23 August – 20 September 2020

Seabirds again dominated the reports from this period, Sooty Shearwaters and Manx Shearwaters were recorded on several dates with a peak of 10 south and 3 north off Corton for the latter species. Balearic Shearwater was recorded on 17th September with 2 north at Southwold and 3 north at Lowestoft, which included the 2 reported earlier at Southwold. Also on the 17th September a Cory’s Shearwater flew south off Lowestoft and on the 19th a Great Shearwater flew north at Southwold 08:40-08:50 and then off Lowestoft 09:58, in total five species of shearwater were recorded off the Suffolk coast in three days, a rare event! On the 18th September a Leach’s Storm Petrel flew north close inshore at Minsmere, a real treat for the few lucky observers present to see it. Great White Egrets were seen on several dates during the period with peak counts of  3 at the Dunwich shore pools on 2nd and 4 at Minsmere on 15th, both September. Ospreys were noted at a few sites on several dates with 2 lingering at the favoured stopover site of the Blyth estuary 6th to 10th September and a single remaining thereafter, sea watchers reported the occasional raptor offshore with Merlins making landfall at Dunwich on 27 August and Southwold on the 30th August with another seen at Benacre on the 10th September. A Common Crane flew west over Lowestoft on the 16th September and shortly after 2 were seen flying over Carlton Marshes.

Wader migration gathered pace during the period with many of the regular species being reported but no real rarities were discovered, though some wader hot spots were suffering from reduced water levels after the long hot end to the summer. Curlew Sandpipers were well represented with peak counts of 12 reported at Minsmere on the 12th September and 8 on the Blyth estuary on the 14th, most were juveniles. Little Stints were also seen at a few sites with 4 at Minsmere on the 17th September and a particularly obliging individual at Easton Broad 12th-19th September, Wood Sandpiper numbers fell after the peak of the previous period with 2 at Carlton Marshes on 31 August along with 4 Little Ringed Plovers.

Sea watching produced several reports of skuas with all four regular species being recorded. Long-tailed Skuas were particularly evident during the period though that may involve a small amount of duplication. Reports were as follows, 1 north at Corton and 2 north at Southwold on 27th August with an juvenile on the Lucky pool at Minsmere on the same day, 3 north at Southwold on 29th, 6 at Southwold, 2 at Corton and 1 at Covehithe on 30th, 1 off Covehithe on 17th September and 1 off Minsmere on the 18th. 3 Great Skuas flew south at Lowestoft on the 17th and a Pomarine Skua flew south at Southwold on the same day. There were also a few scattered reports of Arctic Skuas. Notable gull records were 2 Caspian Gulls and 37 Yellow-legged Gulls in the pig fields at Blythburgh 23rd August, 3 first winter Caspian Gulls at Lowestoft north beach on 6th September. Sea watchers logged a juvenile Sabine’s gull north at Lowestoft and an adult Sabine’s gull north at Southwold, both on the 30th August. Tern numbers were very low by the end of the period with most reports being of birds passing offshore, 2 juvenile Arctic Terns flew south at Southwold on 30th August. Coastal birders also began reporting the first Short-eared Owls beginning to arrive off the sea during this period.

Passerine migration was also in full swing with records of Pied Flycatchers, Whinchats and Common Redstarts amongst the reports. Less common birds observed included a first winter Red-backed Shrike at Minsmere on the 23rd August with another first winter seen at Gunton on 24th and 28th. A Wood Warbler was seen in the north bushes at Minsmere on 28th August and a typically skulking Barred Warbler was seen in brambles along Lowestoft north beach on 8th September. Sightings of Ravens are increasing in the county generally and in our recording area there were three reports during September, a single over Southwold on the 1st, 2 over Minsmere on the 4th and another single at Benacre on the 8th.

9 to 22 August 2020

Seabirds began to appear in birders reports with a Balearic Shearwater north off Minsmere on the 14th, also at Minsmere two Arctic Skuas flew north with four Arctic Skuas and a Pomarine Skua north off Lowestoft on the same day. On the 15th two Balearic Shearwaters flew north off Southwold and a single Balearic Shearwater flew north off Corton, a Roseate Tern and a Great Skua were seen flying south off Lowestoft. Another Balearic Shearwater and two Black Terns flew south off Ness Point, Lowestoft on the 19th and thirteen Fulmars flew south off Minsmere on the 21st.

Great White Egrets were noted regularly at Minsmere during the period with two together at Island Mere on the 13th, five Spoonbills flew south over Lowestoft on the 18th with two south over Carlton Marshes on the 20th. Records of Red Kites and Hobbies were noted during the period, Osprey south over Beccles on 11th and single Honey Buzzards over Lowestoft on 18th and Benacre on the 20th.

Waders started to return in numbers with Wood Sandpipers being reported at both Carlton Marshes and Minsmere, peak count for this species was six on the 13th at the rapidly developing Carlton Marshes. The afore mentioned site also hosted twenty-five plus Green Sandpipers on the 11th along with thirteen Common Sandpipers and five Wood Sandpipers, firmly putting this exciting reserve on the wader map. At Minsmere thirteen Whimbrel flew south on the 12th whilst on the afternoon of the 20th the scrapes played host to ten Greenshank, twenty-six Redshank, forty-seven Ringed Plover, four Knot, ten Ruff, four Sanderling, Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit. Three Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper were seen at Redgrave Fen on 16th. There were a few reports of Little Gulls but notable were juvenile Caspian Gulls observed in Southwold harbour on 12th (2) and the 21st (1).


Passerine migrants were observed in small numbers with the occasional Pied Flycatcher, WhinchatYellow Wagtail and Crossbills being noted. However, it all kicked off on the 15th during a period of north-easterlies when a total of 150+ Pied Flycatchers were found in Suffolk as a whole, peak counts in the north-east of the county were thirty around the Southwold area and twelve around the Minsmere area. A juvenile Red-backed Shrike was discovered by the water tower at Southwold the same day and remained on site up to and including the 20th when another juvenile was found at Minsmere. Excitement continued on the 16th when a Wood Warbler was found at Gunton, observers on site then heard and saw briefly a very elusive Greenish Warbler which quickly disappeared, another Wood Warbler was discovered in Maltsters Score, Lowestoft the same day. Exotica was provided by two Ring-necked Parakeets around Corton and Gunton on the 14th and 15th, two parakeets which flew north over the sluice at Minsmere on the 16th were presumably this species.

Exciting as it is to see all these arrivals it must also be noted that several species have now departed, Swifts made their usual mass exodus and have now mostly departed from our towns and villages. The numbers of juvenile Cuckoos arriving at the coast preparing to follow the adults south has now decreased, whilst two late Nightingales were seen on Westleton Common on the 19th. Some species however are still in the throes of breeding with Stone Curlews with chicks and possibly even eggs being reported.

On a sad note a juvenile Sowerby’s Beaked Whale washed up dead on Lowestoft north beach on the morning of the 22nd, the previous day this unfortunate creature had live stranded on the beach at Caister-on-sea from where it had been refloated.