Robson J. Rowlands Sir J. F. Rowlev, Bt. F. H . Ruse D. S. Stebbings Miss I. Sherwood J. Smith Mrs. M . Smith I. Small IL Small J. Sorensen T h e Earl of Stradbroke L. Street T h e Suffolk Ornithologists G r o u p P. T Ă¤ t e T . Talbot J. Thorogood D . Thorogood Dinah, Ladv Tollemache D. Tunstall D. Vaughan A. E. Vine H . Warner F. A. W a r d m a n F. G . Wayman R. B. Warren R. J. Waters A. & D. Westcott G. Welch R. Williams C. S. Waller