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


31st March 2012

Today's Whitlingham visit had three main targets; find a Garganey, catch up with a migrating Red Kite or beat one of my earliest dates for something like Sedge or Reed Warbler.  As it happened I didn't succeed with any of these, but it was still an excellent visit.  The first brood of Egyptian Geese were at the west end of the Great Broad.  There were eight goslings, although experience suggests that only four or five of these will reach adulthood.  The weather was very changeable, and I got wet whilst watching them as a brief shower went over.  I checked a stand of trees that usually host the first returning Willow Warbler, but it has not yet arrived. Nearby I heard a Bullfinch call, but this species still eludes me here this year.  

After a scan of the conservation area bay I checked the posts, and to my surprise picked out a Caspian Gull.  Having taken a record shot I got out my notebook, sketched an outline, looked up and it was gone. As soon as I got my camera out the bird had refused to turn properly side on, but you can get an impression of the long beak, small eye, sloping forehead and leggy look from this picture.  I have packed away my "Gulls.." book so I can't double-check, but from the dark mark coming up from the gonys angle and a few brownish feathers I think its a 3rd-winter bird.

After waiting to see if the gull would return, I continued around the broad and scanned over to Thorpe, seeing nothing of interest.  I went up into the woods to look down onto Thorpe Marshes to look for LRPs, but only saw a couple of Pied Wagtails and some Stock Doves.  On my way back along the south shore I saw the Caspian Gull had returned to the area around the posts, along with several Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Common Gulls.

WHITLINGHAM: Thorpe - lots of Chiffchaffs

24th March 2012

Whitlingham gets particularly busy on sunny days, so I went to Thorpe to get a quieter walk.  I finally saw my first butterfly of the year, with a Comma sunning itself on Whitlingham Lane (not to be confused with the road to the CP of the same name).  Chiffchaffs were singing loudly, I saw one in trees just over the railway footbridge and heard at least six more.  I sat at the cattle compound and scanned for Little Ringed Plovers, but without success.  After a while I continued my walk, flushing a Meadow Pipit from the marsh near the path.  On the broad a Goldeneye was still present, along with a Gadwall and a pair of Teal.  Six Snipe were in vegetation on the shingle spit, although the heat haze joined two together to make an uber-Snipe.  Further round were some bathing Jackdaws and a pair of Oystercatchers.  Following my circuit I went back to the cattle compound to have another look for the LRPs, but there was still no sign of them.

YARE VALLEY: Cantley Ibis

22nd March 2012

Another after work trip saw us connect with the four Glossy Ibis at the second attempt, and well worth the trip they were too.  Unfortunately from a photography point of view we were looking west into the hazy sunshine (excuse for bad photographs #52 I believe), but they are recognisable from this record shot. There are loads of good photos of them out on the internet if you're interested, for example Carl's ones here.  Also present were loads of Wigeon and Curlews, and a few Teal.  In a bush right next to the path a Cetti's Warbler made a noise like it was having a breakdown, and then flew into the next bush.


20th March 2012

Another sunny day, and I was on my way home from work when I got a call asking if I wanted to go and look for the Glossy Ibis at Cantley.  Parking up at the bowling green car park I didn't realise that we were still on Station Road, so instead of following the road down to the end and having some crippling views of the Ibis, we instead walked back to the corner and followed the footpath down to the riverbank.  Of course at the time I didn't know we were in the wrong place, so I simply assumed the birds had gone to roost.  Regardless of this rather major oversight it was still a lovely evening in the Yare Valley.  Three Chinese Water Deer walked brazenly across the marshes, whilst the bird of the evening was a Short-eared Owl working its way along the marsh edges.  A bit later a Barn Owl also emerged, and a Marsh Harrier flew over the river nearby.

WHITLINGHAM: Pre-spring lull continues

19th March 2012

Sunday was rainy, but I'd made up my mind to go out anyway.  Birdsong was rather muted, and I still haven't heard a Chiffchaff yet this year.  With nothing of interest around the Great Broad I headed into the woods, finding a calling Marsh Tit near the path.  Scanning Thorpe Marsh from the woodland viewpoint I picked out 2 Snipe and 6 Stock Doves.  A small green flower near the path further along was Moschatel, my first C.P. record, although that is simply down to me overlooking it previously.  Whitlingham Marsh was rubbish, although the path along the main road had some white Sweet Violets growing along it.  No sign of any Oystercatchers at the sewage works, and also no sign of the once ubiquitous Mistle Thrushes on the grass between the sewage works and the barns.  Hopefully next weekend will bring about a spring influx of some sort.

WHITLINGHAM: Thorpe - no waders

16th March 2012

Following a very good week for waders at Thorpe, I took the first available chance to go and have a look around after work on Friday.  A decent amount of water on the scrape was a good sign, but as it happened there wasn't a single bird there, not even a Moorhen.  I can only presume that there had been some disturbance earlier in the day (maybe a Pterodactyl flew over or something).  The spit was similarly unimpressive, with a few gulls and some resting ducks.  A 1st-winter male Goldeneye with the Tufted Duck was probably the pick of the bunch, along with a single Stock Dove.

WHITLINGHAM: A sunny lull

11th March 2012

A beautiful sunny day, which was eerily quiet despite the large number of families and dog walkers around the C.P.  Duck numbers had dropped noticeably, and it wasn't until I reached the conservation area that there was anything of note.  In the grass was a huge white egg, which had been predated.  Unfortunately I didn't make a note of the size, so I can't properly ID it (my ancient Observer's Book of Bird Eggs shows that Mute Swan and Greylag both have large white eggs, whilst Canada and Egyptian aren't mentioned).  Egyptian Geese are usually the first geese to fledge young here, so its early whatever it is.

On a more cheery note, a Yellow-legged Gull was near the Cormorant posts in the bay, there has certainly been more of these here in the past year or so.  Further round a male Sparrowhawk cruised past below the treeline, ensuring my patch year list ticked on by one.  Despite the weather I didn't see a single Butterfly.  For some reason (lack of foodplants?_ they aren't as numerous at Whitlingham as you might expect.  I don't recall ever seeing a Brimstone here for example.  I ended my visit looking at the farmland south of the Lime Tree Avenue.  Incidentally the short grassy area in the overflow carpark looks like a decent addition to the habitat, certainly somewhere to keep an eye on over the spring.

WHITLINGHAM: Target dates and species for March

March at Whitlingham

With snow showers forecast for tonight it seems bad timing on my part to look towards the spring, but on the whole it appears that spring is on its way.  Here are my first Whitlingham dates for the early migrants:

  • Chiffchaff (13th March)
  • Sand Martin (30th March)
  • Willow Warbler (30th March)
  • Swallow (31st March)
  • Blackcap (5th April) *
  • Sedge Warbler (7th April)
* not counting wintering birds

As ever I would be interested to hear from anyone who sees these on earlier dates.  Even better, please get in touch if you find any of March's most wanted:
  • Garganey (a bogey bird of mine here)
  • Wheatear (seen at Thorpe for the last 2 years, albeit in April)
  • Ring Ouzel (Seen most years at Sweetbriar or Colney, so why not Whitlingham & Thorpe?)
Here's to a bird-filled spring!

WHITLINGHAM: Thorpe - a few birds and a bit of vandalism

4th March 2012

With rain forecast for much of the day I decided to head for Thorpe rather than Whitlingham, in the hope that any passing waders may have been forced down by the weather.  As it was there was little water on the scrape, and no sign of anything passing overhead.  Three Snipe and a couple of calling Reed Buntings represented the highlights.  Disappointingly the bird screen has been kicked in (unless this is part of the NWTs plan for an urban nature reserve).  A sad state of affairs, but in terms of cover it makes very little difference.

NORWICH: Another Blackcap

4th March 2012

A new wintering Blackcap has turned up in Cathy's garden, this time a female, but in the same Ivy as the male. Apparently there was a crossover period when both were seen, but too early for them to pair up?

NORFOLK: Marlingford & Sculthorpe

3rd March 2012

A visit to Marlingford Mill produced a good range of species late morning.  When we arrived the American Wigeon was out of sight in the river, but eventually it did work its way back up the bank, to start with just as a head visible above the grass, then finally the whole bird in front of the alders.  Whilst waiting I found a Kingfisher along the river, a pair of Grey Wagtails hopped about on shingle in the channel and a Nuthatch flew onto a nearby tree.  Earlier a Little Egret had been sat at the top of a tree, and a small group of Egyptian Geese were feeding on the marshes.

We proceeded onto Sculthorpe Moor, where we spent a very pleasant couple of hours.  Marsh Tits were calling from several areas of the wet woodland, and a Treecreeper worked its way up a tree near the path.  Walking along the river Cathy found a Toad, which was making a squeaking noise, something that I can't remember ever hearing before.  Further along we found many more that were also making this noise.  From the Whitley Hide we admired a pair of Bullfinches and saw a Field Vole beneath one of the bird tables.  A period of sunshine brought four Buzzards soaring up over the far hide.  On our way back we saw more Toads, another vole and lots of Scarlet Elf Cup fungus.