The Whitlingham Bird Report 2021 is available to download now 

For previous years (2012-2020) see the links on the Whitlingham Bird Report page

NORWICH: Cacopsylla fulguralis

Early May 2022

On my walk back from Catton Park I noticed a hedge that appeared to be flecked with tiny insects. Upon closer inspection they were clearly psyllids, but not one that I recognised. Fortunately (and unlike many of them) the wing pattern was quite distinctive and I was able to identify them as the non-native species Eleagnus Sucker, Cacopsylla fulguralis.




NORWICH: Catton Park beetle extravaganza

Early May 2022

Whilst at Thorpe Marshes I had spoken to Susan Weeks, who had told me that she was once again seen Rose Chafers in north Norwich around the Catton Park area, so on a sunny afternoon I headed down for a quick look. In the end I didn't even get round to the area where the Chafers had been seen because there was a great patch of Alexanders under some Oak trees that was covered with insects. Beetles were the order of the day, with including Deathwatch Beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum), the weevil Curculio glandium, a cylindrical bark beetle Bitoma crenata and a smallc arabid Badister bullatus.





THORPE MARSH: A rainy spring visit

Early May 2022

My first visit to Thorpe Marshes of the spring was probably most notable for bumping into a handful of people I'd not seen for a while, notably Chris, Susan, Ann and Stuart. I was hoping that some showers would pass through and bring some hirundines, and this did indeed happen, bringing my first Sand Martins of the year. Unfortunately for me the rain then got harder and I got completely soaked. Before I crossed the bridge I noticed a Mottled Umber moth caterpillar and an aphid parasitised by a Praon-type wasp. The damp weather meant not many insects about on the marsh, but Dock leaves with Puccinia phragmitis clustercups on are always nice to see, and I spent a delightful few minutes only a few feet away from a Grey Heron.






NORWICH AREA: Ringland Church Hill Common

Late April 2022

With a couple of hours free I decided to visit Ringland Church Hill Common, a known site for a moth I'd not seen before called the Bluebell Conch. The common itself turned out to be an interesting place, with a centre of short grassland surrounded by a belt of deciduous woodland (albeit something of an island in a sea of agricultural land). It took a little while to find the largest area of Bluebells, by which time the weather had become rather overcast, and with the time to return to Norwich approaching it was disappointing but not a great surprise that I didn't see my target moth. I did see a new harvestmen and cranefly (Platybunus triangularis and Limonia nubecolsa respectively). Probably the most interesting theig I found was on my way back to the church. I saw a black mass on Garlic Mustard and from a distance wondered if it was a smut. It turned out to be a cluster of Grenade Aphids, Lipaphis alliariae, which based on the Influential Points account seems like a good find.






NORWICH: Sweetbriar Marsh obscure insects

Late April 2022

I took an early morning walk around Marriot's Way as far as Sweetbriar Marshes, which was very pleasant. I saw quite a few interesting bits and bobs, including a psyllid on Hawthorn (Cacopsylla melanoneura or C. affinis), a new caddisfly Notidobia ciliaris and a leaf-curl gall on Bird Cherry made and occupied by Rhopalosiphum padi aphids.





NORWICH: Earlham Cemetery plant fungi

Mid-April 2022

Earlier in the month Ian Senior had sent me pictures of some Lesser Celandines infected by something that I recognised as the Oomycete Peronospora ficariae. I decided to go and have a look, and whilst there also had a look for another of Ian's finds, Grape Hyacinth Anther Smut (Antherospora hortensis). Along the main drive several Early Dog Violets had Violet Rust, Puccinia violae on them. Seeing quite a lot of Field Wood-rush I checked that too, eventually finding the rust Puccinia obscurata on some of the leaves.






WHITLINGHAM: April WeBS and a new sawfly

Mid-April 2022

A rather disappointing April WeBS count, with no hirundines present and lots of the winter wildfowl now absent. I did read a few new Mute Swan colour rings and saw three on nests. Around the broad Willow Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats had joined the Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. Quite a few inverterates were noted, the highlight of which was the sawfly Euura clitellata.



NORWICH: Some invertebrates on Larch

Mid-April 2022

I had lunch in Earlham Cemetery, and spent most of the time staring at a couple of Larch trees in the hope of finding Larch Ladybird, a species that has so far eluded me. It continues to do so, but I did find a few nice things, including a Pine Cone Bug, an Eyed Ladybird and an egg-laying Larch adelphid aka Larch Woolly Aphid), Adelges laricis.




NORWICH: Dalliances with dandelions

Early April 2022

Fairly early on when learning about wildflowers you find out that the ubiquitous Dandelion is not one species, and that it is in fact 230+ (micro) species. Many botanists shy away from identifying microspecies due to the difficulties associated with identifying and confirming them, but with a new BSBI handbook out recently I thought I would give it a go. The book is very nice, but to be honest it went pretty much how I expected. Despite it being easy to notice differences particularly in leaf shape, stature etc, the issues arise with plasticity, whereby a species can look dramatically different if it has been mown, is competing against high vegetation, is growing in the shade, if the day you see it ends in a y etc etc. Some species produce different shaped leaves early on to those produced later, and that is before you even get started on understanding all of the different terms associated with ID and assessing colour, hairiness etc.

I had hoped to make inroads at least into identifying some of the species present at Whitlingham, but have so far got no further than a few to sub-group. Alex Prendergast ran several identification workshops but I was unable to attend any of them unfortunately. Nonetheless I do have names for two of the Dandelions seen during the month. Firstly Taraxacum lacistophyllum, a low growing plant with finely divided leaves seen on a dry grassy area at the Norfolk & Norwich hospital and identified by Alex. Secondly, and so far the only species I've identified correctly myself and had confirmed, Taraxacum leucopodon. This is a robust species with rather crinkly leaves and the terminal leaf lobe is described as looking like an old German helmet. I found it growing at Earlham Millenium Green.






WHITLINGHAM: Nomada flavoguttata

6th April 2022

A brief visit to Whitlingham in the hope of seeing some spring migrants. Other than Chiffchaffs the only other warbler heard singing were Blackcaps, and there were no hirundines etc. After reading a few Mute Swan rings I noted rust fungi on Lesser Celandine and Cuckoo Pint before having a look around the picnic meadow, seeing a very obliging Little Nomad Bee, Nomada flavoguttata.





NORWICH: Late March - more aphids, a new grass and possibly a rare gall

Late March 2022

A selection of random things from around Norwich on my walks too and from work. I had been looking at grasses around the city for Early Meadow Grass (Poa infirma), and finally found a big patch on Brazen Gate. I also walked out to Hall Road to check out the yellow form of Sweet Violet (sulphurea), which looked nice if a bit trampled. Nearby I found some tiny galls on Goosegrass leaves which seem to amtch the description of Synchytrium globosum (https://bladmineerders.nl/parasites/fungi/chytridiomycota/chytridiales/synchytrium/synchytrium-globosum/), but even Peter Shirley of AIDGAP gall guide fame wasn't really aware of it in the UK, so I can't easily confirm it (they are tiny!)



Elsewhere there were two new aphids for me, Cinara cupressi on my rubbish bin (kept near a cypress sp) and what I think are Aulacorthum solani on Thale Cress. 


Finally I saw some white-flowered Herb Robert in an alleyway near the house and a brood of Egyptian Geese were in Wensum Park, the second one I've seen in the city after the ones near the Ribs of Beef.



MID NORFOLK: Barnham Broom Fen fungus foray

20th March 2022

Barnham Broom Fen is a relatively small, privately owned site currently undergoing habitat restoration  and enhancement. The Norfolk Fungus Study Group were invited to visit and survey the site, and we were grateful to Andy for showing us around and telling us about the site, a mixture of fen and wet woodland.



As expected at this time of year most of the fungi found were small species associated with plants. Two species new to me were Calycellina ochracea, a small pale yellow cup fungus, and an unobtrusive lichen called Lecania cyrtellina (found and identified by Rob Yaxley). Another interesting sighting was a woodlouse-like creature that turned out to be a fly larva, that of a Lonchoptera species (probably L. lutea).