For more information see http://cityofale.org.uk
The previous reports are also availble: 2015 here, 2014 report here and the 2013 report here. Thanks to everyone who has contributed sightings, information and photos to these reports.
You may also be interested in Chris Durdin's Thorpe Marsh Wildlife Report for 2016, which is available http://www.honeyguide.co.uk/documents/ThorpeMarshesWildlifeReport2016.pdf
For more information see http://cityofale.org.uk
After a pub lunch at the Royal Oak in Bintree we headed to Foxley Wood to resume our hunt for Early Purple Orchids. The only orchids around seemed to be Common Spotted, however we did also see two flowering Greater Butterfly Orchids, one protected by a wire cage and this one. I've seen Lesser Butterfly before, but this may well be a new one for me, so a nice way to end the day.
Working down Cathy's list of birds she'd like to see, we reached Golden Oriole. Although several have been seen/heard recently (I still need G.O. for Norfolk) our best shot was Lakenheath, so we headed across the border into Suffolk. To condense a long wait into a short story, we heard but didnt see any Orioles. We were kept company by a group of dragonfly enthusiasts, who had located a Scarce Chaser and proceeded to trample through the bankside nettles to photograph it, despite having lenses that would allow pictures to have been obtained from Brandon. Whilst I was staring at the poplars Cathy went looking for insects, finding another Scarce Chaser, red-and-black froghoppers and several beetles. On our way back to the car a Hobby soared over.
As it still wasn't even midday we stopped at East Wretham on the way back. Pick of the birds was a Redstart, whilst a brood of Egyptian Geese on Langmere gave it that homely feeling.
A lovely sunny evening seemed a good opportunity to go for a drive around some of the nearby villages (i.e. south of the city). The first stop on our voyage of discovery came after going over a ford. Having slowed down to avoid a Pied Wagtail in the road, we spotted a Grey Wagtail right alongside the car. Pulling over we watched as it flew over to its mate on the other side of the river, and they treated us to a midge-catching masterclass, jumping up and catching them in mid-air. We then had to wait as 7 Mallards wandered fown the road, rather amusingly going into the drive of a B&B!
Further along we watched a "singing" Red-legged Partridge and took some photos of the ruins of a church before watching hirundines over Shotesham Common. Turning back towards Norwich I saw a Little Owl hurtle past. It flew onto a telegraph post nearby, so we drove a little bit closer then stopped for a look. A Blackbird then mobbed it, causing it to fly to the post right near our car. In fact, it was so close that to get a photo I had to hang out of the car window, hence the white in the bottom right of the picture. It may clean up in photoshop if I get round to it.
Little Owl. Click to enlarge.
Before going home we decided to drive down Whitlingham Lane as I still need Barn Owl for the patch list this year. Part way down we stopped to watch bats over the meadows. Seemingly somewhere in size between Pipistrelle and Noctule, I hope they could turn out to be Natterers, but I will have to go back with the bat detector to check this out. Further down I saw another owl flying, and drew attention to it in my own reserved style (SH*T! IT'S AN OWL!). Pulling into the Little Broad car park we heard two Tawny Owls calling to each other, before our one flew back over Whitlingham Lane and towards the Lime Tree Avenue. Patch gold, and a marvellous evening close to home.
It was a dreary looking afternoon, but I decided to go for a quick walk before tea. I decided to walk from Andersons Meadow to Sweetbriar, a walk which i should have done much more than I have now I'm living over this part of the city. On my way a Little Egret flew over from the direction of the Waterworks, a notable record for the city. It began to drizzle, but a few warblers were singing, I managed Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat. Further on I found a woodpeckers nest with calling chicks, and a photogenic Banded Demoiselle was sheltering amongst the reeds.
A drizzly day and it was more in hope than expectation that I went to Whitlingham. The bird "highlight" was probably a Song Thrush, whilst the mammalian highlight was undoubtedly this dead Mole. My first Blue-tailed Damselflies of the year were amongst the Common Blues, whilst the spur-mark on the side of the thorax on this damselfly may make it an immature male Large Red-eyed Damselfly, which if memory serves would be my first CP record. If not then its an infuscans form female Blue-tailed, and I need to find some birds instead of deliberating over this nonsense.
Immature Red eyed damselfly
I hadn't visited Whitlingham during the week as a cold had completely zapped my energy, so I was looking forward to seeing what had arrived since my last visit. John had kindly emailed me to say he had seen a 1st-summer Little Gull on Wednesday evening, whilst I would be interested to find out which direction the three Night Herons were flying when seen/heard at Strumpshaw on the same evening.
Upon arriving to a long row of cars parked along the lane (which is now legally a freeway, although as the police dont have the time to come and impose tickets its all a bit pointless) I presumed that the C.P. would be heaving. In the end it was no busier than normal for a sunny day. The great broad was quiet, 27 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 3 Herring being the only birds of note. Swifts were screeching overhead, and the nettles along the riverbank were full of Common Blue Damselflies.
Birdsong was muted, but amongst the Whitethroats and Blackcaps I found a skulking Lesser Whitethroat (not singing) and further round in the conservation area a Garden Warbler. Last year GW was my 100th bird, this year I've only made it to 92. Mind you, there are still anumber of "common" birds I should get (e.g. Red-legged Partridge, Bullfinch, Grey Wagtail) and hopefully a few migrants still. I had been hoping for Bar-tailed Godwit, but no joy. On the rest of the way round I saw my first Banded Demoiselle of the year and a Common Sandpiper flew downriver. The area of scrub that was cleared near the Little Broad has been turned into an area for archery (there is already one, why do they need two?). Presumably this project took priority over both concreting the Little Broad and building Badminton courts and the giant tire swing on the Great Broad island.
Whilst at Whitlingham I found out about the Collared Flycatcher, but on the way home I was buoyed by my own black-and-white bird, when the partially leucistic Blackbird that frequented Chapelfield in 2009 made a surprise re-appearance.
I know that this picture is worse than my usual poor standards, but it was chased off by a small child. Said infant had ignored other birds, adding further anecdotal evidence that birds with pigmentation mutations suffer from increased predation.
As rain was forecast for later in the week (not that that seems likely at the moment) Cathy & I decided to but birds to one side for the day and go butterfly hunting. The aim was to see two of the three regularly-occurring Norfolk butterflies that I have never seen, Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper. These two butterflies can both be rather annoying to pin down, as not only are they scarce locally, they are also rather dowdy, allowing them to disappear against brown backgrounds. In the end we found 2 Dingy and c15 Grizzled Skippers, and also saw 2 Green Hairstreaks, 2 Mother Shipton moths and a Burnet Companion moth. The last butterfly I want to see is White-letter Hairstreak, which have occurred in Chapelfield Park before, but if you have a reliable site then please let me know!