Trip reports

Group Weekend Away to Suffolk 13-15 May 2017

Group Weekend Away to Suffolk 13-15 May 2017

Saturday, 16 September 2017

After a good breakfast we spent most of Saturday in the RSPB flagship reserve at Minsmere. Particular highlights were spoonbill, bearded reedling, Mediterranean gull, which were breeding on site, little tern and some excellent views of bittern both in flight and static at the reed bed edge from the aptly named Bittern Hide. After a good days birdwatching we returned to our hotel to clean up before drinks and dinner.
Sunday morning saw the keen birdwatchers get up early to visit Boyton Marsh, a small coastal RSPB reserve in the lower reaches of the Alde-Ore Estuary. Initially we experienced some light drizzle which soon passed as we were serenaded by Cetti's warbler. Passing some farm buildings we reached a wader scrape with breeding avocet with chicks. Little egret were fishing around the margins as swifts and swallows flew overhead. We walked up to the sea defence mound to overlook a muddy estuary with lapwing, common redshank, oystercatcher and common shelduck feeding. Across in an adjacent field we watched a brown hare before flyovers of male and female marsh harriers took our attention. As we walked back to the car park we could hear the song 'a little bit of bread and no cheese' and after some searching we found a yellowhammer singing from the top of a bush, a rare sight nowadays. Time was moving on and my tummy was rumbling - time for breakfast so back to the hotel.
After breakfast, in overcast conditions, we set off to Dulwich Heath, a National Trust site near to Minsmere. The group split into two parties to walk around the narrow tracks of heathland in search of our quarry. It didn't take us long to locate the breeding pair of Dartford warblers, a bird confined to the southern counties. Both parties had excellent views as we kept our distance from the nest site watching the parents collect food amongst the gorse bushes. In addition, while we walked around the site we heard and saw common whitethroat, sand martins, a raft of common scoter out at sea together with kestrel and hobby hunting over the heath.
After lunch we moved on to Westleton Heath where we found a pair of woodlark, more Dartford warblers, a red kite flyover and for the few that waited until later in the afternoon to hear a singing nightingale. The nightingale was visible to one group member but after much searching the rest of us had to accept defeat and be satisfied with hearing its beautiful song.
At this point some members returned to the hotel while others went back to Minsmere to search for the stone curlew reported to show occasionally. While some found the stone curlew, others walked around the reserve and were treated to views of a second or third year Caspian gull, dunlin, black- tailed godwit and ringed plover. A little gull was seen by the lucky few (Ian missed it!!) hiding amongst the fifty or so breeding Mediterranean gulls. It was now getting late so reluctantly we returned to Woodbridge and after a nice hot bath enjoyed dinner in good company.
The weather turned to rain on Monday and many of the group decided to set off for home early. A few joined the authors to visit Lackford Lakes a Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve where after some searching we only managed to hear brief snatches of singing nightingale but a walk around the woods gave us treecreeper, garden warbler, blackcap and a male bullfinch amongst other more regular species.
At this point the group diminished further as others turned for home and the rest moved onto Cavenham Heath, an English Nature Site for stone curlew. The rain and poor light made searching challenging and after an hour or so and good views of grey partridge we gave up and set off for home.
We thank Graham Palmer for arranging all the accommodation and Ray Evans for the site co-ordinates to ensure we all arrived at the right places.
Trip Leaders: Ian and Lydia Taylor

List of birds seen:
Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
Little egret (Egretta garzetta)
Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
Mute swan (Cygnus olor)
Greylag goose (Anser anser)
Canada goose (Branta canadensis)
Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)
Brent goose (Branta bernicla)
Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Red-crested pochard (Netta rufina)
Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common scoter (Melanitta nigra)
Red kite (Milvus milvus)
Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
Red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa)
Grey partridge (Perdix perdix)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa)
Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Little gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)
Herring gull (Larus argentatus)
Great black-backed gull (Larus marinus)
Lesser black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
Caspian gull (Larus cachinnans)
Common gull (Larus canus)
Mediterranean gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Little tern (Sternula albifrons)
Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
Sandwich tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
Swift (Apus apus)
Green woodpecker (Picus viridis)