Kessingland to Benacre 22.03.2015
Leader: Richard Smith
Heading to the start of the meeting, I and a couple of other SOG members decided to stop off at Blythburgh to have a scan of the river, finding a number of waders including good numbers of Avocet, several Black-tailed Godwit that flew in with the odd Curlew, Redshank and some Dunlin. Up river we saw a Kestrel while the other way a Buzzard and over the far shore lots of waders flew up, chased by a Peregrine. The falcon was unsuccessful and gave up the chase but then proceeded to fly over the river, turn and go right over our heads, a fantastic sight and seeing these raptors were a forerunner of the day ahead.
Of the 12 members who assembled at the car park, half were recent new members, which was good to see. Our first port of call was at Kessingland sewage works where we saw a single Grey Wagtail amongst the Pied, a close singing Robin, a few Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff along the hedgerow, while the latter species we saw up close as we bumped in to Kessingland ringing group and they had just caught a Chiffchaff in their nets. We thanked the ringing group and headed on the path towards the church, this gave us views across Kessingland levels and we spent a productive time scanning across. Standing stationery in a nearby field was a lone Grey Heron until a couple Herring Gulls mobbed it and chased it off. In the skies we started to pick up some raptors, a couple of Kestrels then a number of Buzzards, counting up to six.
We then returned, headed down to the beach and walked along to the sluice, finding two Black Redstarts and Richard briefly saw a Wheatear. Further scanning from there produced further views of raptors with the addition of a Sparrowhawk hunting a murmuration of Starlings. Out to sea several Red-throated Divers on the sea and small groups of Gannet north including an adult that banked round to come closer.
At Benacre Broad we couldn’t access the south side and the bird hide due to the breach so stopped for lunch on the beach viewing both the Broad and the sea. On the Broad were lots of gulls, ducks including Teal and a few waders with Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and four Sanderling. We continued to see a number of raptors, including four Buzzards in the scope at one time and a couple of Marsh Harriers. Whilst scanning above the trees a Raven was briefly seen, with one being reported in the area recently.
We returned to the sluice, admiring the Black Redstarts again and another member managed to catch up with the Wheatear but unfortunately it eluded everyone else. Whilst there we picked up news from Suffolk BINS that a White Stork had been seen nearby in a field at Covehithe in the morning as well as a Red Kite later. Back at the car park, we thanked Richard for an excellent trip, some said goodbye while those remaining decided to have a search around the back roads of Covehithe to try and relocate the White Stork. Driving in to Wrentham we noted a raptor overhead, we pulled in to have a look as other members pulled in behind us and it turned out to be a Red Kite and not the escaped Black Kite that had been in the area, for some of us the sixth raptor of the day.
We then drove around South Cove and Cove Bottom but had no luck finding the stork but stopping off at Potters Bridge we had a lovely female Sparrowhawk skim across the reedbeds in the late afternoon light then nearby a close Buzzard in a tree followed by two others over some trees, three Marsh Harriers hunting over the reedbeds and two Barn Owls. Overall it was a fantastic day, great company and a treat to encounter so many raptors.