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For previous years (2012-2019) see the links on the Whitlingham Bird List page.

King Eider

27th July 2010
The start of the summer holidays had been uneventful up to this point, filled by house-hunting and local walks around Norwich. Mothing had been good, passing the 100 mark for Cath's garden (Iron Prominent and Chocolate-tip being the pick of the recent ones), but bird wise the only thing of note was a July-high of 107 Coot in the conservation area bay at Whitlingham.
I was at home filling out forms on Tuesday morning, when I brought up Birdguides and saw that a probable 1st-summer drake King Eider had been seen off Sheringham. Total time to get there (walk to the station, train, walk to the seafront) is about an hour and 45 minutes, and I had to go into the city to see a letting agent, so I consigned myself to not seeing it. By the afternoon the eider was still being seen, and rather than wait in hope that it would still be around on Wednesday, me & Cathy decided to give it a go. This seemed a bad decision as rain began to pour from the skies 10 minutes later, but thankfully by the time we reached Sheringham it had subsided to persistent drizzle.
As we headed along the promenade I was struck by the lack of birders. I know at least one of the previous birds was a long-stayer, but even for a weekday it seemed odd. I spoke to the one birder who was still there, who told me that he had been watching it for a while but then it had vanished, presumably drifting west. We walked along to the seawatching shelter, which was similarly devoid of birders, but then got a bit of luck when a guy walking past asked if we'd found it yet. He had just relocated the King Eider near the lifeboat station, and got me onto it via a long sequence of coloured flags. We then walked further west and got slightly closer views, although it was always distant. When light shone through the clouds it was possible to see paler areas and the bill colour, and the structure of the head was discernible against a pale sea. King Eider was a bird that I missed in Scotland ealier this year, so I am grateful to the finder and the birders on site for relocating the bird. I also hope that it went far enough west for a couple from Weybourne that I spoke to be able to "garden tick" it!

Station Marsh anti-wader scrape

18th July 2010

As wader passage is now underway I decided to give Thorpe Station Marsh a look. The only wading birds I saw, and this is using the term loosely, were Lapwings. The scrape was completely dry. Whilst obviously the lack of rainfall has played a major part in this, the relatively high water levels in the ditches suggests that the site may have been too well drained. The paths have been built up with gravel, but a new one along the eastern edge of Thorpe Broad has barbed wire across the southern end, presumably someone has forgot to take it away or put a "path closed" sign at the other end. Birdwise a few Stock Doves, 60 Canada Geese and a Kingfisher were the avians of choice. Two White-rumped Sandpipers were found at Breydon today, so very much a question of right idea, wrong (and overly optimistic) location.

Giving up on birds for the day I walked around Carey's Meadow, where a large number of plants were in flower. 16 Burnet moths were flying, 1 Silver Y, Red Admiral, Comma, Small Skipper (FOY) and loads of Ringlets and Gatekeepers. A couple of Brown Hawkers were patrolling the edges as well.

Nightjars & Moths

16th July 2010

The main purpose of the evening was to show Cathy some Nightjars. She wanted to see a perched one, but I've only managed that once, so I persuaded her that flight views would be just as good. Standing at our chosen heathland location we picked out a Noctule Bat each before the churring started at around 9:30. Despite at least three churring males and occasional flight calls, we failed to pick out any as darkness fell. Finally we saw a Nightjar, as a female ghosted across our path. We saw presumably the same bird in flight another two times, but by now picking up birds against the dark trees was becoming impossible. Whilst waiting I heard my first Turtle Dove for the site and a Tawny Owl called from nearby woodland.

We spent a further hour-and-a-half around a moth trap that had been set up close by. There was a marked contrast between the species we'd been getting in Norwich and the ones caught, unsurprisingly. Highlights included a number of Rosy Footmen, Pine Hawk Moth, Buff Arches, Black Arches and my first Pretty Chalk Carpet.

Pine Hawk Moth

Swallowtailed Moths

8th July 2010

Presumably the nice weather has encouraged Swallowtailed Moths to emerge. Cathy found this one, and another two came to the outside light once it got dark.

North & South of Norwich

4th July 2010
Part 1 - The North.
With Whitlingham offlimits (triathlon), I walked up to Mousehold Heath, hoping to jam in on the recent emergence of White Admirals. With few flowers out I concentrated on banks of brambles, but with no luck. I did pick up my first Essex Skipper of the year near Zaks. Two Brown Hawkers were flying over the heath, but Vinegar Pond has completely dried up, leaving them with nowhere to lay their eggs. A Green Woodpecker was the only bird of note. I stopped on the way back for a pint at the Murderers. The Woodfordes beer "Game On" (my beer of the month) is a special for the world cup, so I have to make the most of it in the next week.

Part 2 - South-east of Norwich
Like most people who heard that a River Warbler was singing at a site south-east of Norwich, I tried to guess where it might be. I guessed a private bit of the Yare valley, and hoped that it was at Whitlingham Sewage Works so that it would be a patch tick. My reaction to finding out that it was near Haddiscoe was to hope that the person responsible wasn't an estate agent. I managed to get a lift with Adam & Laura and we joked that there would be signs saying "River Warbler this way" up. Then there actually were! Thats real organisation.
Arriving onsite we were waved in by Dick Filby and then greeted by some friendly Americans (the landowners presumably?). We walked out of the parking area and round to the side, where after half an hour or so we heard our first bit of River Warbler song. The sewing machine comparison is a pretty good one, and there are similarities with the first few notes of Yellowhammer song as well. We stood and waited, as did Jim, before murmurs filtered through that it was showing from the carpark area. We walked back round, and sure enough we managed to see the River Warbler skulking low down in a small Alder. At first I could only see the back of it, but it moved slightly when it began singing, still partly obscured by vegetation most of the time.
Laura still hadn't seen it, being too short to look over the crowds, and me & Adam wanted better views, so we stuck around until 9.30. In the meantime David Norgate came over and said hi, as did Connor. The warbler did show again, long enough for Adam & Laura to look down another birders 'scope, but hopes that it would perch nicely on top of the bush were unfulfilled. Still, brief views are better than no views! The evening sun shining on the reeds was a lovely sight to add to the evening, and a Barn Owl briefly hunted the marshes behind the warbler bush.
A big thanks to everyone involved in finding the bird and arranging access, the effort is very much appreciated.

Eaton Park moth night

3rd July 2010
As part of a drive to encourage people to use Eaton Park, the friends of Eaton Park organised a moth night. Around 30 people turned up, and Peter Walton was part way through his introduction when classical music started from the rotunda. Apparently its a new deterrent to stop troublemaking young people from loitering. Rather amusingly despite the people who had it installed being present, they couldnt turn it off, so we passed around moths to music.
So the important question, does it work? No. Two teenagers walked into the rotunda and started to slow-dance, which was quite funny, but most of the other groups of young people (or nomadic tribespeople, it was dark by now) just shuffled through and loitered out of earshot. Most just made tired "I've got moths in my wallet" jokes, although two drunks did come over and pestered everyone for rizzlers. Anyway, a mediocre 14 species of moth were caught, the most spectacular a Lime Hawk Moth and scarcest a Clay Triple Lines.

Flycatcher at last

2nd July 2010
Deciding to finally nail this Spotted Flycatcher I spent a while scanning all of the open areas of scrub along the lane. After giving up with this I walked down the lime avenue, and looking out over the ruined hall I saw a bird fly out and then back to a tree branch out of the corner of my eye. It sat there long enough to get a good look at my latest patch tick, Spotted Flycatcher at last. It then flew onto one of the old walls, within photographic range but facing the wrong way. I didn't mind, a lovely little bird.
In a good mood I conducted a wildfowl count:
Mute Swans - 76 (5 cygnets)
Canada Goose - 30 (1 gosling)
Egyptian Goose - 62* - this is what I recorded but it seems high, maybe I wrote a number in the wrong column?
Greylag Goose - 143
Hybrid Goose - 3
Domestic Goose - 3
Mallard - 113
"Peking" type Duck - 1
Tufted Duck - 14
Pochard - 1 female (unusual for July)
Gadwall - 1 female
Coot - 79 (61 in the conservation area bay, two on nests)
Great Crested Grebes - 5
Moorhen - 1
I also had a good day with dragonflies, including my first site Norfolk Hawker, 3 Emperors, 30+ Black-tailed Skimmers and thousands of damseflies. In terms of butterflies I saw Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and Red Admiral. Last but not least I saw a Honey Bee swarm on a willow branch over the path.

Taswood Lakes

1st July 2010

As last year I accompanied a group to stay the night at the fishing lakes near Tasburgh in order to have a look at the wildlife at this otherwise private site. Unfortunately the grass had been mown short and "tidied" around the edges of the lakes, and I was unable to find any glowworms. Check this link to see last years hot glowworm action:

What I did see was some good typical lakey stuff, a constantly feeding Common Tern was present for the whole time we were there, and a Kingfisher and a Barn Owl were flybys. A Black-tailed Skimmer jostled for possesion of the nearest swim, and a Dark Arches moth made itself at home in Michelle's tent. Unlike last year there was no sign of breeding from the Tufted Ducks.