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The specialities of Suffolk - Trip Report (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Living in Wales, I feel Suffolk is a place that’s become an essential place to visit for birding and one I cannot get enough of. This is the third consecutive year I have spent a few days down there and I travelled back down there last week in order to see a list of species specialised to the area.
On the way down, I dropped into a Wildlife trust called Lackford Lakes. I started walking around the reserve and caught sight of 2 Hobbies cutting through the sky hawking insects. A couple of pairs of Common terns were easily viewed from the hides and a good variety of ducks were also present including Tufted Duck, Pochard, and Shoverler. Whether it was a pleasant surprise, still remains to be seen, but I was greeted with numbers of Egyptian Geese which seemed to be taking over. Other birds included Sand and House Martins, Swallows, Swifts and a good numbers of Warblers.

Heading out of the reserve I luckily heard the unmistakable call of a Nightingale, with a little persistence; I managed to catch a glimpse of this lovely bird, flying away. This was also joined by sights of Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrows and Reed Buntings.
The next couple of days were spent at Minsmere RSPB. One of the best reserves in the country and is best known for its diverse range of habitats and species. The first half of the first day was wet, in fact, it was the first day in months that the county had seen such significant rainfall. It did prove beneficial as after lunch, the birds came out… 4 Spoonbills showed very well from the East hide along with breeding Avocets, Black Headed Gulls and Ringed Plover.

The main target was the long staying Roseate Tern that had been showing well from South hide. When I got to the hide, the bird was showing exceptionally well in the rain on one of the islands amongst nesting Common and Sandwich Terns.

At this hide, I also caught up with nesting Med Gulls, good views of Cetti’s Warblers and an escaped Greater Flamingo!
I then moved on to the next hide and was lucky enough to come across the first bittern of the trip, and wasn’t it a view and a half!!!

Moving on to Bittern hide, I added a Cuckoo to the list, 3-4 Marsh Harriers were displaying well over the reed bed along with a lone Hobby. Bearded Tits were also able to be picked out if you studied the edge of the reed bed hard enough.

On the second evening, I travelled up to Dunwich Heath. Famous for its Darford Warblers, I decided to try my luck and I was rewarded with fabulous views of a family of these stunning warblers feeding within the heather. My attempts of digiscoping failed miserably as I tried to get a picture, maybe next year! On the way back I stopped off at Sizewell Power station to where I caught sight of nesting Kittiwakes. From what I was told at Minsmere, this is the only site in Suffolk to hold these birds. Another addition to the list was an immature Little gull which was held within a flock of mixed gulls out to sea. Does anyone know if the site at Lowestoft (fisheries lab) still holds these birds? I also came across a rather nice looking Large Skipper that was enjoying every moment in the warm sunshine

Later on in the evening, I travelled to a site not far from where I was staying in the hope of tracking down Nightjars. I had been previously unsuccessful the previous 2 nights and seemed pointless returning on the third night, but to my surprise, I heard calls within the distance. Knowing I was against the clock, I shot down the nearest path to try and catch up with the churring. In previous years I’ve had great views of these birds, but this year they were proving to be somewhat limited. The best I could come up with was a bird flying out of the tree, over my head and away into the night. The magic never goes away though and was immense to catch up with these nocturnal migrants.
The next day, I headed back to Lackford lakes in search of a bird I previously missed and to my surprise I found it sitting on the wire in the exact same location that I had seen it last year… a Turtle Dove. This bird gave brilliant views in the sun. As I was watching the bird, two Muntjac Deer came from nowhere and bombed straight pass me. Red Legged Partridge were also common around the site.

The last day was spent at RSPB Lakenheath which is just located West on the Suffolk/Norfolk boarder. I arrived very early in the hope to grasp a glimpse of their star bird: the Golden Oriole. It is an exceptionally elusive bird and spends the majority of its time hidden within the depths of the Popular plantations. The first bird to be seen was a majestic Barn Owl, floating around the reserve. This was joined by views and the call of a Grasshopper Warbler along with Sedge, Reed and Garden Warblers.

Blackcaps also gave their input, but these were soon drowned out by the tropical calls of the Golden Oriole. Anyway, it took, over 3 hours of extensive searching to catch a 4 second glimpse of a beautiful male Golden Oriole. It was well worth the wait. It is quite sad to know that Lakenheath is the only place in the UK that hold these beautiful birds and it could only be a matter of a couple of years before they are lost completely! On a more positive note, let’s hope they raise successful broads and return next year. Other birds of note included a pair of Spotted Flycatchers.
The next and final stop was at Weeting heath. This is an excellent site for Stone Curlew and again, I wasn’t disappointed with excellent views of a couple of birds. Stock doves, Mistle Thrushes and a singing lone Tree Pipit was amongst the selection at this site providing an excellent finish to an excellent trip!

Other birds picked up during the two days were sedge and reed warblers, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers sang their hearts out around the reserve and a green Woodpecker was a beautiful sight. A family of Jays seemed to be holding territory within the woods and another bird I was lucky enough to see was a Purple Heron (second of the year, after the Anglesey bird). This bird was also a long stayer and gave a brief performance in flight as it flew from one section of the reed bed to the other.

Images of Spoonbills, Turtle dove, Roseate Tern, Avocets, Bittern, Marsh harrier and others from the trip are on the blog here: http://www.birdingnorthwales.blogspot.com/Thanks, Alex

lark o'dell

today the local patch tommrow the world
nice report i have not had time yet to go upto to suffolk but definatly will soon i hope i'll get the old man along too split the costs etc


Local rarity
On the way back I stopped off at Sizewell Power station to where I caught sight of nesting Kittiwakes. From what I was told at Minsmere, this is the only site in Suffolk to hold these birds. Another addition to the list was an immature Little gull which was held within a flock of mixed gulls out to sea. Does anyone know if the site at Lowestoft (fisheries lab) still holds these birds?

There were certainly kittiwakes nesting on the pier at Lowestoft earlier this year. The site is about half a mile north of the fisheries lab.
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