The Whitlingham Bird Report 2017 can be viewed or downloaded here. For previous years (2012-2016) see the links on the Whitlingham Bird List page.

You may also be interested in Chris Durdin's Thorpe Marsh Wildlife Report for 2017, which is available

WHITLINGHAM: A nice weevil and other invertebrates

3rd June 2018

On Sunday Cathy & I took Rose to Whitlingham for a walk with some friends. I sometimes have to be reminded not to dawdle on social occasions, but I managed to find a few bits and pieces as we went round without holding us up too much. These included the leaf mines of Phytomyza artemisivora in Mugwort, a Myathropa sp, five species of sawflies (sadly none actually identified to species) and the best looking of the bunch, a Hazel Leaf-rolling Weevil. I had seen the leaf rolls created by the latter on a number of occasions, but don't remember ever seeing the adult weevil before.

SOUTH NORFOLK: Redgrave & Lopham Fen

2nd June 2018

On our way back after an out-of-county trip, Jeremy, Vanna, Ian and I stopped at Redgrave and Lopham Fen for lunch and a look for Fen Raft Spiders. This reserve on the county border is mostly in Norfolk but managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. I'd never visited before but will have to return at some point, as it was a large site with loads of wildlife. We took the shortest trail (the spider trail) but still found lots to look at.

One of the standout species was the Four-spotted Chaser, a common dragonfly but one that was present in very large numbers. I noticed that several of them were of a variety called praenubila, where the small black marks are replaced by larger black splodges (compare the middle individual to the bottom one on the second photo). Unfortunately the 'best' one was obscurred by vegetation, but it looked very smart in the field.

Other things that caught our attention were some quivering Aspen trees, several species of beetle including Chrysolina polita, Dead-nettle Leaf Beetle and the large caterpillars of Drinker Moth, Garden Tiger and Emperor moth. A Hobby was seen briefly chasing the dragonflies, and a brood of Shelducks were on one of the pools.

Further round I noticed an Anasimyia contracta hoverfly, my third member of this genus seen this year (I've never seen the two remaining ones). One of my other highlights was a rare spider, Marpissa radiata - one of the NNNS 'Norfolk's Wonderful 150 Species' being profiled for next year's anniversary celebrations. As we headed back towards Norwich I noticed a Little Owl in a roadside tree, and after reversing back we managed to get silhouetted views (we didn't leave the car to see it properly to avoid spooking it).

A quick diversion to Mulbarton failed to yield the Bee Orchid that we had hoped for, but on dropping Jeremy and Vanna off we were shown some Asparagus Beetles, another new species for me.


31st May 2018

My visits to Whitlingham have been less frequent this year as I adapt to family life, so I took the opportunity to grab an hour there at the end of the month. There had clearly been an influx of Mute Swans, with 77 on the section of the Great Broad that I counted. I couldn't see many goslings, perhaps out of sight on the main island, but there was a brood of young Mallard ducklings. Once again I failed to hear a Willow Warbler or Cuckoo, although Blackcaps were still very obvious.

In non-avian highlights I saw a Helophilus trivittatus hoverfly on the picnic meadow, whilst there were two new moths for me in the form of a slim-line occupied larval case of Dark Elm Case-bearer, Coleophora limosipennella, and an adult Small Barred Longhorn moth, Adela croesella.

NORTH NORFOLK: Hindringham Hall gardens

Late May 2018

Each spring Cathy & I take our mums out to some gardens as a late Mother's Day trip, and we try to find places that we haven't been before. This year we chose Hindringham Hall, a small hall with gardens in north Norfolk that opens to the public for 3 hours, twice a week. Seeing the photos on the website I wondered if that would give us enough time to get round, but actually we had a good look and tea and cake comfortably in that time.

One of the main features is a complete moat around the hall, apparently dating back to 1150. This held a pair of Black Swans with two cygnets, and the male was rather aggressive in defending them, at one point sneaking onto the path and charging Margaret! The pair were presumably bought and placed here, but the offspring might be free flying if they survive (apparently the brood was larger but predated by Mink). Perhaps better were the series of House Martin nests under the eaves of the hall, which were being patched up by the adult birds.

The overcast conditions limited the insect life apart from bumblebees, but I did find a new leaf mine, Phytomyza astrantiae on Astrantia leaves, a ginger Merodon equestris was a smart looking hoverfly and Cathy found a Meadow Longhorn moth as we walked back to the car.

NORWICH: Mousehold - mainly looking at birch

28th May 2018

After dropping Cathy & Rose off in the city I decided to spend an hour or so up at Mousehold Heath. Checking the birches I began to see Parent Bugs, so named because they stand and guard their eggs. At least 12 of them were found in a small area, undoubtedly a small proportion of the true number.

Whilst looking at the birches I started to find leaf mines, including some made by moths, sawflies and a weevil. Of these Eriocrania salopiella was new to both me and the 10km square, and Stigmella lapponica was also a good find. The sawfly mines were caused by Fenusa pumila, whilst a mine ending in a neat cut out circle was caused by Orchestes rusci. Pictured here in the same order -

I had hoped to see some bees that Jeremy & Vanna had seen around the pond, but there didn't seem to be much flying around, however I did find a Panzer's Nomad Bee, Nomada panzeri, which completed the set of three similar species for me. Another Alabonia geoffrella moth, Broom Beetle and Green Tiger Beetle completed an interesting trip to the heath.

MID NORFOLK: Whitwell with a focus on hawthorn

27th May 2018

One of last year's target species was Red-barred Gold moth (Micropterix tunbergella) a scarce and/or under-reported species and moth number 1 in the B&F checklist. The only site that I knew of for it was Whitwell Common, where it was been seen previously on Hawthorn blossom. As it happened, there is also a fungus found on Hawthorn leaves about now, so I decided to spend an hour or so at Whitwell, mostly looking at the Hawthorn flowers. I didn't find my target moth, but did find lots of other things, so here are some photographic highlights.

Alabonia geofrella. A micro moth with the rubbish vernacular name of Common Tubic (but known to some moth people as 'Geoffreys')

 A 'pistol-case' of the moth Coleophora hemerobiella on Hawthorn
 Unidentified caterpillar on hawthorn
 Downlooker Snipefly
 Another Coleophora sp on hawthorn
 Leaf mine of Stigmella hybnerella
 Grammoptera ruficornis, a small longhorn beetle
 Epiphragma ocellare - a cranefly sp
 Slender Groundhopper - they aren't normally this confiding!
 Scorched Carpet
The larval case of Coleophora solitariella, a nationally scarce B moth, on Greater Stitchwort.

NORWICH: This weeks invertebrate update

w/c 21st May 2018

Another handful of insects noted on my daily commute, including some interesting webbing. Notes with the photos.

Meridon equestris - a variably-patterned hoverfly that mimics bumblebees. The larvae feed on bulbs of Daffodils and Bluebells for most of the year before the short-lived adults emerged. After seeing my first of the year near New Mills I found several more on my visits out.

Whilst checking a birch trunk for resting insects, I noticed that it was covered in sheets of silk. It didn't look like the work of caterpillars or spiders, so I was intrigued what could have caused it. Some internet research strongly suggests that it is down to Barklice. I'm not sure if several species do this in the UK, or if it is only Archipsocus nomas.

Whilst searching the same tree trunk I did notice two moths, which both turned out to be new for me. The top one is Birch Conch, Conchylis nana, and the second one is Common Birch Bell, Epinotia immundana.

Later in the week there was an emergence of Mayflies along the river, and on Friday I walked home via Train Wood, seeing clouds of them as well as a Holly Blue and a very smart pointy-faced Anasimyia lineata hoverfly.