Trip report: East Lane, Bawdsey, 27th August 2017

With fewer SOG trips during the summer months it was good to meet up and explore this part of south-east Suffolk for some migration. We also welcomed two new members for their first SOG trip.


Weather conditions were calm and quite hazy as we marvelled at the number of Swallows in the sky, rising from the lagoon reedbeds where they’d roosted overnight. In the area a few Yellow Wagtails flew over with one or two obligingly landing on a fence and allowing good views.

Yellow Wagtail

We first walked south exploring the hedgerow by the track. Unfortunately it was quiet for warblers and we managed singles of Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat and Blackcap. Towards the Martello tower, in the fields opposite a number of gulls were present including Common Gull and a covey of Red-legged Partridges. Scanning out to sea and along the shoreline we saw Oystercatcher and a few Sandwich Terns.

Retracing our steps we had a fantastic sighting of a Weasel, hunting around some out-buildings from which it flushed a Brown Rat that ran away quickly. Back towards the car park further hirundines were in the air with a big number of House Martins, large numbers of which landed on the prisoner-of-war building. In amongst the them were the odd Sand Martin and at one time they all flew up calling in alarm with the culprit being a fine Hobby. We scanned the lagoons seeing Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and several Coot. The willows in front held more warblers mostly Reed and Sedge but one treat was a family party of Cetti’s Warbler which showed surprisingly well. In the tamarisks on the seaward side further Reed Warblers were making their way through. The temperature was rising and the haze was making viewing difficult but we did see two Marsh Harriers over the fields distantly plus a Sparrowhawk overhead.


We’d noted a few butterflies as we walked up, so on our return we decided to take the bottom track to take a closer look and saw Clouded Yellow, Common Blue and numerous whites – Large, Small and Green-viewed. Odonata were also about and included Common Blue Damselfly, Migrant and Brown Hawkers. Viewing of insects was halted when those on the upper track called to say they had found a Guillemot offshore. With the sea so calm it was fascinating to watch the Guillemot swim against the tide with its feet visible at the back paddling away, something we’re not used to seeing. A great find by Matt, who self-proclaimed it was ‘bird of the day’!

We then moved on to Shingle Street where there had been Whinchat seen the previous day and we eventually counted four birds along with three Stonechat. A Hobby was being mobbed by a Crow which then turned its attention to a Kestrel. A single Wheatear was near the tennis courts and a Whitethroat in some bushes but otherwise it was fairly quiet. It was getting hotter and hotter so we stopped for lunch before a final visit of the day to Hollesley Marsh. We had a nice selection of waders including up to three Green Sandpiper, two Common Sandpiper, one Wood Sandpiper, three Little Ringed Plover, two Ruff plus a number of Dunlin, Avocet and Black-tailed Godwits.

Wasp Spider

As we decided to call it a day there was still wildlife to be seen, a Wasp Spider that we hadn’t noticed right in front of where we were sitting, Grayling on the seawall, Ruddy Darter along the track and, back at  the car park, two Holly Blue butterflies and a Willow Emerald damselfly.

An enjoyable day and we had to agree with Matt that the Guillemot paddling in the calm, hazy conditions on the sea was the highlight of the day.