An enthusiastic (but not expert) group, sharing our knowledge at various birdwatching venues. We meet most months (not December) at various sites mainly around the Suffolk coast. At the moment the 'meeting day' varies from month to month and meetings usually begin at 10.00am.
2017-2018 Birdwatching Reports
Birdwatchers: Sat. 9th Sep.2017: Fingringhoe Wick
Six members of U3A enjoyed a pleasant sunny morning at the delightful Fingringhoe Wick Nature reserve which is over 200 acres with a new intertidal area. The reserve is situated on the banks of the Colne with a salt marsh and diverse areas of woodland, Heath and scrub, ponds and lakes. There are 10 hides to view wildlife comfortably seated for older members!
We had a 10 minute talk from a volunteer who told us that it is the best place for nightingales especially in the evening during April. Brent geese can be found at the end of the year and in Autumn, and migrate to Siberia landing first at the Thames estuary to eat the eel grass.
Species of birds found during the year are Spoonbills, marsh harriers, red shanks, golden plovers, lapwings, avocets, herring gulls, black tern common term black tailed godwit green sandpiper, dunlin, grey plover, waders on the mudflats, and kingfishers among many others. During the morning the 6 members saw two green shanks, a cormorant, avocets, curlew, ringed plover, herring gulls
Monday 25th September : Fingringhoe Wick
Attended by 11 members.
Here is a list of birds seen
Widgeon, female tufted teal, lapwing, little grebe(dab chick), curlew, little egret, meadow pipit, Pied wagtails, pheasant, grey plover, black tailed godwit, magpie, Canada geese, grey lag geese, cormorants, red shank, heron, golden plover, Dunlin, little plover, ring plover, oyster catcher, long tailed tits, kingfisher, crows, kestrel, greater spotted woodpecker, great tit and chaffinch.
Saturday 7th October: Hollesley
We had a very pleasant walk with Dudley Shepperd, he lives in Saxmundham. He is very knowledgeable and clearly loves the place.
There were not all that many birds around, however Ruth made a list of those we saw. Eight members attended. Birds seen; Widgeon, Mallard, Grey Heron, Shelduck, Moorhen, Teal, Little Grebe, Herring gull, Black- headed gull, Grey lag geese, Canadian Geese, Great black backed gull, Red shank, Meadow pipit, Little egret, Cormorant
Plus one speckled Wood butterfly and we heard a Cetti's warbler !
The warden was very friendly and very proud of the reserve!
Monday 23rd October: Hollesley Marsh RSPB Reserve
The Warden, Dudley Sheppard, gave an introductory chat before the walk with 11 members and two guests in attendance. The weather was mild with occasional spots of rain that did not amount to much, and bouts of sunshine and patchy cloud. Birds spotted included Widgeon, Marsh Harrier, Greylag Geese, Canada geese, Chinese Goose, Redshank, Lapwing, Shelduck, Kingfisher, Shoveler, Teal, Curlew, flocks of Goldfinches, Starlings, Little Egret, Brent Geese, Pintail, Grey Heron, Lesser spotted woodpecker, Kestrel and Long tailed tit.
Saturday 11th November : Iken Cliffs
On a gloriously sun lit morning we walked along the edge of the reed beds to low tide on the estuary. Perfect for waders! (and wellies as it was very muddy!) There were six in the group and we spotted Redshank, Curlews, Avocet, Little egret, Grey heron, Wigeon, Teal, Black tailed Godwit, Two seals (covered in mud so uncertain if they were grey or common), Shelduck, Lapwing, Green Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Kestrel as well as a Red Admiral butterfly and damsel fly getting their season confused.
Monday 27th November 2017: Iken
Ten members attended the walk on a very cloudy and bitterly cold morning at Iken Cliffs. We were rewarded with sightings of flocks of Knot, Black tailed Godwit, Avocets, a basking seal, Marsh Harrier, Lapwing, Little Grebe, Little egret, Grey Heron, Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck, Starlings, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Cormorant, Jay and one low flying Tawny Owl.
December 2017: Trimley Marshes
Five members attended the first very chilly walk and only two brave souls on the Monday walk. Both days had bright and sunny weather. Among the birds spotted were Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Widgeon, Heron, Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank, Greylag geese, Canada geese, Buzzard, Kestrel, Filedfare, Blue tit, Great tit,Goldfinch, Wren, Green Woodpecker,Robins, Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Cettis Warbler, Little Egret, Gadwall, Curlew, Turnstone, Jay, Shoveler, Mute Swan and Marsh Harrier.
Saturday 13th January: Melton Riverside
On a very dull afternoon, we walked along the path and crossed the road following the River Deben upstream. 7 members were present. The mud flats had one of the largest flocks of Lapwing that I have seen in a long time, Shelduck, Redshank, and two VERY close Blacktailed Godwit. As we walked along the river there were some bare trees "wearing" many Cormorants as decoration and one Grey Heron. The only other excitement was caused by a pair of Swans in formation flight, a moorhen, Little Egret and Teal. A pleasant walk in good company.
Saturday 11th March 2018: North Warren, Aldeburgh
Although overcast and a little cool, there were good clear sightings of the following; Pintails, Shovelers, Teal, Wigeon, Littel Egret, Swans, Cormorant, Greylag Geese, Three Spoonbills (in a row), Lapwing, Little Grebe, Shelduck, Redshank and Skylark, amongst more common birds.
Monday 26th March 2018: North Warren, Aldeburgh.
Sunny, Spring-like morning and 6 members in attendance. Some of the birds spotted;greylag geese, shelducks, pintails, mute swans, linnets, greenfinch, goldfinch, marsh harriers, cettis warbler (fleetingly), cormorant, lapwing, little egrets
Saturday 7th April: Newbourne Springs
The location was lovely, plenty of spring flowers, particularly primroses with signs of bluebells to come. There were not many birds, but we were treated to plenty of birdsong, particularly from the many robins around. Birds included many of the usual locals, tits, blackbirds, crows, robins, etc. There were quite a few chiffchaffs singing and performing which were the highlight.Two herring gulls, Several long-tailed tits,Not much else.
Lovely walk through the woods and around the meadow. Surprisingly dry given the weather recently. David gave us a bit of the historical background to the site which helped put it in perspective. Four members attended
Monday 23rd April: Newbourne Springs
Beautiful location and the weather ideal. 11 members attended. The habitat consisted of a crystal clear stream, brambles, mixed deciduous trees, reed beds and marsh. Birds heard but not seen were nightingales, lesser whitethroat and green woodpecker. Birds seen by some or a few included cuckoo, blackcap, chiff-chaff, and at the very end... a goldcrest and a very obliging treecreeper, who stayed close and easily seen for ages. Paul Lloyd took this amazing photo.Saturday 12th May: RSPB Boyton Marsh
Three members enjoyed a walk in glorious sunshine and were rewarded with the following sightings:
Crow, Pheasant, Grey Heron,Wheatear, Sedge Warbler (pic attached), Greenfinch, Mute Swan, Mallard, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Lapwing, Little Egret, Linnet, Barn Swallow, Brent Geese, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Kestrel, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Shoveller, Collared Dove, Black Headed Gull, Cormorant, Buzzard, Magpie, Chaffinch, Blue Tit.
Monday 21st May : RSPB Boyton Marsh
Seven members parked at the site next to the Farm Buildings on a lightly cloudy morning with clear sightings of Turtle Doves, Kestrel, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Lapwing, Grey Herons, Avocets, Yellow Wagtail, Shelduck, Male Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Oyster Catchers, Gadwall, Grey Seal, Cuckoo, Little Egret, Reed Bunting, Pair of Mute Swans with three sygnets, Collared dove, Greylag Geese, Meadow Pipit, Black Headed Gull, Small White & Orange Tip Butterflies and a Red Kite.
Saturday 9th June : RSPB MINSMERE
Only two members on a gloriously sunny day. From the East and South Hides the following sitings were made; Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Lapwing,Oystercatcher, Gadwall, Teal, Shelduck, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Sandwich Tern, Red Shank, Barnacle Geese, Canada Geese and goslings, Knot, Marsh Harrier, Mallard, Black headed seagulls, Sand Martins, Sedge Warcler heard, Little Egret. Leader stayed on for a further hour or two and spotted the following: Cuckoo in flight, Flying Bitterns, Lesser Whitethroat, grey heron, Mute Swans, Great Crested Grebe, House Martins, Grey Heron and Common Tern.
Monday 24th June : RSPB Minsmere
Prior to the group arrival, the Leader spent two hours in the Bittern Hide and watched flying Bitterns, several Marsh Harriers, female adult, juveniles AND mature male, Common Tern, Little Egret, Barn Owl, Pair of Shovellors, Hobby, and Mute swan in flight.7 members attended on another very hot day. We walked to the sand bank to watch young Sand Martins waiting at the entrance holes to be fed as the adults swooped backwards and forwards busily, then via the North Hide to the East Hide along the beach and back to the Visitors Centre. The group spotted Avocets, Greylag and Canada Geese, and Lapwing at the North Hide, and from the East Hide; Black tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Shelduck, Coot, Avocets, Common and Sandwich Terns, Barnacle Geese, Oystercatchers, Shovellors, Kittiwake, and Spotted Redshank and one of us stayed on to spot Knot, Marsh Harrier and Bittern flying.
2019 Birdwatching Reports:
Saturday 13th April 2019 : Dunwich Forest & Dingle Marshes
Seven of the Group arrived at Dunwich beach car park just after a heavy shower started. We quickly adjourned to the nearby cafe for warming refreshments. By 10.30 the clouds had gone and the sun was shining. As we set off through the village a Goldfinch was heard and seen high up on a telegraph wire. We turned right onto a wide track sheltered from the wind with woodson the left and intermittent views of the sea on the right. A Hare was spotted in the field and a Chiff Chaff was heard but it took some while to see it on a tree full of blossom. Then a male Blackcap was heard and seen hopping about in the foliage. A Chaffinch was more obliging as it sat high on a bare branch. Next a Blue Tit preening itself was clear for all to see. Looking over a field towards the sea a male Pheasant was nearby, two pairs of Shelduck could be seen in the distance and a green Woodpecker heard. After one and a quarter hours we retraced our steps. We may not have seen any unusual birds but we all appreciated the time together and having good views of the birds and appreciated their song. Thank you to Mary Thrower for leading us today and supplying the report.
Monday 24th June 2019: RSPB Minsmere
Only 3 of the group met in the Minsmere car park on what was a beautiful sunny day with a slight breeze. We took ourselves off once armed with Minsmere's recent sightings list. Along the walk we first came across some incredibly fast Sand Martins busily leaving the sandy cliffs. Moving onwards along the North walk we eventually came to the East Hide, spotting a multitude of different birds and then moving towards the Open hide and then the sluice gates we encountered a Dragonfly watcher who had just spotted a Norfolk Hawker and was quite chuffed about this although we saw Dragonflies they were all airborne. Passing the impressive Longhorn cattle we moved along to the other Hide which did not yield so much variety although over the morning we did spot Avocet, Greylag Geese, Shelduck, Oystercatchers, Lapwing, Redshank. Little Tern, Common Tern, Black-tailed Godwit,and Reed Bunting. Quite happy with our mornings sightings we adjourned to the Cafe to make some notes and talk about our next meetup.
Friday 6th September 2019: U3A Open Day at Kesgrave, 10.30-12.30
We are looking for some new members in our group. Experienced birdwatchers are welcome along with novices who are willing to learn alongside the other members. We plan on having a regular walk once a month, the 3rd Monday of the month (not the second as in the handbook) although if anyone wants to organise an extra walk this would be welcome subject to demand.
A really good turn out at the Open day attracting 12 new members to our happy band of birdwatchers.
Monday 16th September; RSPB Minsmere 10.00am-1.30
Our first outing of the season was to the RSPB Reserve at Minsmere. A rather dull, drizzly and misty day but 12 of us turned up for our walk around the Reserve. Our best success was around the Scrape and levels where there were a good variety of Birds. Amonst the was a Bearded Tit, Godwit, Snipe, Avocet, Lapwing,a pair of Little Stinst & Shoveler. By the Reeedbeds we spotted a Great crested Grebe, Marsh Harrier and Heron that we noted. Afterwards the Group made good use of the Cafe to warm and dry out and to have a chat. Even though the weather was not so nice the Company was good and we look forward to next month at Hollesley Marshes.
Monday 21st October 2019, RSPB Hollesley 10.00am -1.00
A great turnout by 20 members on what turned out to be a heavily wet morning. We met Lyndsey and Dudley from the RSPB who gave us an overview of the site and guided us down towards the river. Our members spotted, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall, Cormorant, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull,Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Mute Swan, Grey Heron,Curlew, Redshank and Starling plus some spotted a Marsh Harrier in the distance. A special thank you to Mick Bennet for the list as due to the worsening weather it was incredibly difficult to see through our binoculars let alone write anything down! Some of us went back to the Cafe at the Prison and enjoyed a warm drink and tried to dry out. Dudley Shepperd the Site Warden who we met last back on the U3A Birdwatching Group in October 2017 clearly loves this place and truly added to the occasion, we must go back another time when we hope for drier weather. The Group raised a nice contribution for the RSPB which I handed to Lyndsey Record who manages the RSPB sites around the Suffolk coast and thanked her for organising the morning.
Monday 18th November 2019, Iken 10.00am -12.30
Another good turnout with 20 members of the group on a bright sunny day although a brisk cold wind prevailed. Caught by our team in the binoculars and scopes we saw the following, Redshank, Curlew, Avocet, Widgeon, Teal, Lapwing, Dunlin, Mute Swan, Little Grebe, Shelduck, Little Egret, Black-headed Gull, Great black backed Gull, Herring Gull, Carrion Crow, Black tailed Godwit, and a Knot. In the bushes alongside the estuary Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long tailed Tit, Robin, and a Buzzard high overhead the Trees, not forgetting one lonesome Seal basking on a sandbank. We also spotted a Gull trying to decide what to do with a dead Eel held in his beak. Overall a good sighting day, lots to remember. Thank you Mick Bennet, Richard Barnett and Steve Rickett for confirming the Birds and Steve for his picture's of the Little Egret and the Curlew.
Monday 20th January 2020 - RSPB MINSMERE
A lovely bright start with no wind on the coast and a record turnout of 23 members of the U3A Birdwatching Team made this a most memorable day. Amongst the many birds spotted were, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Whooper Swans, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Widgeon, Gadwall, Teal, Pintails, Mallard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Red Headed Smew (picture by Mick Bennet) Marsh Harriers, Pheasant, Moorhen, Avocet, Black tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Robin, Redwing, Long-tailed-Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Mute Swan. We also spotted a Bull Seal out in the sea near the beach (Thanks to a Minsmere guide for informing us which Seal it was) Jude, one of our members stayed on almost to dark and saw 24 Marsh Harriers coming in over Minsmere as well as Curlew and a Barn Owl and on the ground many Deer. Our next trip will be to Alton Water where we will meet in the Main Car Park at 10.00am on Monday 17th February. Thank you to Richard Barnett, Mick Bennet & Jude Banks for the list of sightings today.
Monday 17th February ALTON WATER
On a bright but blustery day 12 members of the U3A Birdwatching Group met up in the Car Park and headed out to the left of the Reservoir full of anticipation for a fine mornings birdwatching. Unfortunately most of the birds had taken cover but we did spot a large flock of Great crested Grebes on the water whose handsome plumage sparkled in the sunlight. We also saw fly past a Long tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Mallard in flight and two Eqyptian Geese. Some of us missed the Cormorants and the Chaffinch but thanks to Jude for the additions to our short list. So after our walk we headed back to the Cafe for refreshments. Pictures by Barry Chittock, thank you. Our next walk is to North Warren, Aldeburgh on Monday 16th March.