As is to be expected in December winter wildfowl figured highly in observers reports, slightly more unusual were the numbers in which some species were reported. Tundra Bean Goose is a species that visits Suffolk in small numbers most winters, 8 were seen at North Warren on the 1st then 22 were discovered in a field at Wenhaston by the A12 on the 7th. These birds at Wenhaston remained through the month with their number increasing to 25 on the 13th, this is possibly the largest flock that has occurred in Suffolk since 1984. Although these birds occasionally decamped to the marshes around Southwold, another flock of 11 on Minsmere south levels on the 12th were probably different birds. European White-fronted Geese were also present at a few sites in the area with maximum counts of 85 over Southwold on the 6th, 196 at Harrow Lane, Leiston on the 7th, c280 over Leiston on 15th, 205 at North Warren on the 28th and 78 in fields at Benacre on the 12th. Rather surprisingly the only report of Pink-footed Goose was a singleton with the White-fronts at Leiston. Wild swans were also a bit scarce with 5 Whooper Swans at Minsmere on the 3rd and 6 Bewick’s Swans west at Southwold and 11 over Leiston both on 25th. Scaup were reported from a few locations including Minsmere, Southwold, Covehithe and Carlton Marshes. An immature drake Long-tailed Duck was discovered on Covehithe Broad on 4th, this bird remained through the month accompanied for a few days by a fine drake Scaup. Velvet Scoters were seen offshore at a couple of sites usually accompanying flocks of Common Scoter with 7 being reported off Covehithe on the 28th. Over the past two or three winters Goosanders seem to have become more prevalent in the area, Thorpeness Meare and Minsmere being the principal sites, the east scrape at Minsmere is a favoured roost site with maximum counts of 19 on the 14th and 20 on the 22nd. 6 Pochards on Minsmere east scrape 0n the 8th was noteworthy.
On the 6th a large southerly offshore passage of Red-throated Divers was noted with 2100 at Lowestoft and 5158 at Thorpeness, a Great Northern Diver was seen on the Alde at Slaughden 22-23rd. On the 5th an incredible 2300 Cormorants were counted offshore from Minsmere. Great Egrets continue to be noted mainly at North Warren, Minsmere, Dunwich and Carlton marshes, on the 2nd a Glossy Ibis was seen over Breydon water flying towards Burgh Castle. A thin scattering of Hen Harrier reports over the period came mostly from the Minsmere and Dunwich area and Carlton marshes, a Merlin was seen on Westleton heath on 27th. Among the few wader reports included over the period were Spotted Redshank at Dunwich, Purple Sandpipers at Lowestoft, 300 Golden Plover at St James on the 9th and a probable Grey Phalarope off Southwold on the 28th. Notable gull records were 6 Caspian Gulls at Minsmere on the 5th and a brief Iceland Gull at Oulton Broad on the 30th. Occasional Great Skuas were reported and single Pomarine Skuas were seen at Minsmere on the 24th and Covehithe on the 30th, 2 Little Auks and a Razorbill were seen from Southwold on the 24th.
Moving on to passerines a late Swallow was seen at Corporation marshes, Walberswick on the 2nd. At Carlton marshes the male Eastern Yellow Wagtail was seen again on Peto’s marsh on the 5th having not been seen for almost a week, it continued to be seen intermittently for the rest of the month. Twite continued to be reported occasionally along the beach between Walberswick and Dunwich with a maximum of 11 on the 13th, Snow Buntings were also reported from the same area with their maximum count being 21 on the 5th. An elusive Lapland Bunting was seen on Kessingland beach on the 5th.
Wishing you all a brighter, happier and safer new year.