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SUFFOLK BIRD REPORT 1977 Editor W.

H.

PAYN

assisted by The County Records C.

Committee

G . D . CURTIS, G . J. JOBSON, J . and A . E.

SORENSEN

VINE

Acknowledgements. As usual the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group and the Dingle Bircl Club h a v e provided us with records from their Iogs. T h e Editors of the Norfolk Bird Report, The Cambridge Bircl Club Report and the Lowestoft Field Club Report have also passed on records and Information. We are most grateful to t h e m all.

Editorial. T h e present editor is retiring. He has done a fairly hefty stint for 17 years and feels that someone with new ideas and a new approach to editorial matters is now called for. H e will be handing over after the publication of this report to D e r e k Moore who is well known to Suffolk ornithologists and is B T O representative for the county.

Records for 1978 should therefore be sent to D. R. Moore, Crosslands, Cage Lane, Boxted Cross, Nr. Colchester, Essex b e f o r e the end of J A N U A R Y next without fail. Tel. Boxted 594.

N.B. Observers are reminded of the importance of sending in very fĂźll field descriptions of semi-rarities and of birds very much out of thcir normal season when reporting such occurrences. A n u m b e r of 1977 records had to be rejected by the


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County Records Committee for lack of detailed descriptions. R e c o r d s of those species on the national Rarities Committee list should of course be sent to that body, with a copy to the County Editor. Review of the Year Not since 1965, the year of the 'Great Migratory Fall', has so much of ornithological interest occurred in Suffolk. Yet 1977 was a year of contrasts. The breeding season proved most disappointing as the cold wet weather which lasted from early April to mid-June resulted in a great lack of insect life just when it was most needed. In consequence most of our more important breeding species fared badly. At Minsmere the bittern population feil from thirteen pairs to seven, bearded tits did badly everywhere and both our colonies of avocets had a disastrous year with severe kestrel predation added to the lack of insect food for the young chicks. T w o of the four pairs of godwits were unsuccessful and at Minsmere most of the early broods of waders and terns were lost. Only the marsh harriers, less dependent on insect prey, prospered. It is not easy to judge the effect of the poor spring on other species, particularly the smaller passerines, but tits and especially long-tailed tits seem to have fared badly for the second year running. It was also the worst season within living m e m o r y for wild pheasants. To compensate for this rather gloomy picture it was a r e m a r k a b l e , indeed a vintage year for rare vagrants, perhaps the best we shall ever know. A new species was added to the Suffolk list and something of real interest was to be watched, somewhere in the county, practically throughout the year. T h e first rarity to come under notice was an American black brant which was found in February among the flock of brent geese on Trimley marshes. It was followed by a white Stork in the S a x m u n d h a m area in late March. An ortolan at Felixstowe in early May gave place at the end of the month to a pratincole, the second for the county. This bird remained at A l t o n W a t e r for some days, its aerial acrobatics giving pleasure to many observers who came from far and wide to watch it. Those who were too late were compensated by the sight of a red-necked grebe, superb in fĂźll breeding dress.


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J u n e started well with a black Stork near Mildenhall, and d u r i n g the m o n t h there were a n u m b e r of white-winged black t e r n s at various coastal localities, an adult woodchat at M i n s m e r e a n d , at the end of the m o n t h , a Caspian tern and S u f f o l k ' s third r u d d y duck. T h r e e nearctic waders occiirred in S e p t e m b e r , a Baird's s a n d p i p e r and a pectoral sandpiper on the coast and a second p e c t o r a l inland at Bury St E d m u n d s . All were reported during the same week. O n 16th O c t o b e r a Iarge flock of c r a n e s — 2 6 seems to have b e e n the highest n u m b e r c o u n t e d — w a s seen by many people to c o m e in over the Stour Valley at Higham and head on south into Essex. This was certainly the largest party of cranes ever r e c o r d e d in Suffolk. Single cranes had been seen earlier at O u l t o n B r o a d , O r f o r d and H a v e r g a t e Island. T h e tally of r a r e vagrants gathered pace towards the end of the y e a r . O n 13th N o v e m b e r and following severe Atlantic gales, a new species for the c o u n t y — a Franklin's gull— a p p e a r e d at L o w e s t o f t . A week later an adult Sabine's gull was also seen t h e r e , while a probable L e a c h ' s petrel occurred off M i n s m e r e . T h e year e n d e d in style. O n Christmas D a y a sociable p l o v e r was discovered by the Stour near Sudbury. It lingered m o s t obligingly, s o m e t i m e s in Essex but generally on the S u f f o l k side of the river. T h e F r a n k l i n ' s gull was still at Lowestoft, the cynosure of all ornithological eyes, and on 21st D e c e m b e r two ring-necked d u c k s t u r n e d up at Alton W a t e r , to be joined later by a third. A m i d all this magnificence it seems hardly worth mentioning the Pallas's a n d icterine warblers, the Richard's pipits, the b e e - e a t e r , h o o p o e , goshawk and red-breasted flycatchers which visited us during the s u m m e r and a u t u m n and which n o r m a l l y would find h o n o u r a b l e mention in any county bird report. N . B . S o m e of the records of species m e n t i o n e d in this review are still being considered by the national Rarities C o m m i t t e e .

Migration ( B a s e d on i n f o r m a t i o n provided by A . G . Bishop, A . B o t w r i g h t , B. J. Brown, P. A . G r e g o r y , G . J. J o b s o n , C. J. L o w e , D . R . M o o r e , P. M u r p h y , M. C. Marsh, M. Packard et al) Little of interest occurred during the early m o n t h s of the


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year which were generally mild and wet, broken only by a few Short spells of frost and snow. The numbers of many of our usual winter visitors such as great grey shrikes and bramblings were unusually low. Wintering divers and grebes were however more numerous than for some time, with a great northern diver and two black-necked grebes on the R. Orwell in January and a black-necked and a red-necked grebe at Benacre. Geese were present in force during the early months and tlocks of white-fronts 150 to 250 strong visited Havergate, Minsmere and Sudbourne. Lone bean geese occurred at Kessingland and Gedgrave in February and March, wnile the number of Bewick's swans rose considerably in the New Year with a large herd of 167 at Havergate and Gedgrave in February. The first few days of March were exceptionally warm and sunny and spring passage got under way much earlier than usual, with the first chiffchaff on 8th March and the first wheatears and stone curlews two days later. Swallows and house martins were also well ahead of their usual arrival times, and the first firecrests were Coming through at the end of the month. A white Stork, one of four or five reported in Britain at that time, occurred near Saxmundham. The first big passage of summer visitors was noted between Shotley and Minsmere during the second week of April with yellow wagtails and ring ousels prominent. This was followed by another big fall of wagtails about 23rd/24th April when two wood warblers also occurred inland, while next day 60 yellow wagtails, 20 pied and 2 white wagtails were counted on Covehithe beach. A grey-headed wagtail had been at Lowestoft the previous day. Sylvia warblers and terns were on the move at Shotley on the 27th and the first of the spring's ten pied fiycatchers was noted inland at Groton. A white-spotted bluethroat, a crane, two ospreys and a peregrine also turned up during that week. As usual spring passage reached its height during May with three Montagu's harriers on the 7th, an ortolan at Felixstowe on the lOth, and two more ospreys and another bluethroat at Minsmere on the 14th. The first red-backed shrikes appeared — very late — on the 17th and a pratincole and a red-necked grebe at Alton Water gave a fine finish to the month. Black terns were on passage throughout May and well into June and with them came a sprinkling of white-winged black terns and a lone bee-eater. The unexpected during the first


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week of J u n e were a serin, a lesser grey shrike at Lakenheath and a great reed warbler at Wrentham. A l t h o u g h the first wheatears had begun to dribble through in early July, autumn passage did not start in earnest until mid-August with six common sandpipers at Euston on the l l t h , the first pied flycatchers on the coast two days later and a m a r k e d fall of wheatears, whinchats and redstarts at Felixstowe and Shotley. A hoopoe, a roller and a Caspian tern were also recorded on the coast and there was a good passage of wrynecks. With them came a scatter of icterine warblers— some half dozen in all between Lowestoft and Languard Point. T h e first of five barred warblers reported during the autumn occurred with other sylvias at Minsmere on 20th August. Whinchats were prominent during the early part of September as were ring ouzels a little later and there was a massive passage of hirundines between the 19th a n d 2 5 t h . A n influx of snipe to Shotley on 3rd October included a n u m b e r of jack snipe, one of which was observed resting on s o m e o n e ' s lawn. During this period of north-easterly winds a big m o v e m e n t of wheatears, ring ouzels, redstarts and sylvias was recorded at Languard Point and included within two days of each other, a Pallas's warbler and a red-breasted flycatcher. A n u m b e r of coal tits also occurred at Languard, one being observed to come in from the sea on the 22nd. T o w a r d s the end of the month finches were coasting south and immigration by rooks, jackdaws and a lone rough-legged buzzard was recorded at Dunwich on 28th October. D u r i n g the first fortnight of November small numbers of goldcrests and many 'thrushes' were coming in from the east and two woodcocks were seen to make their landfall on 16th and 17th November. On 16th a considerable influx of starlings, blackbirds, fieldfares and meadow pipits took place at L o w e s t o f t and Benacre with parties of twenty to thirty streng Coming in from seawards all morning and 'the fields round Kessingland carpeted with blackbirds'. It was however a very poor autumn for immigrant goldcrests. Bewick's swans and brent geese increased considerably during D e c e m b e r and more than 200 snipe were present in the Shotley marshes. Right at the end of the year a mass influx of lapwings and golden plover evidently took place with unusually high numbers near the coast and, on Christmas Day, over much of West Suffolk. W.H.P.


BIRD

REPORT

SYSTEMATIC

291

LIST

Records refer to Single birds unless otherwise indicated. The order used is that of the 'British Birds' List of the Western Palearctic, 1978. Red-throated diver. — T h e usual passage/wintering birds off Benacre and Dunwich between January and March, with a max. of 35 in Feb. and a very big movement of 140+ heading N. off Walberswick on 27th Dec. (MCM, D R M , PM). Singles also on R. Orwell in J a n . , Minsmere in Oct. and on a small pond at Saxtead Green on 5th/6th Feb. ( A P G , SOG). Also, and unusually, one in almost f.s.p at Benacre between 8th and 29th April ( D R M , G W M ) .

ßlaek-throated diver. — U p to four for two days at Minsmere in mid-Jan. (RSPB). Singles: Benacre, early Jan. (GWM), R. Orwell during Jan. and Feb. and again from 17th November (many obs.); Minsmere 9th December and on R. Stour at Shotley, Nov./Dec. ( J A L et al). Great northern diver.—R. Orwell from 7th Jan. to late Feb. and three, possibly four, there from 13th Nov., one being seen regularly in Ipswich Docks (many obs.). O n e in f.s.p at Benacre on 9th Nov. (MP, EJ, S O G ) ; R. Stour, 27th Nov. (MCM). Little g r e b e . — B r e d : Alton Water, A k e n h a m , Covehithe, Barking, Ixworth T h o r p e , Pakenham, Shotley, Trimley and W h e r s t e a d — s o m e 18prs. Great crested grebe. — F o r t y or more on R. Orwell in Jan. ( M C M , S O G ) and 30 in Holbrook Bay, R. Stour end-July ( S O G ) . Breeding or attempted breeding at 19 sites. Red-necked grebe. — B e n a c r e Pits, 22nd J a n . - 1 3 t h Feb. and again on Benacre Broad and Pits, end-Dec.; Alton Water, 29th M a y - 6 t h J u n e and Walberswick 29th July, both latter being in f.s.p. (many obs.). Slavonian grebe. — D u n w i c h , 8th Jan. ( D W O per S O G ) ; R. Orwell, 14th/16th Nov. ( C G D C , PM) and Benacre 16th/25th Nov. ( D R M , C A E K , A J L )


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Black-necked grebe.—There were more records than usual f r o m : Benacre Bd, 16th J a n . - 1 3 t h Feb. (many obs.); two, Ipswich Docks end Jan. (SA); R. Orwell one and two between 21st Oct. and lOth Dec. (PM, S O G ) and five — an exceptional n u m b e r — W a l d r i n g f i e l d , 3rd Dec. ( G W ) . Fulmar.—Small nos. on coast in all months except Jan., with majority J u n e - A u g u s t , as usual. Sooty shearwater.— Singles off Minsmere, 22nd/26th Aug., with five there on 23rd Aug. ( R S P B ) . Manx shearwater. — Havergate, Aug. (JP). Storni petrel. — A dead bird, Dunwich, Oct. ( D V ) . L e a c h ' s petrel. — A 'probable' off Minsmere, 27th Nov. ( A G ) Gannet. — Varying nos. between 11 th April and end Nov. included 41 passing N. off Benacre on 24th Sept. and 50 plus also Aying N. off Sizewell, 3rd Oct. Cormorant. — High numbers generally with up to 6 nonb r e e d e r s in Ipswich docks in summer, 40 roosting on off-shore rig at Sizewell in Oct. (AJL) and an estimated winter population of c. 100 on R. Orwell (MCM). Shag. — Scattered records from coast between Jan. and April and from mid-Nov., with up to 4 at Minsmere and Lowestoft. Inland an injured imm at Gt. Blakenham, 30th Nov. Bittern. — Breeding records only from Minsmere where nos feil to 7 prs. from 13 prs. in 1976 (RSPB) and at Walberswick where probably 8 booming males present (CSW). Little bittern. — Minsmere, 22nd and 26th May (A. Curran). Little egret. — Minsmere, 2nd/3rd May (GSB). Grey heron. — Occupied nests in 14 colonies: North Cove 8, H e n h a m 17, Minsmere 4, Blackheath (2 sites) 38, Methersgate 19, Stutton 27, Ramsholt 6, Gt. Blakenham 2, Stoke by Nayland 6, Benacre 4, Redgrave 6, Brandon Fen 11, West Stow 5, E u s t o n 14. A t Minsmere, forfirst time, two nests were built in trees with two as usual in reedbed.


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Black S t o r k . — T u d d e n h a m / B a r t o n Mills, 4th/6th June (M. S. Bishop, M. C h a p m a n , R. Grimmett et al). White S t o r k . — Singles were reported: between Knodishall and Walberswick, 20th to 25th March (many obs.) Tunstall, 29th/30th M a y (per S O G ) ; Wrentham, 21st/25th June (CSW) and H i n t o n 29th June/7th July (FKC, CSW and S O G ) . It is not clear how many individuals were involved. Spoonbill. — U p to six birds present irregularly from lOth May to 4th Sept., with majority at Minsmere where there was a max of 6 on 15th July (RSPB). O n e at Havergate, 16th May (TN) a n d two on Westwood Marsh, 29th May (CSW). Also up to 6 on R . Blyth in late J u n e (CSW, D B C ) . Mute swan. — T h e herd in Ipswich docks numbered 220 in J a n / F e b and 105 in April (peak and lowest nos. for year). The R . Stour herd reached peak of 185 in Jan. and 130 in March, and the D e b e n herd at Woodbridge numbered 111 in July/Aug. O n e of those wintering in Ipswich docks for past two years r e t u r n e d each spring to nest at Minsmere. O n e of the C a t t a w a d e , R. Stour herd, had been ringed at Colchester as an ad in 1958 and is thus twenty years old at least. (All S O G Census). Bewick's swan. — H i g h numbers again present during early m o n t h s with much movement up to mid-March when majority left. T h e largest herd of up to 160 was in Gedgrave/Havergate area with a n o t h e r 80 + on Kessingland Level and c.50 at B e n a c r e . Inland only small n u m b e r s — m a x . 7 — o n R. Lark. D u r i n g 2nd winter numbers were much lower with first arrivals at M i n s m e r e on 22nd Oct. and then herds of c.40 in Nov., with few or no imms. In Dec. 50 in Waveney valley and up to 40 on L a c k f o r d Pits, W. Suffolk in Nov.

Whooper swan. — F i v e at Earsham, 13th Feb. (BJB), five at Kessingland 14th Feb., and two at Blythburgh, 29th Oct. (both S O G ) were only birds reported bar one dead at Trimley in Jan. Bean goose. —Singles at Gedgrave, 6th March Kessingland 13th Feb. and 13th March ( S O G ) .

and

at


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Pink-footed goose. —Flocks of 24 and 38 at Minsmere in Jan. and Single birds at Southwold, 14th March and 12th April. Small nos. only, in Dec. with a max. of 18 at Havergate (JP). O n e at Livermere in Dec. (SOG). White-fronted goose. —Widespread and in high numbers during early months with c.250 at Sudbourne/Aldeburgh in J a n . , 150 of which were seen to come in from sea on 6th Jan. ( G S t J H ) . A n o t h e r skein of 152 passed over Minsmere that day. At Havergate 190 and at Benacre up to 40 in Jan./Feb. Very f e w — m a x . 20—in Dec. Six inland at Livermere late Dec. Greylag goose. —Small numbers only during year, all outof-season birds being suspect as feral. Three by R. Stour at Long Melford, 23rd Jan. (AAB). Canada goose. — Widespread and in high nos. including a flock of 300 at Benacre (CRN). Increasing steadily. Barnacle goose. — Small parties of up to four were present during Jan. in the Eastbridge area (FKC, GJJ), at Boyton (SJB) and Southwold (DV). One to three also Southwold and Shingle St in Dec., Homersfield in Feb. (DRM), Alton Water in March (MCM) and at Long Melford in Jan. (AAB). Some of these birds were probably "escapes' as was one at Wixoe on 14th March which carried a rust-coloured ring. So undoubtedly were four at Barham between Feb. and Aug. (PM) and 8 at Havergate in July. Brent goose. — Winter numbers at Shotley probably static at about 200 (MP). At Trimley on R. Orwell 500 + in J a n . / F e b . and 400 in Dec. A colour-ringed bird in this flock had been ringed near Maldon, Essex in Jan. 1974 and was subsequently noted at Shotley in March and in Holland that autumn and in Jan. 7 5 and Jan. '76 (MCM). Out of season birds were two at Shingle St in April and May and one there 14th/23rd June (JG, SOG). Three at Languard Pt. on 30th May included one of pale-breasted race (AJL). First immigrants were c.55 off Walberswick on 18th Sept. (SOG) A m o n g the Trimley flock of brents an individual which had all the characteristics of the Pacific brent goose or black brant (orientalis) was located on 7th Feb. (MCM) and was subsequently watched by many ornithologists. It is believed


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that this bird had been present in the same area in 1976 and it a p p e a r e d again during the early months of 1978. This record is still being considered by the Rarities Cmtee. Egyptian goose.— Two prs. bred in the usual area near T h o r p e n e s s with up to 17 there during year. O n e pr. also at Oulton Brd. in May/June (CRN). Scattered records also from M i n s m e r e — 5 in Aug. (RSPB), Reydon in June (TN), Benacre in Feb. (BJB), S o u t h w o l d — 3 in Dec. (DV). Inland o n e at Barham Pits in Feb. (PM) and a pr. at Lackford Pits during year (BOT). Shelduck. — T h e usual high coastal population. Inland breeding, or attempted breeding, took place at Livermere, T u d d e n h a m , Sproughton and Stoke by Nayland. Casuals occurred at Redgrave, Framlingham, Gt. Glemham, Ixworth T h o r p e , Burstall and Sudbury. Ruddy shelduck. — O n e among shelducks at Cattawade on 26th J u n e ( M C M ) , seems likely to have been a feral bird. Wigeon. — High numbers in both winters included 900 at Waldringfield and 500 at Benacre in Jan. and up to 1,000 at H o l b r o o k , R. Orwell in Nov. Sixty-eight inland at Livermere and c.30 at Homersfield in Jan. A pr. at Boyton on 18th May and up to five at Minsmere in July. Gadwall. — G o o d numbers in both winters with 160 at M i n s m e r e in Sept. the highest count. Three in Ispwich docks with mallard is an interesting record. Teal. — N u m b e r s well up with between 500 and 600 at Minsmere in Nov./Dec. and at least 25 breeding pairs. Pintail. — H i g h e s t winter counts were: 210 R. Stour in Feb., 100 plus R. Orwell in Jan. and 140 in Dec. and 100 Orfordness in Dec. Twelve inland at Lackford G P in Nov. Garganey. — T h e only breeding record was of one pr. "probable' at Minsmere (RSPB). Otherwise scattered records from H a v e r g a t e , May/June; Holbrook (a pr.) on 7th April, O r f o r d 8th May, Walberswick 27th May and end July, and Alton W a t e r , 25th Sept. and 2nd Oct.


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Red-crested pochard. — Probable feral birds at Purdis Heath, a female, and at Stanningfield for a week, a male, both in Jan. Fochard. — Shows every sign of increase and spread, particularly to newly-fiooded gravel pits and 'flight ponds'. At Alton W a t e r 360 were counted in Sept./Oct. and at Lackford 150 in Nov. Ring-necked duck. — Two, then three including a male, at A l t o n W a t e r f r o m 21st Dec. to year's end (SP et al). Scaup. — Low numbers and scattered records only in both winters with a max. of 9 on R. Orwell in Jan./Feb. Single birds in Ipswich docks on 7th July and at Benacre on 14th July. Tufted duck. — High numbers and an obvious increase inland a n d on coast with 200 at Lackford G P in Jan. and 275 in Nov., 70 on Thorington St reservoir in March and a max. of 278 at Alton Water in Nov./Dec. Eider. — Widespread but in unusually small numbers. An adult drake later joined by an imra at Lowestoft in March ( B J B ) and another off Benacre in Nov. ( D R M ) . A pair at Minsmere on 3rd April (MCM). Single fs or imms at Languard Pt., Shingle St, R. Deben, Minsmere, Lowestoft and Benacre. Long-tailed duck. — Seven off Benacre in Dec. (PM, M C M ) was highest n u m b e r reported. A pr. displaying on R. Deben in F e b . ( G S t J H , G J J , M C M ) and a late bird at Havergate 19/20th May (JP). Common scoter.—The usual summer flock off Dunwich reached a peak of c.500 in July ( S O G ) but winter nos. were low. Goldeneye. — Peak nos. were 125 on R. Stour and 60+ on R. Orwell, both in Jan. Up to 10 inland at Lackford Pits, Barham a n d Thorington St. Velvet scoter. — Small numbers only Jan./Feb. and Nov./Dec. a n d 12 at Kessingland on 6th April (RJW). Smew. — A male at Woolverstone, 8th Jan. (PM, M C M ) otherwise odd fs and imms at Havergate Jan./March (JP),


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Homersfield— two—5th/6th Feb. (BJB, G W M , D R M ) , Lackford Nov./Dec. ( C A E K ) and Thorpeness Dec. (GJJ). Red-breasted coastal areas.

merganser. — Only

scattered

records

from

Goosander. — A s usual the bulk of reports came from inland and included three on R. Brett in both winters (AB) two fs at Lackford in Nov. ( C A E K ) , two at Homersfield in Jan./Feb. (GSB) and singles at Minsmere in Nov./Dec. (RSPB) and T h o r p e n e s s Dec. (GJJ). Ruddy duck. — A female in Holbrook Bay, 28th Aug and then at Alton W a t e r , 30th Aug. to 7th Sept. (MCM, PM). Honey buzzard. — O n e , Westwood Marsh, 28th Aug. and Ist Sept. (CSW). Red kite. — O n e reported from Sternfield, Friston, Dunwich, Minsmere and Walberswick, l l t h / 1 3 t h Dec. Marsh harrier. — The county population consisted of 7 prs. and 2 fs. with one bigamous male. Of this number four females at M i n s m e r e reared 4, 4 and 2 young, one pr. failing (RSPB). Elsewhere 4 prs. at three sites reared 4, 4, 3, and 2. This total of 23 fledged young from 9 females is the best ever. There were the usual autumn, winter and passage records. Hen harrier. — More records than for some years were received. A very late ad m. at Cavenham on 12th June was clearly identified ( R N H , KCR). Females also at Minsmere, 26th Apl. ( R S P B ) and Shingle St, 8th May (GStJH). First noted in autumn on 24th Sept. Two at least on Breck, J a n . / A p l . (many obs.). Four/five inc. one m. Jan./Feb. (CSW), and probably seven coming to roost in the Walberswick/Minsmere area at end Dec. ( D R M , J G , CSW). Montagu's harrier. — Males at East Hills, Walberswick on 7th May ( D B C ) and — s a m e bird? — Oulton Broad that same day ( D R M ) . A n o t h e r male at Oulton Broad on 18th May, a f e m a l e at Minsmere, 7th/12th May (RSPB) and a 'ring-tail' at L a n g u a r d Pt., 13th Aug. ( R J W , A W , PM, M C M ) . Goshawk. — Staverton, 20th March (MCM), Walberswick, 3rd


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April (DBS), Minsmere, an imm 17th/26th Dec. (RSPB) and a m. at Freston, 17th Dec. ( A A B ) . Sparrowhawk. — A pr. bred in Iken area and another probably near Dunwich. There were five or six sumttier records from elsewhere but no definite evidence of nesting. Some twenty-six scattered records of passage and wintering birds on both sides of the county, included four from the Walberswick area in January. Buzzard. — Singles recorded from coastal areas in following m o n t h s : Jan. (4), Feb. (4), March (3), Apl. (1), May (1), Oct (2), Nov. (1). Some duplication of records seems likely. One of the Feb. birds was seen to fly out to sea from Aldeburgh (SOG). Rough-Iegged buzzard. — A poor year with singles only at Walberswick, 12th March and in Butley/Rendlesham area mid-Feb./mid-March, and at Minsmere, 22nd Nov. and 12th/14th Dec. T w o over Dunwich, 28th Oct. Osprey. — First at Walberswick, 19th/23rd Apl. ( A R J P , S O G ) , B a r n a b y — s a m e bird? 24th Apl. ( D R M ) , Minsmere/Blythburgh 8th/14th May (CSW, D R M ) , Ipswich, 24th May ( A M G ) and Alton Water, lst/2nd June (many obs.). T h e r e were no autumn records. Kestrel.—Breeding nos. in centre and south west of county probably remain low but 4 prs. were located in one parish on edge of Breck (PJE). Nine were counted hovering over shore pools at Walberswick on 31st July ( J R R ) . Fairly common in coastal belt with perhaps one pr. in most parishes. Also c o m m o n in Waveney Valley ( D R M ) . Encouraging numbers were noted during autumn/winter and early spring (1978) and the species appears to be on the up-grade. A nice little episode was witnessed at Haskerton involving a kestrel and a stoat. The stoat, carrying a mouse, was r o b b e d of its prey by the kestrel. The stoat, considerably nonplussed, spent 5 minutes searching the area for its lost d i n n e r while the kestrel quietly ate it in a tree overhead (J. Goldsmith per S O G ) . Merlin. — S c a t t e r e d coastal records Jan./March, including t h r e e birds at Walberswick, and from mid-September at M i n s m e r e , Walberswick, Shingle St. and Sudbourne and inland at L a k e n h e a t h in Dec.


299 Hobby. — High numbers again reported, including several mid-summer records which suggest possible breeding. The first at Wortham, 26th Apl. (SOG), Minsmere 5th May, 17th/20th June and on four dates in July. Alton Water, 28th May/ 2nd June (AMG, CAEK et al), Walberswick, 23rd May, 5th June (FKC, DBC), Oulton Brd. 25th/29th June (GWM, DRM) and in one other area which shall be nameless, for about six weeks in May and June. Autumn passage birds at Ipswich/Sproughton on 3rd/4th Sept. (PM, SOG), Walberswick, lOth Sept. (DAP) and Minsmere, 14th Sept. (RSPB). One at Walberswick on 28th May was seen to take a large bat, probably a noctule (DBC). BIRD REPORT

Peregrine. — Immatures at Shingle St., 15th Feb. (SA) and Beccles Common, 25th Apl. (DRM). Red-legged partridge. — Breeding success of both species Grey partridge.— was quite good but except locally near coast and in NW Suffolk the red-leg now far outnumbers the grey partridge almost everywhere. Quail. — An ad female found dead at Walberswick, 15th July (SOG). Pheasant. — It was an exceedingly bad season for the pheasant, an earlier breeder than the partridge. Golden pheasant. — Widespread and possibly increasing on the Breck and its vicinity. Water Rail. — Widespread reports of wintering birds but few breeding records were received though bird is numerous in coastal reedbeds in summer. Spotted Crake. — Only noted at Minsmere on 3Ist Aug. and 6th/19th Sept. (RSPB). Corncrake. — Gt. Glemham, 15th Sept. (C) and one dead at Shotley during harvest (MP). Moorhen. — In early July one was seen to be eating newly-laid carp eggs in a pond at Gt. Glemham (C). Coot. — Widespread in all suitable habitats and in high


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n u m b e r s including 489 counted at Alton Water in Dec. (SOG). Crane. — Oulton Broad, 23rd/24th Apl. (RSB etal) Havergate 24th May (RSPB) and O r f o r d 9th June (JP). On 16th Oct. a flock of 26 a p p e a r e d over the Stour valley at Higham St. Mary ( D D - J , H J W ) and headed away into Essex. Avocet. — This species had a disastrous season. The cold w e a t h e r and lack of insect food combined with kestrel predation wiped out practically all young of both first and second broods. A t Havergate 85 prs. reared one young and at Minsmere 52 prs. succeeded with only 3 young. A t one isolated site a lone pr. reared four young and at a f o u r t h site two prs. were unsuccessful. At Havergate 26 adults wintered locally. Stone-curlew. — T h r e e prs. are believed to have bred, success u n k n o w n , in coastal belt. Breck nos. uncertain with few definite records. A flock of 29 on Foxhole Heath on 8th Sept. (per G J J ) . O n e on Walberswick beach, 28th May (JHM). Collared pratincole. — Alton (PM et al).

Water,

30th

May/2nd

June

Little ringed plover. — Breeding numbers were well up to average of recent years i.e. 10/11 prs. for whole county. Passage birds on coast and from Bury St Eds. and Sudbury a r e a s between 26th March and 16th Oct. Ringed plover. — Besides usual shore records a pr. was successful in rearing 4 young in Ipswich docks after initial failure ( S O G ) . Present at three Breck sites in summer. E x a m p l e s of tundrae at Lowestoft, 5th May and 7th Oct. (BJB). Kentish plover. — A scatter of mainly single birds between 8th May and 12th Sept. — some 11 individuals in all, including two at H a v e r g a t e in July. Golden plover. — From the low numbers recorded in late 1976, wintering population built up in New Year and included c.400 at H a w k e d o n ( R W G ) and 500 at Walsham le Willows ( S O G ) in March. These numbers were greatly exceeded during late


BIRD

301

REPORT

Nov. and Dec. when counts of 1,500-2,000 in Mutford/ Carlton Colville area (BJB), and c.650-700 at Falkenham/ Felixstowe ( A J L , S O G ) were made. Grey plover. — The winter population both early and late was below average with a max. of 250 at Trimley in Feb. ( A R J P ) and 150 at Erwarton in Sept. (J. H. Jones per SOG). Oversummering probable at Walton Ferry and Holbrook (SOG). Sociable plover. — O n e with lapwings in the Stour valley between G t . Cornard and Bures, 25th Dec —15th Jan. 1978 ( M R L , G C W et al). The second record for the county. Lapwing.— A very large immigration took place in late Nov./early Dec. with high numbers present everywhere. Knot.— R a t h e r low numbers generally. On autumn passage a peak of c.50 at Minsmere at end Oct. Sanderling. — Winter numbers m u c h a s usual, mainly at Lowestoft. Passage to mid-May and from late July. Little stint. — First noted at Minsmere on 15th May, then a few only to 20th J u n e (RSPB). A u t u m n passage from 9th July to end O c t , with stragglers to 2nd Dec. Peak nos. were 15 at Havergate in August. Temminck's stint. — O n e at Benacre Brd, 18th/21st Aug. ( D R M , B J B , G P G ) . Between 2 - 5 at Minsmere during week 22nd/27th Aug. (RSPB). Baird's sandpiper. — Benacre Broad, 7th/18th P a r k e r et al). T h e third record for the county.

Sept.

(M.

Pectoral sandpiper. — M i n s m e r e , 10th/14th Sept. (RSPB) and Bury B F ponds l O t h / l l t h Sept. ( A A B ) . Curlew sandpiper. — Passage birds on coast to 18th June when majority in summer plumage. Then from 22nd July to 19th Nov. when two late birds recorded at Wherstead (GW). Purple sandpiper. — Average winter numbers at Lowestoft where u p to ten present in March and a max. of 17 in N o v . / D e c . Scattered records also from Alton Water, 28th


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May, Minsmere, 4th June, and Ipswich docks, 28th Oct. An imm at Benacre on 19th Aug. caused some controversy among experts before it was finally identified. It was feeding with dunlins, probing in the mud. Not the usual habitat for this species. Dunlin. — The usual widespread coastal reports. Small nos. also inland at Sproughton, Gt. Blakenham and Lackford. Ruff. — Recorded at Minsmere in every month with peak nos. in March and April and August, Sept. and Oct. and highest daily nos.—55 — in March and Aug. (RSPB). Noted elsewhere on coast at Alton Water and Havergate and on Rs. Orwell and Stour between March and Oct. Inland one at Bury BF ponds, 2nd/9th Oct. (AAB). Jack snipe. — First at Falkenham, 19th Sept. (AJL). Widespread in winter. Peak nos. included 7 at Sproughton in Dec. and 6 + at Fiatford in Oct. (SOG); also 7 at Kessingland tili Apl. (RS). Long-billed dowitcher. — Two arrived at Havergate during last week in Oct. and remained there into the New Year—an exceptionally long stay. Woodcock. — Very few breeding records came in but the species is certainly under-recorded as most breeding probably takes place in game preserves but the high numbers present throughout the county in Nov./Dec. indicate a massive immigration. Black-tailed godwit. — One pr. probably bred successfully on coast with two more prs. attempting to do so (FKC, GJJ). One other pr. on coast are known to have hatched young (SOG). Good passage and wintering numbers with 540 on R. Stour in Dec. (EFK, SOG). Bar-tailed godwit. —Present at Havergate during most of the year. A light coastal passage to 8th May. Whimbrel. — Spring passage from 14th Apl. and return migration from 15th July to 15h Oct. A flock of c.70 at Benacre on 20th Aug. (MCM, PM) is unusual.


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303

Spotted redshank. — Numbers generally rather low with highest count of 31 at Minsmere in Aug. Some present on coast throughout the year. Greenshank. — Present in winter on R. Orwell and at Kessingland in Jan./Feb. Main passage between late April and last week in June. Singles inland at Bury BF ponds. Lackford pits and at Gedding in Aug./Sept. Green Sandpiper. — Widespread—mainly lone birds—inland during both winters and up to 12th June at Sproughton. Recorded at Felsham/Gedding in Sept. (JCW). A party of 8 flushed from a very small silage pit at Edwardstone on 22nd Oct. (WHP). Wood sandpiper. — A very light spring passage to end June was followed by an unusually pronounced autumn passage from third week in July when up to 14 on most days in Aug./Sept. at Minsmere and 18 on 3rd Sept (GJJ). O n e at P a k e n h a m , 6th July ( R N H ) . Common sandpiper. — Autumn passage from 8th July to late October with peaks of 18 at Alton Water and Sproughton in A u g . , and 20 at Levington on 3rd Sept. (SOG). Wintering birds at Ipswich, Jan./Feb. and Nov./Dec. (PM), Butley, Feb. (SA) and Gt. Blakenham and Barking in Dec. (MCM). Turnstone. — O n e in Ipswich docks in Jan. was feeding on spilt grain ( S O G ) and two at Gisleham were feeding in partly cleared beet field in Nov. (BJB). About 12 over-summered at Walton Ferry with odd birds at Minsmere and on R. Orwell in June. Red-necked phalarope. — Havelgate, March (RSPB), Benacre 20th Aug. ( D R M ) and Minsmere, 19th and 23rd Aug. and 3rd Sept. (RSPB). Grey phalarope. — More than usual were reported viz: 16th Jan one off Walberswick which alighted on shore for a short time ( J R R , RSB), one Minsmere from l l t h Apl. to 3rd May ( R S P B ) — an exceptionally long stay, two Lowestoft harbour between 21st/28th Nov. (BJB, D R M ) , Benacre 26th Nov. (GJJ) and off-shore Easton Bavents 28th Nov. (DV).


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Pomarine skua. —Singles—Covehithe/Benacre ( S O G ) and 29th Aug. (SA).

14th

Aug.

Arctic skua. — Generally small numbers between mid-June and mid-Oct. Great skua. — N o t e d at Lowestoft, 6th Oct. ( C A E K ) , Benacre 27th Nov. ( D R M ) , VValberswick lOth Dec. (DBC). Mediterranean gull. — A p p e a r s to be increasing. U p to three at Lowestoft Feb. to lOth Apl. included an obvious pair in füll breeding plumage, of which the presumed male displayed to the o t h e r (BJB, D R M ) . T h e usual Covehithe bird returned on 18th July (MT). O n e or more also noted at Ness Pt., Pakefield a n d Benacre during the autumn. Franklin's gull.—First noted at Lowestoft on 13th Nov. this bird m a d e a protracted stay to end of year and beyond (BJB). It spent much time with other gulls in the harbour and on buildings near Ness Pt., and was seen to feed on food waste. 1t was also noted following the plough at Barnby, Carlton Colville and M u t f o r d . ( N E W T O S U F F O L K . )

Little gull. — Varying numbers with a max. of 17 Aying S. off L o w e s t o f t on 16th Nov. Most were imms or sub-ads between M a y and Nov. but an ad and imm spent much of Dec. in Ipswich docks. Sabine's gull. — A n ad off Lowestoft, 25th/26th Nov. ( C A E K ) and a n o t h e r there lOth Dec. ( P A G , D P ) . Lesser black-backed gull.— The Orfordness colony conHerring gull. — tinues to flourish and increase. A herring gull recovered at Lowestoft in Jan had been ringed as a juv at Cardiff in Nov. 1974. A probable hybrid herring x glaucous gull was present in Lowestoft harbour from mid Dec. to end of year (BJB). Iceland gull. — A first-year bird at Lowestoft during Dec. (BJB). Glaucous gull. — A d u l t s and immatures at Lowestoft and A l d e b u r g h in both winters and included at least four at


BIRD REPORT

305

L o w e s t o f t to 4th M a y and two ads and 4 imms there from end Nov. ( B J B ) . Black-headed gull. — B r e e d i n g colonies at Minsmere and Havergate were respectively 900 and 800 prs. streng (RSPB). There were also two small colonies in the N . W . , one being newly established. Three birds found dead on coast had all been ringed as nestlings in Poland in 1976 (SOG). The habit of this species of feeding in evening on Aying cockchafers and ants was very marked in Ipswich parks during the summer. Great black-backed gull. — O d d prs. are now nesting in the Orfordness colony of lesser black-backs and herring gulls (JP). Kittiwake. A t the Lowestoft colony 70 prs. reared 74 young ( B J B ) . Off-shore movements were frequent between A u g ! and Nov. and included 100 or rnore passing off Benacre in 30 minutes at end Nov. (SOG). A n imm in Ipswich docks on 5th Dec. ( M C M ) . Caspian tern. — O n e Aying N. o f f Benacre Ness on 23rd A u e (KJSD). Sandwich tern. — B r e e d i n g colonies: Havergate 200 prs, 200 young. Minsmere 161 prs, 105 young. Singles at Fiatford M i l l , 1 I t h July ( S O G ) and Ipswich docks 7th A u g . (PM). Roseate tern. —Singles at Ness Pt., Lowestoft on 30th A u s ( B J B ) and 24th Sept. (RSB). Common tern. — M a i n breeding colonies—Minsmere 108 prs. reared 53 young; Havergate 33 prs. reared c.20 young. Inland records: 1/3 R. Stour at Sudbury July/Sept ( A A B ) , Barham Pits, A u g . ( P M ) . Arctic tern. — T w o prs. bred Havergate but no young were seen (RSPB). Elsewhere on coast small numbers at Walton Ferry in June, Sizewell up to four Aug./Sept., Nacton Sept. and up to eight Lowestoft/Pakefield in Sept. Little tern. — A b o u t 70 prs. bred in Ave colonies (max. 20prs.) but w i t h only limited success.


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Black tern. — A fairly p r o n o u n c e d spring passage between 2nd M a y a n d 2 5 t h June at M i n s m e r e and H a v e r g a t e w i t h 8 on 26th M a y a n d 9 o n 2 0 t h June. R e t u r n passage f r o m 13th A u g . to 2 4 t h Sept. Singles inlancl at W a l p o l e o n 26th M a y ( S O G ) and R . B o x at T h o r i n g t o n St. 8th Sept ( A B ) . White-winged black t e r n . — A n adult in f.s.p. at A l t o n W a t e r 2 8 t h M a y ( P M , M C M ) , H a v e r g a t e 2 n d / 3 r d June (JP), M i n s m e r e , 2 3 r d June ( R S P B ) . Guillemot.— T h e r e was the n o w all t w o f a m i l i a r tale o f Razorbill.— o i l e d victims c o m i n g ashore dead o r d y i n g d u r i n g the a u t u m n and w i n t e r and i n c l u d e d six dead razorbills at F e l i x s t o w e in early D e c . A p p a r e n t l y healthy birds were: r a z o r b i l l o f f L o w e s t o f t , 19th N o v . , g u i l l e m o t in Ipswich docks 14th Jan. and f o u r t e e n o f latter several miles o f f S o u t h w o l d on Ist A u g . Little auk. — A t L o w e s t o f t o n 16th N o v . one was seen to fly i n l a n d w i t h a flock o f starlings ( R J W , GJJ) and t w o were h e a d i n g S . o f f Shingle St. (SP). Puffin. — A n o i l e d j u v o f f Benacre, 18th Sept. ( G S t J H ) . Collared dove. — L a r g e gatherings w e r e : Ipswick d o c k s — 5 0 0 plus in Feb. ( S O G ) , A c t o n — 1 5 0 + in Dec. and B u r y St E d m u n d s — 1 1 8 in Feb. ( R W G ) . Cuckoo. — F i r s t recorded on 16th A p l . at H ä r t e s t and Y o x f o r d . P r o b a b l y decreasing in all highly f a r m e d areas but 15/18 f e e d i n g o n an infestation o f caterpillars in West S u f f o l k in early June ( S O G ) and 8 females over s u m m e r e d at Minsm e r e ( R S P B ) . N u m e r o u s in W a v e n e y V a l l e y and O u l t o n B r o a d . A late a d u l t at Benacre 15th/20th A u g . ( D R M ) . Barn O w l . — R e c o r d e d f r o m 35 parishes but still o n l y t h i n l y d i s t r i b u t e d t h o u g h perhaps slightly o n the increase. Little owl. — R e c o r d e d f r o m 54 parishes, a distinct i m p r o v e m e n t o n past few years. Long-eared owl. — B r e e d i n g r e p o r t e d f r o m 5 parishes (6 prs.) o n east side o f c o u n t y and 4 parishes (4/5 prs.) o n west side. Is probably much under-recorded.


BIRD REPORT

307

Short-eared owl. — A great paucity of breeding records. At least one pr. bred on Breck, with adult seen carrying food ( R W H G ) . Seen also in summer at Walberswick, Trimley and on Orfordness. A marked decrease at Havergate where no breeding took place (JP). There were the usual winter numbers with a max. of four together, at fifteen localities chiefly on coast. An immigrant noted arriving on Ist Nov at Languard Pt. (SOG). Nightjar. —Still widely but thinly spread on Breck, with 3 and 6 churring males at 2 sites ( R W H G ) but certainly under-recorded there. Clings on in vicinity of Ipswich (AB) and probably 9 prs. at Minsmere (RSPB). Swift. — L a t e young still in nest at Coney Weston and Ipswich in first week of Sept. Kingfisher. —Widespread but numbers still generally low with records only from 22 parishes. Four together round one small farm pond at Hitcham in Sept. (ALB) was probably a family party. Bee-eater. —Walberswick, 28th May ( D A P per SOG). Roller. — O n e in a garden at Thorpeness, 29th/30th Aug. (per

Hoopoe. — O n e report only, which is unusual—a bird at Benacre, 19th/20th Aug. (SOG). Wryneck. — Only two spring records, at Minsmere, 19th Apl. (RSPB) and Woolverstone lOth May (JAL). First in autumn at Walberswick on 5th Aug with a very pronounced passage during last fortnight of the month when at least 12 were present at Benacre on 20th (DRM). A sprinkling of records of Single birds on or near coast between Ist Sept and Ist Oct. (many obs.). Green woodpecker. — Remains scarce, in or absent from much of arable Suffolk but is still widespread and not uncommon in coastal belt and around Beccles and locally in the Stour Valley. Woodlark. — N o t e d at three main areas near coast i.e.:


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Minsmere/Walberswick in Feb. and Oct./Nov. (RSPB, GSB, A W ) , Butley up to six in spring (GJJ, J G ) and Rendlesham including a Hock of 10 in Feb. ( A W , D R M , JELP). Very few Breck records. Shorelark. — Only recorded between Walberswick and Minsmere with up to 30 at both places Jan./March and last two on 24th Apl. (GSB) and a flock of c.40 at Walberswick in Nov. At Minsmere only low numbers from lOth Oct. Sand martin. — U p to 5,000 at Minsmere roost on 14th Sept. ( R S P B ) ; an albino at Trimley, 17th July (PM). Swallow. — Well over 10,000 at reed-bed roost at Minsmere in last w e e k o f Sept. (RSPB). House martin. — Young still in nest at Ipswich on 9th Oct. (PM). A n albino at Bury B F ponds, 2nd Oct. ( A A B ) . Richard's pipit. — Four were reported, three of them between 2 I s t A u g and 22nd Oct. They await decisions by the national Rarities C o m m i t t e e . Tree pipit.— Scattered records only from coast and Breck. Probably much under-recorded. Rock pipit/water pipit. — Widespread all down coast and including 15 on R. Orwell in March and at least 6 of Scandinavian race on Lowestoft Denes on 13th March (BJB). O n e or two probables of latter race at Walberswick and Alton W a t e r about that date. Scattered records of water pipits on coast during March/Apl, some twelve in all, and in Oct./Nov. O n e inland at Bury B F ponds 9th Oct. ( A A B ) . Yellow wagtail. — Scattered breeding records from river Valleys and the coast but numbers were generally low. A big m o v e m e n t of flavas which took place on 23rd/24th Apl. included at Lowestoft at least three blue-headed and one grey-headed and others showing much plumage Variation ( D R M ) . Next day c.60 flavissima were noted on Covehithe Beach (GJJ). O t h e r blue-headed wagtails noted at Minsmere, Alton W a t e r , Walberswick and Orford between 26th Apl. and


BIRD REPORT

309

6th J u n e (many obs.) and single-ashy-headed at Butley 7th May ( A B ) and Alton Water 22nd May (PM). Grey wagtail. — A t least fifteen breeding prs. were located, including 5 prs. on R. Gipping and 2 prs. or more on Rs. Stour and Lark. G o o d numbers on passage and the usual scattering of wintering birds inland. Pied wagtail. — A roost of c.200 at Bury St Edmunds hospital ( S O G ) and 200-300 at Redgrave Fen. (TN). Also a small number of white wagtails between 19th March and 7th May. Waxwing. — Very few and singles only at Shrublands Pk. 8th Jan. (SD, ST), Covehithe l l t h Dec. (CRN) and Oulton Brd Ist Dec. (RSB). Dipper. — T h e 1976 bird remained on R. Box tili about 9th Jan. (CJL). Hedge sparrow. — A marked influx noted on coast during Oct., particularly at Languard Pt. on 8th Oct. Nightingale. — T h e r e were very few breeding records away from the coastal belt and the Breck and vicinity, but singing males were reported from four localities in the south and south-west of the county. Bluethroat. — T h e r e were more spring records than normal beginning with one of the white-spotted race at Minsmere between 24th and 25th Apl. (JS, D R M ) and examples of the red-spotted form on 14th May at Carlton Colville ( D R M , R S B , G W M , J R R ) at Benacre on 20th/21st May (JRR, D B C ) and at Havergate Is. on 28th May (JP). Black redstart. — Breeding pairs recorded at: Lowestoft 4 prs. at least, with possibly six other singing males located (BJB), O u l t o n Broad 1 pr. ( C R N ) , Sizewell 1 pr. probable, Ipswich 1 pr. possible. A female built a nest but no male was seen ( C G D C ) . A t Felixstowe at least 2 prs. bred and several more singing ms were present ( M R F , A J L , MCM). Wintering and passage birds in at least fO coastal localities between J a n . and Apl. A t least six at Languard Pt. at end of March. T h e only inland record was of a female on Bungay C o m m o n o n 31st March (JG, W H P ) .


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Redstart. — T h e breeding population on both sides of the county seems to be falling year by year. The autumn passage was a light one. Whinchat. — Numbers very low with breeding only known at two sites near coast and four on Breck. A good autumn passage between 3rd Aug and 7th Nov. included a peak of 37 on 25th Sept. at Languard Pt. (ARJP). Stonechat. — O n l y seven breeding prs. known on coast and none from Breck but reported in winter from at least 20 places including three on west side of the county. An individual showing characteristics of one of the Siberian races was present at Benacre from 29th Sept. to 5th Oct. (SC, FKC E J et al). Wheatear. — An encouraging increase in the number of breeding pairs on or near the coast has been noted during past two years. Allowing for some duplication of records at least 10 prs. were known. Breck numbers probably much as previous y e a r — 50-55 prs. — b u t species is probably under-recorded there. A few of Greenland race occurred from end Apl to mid-May and in Sept./Oct. Ring ousel. A good spring passage from 27th March to 15th May and in autumn between 22nd Sept. and 23rd Oct. Singles mland at Lakenheath on 24th Apl. ( C A E K ) and 9th Oct. ( J W H G ) and at Cavenham 22nd Oct. (SOG). Fieldfare. A flock of 750+ at Elveden, lOth March (JG, W H P ) . During summer singles were seen at Minsmere, 24th May (RSPB), Walberswick 29th May (GJJ), Trimley 7th June, Ipswich 8th June and two/four—immigrants? — Aying west over Ipswich, 18th Aug. (PM). Generally low numbers in autumn until a very marked influx at end Nov. Redwing. — Late/early dates: Dunwich, 21st May (CRN) and Tattingstone, 18thSept. (AJL). Mistle thrush. —Breeding and wintering numbers markedly low in many areas. Cetti's warbler. A pr. probably bred at Minsmere, where one or two were in song between lOth Apl. and 13th July and


BIRD REPORT

311

from 16th Oct. to early Nov. (JS). A pr. also bred in N. Suffolk, with two singing males ( D R M , BJB). Also seen or heard at Thorpeness 5th May (DN, J A G B ) , Alton Water 2nd June ( S O G ) , Walberswick 6th Nov. ( D R M ) and two, one of which was t r a p p e d , at the Dingle on 8th Oct. (DBC). Sa vi's warbler.—First at Minsmere possibly bred and there were certainly May and June. (JS). Two others in during June/July (GSB, G J J , R B T ) . Dingle l l t h Aug. (DBC).

on 25th Apl. A pr. two 'reeling' males in song at Walberswick O n e trapped at the

Great reed warbler. — O n e at Wrentham 21st May to 2nd J u n e (CSW). A tape recording of the song was made. Icterine warbler. — A n unusually large 'fall' cf this species took place on the East Coast during August and a number were reported in Suffolk. Duplication of records and considerable overlap of dates has not made it easy to decide how many individuals actually occurred. The County Records C o m m i t t e e is satisfied that a minimum of six were correctly identified as follows: Lowestoft Denes, 8th Aug. (BJB, D R M ) , Languard Pt., 12th Aug. ( A W , A R J P , M C M ) and 14th/16th Aug. ( A R J P ) , Walberswick 18th/26th Aug. (KJSD, C S W , D W O ) , Benacre 20th/21st Aug. (FKC, G J J ) and L a n g u a r d Pt. 23rd/25th Aug. ( A M G , M C M , A W ) . Barred warbler. — M i n s m e r e , 20th Aug. (BA), Gunton 23rd Aug. ( B J B ) , Walberswick l l t h / 1 5 t h Sept. (CSW) and 17th/18th Sept. (CSW, FKC), Benacre 17th/23rd Sept. ( D R M , G W M , FKC). Lesser whitethroat. — C o n t i n u e s to decrease. Whitethroat. — S u m m e r population still low but shows some improvement. A light autumn passage, the maiority about 20th Aug. Garden warbler. — A very light autumn passage. Blackcap. — A m. and f. overwintered at Ipswich (RBW, A B , P M ) as well as probably two other ms. in south Ipswich and Christchurch Park ( R B W , A B , PM). A fair autumn passage o n coast, particularly in latter half of October.


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Pallas's warbler. — O n e at Languard Pt. on 22nd Oct spent all day in one small bush ( A B , MCM, PM, A W etal). Wood warbler. — Occurred on spring passage between 24th Apl. and 29th May at Wickham Market, Holbrook, Chillesford, G r o t o n and Minsmere and in autumn between Ist and 22nd A u g . at five coastal localities and inland at Stowmarket. A t least twelve individuals in all. Goldcrest. — A u t u m n immigration was exceptionally light. Firecrest. — S p r i n g records were singles at Languard Pt., B e n a c r e and Minsmere in March—five in a l l — a n d at L a n g u a r d on 4th May and at Dingle Hill, 28th May (JHM). A small a u t u m n passage between 25th Sept. and 19th Oct. Red breasted flycatcher. — Languard Pt. 9th May (MCM) and 21st Oct. ( A J L ) — both were females. Pied flycatcher. — T h e r e were more spring records than usual b e t w e e n 4th Apl. and 22nd May, some 10 birds in all and including one inland at Groton. A light autumn passage between lOth Aug. and 18th Oct. A number were noted in Ipswich parks, including 6 in Christchurch Pk. on 18th Aug. Singles inland at Sudbury and Stowmarket. Bearded tit. — P r o b a b l y had a moderate to poor breeding season owing to the cold wet spring. No large exodus was n o t e d at Minsmere but small parties occurred at Aldringham and Alton W a t e r in March, at Reydon and Benacre Pits in Oct. and at Shotley, Falkenham and Havergate Is., where a flock of 10 were seen in November. Blue tit. — O n e in Christchurch Pk. had the whole body coloured pale yellow (PM). Golden oriole. — N u m b e r s in the breeding colony were probably about normal level though one observer considered n u m b e r s had fallen and could only count six singing males. O n e nest and at least three family parties were located. E l s e w h e r e a pr. seen at Minsmere on 30/31st May, and a Single there 17/25th J u n e (RSPB), one singing Benacre 29th M a y ( D R M ) , Oulton Brd, 17th J u n e (DBC), Frostenden ( C R N ) , Walberswick, mid-June ( S O G ) and inland a f., or imm clearly seen at C o r n a r d M e r e on 31st A u g . (MK).


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313

Red-backed shrike.—A minimum of 27 prs. in coastal belt is a distinct and very encouraging improvement on past five years but Breckland nos. are now very low with only 3 prs. located and bird is certainly under-recorded in area. Small nos. on passage along coast in May, Aug. and Sept. and included 5 at Minsmere on 8th Aug. Lesser grey shrike. — L a k e n h e a t h , 4th June ( A R J P ) . Great grey shrike. —Wintering population was again very much below average of recent years with only c.6 recorded during J a n . / M a r c h and again during Nov./Dec. This is a r e m a r k a b l e reduction on the 30s and 40s recently recorded. Woodchat shrike. — A n adult at Minsmere 5 t h / l l t h June (JS, GJJ et al) and an immature at Languard Pt. 17th/21st Aug. (many obs.) Magpie. — Widespread and apparently increasing again. Nutcracker. — S o m e r s h a m 3Ist Dec. (the Rev. D. Francis). Carrion crow.— A hundred or more at Wherstead Strand, Hooded crow.— 26th Nov. ( S O G ) . Up to seventy hooded crows at Walberswick in J a n . / F e b . Odd birds inland at Kersey and on Breck. T w o at Minsmere on lOth May. Only low n u m b e r s on coast in Nov./Dec. Starling. — A roost estimated at c. 16,000 at Minsmere end-Sept. ( R S P B ) and a well-used winter roost in Combs W o o d , nr. Stowmarket which is believed to number half a million birds (RJC). Brambling. — N u m b e r s were unusually low in both winters with highest counts of c.40 in Chantry Pk. Ipswich in Feb. (PM) and c.80 at Bawdsey in Dec. (RJW). Serin. — O n e at Martlesham, 2nd June (SOG). Siskin. — Late winter population was higher than that of 1976 but was still rather low with flocks very local. A few juvs at B r a n d o n (SC). Peak nos. were 70/80 at Minsmere in Dec. Twite. — P r e s e n t at usual coastal sites Jan./March, the highest


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count being c.100 at Blythburgh (CSW). Also c.20 at Alton W a t e r in March and two at Sproughton on 4th Apl. (SOG). First noted in autumn on 2nd Oct. with numbers up to c.400 in Dec. Redpoll. —Still widespread but no high numbers. At Minsm e r e a b o u t 3 5 prs. bred (RSPB). Crossbill. — A n 'irruption' took place between 22nd June when the first flock of 31 reached Minsmere and early August, with some stragglers to early Sept. O t h e r scattered flocks were seen at Walberswick, Rendlesham, Bawdsey, Herringfleet, Kessingland and Ipswich. Hawfinch. — Singles or prs. reported from Barrow, Rushford, Boxford, Ixworth, Darmsden, H e n h a m and Ipswich. O n e caught by a cat at Stanton. Lapland bunting.— Considerably more than usual were reported with early records for Sept. from Minsmere 13th/14th, Walberswick 16th/17th, Languard Pt. 17th and two on 19th. Singles also at Alton Water 30th Oct, Sizewell 23rd O c t . , Minsmere lst/4th Oct., Havergate Nov. and Carlton Colville 28th Nov. Snow bunting.— O d d birds in Ipswich docks to end of Feb. First autumn birds reached Minsmere on 16th Sept. Biggest flocks were c.5() on Orfordness in Dec. and c.40 at Benacre in Nov. Ortolan. — O n e at Languard Pt. lOth May (PS). C o m bunting. — R e p o r t e d during the year from more than 30 parishes, all but six being within the coastal belt. ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS TO 1976 REPORT Additions Red-footed falcon. — O n e at Kessingland 6th/6th Aug. (RS). Great skua. —Southwold 26th/27th Dec. (PJE).


B I R D REPORT

315

Corrections The ruddy duck at M i n s m e r e on 19th June was a male, not a f e m a l e as stated. ( D W ) . The ruddy duck at A l t o n W a t e r was observed between 27th O c t . / 4 t h N o v . a n d 20th/28th N o v . ( M C M ) . Deletions Purple h e r o n . — 4 t h M a y , B o y t o n . R e c o r d was rejected by Rarities Committee. Feral Species A n u m b e r o f examples o f what were obviously or presumably "feral b i r d s ' were r e p o r t e d d u r i n g the year. T h e y included — Snow goose. — Kessingland and Benacre, Jan. and Havergate July. Lesser white-fronted goose. — I r r e g u l a r l y t h r o u g h o u t year. T w o fly o u t f r o m the Kessingland W i l d L i f e Park (RS). Chiloe wigeon. — S p r o u g h t o n , 10th/16th June ( P M ) . Red-headed bunting. — S p r o u g h t o n , 18th M a y ( P M ) . Crowned crane. — O n coast on various dates and at various places d u r i n g the year. F l a m i n g o ( C h i l i a n ? ) . — T h r e e or f o u r at Havergate, M a y / A u g (RSPB). Ring-necked parakeet. — C e n t r a l Ipswich, Jan. (SOG), M a r t l e s h a m A p r i l ( G S B ) and a pair believed to have nested in a hole in A l d h a m C h u r c h . M a l e was seen t a k i n g f o o d i n t o hole. ( A . C r o c k a t t per A E V ) .


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FIRST AND LAST DATES OF SUMMER V I S I T O R S — 1 9 7 7

Species Wheatear Chiffchaff Stone curlew Sandwich tern Sand martin ... H o u s e martin

seen 6 Mar. 8 Mar. * 10 Mar. 12 Mar. 15 Mar. 21 Mar.

Locality Breck Minsmere Breck Barham Minsmere Felixstowe

Swallow Blackcap Willow warbler Garganey Yellow wagtail Whinchat C o m m o n tern Sedge warbler Redstart Cuckoo T r e e pipit Nightingale R e e d warbler Whitethroat G r a s s h o p p e r warbler Little tern ... T u r t l e dove Lesser whitethroat ... G a r d e n warbler Nightjar Swift S p o t t e d (lycatcher ... R e d - b a c k e d shrike ...

26 Mar. 26 Mar. 3 Apl. 6 Apl. 7 Apl. 8 Apl. 11 Apl. 13 Apl. 15 Apl. 16 Apl. 16 Apl. 17 Apl. 17 Apl. 17 Apl. 19 Apl. 20 Apl. 21 Apl. 23 Apl. 28 Apl. 30 Apl. 1 May 5 May 17 May

Minsmere Holbrook Herringswell Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Sizewell Minsmere Alton Water Hartest/Yoxford Dunwich Aldeburgh Holbrook Holbrook Minsmere Minsmere Chattisham Holbrook Minsmere Minsmere Minsmere Aldeburgh Languard Pt.

*1 at East Bergholt, 12 Feb. was possibly an over-wintering bird. t T h e latest ever recorded in the county.

Last seen Locality 25 Nov. t Languard Pt. 29 Oct. Minsmere 23 Sept. Cavenham 28 Oct. Sizewell 23 Oct. Languard Pt. 27 Nov. Freston/ Holbrook 26 Nov. Minsmere 26 Nov. Oulton Brd. 3 Oct. Minsmere 2 Oct. Alton Water 4 Oct. Minsmere 6 Nov. Minsmere 16 Nov. Lowestoft 5 Oct. Alton Water 27 Oct. Languard Pt. 16 Sept. Wissett 1 Oct. Languard Pt. 18 Sept. Walberswick 16 Oct. Butley 5 Oct. Languard Pt. 18 Aug. Minsmere 12 Sept. Minsmere 12 Oct. Alton Water 3 Oct. Minsmere 29 Oct. Minsmere 8 Sept. Walberswick 10 Oct. Copdock 26 Oct.f Languard Pt. 17 Sept. Languard Pt.


BIRD REPORT

LIST OF OBSERVERS S. P. F. B.

Abbott Alland B. S. A n t r a m Armatage

J. A . G . Barnes R. Berry A. G. Bishop T. C. Bloomfield A. Botwright G. S. Bowen B. J. Brown R. S. Briggs J. O. Brinkley A. L. Bull S. J. Burnell A. A. Butcher F. K. C o b b R. J. Copping T. C. Colchester Dr. S. Cox The Earl of Cranbrook Mrs. Crooks C. G. D. Curtis K. J. S. Devonald D. A. Dorling S. Dean D. Doyle-Jones Dingle Bird Club D. Elphick P. J. Ewins

Mrs. C. A. Gordon A. Gabriel R. W. Gardiner Mrs. Gurney J. G r a n t T. W. Gladwin D r . G. P. G r e e n A . M. Gregory P. A . Gregory B. J. Gregory P. J. Hamling H. G. Hill G . St.J. Hollis R. N. H o p p e r J. Howard J. M. Hurley D. F. Hurley M. E. R. G.

J. F. Jeanes Jones H. Jones J. Jobson

E. F. Keeble C. A . E. Kirtland M. King A. J. Last C. J. Lowe J. A. Lowe M. R. Lynton

M. R. Farmer E. R. Fenning F. J. French

J. H. Marchant G. W. Maybury M. C. Marsh D . J. Manns D. R. Moore P. Murphy

J. W. H. G a r n e r A. P. Goodfellow

C. R. Naunton D. Nesling

317


318

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 17, Part 4 T. Nightingale The Suffolk Ornithologists' P. Täte D. W. Ockleton S. Taylor M. Taylor M. Packard J. Thorogood A. R. J. Paine D. Thorogood J. Partridge L. A. Thickett M. Parker R. B. Tozer W. H. Payn B. O. Tickner J. E. L. Pemberton S. Piotrowski J. Vane D. A. Pond D. Vaughan D. Phillips A. E. Vine k. C. Ramsay D. Washington J. R. Read The Hon. Mrs. J. Watson Sir J. F. Rowley. Bt. R. J. Waters R. B. Warren B. L. Sage G. Warren D. B. Smith C. S. Waller N. Smedley J. C. Wakerley D. L. Sampson G. C. White Mrs. P. Snowling A. Westcott J. Sorensen Mrs. D. Westcott P. Sorapure J. H. Woolnaugh The Earl of Stradbroke H. J. Wedgewood R. Straton Miss M. W. R. West

Suffolk Bird Report 1977  
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