WBC Sightings

1 February – 28 February

February is generally a quiet month and this year, with the added restrictions of lockdown, was no exception. There were fewer reports of geese this month the only notable reports involving European White-frontrd Geese, 12 at Homersfield on 11th with 9 remaining until the 15th and c500 at Aldeburgh town marsh on the 21st. Winter swan records were mainly centred around the greater Minsmere area with maximum counts of 4 Whooper Swans at Minsmere and 7 Bewick’s swans at Hinton, at the flooded Barsham marshes 14 Whooper Swans arrived on the 1st and remained until the 28th. At Minsmere the redhead Smew continued throughout the month, Goosander numbers declined this month with the maximum count reported involving 9 at Minsmere on the 17th. Scaup records involved a drake at Benacre broad 24th – 28th and a female at Minsmere on the same dates, Pochard is an increasingly scarce species in the area covered in this report so 15 (9 drakes) at Barsham was pleasing. The drake Long-tailed Duck remained at Covehithe broad throughout slowly moulting to become a very smart bird, 9 Velvet Scoter were reported offshore from Aldeburgh on the 11th.

Representitives of the three scarcer grebe species were recorded this month with Red-necked Grebe at Minsmere 1st – 21st, Black-necked Grebe offshore at Benacre on the 16th and Slavonian Grebe at Breydon water on the 5th and 23rd. 2 Shags were seen on Lake Lothing on the 21st. Great White Egret sightings continue to increase with several reports of single birds the maximum single site count being 3 at Dunwich on the 20th, Spoonbills began to reappear in the area this month with 5 at Aldeburgh on the 23rd and 3 at North Warren on the 27th. Raptor reports mainly involved Red Kites, Peregrines and Hen Harriers with the latter species being seen mainly in the Minsmere area, the Star of this particular show was an immature White-tailed Eagle in the Blythburgh/Westleton area on 27th and 28th, last seen flying north over the Hen Reedbeds on the last date. 2 Common Cranes were seen at Walberswick on the 21st and what was almost certainly the same two birds flew over Reydon on the 23rd. Reports of waders remained low, 7 Purple Sandpipers at Ness Point on 16th and Spotted Redshank and 2 Ruff at Barsham on the 22nd being the best. The cold snap mid month saw a predictable increase in reports of Woodcock escaping the bitter conditions across north Europe, a sad downside to this was the high counts of tideline corpses reported of this and other species which perished in the North Sea. The first winter Iceland Gull in the Lowestoft area continued to be seen sporadically particularly around Gunton, the same or another bird was seen at Covehithe on the 4th. Caspian Gulls continued to be seen mainly at coastal sites and adjacent pig fields, Little Gulls were seen at Southwold on the 14th (1), Kessingland on the 21st (1) and Benacre on the 16th (2). Short-eared Owl reports came from Walberswick on 11th and Westleton Heath on the 28th.

Snow Buntings were seen at Aldeburgh/North Warren and Kessingland, highest tallies being 3 at North Warren on the 7th and 11 at Kessingland on the 21st. Hawfinches continued to be seen in the Sotterley area though remained generally elusive, 21 on the 15th and 14 on the 22nd. 9 Common Crossbills were seen perched briefly in a small roadside tree at Ellough on the 20th, 8 Twite were along the beach at Dunwich on the 20th. A single Black Redstart was seen at Kessingland on the 18th/19th and 28th, a Water Pipit was seen at Covehithe broad from mid month with 2 at Dingle marshes on the 20th. Those looking hopefully for signs of an impending spring may take pleasure from the sighting of a Sand Martin seen over Peto’s marsh at Carlton marshes on 27th.