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December Ringing Total

For the sake of completeness. 7 birds of 6 species ringed:

2 Song Thrush, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Great Tit, 1 Redwing, 1 Wood Pigeon.

Saturday 31st December 2016

Southbound 41 Brent & 6 Wigeon. 4 Meds were scrounging off fishermen in the afternoon and the Rock Pipit was along the riverbank. A Linnet was the first of it's kind for 15 days which is fairly normal in the depths of winter as they largely abandon the site at this time of the year.

Friday 30th December 2016

Thick damp fog all day long. Rock Pipit & Purp were near the point early afternoon.

Xmas Litter Pick

The end of the year Christmas litter pick is this Saturday 31st December 0930hrs start. Usual arrangements on the events page of

Thursday 29th December 2016

Purple Sand & Rock Pipit put in an appearance again today both having not been reported for a few days. Turnstone also at the point with numbers of this species being pathetic again this winter.  A Jackdaw flying south is today's migrant with Mr & Mrs Peregrine on the lighting towers first thing obviously getting ready for the spring !

Book Sale

Landguard Bird Observatory library has duplicate copies of several books in order to make space & raise funds:

Landguard Conversation Trust – Books for Sale
Bids are invited for the following books.
All bids should be made through Dave Pearsons, Chairman of LCT via

Where to watch Birds in Spain – Birdlife International publication
The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Britain & Ireland – J T Sharrock (3 copies)
 The Atlas of Wintering Birds of Britain & Ireland –Peter Lock
The New Atlas of Breeding Birds of Britain & Ireland -1988-1991
Important Bird Areas in Europe – 1989
Atlas of European Birds -1960
Atropos – issues 1 to 47
Tracks & Signs of the Birds of Britain & Europe –Roy Brown, John Ferguson etc
Birds of Britain & Europe –Bertel Bruun, Lars Svensson etc
Minsmere- Portrait of a Bird Reserve – Herbert Axel, Eric Hosking
Birds of the World – a Checklist – James F Clements
Birds of Australia – Graham Pizzey
Rare Birds of Britain – J N Dymond,  etc
A New Guide to the Birds of Essex – Simon Cox
The Orchids of Suffolk- Martin Sanford
Fungi & Slim Moulds in Suffolk
Grasses, Ferns, Mosses, & Lichens- of Britain & Ireland – Roger Phillips
Shorebirds – An Identification guide to the waders of the world – Peter Hayman, etc
Birds of the Middle East & North Africa – P A Hollom, etc (2 copies)
Where to watch birds in Britain & Europe – John Gooders issues 1984 & 1994
The Birds of Hungary – Gerard Gorman
An Atlas of the Birds of the Western Paleartic – Colin Harrison
A field guide to the Butterflies of Britain & Europe – L G Higgins & N D Riley
Suffolk Dragonflies – Howard Mendel
Birds of the World – Dr Christopher Perrins & Andrew Gosler
Flight Identification of European Raptors – R F Porter etc
Estuary Birds of of Britain – A J Prater (2 copies)
A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain & Europe – Peterson etc
Ticehurst – William H Payne 1962 edition & 1978 2nd edition (Only sold after discussion with members of the committee)
The Big Bird Race- Bill Oddie & David Tomlinson
Peterson First Guides – Butterflies & Moths – Paul A Opler
Handbook of the Birds of the Middle East & North Africa volumes 1 to
A Handbook of British Birds – Witherby etc volumes 1 to 5
Rare Birds of Britain & Ireland – J T R & E M Sharrock (2 copies)

Various Suffolk Bird Reports available

Wednesday 28th December 2016

Sharp frost. Refugees from freezing conditions inland seeking milder conditions at the coast were a Snipe & Fieldfare first thing. A quick walk round the site produced just the usual birds in the usual places.

Tuesday 27th December 2016

Glorious sunny frosty morning. A mere 920 Cormorants going out this morning as on clear sunny mornings many of them avoid us. Peregrine having breakfast on one of the dock lighting towers at 0750hrs but that's your lot.

Monday 26th December 2016

A mere 1620 Cormorants counted going out this morning but with a change in the weather others are probably departing the roost and heading north-east and missing us out. A Knot on the jetty at high tide is a bizarre mid-winter record here despite large numbers wintering very close by up the rivers Orwell & Stour.

Sunday 25th December 2016

Cormorant record smashed again this morning with 3,020 heading out to go fishing. Large numbers of big birds moving on mass is one of the spectacles of ornithology. In recent days the vanguard arrives just after 0745 and it is done & dusted in under ten minutes although the exact timing is a bit weather dependant and with increasing day-length hours it will get earlier in the morning over time. Windy morning with a brief sea watch producing southbound 26 Kitts, 7 Brent & 6 Red-throated Divers plus northbound a single Red-throat.

Saturday 24th December

Just 2,300 Cormorant counted going out this morning. Also noted southbound 9 Kitts, 7 Golden Plover, 8 Red-throated Diver, 5 Brent, 3 Common Scoter, Great-crested Grebe, Shelduck & Wigeon with northbound 14 Red-throats. At least 15 Kitts & 3 Meds following shipping.

Friday 23rd December 2016

2,347 Cormorants heading out to go fishing early morning is the first time a count over 2,000 has been achieved - surely this is all of them and there can't be any more ? With 2,300 in one extended mass flock it is an impressive sight. Common Gull got into three figures for the first time this winter with 102 counted and at least 26 Kittiwake also logged. Apart from the above southbound went 13 Red-throated Diver, 11 Brent Geese & a Great-crested Grebe with northbound 28 Red-throats & 3 Common Scoter.

Thursday 21st December 2016

A few late autumn passerines on the move with 4 Meadow Pipit & a Skylark heading south. A Snow Bunting flew around over the site for about 20 minutes was not seen to pitch in. Finally a new Great Tit trapped is quite exceptional for this time of the year as autumn migration finishes at the end of October/early November time in this species with new ones turning up in the winter at Landguard almost unknown.

Ringing: 1 Great Tit.

Wednesday 21st December 2016

A different Glaucous Gull put in an appearance, this time a second-winter bird. Also this morning southbound 8 Brent, 6 Red-throated Diver, Great-crested Grebe, Wigeon & Velvet Scoter plus northbound 8 Red-throated Diver, 2 Brent, 2 Oyk & Commom Scoter with at least 8 Kittiwakes following shipping. This Kitt count is higher than the total number noted in the all of December so far which is appalling bad !

Tuesday 20th December 2016

Distinctly better today with the weather changing and visibility improving. Southbound 55 Red-throated Diver, 54 Brent, 13 Common Scoter, 3 Shelduck, 2 Great-crested Grebe, 2 Teal, 2 Eider, 2 Oyks, 2 Common Gull, White-fronted Goose, Bean Goose & Bar-tailed Godwit plus northbound 15 Red-throats 11 Common Scoter, 6 Brent & Gannet. Why are we mentioning Common Gull ? Well, basically, the numbers are dire - we should be having counts in the hundreds or even thousands at this time of the year. Finally the Rock Pipit is still with us.

Monday 19th December 2016

Cormorants have been avoiding us lately so 1720 going out en masse is always going to be impressive. Brief sea watching in the flat calm conditions produced a handful of Brents, Red-throated Divers & a couple of Mallard. Purple Sand & Rock Pipit are still along the riverbank plus the Bullfinch is still with us.

Sunday 18th December 2016

Misty cool morning but at least the worst of the fog has gone but as long as we have high pressure and almost no breeze then the spectre of it returning will still haunt us. 2 Fieldfare on site were new in but not really sure what a Yellowhammer heading south into the murk over the river then back north a few minutes later mid-morning is up to. Just goes to prove that migration is always going on, it's just at a lower level at some times of the years than other. Rock Pipit is still with us on the riverbank (with late news for yesterday being it present in the fog along with a Purp & Turnstone in the afternoon).

Not been a good fungi autumn although Fender Fungus Melanotus horizontalis is still with us on some of the remaining ropes that are quickly rotting away.

Saturday 17th December 2016

Fog all day even worse than this at times. A Golden Plover was heard calling early on but the day was basically unbirdable.

Friday 16th December 2016

Southbound 15 Brent, 6 Red-throated Diver, 2 Velvet Scoter & Little Egret. Bullfinch still with us & good to see Mr & Mrs Peregrine around the lighting towers as they spend so much time on the big cranes we don't see them so often these days (despite the fact they are obviously in the area).

Thursday 15th December 2016

Dull dank morning. Young male Blackbird without a ring suggests that migration isn't totally over (or is this one just super clever at avoiding being caught).  A few bits noted going south including 13 Brent, 8 Red-throated Diver, Little Egret plus a Siskin over the observatory.

Wednesday 14th December 2016

Moving south 3 Mipit, Rock Pipit & Snow Bunting. A good morning to census the locals produced nothing more exciting than the fact that the Bullfinch is still with. The local Crows spend a fair amount of time beach combing all year round with the Landguard juveniles fairly tame as they are used to people feeding them.

Recent Ringing Recoveries

Latest batch includes Song Thrush ringed Sandwich Bay, Kent 29/09/2015 retrapped 75km away here on 21/10/2016. Lesser Redpoll ringed Chobham Common, Surrey 02/04/2016 retrapped 148km away here on 19/10/2016. Chiffchaff ringed Grimston, Yorkshire 12/10/2016  retrapped 227km away here on 29/10/2016. Reed Warbler ringed Landguard 12/05/2013 retrapped 30km away at Iken 08/05/2016. Chiffchaff ringed Landguard 09/07/2016 retrapped 16km away at Hollesley 08/09/2016.

Tuesday 13th December 2016

Intermittent mist or fog clearing at times and now a pea souper again. A dose of Cormorants went out to sea during a clearer patch but nowt else to report.

Monday 12th December 2016

Always good to arrive in the morning to find a hole in the rifle fencing where someone has broken in overnight - oh the delights of living in Felixstowe. Obviously dealing with such issues tends to take up one's time. Bird wise today's migrant is a Mistle Thrush on site that departed inland over the docks by 9am. Two Mipits went south are getting late in there autumn passage with 12 Carrion Crow also heading south and into Essex notable as visible migration movements in this species being almost non-existent this year. Great Black-backed Gulls are a bit camera shy but this adult on the beach reveals that it has not yet finished it's post breeding moult but having just read a book this moult can carry on into January.

Sunday 11th December 2016

2 Snow Bunting flew south along the beach just offshore early on and may be out there somewhere. Also on the move southbound 2 Mipits & a Rock Pipit. A couple of new Songies of the British race T.p.clarkei were a bit unexpected as there is no cold weather to force them down the coast from inland at present. This Bullfinch is still with us which would make it the longest stay for one of it's kind this century ! 555 Cormorants headed out to sea fishing and whilst watching gulls behind shipping 4 Shelduck went south plus a Gannet north.

3 birds ringed: 2 Song Thrush, 1 Chaffinch

Saturday 10th December 2016

A mild dull misty morning degenerating in a miserable drizzly afternoon. 5 Fieldfare on site early on departed inland with 2 Redwing also on site. Furtive Bullfinch still with us. Through the murk 22 Wigeon & a Teal flew south just offshore. Turnstone just about photographable in the gloom.

Friday 9th December 2016

A couple of migrants on site this morning in the shape of single Fieldfare, Redwing & Bullfinch with regulars to the site knowing how infrequently Bullfinch gets a mention. Back in the early 1980's Bullfinch bred here at a time when the number of bushes and the height of the trees was a fraction of what we have nowadays and the docks & Felixstowe were a lot smaller.

Ringing: 1 Redwing

Thursday 8th December 2016

Reading this blog for all you punters out there at this time of the year is almost as tedious as me writing it. Whilst looking at seagulls behind ships 3 Red-throated Diver & an Oystercatcher flew north with a walk around the site just revealing the common "garden" birds that will try and overwinter here.

Wednesday 7th December 2016

Rock Pipit & Purple Sandpiper still along the concrete riverbank but you have been given photo's of them in recent days so here's a Herring Gull to warm the cockles of your heart ! Basic coverage this morning so that's it.

Tuesday 6th December 2016

Starlings used to be common in "the good old days" but nowadays one struggles to see more than the odd one on site at this time of the year despite natural food not being hard to come by (leatherjacket in this case ?). Misty start this morning with a Golden Plover on site early on shifted off by the first dog walkers. Apart from that the highlights off a walk around the site were 2 Mipit & a Rock Pipit. On foggy mornings the Cormorants get up later with a mere 165 counted going out fishing this morning as the bulk of them are going out to sea on a different trajectory recently heading for feeding grounds slightly north-east of us. It's got that "early December doldrums" feel about the place at the moment but not long until the winter solstice and the day-lengths increase.

Monday 5th December 2016

Purp on the point (it was apparently along the riverbank yesterday as well) could well be one attempting to winter in the area. Bit of vis mig this morning in the shape of 2 Siskin & a Mipit heading south. Odd late Mipits on the move throughout December is not unusual but Siskin has had such a poor autumn it was almost a surprise to note them.

Sunday 4th December 2016

Mist nets taken down & packed away for the winter this morning so observations largely limited to a Meadow Pipit & a Fieldfare noted whilst undertaking this task. Glorious sunny morning so staring out to sea into the sun not wise so just 2 Gannet north and a dose of Cormorants on the observations pad. That's your lot !

Ringing: 1 Goldfinch

Saturday 3rd December 2016

A Great White Egret flying north offshore at 0833hrs was the fifth site record of this species that was a national rarity up until a few years ago but is now occurring in ever increasing numbers. The first winter Glaucous Gull also showed up again offshore just before mid-day. A few birds were noted going past before and after the litter pick including south bound 14 Common Scoter, 11 Brent, 3 Red-throated Diver, 2 Shelduck & Goldeneye plus northbound 2 Red-throated Diver, Gannet & Kittiwake. Rock Pipit was the only sighting of note on the reserve.

Friday 2nd December 2016

Dull early December morning. Starring out to sea for 40 minutes produced nothing but seagulls and then when walking around the reserve 11 Common Scoter went north. No migrants noted this morning with the site even lacking in what you would even term as common birds.

Ringing: 1 Wood Pigeon.

December Litter Pick

Litter Pick this Saturday 3rd December 0930hrs start. Usual arrangements on the events page of

Thursday 1st December 2016

It's very much feeling like winter with no migrants noted except for those that are probably going to try and be with us until the spring. This could be one of those blogs whereby no birds get mentioned !

November Ringing Totals

250 birds of 17 species ringed. Slightly more Blackies than last year but a very poor Redpoll autumn. A couple of Bullfinch are good for us.

Blackbird 176 Mealy Redpoll 2
Robin 14 Wood Pigeon 2
Long-tailed Tit 12 Bullfinch 2
Song Thrush 12 Sparrowhawk 1
Goldfinch 10 Firecrest 1
Chaffinch 8
Blackcap 4
Goldcrest 3
Wren 3
Redwing 2
Greenfinch 2
Lesser Redpoll 2

Wednesday 30th November 2016

Having packed up the moth traps until the new year, this little beauty then appeared when the sun came out. It's name is Phyllonorycter messaniella and it continuously mines the leaves of our Holm Oaks.

Another cold and frosty night, that turned into a bright, sunny morning. However, with autumn over and winter fast approaching there is little on site to set the pulses racing. The only birds worth a mention were 1 Fieldfare, 1 Lapwing, one of the Peregrines over the docks and 1 Skylark that went south. 

1 bird ringed: a Song Thrush. 

Tuesday 29th November 2016

It's getting colder somewhere if there's a Lapwing wandering around the reserve. Offshore sightings limited by the bright sunshine (and lack of birds !) but did include 4 Shelduck & a Red-breasted Merganser heading south.  A Grey Wagtail flying over is the first of it's kind for several weeks. Despite the fact there is still frost on the ground in the shade at mid-day a Peacock butterfly was enjoying the glorious sunshine by the back gate.

No birds ringed.

Monday 28th November 2016

Southbound 44 Brent, 25 Wigeon, 6 Common Scoter, 6 Red-throated Diver, 2 Teal, Shelduck & Red-breasted Merganser with northbound 74 Common Scoter, 9 Gannet, 5 Brents, 3 Red-throats, 2 Velvet Scoter & Bonxie. A couple of new Blackies & a new Chaffinch still passing through as autumn gives way to winter. Despite the wintry feel not to many gulls are loitering around the car parks just yet.

Sunday 27th November 2016

Offshore southbound 148 Common Scoter, 8 Brent, 6 Red-throated Diver, 1 Gannet plus northbound 153 Common Scoter, 9 Eider, 2 Gannet, 1 Brent, Curlew & Knot, On the shore 5 Turnstone, 2 Sanderling & a Ringed Plover. The odd Blacky & a couple of  late new Robins still passing through although, let's be honest, passerine migration this autumn should really be done and dusted by now.

3 birds ringed: 2 Robin, 1 Blackbird.

Saturday 26th November 2016

1217 Cormorants flew out first thing on mass on a glorious sunny morning that made starring out to sea difficult. Heading south 2 Brent plus north 30 Common Scoter, 3 Brent, 2 Red-throated Diver, Turnstone & Guillemot. After the movement of Eider yesterday a single was noted sitting offshore. Passerine movements were limited to 2 Mipits & a Rock Pipit south, Mistle Thrush briefly on site plus a couple of new Blackies passing through.

Ringing: 2 Blackbird.

Friday 25th November 2016

62 Eider north & 5 south is the best count for several years - it is presumed that these are birds originating in the low countries heading for areas off the North Norfolk coast for the winter. Also on the move southbound 35 Common Scoter, 31 Wigeon, 18 Brent, Red-throated Diver & Goldeneye plus northbound 40 Common Scoter, 8 Brent, 3 Gannet, Red-throated Diver, Shelduck & Curlew. A first-winter Glaucous Gull that put in a couple of appearances offshore is presumably the same bird noted a couple of times lately. 3 Snow Bunting were on the beach and a couple of late autumn Blackbirds are still passing through.

Moths at this time of the year are hard to come by with Dark Chestnut the only one to show up the last couple of days.

4 birds ringed: 3 Blackbird, 1 Greenfinch.

Thursday 24th November 2016

North-easterly wind has brought no passerines accept a single Skylark onto the reserve. Offshore southbound 316 Brents, 22 Black-headed Gull, 19 Teal, 19 Common Scoter, 11 Wigeon, 4 Eider, 3 Mute Swan, 2 Shelduck, Red-throated Diver,  Gannet &  Gadwall plus northbound 60 Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Kittiwake & Pomarine Skua. Shaggy Scalycap has come up in the same spot for several years running and as it's one of the more impressive fungi here's your annual photo.

No birds ringed.

Wednesday 23rd November 2016

Just for a change we have some calm after the storm, not that it's made a lot of difference. A small fall of thrushes this morning with a few Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Redwings making a brief appearance on route elsewhere, also 11 Meadow Pipits and 1 Yellow Hammer south, whilst 1 Woodcock, 1 Turnstone (above), 1 Rock Pipit and 30 Goldfinch were on site and a Kingfisher was seen in the dock basin by view point car park. Offshore just 1 Red-throated Diver and 23 Common Scoter went north.

5 birds ringed: 3 Song Thrush and 2 Blackbird.

Tuesday 22nd November 2016

Southerly gale blowing with occasional showers for the first half of the morning. Southbound 53 Dunlin, 47 Knot, 7 Gannet, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, Shelduck & the first Kittiwake of the winter. A mere 736 Cormorants headed out fishing this morning. With the gale not a lot of other coverage carried out.

No birds ringed

Monday 21st November 2016

Rain early on then again from mid-morning is not conducive to getting a lot done. Another new Blackcap just goes to show how late in the autumn some of the migrants coming into this country from eastern Europe for the winter arrive on our shores. Yesterdays fat bird weighed in at 21.9 g whereas today's was a third lighter at 16.7 g illustrating how much aviation fuel (fat) some individuals burn up just to get here. A Fieldfare was here first thing with the highlight of a walk around the site between the rain being 4 Meadow Pipits at the north end. Offshore sea watching tedious with a couple of hours producing just 2 Gadwal south plus 2 Common Scoter north apart from a dose of Cormorants & seagulls.

Ringing: 1 Blackcap

Sunday 20th November

Wet & windy then flat calm as the eye of the storm passed through before the gale returned. Offshore southbound 37 Knot, 4 Common Scoter, 3 Gannet, 3 Shelduck, Great-crested Grebe, Pintail, Velvet Scoter, Goosander & Dunlin plus northbound 3 Gannet, 2 Common Scoter & Razorbill although several hours of effort put in for these returns. A fat Blackcap was new in although in these conditions not a huge effort was put into surveying the area.

2 birds ringed: 1 Blackbird, 1 Blackcap.

Saturday 19th November 2016

Glorious sunny morning with a bit of frost in the sheltered parts. It feels like autumn has largely ground to a halt to be replaced by winter. Southbound this morning were 76 Wood Pigeon, 7 Mipit, 5 Goldfinch, 4 Skylark, 3 Stock Dove & a Siskin. A Brambling was present early on and at least one Goldcrest is lingering on site. A walk around the site produced just the birds that probably intend to be with us for the winter. Offshore next to nothing moving although 1315 Cormorants headed out to go fishing early on.

Ringing: 1 Sparrowhawk

Siberian Stonechat

DNA from this Siberian Stonechat present here on 6th to 7th October has revealed it is Saxicola maurus stejengeri. Landguard Bird Observatory is extremely grateful to Prof. M.Collinson & Aberdeen University for conducting the analysis.

Friday 18th November 2016

Last knockings on the passerine migration front although a new Goldcrest arrived to join the one that arrived a few days ago. Overhead 14 Goldfinch, 2 Mipits & a Skylark went south. Offshore southbound 24 Common Scoter, Shelduck & Red-throated Diver with northbound 18 Common Scoter & a Brent. Late morning a first winter Glaucous Gull followed the MV Spirit in off the sea amongst a mass of other gulls which is presumably the same individual as a couple of days ago. The dry autumn has mean't that fungi has been hard to find on site with the more recent wetter conditions encouraging a few to make an appearance.

3 birds ringed: 2 Goldfinch, 1 Goldcrest.

Thursday 17th November 2016

Goat Willow (Salix caprea). Growing on the fort wall. This is the first site record for twenty years.

This is the beginning of the end for autumn migration now, so things are much quieter. Most sightings came from looking out to sea, as 27 Knot, 24 Dunlin, a lone Gannet and 44 Common Scoter went south, with another 34 Common Scoter north. Apart from that, 1 Little Egret and 4 Skylark went south over and 3 Stock Dove appear to be moving around the site.

Ringed 4 birds; 2 Blackbird and 2 Goldfinch. 

Wednesday 16th November 2016

We failed to see the "super moon" when it was at its peak a couple of nights ago but the cloud finally cleared this morning for a view - doesn't look any bigger than normal to me ! A bit of vis mig this morning in the shape of southbound 15 Mipits, 6 Greenfinch, 2 Skylark & a Rock Pipit.  On site 10 Mipits  & 2 Rock Pipit loiter on the reserve and a Brambling was calling first thing. Offshore 51 Common Scoter went south but apart from a single Shag nothing else. A mere 1325 Cormorants counted going out fishing this morning although we know some mornings they don't all come over us as some go from the roosts over the town heading to the mouth of the River Alde and miss us out.

Very few of the moth species that would be expected at this time of the year have bothered to put an appearance in this year and despite the mild night we had to be content with just a single Angle Shades this morning.

4 birds ringed: 2 Goldfinch, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Blackbird.

Tuesday 15th November 2016

A mild morning producing a few tardy autumn migrants. Although it is expected that Blackies & thrushes are still moving at this time of the year the Robin and Goldcrest season should really be done & dusted by now. Some vis mig this morning including southbound 132 Starling, 54 Goldfinch, 21 Mipit, 11 Stock Dove, 11 Skylark, 5 Siskin, 2 Jackdaw plus a Brambling heading inland. A couple of Turnstone and a Sanderling are on the beach plus a Rock Pipit on the jetty. Offshore movements limited.

7 birds ringed: 3 Blackbird, 1 Robin, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Chaffinch.