The Whitlingham Bird Report for 2022 is now available to download from the Bird Reports page or here

SUFFOLK: A visit to Carlton Marshes

Mid June 2023

It had been several years since I had visited Carlton Marshes SWT reserve near Lowestoft, indeed a whole cafe and education centre had been built in the meantime. Despite not venturing too far out on the reserve there was a lot to see, the highlight of which was probably my first Rosy Woodlouse, Androniscus dentiger. Prior to my visit I had seen a smut fungus found on sedges (Farysia thuemenii) mentioned, and these things often tend to have good and bad years, so I checked some sedges and low-and-behold found absolutely loads of it. A third new species was Cyperus Sedge, which was common along the edges of the dykes. 

NORTH NORFOLK: Bacton Woods June invertebrates

Mid June 2023

A family walk around Bacton Woods. Despite overcast conditions there were plenty of interesting invertebrates, including a new psyllid for me, Cacopsylla brunneipennis. Other things pictured here include Apteropeda orbiculata beetle mines in Wood Sage, Coleophora albicosta on Gorse, the hopper Ditropis pteridis, aphids Mindarus abietinus on Fir and Bronze Shieldbug.

NORWICH: Sawflies on Ash - Tomostethus nigritus

Early June 2023

Whilst checking an Ash tree for psyllids I noticed some very bright green caterpillars feeding on some of the leaflets. A closer look revealed they were sawfly larvae, and fortunately they were distinctive enough to identify them as Tomostethus nigritus, a new species for me.

NORTH NORFOLK: Sheringham Park invertebrates

Early June 2023

One of the places we like to visit in spring is Sheringham Park when the rhododendron collection is in flower. Fortunately there are lots of native plants there too and it is a great place to see invertebrates. On this visit I saw several new or interesting things including the safly Macrophya blanda, the bug Rhabdomiris striatellus, the spider Micaria micans and some weevils, Phyllobius oblongus.

CENTRAL NORFOLK: Gressenhall museum & farm

Early June 2023

I'd not visited the Museum of Rural Life at Gressenhall since I was a child, so a visit seemed long overdue. There was something of interest for everyone, taking in the museum, old workhouse, farm and some of the rewilded land along the river. I was particularly keen to have a look around the orchard, but was a bit underwhelmed at how big it was! I failed to find my main target species, the psyllid Cacopsylla mali that feeds on apple, but did find a Plum  Longhorn beetle and some very nice barkflies, Mesopsocus sp (probably M. immunis).

Along the river I noticed some beetles egg-laying on the lily pads, making them Galerucella nymphaea (there are similar looking ones that feed on other plants). The scarcest sighting of the visit was probably a weevil associated with Bird Cherry, Furcipus rectirostris. Back in the main grounds I just had time to check some Eleagnus and found Cacopsylla fulguralis, new to west Norfolk.

THORPE MARSHES: Late spring visit

Late May 2023

A couple of hours spent around a sunny Thorpe Marshes. A good sign that it wasn't too busy was a Grey Heron beside the path out onto the marsh, which reluctantly flew as I approached. Two recently fledged Stonechats could be seen further across the marsh, pleasing to see this species is still hanging on in this urban-ish location. The highlight of the visit was a new bug for me, Pachybrachius fracticollis, but there was plenty else of interest including lots of European Chinchbugs, several Anasimyia lineata hoverflies and great views of a settled Hairy Dragonfly. A smut fungus, Anthracoidea subinclusa, was found on Carex riparia, whilst on Hawthorn were some adult Cacopsylla peregrina psyllids.

NORWICH: Brachyopa insensilis

27th May 2023 

Brachyopa is an interesting genus of small hoverflies that at first glance look more like fruit flies than hoverflies. They are often found around sap runs on tree trunks rather than visiting flowers. They can also be tricky to separate, with ID based on a combination of scutellum colour and the presence/absence/shape of a small pit on the first antennal segment. Earlier in the month Vanna Bartlett had noticed several Brachyopa visiting a tree in Earlham Cemetery and managed to confirm that they were Brachyopa insensilis. Having only ever seen one Brachyopa before (and not confirmed that to species), I gratefully accepted directions and spent some time near the tree in question. During my stay I saw two individuals coming and going, completely non-plussed about my presence.

WHITLINGHAM: New hide, fledged herons and another psyllid

21st May 2023

The most notable thing about May's Whitlingham WeBS count was getting to see the new hide. From a distance it looks very nice, blending in with the landscape. Unfortunately as an actual bird hide there are a few issues. The curved roof means that you cannot stand up near the edges of it, so you can only use it by sitting down. There is one moveable bench to allow you to do this - I really hope that this is treated respectfully and remains there, but the idea of having an unfixed bench on an urban nature reserve is not one I would have suggested.

In terms of birdlife, two sets of juvenile Grey Herons were visible (there were three nests this year, I'm not sure if young fledged from the third one), a Cuckoo was calling and I heard my first Reed and Garden Warblers of the year as both had been absent during my April visit.

I checked quite a few willows for psyllids, and was rewarded with my first Cacopsylla ambigua.

NORWICH AREA: Broadland CP fungus foray & woodland invertebrates

20th May 2023

As part of the ongoing wildlife recording at Broadland Country Park, the Norfolk Fungus Study Group visited in May to look for spring fungi. The dry conditions meant that there was not too much found, however there was a nice display of Bog Beacons, a scarce species in East Anglia, and the highlight was a tiny fungus called Polycephalomyces tomentosus found growing on a slime mould.

There were some rather interesting invertebrates including a hopper on heather called Ulopa reticulata, a woodland cranefly Ctenophora pectinicornis, the weevil Attelabus nitens, Black-headed Cardinal Beetle and the beetle Elaphrus riparius.

NORWICH: Psyllid - Livilla variegata on Laburnum

Mid-May 2023

This year I have taken on the role of county recorder for psyllids, bugs resembling small leafhoppers although more closely related to aphids. An article and county list will be published in NNNS Transactions either late 2023 or early 2024.

All but a handful of gall-causing species are under-recorded in Norfolk, so I have been checking possible host plants all around the city. I had no luck checking the Laburnum trees in Waterloo Park, but one on the edge of Clapham Wood held a small population of Livilla variegata, a rather distinctive species due to the narrow wings and angle that the wings are held at.

NORWICH: Flatbug Aradus depressus

Mid-May 2023

Sometimes interesting species just turn up in the garden, and on this occasion I was locking up ready to go out when I noticed an interesting bug on an outside wall. It was one of the flatbugs, a group of very thin bugs resembling flakes of bark. This one is the commonest one, Aradus depressus, but was still a new species for me.