April was a rather cool month dominated by winds from a northerly direction, migration was slowed to a bare trickle but increased towards the end of the month. Garganey began to appear early with several reports from various sites, peak counts were 4 on Peto’s marsh at Carlton marshes on the 3rd and 3 at Minsmere on 6th. The overwintering Long-tailed Duck on Covehithe broad was last reported on the 2nd, 6 Velvet Scoters flew south off Covehithe on the 8th. The Taiga Bean Goose in the Reydon/Hen reedbeds area was reported up to the 13th, casting doubts on its authenticity as a wild bird. Red-throated Divers were in evidence offshore for most of the month with a strong passage off corton on the 9th with 3000+ north in one hour, Black-throated Divers were seen flying north off Southwold on 10th and 25th. A strong northerly passage of Gannets also occurred on 9th off Corton with c1200 in one hour, two first winter Shags were seen on the groynes along Lowestoft North beach on the 17th.

This month saw fewer reports of Great Egrets, peak counts were 3 at Dunwich on the 18th and 5 at Carlton marshes on the 21st and 22nd. Reports of Cattle Egrets increased however with one at Framlingham on the 10th, a summer plumaged adult at Bungay on the 17th and 2 in the Carlton and Oulton marshes area 21st – 24th. A single Spoonbill was at Minsmere 12th – 13th. White-tailed Eagles continued to roam the skies over Suffolk earlier in the month, on the 4th one toured north over Minsmere, Dunwich, Benacre and Carlton marshes and presumably the same bird was seen over the North denes at Lowestoft on the 6th. Goshawks were seen over Minsmere on 13th and Southwold on 24th, a migrating Rough-legged Buzzard was seen over Buss creek marshes, Reydon on the 27th.  Raptor of the month was the Black kite seen over Peto’s Marsh at Carlton on the 29th, presumably the same bird was at North Warren on the 30th where it spent a short time perched on the marshes before flying off south over Aldeburgh. Common Cranes were also very much in evidence this month, which is never a bad thing, a few records from mainly coastal locations with maximum counts of 3 south over Dunwich on the 7th and 3 south-west over Carlton marshes then Benacre on the 27th. Most notable amongst this months wader reports were 2 Grey Phalaropes with one at Minsmere 7th – 10th and another at Southwold town marshes 8th – 12th, a handful of Wood Sandpipers were seen with 3 at Carlton marshes on the 30th, a month maximum of 8 Purple Sandpipers were seen at the Ness point, Lowestoft on the 15th.

Reports of skuas were understandably few this month with Great Skuas at Covehithe and Southwold and a Pomarine Skua at the latter site, all on the 25th. Several Little Gulls were reported with 3 first summer birds at Carlton marshes on the 20th, the long-staying Iceland Gull remained in the Lowestoft area until the 14th. The first Sandwich Terns (3) returned to Minsmere on 2nd and the first Little Terns (2) also at Minsmere on the 21st, Arctic Terns were also on the move with Carlton marshes bagging the lions share, the impressive Peto’s marsh played host to 7 on the 21st. The only report of a marsh tern concerned a single Black Tern seen along the river Waveney at Castle marsh on the 29th.

Swifts began to trickle in at the tail end of the month with 2 at Carlton marshes on the 25th, this reserve just keeps attracting the birds with a Hoopoe discovered by the visitor centre late on the 29th which then promptly disappeared. April proved to be a good month for Wrynecks with one at Gunton on the 13th, one along Breydon south wall on the 21st, one in a private Kessingland garden on the 25th and one in Southwold on the 26th. Notable passerines during the month included several Ring Ouzels with 2 at Westleton heath on 25th, 3 at Walberswick on 29th – 30th and 2 at Worlingham marshes also on the 30th, 6 Black Redstarts were at Kessingland sluice on the 4th. The first singing Nightingale for the year in our area was at Westleton heath on the 12th, a Pied Flycatcher was reported from a garden near Bungay on the 1st and a Hooded Crow was seen on Aldeburgh town marshes on the 29th.

I thought you might like to see this. Whilst enjoying a leisurely coffee this morning there was a (mercifully dull) thud on the lounge window. On investigating I found a stunned Treecreeper on the patio. As it was so cold this morning I picked it up in a tea towel to keep it warm whilst it hopefully recovered. About 10 minutes later it started giving its characteristic squeak and so I carefully put it on a pile of tree stumps at the bottom of the garden near the mature trees and stood guard in case Maia (our cat) should appear. About a minute later it flew away seemingly none the worse for the experience.

A very nice addition to my garden list.
Steve Hardy

Tree-creeper-IMG_7799
Treecreeper

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.

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New WBC T-shirts

We have available on sale – the cost is £12 per T-Shirt – I have the following designs at the moment in various sizes. 

If anyone would like to order one they need to either;

ring me on 01986 893311

or email me at  kpiotrowski@btinternet.com

click images below to enlarge

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(Steve Piotrowski)

After months of planning, we boarded our coach to Gatwick for our early-morning flight to Tbilisi, gathering in the team at pick-up points en route.  There was an early hitch as our driver received news that the A12 was closed south of Colchester due to an accident, so we were forced to divert to Cambridge and then onto the M11.  Nevertheless, we arrived at the airport in good time and were suitably refreshed, having consumed our packed breakfasts, which had been prepared by “mission control” or, in other words, Kathy Piotrowski!   Our flight took off on time and we headed for Istanbul where we would transfer to a flight to Tbilisi.

We arrived in Istanbul late afternoon and searched for the first birds of our tour.  We craned our necks to see out of the airport windows and were rewarded with squadrons of Alpine Swifts over the city, some Hooded Crows feeding in the airport gardens and a distinct northerly movement of Grey Herons.

On arrival at Tbilisi, we were greeted by our guides Nika and Jimi and were soon on our bus to the Hotel Eurolux in the city centre.

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Waveney Bird Club, as well as giving ringing demonstrations at Minsmere during the school holidays, run craft activities for children at the Discovery Centre. During the Easter break, local children and those visiting from around the country were able to take part in various activities and take their finished work home with them. Leaf printing on canvas was very popular, as was making wildlife picture badges and decorating eggs for Easter. To encourage children to think about the wildlife in their gardens, we helped them to make wildflower gardens to encourage insects and birds.

We welcome children of all ages and abilities, so just call in to see us on Thursdays during the Summer holidays at the Discovery Centre, Minsmere from 10am to 4pm. All the activity materials are provided by us and generously sponsored by Viking Optics. We would love to see you there – bring your family and join in the fun!

A pair of Garganey was present at Carlton Marshes, 26 April. A pair of Mandarin was seen at St Olaves, 28 April, with a male Mandarin at nearby Fritton Lake, 2 May. Two Pink-footed Geese were noted at Burgh Castle, 28 April, while ten Sandwich Terns flew west at the same site the following day. Little Egrets were reported from Fritton Marshes, 27 April, Carlton Marshes, 28 April, Beccles Quay and Outney Common, Bungay, 29 April and Herringfleet Marshes (three) and Lopham Fen, 30 April.

Whimbrel passage continued with sightings at Castle Marsh, North Cove (27), 26 April, Burgh Castle Flats (three) and Carlton Marshes, 1 May and Beccles Marshes (50) and Worlingham Marshes, 2 May. Other waders at Burgh Castle Flats included four Spotted Redshanks, 28 April, 12 Black-tailed Godwits, 29 April, 36 Avocets, four Greenshanks and 500 Dunlin, 1 May and 20 Curlews, 2 May, while Carlton Marshes hosted a Green Sandpiper, 26 April and a Greenshank the following day. Two Ruffs, two Black-tailed Godwits and a Dunlin were present at Aldeby shooting lakes, 26 April and a late Jack Snipe was seen at Oulton Marshes, 28 April. Redshanks were noted at Carlton Marshes (two), 27 April, Burgh Castle Flats (50), 29 April, Herringfleet Marshes, 30 April and Beccles Marshes (two), 2 May.

Migrant passerines included a Ring Ouzel at Flixton GP, 27 April, Wheatears at Carlton Marshes, 26 April and Flixton GP (three), 27 April and a White Wagtail at Carlton Marshes, 28 April. Scarcer summer visitors included Turtle Doves at Beccles Marshes, 28 April and Belton Common, 2 May; Cuckoos at Barsham Marshes, Lopham Fen and Outney Common, 26 April, Carlton Marshes (two), 28 April and Beccles Marshes and Wortham Ling, 1 May; Yellow Wagtails at Carlton Marshes, 28 April and Burgh Castle (six), 29 April and Grasshopper Warblers at Oulton Marshes, 28 April and Carlton Marshes (three), 2 May. A Bearded Tit was noted at Fritton Marshes, 27 April and Cetti’s Warblers at Somerleyton, 27 April, Beccles Marshes (three), 28 April, Oulton Marshes (six), 28 April, Herringfleet Marshes, 30 April and Carlton Marshes (three) and Burgh Castle, 2 May.

Hobbies were seen at Lopham Fen (two), 26 April and Carlton Marshes, Castle Marsh, North Cove, 27 April, Bungay, 29 April and Beccles Marshes (two), 30 April. A Red Kite flew over Waterloo, near Gillingham, 30 April and a Peregrine was recorded at Ditchingham, 27 April and nearby Bungay, 29 and 30 April. Short-eared Owls were hunting at Carlton Marshes, 26 April, Waveney Forest, Fritton, 27 April and Oulton Marshes (two), 28 April, while Barn Owls were reported from Lopham Fen, 26 April, Oulton Marshes (two), 28 April, Herringfleet Marshes, 30 April, Beccles Marshes (two), 1 May and Carlton Marshes (four) and Burgh Castle (two), 2 May.

Photo of Garganey © Jon Evans

Gambia Ringing Trip 2015

In January 2015 a team of eight ringers travelled to the (Kartong Bird Observatory) in The Gambia to take part in their seventh ringing course. Ringing has been taking place at the West African country’s bird reserve since 1996 but a permanent ringing station was established in 2010. Six ringers from Suffolk, Roger Walsh, Patrick Barker, Chris McIntyre, Mike Marsh, Lee Gregory and Richard Tomlinson were joined by Mike Jackson from Yorkshire and Olly Fox from Wiltshire for two weeks of ringing African Birds and Western Palearctic migrants. Over the two weeks ringing activities were undertaken in woodland, scrub, wetland, reed bed and on mud flats and the beach and 1900 birds were caught of over 100 species including over 300 Western Palearctic Migrants with over 100 being Whitethroats.

A key element to the trip was to assist with the training of some of the local boys with their ringing training and bird ID skills. The five local boys working at the Observatory were awarded certificates to recognise their achievements.

As a group we were able to take out a large quantity of donated clothing, optics, bird books, stationary, cash donations and medical supplies very kindly donated by members of the Waveney Bird Club and many other people. The clothing is distributed by KBO ringer in charge Colin Cross and his wife Binta who live in Kartong to the people who they know really need it and can not afford to buy clothes for themselves. The optics and bird books are going to be divided between the KBO and a new childrens' bird club being established in Gunjur. Both causes will add to the development and education of Gambian boys and girls giving them to knowledge and skills to preserve Gambia’s wildlife for generations to come. The medical supplies were donated to the Kajabang Medical Post (more info here), a medical station set up thanks to charitable donations employing a local registered nurse providing medical services to the local community. The stationary all goes to the schools in Kartong and the money donated is going towards the construction and erection of Barn Owl Boxes in and around Katong providing a great link between a successful project underway in Suffolk and a new project in the Gambia. Barn Owls are persecuted in African countries due to mythological links to witches. This project will provide safe nesting sites and give Colin Cross the opportunity to go into schools to encourage Gambian children to protect their Owls rather than persecute them.

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Chris McIntyre, Patrick Barker and Roger Walsh presenting Colin Cross with optics and bird books donated to the Kartong Bird Observatory with KBO staff Mike, Eboy and Ernest.

Patrick Barker and Roger Walsh presenting Kajabang Medical Post RIN Basiru with donated medical supplies, first aid kits and glasses.

Nuthatch
The first Nuthatch ringed by Ian Archer at our  site at Stuston Common.