The Whitlingham Bird Report 2020 is available now (click here)

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

WHITLINGHAM: Last visit of the year

28th December 2011

Of course it might not be my last visit of the year, if someone finds a Slav Grebe in the next few days, I'll be there.  But as things stand, with no change in the weather, my last few visits have been almost identikit, even including a very lazy Snipe that has been within a few feet of bank for over a week.  Today it was very windy, which made loads of gulls land on the water.  These counts, all very much minima include 450+ Black-headed Gulls, 200+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 160+ Common Gulls and 10+ Herring Gulls.  As the light began to fade I headed up to the farmland near Whitlingham Hall in search of one more species for the patch year list (Barn Owl, Red-legged Partridge or Yellowhammer were the ones in particular I hoped for), but without success.  Three heads poked out from behind a ridge in one of the fields, but slightly oddly turned out to be Mistle Thrushes.  So there we go, 106 for the year, a respectable total considering 2010 was boosted by the crazy spell that brought in all 5 grebes, GN Diver, Smew, Ruddy Duck and Ring-necked Duck.  

Bring on 2012!


BROADLAND: Rollesby & Wroxham

27th December 2011

Cathy was still ill, and politely disputed my notion that a good long walk in the fresh air would do her good, so we went out for a look at places with less than 5 minutes walking involved. First stop was Rollesby Broad, where a Great Northern Diver was floating along. It was distant, but still easily visible to the naked eye. Whilst watching it the bird didn't dive once, but did spend a lot of time with its head submerged.

Next we went to Wroxham Broad, which presumably had been disturbed recently as there wasn't a single Aythya present. I picked out one Little Grebe and a Marsh Harrier hunted over nearby alder carr, but that was it. Deciding to try closer to home, we stopped at Old Lakenham Mill, where the semi-resident Little Egret was feeding in the river. A flock of apparent swans near Caistor St Edmund was actually 4 Mute Swans and 7 White Domestic Geese. Finally we went for a look along the river between Bawburgh and Marlingford, which was bird-lite.

WHITLINGHAM: Christmas Eve

24th December 2011

A pre-Christmas jaunt, and not much was stirring, not even a... well you get the idea anyway. Bird of the day was this colossal gull, dwarfing the Lesser Black-backs although matching them in mantle shade.

THETFORD FOREST: Lynford Arboretum

22nd December 2011

A short walk around the paddocks was devoid of Hawfinches, but did see a nice perched up Crossbill.  Poking around the arboretum I found a calling Firecrest, and we also saw some late fungi, including an Ear-pick Toadstool and some Stag's Horn.

Stag's Horn


21st December 2011

As I'm not sure when I will get to update the blog before Christmas, now seems as good a time as any to wish all of my readers a
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Many thanks to all those who have contributed to my birding throughout the year, be it through lifts, information about sightings, advice or companionship.

WHITLINGHAM: Red-crested Pochard & lots of Teal

17th December 2011

My first impressions upon arriving at Whitlingham were that it was going to be a quiet visit, but it actually turned out to be quite productive.  After a chat with one of the model yacht club members at the slipway I had a look in the woods near the car park.  Unfortunately it doesn't look like any feeders are being put up this year, which is a shame as they attracted good numbers of birds.  The reason is probably financial, but last year they did attract such large numbers of rats that the Pied Piper of Hamlyn had to be hired to get them out of the C.P, which probably was a factor too.  The best bird using the feeders last winter was a Nuthatch, but as it happened I heard one calling further along Whitlingham Lane, so hopefully this shouldn't affect my chances of seeing one here next year.

A modest number of ducks were on the Great Broad, but there wasn't anything out of the ordinary, or any interesting hybrids.  When I got to the river I scanned Thorpe Broad, and seeing there was a large number of Teal I set about scanning the margins to look for Green-winged Teal.  Whilst doing this I saw a female Red-crested Pochard, my first here this year and the third autumn/winter that at least one has arrived.  Carrying on to the conservation area bay I counted a flotilla of 90 Teal and a single sleeping Snipe.  10 Shoveler were on the Little Broad, and whilst watching them two Kingfishers flew through my field of vision, one chasing the other.  Finally I located at least five Lesser Redpolls in the alders, along with a mobile flock of Siskin.
Thorpe Red-crested Pochard.  The red bill is a photographic artefact, it was only red-tipped in the field.

NORTH NORFOLK: More Sandpiper and a productive raptor roost

4th December 2011

The days birding started at Cley, for another look at the Western Sandpiper. The hides were busier than yesterday, but the bird was closer, so it was still worth the crowds. I got a few digiscoped pictures, which add nothing to any of the debates around the ID. Once the sandpiper moved further away we went to Teal hide. After scanning Pat's Pool my attention was drawn to a Shoveler in front of us. It was swimming backwards and forwards along the edge of the pool, regularly diving. It was making a meal of getting under water, the head starting low to the water then the wings thrusting down. I don't think I've ever see Shoveler do this before, but apparently it is noted in B.W.P. (thanks to Dave A for this info).

Is mincing a diagnostic feature?
Size comparison with a Dunlin

Before leaving Cley, we scanned through the Brent Goose flock in the field behind the visitors centre. We found one Pale-bellied Brent Goose and these two returning leucistic birds. The photos undersell how pale they look in the field. It was now lunchtime, and we headed off to the Three Swallows for lunch.

First stop after lunch was Blakeney. No sign of any wild geese from Friary Hills, but amongst the Blackbirds in a hawthorn was this tame, dark-beaked individual. Possibly a continental bird?
After Blakeney we went to Branthill Farm real ale shop for a stock-up, before having a look around the nearby area, finding a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Common Buzzard whilst several skeins of Pink-footed Geese flew over. At around three we headed for Warham Greens, and upon our arrival the one birder already present put us onto a female Hen Harrier. Whilst watching this a Merlin flew through the telescope view, landing on the top of a small bush. A bit later a male Hen Harrier began to hunt, and at times was crossing over with the ringtail. Interestingly at one point they were both hunting in the same area, but with completely different flight patterns. Whilst the female flew level over the saltmarsh, the male was hunting in a series of semi-circular glides, creating a pattern that looked like an oscillating wave. As the light began to fade I picked up a Short-eared Owl gliding in from the east, completing an excellent days birding.

NORTH NORFOLK: Cley Calidrid

3rd December 2011

Its always a little bit frustrating when a rare bird turns up on a Monday, more so if it is potentially a first for the county. I was very glad that the putative Western Sandpiper (hereafter known as the Western Sandpiper) seemed settled at Cley, and finally got to see it on Saturday morning with Cathy and Margaret. Everyone in the hide seemed to agree with the ID, although Jeremy Clarkson did suggest shooting it so that we could be sure. I think he was just deliberately trying to be controversial to drum up publicity for his forthcoming book "Where To Watch Birds Whilst Driving Really Fast And Offending People". After watching the Sandpiper from Dauke's and Avocet hides (trying to get a better view as it often hugged the bank), Robert Smith kindly came and told us the Green-winged Teal was showing well, so we went and had a look at that. The last couple I've seen have been asleep, so it made a nice change to see one moving

I took this picture of the Green-winged Teal, apparently whilst on a slope. For any American readers, forget about the G-W Teal and marvel at the amount of Eurasian Teal.