Birdline East Anglia bird news for Suffolk for March 2010
by Robin Chittenden

A male Lesser Kestrel was found at Minsmere RSPB but soon moved to the nearby Westleton Heath 28th-31st at least. This is the first mainland UK record of a Lesser Kestrel that stayed for more than one day since one at Rainham in 1974. It is possible that the number of sightings of this species in the UK could increase in the future. The use of breeding boxes in Spain and France has resulted in a boost in their population. Birders attracted to Westleton Heath found a Great Grey Shrike 30th-31st.

Also from the Mediterranean was a Pallid Swift that surprisingly for the species stayed around for several days at Kessingland Beach 26th-31st at least. An Alpine Swift was also clocked there 27th, 28th and 31st. A Swift species at the Wherstead Strand was thought to probably be a Pallid 30th.

Three Alpine Swifts were seen together hunting for insects along the cliffs at Corton 22nd. Up to three stayed in the area being seen at Lowestoft, two of which were observed roosting on suitable buildings 23rd-31st. Others were at Lakenheath Fen RSPB 23rd, Minsmere RSPB 29th, Southwold 29th and Woodbridge 30th.

There was a party of up to four Penduline Tits at Minsmere RSPB 16th-30th. The birds only showed very irregularly. It still came though as a complete surprise when seven Penduline Tits were seen there together 21st. This was a new UK record. Is it possible that there is a tiny breeding population in this part of coastal Suffolk?

Ducks caused a headache in central Suffolk. A Canvasback or Canvasback/Pochard hybrid raised a frisson of interest at Cavenham Heath 24th-26th. The bird looks like a Canvasback, except it has a small area of white towards the base of its upper mandible. This feature apparently can occur in wild birds, but is said to more usually be seen in captive birds. So this bill pattern may indicate that this duck was a hybrid, an escapee or a wild Canvasback. Take your pick. The bird was a returning individual as it was first seen last year in Yorkshire and at Suffolk at Lackford Lakes SWT.

A Ferruginous Duck as at Lakenheath Fen RSPB 28th was later claimed to be a hybrid. A Black Brant was at Slaughden 27th-28th.

Two Great White Egrets were at Orford Ness NT and then headed north 14th.
A Common Crane flew north at Landguard NR 15th, two were seen over Beccles and Mutford 1st, one was at Campsea Ashe 28th and one over Butley 29th. The only Spoonbill was Minsmere 13th.

There was an arrival of Firecrest and Black Redstarts with maximum counts of six at Landguard NR 23rd and nine at Lowestoft 24th respectively.

Early dates for returning summer birds in Suffolk were: a Little Ringed Plover at Mickle Mere 10th, two Wheatears at Norton Green 18th, Sand Martins at Mickle Mere & Lackford Lakes SWT 18th, Garganey Minsmere RSPB 22nd, Willow Warblers at Melton & Trimley Marshes SWT 24th, Sandwich Tern at Minsmere RSPB 27th and Sedge Warbler at several sites 30th

A Rough-legged Buzzard flew south Aldeburgh 23rd. A Glaucous Gull was at Sizewell 20th and Halvergate RSPB 25th. The Shorelark stayed at Kessingland until 13th and two were there 27th. A Hooded Crow flew past Bawdsey and Pakefield 28th. Waxwings were in Ipswich, Lowestoft, Gunton and Old Bentley Hall.

Robin Chittenden Birdline East Anglia What’s about today? Simply phone 09068 700 245.

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