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Editor D. R. MOORE

assisted by

The County Records Committee C. G. D. CURTIS, M. F. J. JEANES, G. J. JOBSON, W. H. PAYN, J. SORENSEN, A. E. VINE and C. S. WALLER

Acknowledgements. Once again the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Dingle Bird Club, and the Suffolk Ornithologists Group have provided records from their logs. Special thanks are due to Philip Murphy of the latter Organisation who co-operated considerably with the Editor. The Editors of the Norfolk Bird Report, the Cambridge Bird Club Report, the Essex Bird Report, and the Lowestoft Field Club Report have also passed on records. Finally the University of East Anglia Bird Club, and the Stour Estuary Bird Group have also sent in notes from their records. We are most grateful to them all. Editorial. As the new editor I would on behalf of all ornithologists with a Suffolk interest like to take this opportunity of recording sincere thanks to Bill Payn for his tremendous Service as Editor of the Suffolk Bird Report for the last 17 years. We are all delighted that he has agreed to remain on the Records Committee, where his experience and advice will prove invaluable. The membership of the County Records Committee has been increased by two:— Cliff Waller who is Warden of the Walberswick National Nature Reserve, and Mike Jeanes who is Chairman of the Suffolk Ornithologists Group. Records for 1979. These should be sent to D. R. Moore, Crosslands, Cage Lane, Boxted, Colchester, Essex, C04 5RE, before the end of January 1980 without fail. Tel. Boxted 594. N.B. Observers are again reminded of the importance of sending in fßll descriptions of semi-rarities, and of species very much out of their normal season when reporting such


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 18, Part 1

occurrences. Once again several 1978 records were rejected because of lack of detail, or frankly because some observers refused to provide such information. The Editor apologises if his requests appear offensive, but insists that the responsibility of accuracy lies with himself and the Records Committee. In view of this, all observers including members of the Records C o m m i t t e e are expected to provide such descriptions when requested to do so. Review of the Year U n d e r the most bizarre circumstances Suffolk lost a species f r o m the County list in 1978 and also gained one. The Semipalmated Sandpiper recorded at Minsmere in 1971 has now been rejected by the British Birds Rarities Committee. This record was initially accepted but in the light of new information it has been deleted. Quite a number of other records of this species in the British Isles have now been erased, and a fßll explanation is to appear in a future issue of 'British Birds'. On the credit side the record of a Spotted Sandpiper at Walberswick in June 1977 which was formally rejected has now been accepted after further consideration. Breeding Birds. Bitterns maintained a population of about twenty pairs despite a continued national decline. O u r Suffolk birds are now the nucleus of the British population. Sadly there were no records of nesting Garganey, this migratory duck becomes scarcer each year. Marsh Harriers continue to prosper with a nest site discovered in a completely new part of the county. A pair of Hobbies bred in Suffolk for the first time for some years. This attractive and spectacular falcon has spread its ränge in recent years into Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and is a welcome addition to our current list of breeding birds. Two Quail were located during the summer m o n t h s , so it is possible that at least a pair may have nested. Avocets had a much better season, 142 pairs raised 114 young, although breeding was confined to Minsmere and Havergate. It seems that this species stands little chance of continued nesting outside of these areas, and surely reflects the importance of these reserves. Incomplete data were received for Stone Curlews, but it is apparent that Little Ringed Plovers increased their numbers during 1978. The Lowestoft Kittiwake colony continued to show considerable flexibility, and enjoyed a successful season. Heathland species such as Nightjar and Woodlark bred in consistent small numbers, but Long-eared



Owls were discovered nesting in a new area, which suggests that there are certainly other breeding sites which are still unknown. Wrynecks were noted calling at two sites in mids u m m e r , so maybe a pair may still nest occasionally in Suffolk. Savi's and Cetti's Warbiers bred in small numbers, and more unusually a pair of Wood Warbiers nested within the county. It was estimated that c200 pairs of Bearded Tits bred in the coastal belt, and enjoyed average success. Possibly six pairs of G o l d e n Orioles nested in the regulär colony, and a pair may have also bred elsewhere. Sadly the population of Red-backed Shrikes crashed dramatically to only fifteen pairs. This trend is quite inexplicable as the suitable habitat has not been reduced at the rate of decline of the species in recent years. It is more likely a retraction of ränge, and possibly this species will soon become lost as a British breeding bird. Vagrants and other migrants. There occurred within the county the usual diversity of rarities, some being left over from the previous year. The Sociable Plover and the Ring-necked Ducks remained into January, and another of the latter species was identified at Barham in April. Another of the 1977 birds was the Lowestoft Franklin's Gull. This individual f r e q u e n t e d the harbour area and the ploughlands of the surrounding villages until the end of March. It became possibly the most observed vagrant ever in Suffolk. Indeed, Brian Brown who first discovered this nearctic gull calculates that he personally watched this bird on nearly every day from 13th N o v e m b e r 1977 until 16th March. T h e high concentration of watchers in the Lowestoft area during this period also established that at least eight Glaucous and an Iceland Gull were wintering in that locality. A n o t h e r Iceland Gull was to appear later in the year. The last of the 1977 rarities were two Dowitchers not specifically identified, and which were at H a v e r g a t e until April. T h e Black Brant was again located on the Orwell for what is now known to be the fourth successive year. Red Kites were noted again, and are now almost regulär. O n e which was probably the same bird was seen in several parishes on 25th March. It would have been most interesting to know the precise times of the observations. May was exciting to say the least, particularly at Minsmere where a Broad-billed Sandpiper and a Lesser Yellowlegs were the outstanding arrivals. These rather overshadowed the Kentish Plovers, Purple H e r o n and Montagu's Harrier. At


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Benacre a female Dotterel was found to the delight of many people, and Kentish Plovers were located at live other sites. A male Green-winged Teal was at Benacre in June, and a Night H e r o n was seen at Holbrook Bay. A tirst year male R e d - f o o t e d Falcon obligingly posed for photographers at Walberswick, and delighted daily gatherings of watchers with spectacular hunting tlights around an area of open heathland. T h e autumn was dominated by an impressive passage of Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers and to a lesser extent Little Gulls all in early September. The count of 142 Little Stints at Minsmere is quite exceptional. A f t e r a significant movement of Sooty Shearwaters off the Norfolk coast on Ist October it seems rather miserly that only two should choose to be observed off the Suffolk coast on the same day. Obviously the continued path of these large seabird migrations so often observed off Norfolk shores is normally far out to sea, and beyond the vision of Suffolk sea-watchers. An equally unusual visitor was a Leach's Petrel which flew up the A i d e in early October. There was during this period a 'wreck' of this species with notably hundreds funnelling down the west coast into the mouth of the Mersey, and proceeding along the Wirrai coast. Benacre continued to produce its annual rare wader, this tiine a White-rumped Sandpiper arrived in late October and stayed until early November. A n o t h e r or the same Green-winged Teal was present at Minsmere early in November, and the last report of note in 1978 was of two Sabines Gulls at Shingle Street in early December. A Disaster. O n e cannot finish a review of 1978 without mentioning the horrific accident involving the tanker Eleni V which broke in half off the Suffolk coast in May spilling t h o u s a n d s of gallons of oil on to our beaches. Fortunately at that time of the year most of the wintering seabirds had left for their breeding grounds, and thankfull.y only 206 corpses were recovered. Even allowing for many more that were not found, the effects could have been far worse. However some ornithologists are convinced that this incident had an adverse effect on some breeding species especially terns.




The order used is that of the British Birds' List ofthe Palearctic 1978.


Red-throated Diver.—Small numbers as usual in coastal areas, with singles also recorded from Alton Water in Jan., and Ipswich Docks in Mar. and Dec. Significant offshore movements were reported on Ist Jan. when 80 flew north off Lowestoft ( R A C , J H M , AJP), and 17th Dec. when 46 moved north and six south off Benacre (MM, PM). Black-throated Diver. — Singles reported from Benacre 2nd Jan. until at least 14th April (many obs.), offshore at Minsmere 6th to 30th Jan. (RSPB), Orwell 5/6th Feb. (PM) and probably another there on 25th Feb. (SOG). Finally one away from the coast at Lound 3rd/7th Feb. (PAG, SOG). Great Northern Diver. — This species seems to be increasing as a winter visitor to Suffolk. Two were present on the Orwell including one in Ipswich Docks throughout Jan. (AGB, A G L , R J W ) . Singles were also noted at Benacre 15th Jan. (MM, PM), Waldringfield 16th Jan. (SOG), and on the Stour 12th Mar. (SEBG). Diver sp. — O n e was observed flying inland over Ipswich on 3rd and 14th Feb. (PM). Little Grebe. — Almost certainly overlooked as a breeding species with records only received from seven localities. More obvious in the winter with the population swelled by immigrants from the Continent. Flocks of up to 50 were' located at several coastal sites. Great Crested Grebe. — The breeding status of this species is now steady, but it has increased as a winter visitor. Ten years ago very few large flocks were noted. However groups of up to 100 were seen on the Stour and Orwell in both winters. Inland 25 were at Weybread in Feb., 11 at Livermere and 13 at Redgrave in April. Breeding pairs were reported from Lakenheath, Lackford, Livermere, Culford, Bosmere, Weybread (4), Homersfield (2), Oulton Broad, Barham, Great Blakenham, Alton Water (3) and Holbrook (3).


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 18, Part 1

Red-necked Grebe. —Singles reported at Dunwich in Mar. ( S O G ) , Trimley 8th Oct. (PM), Benacre 9th Dec. and Ipswich Docks 3 0 t h D e c . (PM). Slavonian Grebe. —Individuais seen at Waldringfield 2nd J a n . , Holbrook Bay 29th Jan. until 7th Feb., Boyton 26th Feb. and Dunwich 5th Mar. (all SOG). Black-necked Grebe. — T h i s species is still the rarest of the grebes in Suffolk except perhaps in the larger river systems of the south-east. Singles noted at Wherstead 12th Jan. (PM), Trimley Lake lOth Sept. (PM), offshore at Minsmere 15th Oct. ( R S P B ) , and Woolverstone 9th Dec. (PM). Fulmar. — Small numbers seen offshore throughout the year but most regularly in midsummer. Twelve flew north off B e n a c r e on 26th Aug., and eight were off Minsmere on 22nd April. Strangely two were watched circling a gasometer at Ness Point, Lowestoft on 20th Aug., surely not a potential nest site! Sooty Shearwater. —Singles on Ist Oct. off Minsmere (AW), and Lowestoft (BJB). A large movement of this species was observed on this date off the north-east Norfolk c o a s t — E D . Manx Shearwater.—One was discovered in Foxhall R o a d , Ipswich on 16th Sept., and later released in Ipswich Docks ( S O G ) . A n o t h e r was seen off Minsmere on 2nd July (RSPB), with a further individual Aying off Landguard Point on Ist Oct. ( M M , PM). Shearwater sp. — O n e going north off Benacre 27th Aug. (MM). Leach's Petrel. — O n e seen on the Aide on 12th Oct. ( D W R ) . Gannet. —Observations of this species are apparently increasing. With the combined use of a telescope and a high level of concentration they can be seen regularly out to sea on the horizon. Singles and groups of less than six were noted f r o m May to Nov. T e n , including six diving for fish, were noted off Benacre on 26th Aug., and on Ist Oct. 20 flew north off L a n d g u a r d Point, and 11 were off Minsmere.



Cormorant.— Increasing as a non-breeding summer visitor especially on the larger rivers. A sizeable roost of up to 50 birds occurs at Sizewell on an offshore tower. These birds probably feed on the Blyth and the Aide as flocks have been noticed flighting in the direction of Sizewell each evening. The maximum number on the Stour was 95 on 12th Dec. Inland this species was recorded at Thorington Street (4) 4th May, Livermere 23rd Nov., and significantly 23 at Barham 13th Dec. Shag.—In the last three years there has been an increase in records of this species suggesting that it is becoming more regulär as a winter visitor. Lowestoft Harbour was frequented by up to six from Jan. to 26th April, with a late bird there on 5th May. There were also three in Ipswich Docks in late Dec., and nine were back at Lowestoft on 18th Dec. Singles were at Benacre 2nd/21st Jan., Woolverstone 1 Ith Feb., River Gipping 14th Mar. and Walberswick lüth Sep. Bittern. — Sadly there is currently a national decline of this wetland species particularly in Norfolk where there were probably less than ten booming males in 1978. Suffolk however provides a brighter picture. There are probably up to 20 pairs in the county where this species increased at Minsmere by two pairs on 1977 (RSPB). This Situation in Suffolk highlights the importance of the county population as this constitutes the greater part of the national breeding stock. There is some evidence that our breeding birds move out during winter to be replaced by migrants from the Continent, particularly when that area is experiencing hard weather (JS). Night Heron. — O n e at Holbrook Bay on 14th June (CGM). This is the fifth county record this Century. Grey Heron.—The only breeding records received were:— Benacre — 4 nests Minsmere — 5 nests (rearing ten young in hawthorn and reedbed) Brandon F e n — 15 nests Euston —13 nests West Stow — 1 nest On 9th May a Heron was seen feeding on a starfish on Pakefield Beach (SOG).


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 18, Part 1

Purple Heron. — O n e was present at Minsmere from 19th to 23rd May ( R K C , R H L , PJL etal). Spoonbill. — U p to seven birds were seen regularly at Minsmere from May to Sept. (RSPB), and what were certainly the same individuals were on the Blyth on 30th June (CSW). T h e r e were three at Havergate in June and just one in July ( R S P B ) . A s in some previous years the Minsmere birds were observed reed carrying and indulging in mutual preening. Mute Swan.—The herd on the Stour numbered 200 in Dec. ( S E B G ) having decreased from c230 on 24th Sept. (MM). T h e r e were 170 in Ipswich Docks in Jan./Feb. (SOG), and also at least 200 in the Lake Lothing/Oulton Broad area during the year ( D R M ) . T h e following notes were collated by Mike Marsh and show the movements of this species in our area. The rings on Mute Swans are necessarily large and therefore easily read. (1). — Ring No. P09 — This bird summered at Minsmere returning to Ipswich Docks in Sept. (2). — Ring No. P05 — This bird was ringed at Ipswich as a first year male on 1/11/75. It was present at Ipswich Docks on 3rd Mar. and was seen nest building at Snape (26km E N E ) on 23rd April. On 30th May there was no sign of the nest or the bird, but it returned to Ipswich Docks on 18th June. (3). — Ring No. T 6 7 — S e e n on a nest near Orfordness on v13th May, and later noted at Mistley, Essex (40km W S W ) on 24th Oct. (4). — Ring No. P35 — The following movements were listed:— Ist April 1974 — Oldeouwer (Friesland) Netherlands. 2nd and 30th Nov. 1975 —Ipswich Docks (330km WSW). 1 Ith J a n . 1977—Mistley ( D k m SSW). 30th J a n . 1977—Ipswich Docks (13km NNE). 14th Feb. 1977 — O l d e o u w e r (Friesland)—(330km ENE). A t Oulton Broad a pair of Mute Swans hatched eight cygnets, six of which had the normal grey down and two which sported down of pure white. The latter were formerly described oy Yarrell in 1838, Brit. Birds in 1845 and Stevenson in 1890 as being of a separate species—Polish Swan — Cygnus immutablis. However, it has since been proved that this plumage is



bat a Variation of the Mute Swan—Cygnus olor nevertheless it is quite rarely reported (RSB).


Bewick's Swan. — Lower numbers were reported than in 1977 but still noted in the usual areas. There wasa maximum of 83 in the Boyton/Hollesley area from Jan. to 7th Mar., with 20 returning there by 29th Nov. The Southwold/Blyth flock peaked at 52 on 4th Feb., while at Kessingland there were 34 on 26th Feb. Havergate had a maximum of 75 in Feb. and 27 in Dec. Inland six were seen at Lackford on 26th Nov. Whooper Swan. — The only records were two Boyton 1 Ith Feb. (SOG), 17 off Landguard Point 31st Oct. (ARJP) and four Walberswick 26th Nov. (RSB, CSW). Pink-footed Goose. — There were several coastal reports of two birds together but the only acceptable wild birds were four at one coastal site in Feb. (SOG). White-fronted Goose. — Very few were reported early in the year but 19 were at one coastal site on 29th Jan., and the same number at Southwold on 19th Feb. At Alton Water there were ten the First ever seen for this site. This species was still scarce in the early weeks of the second winter except for c40 Aying south at Eastbridge on 23rd Nov. On 30th Dec. 60 had assembled at Minsmere a hint of what was to come in early 1979. Greylag Goose. — All records represent birds of doubtful origin and include five Nacton 9th Dec., up to six Minsmere throughout the year, six Kessingland 21st Jan., and seven during Feb. at Havergate. Grey Geese sp. — Fifteen were seen Aying south over Ipswich on 23rd Nov. and 14 were noted off Thorpeness on 8th Feb. Snow Goose. — Blue phase individuals of feral origin were reported from Benacre on 30th Oct. (THJ), and at Minsmere on several dates (RSPB). Snow Goose/Canada Goose hybrid.—Two on several dates with Canada Geese at Minsmere (RSPB). Canada

Goose. — Widespread






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following large flocks noted:— clOO Helmingham Hall on 16th July, 280 Weybread Pits, 300 Kessingland 15th Jan., 219 B a r h a m 28th A u g . , 125 Gipping Valley 2nd Dec., 179 L a c k f o r d pits 16th July and 190 there on 15th Oct. and finally 278 at Minsmere in Oct. At Minsmere 16 pairs raised 30 young. Barnacle Goose. — T h r e e at Boyton in Jan. (SJB, R J W ) and the two at Havergate in Jan. were possibly wild birds, whereas the individual seen throughout the year at many localities to the south was certainly a feral bird. Brent Goose. — In the north of the county this species is most o f t e n noticed when moving offshore and cl50 were reported off Benacre on 26th Nov. ( U E A ) . Unusually 63 were present on R e y d o n marshes on 23rd Feb. (DBC). The Orwell n u m b e r s reached c500 in Jan./Feb., and there were 550 on the Stour by 12th Mar. The latter flock was back to c500 by 17th D e c . Peak numbers at Havergate were 110 in Feb. and 59 in D e c . A n interesting record was of 13 Aying north over Ipswich on 29th Nov. All birds reported were of the dark breasted race bernicla. Black B r a n t . — T h e individual of the race nigricans was seen again on the Orwell from 7th Jan. to 4th Feb. (MM). Füll details of the B r a n t ' s appearances in Suffolk are listed below:— 1975—Nacton 22nd-28th Dec. 1976—Trimley 18th Feb. 1977—Trimley 7th F e b . - 2 n d Mar. 1978—Trimley 7th J a n . ^ l t h Feb. Egyptian Goose. — This introduced species continues to thrive in Suffolk. At the county stronghold at Thorpeness/Aldeburgh 14 were seen together (SOG). Elsewhere one was seen at Somerleyton on 18th Feb. ( G W M ) , two at Livermere on 23rd N o v . ( A J L ) , two on several dates at Lackford pits (AJL, C A E K ) , two Thorington St. on 17th Dec. ( A A B ) , two Wissett on 9th Dec. ( P A G ) , and two throughout the summer at M i n s m e r e ( R S P B ) . At L o u n d a pair raised seven young (BJB). Shelduck. — A substantial breeding population continues to survive on the coast, but the level of success is not recorded. A t M i n s m e r e 32 pairs only reared ten known young. Away



from the coast breeding behaviour was reported from Livermere, Lackford pits, Cavenham, Great Blakenham, Boxford, Thorington Street, Sproughton, Framlingham and Needham Market. In winter cl,250 were counted at Freston/ Nacton in late Jan., and cl,700 were on the Stour on 17th Dec. Wigeon. — Summering birds were seen at Benacre, Walberswick and Minsmere but there was no proof of breeding. Some of these summering birds are probably casualties from the previous shooting season. Wintering numbers included 12 inland at Livermere on 26th Feb., whilst on the coast there were c3,000 on the Stour on 22nd Jan., 870 on the Blyth on 12th Feb. and smaller numbers at Minsmere and Havergate. On 3rd Jan. a 'typhoon' Struck the west of East Anglia and on that day J. J. H. Wilson discovered eight Wigeon lying dead but still warm in a field at Ixworth Thorpe. On the same day c80 Pink-footed Geese were found in a similar condition in west Norfolk. Initially death was considered to have been caused by the bird's impact with the ground after the storm's turbulence had caused mid-air collisions. Further detailed examination by scientists revealed that the storm had caused a tremendous volume of pressure inside the bird's stomachs and they had simply 'exploded'. The broken bones were almost certainly secondary injuries, and all birds were probably dead before impact with the ground. Gadwall. — Minsmere is the county stronghold for this species where 34 pairs reared 62 young. Breeding was also reported from the Breck, and in the east at Frostenden, North Cove and possibly Trimley. Inland 25 were at Homersfield on 2nd Nov. and 42 at Lackford Pits on 26th Nov. Teal. — N i n e t e e n pairs bred at Minsmere raising 56 young. Winter flocks were highest at Minsmere 770 in Dec., and at Havergate where the most noted was c500. Green-winged Teal. — Singles of the North American race carolinensis were identified at Benacre 3rd June (SP, J C E et a/), and Minsmere 5th Nov. (IED, JWD, IJJ, KJ). These bring the total for Suffolk to four, all since 1962. Mallard. — Flocks of c800 were counted on the Stour 23rd Jan. and Walberswick 9th Dec.


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Pintail. — T h e largest congregation of this duck was on the Stour where a maximum of c450 was located on 12th Feb. At H a v e r g a t e 106 were present in Jan. but elsewhere the species is scarce in any large numbers. Inland 25 were seen Aying over Shelford's m e a d o w , near Sudbury on lOth Dec. Also worthy of note was a female at Levington on 25th May. Garganey. — T h e r e was no proof of breeding in the county in 1978, but pairs were recorded in spring at Walberswick, M i n s m e r e , Havergate and perhaps unusually Cornard Mere. In the autumn up to eight were present at Alton Water from 22nd Aug. until Ist Sept. Shoveler. — The only breeding report of note was of 15 pairs raising 28 young at Minsmere. Winter flocks of 197 at Alton W a t e r on 25th J a n . , 107 Havergate in Feb. and 120 in spring and winter at Minsmere were the maximum recorded. Pochard. — More information is essential to assess the current b r e e d i n g status of this species in Suffolk. There is an indication that some colonisation of gravel pits occurs annually. Large flocks were counted at several localities outside the breeding season as follows:— A l t o n W a t e r —c300 5th Jan. ( D R M ) and 410 in Sept. (PM). Benacre —c250 from 21st Jan. to 5th Mar. (many obs.). O u l t o n B r o a d — c 3 0 0 in Dec. (RSB). Homersfield —120 6th Jan. (BJB). Lackford Pits —105 26th Nov. (AJL). Most observers commented that the flocks were predominantly made up of adult drakes. Why is this so? — E D . Ring-necked Duck. — The drake and two ducks first noted at A l t o n W a t e r in 1977 were there until 5th Jan., with a single duck remaining until 12th Feb. (SOG). Another drake was discovered at Barham Pits on 19th April and could have conceivably been the Alton Water bird (SP et al). Ferruginous Duck. — An adult drake was present at Alton W a t e r from 7th to 12th Oct. (RJW, G J J , SP et al), and what was possibly the same bird was watched at Havergate on 16th Oct. (JP).



Tufted Duck. — T h e breeding population continues to increase with nesting confirmed at ten sites. At Trimley Lake 20 broods totalled 125 ducklings and 110 were assembled there on 16th April (PM). Between 200 and 300 were reported regularly f r o m A l t o n Water in autumn and winter (SOG) and inland 255 were at Lackford Pits on 17th Dec. ( C A E K ) . Aytha hybrids. — A male type Tufted x Pochard was present at Lackford Pits on 26th Mar., and at Livermere on 23rd April ( C A E K ) . What was possibly the same bird was seen at Alton W a t e r f r o m 16th Sept. to 26th Oct., and a female type Tufted x Pochard was also there on 2nd Dec. (PM). T h e above records indicate the care needed when looking through a flock of wildfowl and trying to identify an unusual individual. A similar or the same male type bird was initially identified as a Ferruginous Duck when seen at Ardleigh, Essex, also in 1978. A f t e r several observers had carefully studied the bird in question it was concluded that it was in fact a hybrid. In addition, what was considered to be a Scaup x Pochard was at Alton Water on 5th/6th Oct. ( R J W , SP). Scaup. — Low numbers were recorded in both winters in coastal areas. Individuais were also seen inland at Homersfield, Lackford Pits and Barham Pits. An adult male was present on Alton Water from 16th to 27th May. Eider. — W i d e s p r e a d in small groups offshore throughout the year including c30 at Ness Point, Lowestoft on 30th Dec. This locality seems to be the most favoured in the county. Adult drakes continue to be quite rare suggesting that our birds consist of non-breeding sub-adults of possibly Dutch origin. Long-tailed Duck. — O n e at Dunwich o n 5 t h Mar. was the only record early in the year, but from mid-Oct., birds were seen at Kessingland/Benacre/Covehithe (2), Alton Water and Ipswich Docks. Common Scoter. — T h e large numbers which were found off the coast in winter and indeed in the summer months are a feature of the past. Flocks of up to 200 were seen in winter and spring off Walberswick where c30 were present on 27th May and 20 on 22nd July. Unusually three were sighted in Ipswich Docks o n 16th April.


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Velvet Scoter. — T h e pattern with this species is much the same as the latter on a reduced scale. Off Walberswick six w e r e there on 5th Jan. (CK, PW, PH), and a drake was there t h r o u g h o u t the summer ( S O G , GJJ). Two were seen there on 5th Nov. (PM). T h e summering drake was probably the bird n o t e d off Minsmere in heavy wing moult on 27th July (RSPB). T h e only other records of note were 14 off Dunwich on 5th M a r . ( S O G ) , and seven off Benacre on 28th Oct. ( D R M ) . Goldeneye. — A regulär winter visitor but in larger numbers on the southern rivers, e.g. 210 Seafield Bay, Stour, on 12th Feb. ( P M ) and 58 Waldringfield, Deben on 14th Jan. (SOG). An i m m a t u r e summered at Alton Water (PM). S m e w . — T h r e e singles reported were a drake at Woodbridge on 4th Jan. ( S O G ) , a ' r e d h e a d ' at Benacre on 18th/19th Feb. ( A A B , C A E K ) , and another drake at Thorington Street on 25th Mar. ( S O G ) . Red-breasted Merganser. — This species was scattered widely in both winters along the coast, scarcely more than six together. Strangely a female was seen at Shingle Street on 9th July ( C G D C ) , and inland two were present at Homersfield on 3 I s t Dec. ( G W M ) . Goosander.—This predominantly freshwater species was seen in small numbers on passage along the coast. Inland one visited Homersfield on 6th J a n . , and at Thorington Street four w e r e present on 12th Mar. Honey Buzzard. — O n e was identified in the Dunwich/Hinton a r e a o n 2 ü t h Aug. ( C R N ) . Red Kite. — O n e was watched on several days in Jan. at Sutton C o m m o n ( F K C , A E C , RJW et al). Singlesat Lound 13th Mar. ( S O G ) , Oulton Broad 25th Mar. (RSB), Minsmere 25th Mar. and 2nd and lOth April (RSPB), H e n h a m Park 25th Mar. ( M M , P M ) , and during Mar. at Benacre and Snape probably all refer to the same bird. Marsh Harrier. — A splendid breeding season with six nests producing 16 young. O n e successful pair nested in an entirely new area. Passage birds were reported from Livermere, East Bergholt, S u d b o u r n e , Trimley, Lowestoft, Shingle Street and



Lound. A few birds wintered mainly at Walberswick and Minsmere. Hen Harrier. — A considerable increase of records both wintering and on passage. The recent discovery of the roosting habits of this species in Suffolk poses the question of whether it has been under-recorded in the past. U p to 40 birds were roosting at four coastal and one Breckland site at the turn of the year. Montagu's Harrier.—Only noted at Minsmere where a male was seen on 20th May, and"a 'ring-tail' on 23rd July (RSPB). Ring-tail Harrier sp. — O n e Sizewell22nd April (SP).





Goshawk.— A regulär winter visitor during the last two years especially at Walberswick where one was seen on 3rd Nov. (CSW, R J W ) . A n o t h e r favoured haunt is Sutton Common where a female was present from Jan. to Ist April (GJJ), and a male in late Jan. ( M M , PM. A A B ) . At Minsmere Goshawks were seen on 7th and 24th Jan. as well as lüth Mar. when a female flew out over the sea (RSPB). Singles were also noted at Benacre on 27th April, and South Cove on 17th Dec. (CRN). Sparrowhawk.— Recorded during the breeding season at five sites, but this is not considered to be the true status of this splendid little raptor. Small but regulär numbers continue to be seen on passage and during winter on the coast and in the Breck. A n unusual location was one in Christchurch Park, Ipswich, on l l t h Oct. (PM). In south-west Suffolk where this species is a rarity singles were at Bures on 15th Feb. ( M N K ) and at Sudbury on 5th Oct. ( A A B ) . Buzzard. —Singles as follows:—Lakenheath Warren Feb. to April ( R V A M , C A E K ) , Walberswick 26th Feb. (BJB, CSW), B e r n e r ' s H e a t h / E l v e d e n 19th/26th Mar. (CBC, C A E K ) , Rendlesham 25th Mar. ( S O G ) , Boyton 9th April ( S O G ) , Minsmere 4th May (RSPB), Darmsden 30th/31st May ( S O G ) , Shotley 8th June ( M P ) and possibly the same bird at Martlesham 12th J u n e (KT), Minsmere 29th July (RSPB)>, Benacre Ist Sept. ( S O G ) , Felixstowe 15th Sept. (SOG>, T u d d e n h a m 23rd Sept. ( S O G ) , Edwardstone 21st Dec.


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( W H P ) and Walberswick 29th Dec. (JCE). Finally, there were two together at Fritton 20th Mar. (SOG). Rough-legged Buzzard. — A slightly better year with singles at Walberswick on 12th Feb. (SOG), 28th Oct. (SJB) and 28th Dec. ( R J W ) . O t h e r individuals seen at Dunwich 16th Mar. (SP) and Minsmere late Dec. (RSPB) almost certainly refer to the Walberswick birds. Two together were reported from B e r n e r ' s Heath/Elveden between Feb. and 19th Mar. (CBC). A n o t h e r was present at Iken in Feb. (SOG). Osprey.— Singles were observed at several coastal sites from Mar. to Sept. Ö n e seen at Covehithe on 23rd July was in moult ( R S B ) . Two together were at Bromeswell on 9th April, and one spent several days in April/May at Lound (SOG). Kestrel. — Breeding numbers apparently high only in the coastal beit, the Waveney and Stour Valleys, and the Breck. O n e stooped with a repeated lack of success at a pipistrelle bat at Härtest on 26th Oct. (WHP). Another individual was observed robbing gulls of their food at Lowestoft on 5th Mar. ( S O G ) . A female ringed at Walberswick on 14th Aug. 1977 was f o u n d weak and bedraggled after a storm at Honington, Norfolk, on 20th May. It was released next day but discovered dead in a church belfry in the same village on 25th June (DBC). Red-footed Falcon. — A tirst summer male was present at Walberswick from 27th June until 3rd July (CSW etal). Merlin. — T h e r e were many records of this species from coastal sites particularly Walberswick, Minsmere and Havergate. Inland one at Lakenheath during Feb. and Mar. Hobby. — R e p o r t e d from several coastal localities from late April through May and June. One pair bred in the county which is the first for over 40 years. Remarkably one and possibly another were seen near Ipswich on 11 th Nov. (BT). Quail. — There were two possible breeding records with males calling in midsummer at two sites. O n e was seen at M a r t l e s h a m on the unusual date of 24th Feb. (SJB). A wintering quail was seen at Benacre in 1970. — E D .



Pheasant. — A female was reported from the centre of Ipswich near Portman Road on 23rd May and again on 25th Aug. ( R B W ) . O n Havergate Island six pairs raised 38 young. Golden Pheasant. — Numerous in the Brandon area (JLR). Also noted at Elveden and the King's Forest in the Breck ( C A E K ) , and at Lound on 29th Mar. (SOG). Water Rail. — c40 Minsmere.







Moorhen. — A gathering of 130 on Trimley marshes on 7th Jan. Coot. — Large winter flocks were reported as follows:— 600 Trimley Lake 28th Dec. ( A E V ) , 509 Alton Water 25th Jan. and 720 there on 30th Dec. (SOG). Oystercatcher. — A pair bred amongst broken concrete on the north extension of Lowestoft Harbour and another pair nested on arable land at Covehithe. Flocks of 200 plus were counted on the Orwell, and a winter flock of 243 was seen on the Stour on 12th Feb. Avocet. — Breeding success improved on 1977 with 95 pairs raising 56 young at Havergate, and 47 pairs producing 19 young at Minsmere (RSPB). Wintering birds were a feature with 31 staying at Havergate and plying between there and the Butley area. O n passage singles were seen at Alton Water on 5th April ( R J W ) and Walton Ferry on 24th Mar. ( A A B ) . At Walberswick birds were seen regularly in early summer, and four flew north at Oulton Broad on 2nd Sept. (CRN). Stone Curlew. — O n e assumes that because of the privacy of much of the suitable habitat, and the fact that early morning vigils are essential to locate breeding pairs this species is often overlooked. Breeding was proved at three Breckland sites and suspected at one other. Nine were seen together at one Breckland site on 4th Aug. (BJB). On the coast birds were thought to have nested on four sites and in fact did so at one other. A late individual was located near Elveden on lOth Nov. (TN).


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Little Ringed Plover. — Breeding numbers increased encouragingly particularly in the Gipping Valley. Passage was good b e t w e e n July and Sept. on the coast and inland up to eight w e r e seen at Bury B.F. ponds, and singles at Lackford Pits. Ringed Plover.—Away from its usual haunts this species nested in Ipswich Docks (two pairs raising four young) at L o w e s t o f t H a r b o u r (five pairs), and at Alton Water (six pairs). A pair bred in the Breck at Tuddenham, and others were seen feeding on ploughland in that area in Mar. Kentish Plover. — M o r e records than usual with one at Walberswick from 29th April until 6th May (AJP, S O G , R A C ) . A n o t h e r was seen at Walton Ferry 30th April (MM), and also at Levington on 7th/8th May (PM, A W ) . A male was p r e s e n t at Benacre on 20th May (SOG), but the most spectacular record was of up to four at Minsmere between 6th and 27th M a y (RSPB). Finally there was also one at H a v e r g a t e in May and June. Dotterel. — A n adult female on Kessingland dunes 18th/20th M a y (MP, P A G , G W M et al). Golden Plover. — Wintering flocks were counted as follows:— c400 M u t f o r d 2nd J a n . , 103 Gisleham 2nd Jan., c400 Henny Street 4th J a n . , c50 D e b e n h a m 7th Jan., clOO Hepworth 20th J a n . , 260 Frostenden 21st Jan., 345 Falkenham 4th Feb., c l , 0 0 0 at Earl Stonham during Mar., c50 Newmarket 7th M a r . , cl50 Ellough 13th Mar., c300 Saxham 19th M a r . , c600 O u l t o n Broad 31st Mar., cl50 Livermere 22nd Oct., and finally 122 Yaxley 19th Dec. An injured bird summered at Levington. Grey Plover. — A wintering group of 75 were located at Levington on 30th Dec., and eight were on ploughland at Kessingland on 17th Dec. The most impressive count was of 741 on the Stour on 17th Dec. (SEBG). A summer plumage bird was at Levington in midwinter for the third year running (MM). Sociable Plover.—The bird first seen in the Stour Valley in 1977 was there until 17th Jan. ( M R L , G C W et al). Lapwing. — In









follows:— c750 Trimley marshes, cl,000 Shelford's meadows, Sudbury, cl,400 Wherstead and 2,236 on the Stour. From the end of July there was a noticeable influx and c400 flew over Aldeburgh on 29th July, whilst on Ist Oct. 1,065 were counted in groups Coming in from sea at Landguard Point. Knot. —Small numbers on passage included what was possibly the same flock of 21 at Minsmere on 2nd Sept. and Walberswick on 9th Sept. Düring the winter months 551 were counted on the Stour on 22nd Jan., c400 there in Dec., and 246 on Trimley marshes on lOth Jan. Sanderling. —Small parties of up to 20 wintered particularly favouring the Lowestoft area. Inland one was at Bury B.F. ponds on 24th Aug. Little Stint. — A f t e r a sprinklingof records in the spring there occurred a remarkable autumn passage of this species in parallel with Curlew Sandpipers. The peak of the migration was 9th Sept. with a maximum of 142 at Minsmere, and smaller but above average numbers at Alton Water, Benacre, Havergate and Levington. Some birds lingered on until Dec. Inland individuals were seen at Bury B.F. ponds. Remarkably o n e was at Minsmere on 22nd Feb. (RSPB). Temminck's Stint. — R e c o r d e d as follows:— Two Alton W a t e r 17th/19th May with singles on 25th May, 3rd/7th Sept. (JBL, P M ) , and again l l t h Sept. (CAM). A n adult at Benacre 7th Aug. (BJB, D R M ) , and two at Minsmere 15th/23rd May (RSPB). White-rumped Sandpiper. — O n e was at Benacre/Easton from 22nd Oct. until 5th Nov. ( C R N , FKC, RJW et al). This is the seventh county record. Curlew Sandpiper. — N o n e reported in spring but a steady a u t u m n passage starting in July building up to large numbers by 9th Sept. A maximum of 66 at Minsmere, 25 at Benacre, 15 at H a v e r g a t e and slightly smaller numbers at Walberswick. Up to four were seen at Alton Water, Sproughton and Levington. F u r t h e r inland one was at Bury B.F. ponds on 3rd Sept. Purple Sandpiper. — L o w e s t o f t H a r b o u r and sea wall are the best location for this species in the county. A n early date was



Natural History, Vol. 18, Part 1

two there on 15th Sept. T h e monthly maximum counts for this area were:— Jan. (11), Feb. (14), Mar. (17), April (11), Oct. (27), and Nov. (32). The last total is a record for both the area and the county. A maximum of nine was at Landguard Point 28th Oct., and singles were noted at Walberswick 29th Mar., Benacre 29th Oct. and Southwold 13th Nov. A bird at L o w e s t o f t on 29th Oct. had dark red legs. Dunlin. — A flock of c400 on the shore at Walberswick on 29th Jan. is high for that area in winter. Numbers on the Stour were c 10,000 and c9,000 in Jan. and Dec. respectively (SEBG). On the Blyth there were cl,300 on 12th Feb. (CSW), and c2,000 on the Deben on 15th Dec. (SOG). Broad-billed Sandpiper. — O n e was at Minsrnere from 18th to 22nd May ( A F D , G R W etal). Ruff. — Recorded regularly at Minsrnere where a maximum of 50 in Oct., also constant small numbers on passage at Benacre, Walberswick and Alton Water. Observed inland at Bury B.F. p o n d s (3) on 26th Aug., and one with a black ruff was at O u l t o n Broad on 22nd April. A s a winter visitor this species seems to be increasing:— 19 were at Minsrnere on 16th Dec., and o n e at Walberswick on the same day. Jack Snipe. — Small numbers were reported in both winters but nothing to surpass an assessment of over 40 wintering at Shotley during Jan. O n e ringed there in 1976 was shot at the same location on 23rd Jan. Two were at Minsrnere 6th May, and one remained until 15th June which is very unusual (RSPB). Snipe. — Decreasing as a breeding species, but numbers s u p p l e m e n t e d by sizeable liocks of autumn migrants. A maximum of 225 at Minsrnere in Nov. Dowitcher sp. — The two birds first seen at Havergate in 1977 were still there in April (RSPB). Woodcock. — Breeding season records from:— Lakenheath, Cavenham, King's Forest, Purdis Heath, Shrublands P a r k — I p s w i c h , Foxhall, Martlesham, Butley and Walberswick. Single migrants were observed Aying over Bury St.



E d m u n d s town centre on 19th Dec., and along the sea wall at Lowestoft on 2nd Jan. Black-tailed Godwit.— O n e successful and two possible pairs bred at one coastal site, and nesting was suspected at two locations elsewhere in the county. A group of 30 were on the Deben at Waldringfield on 2nd Jan. (PM), 218 were at Minsmere in April (RSPB) and 115 visited Havergate in Aug. (RSPB). The wintering flock on the Stour was counted as follows:— 22nd Jan. (841), 12th Feb. (880), 12th Mar. (35), 17th Dec. (591), 31st Dec. (1,020) — ( S E B G ) . Finally, 158 were assembled on the Blyth 5th April (DBC). Bar-tailed Godwit. — A flock of 46 was on the shore at Walberswick on Ist May (DRM, SOG), and 25 were at Havergate during April (RSPB). An unusual record was four in Lowestoft Harbour on 26th April (PRA). Return passage in July was impressive with a maximum of 122 at Minsmere. Also 48 flew north at Lowestoft on 30th Dec. (PAG). Whimbrel. — Spring passage was from mid-April, and the usual heavier autumn movements from mid-July. A count of 144 at Havergate on 9th May is exceptional. Curlew. — Ten breeding pairs were reported from the Breck at three sites. Maximum counts of c700 were made on the Stour in both winters (SEBG), and c20() were assembled on Trimley marshes on 19th Aug. (RBW). Spotted Redshank. — Most regulär at Minsmere where the maximum recorded was 51 in Aug. (RSPB), also at Walberswick where there were 19 on 4th Oct. (CSW). Elsewhere smaller groups were noted sporadically at Benacre, Iken, Snape, Levington, the Stour, Alton Water and Covehithe. Redshank. — Breeding birds still decreasing with loss of habitat, but nesting was suspected away from the coast at T u d d e n h a m ( D A D ) . A pair with chicks were noted at Brightwell on Ist June (MM), and at Minsmere seven pairs reared at least 12 young. Wintering flocks were recorded as follows:— the Stour—2,230 12th Mar., and 3,831 17th Dec. (SEBG); The Blyth—788 12th Feb. (CSW). Greenshank. — Passage birds noted at many places with a


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 18, Part 1

maximum of ten at Minsmere in May and Aug. Six were regularly at Benacre in Aug. A singleton wintered at Trimley marshes. Lesser Yellowlegs. — One at Minsmere from 29th May until 5th June. This is the third county record (RB, GJJ et al). Green Sandpiper. — Up to four wintered at Alton Water in J a n . / F e b . ( D R M , PM), as did singles in five other localities. A u t u m n passage was good with a maximum of 12 at Minsmere on 30th July (RSPB), seven Sproughton Pits 5th/18th July, ten Alton Water, nine Walberswick in Aug., and most pecuiiarly two in a puddle at Frostendon. Wood Sandpiper.—In spring two were at Alton Water in May, and also one at Great Blakenham (PM). In autumn the passage was above average with nine at Benacre during Aug. and early Sept. (BJB, D R M , GJJ), 11 during Aug. at Walberswick (CSW), and ten Minsmere on 3rd Aug. (RSPB). Smaller numbers were reported from Alton Water, Sproughton, Havergate and Oulton Broad. Common Sandpiper. — The largest spring gathering was eight at Walberswick on 12th May. In autumn 19 were at Minsmere in July, 20 were at Benacre including a flock of 17 on 7th Aug. 25 on the Blyth on 23rd Aug., and 33 at Havergate during Aug. A pair were displaying at Lound until 23rd May. Wintering individuals were noted at Alton Water on 20th Dec., and Ipswich Docks area on several dates in Jan./Feb. Turnstone.—The largest number occured on the Stour with 337 on 12th Mar., and the Orwell with clOO at Levington on 9th Sept. There were also cl75 roosting on small craft at Pinmill on 23rd Dec. Up to 45 were present in the Lowestoft area in January. Inland two were at Bury B.F. ponds on Ist May, and a single at Great Blakenham on 19th May. Red-necked Phalarope. — Singles at Minsmere on 19th/20th Aug. and 20th Sept. (RSPB). Pomarine Skua. — One at Easton on 18th Nov. (CRN). Arctic Skua. — Small numbers noted between mid-July and Oct. offshore. 27th Aug. was obviously the peak day as there



were 13 at Benacre, 12 Minsmere, six Sizewell, and two Walberswick. Of course the same birds could have been involved in some cases. Great Skua. — R e p o r t e d from Minsmere as follows:— Ist A u g . , 19th Aug. (2), 28th Aug., 5th Sept. and 7th Oct. (RSPB). Also singles off Lowestoft lüth Sept. (GWM), and 30th Sept. ( P A G ) . Mediterranean Gull. — A n adult was seen in Lowestoft H a r b o u r from 25th Mar. until 9th April (SA, BJB, P R A et al), and the Benacre/Covehithe adult was noted from 16th Aug. until the end of the year. Another or the same adult was at Lowestoft on 20th Nov. (PAG). Elsewhere an adult was at Sizewell/Minsmere from 5th Mar. until 12th June (RSPG, S O G ) , and an immature there on 26th Mar. (SP). A first year bird was at Cattawade on 2nd Oct. (MM). Franklin's Gull. — The Lowestoft bird first found in 1977 was last seen on 27th Mar. ( G W M ) . A s the winter weather became warmer it regained its habit of following the plough, and generally feeding on arable fields inland (BJB). Little Gull. — A good autumn passage with maximum of c50 Sizewell 6th Sept., 30 Minsmere 8th Sept. and 12 Benacre 24th Sept. Singles were noted elsewhere from Lowestoft to Ipswich from Aug. until the middle of Dec. Sabine's Gull. — Two immatures at Shingle Street on 3rd Dec. (KCR). Black-headed Gull. — Breeding:— 532 pairs raised 53 young at M i n s m e r e , c5,000 pairs reared c400 young at Havergate, cl50 pairs on the Blyth, c30-40 pairs Tuddenham and 19 pairs at Bury B.F. ponds. At Minsmere there was a roost of c2,800 in April. A n all white individual was at Lowestoft. This bird was pure white even to the absence of the ear mark, but there were very narrow black edges to the tips of the primaries. The bill and legs were red (BJB). Lesser Black-backed/Herring Gull. — On 22nd June the O r f o r d n e s s colony was estimated at c3,500-4,000 birds, the species being roughly equally divided (WHP). There were c800 Herring Gulls at Foxhall rubbish tip on 2nd Jan. (SOG).


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A n individual with a dark grey mantle and black only on the leading primary feather which was at Lowestoft from Dec. 1977 until lOth Jan. is considered by R. A. Hume to be North Scandinavian Herring Gull (BJB). Iceland Gull. — A first winter bird frequented the Lowestoft area during Jan., and was last seen on the 21st (BJB, D R M et al). This was probably the same individual seen at Minsmere on 13th Jan. (RSPB). Another, but a second year was at Lowestoft from 16th April until 23rd (BJB, GWM). This was possibly the bird noted at Minsmere on 20th and 28th April ( A E C , FKC, GJJ etal). Glaucous Gull.—An exceptional year for this species with six imms. and two adults in the Lowestoft area during Jan./Feb. (BJB, D R M et al). Also present at Benacre, Havergate, Minsm e r e , Southwold, Walberswick and on the Deben as late as 6th May. In the second winter there was an adult at Benacre f r o m 28th Oct. until 12th Nov. (many obs.). N.B.—Of the six imms. at Lowestoft at least two were extremely dark. Opinion is that these were juveniles that had not undergone an initial moult.—ED. Great Black-backed Gull.—Foxhall rubbish tip had a flock of c200 on 2nd J a n . , and in Mar. c250 mostly adults were roosting in Lowestoft Harbour. Kittiwake.—The breeding colony at Lowestoft was recorded thus:— South Pier—main ledge 35 prs.—16 prs. successful—22 young fledged. South Pier—north windows 6 prs.— 5 prs. successful— 6 young fledged. Yacht Club 3 prs.— 1 pr. successful— 2 young fledged. Private Houses 14 prs.— 8 prs. successful—10 young fledged. Shops (north of the bridge) 10 prs.— 9 prs. successful—15 young fledged. (This means that 68 pairs raised 55 young). Birds nesting on the shops were more successful as they nested later during more suitable weather having been disturbed from the nearby church and other buildings which were being demolished. It was very heartening to see that sympathetic workmen had left just one wall of a house Standing as it



contained nesting Kittiwakes. Suffolk ornithologists say 'Thank you". (BJB). Elsewhere flocks of up to 200 were recorded on passage particularly in gale conditions. Sandwich Tern.—A disappointing breeding season. Over 1,000 were present at Minsmere in April/May but only 18 pairs produced two young. Things were much better at Havergate where 150 pairs raised at least the same number of young. Birds were noted offshore from late Mar. until late Oct. Roseate Tern.—A pair were seen together at one site on 16th June ( A R J P ) , and an imm. was at Benacre on 26th Aug. (DRM). Common Tern.—At Havergate 36 pairs raised 34 young, at Minsmere 91 pairs reared 11 young, on the Blyth six-ten pairs bred, and possibly as many as ten pairs nested successfully at Benacre. A pair frequented Barham Pits and may have bred. In May there was a max. of 298 at Minsmere, and clOO were at Benacre during July/Aug. Arctic Tern.—At Havergate two pairs produced one young. On 8th May five were at Alton Water (RJW). Many more than usual were reported in autumn and included eight Benacre 20th/27th Aug. (DRM), and seven Sizewell 23rd Sept. (GJJ). Little Tern.—An apparently excellent season. An estimation of c75-100 pairs along the coast is most encouraging, and young were certainly noted in good numbers at all locations. Inland one was at Barham on Ist May. Black Tern.—On spring passage up to six were at Alton Water in April, and one inland at Lackford Pits. Singles also noted at Livermere and on the River Gipping. As usual more birds were located on the return passage including 14 Minsmere in Sept., with smaller numbers from Aug. to Sept. at Sizewell, Benacre and Shingle Street. Guillemot.—Singles as follows:— Walberswick Ist Feb., Trimley 5th Feb., Landguard Point 28th May, Walberswick 30th May and Boyton 29th Nov. Some of these were partially oiled.



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Razorbill.—A juvenile was seen off Dunwich on 17th Aug., and an adult there on 19th Aug. Finally there were two at L o w e s t o f t on 26th Nov. Stock Dove.—A winter flock of clOO at Livermere. Turtle Dove.—Still widespread as a summer resident, with s o m e large gatherings noted on farmland from July onwards. T h e density of breeding birds seems highest in the south-west and the Breck. This species has been wintering more often recently and there was one at Brantham on 3rd Feb. Cuckoo.—Becoming scarcer each year. G o o d numbers are still a p p a r e n t in the coastal belt and the Breck, but over the rest of the county this species has become scarce. A particularly dense population was noted in one Breckland wood. Barn Owl.—Slowly increasing with more records received especially from coastal areas. A pair bred at Little Cornard where it has been a very rare sight. O n e found dead on the A45 near Stowmarket on 13th July had been ringed as a nestling at Charlecote Park, Warwicks. on 5th Aug. 1976. Little Owl.—Widespread but rather local in some areas. O n e was seen Aying over Foxhall Stadium three times during a speedway meeting (MM). Long-eared Owl.—Bred at six sites including one new area. Short-eared Owl.—A few were reported in Jan./Feb. but a considerable influx was noted in late Oct. with singles seen all down the coast, and at a few inland sites. Short-eared Owls were reported from several possible breeding areas during the s u m m e r but there was no evidence of success. Nightjar.—Breeds sporadically on the coastal belt as far south as Ipswich. A t Minsmere eight pairs produced nine young. Breckland numbers are virtually unknown but are thought to be at least equal to the coastal area. Swift.—Arrived during the last week of April including six at A l t o n W a t e r on 27th April. Some observers suggest that this species is now occurring at later dates and in greater numbers



than previously. The following table records counts made over Ipswich during Sept.:— 1973—1 1974—9 1975—5

1976— 26 1977— 66 1978—134 (RBW)

Ten were over Ipswich on 2nd Oct., and two at Southwold on 9th Oct. There was also an unconfirmed report of a Swift at Walberswick on 5th Nov. Kingfisher.—The status of this species remains unchanged. Hoopoe.—One record only of a single in a garden at Great Bai ton on Ist May (Mrs. and Elizabeth Eilden). Wryneck.—Spring birds were present at Walberswick (4), Hopton and Benacre in late April and early May. What was encouraging was the occurrence of two individuals at two different locations in the middle of June. One of these birds was heard calling over a period of five days. Autumn numbers were low with less than a dozen noted. Green Woodpecker.—Only numerous on the coastal belt, the north-east and the Breck. Seven pairs were located at Minsmere. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.—Almost certainly overlooked as this species is probably widespread over the county but as it inhabits the leaf canopy in summer it is difficult to see. On one occasion a bird was watched apparently feeding in a phragmites reedbed at Livermere. Woodlark.—Up to ten pairs nested at three coastal sites including one in a new area. No records were received from the Breck. Singles were also observed at Minsmere in Feb., Mar. and Oct. The Feb. bird was heard singing briefly. Skylark.—A melanistic bird was at Landguard Point on 28th Aug., and uncharacteristically one visited a bird table in Bury St. E d m u n d s apparently for bread. Shorelark.—Reported most frequently from Easton Bavents, Walberswick, Dunwich and Minsmere, but numbers were low with no more than 30 in total. Elsewhere two were in



Natural History, Vol. 18, Part 1

L o w e s t o f t H a r b o u r 26th April ( P R A ) , a single at Alton Water 30th Nov. and four flew south at Benacre on 30th Oct. ( A E C , FKC). Sand Martin.—Colonies of c600 and c800 were reported from Levington and Claydon respectively. At Minsmere there were c250 pairs at the cliff colony and c600 had assembled on the reserve in Sept. Four were at Benacre on the late date of 29th Oct. ( G J J , U E A ) . Swallow.—A roost of c3,000 was at Minsmere in Sept. Late migrants were reported at Benacre 5th Nov. ( R A H ) , Walberswick 13th Nov. (RJW), and one was found dead at A l d e b u r g h 2 9 t h Nov. ( p e r T H J ) . House Martin.—A colony of 57 nests were reported under 12 street lighting shades at Levington (max. of seven under one s h a d e , min. of three). A partial albino individual was at Alton W a t e r on 24th June (PM). On 26th Nov. the last migrants were noted with one at Pakefield (MH, GSB) and three at Benacre ( U E A ) . Tree Pipit.—Bred sparsely on the coastal belt particularly in forestry Clearings. Ten pairs were at Minsmere, and it was described as n u m e r o u s around Santon Downham but no other Breckland records were received. Rock Pipit.—Wintering all along the coast including some of the Scandinavian race at Alton Water in Mar. Water Pipit.—Noted at several localities mainly in Mar. and April with a max. of nine at Minsmere on 15th April. Yeliow Wagtail.—Little is currently known of the breeding status of this species and records would be appreciated in 1979—ED. A n obvious movement was observed from 25th April onwards and included several males of the Continental races. Blue-headed Wagtail. — Individuais of the race flava were at M i n s m e r e in April/May (RSPB), Trimley 29th April (PM), Southwold 9th May (DV), and perhaps significantly at Falkenh a m marshes on 23rd June ( A R J P ) .



Grey-headed Wagtail. — Singles of the race thunbergi was located at Minsmere 14th/29th May (RSPB, MSK, RJW), Alton Water 19th/20th May (MM, PM), Barham 16th May and at Lackford 18th May (SOG). White-headed Wagtail. — A male of the very rare race leucocephala was at Walberswick on 25th April (CSW). This is the first time that this race has been recorded in Suffolk.—ED. Grey Wagtail.—Apparently on the increase as a breeding species with six pairs nesting. Singles were noted on passage mainly in the autumn. Pied Wagtail.—Winter roost of c300 at Redgrave Fen in Nov., and also at least 200 on a factory roof at Beccles regularly since 1975. White Wagtail.—Singles of the race alba were at Sudbury, Benacre, Walberswick and Minsmere during Mar. and April. Waxwing.—Singles at Corton 12th Jan., and Woodbridge 21st Jan. (SOG), Wattisham 28th Mar. (per RSPB), Woodbridge again 22nd Nov. and Felixstowe 17th Dec. (SOG). Nightingale.—Judging from records received at least 60 pairs nested in the county. Black Redstart.—Bred as follows:— Felixstowe — eight males singing in spring and at least ten young raised. Lowestoft/Oulton Broad — four pairs bred and there was one other male singing. Ipswich — possibly one pair bred. Sizewell — o n e pair bred. Orford area — one pair bred. Redstart.—A suggestion of a slight increase in breeding numbers on the coastal belt. At Walberswick nine pairs were located, and at Minsmere eight pairs fledged at least 17 young. Three pairs nested in boxes at the latter site. Numbers in the Breck were not reported. Passage was very light with very small numbers reported. Whinchat.—Seven were at Lakenheath Warren on 1 Ith May



Natural History,

Vol. 18, Part 1

a n d a pair w e r e still t h e r e on Ist July. O n e pair definitely n e s t e d at W a l b e r s w i c k . A u t u m n passage was average with small g r o u p s s c a t t e r e d a l o n g t h e coast, the largest b e i n g nine at W a l b e r s w i c k 22nd A u g . S t o n e c h a t . — M o r e plentiful in 1978 as a winter visitor a n d p a s s a g e m i g r a n t , with b r e e d i n g p r o v e d at only five sites involving ten pairs. W h e a t e a r . — B r e e d i n g r e p o r t e d at eight sites representing ten pairs. Greenland W h e a t e a r . — B i l d s showing characteristics of this race w e r e at L a n d g u a r d 22nd April until early M a y , 14th O c t . , O r f o r d n e s s 4th N o v . , a n d Walberswick 5th N o v . Ring O u z e l . — A good spring passage with 22 seen at five sites b e t w e e n 28th A p r i l a n d 6th M a y . O n l y five birds were r e p o r t e d in t h e a u t u m n . B l a c k b i r d . — A pair at O u l t o n B r o a d were nest building in J a n . , sitting in M a r . , a n d t w o y o u n g flew f r o m the nest on 5th April (RSB). F i e l d f a r e . — W i n t e r i n g n u m b e r s were a v e r a g e until a f t e r C h r i s t m a s w h e n cold north-easterly winds b r o u g h t a c o n s i d e r a b l e influx f r o m t h e C o n t i n e n t . O n e with a white c r o w n was at Felixstowe on 14th/15th J a n . ( F J F ) . Late individuals w e r e seen at E a s t b r i d g e (2) on 14th M a y ( G J J ) , a n d L a n d g u a r d (2) on Ist M a y ( P M ) . Finally, o n e was present at M i n s m e r e d u r i n g J u n e ( R S P B ) . R e d w i n g . — A s with t h e p r e v i o u s species t h e r e was a significant i m m i g r a t i o n at the e n d of the year. A c r e a m y - b u f f bird was p r e s e n t at C h r i s t c h u r c h P a r k , Ipswich d u r i n g Feb. A late r e c o r d was a single at L a n d g u a r d Point 15th M a y ( A R J P ) , and a n o t h e r at M i n s m e r e in July ( R S P B ) . Mistle Thrush.—Will o b s e r v e r s please send in all records of this species in 1979, as t h e r e a p p e a r s to be a c o n s i d e r a b l e decrease over recent years.—ED. Cetti's W a r b i e r . — B r e e d i n g was p r o v e d at two sites in the W a v e n e y Valley ( R S B , B J B , D R M ) , a n d strongly suspected at



Minsmere (RSPB). Elsewhere heard Walberswick 28th May ( P A G ) and 4th June (GJJ), Thorpeness 1 Ith June (GJJ) and H o l b r o o k 19th April (PM). Grasshopper Warbier.—Onlv reported from Ipswich, Capel St. Mary, Snape, Thorpeness, Minsmere, Sizewell, Walbersick, Oulton Broad, Lackford and Lakenheath. Savi's Warbier.—Two pairs probably bred at Minsmere (RSPB), and one pair at Walberswick where a juv. was trapped on 22nd July ( D B C , CSW). Sedge Warbier.—The first arrival recorded was at Minsmere on Ist April where it was estimated 100 plus pairs bred. Reed Warbier.—At least 50 pairs were located at Minsmere. O n e trapped at Walberswick 28th Oct. weighed 18.6gms. which is very high for such a late bird (DBC). The average at this time is 11.6gms.—ED. Icterine Warbier.—One at Minsmere from 27th Aug. to 6th Sept. (IB, G J J , FKC, RSPB et al). FKC considers that two birds could have been involved. Barred Warbier.—One at Benacre 14th Sept. (PT), and another or the same at Easton 17th Sept. (CRN). Lesser Whitethroat.—Away from the coast this species is scarce as a breeding bird, mainly because of loss of habitat. Passage birds were noted well into Oct. Whitethroat.—After the population crash of the late 1960's numbers are continuing to slowly increase, although it is still a relatively uncommon bird over the county as a whole. The main spring arrivals were noted in late April, with autumn birds present until the end of Oct. Blackcap.—Wintering records as follows:— Female trapped at Felixstowe on 22nd, 27th Jan. and 22nd Feb. (JOB), one feeding on berberis at Orford 4th Dec. (JTH), one Great C o r n a r d 16th Feb. ( S O G ) , and a pair Christchurch Park, Ipswich 10th/13th Jan. (PM). Garden Warbier.—A high density was recorded in one West Suffolk wood during the summer.


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 18,


Wood Warbier.—Present in spring at Foxhall, Benacre, Walberswick, Ipswich, Westley, Covehithe and Minsmere (2). In a u t u m n a Single in Ipswich on 23rd Aug. A pair raised at least four young in the Benacre area. Nesting is unusual in Suffolk. Willow Warbier.—One found freshly dead at Reydon 25th J a n . ( J G R , CSW). Chiffchaff.—In winter noted at Benacre Ist Jan. ( R A C , AJP, J H M ) , and in Ipswich on 1 Ith Feb. ( C G D C ) . The first migrant was noted at Minsmere on l l t h Mar. Goldcrest.—Very scarce as a passage migrant during 1978. Firecrest. — Singles as follows:— Minsmere lst/2nd April (many obs.), Havergate during April (RSPB), Sudbury 16th April ( A A B ) , Landguard Point 22nd/23rd April (MM, PM), L o w e s t o f t 25th April (SOG), in an Ipswich garden 26th April ( R B W ) , Landguard Point 2nd/4th Oct. (JOB), and finally M i n s m e r e 6th Nov. ( R J W , RSPB). Pied Flycatcher.—More spring records than for some time but a decrease in the number seen in autumn. Bearded Tit.—The only breeding figures received were of up to 80 pairs at Walberswick and the same number at Minsmere. O u t s i d e its normal county breeding areas recorded from R e d g r a v e Fen 16th April, Alton Water in Jan., Shotley sluice (7) 28th Nov., Butley Creek (6) 15th Oct., Trimley marshes (6) 25th Nov., Falkenham 29th July, Lower Holbrook (4), B a r h a m Pits 5th Nov., Fiatford (15) Jan./Feb., and three m o r e at the latter site on 28th Mar. Blue Tit.—A large feeding group of cl25 on Sutton Heath 5th Feb. Golden Oriole.—At least six singing males in the known breeding colony. A male was singing at one other site on the early date of 25th April, and one was present at another location for several days in June. A male was seen eating raspberries in a garden at Härtest 17th A u g . , and a female was a f t e r loganberries at the same place on 19th Aug. (WHP).



O n e was nearly caught in a fruit cage in the same garden in July 1974.—ED. Red-backed Shrike.—There was unfortunately a disastrous crash in the county breeding population with only 15 pairs located. L a t e migrants were reported until the end of Oct. Great Grey Shrike.—A good year with 15 different birds reported at the usual coastal sites as well as Lavenham, Lakenheath, Drinkstone and Cavenham. Rook.—Birds were observed prospecting nests at Härtest on 25th Dec. ( W H P ) . Hooded Crow.—The largest groups reported were 21 Easton and 32 Walberswick on 17th Jan., and 19 Benacre 21st Jan. Starling.—A roost of cl5,000 at Minsmere in Oct. Brambling.—The largest flock reported was c200 at Elveden on 22nd J a n . An interesting report was of two males in s u m m e r plumage visiting feeding baskets in two Ipswich gardens between 21st Feb. and 3rd May. Another male in s u m m e r plumage was watched feeding with house sparrows at O r f o r d on 22nd July ( R B W ) . It should be remembered that this species is often kept by aviculurists and the latter bird could be an e s c a p e . — E D . Siskin.—Most winter flocks numbered less than 30 but there were c250 at Walberswick on 15th April (SOG), and 62 at Minsmere in May (RSPB). Twite.—Wintering flocks in coastal areas as usual numbering up to 100. T h e r e was one flock of c200 at Walberswick on 4th Jan. Redpoll.—Bred for the first time in the Sudbury area. A partial albino redpoll was at Alton Water on Ist Jan. A decrease in both passage and breeding birds was noted in the Walberswick area. A n individual ringed as a female at Walberswick on 17th April 1976 was controlled at Gillingham, Norfolk, on 22nd Jan., as an adult male or possibly very old female. This bird fits into a pattern established in recent retraps concerning the degree of red on



Natural History, Vol. 18, Part 1

this species in old females. There is a tendency for some f e a t h e r s especially on the breast to become red. In two examples studied the red colouration on the breast was extensive and there has also been red showing on the rump (DBC). Mealy Redpoll.—Reported from three sites in Mar. and April. Crossbill.—Bred at Tangham, Covehithe, Icklingham and the King's Forest. Also recordeo at Butley, Sutton Heath, Walberswick, Brandon, Cavenham and Elveden. A flock of 22 was at Lound in late June, and a max. of 20 at Minsmere on 26th Dec. Hawfinch.—Recorded from Tattingstone, Staverton, Sudbury, Methersgate, Ipswich, Hadleigh, Benacre, Henham, Bromeswell, Thorington, Haiesworth, Minsmere, Yoxford, Sotterley and Dunwich. Lapland Bunting.—Four were at Sudbourne between Jan. and 5th Mar. ( G J J ) , and another four were at Benacre on 28th Oct. ( D R M ) . Singles were at Boyton 8th Oct. ( S O G ) and Walberswick on 29th Nov. (TH, B H , CK). Snow Bunting.—Wintering flocks were present in the Lowestoft area, Benacre, Walberswick and Easton Bavents. T h e largest was 60 at Benacre 2nd Jan. (SOG). Yellowhammer.—Large flocks of 80 at Southwold 22nd Jan. ( D V ) , and c200 Sutton Heath 25th Feb. (SOG). Corn Bunting.—Increasing slightly with breeding behaviour noted at Southwold, Walberswick, Barnby, Gisleham, Carlton Colville, Levington, Falkenham, Stutton, Freston, Barham, H o l b r o o k , Trimley, Nayland, Bures, A m p t o n , T u d d e n h a m , Eriswell and Brockley. Winter flocks of 30 Havergate, 20 F i a t f o r d , 15 Falkenham and 12 Shotley, all in Jan./Feb. APPENDIX I—CATEGORY D SPECIES Wood Duck. — A drake was at Sproughton Pits on 19th Feb. (MM). Ring-necked Parakeet.—Seen in the summer at Aldham where



it has bred, and also during the year at Ipswich, Corton. Polstead and Minsmere (twice). Would observers please send me all records in their possession of this species in Suffolk so that its progress in colonising the county can be monitored. APPENDIX II—CORRECTION TO 1971 REPORT Semipalmated Sandpiper.—The record reported from Minsmere on 3rd/8th Sept. has now been rejected by the British Birds Rarities Committee. APPENDIX III—ADDITION TO 1974 REPORT Ring-necked Duck.—A duck spent five days in early Jan. at Homersfield Pits. This was the first record of a female for the British Isles. APPENDIX IV—CORRECTIONS/ADDITIONS TO THE 1977 REPORT Great Northern Diver.—One flew SSE over Beccles marshes and Worlingham on 2nd Feb. (RJB). Manx Shearwater.—Nine off Walberswick 13th Sept. (JT), and two off the same location on 4th Dec. (EK, DB, JL). Storm Petrel.—One in Lowestoft Harbour on 15th Nov. (PRA). Egyptian Goose.—One at Alton Water 23rd June (SOG). Common Scoter.—A female at Alton Water 18th/19th June (MM). Kentish Plover.—A female at Walberswick 18th June (GBB). Marsh Sandpiper.—One at Benacre 14th Sept. (PT). This is the fourth county record. * Spotted Sandpiper. — O n e insummerplumage at Walberswick on 12th J u n e (SWS, PRS, PJ W). New to Suffolk. White-winged Black Tern.—Immature at Minsmere 24th Aug. (IHB, SNGH). ' N e w to Suffolk.



Natural History, Vol. 18, Part 1

Turtle Dove.—One with Collared Doves at Ipswich Docks 13th/22nd J a n . , and one found dead Seafield Bay, The Stour, on 18th Jan. Roller.—The record previously published of one at T h o r p e n e s s on 29th/30th Aug. has been rejected by the British Birds Rarities Committee. Bee-eater.—The record for 28th May should read Dunwich not Walberswick. Richard's Pipit.—Singles as follows:— Minsmere 2nd May (Mr. and Mrs. D E ) , Landguard Point 24th/26th Sept. (PM et al) and another Landguard Point 22nd Oct. (MM, PM). Redwing.—One with a damaged wing was in Christchurch P a r k , Ipswich, from 17th May until 9th Sept. (PM). Lesser Grey Shrike.—The bird seen at Lakenheath in 1977 was seen by P. G. and Mrs. C. M. Lansdown and D. T. Palmer and not as previously published. APPENDIX V—FERAL OR ESCAPED ZOOLOGICAL SPECIMENS Flamingo.—Birds showing the characteristic the Chilean race chilensis as follows:— 20th/22nd A u g . ( D R M ) , Minsmere—one 9th/18th J u n e , one again 23rd/25th Aug. Single Alton W a t e r l l t h Aug. (PM, R J W ) . "

pink 'knees' of Single Benacre 30th Jan., two (RSPB), and a

Bar-headed Goose.—Singles seen at Barham 29th Nov. (SP) and 2nd Dec. (PM) and Nacton 9th Dec. (PM). This bird probably escaped from Helmingham Hall. Chiloe Wigeon.—One found dead Minsmere 27th Mar. ( R S P B ) , and another very much alive at Alton Water 19th Nov. (PM). Cockatiel.—A bird Atting the description of this species at M i n s m e r e 23rd Dec. (RSPB). Budgerigar.—Singles at Minsmere I3th June and 4th/6th Oct. (RSPB).


Scarlet Macaw.—One at Oulton 9th July (PAG). Red Bishop.—One at Walberswick 16th Sept. (DBC).

LIST OF OBSERVERS S. Abbott P. R. Allard F. B. S. Antram M. D. Baker D. Bakewell J. T. Belsey R. Berry A. G. Bishop L. T. Bloomfield G. S. Bowen A. Botwright J. O. Brinkley R. S. Briggs B. J. Brown G. B. Brown I. H. Brown A. L. Bull S. J. Burnell A. A. Butcher R. A. Cawthorne P. J. Chadder Mrs. A. E. Cobb F. K. Cobb R. K. Cole R. J. Copping C. G. D. Curtis A. F. Diebel Mrs. I. E. Donovan J. W. Donovan D. A. Dorling J. C. Eaton Mr. and Mrs. D. Elphick

M. R. Farmer R. J. Farmer D. J. Fisher F. J. French R. W. Gardiner R. W. Garner P. A. Gregory P. Hambling Miss J. T. Hancock R. Harold B. Harrison M. Haynes T. Hodge J. Howard S. N. G. Howell R. A. Hume P. Hurrell M. F. J. Jeanes I. J. Johnson Mrs. K. Johnson G. J. Jobson T. H. Jorgensen E. M. C. M. C.

Keeble S. Kemp Kightley N. King A. E. Kirtland

A. J. Last R. H. Lawrence A. Leech J. Longe

First y e a r m a l e R e d - f o o t e d F a l c o n , W a l b e r s w i c k . P h o t o — A . J. G r a y


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 18, Part 1

J. B. Longhurst C. Lowe J. Lowe M. R. Lynton R. V. A. Marshall J. H . Marchant M. C. Marsh G. W. Maybury D. R. Moore A. J. Morris C. G. Morris P. Murphy C. R. Naunton T. Nightingale

Sir Joshua Rowley, Bt. I. Searle Mrs. P. R. Shott S. W. Shott J. T. Simpson J. Sorensen The Earl of Stradbroke P. Täte K. Taylor B. Thompson P. Thompson J. Thorogood R. B. Tozer T. Urbanowicz

M. Packard A. R. J. Paine M. Parker J. Partridge W. H. Payn J. G. L. Pemberton S. Piotrowski A. J. Prater J. L. Raincock K. C. Ramsey J. R. Read Brig. D. W. Reid J. G. Rolfe

D. Vaughan A. E. Vine C. R. R. A. G. A. G. P. P. P.

S. Waller B. Warren J. Waters E. Welch R. Welch Westcott C. White J. White Whittington Woollen

Suffolk Bird Report 1978  

Records for 1978

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