WBC Sightings

21 September – 31 October 2020

What was arguably, for a small group of people at least, bird of the period if not the year, was the adult Black-browed Albatross that flew south on the afternoon of the 28th September. Seen by about seven lucky people at 4 locations between Lowestoft and Thorpeness this bird remained, sadly for most, distant on the horizon. Other less astonishing seabird reports involved Sooty Shearwaters with singles north at Dunwich (12 Oct) and Minsmere (14 Oct), a Leach’s Petrel flew north off Southwold on 2 Oct.

Great White Egrets were reported from a few mainly coastal sites and a Cattle Egret flew south over Reydon on the 26 Sept. There were very few reports of less common raptors over the period mainly involving Ospreys, a Honey Buzzard south over Lowestoft north beach on the 3 October was notable. Wader migration was now beginning to slow to a trickle with the occasional Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper being reported, more exciting was the very showy Grey Phalarope present at Benacre pit on the afternoon of 27 September and remaining until the afternoon of the following day. Another Grey Phalarope was seen flying south offshore from Benacre on the 5 Oct. On the afternoon of the 27 September a juvenile Sabine’s Gull was discovered on the beach pools at Kessingland and showed very well for its short stay, another juvenile flew north close in at Minsmere stopping briefly on the scrape on the 2 October, an adult north off Southwold on the same day was more typically distant. At Benacre Broad 11 Caspian gulls were noted on the 23 September with 15 Yellow-legged Gulls present there the next day, an adult Baltic Gull was seen in the pig fields at Covehithe on the 6 Oct. The only tern of note was a winter adult White-winged Black Tern seen briefly at North Warren on 4 Oct, whilst on the 14th Arctic, Pomarine and Long-tailed skuas were all seen at Minsmere. A lack of really stormy weather during the period resulted in few reports of auks, 2 Puffins north off Gunton on 26 September and 2 Little Auks north off Southwold on 15 October and one south on the 16th were the pick.

At the end of September passerines began to figure in reports with a Barred Warbler south of Minsmere sluice on 21st, a probable Siberian Chiffchaff at Kessingland on the 29th and a probable Eastern Yellow Wagtail heard at Walberswick on the 30th, interestingly at the same location as last years bird. But it was in October that the action really kicked off starting on the 3rd with the discovery of a Rustic Bunting in Lowestoft by the Links Road car park early morning. Initially elusive in beach Marram before flying to roadside brambles where it became more showy, it then flew down on to the tarmac road where it amazed admirers by feeding down to within a few feet. Also on the 3rd a Radde’s Warbler was seen along the Gunton old railway track, a Booted Warbler was discovered in the Sycamores in front of the Sizewell A station and Great Grey Shrikes were seen at Kessingland and Southwold. On the 4th the Rustic Bunting was present early morning only before flying off south, another Radde’s Warbler was discovered at Southwold campsite, the Booted Warbler was seen again at Sizewell, the Great Grey Shrike remained at Kessingland and a second bird was discovered nearby at Benacre. This second shrike was photographed and after later viewing of the images was re-identified as Suffolk’s third record of Steppe Grey Shrike. On the 5th both shrikes remained at Benacre, the Great Grey Shrike having relocated to south of the river with the Steppe Grey Shrike showing very well in a hedgerow near Beach Farm. Another Radde’s Warbler was found in the north bushes at Minsmere and the Southwold campsite bird remained, a Red-breasted Flycatcher was seen briefly at Lowestoft north denes. Both shrikes remained at Benacre 6-7th but the Steppe Grey Shrike had departed on the 8th, both Radde’s Warblers remained on the 6th and a Pallid Swift was seen over Walberswick and Southwold harbour on the 8th. The Southwold Radde’s Warbler remained up to and including the 11th, although frequently elusive towards the end of its stay it occasionally gave prolonged and close views. Reports of Yellow-browed Warblers became too numerous to list them all here, Pallas’s Warblers also began to appear with the following birds reported at Corton new sewerage works on 14th and 17th, Corton old rail track and Gunton old rail track on 16th, Gordon Street Lowestoft on 17th, in a Kirkley garden on 22nd and Pakefield park on 23rd. On the 15-16th a Great Grey Shrike was at Benacre to the west of Beach Farm, a new bird or the bird remaining from earlier in the month? A possible Dusky Warbler was heard along the Gunton old rail track on 16th and a Siberian Chiffchaff was seen on the Lowestoft north denes, a Dusky Warbler was discovered in the sluice bushes at Minsmere. On the 17th the Dusky Warbler was seen again at Minsmere, a Barred Warbler was seen at Dunwich and on the 22nd a female Parrot Crossbill flew over Dip Farm Lowestoft.