April was a rather cool month dominated by winds from a northerly direction, migration was slowed to a bare trickle but increased towards the end of the month. Garganey began to appear early with several reports from various sites, peak counts were 4 on Peto’s marsh at Carlton marshes on the 3rd and 3 at Minsmere on 6th. The overwintering Long-tailed Duck on Covehithe broad was last reported on the 2nd, 6 Velvet Scoters flew south off Covehithe on the 8th. The Taiga Bean Goose in the Reydon/Hen reedbeds area was reported up to the 13th, casting doubts on its authenticity as a wild bird. Red-throated Divers were in evidence offshore for most of the month with a strong passage off corton on the 9th with 3000+ north in one hour, Black-throated Divers were seen flying north off Southwold on 10th and 25th. A strong northerly passage of Gannets also occurred on 9th off Corton with c1200 in one hour, two first winter Shags were seen on the groynes along Lowestoft North beach on the 17th.
This month saw fewer reports of Great Egrets, peak counts were 3 at Dunwich on the 18th and 5 at Carlton marshes on the 21st and 22nd. Reports of Cattle Egrets increased however with one at Framlingham on the 10th, a summer plumaged adult at Bungay on the 17th and 2 in the Carlton and Oulton marshes area 21st – 24th. A single Spoonbill was at Minsmere 12th – 13th. White-tailed Eagles continued to roam the skies over Suffolk earlier in the month, on the 4th one toured north over Minsmere, Dunwich, Benacre and Carlton marshes and presumably the same bird was seen over the North denes at Lowestoft on the 6th. Goshawks were seen over Minsmere on 13th and Southwold on 24th, a migrating Rough-legged Buzzard was seen over Buss creek marshes, Reydon on the 27th. Raptor of the month was the Black kite seen over Peto’s Marsh at Carlton on the 29th, presumably the same bird was at North Warren on the 30th where it spent a short time perched on the marshes before flying off south over Aldeburgh. Common Cranes were also very much in evidence this month, which is never a bad thing, a few records from mainly coastal locations with maximum counts of 3 south over Dunwich on the 7th and 3 south-west over Carlton marshes then Benacre on the 27th. Most notable amongst this months wader reports were 2 Grey Phalaropes with one at Minsmere 7th – 10th and another at Southwold town marshes 8th – 12th, a handful of Wood Sandpipers were seen with 3 at Carlton marshes on the 30th, a month maximum of 8 Purple Sandpipers were seen at the Ness point, Lowestoft on the 15th.
Reports of skuas were understandably few this month with Great Skuas at Covehithe and Southwold and a Pomarine Skua at the latter site, all on the 25th. Several Little Gulls were reported with 3 first summer birds at Carlton marshes on the 20th, the long-staying Iceland Gull remained in the Lowestoft area until the 14th. The first Sandwich Terns (3) returned to Minsmere on 2nd and the first Little Terns (2) also at Minsmere on the 21st, Arctic Terns were also on the move with Carlton marshes bagging the lions share, the impressive Peto’s marsh played host to 7 on the 21st. The only report of a marsh tern concerned a single Black Tern seen along the river Waveney at Castle marsh on the 29th.
Swifts began to trickle in at the tail end of the month with 2 at Carlton marshes on the 25th, this reserve just keeps attracting the birds with a Hoopoe discovered by the visitor centre late on the 29th which then promptly disappeared. April proved to be a good month for Wrynecks with one at Gunton on the 13th, one along Breydon south wall on the 21st, one in a private Kessingland garden on the 25th and one in Southwold on the 26th. Notable passerines during the month included several Ring Ouzels with 2 at Westleton heath on 25th, 3 at Walberswick on 29th – 30th and 2 at Worlingham marshes also on the 30th, 6 Black Redstarts were at Kessingland sluice on the 4th. The first singing Nightingale for the year in our area was at Westleton heath on the 12th, a Pied Flycatcher was reported from a garden near Bungay on the 1st and a Hooded Crow was seen on Aldeburgh town marshes on the 29th.