Trip reports

Weekend Trip - Suffolk

Reed warbler singing in reedbed

Friday, 6 May 2016

The group set off on a lovely day and the sun shone on us throughout our weekend in Suffolk during which we saw an impressive number of birds including some particularly good species. Our base was the Cedars Hotel in Stowmarket, a hotel we had used numerous times before and which has always come up trumps for good food, comfort and value for money.

Our first port of call was Lackford Lakes, where spring brings singing birds like Nightingale. We did hear these but unfortunately no one saw this shy bird. On the other hand, Cuckoos were seen though and also gave excellent views at the other two sites visited over the weekend.

Lackford Lakes has various walks and trails around the lakes and wooded areas which the group explored. Birds seen during the weekend only in the wooded area at this site were Marsh Tit, Willow Tit and Nuthatch. A Red-legged Partridge was seen on the edge of the woodland.

On the lakes. waterbirds of note were Long-tailed Duck, Red-crested Pochard and Egyptian Goose.

The total number of bird species seen at Lackford Lakes was 71 and the site was also home to numerous butterflies.

Our next venue - which everyone was excited about -was the flagship RSPB reserve at Minsmere. After a slightly stressful journey combining very narrow lanes with a very large coach, we finally arrived to beautiful hot spring weather.

Minsmere has a great mixture of habitats, hosting a wide variety of species. The reserve was busy but there was plenty of space and loads to see. A personal highlight was my first sighting of Bearded Tit which was preceded by the short flight of a Bittern in the same reed bed. During the weekend, most of the group managed sightings of both of these shy birds and also heard the wonderful sound of Bittern booming - here and at Lakenheath Fen. Stone Curlew were viewed from afar by some of the group. Water Rail was spotted and Dartford Warbler was seen on gorse on the perimeter of the reserve towards Dunwich Heath.

The scrapes held a good variety of gulls and terns including Mediterranean Gull and Sandwich, Roseate, Common and Little Terns. The numerous waders included Avocet, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Turnstone.

Other birds of note seen at this reserve only were Redstart and Black Redstart plus Treecreeper, Bullfinch and Yellowhammer.

Swallows, House Martin and in particular Sand Martins nesting in a man-made sandbank made good viewing while having refreshments at the café at the end of our visit. A terrific bird count of 98 species was seen at Minsmere.

Our Sunday venue, on another beautiful hot sunny day, was Lakenheath Fen. A highlight of this reserve was the tremendous number of Hobby hawking over the reedbeds at the Joist Fen viewpoint plus excellent views of many Cuckoos.

There was also lots of warbler activity in the reedbeds from species such as Cetti's, Garden and Grasshopper Warblers. The total of bird species seen at Lakenheath Fen was 65.

Overall we had an excellent weekend during which we saw ten species of warbler including Willow, Sedge and Reed Warblers and Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow at all reserves. Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel and Hobby were seen at all three reserves along with Sparrowhawk at Lackford Lakes and Minsmere. Kingfisher, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were also seen at all three venues. Seven out of eight members of the tit family were seen over the weekend. In addition we saw Muntjac, Roe and Red Deer, several species of butterflies and moths plus Stoat.