WBC Sightings

1 March – 31 March

Wild swans still figured in several reports this month, especially from the Minsmere area where a small number of both Whooper Swans and Bewick’s swans were reported, three Whooper Swans remained at Barsham marshes on the 1st but had departed the next day and 5 were at Carlton marshes on the 6th. European White-fronted Geese were still present in the area but in reduced numbers, peak counts were 30 over Benacre (2nd), 250 at North Warren (7th), 62 at Walberswick (9th) and 32 at Reydon (14th). An adult Taiga Bean Goose was discovered in fields adjacent to the Hen Reedbeds on the 9th, a very rare bird around these parts. Associating with Greylag Geese it remained until the end of the month, well past the date that this species usually departs the British Isles. Velvet Scoter continued to be seen on the sea off Dunwich in various small numbers, counts being 3 (7th), 4 (9th), 2 (15th). The drake long-tailed Duck remained at Covehithe Broad all month, just north of here at Benacre Broad two drake Scaup were present on 4th until the 14th. The redhead Smew continued to be reported sporadically during the month at Minsmere, peak count of Goosanders was 5 at Aldeburgh marshes on the 26th. The first Garganey of the year was a drake at Minsmere on the 26th, with 2 drakes present on the 31st.

Seabird reports this month featured mostly passage Gannets and the occasional Fulmar. A Shag was at Lake Nothing on the 7th. Great Egrets continued to be reported from several localities but a count of 12 leaving their roost site at Carlton marshes on the 6th is an amazing record. Spoonbills also began to feature this month at sites from Carlton marshes to North Warren, peak count being 5 at the latter site on the 27th. Mid month saw a large movement of Red Kites through the area, counts of 4 together over Leiston and 5 together over Wrentham on the 14th being most notable. White-tailed Eagles featured hugely (Pun intended!) in reports this month, it appears that at least two birds were involved, one from the Isle of Wight reintroduction scheme and the other(s) wild. Reports came from several localities and on several dates starting at Carlton marshes on the 15th and involved mobile birds generally flying north or south. Hen Harriers were also seen on several dates and mostly involved ringtails though males were seen at Reydon on the 19th and Covehithe on the 24th. Common Cranes are always an exciting and uplifting sight, 11 over Brandeston early on the 5th had reduced to 9 by the time they arrived at Minsmere when they were then tracked north along the coast. Two more were seen at Minsmere on the 9th, and then tracked south last being seen over North Warren, 3 over Benacre on the 24th and a single passed up the coast on the 25th.

A total of 18 Purple Sandpipers at Ness Point, Lowestoft on the 2nd was a good total, though this was surpassed on the 9th when 24 were counted. Spotted Redshanks were seen on the river Alde at Snape and at the Hen Reedbeds, 6 Ruff at Barsham on the 3rd, 4 Jack Snipe were at the Dingle marshes on the 9th and a Little Ringed Plover at Kessingland on 12th. The first winter Iceland Gull continued to be seen in the Lowestoft area throughout the month and another was seen at Minsmere on the 15th, a Little Gull was at Minsmere on the 31st and Caspian Gulls were reported mainly from Southwold, Minsmere and Sizewell. A Short-eared Owl at Blythburgh on the 25th was the only report of this species during the month.

The first Northern Wheatear of the year was seen at Minsmere on the 25th, 2 Water Pipits and 2 White Wagtails were at Southwold on the 9th, 7 Twite at Dunwich also on the 9th, 5 Snow Buntings at Kessingland on the 19th, 18 Hawfinches in Sotterley park on the 2nd, Common (Mealy) Redpoll at Minsmere on the 28th, 2 Firecrest at Aldeburgh on the 26th and a Swallow at North Warren on the 15th. Finally, the one that got away involved a probable Alpine Swift reported between Sizewell and Thorpeness on the 31st.